SELLING YOUR HOME? IT’S TIME TO FOCUS ON CURB APPEAL

BEFORE

BEFORE

Spring is just around the corner. For those who are planning to sell their homes or other real estate in Chicago, this means curb appeal matters more than ever.

Thankfully, Kim Kaulas, a landscape artist based in Edgewater who also works in Lakewood Balmoral and Andersonville, has extensive experience helping people maximize small spaces and shade in urban areas.

“I specialize in environmentally responsible practices,” she said. “I don’t use chemicals. I amend soil naturally, and I promote appropriate plant placement to promote their longevity.”

Does it work? Kaulas can’t provide statistics on shortening of market time or specific evidence that curb appeal raises sale prices. But common sense goes far, and making judicious choices to rejuvenate a landscape specifically for curb appeal is a specialty, she says.

AFTER

AFTER

“I consider myself an exterior decorator,” Kaulas said, adding that landscaping involving plant material doesn’t tend to be instantly gratifying. Some plants can take 3 to 10 years to grow in. “Curb appeal choices may include exterior paint colors, paint projects, awnings, container plantings and general exterior aesthetics.”

She works on a consulting basis, charging $90 per hour and prorating the fee to the minute. She has no minimum hourly charge. Kaulas brainstorms a project with the homeowner, suggesting ideas for improving the curb appeal or general attractiveness of the site and outdoor space. Beyond that, the client might commission a formal design. This would include pictures and measurements, scaled drawings and detailed plans. The estimate would be based on the scope of that project. Kaulas does not offer free estimates, however.

She also gets involved in installing those designs, providing quotes based on time and materials. Meanwhile, the client can help her or her staff plant. “And because I charge by the hour, they learn something and then it’s a cost savings, because it’s that much less manpower that I’m charging them for.”

Kaulas does not provide mowing or leaf blowing services. “I recommend that clients interested in those services talk to their immediate neighbors and see who already has their trucks and manpower on their block and who is doing a good job,” she said.

For more information on Kaulas’ services, visit www.kimkaulas.com or call her at 773-761-3668.

VGrabnerVictoria Marty has written for newspapers and magazines for more than 15 years and recently moved to the Lincoln Square, Chicago area. A frequent runner who loves learning and exploring new places, she has perfected the art of getting lost while simultaneously finding unique landmarks, boutiques and out-of-the-way nooks worth writing about. Her blogs are geared toward the newly transplanted who want to learn as much about Chicago as they can, as quickly as possible.

FOUR NEARBY PUBLIC ELEMENTARY SCHOOLS OFFER FINE ARTS, SCIENCE FOR VARIETY OF TALENTS

Every school day morning around 7:15 or so, I see kids walking with their parents, older siblings, or other family members south on Wolcott Avenue toward James B. McPherson Elementary School. In most all types of weather, unless the wind chill is low enough, these kids walk carefully through the snow and ice to further their education.

James B. McPherson Elementary School on the corner of Lawrence and Wolcott avenues is celebrating its 10th year as an International Baccalaureate (IB) World School for grades six through eight, according to the school’s website. It also has plans to adopt an IB Primary Years Program. The IB program seeks to create a community of lifelong learners.

Other public schools are also nearby.

Located at 4332 N. Paulina St., Ravenswood Elementary School is a fine and performing arts magnet school with 524 students. It is designated as being in “good standing” by the Chicago Public Schools system for its pre-kindergarten through eighth-grade program.

Alexander Graham Bell Elementary School, located in North Center at 3730 N. Oakley Ave., serves 1,042 students in grades kindergarten through eighth-grade who live in the attendance district; gifted students in grades 1-8; and a specialized program for deaf students. It is designated as being in “good standing” by Chicago Public Schools.

James G. Blaine Elementary School, located at 1420 W. Grace St., is a fine arts magnet school. It partners with the Chicago Community Trust, Chicago Cubs, Edelman Public Relations, Looking Glass Theater, Dance Art, the Field Museum, and the Peggy Notebaert Nature Museum. Chicago Magazine ranked Blaine Elementary as No. 13 on its “Best Schools in Chicago & Suburbs” 2012 list.

VGrabner

Victoria Marty has written for newspapers and magazines for more than 15 years and recently moved to the Lincoln Square, Chicago area. A frequent runner who loves learning and exploring new places, she has perfected the art of getting lost while simultaneously finding unique landmarks, boutiques and out-of-the-way nooks worth writing about. Her blogs are geared toward the newly transplanted who want to learn as much about Chicago as they can, as quickly as possible.

WHAT, A BLIZZARD? THEN TAKE THE EL

Chicago Blizzard? Take the LWhat do most people do in the middle of a Chicago blizzard? They stay home. What did I do? I took the El to the Art Institute of Chicago.

It’s not like I hadn’t been to the Art Institute before. I’ve been there many times, both during college and afterwards. But ever since I moved back to Chicago in mid-December 2014, I’d wanted to visit it again. That’s why I braved roughly a foot of snow recently to walk from my condo in Ravenswood/Lincoln Square to the Brown Line stop before hopping off at the Adams/Wabash stop to get to the museum. Snowflakes and wind hit me in the face as I crossed Michigan Avenue, but once inside the Art Institute, I was rewarded with short lines and relatively empty exhibition rooms. Plus, nothing beats a train ride through the city on a near-empty train as snow flurries cover the air around me.

So just how practical is having the El stop so close to me? Well, not only do I not have to worry about parking my car, I also don’t have to pay parking fees. And during a snowstorm, not having to worry about a possible accident is even better. Even more rewarding for someone soaking in every aspect of the city: The El gives me access to advertisements I wouldn’t ordinarily know anything about, like the Fight for Air Climb organized by the American Lung Association and scheduled for March 8 at the Presidential Towers, or the Avon 39: The Walk to End Breast Cancer, set for June 6-7 here in Chicago.

Worried about standing out on a windy train platform in the middle of February? I won’t lie; it IS cold out there. This is Chicago, after all. But the Damen stop has a button you can push to activate a heat lamp to help you feel just a little bit warmer. Plus, the trains aren’t that far apart. And when someone has a question — “Am I on the right train? What’s the express train?” — most people are kind and patient enough to give them the correct answer.

I’ve noticed the same of the Chicago Transit Authority (CTA) workers, who are happy to answer questions and give directions as to the best exits to take depending on your favored destination. Meanwhile, the ticket machines rely on credit cards and are easy to use, as are the turnstiles. I haven’t had any problems at all.

And you can’t beat how reliable the CTA website and Google are in directing you to your destination. It’s just 49 minutes from my condo to the museum if I take the El, factoring in waiting for the train and walking from my stop to the museum. How’s that for service?

In the meantime, traveling on the El gives you visual access to the city you wouldn’t ordinarily have from a car or a bus. Apartment buildings, small businesses and other real estate swing on by, and the El slows as it turns to follow the Downtown Loop. The train’s large windows make it impossible for you not to notice the heights, the writings on the walls, the landscapes that’d escape mention any other way. For an intimate look at Chicago, you just can’t beat the El.

VGrabnerVictoria Marty has written for newspapers and magazines for more than 15 years and recently moved to the Lincoln Square, Chicago area. A frequent runner who loves learning and exploring new places, she has perfected the art of getting lost while simultaneously finding unique landmarks, boutiques and out-of-the-way nooks worth writing about. Her blogs are geared toward the newly transplanted who want to learn as much about Chicago as they can, as quickly as possible.

CHICAGO RAVENSWOOD NEIGHBORHOOD GEMS

2015 01 31 Lill StreetWhen the cold weather hits, it’s natural to want to huddle indoors. That’s also the perfect time to head to Lillstreet Art Center, a former gear factory at the corner of Ravenswood and Montrose avenues in Ravenswood.

Founded in 1975, Lillstreet Art Center offers a friendly community of artists and students working together to promote and inspire individual artistic growth. According to the center’s website, the center supports the arts through its education program, artists residencies, gallery exhibitions and retail sales opportunities, studio rentals, and arts-based professional development.

Those interested in taking classes in first-time knitting and yoga, intuitive collage, and sashiko stitching can do so at Lillstreet Loft, just a few steps north of the art center, January through March. Additionally, the Drawing & Painting Studios at 4410 N. Ravenswood Ave. offer drawing and painting in the classical tradition.

But residents can also take classes in ceramics, metalsmithing and jewelry, printmaking, textiles, glass, and digital arts & photography.

Have an important event to go to but don’t want to leave your dog alone in your condo, house or apartment? Consider bringing your four-legged best friend to Urban Pooch 2015 01 31 Urban PoochCanine Life Center at 4501 N. Ravenswood Ave., just down the street from the Lillstreet Art Center.

If you’re too busy to bring Fido to the store, no worries — Urban Pooch can pick him up! Playtime Express Pickup and Drop-off Service is offered every day of the week for only $7 each way.

Meanwhile, Urban Pooch also offers a line of canine food and treats, obedience training classes, and clothing for dogs who, like humans, struggle to stay warm in this cold, snowy weather. The store was mentioned in a CBS 2 TV Chicago clip about that very subject.

VGrabner

Victoria Marty has written for newspapers and magazines for more than 15 years and recently moved to the Lincoln Square, Chicago area. A frequent runner who loves learning and exploring new places, she has perfected the art of getting lost while simultaneously finding unique landmarks, boutiques and out-of-the-way nooks worth writing about. Her blogs are geared toward the newly transplanted who want to learn as much about Chicago as they can, as quickly as possible.

EXCITING CHANGES AT 1618 W EDGEWATER

1618 W. EdgewaterJulia and Scott may no longer live in their 1,300-square-foot condo at 1618 W. Edgewater Avenue, but that hasn’t stopped them from caring about what happens to the property just across the street.

“That there’s a nearly one-acre green space to be developed and managed by the city is exciting,” Julia said of a new neighborhood park planned for the south side of Edgewater from Ashland to Hermitage avenues. “I’m a mom of a small child, and the idea of having a park is sort of lovely.”

She was talking about plans to demolish the former Edgewater Medical Center across the street, build residential and retail properties, and enable the development of green space just west of the shuttered medical center located at 5700 N. Ashland Ave.

In January, a parking structure tied to the former medical facility is scheduled to be demolished, making room for single-family residences. Other work is expected to continue after that project begins, Julia said. This includes 39,874 square feet of donated park land just to the east of the single-family residences. The former hospital will be converted to 13,975 square feet of retail space on the ground floor, including indoor bike parking. Residential units will be upstairs. Additionally, WBEZ has been following the Edgewater Medical Center plans.

Edgewater Medical Center closed in December 2001, the building left vacant and has continued to decay ever since. Since then, community members have formed Friends of West Edgewater Park to advocate for a redevelopment plan for the shuttered medical center that, according to the group’s Facebook page, is “an appreciable neighborhood park, is forward-thinking, is sound, and is in keeping with the scale and fabric of the community.”

“There aren’t a lot of parks in Andersonville, and Andersonville is becoming more of a destination for buyers,” Julia added. “Some have kids and some don’t, but everyone loves the green space and everyone loves the light that a green space can bring to a neighborhood.”

Scott and Julia now live just east of Lincoln Square, in a larger property that gives their family — they are now expecting their second child — more room to grow. Their 1618 W. Edgewater Ave. condo with a vintage feel offers two bedrooms, one bathroom, brand new stainless steel appliances, exterior parking and a private deck.

VGrabnerVictoria Marty has written for newspapers and magazines for more than 15 years and recently moved to the Lincoln Square, Chicago area. A frequent runner who loves learning and exploring new places, she has perfected the art of getting lost while simultaneously finding unique landmarks, boutiques and out-of-the-way nooks worth writing about. Her blogs are geared toward the newly transplanted who want to learn as much about Chicago as they can, as quickly as possible.

Urban Gardening in Andersonville, Chicago

peonyAh… yes, spring comes early to the lakefront neighborhood of Andersonville in Chicago. The daffodils are already blooming in some areas, and the tulips are at least showing their green. Reminds me that I need to tend to my urban gardens to prepare them for a show in the summer. It’s time to cut down all the dead stuff from last year, rake it out, spread some mushroom mulch. Chicago Botanic Gardens has an April checklist of steps to prepare your gardens.

Time to get those clay pots out of the garage and plant them with spring annuals that can tolerate alternating cold and warmth. And then there are the perennials. I love how Kelly describes the charm of perennials. They come back every year, even if you don’t remember where you planted them.

And then there’s the lawn furniture and barbeques. Time to dust off the table and chairs, get out the cushions, and give that barbeque grill a wire brushing. And don’t forget to invite me to that garden party.

PROTECT YOURSELF FROM IDENTITY THEFT

Every minute 19 people become victims of identity theft—

Don’t be one of them!*

Identity theft is one of the most common crimes in the United States. However, there are steps you can take to prevent a thief from stealing your identity and wreaking havoc to your credit. This month’s information will help you to protect yourself and reduce a thief’s ability to steal your information. Page one outlines several easy ways to keep your information secure online and at home. Page two provides a list of action steps to take if you suspect that your identity has been stolen. Since identity theft can happen to anyone at any time, protect your family and friends by sharing this information with them. *Source: TransUnion  

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Is Your Password Vulnerable?

 

 

 

 

 

HOW’S THE ANDERSONVILLE AND EDGEWATER HOUSING MARKET?

We are seeing a brisk market, especially for condos with two bedrooms. Buyers are purchasing well-appointed two bedroom condos within 10 days of going on market. In February and March of 2013, the Move with Maggie Team listed six condos for sale in the area, and sold (went under contract) in an average of 10 days or less. Four of the six had multiple offers and they sold on average for 98% of list price at time of offer. We are seeing buyers willing to pay very good prices for well-appointed condos. However, condos that are not staged or well-appointed tend to sit on the market for longer periods of time. Condos without some sort of deck, patio or balcony, or without parking (not even rental parking), are sitting for longer periods of time or in some cases needing price reductions in order to sell. Our one bedroom condo market has not bounced back as quickly, most likely because given our low interest rates hovering around 3.75%, buyers can purchase a two bedroom for what they would have paid for a one bedroom. Andersonville continues to be a popular destination for professionals, boomers, and retirees seeking housing in Chicago. Be sure to check out movewithmaggie.com for recent sales and property that is available.

DO YOU KNOW YOUR NUMBER?

Your credit score can means the difference between securing a historic low interest rate on a loan and being stuck in a higher tier. Great credit scores are the result of one thing—a stellar credit history.

More than 18% of consumers have near perfect FICO scores (800-850).* While it may seem difficult to reach this level, especially for the 15% of consumers in the lowest FICO range (300-549), it’s not impossible. The information in this month’s newsletter details the steps to take to begin improving your credit now. Page one gives the facts about credit, including the information that comprises your credit score. Page two offers three tips that will help you to improve your credit.

Share this information with family and friends who wish to improve or protect their credit.

*Source: MSN Money

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WHAT WILL 2013 HOLD FOR THE HOUSING MARKET?

Many people are curious about what the housing market will look like in 2013. Since housing is seen as a leading indicator of economic recovery, even people who aren’t looking to enter the market are anxious to see if this will be the year that the market fully recovers.

This month’s information may help you understand the status of both the national and local housing markets. The first page offers predictions and projections for the national housing market this year. Page two provides three reasons why it’s important to pay attention to what’s going on in your local market. Although the national market can give you an idea of the overall state of housing, only the local market directly impacts you and your home.

If you want to learn more about the local market, or are thinking of buying or selling your home, contact me for more information.

(Click on image to enlarge) Jan. 2013 Newsletter