LIFE BEGINS WHEN YOU STEP OUT OF YOUR COMFORT ZONE

Laura and Gene called in September and asked me to sell their bungalow house in Portage Park. They owned the home for 10 years. Laura received a great job offer in Portland that will fulfill their long-awaited dream to move to the west coast where Gene sees many opportunities to build his business. I met with them two months ago to talk about selling. At the time, they expressed concern about a low appraisal value, from a couple years ago, at a value that wouldn’t bring them enough to settle their loan. After walking through their home and researching the current market, I made recommendations that would easily reconfigure the space, such as doing some painting and updating their bathroom, that would likely bring them more value.

They mentioned they were hoping to buy in Portland but weren’t sure how to pull that of long distance. I mapped out a strategy and timeline for selling and buying long distance. I researched and found them a great realtor that I trust who is with Keller Williams in Portland.

We put their home on market and scheduled an open house for the weekend they were planning on a home buying trip. They were delighted when I brought them two offers within a week. Their Portland realtor kept looking for a home for them and found one that they loved. She sent them a video and them made an offer.

I met the appraiser in Chicago, gave him the comparable sales with lost of details on all the improvements they made over the years, and happily the home did appraise out at the sale price. They closed earlier this week and are moving into their new home on Thursday. Life begins when they stepped outside their comfort zone.

Maggie Finegan, Move with Maggie, making your dreams a reality.

FOUR FACTORS TO CONSIDER BEFORE YOUR NEXT HOME SEARCH

According to the National Association of Realtors’ 2015 Profile of Home Buyers and Sellers, more than half of recent homebuyers said the hardest part of the buying process was finding the right home to purchase. Since a home is the largest purchase most of us will make, it is easy to become wrapped up in finding the perfect place that meets all of our wants and needs. We overwhelm ourselves by focusing on checking off the boxes that will result in our ideal home. That’s a lot of pressure!

This month’s information is intended to take the stress out of finding the right home. Before you begin your search, there are four things to consider—price range, features, location and lifestyle. These four factors will help you focus your search on homes that meet your needs, allowing you to make the best decision for your family and for your wallet.

When you’re looking for a home, you need an experienced professional in your corner to help navigate the process and get you the best deal. If you’re ready to buy, give me a call! I’d love to help you achieve your dream of homeownership.

(Click on image below to enlarge)

Using the Internet in Your Home Search

TIPS AND THINGS NOT TO DO WITH YOUR LANDSCAPE DESIGN

2015 05 18 IMG_4549“The number one ingredient for a beautifully designed landscape is an interested homeowner,” said Kim Kaulas, a landscape artist who has a business in Edgewater.

In that vein, here are some tips on how to improve your yard:

Plants can flourish under the right sun and shade conditions, so it’s important to understand how each impacts your property. Plants that do best in the sun can suffer in the shade, and vice versa. Kaulas said sun exposure is defined by the amount of sun shining directly on the plant.

For assistance in selecting plants that will thrive, a good resource is the plant information center at Chicago Botanic Garden, or visit Gethsemane Garden Center at 5737 N. Clark St. in Andersonville and ask the staff for suggestions.  It’s a busy place on weekend afternoons, so it’s often better to visit on weekend mornings or during the week.

Daffodils and Scilla, two types of early spring flowers, do well when planted under deciduous trees that do not yet have their leaves. Meanwhile, lillies, bee balm, roses and peonies can bear four to six hours of direct sunlight, Kaulas said.

For properties that have more shade than sun and are more apt to develop a woodland look, annuals can add colors beyond typical greens and whites.

“Nothing gives you bright color, color, color like annuals,” Kaulas said.

Gardening is a truly multidimensional art, she added. “Plants look different at different times of the year,” she said. Because of this, select plants that will change throughout each season. Sedum, for instance, blooms in September yet is attractive at other points of the year, as well.

Removing grass and replacing it with ground cover is not always a good idea. Kaulas said ground cover requires continuous weeding. “Know yourself,” she said. “If you are retired or work out of your home or are a teacher with summers off, then you have time to weed. Otherwise, no.”

Day lilies are not low-maintenance plants. They need to be deadheaded once a week, she said. This keeps the plant from going to seed. Serviceberry trees will bloom in the shade, but don’t plant them near entryways or walkways because birds — and their droppings — tend to like them, too.

Mulch amends the soil with organic matter and helps with drainage. But you never want to pile the mulch against the tree trunk as this will kill the tree. Additionally, make sure that brick homes are appropriately tuck-pointed before allowing ivy to climb their walls.

And, soil type matters. Clay soil is full of nutrients but tends to be compacted, preventing water drainage. Sandy soil, however, is excellent for drainage. Adding pine to sandy and clay soil types can improve pH balance, helping the plants.

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.

BENEFITS OF LANDSCAPE DESIGN

2015 05 11 IMG_4555See that hosta over there in the corner and that Japanese maple near the entrance of the house? They didn’t settle there accidentally. And they are more than just decoration, too.

According to landscape economist John Harris, good landscaping can add up to 28 percent to the overall value of a house and can cut its time on the market by 10 to 15 percent.

Additionally, a Clemson University study said taking your landscaping to the next level — upgrading, in other words, from “good” to “excellent” in terms of design, condition and placement — can add up to 6 to 7 percent to a home’s value.

“Landscape design is a beautiful mixture of art and science,” said Kim Kaulas, a landscape artist who has a business in Edgewater. “Every site is different, every homeowner is different, and the landscape is always in transition. To me, it’s endlessly fascinating.”

Among other things, well-placed trees and shrubs can provide shade in the summer and lower cooling bills. They reduce carbon dioxide, muffle noise, reduce soil erosion, deflect winter wind, and provide shelter and food for birds.

Outdoor lighting, especially at night, can protect against slips and falls and can paint your home when the sun is no longer in the sky, according to HouseLogic.com.

Lighting makes your property a more difficult target for intruders, reducing burglaries and insurance claims. Some insurance companies even give a five to 15 percent discount on homeowners with reduced or zero claims, the website said.

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.

WHEN LOOKING FOR A GOOD REAL ESTATE FIT, CALL MAGGIE FINEGAN

2015 04 05 Bountiful EateryPeople who know and have worked with Maggie Finegan can’t say it enough: If you want to find that perfect or close-to-perfect real estate space, she’s at the top of her game.

“She really helps you find a healthy home and healthy environment,” said Ed O’Brien, who owns a restaurant in Lakeview. “She’s worked with other people that I know to find their ideal home.” This might be a large bedroom with enough square footage, a really sunny, warm environment that helps you enjoy getting up in the morning, or a smaller space that fits your needs.

Ed O’Brien learned this first-hand after Maggie helped him find a location for his Bountiful Eatery restaurant at 3312 N. Broadway. The fast-casual dining spot opened in July 2012 and specializes in gluten-free meals. Gluten is a protein found in rye, barley and all types of wheat.

“The location itself in Lakeview is amazing,” Ed said, adding that he had been looking for a space for several months. After meeting Maggie at a networking event in Andersonville, she helped guide him to the Broadway Avenue location. “It really fits well with what we do. The space was already built out for us, so we use it as is, pretty much.”

Ed focuses on serving meals that help to mitigate stomach problems and, for those with celiac disease, small intestine damage. But his interests in a balanced, healthy lifestyle extend beyond the kitchen. That’s likely one more reason why he has meshed so well with Maggie’s approach to real estate sales.

However, there’s more to a home or condo than just its size or access to sunlight. “What makes a healthy home?” Maggie asked. “It’s more about avoiding what is unhealthy. Good ventilation, a well-ventilated attic, lack of clutter, solid surfaces rather than carpeting where possible, and lack of mold, dust, pet fur and dander make a real difference.” She recommends using natural or green cleaning solutions.

In the bedroom, where most people spend roughly eight hours a day, Maggie recommends using natural fibers in bedding. If you have plans to repaint, use low volatile organic compound (VOC) paints. According to Consumer Reports volatile organic compounds are solvents that get released into the air as the paint dries. They can cause acute symptoms, including headaches and dizziness.

In the bathroom, clean off any mold in the bathtub or shower, dispose of any unused or outdated medications, and avoid aerosols that contain harmful propellants. Instead, Maggie recommends using deodorants, air fresheners and hair styling products that contain a pump delivery system.

In the kitchen, use glass or Pyrex products instead of plastics. Choose filtered water and look into whether the pipes that provide your water supply are lead-based. These can cause risks, especially to children and pregnant women. If water lead levels exceed 15 parts per billion, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends using bottled water or filtered water. Meanwhile, replacing lead pipes can be costly, so when remodeling or purchasing a home, it’s best to consult a plumber.

If the property has a garage, make sure it is ventilated, especially if it’s attached to living quarters. Properly dispose of toxic chemicals and limit the use of synthetic weed killers. Using natural fertilizers like mushroom mulch can make a difference, too.

Meanwhile, Ed will be giving a talk on how he decided to start his business at a Business Networking Lunch ‘n Learn event on Wednesday, May 13, from 11:30 a.m. to 1 p.m. at Ranalli’s of Andersonville, 1512 W. Berwyn Ave.

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.

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.

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.

IT’S NOT A SCHOOLHOUSE…ANDERSONVILLE LUXURY HOME IN CHICAGO

We may be in changing economic times, but here in Chicago Edgewater’s Andersonville neighborhood, for the right buyer, there is a wonderful luxury home for sale.  I stopped to see it on Sunday on the way home from a showing and was very impressed.

The historic, Federalist style home at 1426 W Rascher, has been completely rehabbed to a high level.  Spaces have been opened, yet it maintains the lovely architecture and has three floors, including a private third floor master suite.  With three other bedrooms, three full baths and two half baths including a full basement, the outside may look like a mini schoolhouse but it’s definitely a luxurious, spacious home. With it being situated on a double lot the yard space is for kids to play, entertaining, or simply relaxing.

And this home has everything I love about living in Andersonville.  It’s located one block from Clark Street’s dining, shopping and entertainment scene.  It’s within several blocks from the CTA’s Red Line elevated train and Metra.  The lakefront beaches and bicycle paths are just a few minutes ride by bike or car and approximately five minutes from Lake Shore Drive.  It’s a great place to call home.   Search all Chicago homes for sale.

Maggie Finegan, Move with Maggie Chicago Real Estate Team