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

Planning to Invest in a Condo in 2012?

Have you been planning to invest in a condo in 2012? Here is a short list of things to consider before you make an offer.

  1. Look beyond the condo features and fancy finishes. Take a close look at the masonry/tuck pointing, roof, common hallways, exterior stairs, parking lots and garages. If these areas are not well maintained, they can be a source of major special assessments, and can make it difficult to sell in the future. If you are not familiar with these items, ask your realtor, she will be an expert in this.
  2. Look for a condo that is updated, with kitchen and baths no older than 5-10 years. Otherwise, when you plan to resell the unit in the future, you will have to spend money to update the kitchens and baths. Appraisers consider the age of updates when determining value, and anything 15 years or more is not considered updated or in excellent condition.
  3. Take a close look at the condo association financials and meeting minutes. Look for the amount of condo replacement reserves, annual operating expenses, and budget vs actual expenses for the prior and current years. A good rule of thumb is for the condo to have an amount at least equal to 10% of their annual operating expense in reserve, and the annual income from assessments should more than cover condo common expenses and a contribution to reserves.
  4. Size up the condition of the common hallways and look into the percentage of units rented. A building that is approaching 50% non owner occupied may be one that is not mortgage able in the future when you want to sell.

Maggie Finegan, ABR, Move with Maggie Chicago Real Estate Team


Looking to buy a 2-3 Flat in Andersonville, Chicago?   There are some wonderful values out there. And as a client recently pointed out, 2-3 flat buildings in Andersonville, Chicago are a great alternative to single family homes.   Single family homes are few and far between in east Andersonville, and tend to be priced much higher per square foot than 2-3 flat buildings, you can see the value.   There are even some short sales and foreclosures buildings for sale.   And even those that aren’t distressed sales right now, prices on 2-4 flats are 10-15% below the market high in 2008.Buying a 2-3 flat in Andersonville is a good move for several reasons. First, the buildings are versatile and can adapt as your life stages change.     Initially you may want to live in one apartment and rent out the other one(s) for income.     As your family grows or your hobbies increase and you need more space, you can take over both apartments by making a few minor adaptations to the building. Or you may want to live on the first floor and finish the basement below, so that you have a two storey duplex apartment to live in. There is an opportunity to create a spa bath and bedroom suite on the lower level for your enjoyment or as a guest suite. Or use the lower level for a recreation room with hobby area.

You can buy a 2-3 Flat in Andersonville, Chicago currently for prices averaging $410,000 for a 6 bedroom 3 bath building, and you can choose from among the 18   2-3 flat buildings that are currently for sale.   If you are willing to purchase a frame building, or to go into West or South Andersonville, there are a few places in the $269,000 -$429,000 range. For that price you may have to update the kitchens and baths, but if you are planning to owner occupy at least one of the apartments, then 203K funding is available via FHA loans. With a 203K, you pay just one low interest rate for both the construction and end loans, rather than having to deal with an expensive construction or second loans.   Buildings with updated kitchens and bathrooms tend to be priced a little higher.   Visit and for examples of great Andersonville architecture.   So if you want to buy a 2-3 Flat in Andersonville, Chicago, don’t wait.

Maggie Finegan, ABR, Move with Maggie Chicago Real Estate Team


On occasion, the IRS will share tips to help individuals with their taxes.   While I am not a tax professional, this information is of value when speaking with your tax preparer.   Below are the ten tips direct from the IRS website.

IRS Summertime Tax Tip 2011-15,   August 8, 2011

The Internal Revenue Service has some important information to share with individuals who have sold or are about to sell their home. If you have a gain from the sale of your main home, you may qualify to exclude all or part of that gain from your income. Here are ten tips from the IRS to keep in mind when selling your home.

  1. In general, you are eligible to exclude the gain from income if you have owned and used your home as your main home for two years out of the five years prior to the date of its sale.
  2. If you have a gain from the sale of your main home, you may be able to exclude up to $250,000 of the gain from your income ($500,000 on a joint return in most cases).
  3. You are not eligible for the exclusion if you excluded the gain from the sale of another home during the two-year period prior to the sale of your home.
  4. If you can exclude all of the gain, you do not need to report the sale on your tax return.
  5. If you have a gain that cannot be excluded, it is taxable. You must report it on Form 1040, Schedule D, Capital Gains and Losses.
  6. You cannot deduct a loss from the sale of your main home.
  7. Worksheets are included in Publication 523, Selling Your Home, to help you figure the adjusted basis of the home you sold, the gain (or loss) on the sale, and the gain that you can exclude.
  8. If you have more than one home, you can exclude a gain only from the sale of your main home. You must pay tax on the gain from selling any other home. If you have two homes and live in both of them, your main home is ordinarily the one you live in most of the time.
  9. If you received the first-time homebuyer credit and within 36 months of the date of purchase, the property is no longer used as your principal residence, you are required to repay the credit. Repayment of the full credit is due with the income tax return for the year the home ceased to be your principal residence, using Form 5405, First-Time Homebuyer Credit and Repayment of the Credit. The full amount of the credit is reflected as additional tax on that year’s tax return.
  10. When you move, be sure to update your address with the IRS and the U.S. Postal Service to ensure you receive refunds or correspondence from the IRS. Use Form 8822, Change of Address, to notify the IRS of your address change.

For more information about selling your home, see IRS Publication 523, Selling Your Home. This publication is available at or by calling 800-TAX-FORM (800-829-3676).


  • Publication 523, Selling Your Home ( PDF)
  • Form 5405, First-Time Homebuyer Credit and Repayment of the Credit ( PDF)
  • Form 8822, Change of Address ( PDF)

Maggie Finegan, ABR, Move with Maggie Chicago Real Estate Team


Great Home Insurance Tips Insurance Tips For Home Owners

7 Home Owners Insurance Tips

The new year is a good time to take stock of your home owners insurance coverage. Read

Evaluate Home Security DIY Home Security

Do-It-Yourself Home Security Check: 5 Essential Steps

Conduct a do-it-yourself home security check by walking around your house to assess what needs to be done to reduce the risk of a break-in. Read

What Affects Your Credit Score Credit Score Myths

What Affects Credit Scores? 7 Misconceptions

If you™re trying to raise your credit score to get a good rate for a refinance or HELOC, you might be surprised by what affects”or doesn™t affect”your score. Read

Escrow Accounts Facts Why Have An Escrow Account

Escrow Accounts: What™s the Deal?

Does your escrow account ever cross your mind? Probably not. But forgetting to monitor it can lead to lost money and a big headache. Read

Home Maintenance Savings Home Maintenance Value

The Value of Home Maintenance

Regular home maintenance is key to preserving the value of your house and property. Read

Maggie Finegan, ABR, Move with Maggie Chicago Real Estate Team
Visit for more articles like this.   © Copyright 2011 NATIONAL ASSOCIATION OF REALTORS ®


I almost always work with a professional stager on the Move with Maggie team to stage our listings, including this condo located in Andersonville in Chicago. I include in my listing package for sellers, several hours of staging. I consistently find that staged properties sell more quickly and for higher prices than unstaged ones.

My professional stager is a licensed realtor who shows properties to buyers for our team, giving her a direct line to buyers’ perspectives. She does a wonderful job of selecting paint colors, shopping for accessories, rearranging furniture, and helping sellers to thin out their possessions so that buyers can visualize living in the home.

Staging sounds like a great idea, right?   However, I am finding that at times sellers are sometimes confused by the process.   They either want to be the decision maker in the selection of items, or they don’t want their home rearranged too much from its current arrangement. They forget that the client we have in mind is the buyer.

One of the most important lessons I learned is the importance of explaining early in the selling process, that staging is not interior design. Staging is marketing to the masses. Interior design is designing for the homeowners specific taste, which is not the point; the point is to sell their house.   Items are chosen to appeal to the demographic of buyers potentially looking at their property as well as to introduce styles that might not currently be in the present decor in order for every buyer to see a bit of their own taste in a property.

Maggie Finegan, ABR, Move with Maggie Chicago Real Estate Team


While enjoying a vacation at our condo in Costa Rica with my husband, I received an offer for my seller on my listing of a 3 unit apartment building in Andersonville in Chicago, after just 23 days on the market.   Thanks to Skype international calling, after several days of negotiation on behalf of the seller, seller and buyer reached agreement. The Grey Stone building attracted a lot of attention from buyers, with its original dining room and kitchen hutches, ornamental woodwork, capitals and molding were intact and unpainted. The 105 year old building had been owned by just two families since being built in 1906, by Chicago haberdasher Henry Meek.

As I was preparing a more in depth analysis for the appraiser, I was surprised to see that prices on two and three flat apartment buildings in Andersonville are holding up pretty well, given current market conditions. Buildings are selling for approximately 95% of final list price. In the recent six months, six buildings closed or went under contract, and there are eight for sale. This translates to 8 months of inventory, and an absorption rate of one per month, which is considered a buyer™s market. Market times for recently sold buildings are 57-63 days. Nicely rehabbed two unit buildings are going for $600,000, three units in the $700K ranges. Condo quality gut rehabbed buildings are selling for $270 to $311 per square foot.  Recent rehabs selling for $210 to $271 per square, partially rehabbed buildings selling for $152 to $170 per square foot.   Buildings needing total rehab are selling for $106 to $150 per square foot.

Maggie Finegan, ABR, Move with Maggie Chicago Real Estate Team


RISMEDIA, March 28, 2011”As winter gives way to spring, the threat of water flooding your basement substantially increases.œMost people believe that after the snow melts that the threat of basement flooding goes away, explains Chris O™Donohue, water damage specialist and owner of Advantage Restoration and Cleaning Services, located in Pinckney, Michigan. œBut snow usually isn™t the issue; it™s the combination of the frozen ground thawing around the foundation of the home and the arrival of heavy spring rains that cause problems.

As soil thaws it is overly saturated with water, and when a spring rain adds few fresh inches, the water finds the easiest path to flow ”usually along your home™s foundation, down to the basement and into your sump pump basin. œIf your sump pump fails, you™ll have a major water damage problem on your hands, comments O™Donohue.

œSump pump failure is one of the most common causes for basement water damage we see, says O™Donohue. œThe number of calls we receive for basement water damage clean up explodes when spring arrives. And a majority of the time the cause is a sump pump problem. We™ve been called to homes with beautiful finished basements that have been filled with 4 inches of water”It™s a heartbreaking site that is very expensive to fix.

A sump pump is a last defense against flooding, pumping out water from the lowest section of the basement before the water level reaches the basement floor level. As groundwater levels rise, it is diverted into the sump hole. When the water reaches what is called ˜the critical level,™ the sump pump begins to pump the excess out through a pipe that leads outside and away from your foundation.

Just a few inches of water in a basement can cause tens of thousands of dollars in damage. According to the Insurance Information Institute, water damage” including sump pump overflow, frozen and burst pipes”has accounted for about 22 percent of all residential insurance claims. The average claim was $5,531. Unfortunately, many homeowners often overlook this on their policy and don™t have adequate protection against such damage.

œThe inability of a sump pump to handle runoff water from major downpours is not covered under a typical homeowner™s insurance policy, nor are they covered by flood insurance, said David Walker with Hartland Insurance Agency. œThis type of coverage must be purchased either as a separate product or as an endorsement to a homeowner™s policy.

A standard homeowner™s policy will not have coverage for a sump pump, or any existing drainage system. This includes a back-up through any drain, sink discharge, toilet, or sump pump failure. According to the Chubb Insurance Group, 37 percent of homeowners have experience some type of home water damage and 51 percent say their losses were not covered by their insurance policy.

The average lifespan of a sump pump is about 10 years, and they do eventually wear out. Fortunately, most sump pump problems can be avoided by a few regular maintenance checks and can easily be fixed by the homeowner.

Here™s a list of common sump pump problems and solutions for each. Before performing any sump pump maintenance, be sure to unplug any electrical power leading to the unit.

¢ Debris In The Sump Basin. Always check to make sure that the sump pit is free from debris. Children™s small toys and debris from items stored around the basin can get into the unit and hinder the float mechanism, causing it to fail. Test the float itself, since they can burn out over time. Fill the pit up with water, making sure it both starts and stops the sump pump as designed.

¢ Inspect The œCheck Valve. Sometimes, the check valve can be improperly installed. The check valves are set up so that when the sump pump shuts off, no water will go back into the sump pump. The check valve™s arrow should not be pointing toward the sump pump.

¢ Clean The Weep Hole. Some pumps will have a weep hole, usually between the sump pump and the check valve. You can clean this weep hole out with a toothpick or other tiny object. Be careful not to break anything into the weep hole.

¢ Clean the Impeller. This is a small filter that can easily become clogged. If your sump pump has stopped running suddenly, or has been making a whining noise, this could be the problem. The impeller should be connected to the sump pump with bolts and may need a good cleaning to work properly.

¢ Sump Pump Odor. Typical odors are caused from the sump pump trap. The trap always retains some water, but when water doesn™t flow into the basin during the dry seasons of the year, an odor starts to form. You can eliminate the odor by using a bleach-water mixture to cleanse the basin. One part bleach to five parts water will work. You can also fill the basin with water until the sump pump engages, cycling the water and helping to eliminate the odor.

¢ Install a Back-up Power Source. Purchasing a sump pump back-up power supply or a generator is a great idea to avoid overflow when you have a power outage. Most power outages are caused by heavy thunderstorms that bring huge amounts of rain very quickly. This is when you need your sump pump most. If you lose power the back-up system will take over to get rid of the water as the basin fills up. There are also water powered back-up systems that tap into your home™s water supply to provide the energy needed to run the pump. It is good to invest in the purchase of a back-up system now, rather than face the costs of a flooded basement.

œIf more people would maintain their sump pumps like they do their automobile, they could save a lot of money and stress, claims O™Donohue. œA water damage restoration situation can really turn the lives of a family upside-down for a few weeks. Preventing the problem by checking the condition of their sump pump should be on their spring to-do list every year.

For more information visit

Maggie Finegan, ABR, Move with Maggie Chicago Real Estate Team

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Yes, buyers, it is possible to buy a home or condo at less than market value, without subjecting yourself to the often lengthy and usually unpredictable process of buying a short sale, or going to a real estate auction only to see that experienced, professional investors outbidding you on the best properties.

The secret to buying a home below market value, whether you are a first time buyer, a move up buyer or an investor, is to look for homes that are estate sales, in probate, tenant occupied, or have had a recent transaction fall through. Sellers of estate or probate properties may need cash sooner than later to settle an estate, and as a result will often sell for below market price.   Tenant-occupied properties generally don™t show as well as owner- occupied homes taking longer to sell, which can result in showing- weary tenants moving out before the lease is up, thus leaving a landlord without rental income. Given the prospect of going months without income yet having to pay the mortgage, a landlord is often motivated to sell at below market value.

Your real estate agent is your best friend when it comes to finding these properties. She may already know of properties like this that are already on the market. Your agent is out looking at homes in the area daily.   She may have already shown a home to a previous buyer, who may have rejected it as not meeting one of their requirements.   So their loss is your gain.

Ask your agent to set up customized searches of the Multiple Listing Service that are based on keywords such as probate, estate sale, deal fell through, or tenant occupied.   Then, as soon as one of these opportunities goes on the market, you will receive an email notification and can make an appointment to see it right away. To learn more about my properties, and request a custom search for properties that will sell below market value, visit our website.

Maggie Finegan, ABR, Move with Maggie Chicago Real Estate Team


The Andersonville neighborhood in Chicago is a great place to shop for local, green and sustainable items, while also taking in a bit of history along the way.

Local residents and homeowners appreciate its main commercial street, Clark Street, just designated an historic commercial district and now listed in the National Register of Historic Places. The district runs from Rosehill on the north to Argyle on the south, and there you will find great shopping, dining and entertainment, along with 140 historic buildings. It includes fully intact turn-of-the-century commercial buildings that represent the popular architectural styles of the time.

From its oldest building, home to Gethsemane Garden Center at 5739 N Clark, to SoFo Bar at 4923 N Clark, you will see architectural styles from Neoclassicism, to Revivalism to Art Deco. Neighbors love to shop at Green Sky on Ashland and Berwyn for environmentally friendly gifts, and Green Genes on south Clark for eco friendly children’s toys and clothing. And there’s the farmers market on Wednesdays beginning in June.

A bit more on the history… Clark St. was paved in 1891 and an electric trolley car ran upChicago Clark Street Trolley Clark to Devon Avenue. After the Chicago Fire of 1871, Swedish immigrants who moved up to the area were skilled in building, design and finance, and they built the area that is now an Historic District.   A special thanks to Thom Green, Green & Proppe Design, Ellen Shepherd and the Andersonville Chamber of Commerce for their work in and on supporting this designation.

Maggie Finegan, ABR, Move with Maggie Chicago Realty Team