WHAT’S IN STORE FOR THE MARKET IN 2017?

We’re a few months into the year and many potential buyers and sellers are wondering, is this a good year to get into the market? Many current homeowners are thinking about the value of their homes, even if they’re not thinking of listing anytime soon.

The information for March provides an overview of what’s in store for the American real estate market this year based on expert predictions and current price and sales data. These forecasts provide insight into current trends and paint a picture of what may happen this year. However, while our market may appear similar to the national market, local and regional factors may play a role in specific forecasts for our market.

If you’d like to know more about our local market, want to know how much your home is worth or are thinking of buying or selling, give me a call. I’d love to discuss the market with you and assist you with all of your real estate needs.

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THINKING OF BUYING OR SELLING?

Are you in the market for a new home, thinking of selling your current home or are just curious about the market?

This month’s information will give you the scoop on what’s going on in the national market. Is now a good time to buy or sell or both? Who’s driving household formation? Will there be an increase in new homes built? What’s the deal with home prices? This month’s information answers these questions and more to give you a better view of the real estate market at the national level.

However, it’s important to keep in mind that these statistics may not reflect what’s going on in our local market. If you want to learn more about the local market, give me a call! I’m never too busy to answer your questions about the local market. If you have family or friends who are thinking of buying or selling, pass this information on to them.

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The Home Seller's To-Do List

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.

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.

FIVE WAYS TO PAY IT FORWARD

One of the best ways to express gratitude for a good deed is to pay it forward to someone else. Paying it forward allows you to spread joy to another person through one kind action.

In celebration of Thanksgiving, take the opportunity to say “thanks” by doing a good deed for someone else. This month’s newsletter features five actions to help you pay it forward. Whether you want to commit your time to volunteering or simply write a kind note to someone, the list is intended to help you make a positive impact on another person’s life while reaping the benefits of generosity.

I wanted to take the opportunity to let you know how grateful I am for your business. It’s a pleasure to be your trusted real estate professional. I look forward to continuing to serve you in the future, and remember I’m never too busy for your referrals.

 

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Trusted Real Estate Professional