Tuesday, December 27, 2011

Evanston Welcomes 2012!

In Evanston and the Chicago North Shore area, there are plenty of ways to welcome in the New Year! So before you worry about making resolutions, take the opportunity to enjoy these special events!
Friday Dec 30, learn some new moves at the Boocoo Cultural Center! Bachata dance classes are only $8. From traditional, to tango or ballroom, this energetic dance style can be as flexible as you are.
Saturday, Dec 31, include the kids in cultural experiences with a trip to the Mitchell Museum of the American Indian. There is a special craft hour for kids at 11:00 a.m, ages 4 and up. Saturday hours at the museum are 10:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. Adult admission is $5, and only $2.50 for kids, students and seniors.
Saturday, Dec 31, the whole family can enjoy a kid-friendly party in nearby Wilmette. For $30, a family of four gets dinner, art activities, sparkling beverages, noisemakers (you wanted those, didn’t you?) and a countdown with balloon drop. The party goes from 4:30 p.m. to 6:00 p.m. and is hosted by Growth Spurts.
Looking for live music, dancing, and cocktails on New Year’s Eve? The Firehouse Grill has an all-night appetizer buffet, live entertainment, and a champagne toast at midnight. Advance tickets online are $45, otherwise it's $55 at the door.
If you want to go formal, Pensiero Ristorante has two options. Early dining begins at 6:30 p.m. at $65 per person, which includes a four-course menu. If you are looking for a complete New Year’s Eve experience, the 9:00 p.m. seating includes a five-course menu, live music and dancing, midnight toast and party favors, for $95 per person. Beverages, sales tax and gratuity are not included in these prices. Reservations are strongly recommended.
At The Thomas Team, we know that Evanston is a great place to live, work and play! The Chicago North Shore offers the warmth of established communities while providing an eclectic mix of casual delights and upscale sophistication. If you’re not already a part of our area, why not join us? We have a great selection of homes and condos to show you. The Evanston real estate market is our specialty! If you are buying or selling a home during 2012, we can help.
Wishing you a happy and prosperous New Year,
The Thomas Team
Chicago's #1 Real Estate Brokerage

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Upward Trend Expected for Evanston Real Estate

As we wind down 2011 and prepare for the New Year, a topic on the minds of Evanston home buyers and home sellers is, "What will home prices be like in 2012?"

No one knows for sure, but some real estate economists predict a gradual improvement in home values nationwide. For example, the chief economist of the National Association of Realtors, Lawrence Yun, expects 2012 home values to improve by an average of 2%, with sales volumes expected to increase by 4%.

In Evanston and the Chicago North Shore area, we have additional reasons to be optimistic. Chicago is the most-searched real estate market online, out of 146 metropolitan areas. When you combine this fact with our rising rental costs, and improving employment trends, there's a case to be made for pent-up demand.

What's holding back the homebuyers? According to Lawrence Yun, restrictive mortgage underwriting policies are holding back many credit-worthy buyers. He estimates that potential home sales would be higher by 20%, if lenders would restore reasonable mortgage guidelines.

One bright spot in the mortgage lending picture is the resurgence of FHA mortgage financing. While FHA still requires decent credit, the down payment requirements are as low as 3.5%. The catch for our market is that FHA loan limits were not increased for Illinois. Some areas of the county allow FHA loan limits as high as $729,750. For much of Chicago and the surrounding area, FHA loan limits top out around $410,000 for a single-family home.

Fortunately, The Evanston real estate market includes a great selection of homes and condos priced within FHA lending limits. If you're looking to buy a home in Evanston, Wilmette, or other communities in the North Shore area, 2012 could be the year to make your move! Give yourself contract credibility by seeking pre-approval from a reputable mortgage lender. Contact us for market reports that will help you find the most attractive and affordable homes.

Evanston home sellers will need to remain flexible during 2012 while distressed properties are processed through the market. What should you expect when selling your home? For starters, you should expect it to sell! At The Thomas Team, we will expertly prepare a marketing strategy to sell your home, and provide you with the responsive, professional service that you deserve. Contact us and see the difference for yourself!

Wishing you all the best during the holidays and the New Year,

The Thomas Team
Chicago's #1 Real Estate Brokerage

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Evanston Home Inspection Tips!

Low mortgage interest rates and affordable home prices make buying an Evanston home a feasible goal. Not every home is a bargain, however. The economy has caused a few North Shore properties to have “deferred maintenance.”  In other words, the normal upkeep on a home may have been put off for awhile.

A qualified home inspector can help you discover issues that might otherwise escape your notice.

Evanston home sellers can use a property inspection to nip any potential issues in the bud. Evanston home buyers appreciate the peace of mind and open disclosure that a home inspection can provide.

The National Association of Home Inspectors provides uniform guidance and a code of ethics for the home inspection industry. By pledging to adhere to NAHI standards, a home inspector offers an added level of professionalism to their credentials. 

When selecting a home inspector, first determine if he or she is licensed in the State of Illinois. Verify if your inspector is a member of NAHI or belongs to a local State affiliation. You should also verify if the home inspector has any outstanding complaints against them on file with the Better Business Bureau. 

Keep in mind that a home inspection is a visual, non-invasive inspection of the property. Here are the general areas they examine:  
  • Grading/Site                                                               
  • Exterior
  • Roofing
  • Structure
  • Foundation
  • Heating
  • Cooling
  • Plumbing
  • Electrical
Home inspectors may offer additional services, such as checking for termites, lead-based paint, radon gas or asbestos. Ask about these areas and any additional costs when arranging your home inspection.

To get the most from the inspection, you should plan to be present and take notes. Don’t be shy about asking questions! Be sure to thoroughly read the inspection report when it’s completed. As an Evanston home seller, this information could play a role in how you price your home for the market. As a North Shore home buyer, it could give you points of negotiation.

As your Evanston Real Estate agents, we put our experience to work for you, to make buying or selling your North Shore home a smooth process. Our knowledge of the Evanston Real Estate market makes the difference! Contact us today for all your real estate needs.
The Thomas Team
@ Properties
Chicago's #1 Real Estate Brokerage

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

Enjoy These Evanston Events This Holiday Season!

The holidays are a great time of year in Evanston as this charming north Chicago suburb comes alive with twinkling lights, local festivities and countless ways to experience holiday cheer.  Whether you currently live in Evanston or are considering moving to the area, we encourage you to take a break from the hustle and bustle and join in on some of the events taking place around town!  
As experienced Evanston Real Estate agents, we want to provide not only exceptional buying and selling experiences for those navigating the Evanston Real Estate market, but to provide a holistic approach to the Evanston lifestyle.   As you know the old adage, “Location, location, location!” rings true when deciding where to buy a home, and we enjoy showing off the unique and vibrant culture Evanston has to offer.  
Here are just a few ways you can get in the holiday spirit and get involved in the Evanston community the next few weekends!
Nutcracker on Ice
Friday, December 9 at 7:30pm
Cost- $9
- Enjoy this beloved ice show is performed by Robert Crown Center ice skating school students and competitive figure skaters.  This event is sponsored by the Robert Crown Community Center and Ice Complex, along with the Evanston Recreation Division.  Feel free to call 847-448-8258 for more information.

Holiday Bazaar
Fleetwood-Jourdain Center
1655 Foster St, Evanston
Saturday, December 10 at 8am
Cost- Free
- Stop by the third annual Holiday Bazaar to pick up those perfect gifts for the upcoming holidays, special birthdays or just for yourself! Goods expected to be displayed and sold include purses, books, clothes, fragrances and jewelry. 

Evanston Arts Center Winter Arts & Crafts Expo
Saturday, December 10 at 10am
Cost- Free
- The EAC's biggest event of the holiday season is  here - the 9th Annual Winter Arts & Crafts Expo. You’ll enjoy browsing original, handmade works of jewelry, ceramics, fiber, metal, glass, painting, photography, mixed media and more!  All proceeds from the Expo will benefit the ongoing exhibition, education, and outreach programs at the EAC.  This is a great way to find unique gifts and help give back to the community!

Chicago Chamber Choir Christmas Concert
St. Mark’s Episcopal Church
1509 Ridge Ave, Evanston
Saturday, December 17 at 4pm
Cost- $18 (Students- $15, At Door- $20)
- The Chicago Chamber Choir continues its Christmas Around the World series with An Olde English Christmas. This stirring candlelight program will span more than 400 years of English music and will feature Benjamin Britten's Ceremony of Carols as well as other well known carols. Tickets are available online at www.ChicagoChamberChoir.org or by calling 312-409-6890. 
Holiday Caroling at the Evanston Public Library
Evanston Public Library
1703 Orrington Ave, Evanston
Sunday, December 18 at 3pm
Cost- Free
- Enjoy a unique arrangement of holiday songs with the All-Village Singers at the Evanston Public Library. It's not your traditional holiday caroling. The group chooses interesting arrangements from a variety of music genres including pop, jazz and show tunes. All Village Singers is a non-profit organization dedicated to performing high-quality musical performances for all audiences to enjoy. Don’t miss this popular event!
As you can see, there are many ways to experience Evanston this holiday season, and we hope you’re able to take advantage of a few of these events!
If you have been considering moving to Evanston and have questions about the lifestyle, the Evanston Real Estate market or are ready to view some of the homes currently for sale in Evanston, please let us know!  
Our team of experienced Evanston Real Estate agents would enjoy the opportunity to help you navigate the Evanston Real Estate market and help you find your next home!

The Thomas Team
Chicago's #1 Real Estate Brokerage

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

5 Advantage of Buying an Evanston Home This Holiday Season

It’s hard to believe we’re in the middle of the holiday season; we hope you had a great Thanksgiving!  This is such a great time of year in Evanston and, as Evanston Real Estate agents, we enjoy taking in the festive decorations adorning the beautiful homes and in Evanston’s downtown area.
For those who have been considering buying an Evanston home this year, you may be tempted to put your home search on hold till after the holiday season.  However, shopping for a home now has some great advantages!  Here are five compelling reasons you may want to continue on in your Evanston home search.
1. Less Competition- Many buyers don’t think to take advantage of house hunting during the holidays, so you’re sure to avoid any bidding wars that would occur at a peak point on the Evanston Real Estate market.  This will mean a less stressful home buying experience for you!
2. Motivated Sellers- Sellers dread not being able to sell their homes before the holidays get under way. They’re very aware that most are not in the market to buy a home until spring rolls around, which means; they’re motivated. They know showings of their home will greatly decrease, so any activity on their home is good news. Oftentimes they’re willing to come down on the price or be flexible with closing dates, and other extras
3. Lower Prices- With the lack of people searching during the holidays for a home in Evanston; prices soften a bit. You can view our website, TheThomasTeamOnline.com, to see a list of our current homes for sale in Evanston!  You’ll notice these homes are priced to sell and are a great deal for buyers.
4. Favorable Mortgage Terms- Mortgage lenders may be willing to lower interest rates or let go of some of their fees in order to gain your business. With fewer people shopping for homes; they will be experiencing a slower time in their business as well. Be sure to shop around to get the best possible deal.  Your Evanston Real Estate agent will help point you in the right direction.
5. Tax Deduction- Closing before the end of the year can mean you are eligible to deduct the interest component of your first monthly mortgage payment from your taxable income for this year. You may also be able to deduct any money you pay for points to reduce your interest rate. Of course you’ll want to consult with an Evanston tax advisor to talk over the full details.
We hope these five advantages help you determine your next step for buying a home in Evanston.  If you are buying your first home, relocating to the area or are hoping to move into your dream home; please let us know!  We would enjoy the opportunity to talk with you about your Evanston Real Estate needs and can help you throughout the entire home buying process!
We look forward to hearing from you!

The Thomas Team
Chicago's #1 Real Estate Brokerage

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Enjoy an Eco-Friendly Season in Evanston!

Living in Evanston comes with many perks such as a great community and close proximity to downtown Chicago.  Yet for those of you who’ve lived in Evanston, you know that these perks also come as a packaged deal with the famous Chicago winters.  While many of us enjoy seeing the winter wonderland, we also know that keeping warm during the winter comes at a price.
Whether you live in one of Evanston’s stunning remodeled vintage homes or a beautiful condo, you’re probably considering cost-effective and eco-friendly ways to stay warm. The community of Evanston is known for their environmentally conscious efforts, so take a few minutes to review these seven eco-friendly ways to enjoy Evanston’s cold weather season.
1. Set the Timer- Set your thermostat to lower temperatures while you’re away from your Evanston home or while you’re sleeping. This will automatically help reduce energy used as well as costs just by programming your thermostat.
2. Let the Sunshine In- During the day, be sure to leave blinds and curtains open to let in the sunlight and natural heat. At night, shut them to help “trap” the warmth.
3. Light a Fire- It’s amazing how a fire in your fireplace can heat up a room instantly! Consider lowering your thermostat on cooler evenings and lighting a fire instead. You’ll instantly feel cozier in the midst of Chicago’s chilly winters.
4. Bundle Up- Feeling chilled? Instead of turning up the thermostat, throw on a pair of socks or an extra layer. These small choices to not turn up the heat can really add up in energy savings!
5. Switch our Your Lights- From lamps to the Christmas tree, all of your lights can be changed out for energy efficient LED lights! With the sun setting earlier, you’ll be using your indoor lights more often. Also, the festivity of the season’s decorations can spike energy bill. LED Christmas lights can cut back on costs and energy usage.
6. Stop Leaks- Check all doors and windows for drafts. You can easily seal windows and doors to prevent the warm air from your Evanston home escaping while making sure the cool air doesn’t leak in!
7. Unplug- Not using an appliance? Unplug it! The Department of Energy notes that, even if appliances are not being used, they are still using energy. 40% of electricity used for your home electronics is used when they’re turned off, but still plugged in. Getting in the habit of unplugging will prove to be a smart habit in the long run!
Of course there are many other ways to be eco-friendly this late fall and winter season, but these tips should help you get started.  As Evanston Real Estate agents, we want to provide you with the best advice on the Evanston Real Estate market as well as enjoying your Evanston home!
Please feel free to let us know if you have questions about living in Evanston, or buying or selling a home in Evanston.  We’d love to help!
Don’t forget about this Thursday’s 1st Annual Turkey 5K Walk/Run as it’s sure to quickly become a new Evanston Thanksgiving day tradition!  View more information about the race on our blog.  
Happy Thanksgiving!

The Thomas Team
Chicago's #1 Real Estate Brokerage