Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Get Local and Take Part in Chicago North Shore Farmers' Markets!

Summer in Chicago’s North Shore is a great time to get outdoors and enjoy the sights, sounds and even tastes of the season.  As Chicago North Shore Real Estate agents, we enjoy bringing you a wide variety of information about the North Shore lifestyle and feel that this well-rounded approach provides you with the information you want!
Whether you’re a current Chicago North Shore resident, or are considering moving to Winnetka, Highland Park, Glencoe, Skokie, Evanston or any of the other North Shore cities; we want to ensure that you’re up to date on the current real estate and community news!  Finding a home in Chicago’s North Shore is just part of the North Shore experience.  While you do want to love your home, you also want to be in a neighborhood that provides an even greater quality of life.
One way to experience the North Shore communities is through the local farmers’ markets.  These are an ideal way to enjoy the Chicago summer, meet up with friends and family, get to know your neighbors and experience the healthy lifestyle that can be found on Chicago’s North Shore.  We’ve rounded up a few of the local farmers markets and hope you get the opportunity to take part in this North Shore community event!
Northfield Farmers’ Market
6 Happ Road, Northfield
Saturdays from May 28- October 22

- Located across the street from New Trier High School's Northfield Campus, The Northfield Farmer's Market will run throughout the summer and early fall rain or shine. Stop by each Saturday to shop fresh fruit, artisan breads, and beautiful plants.
Glencoe Farmers’ Market
Glencoe Village Hall
675 Village Court, Glencoe
Saturdays from June-October
- The Market is under new management and will have returning
favorites, including KAP Farms, the French Nuns, Barry's Berries and The Flower Garden.  New to the Market will be vendors offering specialty olive oils, vinegars and spices, breads and pastas, apples and apple products, cookies and brownies, coffee and made-on-the-spot crepes!
Evanston Farmers’ Market
University Place & Oak Avenue, Evanston
Saturdays from May 7-November 5
- Now in its 36th year, the Evanston Farmers' Market has a festive atmosphere and is a real crowd-pleaser! Thirty-seven vendors sell a wide variety of goods, including fruits, vegetables, meat, flowers, cheese, milk, eggs and bakery items. Reusable and biodegradable bags are sold on site.
Of course there are more Farmers’ Markets taking place throughout Chicago’s North Shore, but we wanted to highlight a few options.  We hope you take advantage of these healthy and fun options for getting involved in the North Shore communities.
As Chicago North Shore Real Estate agents, we’re here to help you in any way we can!  Please feel free to contact us anytime with questions regarding the Chicago North Shore Real Estate market, buying or selling a North Shore home or questions about the Chicago North Shore lifestyle.  
We look forward to hearing from you!

The Thomas Team
Chicago's #1 Real Estate Brokerage

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Beat the Heat and Attract Buyers with an Open House for your Chicago North Shore Home!

Summer on Chicago’s North Shore has been taken to a whole new level this month with the unusually high temperatures.  While some of you may feel this is exactly how summers should be, there are those of you who are just looking for ways to keep cool!  We hope that you’ve been taking the necessary precautions as you enjoy time outside in your North Shore community as there’s always something fun to do.
If you currently have your home on the Chicago North Shore Real Estate market; the heat may actually play into your favor!  You may feel that summer activities and vacations have many buyers on hold as they take advantage of the summer months.  However, with the excessive heat, Chicago North Shore buyers may be looking for opportunities to stay indoors and keep as cool as possible.  
Hosting an open house for your North Shore home within the next few weeks may be just the thing that will attract buyers to enjoy time indoors!  If you do plan on having your Chicago North Shore Real Estate agent set up an open house, there are a few key things you can do that will make your home even more appealing to potential buyers. 
1. First Impressions- Believe it or not, a nice doormat or attractive porch can really set the tone for the entire open house.  If there’s an old doormat, chipped paint or nothing special about the entrance to your home, buyers may feel that you don’t really care.  A welcoming setting from the start will instantly let buyers know that your home is well-maintained and that each area of your home is cared for.

2. Get to the Heart- The best way to appeal to the buyers’ heart is through offering something special when they walk in the door.  Whether you bake fresh cookies, or have cool lemonade for them on your counter, these added touches will set your home apart.  Lighting a mildly scented candle and having your home cooled can be a welcome retreat from the heat and can make your home instantly feel comfortable to the North Shore buyer.
3. Make it Generic- It’s great to make your home personal; however your pictures, children’s art or your “to do” list on the refrigerator can be a large distraction to potential buyers.  They need to be able to envision themselves in your home, so putting away those personal items will help buyers picture their life in your Chicago North Shore home.

4. Clear Counters- Look at your kitchen or bathroom counters from a outsiders viewpoint.  Do you have too many appliances cluttering your kitchen counter?  Clearing this space will make there appear to be more room for cooking or their own storage.  If your bathroom counters are filled with perfumes, toothbrush holders, etc… take time to put them in cabinets or drawers so buyers can see the actual size of the space.

5. Set the Table- This may not seem necessary, but having your dining room table set with nice place settings add a touch of class and can help the Chicago North Shore buyer envision hosting their own dinner parties.

6. Don’t Stick Around- While it may be tempting to want to hear what the potential buyers have to say, it can be awkward when the seller is present.  They will feel that they can’t openly express their thoughts to the agent and will not feel as comfortable when looking throughout the home.  Even if you take a walk through the neighborhood, being away from the home during an open house can make all the difference.
These six practical tips can be just the thing that helps your North Shore home stand out from other homes currently on the Chicago North Shore Real Estate market.  If you have been considering selling your Chicago North Shore home, but aren’t quite sure where to start; please let us know!  
As a team of experienced Chicago North Shore Real Estate agents, we’ve helped many people sell their North Shore home in a timely and efficient manner.  We would enjoy the opportunity to meet with you over an iced cold drink, or even ice cream, to discuss your home selling needs as well as walk with you throughout the entire home selling process.  
Please feel free to contact us today to get started!  
The Thomas Team
Chicago's #1 Real Estate Brokerage

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

How to Deal with a Low Ball Offer on Your Chicago North Shore Home

As Chicago North Shore Real Estate agents, we know that selling your North Shore home can seem like an overwhelming experience as we see the national housing market leaning more in the favor of buyers.  Last week, we talked about some great tips for selling your North Shore home and some things you can do to make it stand out from other homes on the market.  
So, what happens if you follow those tips and your home is in excellent condition and primed for sale, but you are not getting the offers you expected?  It can be tough to know what to do in that situation and can be disheartening as you’ve put so much effort into your North Shore home.  It can seem that you’re back at square one and are not making any progress as you deal with these low offers.  We thought it would be helpful to tackle this topic of dealing with low-ball offers and give you some tips on how to turn it into a positive situation.
1. Consider the terms- Price is important for most North Shore buyers and sellers, but it’s not the only deal point. A low purchase offer might make sense if the contingencies are reasonable, the closing date meets your needs, and the buyer is pre-approved for a mortgage. Consider what terms you might change in a counteroffer to make the deal work.

2. Counter the purchase offer- Unless you’ve received multiple purchase offers on your Chicago North Shore home, the best response is to counter the low offer with a price and terms you’re willing to accept. Some buyers make a low offer because they think that’s customary, they’re afraid they’ll overpay or they want to test your limits.

A counteroffer signals that you’re willing to negotiate. One strategy for your counteroffer is to lower your price, but remove any concessions such as seller assistance with closing costs, or features such as kitchen appliances that you’d like to take with you.

3. Get the agents together- If the purchase offer is too low to counter, but you don’t have a better option, ask your Chicago North Shore Real Estate agent to call the buyer’s agent and try to narrow the price gap so that a counteroffer would make sense. Also, ask your agent whether the buyer (or buyer’s agent) has a reputation for lowball purchase offers. If that’s the case, you might feel more free to reject the offer.

4. Review your comps- Ask your Chicago North Shore Real Estate agent whether any homes that are comparable to yours (known as “comps”) have been sold or put on the market since your home was listed for sale. If those new comps are at lower prices, you might have to lower your price to match them if you want to sell.

5. Consider the buyer’s comps- Buyers sometimes attach comps to a low offer to try to convince the seller to accept a lower purchase offer. Take a look at those comps. Are the homes similar to yours? If so, your asking price might be unrealistic. If not, you might want to include in your counteroffer information about those homes and your own comps that your Chicago North Shore Real Estate agent provided for you when you first decided your asking price. If the buyers don’t include comps to justify their low purchase offer, have your real estate agent ask the buyers’ agent for those comps or their reasoning behind such a low offer.

6. Don’t signal desperation-Buyers are sensitive to signs that a seller may be receptive to a low purchase offer. If your home is vacant or your home’s listing describes you as a “motivated” seller, you’re signaling you’re open to a low offer. If you can remedy the situation, maybe by renting furniture or asking your Chicago North Shore Real Estate agent not to mention in your home listing that you’re motivated, the next purchase offer you get might be more to your liking.
Our team of experienced North Shore Real Estate agents understand all that goes into selling a home in today’s market.  We know it can be challenging and that’s why we’d love to help you walk through this process!  As always, our door is open to talk with you about the North Shore Real Estate market or any other questions you may have about buying or selling your Chicago North Shore home.  
We look forward to hearing from you and helping you get your home sold!

The Thomas Team
Chicago's #1 Real Estate Brokerage

Tuesday, July 5, 2011

10 Tips for Selling Your Chicago North Shore Home!

Selling your Chicago North Shore home can seem like a daunting task as you hear stories about today’s real estate market.  However, it’s not impossible!  Whether you’re selling your home because of a job transfer or you’ve finally found your dream home in your favorite North Shore community; you’ll be encouraged to know that more people are entering the North Shore Real Estate market in hopes of buying a home.

While having an experienced North Shore Real Estate agent will make a large difference in the effectiveness of getting your home sold; there are also a few things that you can do to help the process!  Getting your home ready to sell before putting your home on the market will result in greater interest and activity right from the start!  Here are 10 tips that you’ll want to review and implement that will help sell your North Shore home.
1. Price it correctly- The single biggest thing you can do is to price your home correctly.  Correct pricing is the number one thing that you can do, because if the price is not within reason of the other properties on the market then all the other items presented below are useless.  You can spend all the money in the world on making your house look beautiful but if the price is not what the current buyers will pay then you are throwing money out the window.

2. Improve your landscaping- Curb appeal is crucial to a good first impression, so make sure your Chicago North Shore home’s lawn is immaculate. Selling your home in the summer is ideal as the warmer weather allows you to show off the highlights of your landscaping.  Make sure to stay on top of mowing the lawn, pruning the bushes, weeding the garden and planting flowers. Allow your landscaping to enhance the “wow” factor of your home!

3. Make repairs- In a buyer’s market you want your home to be in the best condition possible. North Shore buyers are very savvy and know what to expect in a home. Take care of major defects like broken windows or a leaky roof as well as smaller repairs such as a loose hinges on a cabinet or a missing brick from your walkway.  Knowing there are things that will need to be fixed when they move in can greatly discourage buyers. An unkept exterior will make buyers think you've slacked off on interior maintenance as well. Be sure to clean the gutters and pressure wash your home's siding.   If you know of issues that may come up in a home inspection fix them prior to putting your home on the market it will save you time and money to address the issues now. 

4. Make the front door inviting- A fresh coat of paint, especially in a color that contrasts with the home, will make the front door stand out. Replace faded house numbers so buyers can see them from the curb.  For every 1 dollar you spend preparing your home to sell you should receive 3 dollars back.  One of the single greatest return on investments we see for our clients is paint.  If you spend $3000 on interior paint (depending on what you have to work with) you should get $9000 more back in the selling price (on average).

5. Buy a new welcome mat- Let buyers know they're invited into your home.  This is a seemingly small thing to do, but an old, dirty welcome mat will make buyers wonder what else you’ve overlooked in your home.  A fresh mat will show buyers that you pay attention to the smallest details in every aspect of your Chicago North Shore home.

6. Remove clutter and depersonalize- Buyers want to envision their belongings in your home.  By removing personal photos and items; buyers will be less distracted.  If your storage space is limited, perhaps renting a storage unit while your home is on the market is a smart choice. Extra furniture will only make your home appear smaller and more cluttered.  Take the magnets off your refrigerator and organize books, make things look tidy, remember “less is better.”

7. Organize closets and drawers- Messy closets give the appearance that your home doesn't have enough storage space.  Having built-in organizers in closets, and even the kitchen pantry, will give the impression that keeping things organized will be a breeze.  Keep shoes off the floor in the closets when you do so the closets give the impression that they are larger.

8. Make every surface shine
- From ceiling fans to floors and everything in between; clean your home until it shines. We recommend spending money on a professional cleaner, the return on investment for a clean looking and clean smelling house is priceless.  This is another investment that clients make and the return is tremendous.

9. Take color down a notch
- You might like your lime-green bedroom, but it may turn off buyers. Paint your walls a neutral color that will appeal to a wide range of buyers.   Consult your local paint store for more details but it must be kept clean and simple.  When you paint, the house feels fresh and new and buyers want to do as little as possible if it is the right house.

10. Scrutinize- Go outside and open your front door. Stand there. Do you want to go inside? Does the house welcome you? Take a few minutes to do the following: Linger in the doorway of every single room and imagine how your house will look to a buyer. Examine carefully how furniture is arranged and move pieces around until it makes sense. Make sure window coverings hang level. Tune in to the room's statement and its emotional pull. Does it have impact and is it aesthetically pleasing?  Be the “buyer” of your own home.
We hope you are encouraged that there are some valuable steps you can take that will help boost the appeal of your North Shore home!  Of course, if you have any questions about selling your North Shore home or are ready to begin the process; please let us know!  Our team of experience North Shore Real Estate agents will help you each step of the way and ensure a smooth and efficient home sale! 
Feel free to contact us today!

The Thomas Team
Chicago's #1 Real Estate Brokerage