Tuesday, September 27, 2011

5 Tips for Selling Your Evanston Home this Fall!

While you have enjoyed living in Evanston on Chicago’s North Shore, a job change or other extenuating circumstances may necessitate you selling your home this fall.  Given the fact that the nation is currently experiencing a buyer’s market, you may be leery of putting your home up for sale.  However, selling your Evanston home is not impossible.
As Evanston Real Estate agents, we’ve worked with buyers and sellers in the Evanston Real Estate market for a number of years and have a solid understanding of what Evanston buyers are looking for in a new home.  Adding a buyers market into the mix can present certain challenges, but this market can be easily navigated and your home can be sold in an efficient manner if you are know what to expect.
We’ve gathered five key tips that will help you as you consider selling your Evanston home.  
1. Understand What a Buyers Market Means- It’s important to understand what kind of market you’re about to enter and to look at some of the hard facts. Being in a buyers market means:

 - There are more homes on the market than there are buyers.
 - Homes are staying on the market longer.
 - Homes are selling for less than they’re worth.
2. Price Your Home Correctly from the Beginning- This is a vital factor in selling your Evanston home. If you enter the market with an overpriced home, Evanston buyers will immediately cross it off their list and move on to a more affordable option. They have that luxury in a buyers market. The longer your Evanston home sits on the market; the less interest it will receive. You’ll find that waiting for that to happen and then reducing your price will not generate the same excitement that a ideally priced home would in the beginning.
3. Make Your Home Irresistible- Evanston buyers expect only the best, especially if they have the option to be picky. You’ll want to make sure your home shows like a model home and that its irresistible to buyers. Take care of any issues that you know of in your home, spend time updating your home (even if it’s just a fresh coat of paint), and spruce up your Evanston home’s curb appeal. All of these little details will add up to a home that buyers can’t refuse!
4. Find a Trusted Evanston Real Estate Agent- You’ll want to do your research and find an agent who has years of experience in the Evanston Real Estate market. Your real estate agent will play a key role in getting your Evanston home sold. Look at their home selling record, client testimonials and ask them to give you a detailed plan of what they will do to sell your Evanston home
5. Make Sure Your Home is Getting Ultimate Exposure- The main element in getting your home sold is exposure. Did you know that over 80% of people search for homes online? Getting online exposure for your home is vital for home selling success. Talk with your Evanston Real Estate agent about how your home will be presented online and the types of sites they use to market your home. An online presence for your home is a service your real estate agent should be providing for you.
If you have any questions about selling your Evanston home or about the Evanston Real Estate market, please feel free to contact us!  We would enjoy the opportunity to meet with you, discuss your real estate needs and help get your Evanston home sold in a smooth and timely process!
We look forward to helping you sell your home!

The Thomas Team
Chicago's #1 Real Estate Brokerage

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Celebrate Eco-Friendly Living This Saturday in Evanston!

One of the things we enjoy about living and working in Chicago’s North Shore is its committment to the environment.  Keeping the backdrop for our lives vibrant and healthy is imperative for our communities and the world as a whole!  As Evanston Real Estate agents, we are continually able to show potential buyers what makes the North Shore, specifically Evanston, such a great place to live.  We not only want to showcase beautiful Evanston homes, but the lifestyle and community that Evanston has to offer.
This Saturday, September 24 from 9am-3pm, Evanston is highlighting its desire for eco-friendly and sustainable living through the 5th Annual Evanston Green Living Festival. Each year this festival, presented by the Evanston Environmental Association (EEA) and the City of Evanston, has a theme to encourage making a difference on our planet.  This year, “Alternative Energy, You’ve Got the Power” will be seen throughout the event as a great reminder to start a more environmentally sound lifestyle right at home!  
The Ecology Center, in the heart of downtown Evanston, will host this free event as it’s been a long-time proponent of green living in Evanston.  New to this years festival will be a Green Silent Auction with items from green vendors and organizations with proceeds going to further develop The Ecology Center. 
The Evanston Green Living Festival will also showcase the Green Market which features over 80 Green Home Exhibitors, an Alternative Transportation Exhibit, Green Demonstrations, a panel discussion and much more!  Not only is this a fun way to spend a great fall day outdoors in Evanston, but is also an educational way to promote a green lifestyle.  You’ll walk away from this event feeling armed with ways to incorporate a more sustainable lifestyle every day! Visit the Evanston Green Living Festival website for more information. 
Here are a few simple ways to get started with eco-friendly living in your Evanston home!
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. 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 from escaping, while making sure the cool air doesn’t leak in.  In the summer, it will also prevent your air conditioner from working twice as hard.

4. Switch out Your Lights- From lamps to porch lights, all of your lights can be changed out for energy efficient LED lights! This change will add up to financial and energy savings!

5. 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!
We hope that you’re able to attend the Evanston Green Living Festival or take the time to make environmentally conscious updates to your Evanston homeLiving in Evanston is much more than finding your ideal home, but involves being a part of a thriving community that you’re sure to enjoy.
If you’re interested in buying a home in Evanston this fall, please feel free to contact The Thomas Team to help you each step of the way!
The Thomas Team
Chicago's #1 Real Estate Brokerage

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Prepare Your Evanston Home for Fall!

Fall in Evanston is a beautiful time of year with the leaves changing to vibrant colors against a vivid blue sky.  As we get ready for the cool, crisp air and all that this season along Chicago’s North Shore holds, it’s important to ask ourselves if our homes are ready for the change.
For those of you who’ve lived in Evanston for a few years, you’re aware of our lake effect weather and how fall can turn to winter without warning.  Instead of waiting to make sure your Evanston home is fully prepared for the change in temperatures and precipitation, we decided to put together a September checklist that you can do this month to ensure you’re ready for the new season.  Take a look!
1.  Add weatherstripping to doors and windows- Weatherstripping can be plastic, foam, felt or metal; its job is to seal small gaps, keeping moisture and cold air outside where they belong.  Newer, energy-efficient windows generally don't require added weatherstripping, but if your windows are older, weatherstripping can keep drafts at bay and energy costs down.

2.  Check storm windows- If you have storm windows that are cracked or dirty, repair and clean them now; prior to autumn installation.

3.  Insulation speculation- This is a good time to check the condition of insulation and see if you need more, especially if you live in one of Evanston’s beautiful turn-of-the-century homes. You can purchase un-backed or loose-fill insulation if you are just beefing up what is already there. If your walls lack insulation, consider having a professional install blown-in insulation foam. The energy savings will probably offset the cost of the procedure in a couple of years.

4.  Check gutters- Do a quick visual check to make sure gutters are clear — they'll be performing double duty soon with rainstorms and falling leaves.

5.  Keep mice out- September inspires nesting in mice as well as humans. Mice are looking for a winter home now, and that newly insulated attic would be just the spot. Mice can squeeze through 1/4-inch openings. Make sure all exterior vents are screened, and that there are no gaps underneath garage doors.

6.  Caulk exterior- Think of caulk as weatherstripping in a tube. Any gap on the outside of your home can be a candidate for caulking. Look at transition spots: corners, windows, doors, areas where masonry joins siding, or places where vents and other objects protrude from walls. Carefully read manufacturer's directions to make sure the caulk you buy will work where you plan to use it, and don't forget to purchase a caulking gun. Early fall is a good time for this task because caulk becomes difficult to apply when the temperature falls.

7.  Inspect your roof and chimney- If your roof isn't too steep, and isn't covered with slate or tile, you may be able to carefully walk on it on a dry day. Look for broken or missing shingles, missing or damaged flashing and seals around vent pipes and chimneys, and damage to boards along the eaves. Also peer down your chimney with a flashlight to make sure no animals have set up house in it. If you can't get on your roof, perform this inspection with a ladder around the perimeter.   Some patches and roofing cement now can prevent thousands of dollars of water damage later in the winter.
As Evanston Real Estate agents, we want to help people not only navigate through the Evanston Real Estate market, but assist in making sure that current Evanston residents are getting the most they can out of their Evanston home and lifestyle!  We hope these tips will give you a few ideas on how to prepare your home for fall, whether you’ve experienced years of this season in Evanston or are new to the area.
If you don’t currently own a home in Evanston, but have been contemplating buying an Evanston home this fall, please let us know!  We would be happy to answer your questions about the Evanston Real Estate market and show you some of the homes that are currently available in Evanston.  
We look forward to helping you discover Evanston!

The Thomas Team
Chicago's #1 Real Estate Brokerage

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

6 Tips for Getting Your Finances in Order Before Buying Your First Evanston Home!

Buying your first home is an exciting time as you think of what your home will entail and dream of your ideal Evanston location.  You’re ready to begin your home search and are anxious to get a great deal since you’ve heard stories of our current buyers market. 
Yet, before you jump right into to searching for an Evanston home, you’ll want to make sure that you’re fully prepared.  As Evanston Real Estate agents who also service surrounding North Shore communities, we see first time buyers who haven’t taken the necessary time to get their finances in order.   Having an organized budget and system for your earnings will allow the home buying process to run much more smoothly.
Recently an article by Gabriela Islas, financial writer for Quicken Loans, pointed out some great tips for approaching your personal finances.  If you are considering buying a home in Evanston or any of the surrounding North Shore areas, these tips will help you get organized before you begin the home buying process.
1. Check your credit report and fix any errors- By law, consumers have the right to a free annual credit report. Take advantage of getting a free credit report, but always be sure to check out its accuracy. Many times, there are errors or may contain outdated information, which could affect your score negatively. If you do find a mistake, make sure you contact the corresponding credit bureau in order to dispute the errors.
2. Review your budget- It’s helpful to make time to sit down and check your monthly budget. If you are saving to buy a house, for example, periodically reviewing your budget will help you get rid of unnecessary expenses allowing you to save more.
3. Review your monthly withholdings- There is no reason for you to give an interest-free loan to Uncle Sam! By reviewing your monthly withholdings you may be able to put more money in your pocket or savings account every month. Of course, consult with your tax advisor before making any changes to your withholdings in order to avoid owing money to the IRS at the end of the year.
4.  Review your financial emergency plan- Planning for unexpected events can give you peace of mind. A good rule of thumb is to have six months worth of expenses saved in an emergency fund. Think about your monthly expenses (like rent or mortgage payments, utilities, car payments, insurance, credit card payments, etc.) and figure out how much you would need to have in a savings account in order to pay for these items for six months. Don’t get discouraged if it takes time to build up your emergency fund, ANY amount is better than no savings at all. Also, make sure that if you become incapacitated, there is someone you trust to handle your finances.
5. Sign up for paperless statements- Signing up for paperless statements and paying your bills online will help keep your mail under control while saving trees at the same time. A lot of banks and credit unions offer online bill pay services for free. Take advantage of this and join the “green” movement.
6.   Consolidate accounts- When you’re budgeting, sometimes it’s helpful to separate accounts. For example, if you are trying to save for a special purchase or an emergency fund, you may have your employer deposit a portion of your paycheck directly into your savings account. But having many accounts can make keeping track of them difficult. When that becomes the case, it’s time to consolidate your accounts. Before making this decision, check with your financial institution to make sure there aren’t any penalties or fees for canceling an account.
As Evanston Real Estate agents, we hope these tips help you begin your Evanston home search on the right foot.  We understand that buying your first home can be a little overwhelming at times, so feel free to contact us today so that we can help walk you through the entire home buying process.
We hope to hear from you soon!

The Thomas Team
Chicago's #1 Real Estate Brokerage