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

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Create Beautiful Curb Appeal for your Evanston Home This Winter

With the holidays just around the corner, we know that a white blanket of snow may not be far behind!  Evanston’s winter season is beautiful, but it can leave your home’s curb appeal lacking.  Bare trees and overcast days may have you wishing there was something you could do to create an appealing look for your home for passersby.
Whether your Evanston home is currently on the market and you want your home to be as appealing as possible to buyers, or you’re planning on hosting holiday festivities in your home; curb appeal will set the mood for the entire experience.  So, what are some ways to boost your home’s curb appeal this winter?  Here are seven simple tips!
1. Safety First- You may have friends and family planning to visit soon, so you’ll want to put safety first! Be sure your driveway, sidewalk and front porch are cleared of debris or any snow. It’s always better to be on the cautious side and put down salt, as even rain can freeze and make walking up to your home dangerous.
2. A Neat Lawn- Whether there is snow covering your lawn or not; be sure to keep your lawn free from any leaves, twigs, etc… that may have blown through with the harsher winds. Just because your lawn is not expected to be as lush as the summer months, doesn’t mean to ignore the state of your lawn. Keeping it cleaned up will show that you care.
3. Clean Gutters- It’s not too late to make sure your gutters are free from leaves and other debris. You’ll want these cleared so that melting snow or rain can easily run through the gutters and not cause damage.
4. Fresh Paint- Your Evanston home is more visible in the winter months as trees are free from their leaves and your home’s condition is more exposed. Touching up chipped or faded paint is a great way to help your Evanston home look refreshed.
5. Lighting- The use of lights can really make your home stand out with the shorter winter days. Since there is more time without the suns light, using a variety of lighting can give your home a warm glow. Indoor window lights in each room provides a nice appeal, while lights along the pathway up to your home, a bright porch light and tasteful Christmas lights are all ways in which to enhance your Evanston homes’ curb appeal.
6. Tasteful Decorations- While you can have fun with the season’s bright lights and characters of Christmas, it can be easy for some to get carried away. Try small white lights around your homes’ bushes or front porch post, a simple wreath and garland to enhance your home’s appearance without being too distracting.
7. Cold Weather Plants- Hearty plants and Evergreen trees can withstand the winter months while adding visual appeal to the outside of your home. Evergreen Holly will add a splash of color with its red berries and can stand up to the cold weather.
Creating a great first impression of your home offers a welcoming environment for family, friends and potential buyers alike!  We hope these winter curb appeal tips will give your Evanston home the “wow” factor for which you’re looking.
If you are considering selling your home this holiday season and haven’t yet found an Evanston Real Estate agent, please feel free to contact us!  We’d enjoy the opportunity to walk with your through the home selling process for your Evanston home.  Our experienced team of Evanston Real Estate agents can ensure the best service as well as the most efficient and stress free selling experience.
We look forward to hearing from you!

The Thomas Team
Chicago's #1 Real Estate Brokerage

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Get Involved in the Evanston Community This Weekend!

One of the things we enjoy about being real estate agents in Evanston is the opportunity to tell potential buyers or those relocating to the area what makes Evanston such a great place to call “home.”  This vibrant, community-centered town is a unique blend of big city life, with Chicago nearby, and small town atmosphere.  Charming turn of the century homes as well as renovated downtown Evanston condos also provide a wide variety of living options!
As Evanston Real Estate agents, we want to provide you with up to date Evanston Real Estate market news and pertinent home buying and selling information, but also give you a taste of the Evanston lifestyle.  Today, we’re highlighting a few great events taking place in Evanston this weekend that you won’t want to miss!
Evanston Children’s Theater:  Sherlock Holmes
Levy Center
300 Dodge Avenue, Evanston

Friday- Sunday, November 11-13 
- You’ll enjoy this highly-entertaining adaptation of Sir Arthur Conan Doyle’s famed detective story combines mystery, romance, action, danger and laughter.  The Evanston Children’s Theatre shows are performed by youth age 8 through 8th grade and is a way the community is building a love for the arts into our future generations.  View more information about this event on the Evanston website!
Central Street Community Day
Central Street, Evanston
Saturday, November 12
- Give back to local charities this Saturday with Central Street Community Day!  Any shopping you do at participating businesses will give a portion back to the charity of your choice!  Simply print the Community Day flyer and take it with you as you do your shopping on Saturday.  Charities include C.A.R.E. for the Evanston Shelter, Center for Independent Futures – Evanston,  and Dreams Delivered - Woman's Club of Evanston.  Download the flyer from the Evanston website and help give back this weekend!
We hope you’re able to take advantage of one, or both of these events!  Both are great ways to get involved in the Evanston community whether you’re a permanent resident or checking out Evanston to see if it’s where you’d like to live.  
Also, don’t forget about the upcoming 1st Annual Flying Turkey 5K Walk/Run!  This new event in Evanston will quickly become a favorite Thanksgiving Day tradition for Evanston residents, so you’ll want to be sure to get involved!  Please view our previous blog post for more information! 
If you’re currently an Evanston resident, we’re sure you enjoy living in Evanston as much as we enjoy living and working here as Evanston Real Estate agents!  Thinking of moving to this great city?  Please feel free to contact us!  We’ll answer any questions you may have about living in Evanston and can show you some of the gorgeous homes currently on the Evanston Real Estate market.
We look forward to hearing from you!

The Thomas Team
Chicago's #1 Real Estate Brokerage

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

How to Determine if Refinancing Your Evanston Home is Right for You

Whether you’ve been considering selling your Evanston home in the near future, or are interested in cashing in on the currently low interest rates; you may be considering refinancing your Evanston home.
In working in the real estate market as Evanston Real Estate agents, we often have people ask us about refinancing.  While there can be great advantages, such as lowering your monthly mortgage payments, it’s also important to think through the decision to refinance.  Here are five main factors in determining if refinancing is right for you.
1. Interest rates- Refinancing right now is great for homeowners whose current rates are above 5.5% and are hoping to save on their monthly mortgage costs. For an Evanston home; you could potentially save a percentage point or more on an outstanding mortgage.
2. Credit score and income- Most banks in today’s market will require you to have a minimum credit score of 620 in order to refinance. You will also need to prove that your household finances have been stable. If unemployment or other issues have come up that have decreased your finances significantly; you’ll find it hard to refinance.
3. Costs- Refinancing your home will cost you typically 2% of the new loan amount. This includes application, appraisal and inspection fees. Included within refinancing costs is the new escrow account you’ll need to fund. The lender will set up this account for home-insurance and property-tax payments from which they’ll draw annually. Want to avoid this fee? Use the same lender you used for your initial mortgage. Their only costs are limited to issuing new paperwork, so they’re able to keep costs low and can oftentimes speed up the process. Another option is a good faith estimate. Your Evanston Real Estate agent can help you determine which option would work best for your home.
4. Adjustable-rate mortgages- Determining whether you’d like to go with an adjustable-rate mortgage or a fixed-rate mortgage can be tricky. An ARM can be a good choice for today’s market as you’ll cash in on the current lower rates, but can be unstable in the long run. However, a fixed-rate mortgage ensures that your rates will remain stable and won’t rise if the market changes.
5. Greater pricing disparity- Based on your current credit score, the rates offered for refinancing can vary greatly. Lenders will look at Illinois’ average loan-to-value ratio and the percentage of homes with negative equity. The higher the percentage of these homes, the higher the rate a borrower will most likely be offered.
As always, as the Thomas Team, we’re here to help you in any way we can!  If you’d like to discuss how refinancing could work for you or if you’re interested in selling or buying a home in Evanston, let us know!
We’d enjoy the opportunity to work with you and help you navigate the Evanston Real Estate market!

The Thomas Team
Chicago's #1 Real Estate Brokerage