Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Host A Successful Open House for Your Evanston Home!

Selling your Evanston home can seem like an overwhelming process in the midst of this current buyer’s market.  You want to do everything you can to help it stand out from the competition and it can seem like getting your home sold all on your shoulders.
As Evanston Real Estate agents, we know the pressure a seller feels.  Our goal is to make the seller feel as relaxed as possible as we handle all the details that go into selling an Evanston home.  While it can feel nerve-wracking to let go and allow us to handle the sale of your home; it’s important to remember that our expertise in the Evanston Real Estate market is going to help the process run smoothly.
A great way to highlight all that your home has to offer is through an open house where buyers can get a up close and personal sense of your home.  Since open houses can be pivotal to the sale of your home, we thought we’d give you six great tips for hosting a successful open house in your Evanston home!
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. 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 Evanston home.  
3. 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.
4. 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 Evanston buyer envision hosting their own dinner parties.
5. 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 coffee for them on your counter; these added touches will set your home apart.  Lighting a mildly scented candle and having your home appropriately heated for the day’s weather can make your home instantly feel comfortable to the Evanston buyer.
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.
We hope that these tips will help provide the atmosphere needed to make a buyer fall in love with your home.  As always, we’re here to help and would enjoy the opportunity to talk with you about selling your Evanston home.
Please feel free to contact us today to get started!
The Thomas Team
Chicago's #1 Real Estate Brokerage

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

8 Mistakes to Avoid When Buying an Evanston Home!

Buying an Evanston home is a large decision as well as an exciting one!  There are many beautiful homes on the Evanston Real Estate market from turn of the century homes full of character to updated downtown Evanston condos, so you’re sure to find a home that fits your needs and lifestyle.  
Whether you’re relocating to the area or are deciding to go from renting to making a home purchase, the home buying process can seem a little overwhelming; especially to those buying a home for the first time.  
Working as Evanston Real Estate agents for a number of years, we understand the anticipation that can come with making such a large purchase.  You’ve probably heard stories of the things that can go wrong and how stressful buying a home can be, yet it doesn’t have to be that way!  We’ve gathered eight of the biggest mistakes people make when buying an Evanston home in order to help you avoid them.  Armed with this knowledge, as well as having a trusted Evanston Real Estate agent by your side, you’ll find that buying a home in Evanston can be a great experience!
Mistake #1: Waiting for the market to improve or not buying at all- No one can predict precisely where the market is going, so trying to time your Evanston home purchase with the bottom of the market is risky. All the time you spend procrastinating on purchasing a home, you could be building equity, getting tax deductions and enjoying the many other benefits of homeownership!
Mistake #2: Falling for love at first sight- If you don't shop around the Evanston Real Estate market and see what else is out there, you could miss out on a good deal or potentially regret your purchase. While you don't need to visit every home in the neighborhood, you should compare at least three homes before you make a decision to ensure that you're getting the right house at the right price.
Mistake #3: Buying a house you can't afford- It seems that our nation is learning its lesson in spending more than you can afford, and it’s no different in your Evanston home purchase. Just because you get approved for an larger loan than you expected; doesn’t mean you should buy a home at that price. Be wise in thinking through what you can actually afford and factor in any repairs or updates you plan on making in the home.
Mistake #4: Making an offer without contingencies- Having a back-out plan is a must for smart home buying. If the home has an irresolvable flaw, it doesn't appraise for the purchase price, or your lender refuses to fund your loan, having contingencies on your contract gives you the right to cancel the transaction.
Mistake #5: Not reading the fine print- It’s smart to have your Evanston Real Estate agent review all your paperwork and discuss it with you so you don’t get caught off guard at closing. There are a few documents and items that are truly critical, and you can request a copy of these in advance. This gives you time to review them and ask questions before closing.
Mistake #6: Forgoing a home inspection- Even if a home appears to be in perfect condition, it's a mistake to assume that it's actually problem-free. Even brand new homes can have defects, so getting a professional inspection before making the commitment to buy is crucial. Be sure to attend the inspection so the inspector can explain any issues.
Mistake #7: Thinking short-term- The Evanston home you purchase should be a place that feels like home to you and your family, but it's important to remember that it's also a huge investment. When shopping for a home, it pays to think about resale down the road. Search for homes in sought-after neighborhoods, and look for features that future buyers will want, such as a great kitchen and lots of storage space.
Mistake #8: Not getting pre-approved before house hunting- Before you start house hunting, narrow down your price range by getting pre-approved. Shop for an Evanston lender or mortgage broker you can trust. The mortgage pro will review your credit, income, assets and debts, and recommend a mortgage with monthly payments that fit your budget. Not only does this let you know how much house you can afford, it also lets sellers know that you're serious about buying.
We hope that by highlighting these mistakes, you’ll be more aware of how to avoid them.  Buying an Evanston home can be an efficient and stress free process and our goal is to make sure you have the home buying experience you deserve.
If you have any questions about buying a home in Evanston or are ready to get started, please contact us!
We look forward to helping find a home and settle into this great city!

The Thomas Team
Chicago's #1 Real Estate Brokerage

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Experience the Evanston Indoor Farmer & Artisan Food Market this Weekend!

Evanston IL is a great community driven city that appeals to young professionals, families, retirees and everyone in between!  Whether you’re drawn to quite, tree lined streets with established homes or enjoy the hustle and bustle of living in the center of it all; you’ll find that each lifestyle greatly contributes to Evanston’s unique vibe.
One of the reasons we, as The Thomas Team, have loved living and working in Evanston for a number of years is because of the great community environment and the city’s commitment to the residents and to creating an ever-improving metropolis.  Evanston does this through a wide variety of ways, one of which is the popular farmers markets.
Now you may have visited the farmers markets in the area this past summer, but have you gone yet this winter?  The Friends of Evanston Farmers Market, who seek to educate the public about the benefits of eating fresh, locally-grown foods, and advocate greater access to healthy food for all community members, regardless of means has rallied to bring about the first ever indoor Farmer & Artisan Food Market in Evanston!
This weekly market, taking place on Saturdays from 9am to 1pm at The Ecology Center in the Ladd Arboretum is free and open to the public and is a great way to interact within the community.  One of the goals of the indoor market is to allow farmers to continue on with selling their goods directly to residents throughout the winter months.  Things like sauces, pickling products, soups and salsas give the farmers a chance to expand on their produce!  Local food artisans are also given the opportunity to sell their delicious products.
If you have not yet visited the indoor market, which is open through April 28, you’ll want to do so!  Gather friends and family and stroll through the market to pick from fresh produce, meats, locally produced cheeses, coffee, pastries and much more!  A roaring fire adds to the ambience of the market, which is sure to be a favorite winter destination for Evanston residents.  This is also a great way to give back to the local farmers and artisans within the community.
As Evanston Real Estate agents, we enjoy not only giving you great information and tips for the Evanston Real Estate market, but providing you with local lifestyle information as well.  We know that living in a city is much more than the location, but encompasses all of the experiences you’ll have.  
If you have any questions about living in Evanston or are interested to learn more about buying a home in Evanston; please let us know.  We’re here to help in any way we can and would enjoy the opportunity to help you make Evanston your new home!
We look forward to hearing from you!

The Thomas Team
Chicago's #1 Real Estate Brokerage

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

Top 10 Reasons to Work with an Evanston Real Estate Agent in 2012

If you’re like most people, chances are you’ve taken a few moments recently to think through some of your goals for this new year.  And, while having those goals are great, you have to create a plan in order to succeed!  With our finger on the pulse of the Evanston housing market as Evanston Real Estate agents, we know that many are hoping to jump into the Evanston Real Estate market in 2012, which is encouraging news.  However, having concrete steps to do so is imperative for those looking to buy and sell in today’s market.  
If you’re a first time homebuyer or have been out of the housing market for some time, you may not be quite sure where to start.  And for those of you who have had a recent experience in the Evanston Real Estate market, chances are you’re already aware of the foundational key to being successful in your real estate endeavors. No matter your level of expertise in real estate, the most important aspect is hiring a trusted and experienced Evanston Real Estate agent.  
Now, we know there are those who feel that buying or selling a home can be done without a real estate agent, but we’ve gathered ten reasons why we feel embarking on buying or selling an Evanston home should not be done alone. Take a look!
1. Education and Experience- Their years of training and experience in the Evanston Real Estate market will be a great asset to you! You don’t have to put pressure on yourself to learn about the market or how to negotiate a deal since a real estate agent will be fully trained and know the ins and outs of the Evanston Real Estate market.  
2. Agents are Buffers- You won’t have to deal with multiple phone calls from buyers or other agents. Buying or selling a home can get personal and your Evanston Real Estate agent can act as your personal shield against pushy buyers or bad deals.
3. Area Knowledge- If you’re buying an Evanston IL home and are relocating to the area, your Evanston Real Estate agent will know the best places to search to fit your needs and lifestyle!
4. Price Guidance- Your Evanston Real Estate agent can guide you in what you want to offer on a home and help you come up with a price that works within your budget. They can also give you advice on pricing your home correctly from the beginning.
5. Market Condition Information- You’ll get an inside look into the Evanston Real Estate market such as what homes are currently selling for on the market or when a home is a good deal.
6. Professional Networking- Your Evanston Real Estate agent may already have a connection to an interested buyer for your Evanston home! They will also have contact with other Evanston Real Estate agents and brokers and can get the word out about your home being on the market.
7. Negotiation Skills- Negotiating a contract can be tricky and your Evanston Real Estate agent will be able to navigate through this process to ensure you are happy with the deal.
8. Handling Volumes of Paperwork- There’s a lot of paperwork that goes into buying or selling a home. Your real estate agent will be able to take care of this for you and make sure every “i” is dotted and every “t” is crossed!
9. Answer Questions after Closing- Sometimes there can be issues that arise during the closing or taxing authorities can get behind in their paperwork and call you months after closing. A good real estate agent will stick by you even after you close a deal to take care of any after effects.
10. Develop Relationships for Future Business- Finding a trusted Evanston Real Estate agent can be tough, but once you find one; you’ll want to develop a great relationship with them! Whether you are looking to buy or sell again in the future, you know that they’ll be your first choice so building that relationship is key!
As you can see, having an Evanston Real Estate agent on your side helping you navigate through the buying or selling process is imperative to your success in the housing market.  If you are considering selling your Evanston home or are hoping to buy an Evanston home in 2012, please let us know!  Our team of experienced Evanston real estate agents would enjoy the opportunity to help you reach your goals!
We look forward to hearing from you!
The Thomas Team
Chicago's #1 Real Estate Brokerage

Tuesday, January 3, 2012

Credit Report 101 for Evanston Home Buyers!

Have you looked at your credit report lately? If the answer is no, then start the New Year right by doing a little homework on yourself. If you’re interested in buying an Evanston home, or you have other major purchases in mind, knowing your credit picture up front can help you meet your goals. Improving your credit can help you save money on interest rates!
At The Thomas Team, we have some resources we’d like to pass along to you! Here’s an easy course on knowing your credit:
Pull a copy of your credit history from annualcreditreport.com. This is the official website of the credit industry; beware of substitutes! This is a free report available to all consumers once each year.
You can also pull the credit score itself by visiting MyFico.com. There are tips on this website about what goes into your credit score, which could help you improve it.
Check your credit history for errors. Check your history carefully to make sure dates and balances match up. Be on the lookout for debts that do not sound familiar; identity theft can happen to anyone!
If you find an error, file a dispute directly with the credit bureau. You will need to back up your case, so be ready to supply proof of payment or facts that support your dispute. The credit bureau will flag the disputed item and investigate it. It can take weeks for a correction to be processed on your credit report, depending on the complexity of the matter. Be patient and keep record of your efforts.
If you are struggling with debt, ask for help! The National Foundation for Credit Counseling can refer you to an approved credit counselor in your area. Avoid quick-fix promises advertised on the internet; they are often credit scams in disguise.
With a little homework and market study, you could soon become a homeowner in Evanston or anywhere in the Chicago North Shore area! For best results, find a mentor with The Thomas Team and we’ll tell you more about the great selection of homes and condos available on the market today! Contact us for help with your real estate questions!

The Thomas Team
Chicago's #1 Real Estate Brokerage