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McKenzie Neighborhood Home Sales – 1st Quarter 2011

2011 got off to a slower start than 2010 as we didn’t have a home buyer tax credit to help us out this year.

McKenzie Neighborhood Home Sales-1st Qtr 2011You can see what individual houses sold for here.

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East Wilmette Home Sales – 1st Quarter 2011

East Wilmette’s first quarter numbers are not as good as they were last year when we had the tax credit. We’ll see how things develop as the year goes on. You can see more detailed market stats here.

East Wilmette Home Sales - 1st Quarter 2011

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Howard Park in Wilmette

Howard Park towerHave you ever driven down 17th Street in Wilmette and wondered what that big cupola thing was sticking up in in Howard Park?

When you live somewhere long enough you stop noticing things. You just take them for granted.  But that cupola is part of Wilmette’s history. It’s the cupola from Howard School, which was one of the village’s grade schools from 1924 to 1979. The Howard School did not stand on the site where the cupola is. It was over on Ridge Rd. just west of the park, where the police station parking lot is now.

The school was torn down in 1982 and the tower was moved to the park where Spencer Ave. runs into 17th. The park is 8.7 acres with two ball fields where girls’ and adult softball is played in the spring and summer.

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Homes for Sale in Kenilworth Gardens

1917 Greenwood Ave.

1917 Greenwood Ave.

I’ve written before about the Kenilworth Gardens neighborhood of Wilmette. It’s a popular family-friendly community served by Harper School, one of the four elementary schools in Wilmette. It’s considered an “entry-level” neighborhood for upwardly mobile young couples moving to the North Shore from the city. Since many of the homes have 3-4 bedrooms with one car garages on smaller lots (50 x 122), families often outgrow their homes and move on after 4-5 years.

 

During the boom years, it was hard to get into Kenilworth Gardens. Homes sold quickly and often with multiple offers. Nowadays, it is taking longer to sell a home here. Many of the would-be sellers bought during the boom years and paid more than their home is currently worth, and it’s hard for them to come to terms with selling for so much less.

There are currently eleven homes for sale in Kenilworth Gardens, ranging in price from

1913 Thornwood Ave.

1913 Thornwood Ave.

$575,000 to $1,649,000. Most of the houses were built between 1935 and 1960, but two were new construction built from tear-downs of smaller homes.

1917 Greenwood Avenue: $575,000

Eight rooms, three bedrooms and one and a half baths.
Lots size: 50 x 122′
Two  car garage

1913 Thornwood Avenue: $599,000

2154 Thornwood Ave.

2154 Thornwood Ave.

Eight rooms, three bedrooms and one and a half baths.
Lot size (irregular): 60′ x 127′ on the corner of Ridge Rd.
One car garage
Newer kitchen but otherwise not redone

2154 Thornwood Avenue: $625,000

Eight rooms, three bedrooms, two and a half baths.
Lot size: 50′ x 122′
One car garage

2320 Greenwood Avenue: $629,000

Eight rooms, three bedrooms, two and one half baths.

2320 Greenwood Ave.

2320 Greenwood Ave.

Lot size: 50′ x 140′
One car garage

2224 Thornwood Avenue: $842,000

Eleven rooms, four bedrooms, three and one half baths
Lot size: 50′ x 122′
Two car garage

2235 Chestnut Avenue: $909,000

Ten rooms, four bedrooms, two and one half baths
Lot size: 50′ x 177′

2224 Thornwood Ave.

2224 Thornwood Ave.

Two car garage

2131 Beechwood Avenue: $919,000

Ten rooms, four bedrooms, two and one half baths
Lot size: 50′ x 134′
Two car garage
Newer Di Giuilio kitchen

2236 Beechwood Avenue: $ 949,000

Ten rooms, four bedrooms, two and one half baths
Lot size: 50′ x 130′

2235 Chestnut Ave.

2235 Chestnut Ave.

One car garage

1923 Greenwood Avenue: $965,000

Twelve rooms, five bedrooms, three and one half baths
Lot size: 50′ x 122′
One car garage

1220 Middlebury Lane: $1,375,000.

Eleven rooms, four+ bedrooms, four and one half baths
Lot size: 50′ x 135′
New construction

2131 Beechwood Ave.

2131 Beechwood Ave.

Oversized two car garage

2411 Thornwood Avenue: $1,649,000

Twelve rooms, five bedrooms, five and one half baths
Lot size: 50′ x 132′
Faces Thornwood Park
Built in 2005
Two car garage

You can get more information about each of these listings here. If you would like to see any of them, please give me a call at 847-687-5957 or email me. I would be happy to show them to you!

2236 Beechwood Ave.

2236 Beechwood Ave.

1923 Greenwood Ave.

1923 Greenwood Ave.

1220 Middlebury Lane

1220 Middlebury Lane

2411 Thornwood Ave.

2411 Thornwood Ave.

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District 39 Referendum: Impact on Schools and Property Values

Ask anyone why they moved to the North Shore and they will tell you that our excellent schools were a driving factor, if not THE driving factor. And they pay a premium to live here and access those schools. Wilmette is one North Shore community with a strong tradition of academic excellence. Three of its elementary schools were awarded the prestigious U.S. Department of Education Blue Ribbon. All six District 39 schools were ranked in Chicago Magazine’s Top 20.

voteBut on April 5th Wilmette’s commitment to academic excellence will be tested. Residents will vote on a referendum that would increase property taxes by $58.80 per $1000 paid, in order to prevent drastic spending cuts in the Wilmette schools.

Here are the facts:

1. The district’s financial situation is dire. The schools have “trimmed all the fat” they can out of their budget and are still running a $5.5 million deficit. Our reserves will be exhausted within two years.

2. District 39 is highly efficient compared to the 15 closest comparable school districts, including the five New Trier feeder districts. We are 13th out of 15 in operating cost spent per pupil.

3. While our class sizes are significantly higher than class sizes in the schools in the other New Trier feeder districts, our teacher salaries currently rank 13th out of 15 of the closest comparable schools.

4. District 39 hasn’t had a tax rate referendum in 13 years…despite more than a 9% increase in the number of students and the lowest tax revenue per student in the region.  (Most school districts hold referendums every six years on average).

The Impact on the Quality of Our Kids’ Education

If the referendum fails, here’s what will happen in our schools:

  • Class sizes will increase to 26 children in grades K-2 and to 33 children in grades 6-8, which is worse than the state average. Wilmette’s  class sizes will be 50% larger than New Trier’s other feeder districts.
  • 80 out of 328 (24%) of our teachers will lose their jobs over the next 2 years.
  • ALL foreign language (K-8), instrumental music (5-8) and reading intervention will be cut.
  • ALL librarians, technology teachers and differentiation teachers will be gone. So forget about your child getting extra help if needed or being challenged if they are gifted.
  • Reductions in special ed support, social workers and physical education.

In a nutshell this means that our children will not be competitive with the kids from other sender schools when they enter New Trier.

For me as a parent in the district, these facts are compelling, despite the increase in taxes. But what if you do not have children in District 39′s schools? Here’s another reason to support the referendum: your property values. There is overwhelming evidence that shows a clear property value benefit associated with strong neighborhood schools.

The Impact on Our Property Values

As a Realtor, I am keenly aware of how important school quality and test scores are to people considering a move to our area. But I had never actually seen any research that supported with data what we all know anecdotally: ‘As go the schools, so goes the real estate.’ I went online and found several research studies that show a strong correlation between quality of education (usually measured by test scores) and property values:

Read the rest of this entry »

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Wilmette Housing Inventory by Price Point

The other day I wrote about the housing inventories on Chicago’s North Shore and how they’ve declined in the last two years. While most towns on the North Shore still had at least a year’s worth of inventory as of the end of January, Wilmette stands out as the one market that has less than six months supply. In fact, at some price points there are actually not enough homes on the market to meet the demand.

Wilmette Active Listings and Odds of Selling

Wilmette Housing Inventory by Price PointSource: MRED – single family home listings and sales by price

The chart shows how well supply and demand are balanced at specific price points. It also shows the odds of your house selling in the next six months based on its price. For example, in the $600,000-$699,000 range there are more than twice as many buyers as there are homes for sale, given that the number of sales in the last six months was 222% of the number of homes currently listed for sale.

The implication for buyers at this price point: if you see a house you like, you probably ought to go ahead and make an offer. If you wait, it may be gone.

The implication for would-be sellers at this price point: if you are trying to decide whether to put your house on the market right now, the answer is yes. If it shows well and is properly priced, it should sell quickly. If you are at the low end of the $700,000-799,000 range (where there are more listings than buyers), you may want to consider lowering the price to $699,000 so that you can fish where the fish are.


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Wilmette Holiday Parade

This year we were unusually lucky with the weather for Wilmette’s annual holiday parade: mostly sunny and crisp but not too cold. Lots of participation from local businesses, community groups, Brownies and Cub Scouts, the Loyola Academy Marching Band and Santa himself.

Wilmette Holiday Parade

Horse drawn wagon in paradeClowns at Wilmette Parade

Wilmette parade

Loyola Marching bandSanta in parade

Happy Holidays, everyone!

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3rd Annual Pedal Power Bike Drive

Pedal Power 2010 logoHere’s a cause I have a special fondness for, for a number of reasons. First, because it’s about kids – giving bikes to kids who otherwise wouldn’t have them. Second, because it’s a cause that started right here in my hometown of Wilmette. And third, because the organizer and driving force behind the program was (at the time of the first bike drive) a nine year old third grader. She’s now eleven and just as passionate about her cause as she was when she started it three years ago.

I first met Nicole Basil when she and my daughter were in their first year playing with the Wilmette Wings Soccer Club. I was impressed by her goal scoring ability (her nickname was “the Nailer”), but I became  an even bigger fan when I heard about her desire to collect used bikes and donate them to kids in the city.

In the first year of Pedal Power, Nicole’s goal was to collect 20 to 30 bikes, but she ended up with 250. In 2009 she and her brother, Bennett collected another 250.  All of the bikes collected in 2009 went to kids at the John Hay Academy in the Austin neighborhood.

This year she has expanded the program and enlisted the help of some enthusiastic volunteers around the North Shore. There are now four collection points: McKenzie School in Wilmette, Edgewood Middle School in Highland Park, Carpenter Elementary School in Park Ridge and George Garner Cyclery in Northbrook. The donated bikes and scooters will be distributed through the Jane Addams Hull House Association in Chicago. The Association has a program that rewards students who excel in school despite tough circumstances.

The Pedal Power Bike Drive takes place Saturday, November 6, from 9 to 11 am. Go here for maps of the four locations. If you have a used bike or scooter that your kids have outgrown, please bring it over. Even non-working bikes are gladly accepted, as they can be used for parts. For more info visit www.gopedalpower.com.

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Another Movie Role for Wilmette?

Devil in the White CityFilm producer and North Shore native, Michael Shamberg, must look for opportunities to get back to his old hometown. Shamberg, who is in Chicago shooting the movieContagion, will be back later to film “Devil in the White City”, starring Leonardo di Caprio.

Leonardo di CaprioBest selling non-fiction book, Devil in the White City, by Erik Larson, details the story of the serial killer, H.H. Holmes, who designed and opened a “murder castle” in preparation for the 1893 World’s Fair in Chicago. Called the World’s Fair Hotel, the “murder castle” housed a gas chamber, crematorium and dissecting table. It was the grisly scene of between 27 and 200 murders, mostly of single, young women, who were lured to their deaths by the charismatic but mad pharmacist.

Holmes (whose real name was Herman W. Mudgett) was born in 1860 in New Hampshire. He moved to Chicago in 1885 and worked as a pharmacist in Englewood. Later he opened an office in Wilmette, posing as an inventor. Although he was already married at the time, he wed Myrtle Belknap, a Wilmette girl whose father was a wealthy businessman.  He built a Queen Anne house at 726 11th St. (then called John St.) with twin turrets on either side. According to an exhibit at the Wilmette Historical Museum, he designed the house as a duplex so his in-laws could live on one side and he and his wife and child could live on the other. After his execution in 1896, the house was seized and auctioned to pay for liens against the property. From the 1920′s on it was used as a boarding house known as the “Wilmette Inn” and “Wilmette Apartments”.

Will scenes from the movie be filmed here in Wilmette? Shooting locations haven’t been selected yet, but my guess is probably not, since Holmes’ house was torn down to make way for construction of townhouses, so no backdrop exists for this part of his life story.

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Halloween Decorating: Wilmette’s Best Dressed Yard

Halloween on Lawndale Avenue in WilmetteEvery October I make my annual pilgrimage down to Lawndale Avenue to check out the Halloween decorations in one particular front yard. This yard may not have the most decorations, but it certainly has the cleverest and most amusing.

This year’s decorations feature effigies our disgraced ex-gov, Rod Blagojevich and Sarah Palin, as well as the Cubs Cemetery of Excuses, with tombstones for all the years the team should have won a championship, but didn’t.

Cubs Cemetery of Excuses

IMG_5475Effigy of Rod Blagojevich

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