Your Ultimate Guide to Real Estate on Chicago's North Shore

Archive for the 'Buying a home' Category

Anne West Earns International Designation for Luxury Home Marketing Expertise

Certified Luxury Home Marketing Specialist logoWe are proud to announce that our very own Anne West, co-founder of Coldwell Banker’s Come Home North Shore Team, has earned the prestigious Certified Luxury Home Marketing Specialist® designation in recognition of her experience, knowledge and expertise in the luxury home market.  “Anne West is an example of a real estate professional who has worked to develop market knowledge and the special skills and competencies necessary to provide exceptional service in the fine homes and estates marketplace,” said Institute President Laurie Moore-Moore, upon announcing West’s designation.  “Affluent buyers and sellers can turn to sales professionals who have this designation and be confident that they have special expertise and experience in the luxury home marketplace.”

“I am committed to providing outstanding service to my clients,” said West. “The Certified Luxury Home Marketing Specialist® designation is evidence of my ability to meet the needs of affluent buyers and sellers.  My membership in The Institute for Luxury Home Marketing also provides me with marketing tools and networking capabilities that benefit my clients.”

Another job well done, Anne! For current information on the upper bracket market on Chicago’s North Shore, contact West at Coldwell Banker’s Winnetka office (847.881.6657) or e-mail

Come Home North Shore is one of the top real estate teams on the North Shore. We are experts at marketing, negotiation and correctly pricing homes to sell and are experienced in the sale and purchase of new construction, lakefront and luxury homes. If you are thinking of buying or selling in the following communities: Wilmette, Winnetka, Glencoe, Evanston, Highland Park, Kenilworth, Lake Forest, Northfield or Glenview, give us a call at 847.881.6657.

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Congratulations to Anne West

Five Star logoWe are proud to announce that our very own Anne West, co-founder of Coldwell Banker’s Come Home North Shore Team, was once again chosen by Five Star Professional as one of the Chicago area’s Five Star Real Estate Agents for 2014. Less than 7% of Chicago-area real estate agents are selected for this special award which honors exceptional service to clients. Anne was featured, along with other award winners, in a special section of the October issue of Chicago Magazine which partnered with Five Star Professional in in the selection process.

Anne WestThe Five Star Real Estate Agent award program is the largest and most widely published real estate agent award program in North America. Agents are measured using an objective, in-depth research methodology with significant focus on customer feedback and overall satisfaction. Five Star Professionals research is extensive, with more than 10 million consumers, peers and other stakeholders contacted each year.

This is the fourth year in a row that Anne has been selected, proving once again that you are in great hands with Anne and the entire Come Home North Shore team! Join us as we congratulate Anne on a job well done!

Come Home North Shore is one of the top real estate teams on the North Shore. We are experts at marketing, negotiation and correctly pricing homes to sell and are experienced in the sale and purchase of new construction, lakefront and luxury homes. If you are thinking of buying or selling in the following communities: Wilmette, Winnetka, Glencoe, Evanston, Highland Park, Kenilworth, Lake Forest, Northfield or Glenview, give us a call at 847-881-6657.

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Dos and Don’ts for Expediting Your Home Mortgage Approval

Mortgage applicationBack before the housing market meltdown it was easy to get a mortgage. Now, not so much. There are many more restrictions, a lot more paperwork and the process is slower. Getting a pre-approval is just the first step. Getting a mortgage these days can be a frustrating process and often both buyer and seller (and their agents!) are on tenterhooks right up until the day before closing, wondering if the deal is going to close.

Here are some dos and don’ts for making sure your loan gets approved in a timely fashion, courtesy of Betsy Hanrahan of PHH Home Loans:

DO provide your lender with any requested information or documentation immediately. Not only will this avoid delays in the processing of your loan, but will enable your loan officer to flag any potential issues and help you address them as early as possible.

DO be prepared for the possibility that your lender will ask for additional documentation or explanations, even at the last minute.

DO assume that your credit will be re-pulled immediately prior to closing, so don’t do anything that could affect your credit score. (I recently heard about a guy who quit his job two days before closing. Needless to say, the closing didn’t happen).

DON’T apply for additional credit.

DON’T incur any additional debt (including increases in credit card balances). I know you really want to order that new dining room table and chairs that will look perfect in your new home, but WAIT until you close before you buy it.

DON’T close or open any accounts, transfer any balances or sign up for any additional charge cards. ANY changes to your credit profile could lower your credit score, which could result in higher rates, higher costs or invalidation of your loan approval.

DO maintain a paper trail. Your lender will require proof of the source of any unusual deposits (basically any deposits that are not payroll from your employer). When in doubt, retain copies.

DON’T deposit gift funds into your bank account if they will be used for closing. Your lender will give you instructions and outline the necessary steps for receiving and documenting the gift.

DO ask the real estate agent or seller whether the property you are buying is in a flood plain, as you may be required to obtain flood insurance from FEMA as a condition of your loan (and it is not cheap!). When in doubt, you can always find out from the Village Hall in the community where you are buying.

It may seem that getting a mortgage is a daunting process, but it doesn’t have to be if you work with the right lender. There is more to choosing a mortgage company than who quotes you the lowest rate. You want to make sure that you choose a loan officer or mortgage broker who is experienced and responsive and who has a track record of getting his or her clients to the closing table. What good does the lowest rate do if you never get the loan?

Ask your Realtor for some recommendations. We know which lenders are good to work with and which ones are difficult or unresponsive or make you jump through endless hoops. Our team always gives names of at least three lenders that we know will take good care of you, and you can choose the one that feels like the best fit for you.

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Why It’s A Good Time To Buy A Home On Chicago’s North Shore

couple in front of homeWe real estate agents tend to be positive and optimistic people, always looking on the bright side of things. To us, it’s always a good time to either buy or sell, and I guess we sometimes lose credibility with the general public because of our unceasing optimism. But I am telling you, right now really is a great time to buy a home on Chicago’s North Shore.

Here’s why. The spring market got started late this year due to the (excessively) long and cold winter. But once it got going it heated up overnight and buyers were whipping themselves into a frenzy to get a new home under contract so they could move before the start of the school year. Bidding wars ensued, driving prices up and market times down. But when late summer rolled around the market screeched to a halt. While fall has brought a small surge of activity,  the market this year is slower than normal and slower than last fall. Showings are down over 20%. Sales were down 14% in August and 16% in September from 2013.

This is not great for sellers but it is a good thing for buyers. Prices have stabilized and good houses are actually staying on the market longer than a couple of days. Interest rates continue to be low. Sellers are more willing to negotiate. Deals can be had.

Case in point: some clients of ours had looked and looked for a new home on the North Shore, but due to busy work schedules they were never able to drop everything to come up from the city to see a great house that had just come on the market. By the time they were able to make it up on the weekend, the house had gone under contract, often with multiple offers. Every house they liked sold within days and prices were rising out of their price range, leaving them frustrated and disheartened.

Finally, now that the market has slowed, there have been some great houses for them to see when they have come up on the weekends, and recently they were able to negotiate a good deal on one of those houses. And, they were able to lock in a low interest rate, which they may not have gotten if they had given up and waited until next year to buy. Looking back, they are happy things turned out the way they did, as they got a better house for the money than they would have last spring.

Are you looking for a home on Chicago’s North Shore? The Come Home North Shore Team can help you! Give us a call at 847-881-6657 or send us a note here. Take our Tour of the Shore to familiarize yourself with the communities, schools, amenities and real estate.

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Making a Move Less Stressful for the Kids

Moving with kidsLife changes are difficult and stressful, and moving can be especially troubling for children. They are asked to leave behind their whole world and everything that is familiar to them. What can parents do to help children accept the move and view the changes in their lives as an adventure and not a nightmare?

Recognize the Different Age Stages

Really young children like toddler age, may not be totally aware of the changes that are taking place. However, children between the ages of 5 and elementary, understand the concept of moving, and that their lives are about to be different. They might take the news a bit harder, and will express their concerns more verbally. Letting them spend one special day with their friends before the move; take pictures and create a photo album can lessen the stress, and help make parting a little easier.

Teens are the most theatrical group, and will vigorously protest the need to move. Children in this age group have developed special friendships, and are socially involved at school. They will need time to process and cope with the ordeal of leaving their friends. They will also be worried about making new friends and fitting in at their new school. If possible, parents can agree to allow their child to visit with their friends at least a couple of times per year. Remind them that technology allows them to easily stay in touch via Facebook,  Skype. or another popular media website. To keep a healthy open relationship with children, and to keep communication channels open, follow these simple tips and advice;

Be Honest and Up front

No one like surprises. Share why you need to move, and why the move is important. Children don’t like to be deceived or tricked, so don’t avoid answering questions. Don’t spring the move on them at the last minute. Let them know in advance that a relocation to a new home, city or state is a necessity, and why. Answer any questions they might have, and don’t be afraid to share your own personal feelings.

Plan the Move Together

Children like to be a part of their parents’ world. Make moving a family project. Let children help prepare for the move, and encourage them to pack their own boxes. Talk to them about giving their extra clothes, toys or other items to Goodwill or to a friend or family member they will be leaving behind. If necessary, help children to write “Good bye” letters to their friends, teachers and classmates. Plan a going away party, and let children invite their neighborhood friends and classmates. This will help them with closure.

Share and Talk About Negative or Scary Feelings

Children might not bring up the subject of moving, as they may be angry, afraid or confused. However, initiating a conversation about moving, and how scary it can be can alleviate the tension. Children will adjust more easily if they can share their feelings and concerns. Let them know that everyone anticipates changes in their lives, and that moving is not a bad change. Let them know that while they are moving away, they still have their old friends, and now they will be making new friends, as well. Encourage children to get the names, addresses and telephone numbers of their old friends so they can stay in touch.

Scope Out the New Location Together

Bring children along to the real estate office, or to see the houses you are considering. If possible, allow them to choose their own bedroom. Ask them questions that encourages them to talk, such as,  “Where do you think your bed should go?” or “Do you think you need a new rug to match the colors in your new room?” These questions give children a sense of control and help them make the transition to their new life.

Tips for a Successful Less Stressful Move

Make the decision to move a family decision. Get excited about moving, and let it show. Involve children as much as possible. Take a weekend off and set a date for the entire family to visit the new location. Help children scope out the neighborhood and locate the park, gym, library, and other places of interest. Talk about what positive changes the move can mean to the family as a whole.

Thinking of making a move to Chicago’s North Shore? We can help make the move less stressful for everyone in the family. We’ll start with our Tour of the Shore, to familiarize you with the communities, schools, house values and amenities. Call us at 847.881.6657 to find out more.

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Charming all brick ranch home in Skokie



Welcome to 9445 Lawler in Skokie. 

This mint condition 3 bedroom, 2 full bath all brick ranch has many features that make it a desirable home for many family types. 
The home features an updated kitchen with a sub zero refrigerator, exposed hardwood floors,  a 2nd kitchen and a full bath in the  finished basement. The functionality of this home makes it comfortable for enjoyable entertaining or for an in-law suite arrangement with the potential for a 4th bedroom in the basement. This home includes an unbeatable amenity package including a overhead sewer (no flooding), a natural gas powered generator (powers the entire home), 2.5 car garage and beautiful professional landscaping.

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What Will $520,000 Buy You On Chicago’s North Shore?

The median purchase price of a single family home on the North Shore of Chicago was $520,000 in February, 2014.

So what will that actually get you? Well, it depends where on the North Shore you are looking. All real estate is local, and even here there are many local markets within the larger North Shore. In Glenview, Highland Park or parts of Lake Forest, you can get an older four bedroom, two and a half bath house. In Wilmette, a three bedroom split level. In Winnetka, Glencoe or Kenilworth, not much.

Here’s a sample of homes currently listed for sale around that price:

1633 Elder Ln, Northfield1633 Elder Lane, Northfield – $524,900

This home, built in 2003 has nine rooms, four bedrooms and two and a half baths. Its kitchen has cherry cabinets, granite counters and stainless appliances. One thing that makes this newer home so affordable is that the fourth bedroom is on the main floor (though that could be a plus for some) and the family room is in the basement.

660 Northmoor Rd., Lake Forest660 Northmoor Rd., Lake Forest – $525,000

This charming Tudor style homes dates from 1938. It has six rooms, three bedrooms and two and a half baths. Come summer, its gardens are absolutely stunning. The drawback is that it needs updating. The kitchen and baths are all “vintage.”

 2145 Grey, Evanston2145 Grey Ave., Evanston – $525,000

This NW Evanston Dutch Colonial house has seven rooms, three bedrooms and one and a half baths. It has potential but could use some updating.

 1773 Winthrop Rd, Highland Park1773 Winthrop Rd., Highland Park – $519,900

This four bedroom, two and a half bath home was built in 1960 and still has the original kitchen and baths.

2439 Happy Hollow2439 Happy Hollow, Glenview – $500,000

Another 60’s house, this one also has four bedrooms and two and a half baths. Its best feature is its large, wonderful sun-room that overlooks a big backyard.

We are North Shore real estate specialists and one of the top teams in the area. If you would like to schedule a buyer or seller consultation with the Come Home North Shore team, please call 847-881-6657 or send us a note here.

The Real Reason You Can’t Find A House To Buy On The North Shore and What To Do About It

Frustrated hoe buyerLast February I wrote about why the inventory of homes was so low on the North Shore of Chicago. Well, a year later we still have the same problem, which is incredibly frustrating for the people who want to move here. Some of them have spent the last year scouring the Internet, trolling the Sunday open houses and making offers on homes that they only just kind of like, only to lose out in a bidding war. I’ve heard of buyers who have put in offers on as many as ten houses, without any success.

Yesterday I had a call from a potential home buyer who was tearing her hair out. She and her husband had been looking for a home on the North Shore for over a year. Every time they found something they liked, it was already under contract.

A little digging revealed that she was relying on Internet searches combined with the services of a discount buyer broker (the ones who rebate back to you part of the commission). What she didn’t realize was that many of the houses are being sold before they even go into the MLS, often within the listing agent’s own company.

Here’s what happens: most brokerages have their office meeting on Monday morning. One of the topics of the meeting is “scuttle,” which is where everyone announces what listings they have coming on the market over the next few weeks. The rest of us are all listening for a house that will meet the needs of our buyer clients, and when we hear about one, we jump on it. We get our client in to see the house when it is still “exempt” (not in the MLS) and often our client will put in an offer then and there. The offer is negotiated and the house goes into the MLS as “sold before processing.”

The problem with using a discount buyer broker in a hot market is that they don’t have access to this early warning system. They don’t list properties and they don’t have offices on the North Shore, so they are actually the last ones likely to hear about a new listing.

The way to win in this environment? Work with an agent with one of the big brokerages. The more agents the company has and the more listings it carries, the more likely your agent is to get a heads up about a home coming on the market that is perfect for you, and you can snag it before it goes “live” in the MLS.

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If you are frustrated because you haven’t been able to find and buy a home on Chicago’s North Shore, we can help! Give us a call at 847-881-6657 or send us a note here. We have access to lots of exempts and one of them may be right for you.

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Moving Up? Is It Better To Do It Now or Later?

Best Time to Move up-Now or LaterNow that the North Shore housing market has rebounded and prices are on the rise again, lots of people are thinking of making a move.

According to a recent study by Lending Tree 71% of people who own a home say they are considering moving in the next 12 months! Some are downsizing, some are planning to relocate to another (presumably warmer) climate and some are looking to move up to a larger home.

In fact, another study shows that 75% of the homeowners planning a move will be in that last category: move-up buyers.

If you fall into that category, price and interest rate projections should be a major factor when deciding when to make that move. To give you an idea of the impact of these changes, here’s what happened to those who waited to buy from last year until this year:

The cost of waiting to buy a home.21.15 AM

Assume they had a home worth $300,000 and were looking at a home for $400,000 (putting 10% down they would get a mortgage of $360,000). By waiting, their house appreciated by 13.8% over the last year (national average based on the Case Shiller Pricing Index). Their home would now be worth $341,400. But, the $400,000 home would now be worth $455,200 (requiring a mortgage of $409,680).

Prices are projected to appreciate at least 4% over the next year, while interest rates are projected to increase a full percentage point. Even though rates will still be low by historical standards, the increase will have a big impact on what you will be able to afford. Every percentage point increase in rates reduces your purchasing power by 11%.

If the timing makes sense, buying sooner rather than later may save you a substantial amount of money over the long term in lower mortgage payments.

We are North Shore real estate specialists and one of the top Realtor teams in the area. If you would like to consult with the Come Home North Shore Team about buying a home or getting your home sold, please call us at 847-881-6657 or send us a note here.

We are North Shore real estate specialists and one of the top Realtor teams in the area. If you would like to consult with the Come Home North Shore team about getting your home sold, please call 847-881-6657 or send us a note here. – See more at:

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A Snowy Tour of Wilmette’s Kenilworth Gardens

Normally I make most of my videos in the summer when the North Shore homes and communities are looking their best. But I realized that it’s a lot easier to see what the houses look like when there aren’t any trees or shrubs in the way, so I decided to make a video of Kenilworth Gardens in all of its snowy glory.

If you’d like to see the homes currently for sale in Kenilworth Gardens, you can go here.

If you’d like some help finding a home in this or any other North Shore neighborhood, please give us a call at 847-881-6657. We’d love to help you!

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