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

Archive for the 'Buying a home' Category

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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Why buying a home during the holidays could be a good time to make your move


Maybe you’re relocating for a new job or making a move to accommodate you’re families needs. Whatever the reason may be, if you’re house hunting over the holidays, there are advantages to purchasing a home at this time of year.

Less Competition

The holidays become a slow season for buying a home. House hunting during this time of year, lowers the chances of multiple offers and bidding wars with other buyers.

Serious home sellers

Why would sellers pick such an inconvenient time~ while everyone is busy entertaining family and friends and enjoying the spirit of the holidays~ to list their properties? Probably because they need to sell and may feel compelled to do so before the end of the year for tax purposes. What this means for you: less hassle when it comes to negotiating; a greater willingness, on the part of the seller, to agree to concessions; less chance of the seller waffling; and greater respect for your offer, even if it’s a little lower than the seller was perhaps expecting.

Faster mortgage approval

Lenders aren’t as busy this time of year, and less volume could mean faster approval. Some lenders might even be willing to reduce fees during the off-peak season in hopes of gaining your business. Regardless, don’t just go with the first lender who comes along. It pays to shop around.

Greater affordability

Sure, home prices have been rising, but they’re typically lower in December than during any other month (so you don’t have to be as aggressive with your initial first offer, compared with buying during peak to high Season). If you want to take advantage of low interest rates, the time to act is now.

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.

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Rent to Own A North Shore Home Via Hyperion Homes Program

Following the housing crisis and the resulting stricter standards for home loans, a lot of people who would like to buy a North Shore home can’t, for one or more of the following reasons:

  • they haven’t accumulated the cash required for the higher down payment that lenders now require.
  • they don’t have the requisite 760+ FICO score for a mortgage.
  • they’re self-employed and don’t have the sufficient earnings history necessary to get a home loan.
  • they have declared bankruptcy within the last four years and are in the waiting period before they can qualify for a mortgage.
  • their home sold in a short sale or was foreclosed on within the last 3-5 years and they are in the waiting period before they can get a mortgage.

Now Hyperion Homes is providing people who cannot obtain a mortgage a clear and transparent path to home ownership through a new “Lease with Right to Purchase” program. Here’s how it works:

Rent to Own Your North Shore Home

Step 1-  Home seeker gets approved by Hyperion (via an easy online application process).

Step 2- Home seeker finds and selects the home they want.

Step 3- Hyperion purchases the house.

Step 4- Home seeker rents the home from Hyperion at market rate for one year (with option to extend lease for 4 more years).

Step 5 – Home seeker (now resident) can purchase the home at any time during the lease period, using any lender they choose. Or, they can move out after each one year lease term without penalty.

A couple of other great things about the program:

  • If the house needs a new kitchen or baths, new carpet, etc., Hyperion will provide the upgrades and roll the cost into the purchase price. That way the resident can finance these as part of the mortgage and doesn’t have to pay cash.
  • Hyperion has a pet-friendly policy, which most landlords don’t.
  • The process to complete a transaction with Hyperion is streamlined and usually takes 30 days or less.

Does this program sound too good to be true? There are a few caveats, but actually not that many:

  • The maximum sale price for any house in the program is $500,000.
  • The house must be in a high school district that is in the top 50% of all Illinois high school districts (not a problem on the North Shore).
  • The home must be a single family house or fee-simple townhouse. No condos, mulit-family houses or commercial properties allowed.
  • Everyone in the household must complete Hyperion’s application. That includes both spouses, grandparents, children over 18 living at home. No exceptions. The application fee is $50 per household.
  •  There are three automatic disqualifiers: eviction, felony or active bankruptcy (but once the bankrupcy is discharged, you may apply).
  • Unlike a traditional “Rent to Own” program, no portion of the rent monies paid get applied to the sale price of the house.

This really is an excellent program that hundreds of people in Illinois have been able to take advantage of.

If it sounds like something you might want to consider, you can get more details here. Or you can call us at 847-881-6657 and we will explain it to you. If you would like help finding homes that qualify for Hyperion’s Lease with Right to Purchase program, send us a note here.

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.

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5 myths about buying a home

There are many ways to receive information in 2013. This can make searching for information on home buying scary. Let us clear up some of the myths you may have you feeing Leary about home buying.

1. High Down Payment

Most people hear that they need 20% for a down payment on a home. This is completely false. And luckily so since this can mean easily having to put away thousands upon thousands of dollars before even considering buying a home. There are many conventional loans that would only require 3% or even 0.

2. Must Have Great Credit

This myth is actually false. Due to recent years of high unemployment rates lenders have taken these hard times into consideration when approving loans. Even with a low down payment it is possible to buy a home with less than perfect credit.

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Build Your Dream Home With Greenview Homes


403 Grove St., Glencoe, IL

Want a larger house but can’t find one that fits the bill? Why not build one? Then you can have everything you want.

Team up with Greenview Homes to build your dream home on a fabulous lot on a great Glencoe street. The property is 100 x 196 square feet (almost a half acre). The proposed new construction is approximately 5200 sq. ft. (1st and 2nd floors) but a larger home (up to 6000 sq. ft.) can be built to your specifications.

Highlights of the home include:

  • Nantucket shingle style architecture
  • Five bedrooms and four and a half baths
  • Attached three car garage
  • Additional 2000 sq. ft. of living space in the finished ower level.

This home is being offered at $2,375,000.  If you would like more information, call the Come Home North Shore team at 847-881-6657. We can provide specs and floor plans or schedule a meeting with the builder.

You can see other new construction homes for sale in Glencoe here.

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.

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Home Buyers: If You Want The Deal To Close, Choose Your Lender Wisely

mortgage deniedMost of us don’t buy a home very often, so we don’t get a mortgage very often and we don’t understand the pitfalls of not choosing our lender carefully. We think to ourselves, “I’ll go online, Google home loans, find the best rate, lock it in and I’m done.”

But that would be a mistake. These days getting a home mortgage is no walk in the park. Several things can keep you from being approved, but a good loan officer will ask you the right questions, guide you through the process and be proactive about addressing any issues that surface. A not-so-good loan officer can make costly mistakes that you may not find out about until way down the road

Here’s a recent mortgage horror story to illustrate my point:

An agent in our office had a client who put a contract in on a new home. She told her client she could recommend a good lender but he said he was already working with one who had quoted him a great rate.

Fast forward 45 days. Closing is a week away and the home buyer gets a call from the lender saying there is a problem with his loan. That great rate the loan officer had quoted him was the rate for a VA (Veterans Administration) loan, which is why it was so low. Problem is, the home buyer is not a veteran and doesn’t qualify for that loan program. Now he’s in a pickle. Not only will he not get the great rate he thought he would but his closing will be delayed by a few weeks while he goes through the loan approval process all over again. He’s already  given notice to his landlord and has to be out of his apartment in a week. He and his family will have to put their stuff in storage and move into an extended stay hotel until they can get a mortgage.

This could all have been avoided. One thing a good real estate agent can provide is reliable resources. We work with attorneys, lenders, inspectors, painters, architects and a myriad of other service providers day in and day out. So we know who the good ones are and which ones to stay away from. I always provide my buyer clients with the names of three lenders that I KNOW will take good care of them. They can decide which one has the best loan products and which one they feel most comfortable with, but they can feel confident that whichever one they choose will get them to the finish line.

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