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

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Opportunity to Build a Custom Home in Winnetka

1212 Westmoor, WinnetkaIt’s not every day that an opportunity comes along to work with award-winning HighGate to build your dream home. 1212 Westmoor is almost an acre of gorgeous property on a street of upper bracket homes in Winnetka.

You can either work with our architect or use your own to create your plans for a custom home ranging from 6,000 up to 11,500 square feet (not including lower level). There is a wide range of options to add amenities, including swimming pool, tennis courts, sports court or multiple garages.

HighGate is one of the North Shore’s most versatile and respected builders. You can see some of HighGate’s other magnificent homes below:

1294 Trapp Winnetka 93 Crescent, Glencoe

495 Greenleaf, Glencoe

249-Woodlawn, Glencoe

If you would like more information about this terrific opportunity, please give us a call at 847-712-0049 or email us at comehome@cbexchange.com.

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How to Get a Mortgage on the North Shore

Ever since the meltdown of the housing market, getting a home loan has been considerably more challenging than before. In the video below  Brett Lotsoff of 1st Advantage Mortgage shares some tips on how to be successful in obtaining a mortgage in today’s environment:

If you would like more information on finding a lender and qualifying for a home mortgage, give Brett a call at 847-239-7810 or email him at brett@lotsoffgroup.com.

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Houses Wanted

House wantedThis may be hard to wrap your mind around given the state of the real estate industry, but we actually do not have enough houses to sell in some parts of the North Shore!

Our team has three ready, willing and able buyers who cannot find a home to buy. And we know that some of the other agents in our office are having the same problem.

The data supports what we are seeing: Wilmette’s  inventories are at their lowest point in over two years. At 6.3 months supply of homes, we are actually in what is considered a “balanced” market (neither a buyer’s market nor a seller’s market). And at some popular price points there is almost no inventory. For example, there are currently only three homes for sale between $700,000 and $799,999 and only five between $800,000 and $899.999 in Wilmette.

Which made us wonder how  many potential North Shore sellers are out there who are waiting until the beginning of the year to put their homes on the market or who are not even considering listing their homes because they don’t think anyone is buying.

Here are the types of homes our buyers are looking for:

  • In Wilmette: A three bedroom (plus office), 2+ bath home east of Ridge Rd. around $750,000.
  • In Harper School neighborhood of Wilmette: a newer construction, 4+ bedroom home between $1-1.5 million.
  • In Winnetka, Kenilworth or Wilmette: a large, newer construction home between $1.5 and $2.5 million.
  • In Wilmette or nearby: a 3-4 bedroom condo or townhome to rent for six months.

So if you have a home that fits one of these descriptions, and you would like to sell, please let us  know! We might just have a buyer for you. We can be reached at 847-881-6657 or by email. If you are looking to buy, you can search for homes here.

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North Shore Market Update: November 2011

We continually hear the economists say that we’re in a “bump-along” recovery, meaning that the economy is bumping up and down along a rocky bottom and has not quite turned the corner yet. And that’s just what the numbers are showing us when it comes to North Shore home sales. Last month sales were up and prices were down vs. last year. This month it’s reversed with sales down 14% and prices up 7% vs year ago. The only trend that seems to be consistently improving is market time, which is down to about five and a half months.

North Shore Market Update
November 2011 vs. Year Ago

North Shore Market Data: November 2011Source: MRED LLC – Data for single family detached homes. Deemed reliable but not guaranteed

Wondering what your neighbor’s house sold for? Just email us with the address of the property and we’d be happy to send you that information (caveat: only if the transaction has closed. Until then the information is not available).

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Should I Buy or Rent on the North Shore?

Person with a questionThere has never been a better time to buy a home than right now. Interest rates are near historic lows, prices are affordable and there are plenty of homes to choose from. And yet, people continue to be wary of buying a home these days. Declining home values, tightened lending standards and job insecurity all contribute to their discomfort. Many people who would have bought without a second thought a few years ago are now choosing to rent instead of buy.

I read something surprising in a Wall Street Journal article by Amy Hoak: research suggests that renting has almost always been a better option than buying, from a financial standpoint. Really? But then I read the caveat: only if the renter invests all the money they save from renting. Ah…we all know that no one actually does that. Home ownership has always been a forced savings plan for Americans, allowing them to build equity as they pay off their home. That is until the housing meltdown when so many people ended up with negative equity.

Now the pendulum is swinging back in favor of buying in many cities, including Chicago. As demand for rentals has risen, so have rents, which are projected to rise about 4% this year. Home prices, on the other hand, have continued to fall, and interest rates are projected to hover around 4% in the near term.

Ms. Hoak offers these considerations if you are trying to decide whether to buy or rent:

  1. Don’t rely on national statistics. Examine the housing market in your own area. Stan Humphries, the chief economist at Zillow.com offers a nifty ratio you can use to gauge housing affordability. To calculate the price-to-rent ratio, divide the purchase price of the house you would buy by 12 times the monthly rent of a comparable house. If it’s near 20 or above you may want to keep renting, but if it’s below 15 it may make sense to buy. Read the rest of this entry »

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Happy Birthday North Shore Views

2yearsoldToday North Shore Views is two years old.

Looking back, I didn’t realize how rewarding a blog could be. My goal was that it would become a resource for my current (and potential) clients, and that it would help me build my business.

At the time there were a lot of abandoned real estate blogs out there, left for dead by agents who concluded that “blogging doesn’t work.”  But there were others who argued that, “Yes, blogging does work, if you keep at it. But it’s a long term strategy so don’t expect results over night.”

I found the latter more persuasive so I took a leap of faith and plunked down the money for the Real Estate Tomato to design the site and  train me on how to use it properly. And then I got down to work creating content, because, as anyone in the blogosphere will tell you,  “content is king.” As of today I have 290 posts and 47 pages on my site.

After two years here’s where I come out on this whole blogging thing. Read the rest of this entry »

North Shore Lakefront Homes

Evanston lakefront home

lakefront home winnetkaNorth Shore Chicago lakefront homes are on sale! If you’ve dreamed of having your own little piece of paradise on the lake, now is the time to buy it. Never in recent memory have there been so many lakefront properties available as there are right now, and at steeply discounted prices compared to a few years ago.

Between Evanston and Lake Bluff there are 23 active listings on the lake, ranging in price from $2,5000,000 to $12,000,000. Like homes in every other price range, these lakefront homes have seen declines of 20-30% in value since the market peaked in 2006. In the case of these homes that translates to a price drop of a million dollars or more. The grandest and most expensive home is the Schweppe Mansion in Lake Forest, an English style brick home on 5.3 acres dating from 1917, but fully restored in the 1980′s.

These homes run the gamut of architectural styles, from traditional Georgians and Tudors to Contemporaries and Mid Century Moderns. Some date from the early twentieth century and were designed by noted architects like David Adler or George Maher. Others are new in the last ten years and have been designed to take full Lakefront home Lake Forestadvantage of their beachfront location, with walls of windows and lake views from every room. Almost all have a private or semi-private beach and many have boathouses, pools and beautiful gardens.

You can search for available North Shore lakefront homes here. If you have questions about any of them or would like more information, feel free to  give me a call at 847-687-5957 or email me. I’d love to help you.

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North Shore Market Update: October 2011

North Shore home sales for October 2011 were 29% ahead of last year, putting year to date sales 2% ahead of last year. All markets showed gains in October except Wilmette and Northfield. Glenview had the strongest performance, with an 85% increase over 2010.

Market time has steadily decreased in recent months and averaged 157 days on market for homes sold in October. Evanston, Wilmette, Kenilworth, Glenview and Highland Park were all 150 days or less. Lake Forest is the one market where days on market has consistently stayed around 200 days or more.

While trends for sales activity and market time have improved, median pricing has declined for the last three months. Only Glencoe, Highland Park and Kenilworth (tiny base) showed improvement over October 2010.

North Shore Market Update
October 2011 vs. Year Ago

North Shore Housing Market Data October 2100Source: MRED LLC- Data for single family deatched homes. Deemed reliable but not guaranteed

Wondering what your neighbor’s house sold for? Just email me with the address of the property and I’d be happy to send you that information (caveat: only if the transaction has closed. Until then the information is not available).

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Pumpkins and Politics on Lawndale

Candidates in Wilmette

Every year I look forward to seeing how the Weyermullers have decorated their yard for Halloween. For over ten years they’ve been lampooning local and national politicians with life-size statues and vignettes about some of the more controversial policy issues. They will happily skewer either or both political parties but say they draw the line on sex scandals. So you won’ be seeing any Anthony Weiner statues this year.

And the fun is not limited to politics. Being die-hard Cub fans (one can only assume) there’s always some “commentary” on the Cubs’ latest season. This year there’s a Cub fan rising from the dead with his heart in his hand and a sign that reads: “The Cubs yanked my heart out”  And, of course, there’s a statue of the Cubs’ new President of Baseball Operations, Theo Epstein.

Here are some shots of this year’s Halloween display. See if you recognize anyone…

BlagoCharlie Sheen

Rahm EmmanuelBarack ObamaCubs fan with heart ripped outTheo Epstein

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John Hughes’ Lake Forest Mansion For Sale

John Hughes' Mansion in Lake Forest, il

The Lake Forest home of director, screenwriter and producer John Hughes has just been listed for sale by his widow.

Chicago’s North Shore was not only Hughes’ home but the location for many of his popular films:

  • Ferris Bueller’s Day Off was filmed in Highland Park, Glenbrook North High School and at the Winnetka Branch of real estate brokerage Koenig and Strey on the corner of Chestnut and Elm.
  • The Breakfast Club was filmed at Maine North and Glenbrook North High Schools.
  • Sixteen Candles was set in Evanston with the wedding scene shot at Glencoe Union Church.
  • Home Alone was shot in and around Winnetka and Wilmette.
  • Uncle Buck was filmed in Highland Park, Glencoe, Lake Forest, Northbrook and Winnetka.

The 17 room Tudor mansion where Hughes lived from 2003 until his death in 2009 sits on 2.1 acres just a block from Lake Michigan and Forest Park. Designed by Edwin Hill Clark and built in 1930, the 3 story house is over 11,000 square feet, with 6 bedrooms, 6 baths, 6 fireplaces, a pool and (natch) a media room.

Located at 855 E. Westminster Ave. the home is being offered at $5,890,000 and is listed by fellow Coldwell Banker agent, Ann Lyon. You can get more info and see more photos here.

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