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

Archive for the 'Real estate' Category

Tax Benefits of Home Ownership

Given all the challenges homeowners have faced in the last few years, we often forget about all the benefits to owning your own home. Among the benefits are the tax deductions for those who qualify. Here are six of the top tax advantages of home ownership,courtesy of Buffini and Company:
house made of money

  1. Write off the interest you paid on a mortgage of up to $1 million, as long as the property is your main or secondary residence. This deduction really pays off during the first years of owning the home, when interest accounts for most of your payment, also known as home acquisition debt.
  2. Deduct the interest you pay on home equity loans of up to $100,000, so long as you are not subject to the alternative minimum tax or AMT (unless you use the loan for home improvements).
  3. Deduct your state and local property taxes from your federal income taxes, where applicable.*
  4. Deduct your home buying expenses, including loan origination fees, prorated interest on a new loan or prorated property taxes.*
  5. If you sold your home in 2011, you may not have to pay federal income taxes on the earnings from the sale, up to $250,000 for single filers or $500,000 for joint filers, as long as you used the home as a primary residence for at least two of the five years prior to selling.
  6. Rent your home out for up to 15 days and keep the income generated – it’s not taxable.

* Not an eligible deduction if you are subject to the AMT.

Tags: ,

Can’t Sell Your North Shore Home? Thinking of Renting it Out?

Ever since the housing bubble burst, many of us have become reluctant landlords. Unable to sell our homes for enough to recoup our investment in them, many would-be sellers have decided to rent until the market improves. Before you go down that path, consider these tips from Keeping Current Matters:

Set Up an Appointment with an Eviction Attorney

People rent their homes assuming their tenants will pay the rent every month. But in this economy, there are millions of people who can’t pay their mortgage, and there are also many who can’t (or won’t) pay their rent. But once someone is living in your home, it’s not easy to get them out, even if they have not paid the rent in several months. You should understand the legal challenges of eviction before deciding to rent your home.

Consider Hiring a Property Manager

Unless you are a full time investor, you may want to hire a professional to find a qualified tenant, collect the rent and manage the problems. Otherwise you are opening yourself up to the possibility of receiving phone calls at all hours of the day and night to take care of maintenance issues or problems that a neighbor may be creating for your tenant.

Create a Realistic Budget

Sure, you will receive revenue in the form of rent. But don’t forget you’ll also have expenses:

  • Mortgage payment (unless there is no mortgage on the house you will rent out)
  • Property taxes
  • Maintenance expenses such as repairing or replacing the roof, heating and AC, appliances, etc.
  • Insurance – you may need to increase your liability coverage when you have tenants living in your house. Be sure and check with your insurance company.

Tags: ,

Has the Economy Turned the Corner?

economic indicatorsYou be the judge… below are some statistics compiled by Betsy Hanrahan of PHH Home Loans.

  • Consumer confidence is up to 56 from a low of 40.9
  • Gross Domestic Product (GDP) has been up every quarter for the past seven quarters.
  • Industrial production was up every month in 2011.
  • Inflation held under 4% for the past two years.
  • December jobless claims hit the lowest level since 2008.
  • The unemployment rate is down to 8.6%, the lowest in two and a half years.
  • Over 1,766,000 jobs were created in 2011.
  • Retail sales have gained every month for the past six months.
  • Holiday sales were up 3.8% over the last year and beat the ten-year average of 2.6%.
  • The home affordability index of 183.7 is the highest level in decades.


Avoca Home Sales in Winnetka – 2011

There is one small part of Winnetka that does not attend District 36 schools and that is the unincorporated area that includes Woodley Road, Woodley Woods and part of Indian Hill. Most of this area is served by Avoca District 37 (and another small part of Indian Hill is served by Wilmette District 39, just to further confuse you). These are neighborhoods with expensive homes, as you can see by the average prices below, but not all of Avoca is this pricey. In fact, Avoca’s service area also includes parts of Glenview, Northfield and Wilmette, which tend to have more modest housing stock than the Winnetka part of the district.

Avoca Home Sales in Winnetka – 2011 vs. 2010

Avoca Home Sales (Winnetka only)Source: MRED llc- Single family home data – Deemed reliable but not guaranteed.

Tags: , ,

Crow Island Neighborhood Home Sales – 2011

This is the third installment of neighborhood-level real estate stats for Winnetka. It covers the Crow Island School “footprint,” the area bordered on the north by Pine St., on the west by Hibbard Rd., on the east by Green Bay Rd. and on the south by Hill Rd. Although sales in this area were up dramatically over 2010, median and average sales prices decreased 14% and 15% respectively.

Crow Island Neighborhood Home Sales – 2011 vs. 2010

Crow Island Home Sales 2011Source: MRED llc- Single family home data. 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).

Tags: ,

Hubbard Woods Neighborhood Home Sales -2011

Here’s the second in a series of posts providing hyper-local home sales data for Winnetka. Yesterday was Greeley. Today is Hubbard Woods, the area north of Pine St. on the west side of Green Bay Rd. and north of Tower Rd. on the east side of Green Bay. This neighborhood, whose sales were a bit lackluster last year, came charging back in 2011, posting a 31% gain in sales and a 17% increase in median price.

Hubbard Woods Neighborhood Home Sales – 2011 vs. 2010

Hubbard Woods neighborhood home sales 2011Source: MRED llc – Single family homes data. Deemed reliable but not guaranteed

Winnetka District 36 map

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).

Tags: , ,

Greeley Neighborhood Home Sales – 2011

Last week I provided some hyper-local home sales data about Wilmette’s neighborhoods. This week I’m heading north to Winnetka, where I have broken down the numbers by the three elementary school neighborhoods in District 36 and one in District 37 (Avoca). First up is Greeley, which covers the area east of Green Bay Rd up to Tower Rd.

Although Winnetka sales overall were down 4% from last year, Greeley’s were down 29%. Greeley’s median sales price, on the other hand, was up 5% while Winnetka on the whole declined by 9%. Days on market for those homes sold decreased 37% vs. 16% for Winnetka as a whole.

Greeley Neighborhood Home Sales – 2011 vs. 2010

Greeley home sales 2011 vs. 2010

MRED llc- Data for single family 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).

Tags: ,

Stunning and Spacious Contemporary Home in Deerfield

8 Kenmore springIf you love to entertain friends and family in a relaxed and casual setting, this house at 8 Kenmore Avenue in Deerfield might just be the home for you.

It’s a 6 bedroom, 4.1 bath contemporary that has room for everybody. It sits at the end of a cul-de-sac,  just blocks from South Park Elementary School and a five minute drive to Kraft’s new headquarters for its snack business. It has a flexible an open floor plan that fits well into any lifestyle. The great room is the perfect gathering space, with its cozy fireplace, wet bar and game area. The spacious and bright eat-in kitchen will undoubtedly become everyone’s favorite hang-out.  A first floor bedroom can also double as an office allowing you to have a convenient “command central.” In warm weather the half sports court will draw everyone outside for a game of hoops as steaks sizzle on the grill. Upstairs the master suite has vaulted ceilings, a spa-like bath and large walk-in closet. There are three more bedrooms plus a hall bath. The lower level has a rec room big enough for all your toys: ping-pong, billiards, air hockey and foosball. There’s also a sixth bedroom and private bath that’s perfect for guests or an au pair.

This home has been meticulously maintained and has many features that make it the ultimate worry-free home: A whole house generator means you’ll never have to worry about power outages. The two furnaces with built-in humidifiers were new in 2010. There are two large hot water heaters, one of which was new in 2011, so there’s always plenty of hot water for laundry, dishes and showers. There are three sump pumps (count ‘em, three!) so flooding and seepage are never a problem. The security system gives added peace of mind.

The home is is a great value at $599,000. You can see a virtual tour here. If you’d like to see it in person, please give us a call at 847-881-6657 and we’d be happy to show it to you.

Contact Us

Tags: , , ,

Why Now is a Better Time to Sell Than You Thought

house made of moneyApparently only 7% of people think that now is a good time to sell a home, which is an all-time low according to Mary Umberger’s article in Sunday’s Chicago Tribune called “Lousy Market? Blame Sellers.

Ms. Umberger interviewed Syracuse University Professor Gary Engelhardt about his study “The Great Recession and Attitudes Towards Homebuying.” The upshot of the study is that, while most people think it’s a great time to buy a house, almost no one thinks it’s a good time to sell.  Inventories of homes for sale have fallen 20% nationally since last year, in part because many would-be sellers have decided not to  list their homes until market values improve.

These would-be sellers tend to fall into two categories: a) they are unrealistically tying their pricing expectations to a past market in which their house was worth considerably more, and have not been able to come to terms with the current reality; or b) they are underwater on their mortgage and are stuck because they can’t afford to bring cash to the closing table to make up the difference between what they could sell their home for and what they owe on it.

But here’s what reluctant sellers need to understand: home prices are not going to approach 2006 levels for a long time. In fact, most economists are predicting that prices will be basically flat for at least the next two years before beginning a gradual upward climb.

So, if you are a potential seller who is not underwater and does have equity in your home, now may be a really good time to list it. There will be less competition because so many people are underwater and can’t sell now. Will you get as much for your home as you’d like or as much as you would have a few years ago? No, but you will probably be able to sell it quickly if it’s in good condition and in a desirable location. You’ll fare especially well if your house is the kind and size that would appeal to first time home buyers or downsizing baby boomers.

If you’d like to find out what your home is worth in the current market, give us a call at 847-881-6657. We’d be glad to give you a complimentary, no obligation home evaluation. You can also get a free, quick, over-the-net home evaluation here.


Relocating to Chicago? How to Know if the North Shore is Right for You

Sailboats at Evanston beachIf you are relocating to the Chicago area and are considering living in the suburbs, you have a lot of choices. Typically if you want to live close to the city or near the lake, you will pay more for your new home. As you go west and south you can generally find more affordable homes, bigger lots and more space for the money. It all depends on the lifestyle you are looking for, your priorities and the trade-offs you are willing to make. You should consider moving to the North Shore only if:

  • You prefer classic old homes in established neighborhoods over newly built sub-divisions. Yes, of course you can find new construction on the North Shore, but most of the homes are older, especially in the communities along the lakefront. In many cases they have been fully renovated so you can have your cake and eat it too. You get the character and charm that comes with a vintage house, yet with all the modern conveniences of a new home.
  • You love boating, fishing, sailing or going to the beach and are determined to be near the lake so that you can take full advantage of the waterfront.
  • You want your kids to go to great schools. The North Shore is not unique in this regard. Many of the Chicago suburbs have excellent schools. But New Trier High School and all of its feeder schools continue to represent the gold standard when it comes to children’s education. New Trier’s athletic programs are top-notch, too.
  • You are willing to pay a premium for a home on the North Shore. It’s one of the costliest places to live in the Chicago area but homes here tend to hold their value better than elsewhere. Even in a bad real estate market, where foreclosures and short sales run rampant, fewer than 1% of the homes on the North Shore are distressed properties.

If the North Shore sounds like where you’d like to live, we’d be happy to give you our signature “Tour of the Shore” so you can get a feel for the area and see if it measures up. We think it’s a great place to live and we love helping people who are relocating here discover all of the wonderful things that the North Shore has to offer. Just give us a call at 847-881-6657 or email usYou can search for a North Shore home here.

Related articles:

Tags: ,