North Shore Views
Archive for the 'Real estate' Category
North Shore baby-boomers, if you are planning to downsize to a smaller place anytime soon, this Forbes article by Ashlea Ebeling is worth a read.
It’s got great advice on how to maximize the return on all that great stuff you’ve collected over the years and how to minimize the tax consequences. Here’s a summary of her tips:
1. Accept that downsizing is tough.
Most people have an emotional attachment to their stuff, even if it has been up in the attic for years. It’s hard to let go of family heirlooms, old scrapbooks or souvenirs from your honeymoon. Give yourself time to reminisce so that you can let go more easily.
2. Find trusted experts.
Make sure you know which things have value beyond your sentimental attachment before you rush off an sell them on Craig’s List.
3. Call an appraiser to get an objective assessment of value.
4. Be wary of family lore.
Just because Grandma said that chair or vase is a one-of-a-kind doesn’t mean that it is.
5. Don’t toss things out prematurely.
Some things that look like trash aren’t (and vice versa).
6. Call an auction house.
For rarer or more valuable pieces this gives you access to a broader (even international) audience than an estate sale would.
7. Donate and deduct.
You can get a charitable deduction on your taxes if you donate something, but you do need to itemize if it is worth $500 or more.
8. Pass your heirlooms down before you die.
You can gift up to $13,000/year tax-free to as many people as you want (and that includes stuff as well as money).
9. Watch out for capital gains.
10. Remember the tax return.
Back in the good old days of the real estate boom, “bigger is better” was the mantra for home buyers. And it didn’t seem to matter if that bigger home was three counties away and a two hour commute from the office. Now, however, there is a confluence of economic and social trends that are driving home buyers back toward the cities: a desire for more family time and less commuting time, proximity to shopping, dining and other amenities, an emphasis on efficiency in housing design, and now the high price of gasoline.
Coldwell Banker‘s recently released study revealed that 75% of the 1,188 real estate agents polled said that the high cost of gasoline was impacting where consumer choose to buy a home:
- 89% said drive time and gas prices are causing home buyers to look for homes closer to work.
- 77% said more buyers today are interested in having a home office compared to five years ago. In fact, a home office is currently one of the “must have” features for today’s home buyer, according to Buffini and Company.
No doubt rising gas prices are fueling the continued interest in urban living, with 56% of agents saying that more home buyers are interested in urban living vs. five years ago.
- Of those 93% agreed that one reason is an increased interest in shorter commutes and 81% agreed that desire to reduce spending on gas is a factor.
For those who want to live in the suburbs and not go broke filling their tanks, the answer is to live on the North Shore, where the city is easily accessible via the Metra train. Downtown Chicago is just 32 minutes from Wilmette, 36 from Winnetka, 47 from Highland Park and 55 minutes from Lake Forest. Trains run frequently and there are express trains during morning and evening rush hours.
North Shore Chicago home sales were down 6% in April vs. last year. Evanston, Wilmette, Northfield, Highland Park and Lake Forest all showed declines, but Winnetka, Glenview and Glencoe had positive trends.
Median prices were up 8% overall, driven by Lake Forest, Glenview, Winnetka and Kenilworth.
The North Shore’s average market time dropped below 200 days but results were mixed across towns. Wilmette, Northfield and Glencoe actually increased but the rest of the markets showed healthy decreases. Northfield continues to have the longest average time on market (384 days), while Evanston has the shortest (135 days).
North Shore Market Update
April 2011 vs. Year Ago
The “Home Alone” house, where the first movie of the series was filmed in 1990, is located at 671 Lincoln Ave. in Winnetka. The stately Georgian stands on half an acre just a short walk from the Village center. It was built in the 1920′s and purchased by the current owners in 1988 for $875,000.
There’s this wonderful perennial garden on the corner of Elmwood Ave. and Hunter Rd. in Kenilworth Gardens. All summer long and into the autumn passersby are greeted by a profusion of flowers and a charming collection of hand-painted birdhouses. It’s always a surprise to see what’s in bloom at any given moment, so I thought I would document the changes throughout the growing season.
We haven’t had many warm days yet, so the garden doesn’t look like much right now. But the tulips are up. Peony shoots are just starting to peek out of the ground. The little blue flowers are called Glory of the Snow and are one of the earliest bloomers around here. The birdhouses are still wintering inside.
Romona is the only neighborhood in Wilmette that showed an increase in the number of homes sold and the price paid, as well as a decrease in market time vs. this time last year.
Want to know what that house down the street went for? You can go here for that info.
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.
You can see what individual houses sold for here.
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.
Sales in Wilmette’s Harper School neighborhood (as well as just about every other neighborhood) declined in the first quarter vs. last year. But remember, that’s when the home buyer’s tax credit was in place, which boosted sales last year. I would expect things to even out as the year goes on.
If you’re wondering what that house up the street sold for, you can go here.
North Shore home sales for the first quarter of 2011 were down 16% vs. the first quarter of 2010. I’m not going to tell you that this is good news, but last year we had the home buyer tax credit, which gave sales a big boost in the first quarter (+56% vs. 2009) prior to its expiration in April. So this drop shouldn’t be interpreted as the dreaded “double-dip” that we’ve all been hearing about. There are several signs that the recovery is taking hold, albeit more slowly and gradually than we had hoped: prices are stabilizing, pending sales are up, rents are rising (which makes buying more attractive), and unemployment is falling a little bit faster than projected.
Does that mean we’ll return to the good old days anytime soon? Nope. It will be a long slog. The housing market will be driven in large part by job growth and the consumer confidence that comes with that, and economists predict that it will take another five years for unemployment to get back down to “normal” levels (~6%).
North Shore Market Update
1st Quarter 2011 vs. Year Ago