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The Birdhouse Garden

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.

April 13

April 13

April 13

April 13

April 1

April 1

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Romona Neighborhood Home Sales – 1st Quarter 2011

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.

Romona Neighborhood Home Sales - 1st Quarter 2011Want to know what that house down the street went for? You can go here for that info.

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McKenzie Neighborhood Home Sales – 1st Quarter 2011

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.

McKenzie Neighborhood Home Sales-1st Qtr 2011You can see what individual houses sold for here.

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East Wilmette Home Sales – 1st Quarter 2011

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.

East Wilmette Home Sales - 1st Quarter 2011

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Harper Neighborhood Home Sales – 1st Quarter 2011

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.

Harper Home Sales - 1st Quarter 2011

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North Shore Market Update: 1st Quarter 2011

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

North Shore Chicago Market UpdateSource: MRED- Data for single family detached homes. Deemed reliable but not guaranteed

Buyers and Sellers: Beware of Facebook

Keeping a secretYou may have read the advice that you shouldn’t post your travel plans on Facebook due to the risk of burglary while you’re away.

Likewise, you should be cautious about what you post on Facebook or Twitter when you are in the midst of a real estate transaction. You never know who might be “listening in” and it could weaken your negotiating position if you divulge information about your personal situation.

This hit home the other day reading a Facebook update by a friend who lives in another state. She is in the process of getting divorced and was having a bit of a rant about her soon-to-be-ex-husband. It seems that their divorce is not all that amicable and she was using Facebook to vent about the differences of opinion they were having about the sale of their house and vacation condo. He was moving out of town, wanted a quick sale, and wanted to price the properties accordingly. She wanted to hold out for more money to be able to afford the town-home she had her eye on.

Problem is, they live in a relatively small town where everyone more or less knows everyone else. There’s a pretty good chance that a party to one of those real estate transactions is reading that update: the potential buyers, the other agent, etc. Or, because of the way Facebook works, you may not even know the buyer or their agent but one of your friends does, and if they comment on your update it could be read by their friend who is the buyer or the other agent.

When you’re involved in a real estate transaction, it pays to keep certain things to yourself:

  • The fact that you need to sell quickly due to a transfer, divorce, impending foreclosure, etc.
  • The fact that you’ve already bought another house and are about to close on it.
  • How much below your list price you are willing to go (if you are selling).
  • How much more than your initial offer you’re willing to pay (if you are buying).
  • That the house at (insert address) is the home of your dreams and you don’t know what you’ll do if you don’t get it.

You get the picture.

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Homes for Sale in Kenilworth Gardens

1917 Greenwood Ave.

1917 Greenwood Ave.

I’ve written before about the Kenilworth Gardens neighborhood of Wilmette. It’s a popular family-friendly community served by Harper School, one of the four elementary schools in Wilmette. It’s considered an “entry-level” neighborhood for upwardly mobile young couples moving to the North Shore from the city. Since many of the homes have 3-4 bedrooms with one car garages on smaller lots (50 x 122), families often outgrow their homes and move on after 4-5 years.

 

During the boom years, it was hard to get into Kenilworth Gardens. Homes sold quickly and often with multiple offers. Nowadays, it is taking longer to sell a home here. Many of the would-be sellers bought during the boom years and paid more than their home is currently worth, and it’s hard for them to come to terms with selling for so much less.

There are currently eleven homes for sale in Kenilworth Gardens, ranging in price from

1913 Thornwood Ave.

1913 Thornwood Ave.

$575,000 to $1,649,000. Most of the houses were built between 1935 and 1960, but two were new construction built from tear-downs of smaller homes.

1917 Greenwood Avenue: $575,000

Eight rooms, three bedrooms and one and a half baths.
Lots size: 50 x 122′
Two  car garage

1913 Thornwood Avenue: $599,000

2154 Thornwood Ave.

2154 Thornwood Ave.

Eight rooms, three bedrooms and one and a half baths.
Lot size (irregular): 60′ x 127′ on the corner of Ridge Rd.
One car garage
Newer kitchen but otherwise not redone

2154 Thornwood Avenue: $625,000

Eight rooms, three bedrooms, two and a half baths.
Lot size: 50′ x 122′
One car garage

2320 Greenwood Avenue: $629,000

Eight rooms, three bedrooms, two and one half baths.

2320 Greenwood Ave.

2320 Greenwood Ave.

Lot size: 50′ x 140′
One car garage

2224 Thornwood Avenue: $842,000

Eleven rooms, four bedrooms, three and one half baths
Lot size: 50′ x 122′
Two car garage

2235 Chestnut Avenue: $909,000

Ten rooms, four bedrooms, two and one half baths
Lot size: 50′ x 177′

2224 Thornwood Ave.

2224 Thornwood Ave.

Two car garage

2131 Beechwood Avenue: $919,000

Ten rooms, four bedrooms, two and one half baths
Lot size: 50′ x 134′
Two car garage
Newer Di Giuilio kitchen

2236 Beechwood Avenue: $ 949,000

Ten rooms, four bedrooms, two and one half baths
Lot size: 50′ x 130′

2235 Chestnut Ave.

2235 Chestnut Ave.

One car garage

1923 Greenwood Avenue: $965,000

Twelve rooms, five bedrooms, three and one half baths
Lot size: 50′ x 122′
One car garage

1220 Middlebury Lane: $1,375,000.

Eleven rooms, four+ bedrooms, four and one half baths
Lot size: 50′ x 135′
New construction

2131 Beechwood Ave.

2131 Beechwood Ave.

Oversized two car garage

2411 Thornwood Avenue: $1,649,000

Twelve rooms, five bedrooms, five and one half baths
Lot size: 50′ x 132′
Faces Thornwood Park
Built in 2005
Two car garage

You can get more information about each of these listings here. If you would like to see any of them, please give me a call at 847-687-5957 or email me. I would be happy to show them to you!

2236 Beechwood Ave.

2236 Beechwood Ave.

1923 Greenwood Ave.

1923 Greenwood Ave.

1220 Middlebury Lane

1220 Middlebury Lane

2411 Thornwood Ave.

2411 Thornwood Ave.

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February Market Data: North Shore Chicago

The National Association of Realtors released data for the month of February, showing that home sales and prices were down in the month of February vs. last year for the U.S., the State of Illinois and the Chicagoland area. I have added data for the North Shore from our local MLS to see how our area stacks up. Our numbers are down also, but fortunately less than for the Chicago metro area or Illinois.

It’s no surprise that home sales would be down vs. 2010, given the stimulus effect of last year’s tax credit, which boosted first quarter sales. Sales were also probably dampened by this being one of the snowiest Februaries on record for our area.

As for prices, they are still being affected by the high number of distressed properties (foreclosures and short sales), which accounted for 51% of all transactions in February. The fact that the North Shore’s prices declined less than the rest of the state is because there are relatively fewer distressed properties here.

February 2011 vs. Year Ago

North Shore Market Data * Primary Metropolitan Statistical Area.

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Pottery Barn Colors That Will Help You Sell Your North Shore Home

Bathroom with Hazy Skies

Bathroom with Hazy Skies

Many times I will recommend that a homeowner give their rooms a fresh coat of paint before listing their North Shore home for sale. After all, there is no single improvement or update that will give you a better return per dollar spent.

And if their target buyer is on the younger side, I remind them that Pottery Barn is the arbiter of all things young and fresh as far as decor goes. The more they can make their home look like a Pottery Barn catalog, the better. Easier said than done if all of your furniture pieces were inherited from your grandmother. But using Benjamin Moore’s Pottery Barn collection of paint colors is one way to breathe a little fresh air into your home.

If you are painting your home to sell, here are six of my fail-safe favorites from the spring collection:

Monroe Bisque (HC-26)
This is a sandy beige that is great for maximizing the space in your room. Paint the trim the same as the wall to add height to the room.

Hawthorne Yellow (HC-4)
A warm yellow that is neither too golden nor too lemony. Its slight gray undertone makes it work in any room, but it’s especially good in hallways and rooms that get little natural light.

Bleeker Beige (HC-80)
This is not a boring beige. It has warmth and depth and looks great with blues, greens and blue-greens.

Bedroom with Urban Nature

Bedroom with Urban Nature

Hazy Skies (OC-48)
This neutral is a beige with gray undertones that makes a great backdrop for any decorating scheme.

Buxton Blue (HC-149)
If there is such a thing as a neutral blue, this is it. It’s got both gray and green in it so it changes depending on the light, but it’s always cool and soothing.

Urban Nature (AF-440)
A sophisticated grayish-green that works well in bedrooms or living rooms.

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