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

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Winnetka Housing Market Trends: 2007-2014

Winnetka Housing Market Trends

Winnetka’s home sales fell 32% from 2007 to 2009. Sales reached a record high in 2014 (+18% vs. 2007) before drifting back down to 2007 levels.

Market time has moved inversely with home sales,  reaching a high of 229 days in 2009 before starting a steady decline to 93 days in 2013. The current average market time of 118 days, while higher than 2013’s level, is still significantly shorter than what we see in a “normal” market.

Home prices didn’t reach their lowest point until 2011, when the median selling price fell 26% from 2007 and the average price fell 25%. While we’ve seen steady gains since then, 2014 median and average prices are still 9% and 13% lower than 2007, respectively.

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If your New Year’s Resolution was to buy or sell a home on Chicago’s North Shore, contact The Come Home North Shore Team at Coldwell Banker.  We’re North Shore real estate specialists and our knowledge & experience can save you time & money.  Call Anne West and Paula Weiss at 847.881.6657 or email

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Wilmette Housing Market Trends: 2007-2014

Wilmette Housing Markt Trends thru 2014

People are always asking me if the real estate market has fully recovered after the meltdown. The answer is that it depends. It depends where you live, whether you’re talking about home sales or prices and what price range you’re in. Last week I wrote about eight-year housing market trends on Chicago’s North Shore. Now I’m going hyper-local to take a look at the individual communities, starting with Wilmette.

In Wilmette sales hit bottom in 2009 and then started to turn around. Except for a slight dip in 2011 there were steady gains and in 2014 sales were actually 17% ahead of 2007’s pre-meltdown level.

Market time was also longest in 2009, at 169 days, and then began steadily shrinking. Wilmette homes now sell more than twice as fast as they did in 2007 (59 days). This is the lowest of any North Shore market and driven by the Wilmette’s popularity and relatively low levels of inventory available.

Prices have not fully recovered, though they are definitely on the upswing in the last couple of years. While Wilmette home sales hit their lowest level in 2009, prices did not bottom out until 2012 (falling 26% from 2007). Although we have seen nice appreciation in 2013 and 2014, the median selling price is still 10% lower than 2007 and the average price is 11% lower.

Now that we are seeing prices appreciate again, are you wondering what your North Shore home is worth? You can get a quick and easy over-the-net home valuation by just giving us some basic information about your house. Just go here to submit your info and we’ll send you your home valuation within 48 hours.

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Anne West Earns International Designation for Luxury Home Marketing Expertise

Certified Luxury Home Marketing Specialist logoWe are proud to announce that our very own Anne West, co-founder of Coldwell Banker’s Come Home North Shore Team, has earned the prestigious Certified Luxury Home Marketing Specialist® designation in recognition of her experience, knowledge and expertise in the luxury home market.  “Anne West is an example of a real estate professional who has worked to develop market knowledge and the special skills and competencies necessary to provide exceptional service in the fine homes and estates marketplace,” said Institute President Laurie Moore-Moore, upon announcing West’s designation.  “Affluent buyers and sellers can turn to sales professionals who have this designation and be confident that they have special expertise and experience in the luxury home marketplace.”

“I am committed to providing outstanding service to my clients,” said West. “The Certified Luxury Home Marketing Specialist® designation is evidence of my ability to meet the needs of affluent buyers and sellers.  My membership in The Institute for Luxury Home Marketing also provides me with marketing tools and networking capabilities that benefit my clients.”

Another job well done, Anne! For current information on the upper bracket market on Chicago’s North Shore, contact West at Coldwell Banker’s Winnetka office (847.881.6657) or e-mail

Come Home North Shore is one of the top real estate teams on the North Shore. We are experts at marketing, negotiation and correctly pricing homes to sell and are experienced in the sale and purchase of new construction, lakefront and luxury homes. If you are thinking of buying or selling in the following communities: Wilmette, Winnetka, Glencoe, Evanston, Highland Park, Kenilworth, Lake Forest, Northfield or Glenview, give us a call at 847.881.6657.

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Why The First Offer On Your Home Is Often The Best Offer

yard_sign_desperate_sellerThere is a truism in real estate that the first offer you receive on your home is the best one you will get. And while that’s not true 100% of the time, our experience is that it IS true in about 85% of cases.

When a North Shore homeowner receives the first offer on their home and it isn’t close to their asking price, they tend to balk. Reluctant to even negotiate, their inclination is to hold out for another, higher offer.

While this is understandable, in most cases we encourage our clients to take a deep breath and try to work with the offer, reminding them that it’s not where you start in a negotiation but where you finish that counts. We have seen a lot of cases where the initial offer was low but ultimately got close to what was acceptable to the seller. There is absolutely no downside to countering an offer, even if it’s a small reduction. That signals to the buyer that you are willing to negotiate but are not willing to give away the farm. And the buyer’s response to your counter will give you a good sense of where things are headed.

But back to the reason that the first offer is often the best one.

Today more than 90% of all home buyers start their home search online. They supplement their online search with visits to Sunday open houses. By the time they are ready to make an offer on a house, they are well-educated about the market. They have looked at everything in their price range, comparing features and amenities and have a good sense of value. When a new house comes on the market, they can immediately assess how it compares to what they’ve seen and whether it’s worth the price. Their offer will reflect their perception of the home’s value vs. competing listings.

If they have lost a house (or houses) in a bidding war, they will move quickly and with a strong offer.

But once a house has been on the market for  few weeks, most of the showings you get will be from buyers who are in the early stages of their search. They are still doing research on the market and not yet ready to buy.

The longer the house is on the market the less sense of urgency buyers have. They think, “Well, no one has bought this house, so it must not be worth what the seller is asking.” or they think,  “Maybe there’s something wrong with it.” or even “Maybe I can get this house at a steal.” And that’s when the low-ball offers start to come in.

The more time that passes, the more likely you will end up accepting an offer that is lower than the initial offer you got.

My advice is to take the first offer you get seriously. Don’t be insulted by it. Try to work with it. You may be able to get the buyer to come close to a price that is acceptable to you, especially if you can compromise on other terms like the closing date. Don’t walk away from the deal until you have fully negotiated it. When you reach the buyer’s bottom line, you can decide if it’s acceptable or not. No one can force you to take it.

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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Congratulations to Anne West

Five Star logoWe are proud to announce that our very own Anne West, co-founder of Coldwell Banker’s Come Home North Shore Team, was once again chosen by Five Star Professional as one of the Chicago area’s Five Star Real Estate Agents for 2014. Less than 7% of Chicago-area real estate agents are selected for this special award which honors exceptional service to clients. Anne was featured, along with other award winners, in a special section of the October issue of Chicago Magazine which partnered with Five Star Professional in in the selection process.

Anne WestThe Five Star Real Estate Agent award program is the largest and most widely published real estate agent award program in North America. Agents are measured using an objective, in-depth research methodology with significant focus on customer feedback and overall satisfaction. Five Star Professionals research is extensive, with more than 10 million consumers, peers and other stakeholders contacted each year.

This is the fourth year in a row that Anne has been selected, proving once again that you are in great hands with Anne and the entire Come Home North Shore team! Join us as we congratulate Anne on a job well done!

Come Home North Shore is one of the top real estate teams on the North Shore. We are experts at marketing, negotiation and correctly pricing homes to sell and are experienced in the sale and purchase of new construction, lakefront and luxury homes. If you are thinking of buying or selling in the following communities: Wilmette, Winnetka, Glencoe, Evanston, Highland Park, Kenilworth, Lake Forest, Northfield or Glenview, give us a call at 847-881-6657.

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Who Answers The Phone When a Buyer Calls?

yard-signs If you’ve ever looked closely at a For Sale sign in someone’s yard, you’ll notice there’s a phone number to call if you want more information about the house.

In most cases this is the general number for the real estate brokerage that the home is listed with, but sometimes it’s the real estate agent’s direct number. When a prospective buyer calls the number on the sign, one of two things typically happens:

1) Someone at the brokerage working “floor duty” answers and will look up the listing online or in a big binder they have on the floor duty desk. (Floor duty is what agents do for a couple of hours at a time to try and drum up business from people who call in. Usually they are newer, less experienced agents who do not have many clients yet).

In most cases the agents on floor duty have never been inside the house and can only provide information that is on the listing sheet – which is the same information you can get yourself on any real estate web site: asking price, number of bedrooms and baths, etc.


2) The call goes to the agent’s voice-mail and if you leave a message you may hear back from the agent later that day or the next day …or never.

Come Home North Shore Yard SignThe Come Home North Shore Team has a Google Voice number that rings simultaneously on each of our phones. The first one to respond takes the call. Usually that’s Paula, because her cell phone is an extension of her hand and she has lightening fast reactions. Sometimes, if she’s in the shower or on another call I will be first to answer. In any case, the good news if you’re the seller of that house is that someone who knows the finer points of your home is taking the call and can talk up the house and at the same time determine if the buyer is a serious prospect.

And if you’re a prospective buyer the good news is you will actually reach a human being who can tell you what you want to know about the house…immediately.

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. We would love to help you!

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Getting Rid of Old Paint on the North Shore

old paint cansA couple of weeks ago at a final walk-through of one of our listings, the buyers were surprised to see that there were several paint cans left in the garage after our client had moved out. Some of the paint was relatively new, since our client had re-painted a few rooms to freshen them up before putting his home on the market. He assumed the buyers would want the paint for touch-ups. But they didn’t. They wanted it gone. All of it. They were planning to repaint the entire inside of the house a different color.

That was at 7:00 pm the night before the 9:00 am closing. My client had already moved and was not in a position to deal with the problem. Paula and I had to get rid of that paint and bring a photo of the clean (paint-less) garage to closing. Paint is not one of those things you can just chuck in the garbage. If it’s oil based it’s considered hazardous waste and must be taken to a collection site where it will be dealt with in an environmentally safe way. If it’s latex, it will need to be completely dried out before it can be thrown out.

Most people keep old paint around because: 1) they think they may need it sometime; or 2) they don’t know how to dispose of it. That’s why there are usually 10-20 cans of paint in everyone’s garage or basement.

If you are planning to sell your house in the future, you should be aware that most buyers do not want your old paint. So you might as well make a plan to use it up or dispose of it. You could give some rooms a fresh coat of paint. You could donate it to a local charity, theater group, school or church. Otherwise, here’s what you can do:

Oil-based Paint

You can’t thow it out. You must take it to an Illinois Environmental Protection Agency collection center. The closest collection center to the North Shore is in Gurnee:

Solid Waste Agency of Lake County
By appointment only on second Saturday or fourth Monday of each month
1311 N. Estes Street, Gurnee
(847) 336-9340

Or, you can wait for one of the one-day collection events that take place from time to time on the North Shore.

Latex Paint

Leave the paint can open in a well-ventilated area until it dries out. Then you can put it in the garbage- but leave the lid off so your garbage collector knows it’s dry. To expedite the drying-out process you can mix kitty litter or sawdust in with the paint. Even shredded up newspaper will work…anything that will absorb the paint. If you don’t have the time or inclination to do this, you can take it to a local hardware store (see list below) and, for a fee, they will take care of it.

North Shore Hardware Stores That Take Latex Paint

  • Millen Hardware, 1219 Wilmette Ave., Wilmette.   (847) 251-3060
  • Skokie Ace Hardware, 5035 Oakton St., Skokie. (847) 673-0700
  • Weiss Ace Hardware, 1560 Waukegan Rd., Glenview  (847) 724-3444
  • Craftwood Lumber and Hardware, 1590 Old Deerfield Rd., Highland Park  (847) 831-2800

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Making a Move Less Stressful for the Kids

Moving with kidsLife changes are difficult and stressful, and moving can be especially troubling for children. They are asked to leave behind their whole world and everything that is familiar to them. What can parents do to help children accept the move and view the changes in their lives as an adventure and not a nightmare?

Recognize the Different Age Stages

Really young children like toddler age, may not be totally aware of the changes that are taking place. However, children between the ages of 5 and elementary, understand the concept of moving, and that their lives are about to be different. They might take the news a bit harder, and will express their concerns more verbally. Letting them spend one special day with their friends before the move; take pictures and create a photo album can lessen the stress, and help make parting a little easier.

Teens are the most theatrical group, and will vigorously protest the need to move. Children in this age group have developed special friendships, and are socially involved at school. They will need time to process and cope with the ordeal of leaving their friends. They will also be worried about making new friends and fitting in at their new school. If possible, parents can agree to allow their child to visit with their friends at least a couple of times per year. Remind them that technology allows them to easily stay in touch via Facebook,  Skype. or another popular media website. To keep a healthy open relationship with children, and to keep communication channels open, follow these simple tips and advice;

Be Honest and Up front

No one like surprises. Share why you need to move, and why the move is important. Children don’t like to be deceived or tricked, so don’t avoid answering questions. Don’t spring the move on them at the last minute. Let them know in advance that a relocation to a new home, city or state is a necessity, and why. Answer any questions they might have, and don’t be afraid to share your own personal feelings.

Plan the Move Together

Children like to be a part of their parents’ world. Make moving a family project. Let children help prepare for the move, and encourage them to pack their own boxes. Talk to them about giving their extra clothes, toys or other items to Goodwill or to a friend or family member they will be leaving behind. If necessary, help children to write “Good bye” letters to their friends, teachers and classmates. Plan a going away party, and let children invite their neighborhood friends and classmates. This will help them with closure.

Share and Talk About Negative or Scary Feelings

Children might not bring up the subject of moving, as they may be angry, afraid or confused. However, initiating a conversation about moving, and how scary it can be can alleviate the tension. Children will adjust more easily if they can share their feelings and concerns. Let them know that everyone anticipates changes in their lives, and that moving is not a bad change. Let them know that while they are moving away, they still have their old friends, and now they will be making new friends, as well. Encourage children to get the names, addresses and telephone numbers of their old friends so they can stay in touch.

Scope Out the New Location Together

Bring children along to the real estate office, or to see the houses you are considering. If possible, allow them to choose their own bedroom. Ask them questions that encourages them to talk, such as,  “Where do you think your bed should go?” or “Do you think you need a new rug to match the colors in your new room?” These questions give children a sense of control and help them make the transition to their new life.

Tips for a Successful Less Stressful Move

Make the decision to move a family decision. Get excited about moving, and let it show. Involve children as much as possible. Take a weekend off and set a date for the entire family to visit the new location. Help children scope out the neighborhood and locate the park, gym, library, and other places of interest. Talk about what positive changes the move can mean to the family as a whole.

Thinking of making a move to Chicago’s North Shore? We can help make the move less stressful for everyone in the family. We’ll start with our Tour of the Shore, to familiarize you with the communities, schools, house values and amenities. Call us at 847.881.6657 to find out more.

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Real Estate Hidden Gems You Should Be Marketing When Selling Your North Shore Home

Ever wonder what the real hot buttons are for the prospective buyers of your house? Some things are obvious, like a recently remodeled kitchen. But there are the not-so-obvious things that could, quite possibly, put more money in your pocket if your agent were to focus more on them in the marketing of your house.

Based on a survey of 1500 agents around the country, this infographic highlights the most desirable features and which ones are the hidden gems that are often over-looked when pricing the house.

How would this infographic look if the survey were focused on North Shore Realtors only? I suspect that schools and neighborhood quality would score even higher, since these are the main reasons people move to the North Shore in the first place.

Amazing views would be less important, except to the few people who can afford lakefront property. On the other hand, a second floor laundry, which only scored 19% in the national survey, would certainly be higher here. And, after this past dreadful winter, I’m pretty sure that an attached garage would be pretty high up on the list, too. While this feature is taken for granted in many areas of the country, relatively few older houses here on the North Shore can boast that “hidden gem.”

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 Reasons To Sell Your North Shore Home Before Spring

house with snowWith home prices finally on the upswing after five years of declines, many North Shore homeowners have gotten some equity back in their homes and are trying to decide if the time is right to sell, or if they should wait for further price appreciation.

Conventional wisdom says that the best time to list is spring, since that is when there are the most active buyers in the market. And, given that North Shore home prices are up 6% over last year, many are hoping that prices will continue to rise and that waiting til spring will net them more money.

But there are some compelling reasons for listing as early in 2014 as possible (i.e., early January), rather than waiting until March or April.

1. Only serious buyers are out.

At this time of year, only those purchasers who are serious about buying a home will be coming to see your house. You and your family will not be bothered and inconvenienced  by “lookie-loos” and tire-kickers. The lookers are staying warm inside.

2. There will be far less competition for those serious buyers.

According to a recent survey by, there are a lot of buyers still active in the market now because they were unable to find a home during this last buying season. They know what they want and they are on high alert for any house that comes on the market that meets their criteria. If you list your home before the rest of the pack, you can snag one of those eager buyers before you have too much competition.

3. The process will be quicker.

One of the biggest challenges of the 2013 housing market has been the length of time it takes from contract to closing. Banks have been inundated with both purchase and refinancing loan requests. Both of these will slow down in winter months, meaning shorter timelines and less frustration for buyers and sellers who are anxious to close a deal.

4. There will never be a better time to move up.

If you plan to move to a larger, more expensive house, you should probably do it soon. Prices are projected to increase 28% from now to 2018. If you are moving to a higher-priced home, it will only cost you more (both in down payment and monthly mortgage payment) if you wait. You can also lock in your thirty year housing expense with historically low interest rates now. It is inevitable that interest rates will rise in the years to come.

Besides, if you you sell in January, you’ll have “first dibs” on the plentiful spring inventory AND you’ll have more negotiating leverage if you already have a contract on your old house.

5. January is the biggest corporate transfer month.

Did you know that more corporate moves happen during January than any other month of the year? And corporate transferees are a “sure bet.” They need to buy a house and they need to buy it now. They have a short window to look for homes and tend to be more decisive than other buyers. It’s not uncommon for them to fly into town for 2-3 days, see 10-12 houses and put an offer in on one by the end of the weekend.

Now that we are seeing prices appreciate again, are you wondering what your North Shore home is worth? Give us a call at 847-881-6657 and we’ll provide you with a Pinpoint Price Analysis. Or, if you just want a ballpark estimate, you can get a quick and easy over-the-net home valuation by just giving us some basic information about your house. Just go here to submit your info and we’ll send you your home valuation within 48 hours.

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