Wednesday, August 5, 2020

5 North Shore Farmers Markets

North Shore Farmers Markets


Looking for ways to support local businesses and farmers on Chicago’s North Shore? Visit a local farmers markets! The variety of local produce really amps up this time of year, with sweet corn, tomatoes, summer squash, green beans, lettuces and so much more. You can also find bread, sweet treats and more from local businesses. As your North Shore real estate agent, I’m here to fill you in and where and when to find local North Shore farmers markets, so you can plan accordingly!

1.  Downtown Evanston Farmers Market takes place on Saturdays from 7:30 a.m. to 1 p.m. This year, seniors and disabled shoppers can shop from 7 to 7:30 a.m. The location is University Place and Oak Avenue in Downtown Evanston. The market runs through Nov. 7. Expect to find fruits and veggies, homemade pies, grass-fed ground beef, spiced roasted cashews, organic fair-trade coffee beans and more. Local restaurants take turns serving up ready-made food as well, such a tamales or BBQ. 


2.  Glenview Farmers Market takes place on Saturdays from 7:30 a.m. to 12 p.m. The location is the parking lot of Historic Wagner Farm at 1510 Wagner Road. This runs until mid-October. There isn’t ready-to-eat food or community event tables this year, but there are still plenty of seasonal fruits and vegetables, eggs, spices, honey, jams and local meats, for you to purchase and enjoy. 


3.  Northbrook Farmers Market takes place on Wednesdays from 7 a.m. to 1 p.m. The location is at Cherry Lane and Meadow Road in Downtown Northbrook. This market runs until Oct. 14. This is a nonprofit, all volunteer-run market! Expect to find fresh fruits and vegetables, cheeses, pasture-raised meat, raw honey, olive oils, pies and more. 


4.  Skokie Farmers Market takes place on Sundays from 7:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. The location is new this year, at 5127 Oakton Street. This market runs every Sunday through Nov. 1. You can expect to find in-season vegetables, fruits, cheeses, flowers, jams, pickles and more. This market opened in 1975 and has been voted “Best on the North Shore,” so be sure to check it out! 


5.  Winnetka Farmers Market takes place every Saturday from 7:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. The location is Winnetka Village Hall at 510 Green Bay Road. This market runs through Oct. 17. This is the market’s 43rd year! Items you’ll find include fruits and vegetables, blooming plants, shrubs and flowers, cheeses, baked goods, breads, homemade pesto, handmade soaps and lotions, and much more.

 

Be sure to check the websites for each farmers market to see what COVID-19 precautions they’re taking, and what rules they’re asking you to follow. These markets are a great way to eat the freshest, most local food available, and to support local businesses and farmers!


When ready to achieve your real estate goals in Glencoe, Winnetka, Highland Park, Deerfield, Northbrook, Lake Forest, Wilmette, Evanston, Glenview, Riverwoods, Bannockburn, or other North Shore communities, contact me, your North Shore real estate agent! I am always here to answer any questions you may have and to guide you through the entire home-buying and/or home-selling process. Let’s get started today!


Janie Bress
Your North Shore Real Estate Expert


North Shore Real Estate
View North Shore Listings
Visit My Website


Local Expert... with National Connections!

Wednesday, July 22, 2020

Mortgage Loan Documents Needed as North Shore Homebuyer

North Shore Mortgage Tips
If you’d like to buy a North Shore home this summer or fall, now is the time to start gathering your mortgage loan documents. In today’s competitive market, it’s more important than ever for a homebuyer to have a pre-approval letter from a mortgage lender before they start their home search.

Which documents you need will depend on what type of loan you get. As your North Shore real estate agent, I am here to fill you in on the basics, so you can start collecting documentation now.

If you are employed, get a regular W-2 every year, and are applying for a conventional mortgage loan, here are the documents you typically need:

1.  ID of some sort, such as driver’s license or passport.

2.  Proof of income. This could include pay stubs for last 30 days, last two federal tax returns, last two W-2s, and proof of any additional income, such as social security, alimony, etc.

3.  Proof of accounts. Last two statements for all bank accounts, including statements for investment or retirement accounts.

4.  Property. Bring settlement statement from any previous home sales, if applicable.

5.  Other. If you rent, bring contact information for your landlord for the last two years. If applicable, bring a divorce/separation agreement or property settlement agreement.

6.  If a family member is gifting you money for your home purchase, a mortgage lender will have a gift letter for them to fill out.

7.  A letter of explanation for late payments, collections, etc. in your credit history, if applicable.

For an FHA loan, the same documentation is needed. If you have 1099s instead of W2s, bring the last two of those.

If you are applying for an investment property loan, bring all of the above, plus settlement statements on any recent home sales, recent mortgage statements on all properties you own, proof of insurance for all properties, and current leases for all rental properties.

If you are self-employed or own a business, bring all of the same documentation, plus the last two years’ Corporate, S-Corp, LLC or partnership tax returns. You also may need the last two months’ profit-and-loss statements, balance sheet if applicable, and current business license.

If applying for a VA loan, you’ll need all of the above, plus a certificate of eligibility (COE) from the Veteran’s Administration. This may require form DD-214 for certificate of release or discharge, statement of service if still on active duty, or form 26-1817 or form 21-534 for surviving spouses.

For a USDA loan, there are many additional forms involved. You can find more information on all of these document requirements in this House Logic article

Start going through your documents and gathering them together, so when you make an appointment with a mortgage lender for a pre-approval, the process will be quick and painless! If you wish your credit score was higher or your debt was lower, spend some time working to improve those numbers before applying for a loan.

Mortgage rates are at record lows right now, so don’t wait to apply! When ready to buy in Glencoe, Winnetka, Highland Park, Deerfield, Northbrook, Lake Forest, Wilmette, Evanston, Glenview, Riverwoods, Bannockburn, or other North Shore communities, give me a call. I am your North Shore real estate agent, here and ready to help!

Janie Bress
Your North Shore Real Estate Expert


North Shore Real Estate
View North Shore Listings
Visit My Website


Local Expert... with National Connections!

Wednesday, July 8, 2020

North Shore Beaches & Parks

Chicago North Shore Beaches/Parks
If you’ve been cooped up inside for too long this summer, allow me to fill you in on fun outdoor options on Chicago’s North Shore! Whether you live in Glencoe, Winnetka, Highland Park, Deerfield, Northbrook, Lake Forest, Wilmette, Evanston, Glenview, Riverwoods, Bannockburn, or other North Shore communities, there is a nearby North Shore beach or park for you to enjoy. As your North Shore real estate agent, I am here to fill you in on these locations and COVID-19 updates for each one.

Evanston Beaches – Evanston has four public swimming beaches that are open for the season. You must present a daily pass or season token for beach admission. These include Lighthouse Beach, Clark Street Beach, Lee Street Beach and South Boulevard Beach. Other Evanston beaches are currently closed, but this could change at anytime. Beach hours are 10:30 a.m. to 7:30 p.m. through Sept. 7. 

Glencoe Beach – Only season passes are allowed this season, there is no daily admission. Season passes are sold out, but there is a wait list you can be added to. There is limited attendance as well, to maintain social distancing. Hours for season pass holders are 9 a.m. to 9 p.m. The beach is open to walkers only from 6 to 9 a.m. The Sprayground and playground are now open as well. 

Winnetka Beaches – Winnetka has several beaches. Lloyd Beach and Elder Lane Beach are closed due to storm damage. Tower Road Beach is open to season pass holders only. Daily passes are not available this year. Maple Street Beach is also open for season pass holders, for swimming and for non-motorized boat launching. Centennial Beach is open as a dog beach this season. When lake conditions are hazardous, the gate will be locked. 

Heritage Park – This park in Wheeling has over 100 acres of nature and recreation options. Take the 1.3 mile path that loops around beautiful Lake Heritage. Play pickleball or basketball at the courts. Book a tee time for golf at Chevy Chase or Rob Roy Golf Course. Head to the playgrounds, or pack a picnic and find shade in the open space. Practice social distancing while there. 

River Trail Nature Center – These grounds, trails and bathrooms have reopened in Northbrook from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. daily. Exhibit buildings remain closed. Parking will be limited to 50 percent capacity, so get there early! Pack a picnic or just walk the wooded grounds, trying to spot animals while learning about native plants and animals on these self-guided nature trails. 
 
These are some of your great outdoor options on Chicago’s North Shore this summer! Where do you love to spend time outdoors? Even just enjoying your own backyard is a blessing, with plenty of fun options, like grilling, playing lawn games, having s’mores around a fire pit, etc.

Wish you lived in a better community, or wish you had a bigger backyard? When ready to achieve your North Shore real estate goals this summer, give me a call, your North Shore real estate agent! I am here to help make your goals a reality!
  
Janie Bress
Your North Shore Real Estate Expert


North Shore Real Estate
View North Shore Listings
Visit My Website


Local Expert... with National Connections!

Wednesday, June 24, 2020

Now is Time to Buy and Sell on Chicago’s North Shore!

If you haven’t been keeping up with real estate market news, as your North Shore real estate agent, let me fill you in on some key factors. This summer is the ideal time to both buy and sell, so I wouldn’t want this news to slip under your radar! If you want to buy and/or sell a home in Glencoe, Winnetka, Highland Park, Deerfield, Northbrook, Lake Forest, Wilmette, Evanston, Glenview, Riverwoods, Bannockburn, or other North Shore communities, now may be your perfect opportunity.

For North Shore homebuyers, the great news is that mortgage rates are hovering near historic lows, and signs show that they will remain low for awhile. Freddie Mac said they predict an average mortgage interest rate of 3.4 percent for 2020. This week they were as low as 3.13 percent! By locking in a low rate, you can save thousands of dollars over the life of your loan, and even hundreds per month! So, whether you are buying your first home, buying a second home, or selling your current home to buy a new home, low mortgage rates will work in your favor.

The less positive news for buyers is that the inventory of homes for sale is still low. So, to better your chances at having one of your offers accepted, you should be preapproved by a mortgage lender before you start your home search, to give you a competitive advantage and accelerate the home-buying process. You should also work with a trusted real estate agent, so you know about homes as soon as they are listed, or even before they are listed to the public, so you get in to see a home as soon as possible, so you have a professional negotiator on your side when making offers, and so you have a professional to guide you through a bidding war if it comes to that.

For North Shore home sellers, low mortgage rates are also good news, because so many buyers are out and eager to buy while rates are low! Many listings are flying off the market because of supply and demand. In May, listings fetched nearly three offers each. The demand is high from buyers, the supply of homes for sale is low. These are perfect conditions for a home seller to sell their home fast, and for a great price.

The sooner you list, the better, because more homes are likely to enter the North Shore real estate market as the summer season continues, and as more COVID-19 restrictions are lifted. You can feel safe and secure showing your house now, as many safety guidelines are in place to protect homeowners and their space, even during live showings.

If you feel ready to buy and/or sell on Chicago’s North Shore this summer, or you’ve got questions about the local market or the home-buying and/or home-selling process, give me a call! As your local North Shore real estate agent, I can answer all of your questions and get your started just as soon as you’re ready. Don’t let this excellent opportunity pass you by!

Janie Bress
Your North Shore Real Estate Expert


North Shore Real Estate
View North Shore Listings
Visit My Website


Local Expert... with National Connections!

Wednesday, June 10, 2020

North Shore Moving Tips

If you are ready to accomplish your North Shore real estate market goals this summer, in Glencoe, Winnetka, Highland Park, Deerfield, Northbrook, Lake Forest, Wilmette, Evanston, Glenview, Riverwoods, Bannockburn, or other North Shore communities, I am here to help! As your North Shore real estate agent, I can assist you in selling, buying or both. The market is picking up! Home sales are up, mortgage rates are low and buyers are eager.

Whether selling or buying, a move is in your future. You should feel excited about your move, not anxious! To help with that, here are a few moving tips to help you feel prepared when the time comes:

1.  Have a packing plan, and get started. Even if your house isn’t listed yet, or you haven’t applied for a mortgage loan yet, it’s never too early to have a packing plan! As soon as possible, start decluttering and donating, recycling, selling or tossing anything you no longer need or want. The less stuff you have to move, the better! If there is stuff you know you won’t need before the move, like winter clothes or holiday decorations, get those boxed and stored early. Create a plan for each week, so you don’t get caught with everything to do last minute.

2.  Choose a moving date. When planning your move, whether across town or across country, it’s wise to plan ahead with your work schedule and to schedule with a moving company as soon as you know when you can move. Summer tends to be the busiest moving season, so aim for mid-week and mid-month if you can. Weekends and the beginning or end of the month are the busiest times.

3.  Research moving companies. Before scheduling with a moving company, do your research to find one that is professional, reliable and experienced! Ask around for recommendations, and read reviews. Determine if you’ll need full-service, self-service or specialized, depending on what you have to move, how much, and what your budget is. Full-service will handle everything. Self-service handles only transportation. Specialized handles items like antiques, art, pianos, etc.

4.  Consider moving insurance. By law, all moving companies must provide some sort of insurance. Ask your moving company what they offer and what is included in the insurance. Most insurance reimbursement is by weight, so if you have a valuable that doesn’t weigh a lot, that won’t help you much. Consider third-party moving insurance if you have many valuables. Another option, if you don’t have too many valuables, and they aren’t too heavy or large, is to pack them in your own vehicle and transport them yourself.

5.  Budget accordingly. Ask moving companies what they charge, and be sure to ask what is included in that price and what isn’t. Get a not-to-exceed estimate so you know what the max is that you’ll pay. If your belongings weigh less than estimated, you’ll pay less. It’s wise to have a moving company come out and give you an estimate based on your belongings, so you aren’t surprised. Also, don’t forget to tip your movers. It adds up, so best to be prepared!

Good luck planning your move! When ready to buy, sell or both in the North Shore real estate market, I am ready to help! Give me a call, your North Shore real estate agent!

Janie Bress
Your North Shore Real Estate Expert


North Shore Real Estate
View North Shore Listings
Visit My Website


Local Expert... with National Connections!

Wednesday, May 27, 2020

Show Off Outdoor Space As North Shore Home Seller

North Shore Home-Selling Tips
If you are gearing up to sell your North Shore home this summer, now is the time to spruce up your outdoor space. While outdoor space has been a growing selling point for most homebuyers, studies are finding that due to the COVID-19 pandemic, buyers are more interested in outdoor space than ever before. When ready to sell, you’ll want to show off this space in listing photos and details!

Here are some ways you could spruce it up now before listing:

1.  Spend time on your lawn. Keep it mowed, but not too short, which dries out the grass and could kill it. Keep it watered when not raining, fertilize, do what you need to do to keep it lush and green for photos. Prune your trees and bushes, and pull weeds from gardens, so everything looks clean. If you don’t have gardens, fill a few pots with flowers to flank your front entry with.

2.  Spruce up your curb appeal. Aside from your landscaping, power wash your siding, sidewalks, driveway, etc. Fill in any cracks in the cement of driveway or walkways. Restain your deck. Clean everything from your address numbers to your mailbox, and consider giving a fresh coat of paint to these areas, or your front door or garage door.

3.  Create a sitting area. Buyers are looking for outdoor areas to enjoy this summer, so stage your patio or deck with outdoor furniture that is clean and inviting. Set the table for photos with bright outdoor dishware. If you have a fire pit, clean it up and set it up so it looks ready to go. If you have a pool, keep it sparkling clean. Even if you only have a small backyard or a balcony, you could still set up social areas with a bistro set or a couple lounge chairs.

4.  Add features to your yard. If you really want to make your North Shore home stand out in listings right now, consider what you could add to your outdoor space to make it more desirable. Families with kids are looking for fences, pools, fire pits, play sets, bounce houses and basketball hoops. Upscale buyers are looking for outdoor kitchens, in-ground pools, hot tubs and cabanas.

However, keep in mind that the pandemic won’t last forever and that buyer interests are always changing. Talk to your North Shore real estate agent about what buyers are looking for most right now in your area, and how much an added feature would add to your listing value.

When ready to sell your home in Glencoe, Winnetka, Highland Park, Deerfield, Northbrook, Lake Forest, Wilmette, Evanston, Glenview, Riverwoods, Bannockburn, or other North Shore communities, give me a call! As your North Shore real estate agent, I am here to answer any questions you may have and to guide you through the entire home-selling process. Mortgage rates are hovering near record lows, so buyers are eager to take advantage. Now is a great time to sell, despite the circumstances of the times. If you have any questions, please do not hesitate to contact me!

Janie Bress
Your North Shore Real Estate Expert


North Shore Real Estate
View North Shore Listings
Visit My Website


Local Expert... with National Connections!

Wednesday, May 13, 2020

Curb Appeal Tricks for North Shore Home Sellers

North Shore Home Seller Curb Appeal Tips
When selling a home in Glencoe, Winnetka, Highland Park, Deerfield, Northbrook, Lake Forest, Wilmette, Evanston, Glenview, Riverwoods, Bannockburn, or other North Shore communities, curb appeal is always an important factor. Most buyers browse listings online, with the first photo usually the front of the house, and the front of the house is the first thing buyers will see in person. However, with buyers ‘window shopping’ online now more than ever, curb appeal has never been more important!

As your North Shore real estate agent, I’ve put together some tips on making your home’s curb appeal really grab buyer interest this spring:

1.  Keep your lawn green and pristine. Buyers will notice the lawn, and a green lawn this time of year is a beautiful contrast to your home’s exterior, adding a pop of color to the listing photos! Water your lawn when need be, and keep it mowed and groomed, trimming along the edges and around trees and driveway/walkways.

2.  Give driveways/walkways attention. They are what lead the buyer into your house. If they are dirty, full of debris after a storm, or contain cracks or weeds growing out of them, buyers will notice. You can easily pull weeds, fill cracks with caulk, and power wash. You can even end with a glossy sealer or coat of paint if you want to go all out.

3.  Add bursts of color. Your green lawn doesn’t have to be the only color in the photo. Bursts of color really help make photos and first viewings memorable. Add a couple flower pots to your front entry, or plant flowers in gardens or along bushes. Give your mailbox a coat of paint, or your front door, or add bright-colored window shutters around your windows.

4.  Pay attention to nighttime, too. Whether showings are scheduled at night, or potential buyers drive by at night, keep this curb appeal tip in mind. Clean your lighting fixtures and replace the bulbs. Make sure the bulbs are all the same wattage so no light outshines the others. Consider solar lights for the walkway. Give your home a warm glow.

5.  Spruce up the garage. This may be a big part of your home’s curb appeal, so spend some time there. Replace the garage door with a more modern one, or paint it the same color as the trim on the house. Purchase a DIY garage window kit to add windows to your door. Replace the lighting inside the garage, and keep it organized and clean for showings.

These tips will get you started on curb appeal this spring! When ready to sell your home in Chicago’s North Shore real estate market, give me a call, your North Shore real estate agent. Whether selling, buying or both, I can answer any questions you may have about the process, and fill you in on changes to the process due to COVID-19. We can talk virtually and discuss your options. I look forward to hearing from you!

Janie Bress
Your North Shore Real Estate Expert


North Shore Real Estate
View North Shore Listings
Visit My Website


Local Expert... with National Connections!