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


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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


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Wednesday, April 29, 2020

How To Sell Your North Shore Home Virtually

North Shore Virtual Home-Selling Tips
If you need or want to sell your North Shore home this spring, as your North Shore real estate agent, I can help! Real estate isn’t exactly business as usual yet, but homes are still getting bought and sold, thanks to the plethora of technology available in today’s world. If you’d like to sell, there are plenty of ways to make that happen. I am here to fill you in what you can do to prepare!

1.  Prepare your home for a sale. This step is mostly the same as it always has been. You still want your home to be as clean, organized and clutter-free as possible. Spend time going through each room and removing as much clutter as possible. Take belongings you no longer use to drop-off donation sites. Organize everything, from inside closets and cabinets to every corner of your basement. Scrub your entire house until it is spotless, inside and out. Trim bushes and trees, mow and water lawn.

2.  Stage your home to sell. You want your North Shore home to impress buyers from photos and virtual tours, so staging to sell is key. Since most sellers won’t be using a professional stager right now, you and I can discuss in a phone call or video chat the steps you can take to stage on your own. For example, you can set your kitchen table with matching dishware and a vase of spring flowers. Remove all clutter from kitchen counters except a bowl of bright, fresh fruit. Remove all personal photos, artwork, etc. and hang neutral scenery art. Hang crisp, white towels in bathrooms.

3.  Have an online marketing strategy in place. This is what I will do for you, but we can discuss over the phone or a video chat session! I will ensure high-quality photos, a detailed and accurate listing description, detailed neighborhood information and a virtual tour of the home. If a buyer still wants to see the home in person, we can discuss what steps you’d like to take next.

4.  Ensure a safe environment. Safety for everyone involved is my top concern right now, so if you decide that you are comfortable allowing an interested buyer to view your home in person, all guests must wash their hands or use alcohol-based sanitizer before entering the home, they must leave shoes at the door or cover with booties, they must wear a mask, and they must follow CDC guidelines on social distancing. You can also choose to just allow your agent in for a live video chat with the buyer, or we can talk about other virtual-only options.

It’s possible that once the stay-at-home order is lifted, home sellers in Glencoe, Winnetka, Highland Park, Deerfield, Northbrook, Lake Forest, Wilmette, Evanston, Glenview, Riverwoods, Bannockburn, or other North Shore communities will come out in droves. Beat the competition, because mortgage rates are still low and buyers are still out! As your North Shore real estate agent, I am here to help. Give me a call and let’s discuss your home-selling options this spring.

Janie Bress
Your North Shore Real Estate Expert


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Wednesday, April 15, 2020

How You Can Help on Chicago's North Shore during COVID-19 Pandemic

How to help on Chicago's North Shore
If you find yourself healthy, financially secure and wanting to help individuals or businesses on Chicago’s North Shore during this difficult time, numerous local businesses and organizations have created ways to do just that. As your North Shore real estate agent, I’ve put together a list for you to check out.

1.  Evanston officials have launched a new online portal to connect those who want to help with those who need help. Volunteers are needed at soup kitchens, to pack food for delivery to residents in need, for tutoring, to transport medicine and food, to distribute printed materials and more. You can also give monetary donations to cover the costs of these services. 

2.  NorthShore Foundation is asking for monetary donations to their NorthShore’s COVID-19 Response Fund to help caregivers continue to deliver expert care, to expand COVID-19 testing in the community, to increase availability of much-needed supplies, to hire and train additional staff and more. 

3.  Assembly Creators Market in Evanston partners with small business fashion and professional sewers to keep designers working. They are now creating face masks and 70 percent of each sale goes to the small business owner making the mask. You can donate or purchase masks from these small businesses. 

4.  Curt’s Cafe in Evanston has prepared and delivered over 3,500 meals to three different agencies serving individuals in need over the past two weeks. Students, staff and volunteers have helped make this happen. Donate a monetary amount to help keep those in need fed. 

5.  Northern Fork Catering Company is helping keep medical and first responder personnel well fed during this time. Just donating $10 provides an individually packaged meal and snack to doctors, nurses, EMTs and other critical responders.

6.  Toffee Break Desserts in Northbrook is offering a win-win solution. With every chocolate dipping kit purchased, a sweet treat will be donated to the local food pantry. You get to enjoy a delicious treat, and so does someone in need! 

7.  Zoup! in Glenview is offering a free cup of soup to ever frontline responder or medical worker every Monday in April. Share with those you know who could use this! 

8.  Village Inn Pizzeria is asking that every time you order a pizza, you also try to donate a canned food item. All items are donated to the Niles Food Pantry. 

For more examples of how businesses and organizations are helping out in the North Shore community, and how you can help, check out this North Shore Unites page. 

If you need assistance, or you know another way to help out that wasn’t mentioned, share in the comments! We are in this together, so let’s continue to find ways to reach out and help. Even just checking in on your neighbors, family members and friends is a great way to help.

If you have real estate goals you need to accomplish this spring in Glencoe, Winnetka, Highland Park, Deerfield, Northbrook, Lake Forest, Wilmette, Evanston, Glenview, Riverwoods, Bannockburn, or other North Shore communities, reach out to me, your North Shore real estate agent! There is a lot we can do virtually, so don’t hold off. Let’s discuss your needs and see how we can bring them to fruition. Stay healthy!

Janie Bress
Your North Shore Real Estate Expert


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Wednesday, April 1, 2020

Stay Connected during COVID-19 on Chicago’s North Shore

North Shore Family Dinners
If you’re experiencing cabin fever, boredom or loneliness at your North Shore home during this COVID-19 pandemic, you’re not alone. Fortunately, there are many ways to stay connected with your community and loved ones, and ways to get involved in virtual offerings with others who share your interests and passions. As your North Shore real estate agent, I’m here to offer you some suggestions, so we can all get through this difficult time together!

1.  Reach out to family, friends and neighbors. Even though we have to social distance right now, we don’t have to stop talking. Call or text at least one friend, neighbor or family member each day. Set up at least one video chat each week. If you’re not good with technology, reach out for help. If you are good with it, create a tutorial for others to follow who aren’t as tech-savvy.

2.  Connect with those around you. If you’re lucky enough to live with others, consider yourself fortunate, and spend time connecting with them. Rather than everyone hanging out in their own rooms, set up game nights, movie nights, family dinners and baking nights, where everyone participates. Have a picnic in the backyard, play hide-and-seek, have daily or weekly check-ins to see how everyone is doing. If you have to be around each other, you might as well get along and connect!

3.  Join a virtual class. There are lots of free and low-cost offerings right now online, and this is a great way to connect to others you might not know, but who share in your interests. From virtual open mic nights and writing workshops to online yoga classes and free ivy league courses, there is something for everyone. Often these offerings have forums or comment sections, where you can share and connect with others who are taking the class as well. These help you feel connected to community, even from home!

4.  Help out in your community. This is a great way to feel connected to your neighbors and to do whatever you can to help those around you. If you’re healthy, make an appointment to donate blood. Reach out to seniors or those immunocompromised to see if you can help them with grocery shopping, or bring them cooked meals. Give a shelter animal a temporary foster home. Call your local food bank to see if they need donations. Order food, shop online or purchase gift cards from a local business.

If you are feeling lonely or emotional, reach out! We are all in this together, and we will get through this together. If you have North Shore real estate goals you’d like to accomplish, reach out to me! As your North Shore real estate agent, I am still here to help you accomplish your real estate goals in Glencoe, Winnetka, Highland Park, Deerfield, Northbrook, Lake Forest, Wilmette, Evanston, Glenview, Riverwoods, Bannockburn, or other North Shore communities. Real estate never stops, so let’s set up a virtual meeting and discuss your needs. I look forward to hearing from you soon!

Janie Bress
Your North Shore Real Estate Expert


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Wednesday, March 18, 2020

What to Do While Stuck in Your North Shore Home

North Shore Home Improvement Tips
Many of us are responsibly practicing social separation by staying in our North Shore homes until coronavirus blows over. If you find yourself already getting cabin fever, consider now a great time to accomplish some of the projects you’ve been wanting to do around the house! As your North Shore real estate agent, allow me to offer you some ideas, before you go stir crazy.

Declutter. Now is the perfect time to declutter your North Shore home. After all, no one likes spending time in a cluttered space, and clutter is found to increase anxiety, which none of us need right now. Grab some boxes or garbage bags and go through each closet, drawer, cabinet, etc. one at a time, removing anything you no longer need or use. Separate the unwanted items into piles to donate, sell, recycle or toss. You’ll feel so much better once this is done, and if you want to sell your North Shore home this spring or summer, you’ll be one step ahead of the crowd by getting this done now!

Spring clean. Once you declutter the home, take it one step further and get your spring cleaning done! Whether you usually spring clean your home, or it’s just something on your wish list every year, this year is the perfect chance to actually make it happen. Take one room at a time. Dust, vacuum, scrub, organize. Give each member of the family a list of chores, then reward all of you at the end. Clean your windows well so you can enjoy the spring sunshine and outdoor views while stuck inside. Clean out your refrigerator and pantry of expired food and condiments so everyone knows what’s safe to eat and what’s not. Again, house cleaning is another important step to the home-selling process, if this is on your future to-do list.

Home improvement. Now is also a great time to work on some of the home improvement projects you’ve been putting off. You might not want to head to the store for supplies, but see what you can order online, such as updated cabinet and drawer handles, modern lighting fixtures, or window treatments. If you have leftover paint stored in your house, consider giving your rooms a paint refresh. Do some DIY projects around the house. House Beautiful shared a great list of 27 DIY options for when you’re stuck in the house. If you’ve been wanting to turn a room into a guest room, or office, make the switch now. 

If you want to sell your home in Glencoe, Winnetka, Highland Park, Deerfield, Northbrook, Lake Forest, Wilmette, Evanston, Glenview, Riverwoods, Bannockburn, or other North Shore communities, keep up with housing market statistics and get in touch with me. If you want to buy, organize your documents for a mortgage preapproval, start browsing listings and give me a call. As your North Shore real estate agent, I am here to help! I am still working full-time to make your North Shore real estate goals a reality this spring, so don’t hesitate to give me a call and let’s see what we can do!

Janie Bress
Your North Shore Real Estate Expert


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Wednesday, March 4, 2020

Remove Common Odors from Your North Shore Home

Odor-removing tips for North Shore homeowners
If you are selling your North Shore home soon, working ahead on your spring cleaning, or planning for guests to visit for spring holidays or spring break, now is a great time to combat house odors! Often, the most common types of house odors are undetected by the homeowners. We get used to the smells we’re around all the time. But when someone else comes into the house, they might notice them. Getting rid of these odors is key, especially when selling!
As your North Shore real estate agent, here are some tips for removing some of the most common house smells:
Pet smells – If you have pets, you most likely have a pet scent going on in your house, whether subtle or not. Most pet owners worry about urine smell the most, but odors could also come from pet hair, ears, slobber, pet toys, etc. To remove the odors, first clean the pet! Give them a good DIY cleaning, or make an appointment. Vacuum not only your floors, but couches, pet beds, throw blankets, etc. Use a crevice tool to get in tight spaces. Use baking soda on the carpet, or if there are urine spots, use baking soda with a half-water, half-vinegar solution. Wash pet toys.
Must/mildew – Even if your nose is blind to these smells, your eyes aren’t blind to the sight of them! If you have a basement, crawlspace or anywhere you suspect mold or mildew, inspect the area for gray or white splotches. If you find any, use household cleaners on mildew. If it’s fuzzy, it may be mold and you may want to call in professionals. Prevent it from coming back with a dehumidifier in the basement, running the fan during showers in the bathroom, and improving air circulation. Deodorize these rooms in a pinch by setting out bowls of vinegar, baking soda, or even half an onion.
Old mattresses – It’s not your fault if old bedding has a smell to it. Every person sheds dead skin and body oils when sleeping, so these are going to build up no matter what. The easiest way to clean a mattress is to sprinkle baking soda over it, let it sit for an hour, then vacuum it up. Add a couple drops of an essential oil to the baking soda for a lasting good scent. Wash your sheets and bedding regularly. Use this trick on pillows if they can’t be washed, or run in washing machine if they can.
Kitchen odors – These are the most common types of odors, especially if you cook often. Take the trash out regularly, and put some baking soda or fresh coffee grounds at the bottom of a clean trash can to soak up smells. Clean out the fridge/freezer of spoiled food and clean the insides and all of the shelves. Open the windows/doors to help strong food smells escape faster.
For more odor tips, check out this House Logic article. When ready to sell and/or buy 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 and ready to help you accomplish your North Shore real estate goals as soon as you are!
Janie Bress
Your North Shore Real Estate Expert


North Shore Real Estate
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