Wednesday, August 31, 2011

How To Choose Your Ideal Chicago Neighborhood!

Buying a home in Chicago is so much more than the home itself!  We’re all familiar with the saying, “location, location, location!” and it’s true when finding a place that you can call home.  The neighborhood you choose is the backdrop, or welcome mat, for your home which means that choosing the neighborhood is the very first step in finding your next home.
We know that determining which neighborhood is right for you can be difficult, especially given all of the charming Chicago neighborhoods!  Below are key tips for figuring out which Chicago neighborhood will enhance the lifestyle you want.
1. Figure out Your Ideal- It’s easier to find that perfect neighborhood when you have a strong sense of what you want. Make a list of those “must haves” and “would like to haves” to start to narrow down your search. Some points to consider would be: Is this a good area for children? How far you’re willing to commute? The type of home you want? Do you prefer a new or historic neighborhood? Remember to also note what you don’t want in a neighborhood such as homes that are too close, proximity to train or busy roads, etc….
2. Narrow Down the Area- If you’re moving to Chicago, you’ll have to do a little more research, but starting with closer proximity to your job may be a good idea. If you already live in the city, you’ll have a good idea of what area of town you’d like to live. Either way, narrow your search down to an area of town that really plays into your interests and lifestyle.
3. Round Up The Neighborhoods- Begin doing research on the neighborhoods in the area of town you’ve chosen. There are unlimited resources online for finding great neighborhoods, but asking friends or real estate agents for their opinion is a good idea too, especially if you’re from out of town. Be sure to gather information on: local attractions, schools, crime statistics, neighborhood associations, attractions, parks and recreation, along with any other points of interest for you.
4. Use Your Senses- Once you’ve narrowed down the Chicago neighborhoods that are your top choices- visit them! Use your senses to get a good feel for the neighborhood. Look around at curb appeal, visit the area at different times of the day to see traffic patterns or how well lit it is, look around for signs of trouble such as empty buildings or vandalism, talk to people about why they like or dislike the neighborhood, note local restaurants or area grocery stores for convenience.
Another great tool that we discovered are the Chicago Neighborhood tours that take place throughout the year!  These are a great way to get a professionally guided tour of various neighborhoods throughout Chicago and can help you make your final decision.  Take a look at the Explore Chicago website for information on the Chicago Neighborhood tours as well as other great information and an interactive map about this thriving metropolis!
As always, we as the Prudential Rubloff Shoreline Property Advice team are here to provide you with the most current Lake Michigan Shoreline Real Estate information and a well-rounded approach to the Lake Michigan Shoreline lifestyle.  If you have any questions about living in Chicago, or about any of the Chicago neighborhoods, we’d be happy to talk with you and show you around!  It’s a great city and we want to make sure the home you buy is in your ideal location!
We hope to hear from you soon!  

Shoreline Property Advisors
@ Prudential Rubloff

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

A Unique Evanston Event & 5 Tips for Buying a Home!

We don’t like to play favorites to any of the cities that we serve along Lake Michigan's Shoreline, but we do like to highlight unique events that are taking place and it seems that Evanston, IL has a variety of great events throughout the year.  One of the reasons we love the charming North Shore city of Evanston is because of its committment to community.
The leadership in Evanston takes an active approach in building back into the lives of its’ residents while providing them with numerous ways to get involved.  Whether it’s their Volunteer program, their efforts for a sustainable lifestyle, their focus on arts and culture, or their full calendar with a wide variety of events for everyone; Evanston is a great place to call home.
If you currently live in Evanston and are looking for a way to get to know your community while interacting and networking with other professionals, you won’t want to miss the 2nd Annual Mash Up event!  This is just one more way Evanston is meeting the needs of their current residents.  Take a look!
Evanston’s 2nd Annual Mash Up
Northwestern University Beachfront Tent
Tuesday, September 13 from 5:30pm-9pm
- This evening under the stars will allow you to mix and mingle with Evanston CEO’s, artists, business owners, city leaders and Northwestern students!  Great music, food and drinks will be the backdrop of this beach party that is unique to Evanston.  Make new friends, network for business or just enjoy the company of other Evanston residents who want to take part in the vibrant Evanston environment.  Don’t miss out!
Not currently an Evanston resident?  Now is a great time to buy a home in this Lake Michigan Shoreline community!  Whether you’re buying a home for the first time, or are jumping back into the Lake Michigan Shoreline Real Estate market after being out of the loop for a time; there are five things you’ll want to know about buying a home in the current real estate market. 
1. Think Long-Term- When buying a home in today’s market, you want to plan for the future. Consider your basic needs such as security, proximity to your job and other daily activities, the school system and room to grow if need be. You want to plan to be in a home for a minimum of three to five years.

2. Research and Take Advantage of Low Rates- Many lenders are encouraging buyers to lock in a long-term loan, such as a 30-year mortgage, to ensure taking full advantage of the historically low interest rates. An adjustable rate mortgage can work for some buyers, but you’ll want to discuss with your Lake Michigan Shoreline Real Estate agent about which option is best for you.

3. Be Prepared to Make an Offer- Before you even begin searching for a home in Evanston, you’ll want to get pre-approved for a loan. This not only helps you determine your home buying budget, but will make the process run much more quickly once you’re ready to make an offer. This will also force you to get your credit in order and gives you the opportunity to correct any credit issues before entering the Lake Michigan Shoreline Real Estate market.

4. Find a Recommended Lake Michigan Shoreline Real Estate Agent- Having the right agent journey with you through the home buying process will make all the difference. Conduct research online or talk with family and friends to get their recommendations. Many Lake Michigan Shoreline Real Estate agents have testimonials on their websites that will give you a good indication of other buyer’s and seller’s experience with that agent. You’ll want to find an agent who has experience in the Evanston Real Estate market and with whom you feel you can work with for however long it takes for you to find your Evanston home.

5. Live Within Your Means- This is a lesson that our country seems to be learning collectively. We’ve seen the damage that can come from buying homes we can’t afford and digging ourselves further into debt. Buying an Evanston home that fits your budget as it stands now will give the home a chance to appreciate. In the long run, your finances will be healthier and you’ll more than likely be able to afford your dream home next time around.
Again, we’re here to help in any way we can!  As the Lake Michigan Shoreline Property Advisors team, we want to help you prepare and walk through the home buying experience and are here to answer any questions you have about buying a Lake Michigan Shoreline home.
If you’re an Evanston resident, we hope you’re able to take advantage of the upcoming Mash Up event!  It was a great success last year and is a fun and unique way to get to know the Evanston community.  
We’re looking forward to hearing from you!
Shoreline Property Advisors
@ Prudential Rubloff

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Buying Your First Home along the Lake Michigan Shoreline? Take a Look at These Tips!

Living along the Lake Michigan Shoreline is ideal for many people who long to enjoy a vibrant community, beautiful scenery, beach access and an overall excellent quality of life.  In fact, many first time home buyers are drawn to Evanston, Chicago’s North Shore, the Indiana Shoreline and Harbor Country for these very reasons!  
If you’re taking the time to check out our blog, perhaps you’re considering moving to the Lake Michigan Shoreline and buying your first home.  We’re glad you’re here!  As the Lake Michigan Shoreline Property Advisors team, we’re here to be your trusted resource and provide you with the information you need to make a well-informed decision about buying or selling a home along Lake Michigan’s shores
Buying your first home can be really exciting and overwhelming all at the same time.  We enjoy working with first time home buyers, and take the time to carefully prepare them for each step that lies ahead.  Part of our process is to ensure that they’ve taken some necessary steps before they even begin looking for a Lake Michigan Shoreline home as this will help the entire process run much more efficiently.
If you’re a first time home buyer and are thinking about how to begin the process, we suggest taking a look at these ten steps!
1. Create a Housing Budget- Have a clear understanding of your budget each month, and do not spend more than 30% of your gross monthly income on your Lake Michigan Shoreline home. This includes your interest, principal, homeowners insurance and taxes. You don’t want to put yourself in a financial bind that you are constantly struggling to maintain each month.
2. Save Up- Begin to save the difference between your monthly rent now and what you plan on your monthly mortgage being. This will prepare you for what the monthly payments will look like once you move into your home and help you make any needed lifestyle adjustments now.
3. Check Your Credit Score- Lenders will put a lot of weight on your credit score, so you want to make sure to have your credit in order. They will determine how much you qualify for in a mortgage based heavily on your credit.

4. Determine Your Needs and Wants- You’ll want to make two separate lists based on your needs and wants. Your needs should be those things you absolutely have to have in your Lake Michigan Shoreline home.  Your wants will be those items that you would prefer, but are willing to compromise on. 
Narrowing down and sorting out your needs and wants will help immensely when searching for a home in Evanston, Chicago’s North Shore, the Indiana shoreline or Harbor Country. You’ll have a clear picture on what you are willing to let go of, since you will most likely not find a home that has absolutely everything you would like. Know when to give and when to stand firm. You’ll quickly narrow down your home search this way!

5. Find a Reputable Lake Michigan Shoreline Real Estate Agent- You’ll want to find a real estate agent who has experience in the Lake Michigan Shoreline Real Estate market.  An agent who has years of experience in the area will be a great asset in helping you find a neighborhood and home that best fits your needs and lifestyle.

6. Find a Lender- It is easy to want to begin searching online for your home, but without a sense of how much you qualify for; it’s easy to waste time looking at homes you might not be able to afford. Meet with a lender before you begin looking at homes and get pre-qualified. You’ll be able to search more effectively online and when you begin working with a Lake Michigan Shoreline Real Estate agent to find a home.

7. Choose the Right Area- We feel that any you can’t go wrong in any Lake Michigan Shoreline areas that you choose! However, we also understand that each neighborhood or area of town does have a unique atmosphere and things to offer, so you’ll want to find the place that suits you the best.

8. Make an Offer- Your Lake Michigan Shoreline Real Estate agent will be able to give you a list of comparable homes in the area, and can help you determine an offer that is fair for the market. They will also make sure that you are being dealt with fairly as a first time home buyer.

9. Have a Home Inspection- This is very important! Even if the home looks perfect inside and out; there is no way of knowing what issues there may be without a home inspection. You don’t want to buy a home only to find that it needs the roof replaced or there is water damage. Having the home thoroughly inspected allows you to know exactly what you can expect in the Lake Michigan Shoreline home you buy.

10. Finalize- Once the contract is signed; you’ll still want to stay in touch with your agent and lender. There are always last minute finalizations that need to be made.
These ten tips should give you a clear overview of the home buying process!  Of course we’ll be with you each step of the way, but we feel that as a buyer, you should also be fully informed of what’s going to take place.  Our goal is to make sure you have a great home buying experience, especially if you’re a first time home buyer!
As always, don’t hesitate to contact us with any questions or to get started!  We look forward to helping you buy your first home!

Shoreline Property Advisors
@ Prudential Rubloff

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Enjoy the New Buffalo Ship & Shore Festival This Weekend in Harbor Country!

Living in Harbor Country along Lake Michigan’s Shoreline is fantastic for a wide variety of reasons!  Whether you are planning on buying a vacation home or settling in permanently to any of the eight shoreline cities that make up Harbor Country; you’re sure to be drawn to its beautiful scenery, vibrant communities and endless ways to interact with your Harbor Country neighbors.
Our team here at Shoreline Property Advisors enjoys being in tune with what’s going on in each of the areas we serve along the Lake Michigan Shoreline.  We get excited when unique things are taking place in Evanston, Chicago’s North Shore, the Indiana shoreline and in Harbor Country and want to be a great resource for you for all things related to living on the Lake Michigan Shoreline!
Today we wanted to take a few minutes to highlight Harbor Country and a great event that’s taking place this weekend, August 12-14!  The New Buffalo Ship & Shore Festival is in its 27th year and is a much anticipated event for visitors and permanent residents of Harbor Country.  This event began as a simple arts and crafts fair and has grown tremendously over the years!  
New Buffalo’s downtown is the host for the fair each year which is sponsored by the New Buffalo business association.  Whittaker Street, which is the main street that runs through downtown is blocked off to all traffic and comes to life with local artisans, musicians, food and much more!  You’ll enjoy tasting local wines from Round Barn Winery and Free Run Cellars along with other amazing food selections from Harbor Country restaurants.
There’s something for every age as special events will take place throughout the entire weekend just for the kids!  Activities such as watermelon and ice cream eating contests and many other fun games will make this weekend a memorable event for everyone!  A 5K, volleyball tournament and other fun things are planned for the adults as well.  Of course many look forward to the pinnacle of the weekend with the lighted boat parade that takes place on Saturday evening at 9:30 followed by fireworks!  You can view more information and the full schedule of events on the Harbor Country website.
We hope you get a chance to take part in the Ship & Shore Festival this coming weekend!  Our recommendation is grabbing a sangria with a real gyro, and sitting back and enjoy the boat parade and fireworks!  We’d love to hear about your experience if you go!
Interested in learning more about Harbor Country or ready to begin your home search in this charming Lake Michigan Shoreline community?  Let us know!  Our experienced team of Lake Michigan Shoreline Real Estate agents would love to help you discover the lifestyle and home that you can enjoy for years to come!
Feel free to contact us today to get started!  

Shoreline Property Advisors
@ Prudential Rubloff

Wednesday, August 3, 2011

4 Factors to Determine the Selling Price for Your Lake Michigan Shoreline Home

Being an experienced Lake Michigan Shoreline Property Advisors team, we get asked alot of questions about buying and selling homes along Lake Michigan’s shores; that’s what we’re here for!  We enjoy helping guide people as they enter the Lake Michigan Shoreline Real Estate market and know that the large financial investment deserves to be carefully thought out.  We will always answer questions as thoroughly as possible so that our clients feel more comfortable with every step of the process.
In today’s buyers market, one of the main questions we get asked is about pricing a home.  Sellers oftentimes have extenuating circumstances in which they need to sell their Lake Michigan Shoreline home in a timely and efficient manner.  The thing they’re most concerned with, however, is losing money on their home.  Sellers know that the market hasn’t been conducive to home sales within the past few years and, while the market continues to heal, they tend to brace themselves for the worst.
Whether you’re selling your home in Evanston, Chicago’s North Shore, the Indiana shoreline or in beautiful Harbor Country Michigan; one of the largest aspects of getting your home sold is the price.  This can be a challenge for Lake Michigan Shoreline sellers who’ve invested a lot into their home.  There’s a sense of attachment after living in a home for so many years and it’s easy to direct your emotional value into the listing price. 
The danger in overpricing your home is that potential buyers will immediately be turned off from your home and you’ll find your home sitting on the market without any interest.  The longer it sits on the market, the harder it is to sell.  Consequently, pricing your home correctly from the beginning is imperative.  We’ve gathered four factors for you to review that will help you determine an ideal selling price for your Lake Michigan Shoreline home.
1. Location- You can't get away from this one. If your house is located in a desirable location along Lake Michigan’s Shoreline, you will be able to get a higher price than you can for the same house in an area that is not as popular. Distance to the beach, schools, stores, restaurants and other every day stops will play a role in the desirability.

2. Condition- A Lake Michigan Shoreline home that has been better maintained and shows better will always sell for more than one that has had deferred maintenance and needs work.  Make sure to take care of any necessary repairs or updates before placing your home on the market.

3. Desirable Amenities
- If a house has amenities that are currently popular in the Lake Michigan Shoreline Real Estate market, it will bring a higher price. Your Lake Michigan Shoreline Real Estate agent will be able to give you a better idea of the type of amenities that the homes in your neighborhood offer.

4. Calculate the price per square foot- The average price per square foot for homes in your neighborhood shouldn't be the sole determinant of the asking price for your home, but it can be a useful starting point. 
Of course, the Lake Michigan Shoreline Property Advisors team is here to help!  We can help you determine a selling price as well as walk with you through the entire process to ensure your home gets sold quickly and for the best possible price.
We’re here when you’re ready, so feel free to contact us anytime to get started! 
Shoreline Property Advisors
@ Prudential Rubloff