Tuesday, January 31, 2006

The City of Chicago's new smoking ban, effective January 16, 2006, is only one of many such ordinances recently enacted or anticipated to take effect in the coming months. Smokers are now finding new strict limitations on where they can publicly light up. Though bars and restaurants that serve alcohol are excluded from this ordinance until July 1, 2008, smoking within the workplace, in public facilities, recreational areas and government vehicles has been affected. Lighting up outside even carries restrictions requiring smokers to now be a minimum of fifteen feet from entrances to public facilities.
This new ban in the City of Chicago follows a trend among the North Shore Suburban communities where many similar bans were already in place. One of the first communities to invoke an ordinance regarding the banning of smoking in public places and places of employment was Wilmette. Now both Highland Park and Winnetka have followed suit and also have such stringent regulations. Information on Highland Park's ordinance can be located at http://www.cityofhpil.com/pdf/ordinances/chatper100.pdf.
More recently, on January 1, 2006 Lake Forest Hospital also enacted a no-exception policy prohibiting the use of tobacco products anywhere on their grounds. To obtain details on that policy you can visit http://www.lakeforesthospital.com. But the latest and by-far most restrictive ordinance of its type in the entire state was adopted by the Village of Deerfield at their December 2005 Board of Trustees meeting. By unanimous vote, Deerfield will soon join the growing list of communities in this area that prohibit smoking almost anywhere except within a private residence. Amazingly, this ordinance even places controls on smoking within your own home when you run a home-based business employing more than one person! This new Deerfield ordinance will be effective on March 1, 2006. Deerfield's entire Smoke Free Ordinance can be read at http://www.deerfield-il.org/images/adoptedsmokingordinance.pdf.
So the watch word for smokers now is clear ... be careful where you smoke and better yet, quit! It surely seems that this new trend is designed to encourage no use of tobacco whatsoever. Interestingly, public reaction to these new restrictive ordinances is mixed. While the vast majority of folks clearly understand the health risks associated with smoking, many (and in some cases a clear majority) of those same people feel that these new laws only serve to limit civil liberties, a trend that is not overwhelmingly supported and rightfully ask ... what's next?

Saturday, January 28, 2006

New custom homes in the well-developed Northbrook area, have primarily been limited in recent years to sites where existing homes are being razed to make way for new homes as the neighborhood changes. Opportunities to build in an area of similar new construction residences have been scarce to almost non-existent.
But Northbrook is about to enjoy a new opportunity for just that ... in an exceptional eight-lot community featuring rare half-acre sites to purchase and build extraordinary new homes. Additional details will be forthcoming shortly. Further information can be obtained by emailing allyson@allyson.com.

Friday, January 27, 2006

If you have been considering the idea of selling your home, you probably will wonder what you should do to prepare for that eventuality. Maximizing the value of your home is probably important to you.
Because the value of your home will primarily be a function of factors outside your control such as the current market, the competition, available financing, economic conditions and normal marketing time, it is critical to make the most of those things you can impact to enhance your value. Two things a seller can control include how accessible your home is for showing and the buyer's perception of its condition. So prepare by planning a showing strategy that ensures easy access for buyers who would like to see your home. The more visible you are, the more likely you will be to successfully sell at a favorable price. Equally as important is your willingness to put your home in condition that has broad market appeal. Buyers prefer homes that are clean, clutterfree and relatively neutral in decor (colorless) -- the three big C's. So investing time, and not necessarily money, in decluttering and cleaning can reap big financial rewards for your time. Even actual cash outlays for things such as new carpeting, paint and repairs will typically return far more than the money spent. Remember you will only get one chance to make a great first impression, so start at the street and critique your home from that point on through the interior. If you can create a positive initial reaction through your efforts, you will undoubtedly find that your home should sell within a shorter time for more money. Go for it and enjoy the results!

Wednesday, January 25, 2006

As of January 23, 2006 the U. S. Dept. of Energy has enacted more stringent regulations regarding the efficiency of air conditioning and heat pump systems. Standards were raised, now requiring that all newly manufactured units comply with the new SEER-13 (Seasonal Energy Efficiency Rating) rating. While existing lower-rated units can remain in use, no new units with lower ratings can be produced.
Air conditioning industry surveys in 2005 show that up to 90% of all homeowners had heard nothing about the new SEER-13 rating while nearly 75% of them had never even heard the term "SEER rating." Proponents in support of this change cite the potential for significant reduction in energy use and reduced strain on electric grids. Opponents point out that upfront costs to the consumer may not be recoverable and that a skilled installation of lower-rated units can produce systems of equal or better comfort and efficiency than an unskilled installation of a SEER-13 unit. Additional negative impact will undoubtedly affect builders and remodelers who typically install SEER-10 units and whose costs may double or triple as a result of the new standard.

Friday, January 20, 2006

Press Release: Allen F. Hainge CyberStar® Summit

Allyson Hoffman of RE/MAX North Chicago Suburbs Real Estate in Northbrook, Illinois was one of only 130 real estate agents from the U.S., Canada, Mexico, the Bahamas and Australia selected to attend The Allen F. Hainge CyberStar® Summit recently held Jan. 9th – 11th in San Antonio, TX.
The nationally recognized CyberStar® Summit is an annual networking and idea sharing conference open to top agents from those countries.

A leading member of the CyberStars®, Allyson has long been a market leader in Chicago North and Northwest Suburbs due to her commitment to serving customers and clients and her use of technology to meet the needs of today’s consumer. Hoffman's emphasis on her Web site
www.RealEstateNorthernIllinois.com as a top consumer resource for her area and on using technology for effective communication and service has made her a unique success in her marketplace.

According to Hoffman attendance at the annual CyberStar® Summit provides many personal and professional benefits:

“I am honored to have been invited to this truly exclusive gathering. What I take away from associating with these extraordinary Realtors at the Summit pays big dividends in many areas. I learn about the latest in today’s technology so that I can better serve today’s consumer. I spend three days sharing marketing and customer service strategies that work and that result in higher client satisfaction. My clients are continually complimenting me on the service, tools and technology I use to meet their needs. I owe that to my association with the Allen Hainge CyberStars® and to the fact that we share among ourselves.

“I am surrounded by the best Realtors for three days at the Summit. I share with them, they share with me, and we translate our newfound knowledge into increased services for our clients.”

During the session, Hoffman attended information and discussion sessions on strategies and tools for marketing property, customer service strategies, blogging and pod casting as communication tools, staging property for faster sale, strategies for a changing market, success in international real estate, implementing consumer-oriented Web sites and more.

For more information about this elite group please go to

Visit my website to assist you in your real estate needs:
North Shore Suburban Prices Up 7%-9% In The Last Year

An upward trend in home prices continues despite concerns of higher interest rates. On average single family homes in Chicago’s north suburban market have climbed substantially in the past year averaging a +9% change. Attached homes such as condominiums and townhomes also show a substantial price increase of +7% within the same time frame. This represents a slight decrease in the rate of appreciation for freestanding homes over the pace set in the prior year, but an increase in the rate of appreciation for condominiums and townhomes. (See the charts below). Two interesting factors surface here that may predict a trend for the coming months. Those include the increase in the overall numbers of properties available as new listings with a corresponding increase in the average marketing times. While closed sales of condominiums and townhomes kept close pace with the numbers of sales in 2004, single family homes closed sales dropped by nearly 10% over 2004. A larger inventory of properties to select from coupled with longer market times may lead to a slowing of the appreciation rate in the last quarter of 2005. If additionally impacted by higher mortgage rates, this could be a trend for the coming year.

By clicking on the images, you will see a full chart.

The north suburban market continues to be an area that builders, developers and investors select for new home construction. Redevelopment of existing neighborhoods where older, smaller homes are disappearing in favor of much larger new homes continues to be extremely popular. For a more accurate assessment of property value changes, it is important to consider the fact that new construction pricing, especially in areas where there had previously been little, will tend to artificially raise the average prices for areas in which this is now prevalent. For more detail on how this works or for specific information on your town or neighborhood, please contact me and I can email additional information for your area.