Don’t let the cold bring you down

In Chicago we know the weather can be extremely unpredictable. Lately, we have been experiencing a big temperature drop accompanied by an abundance of rain! With the cold air, rain and eventually snow, comes excuses on why you can’t leave the house: you don’t have rain boots, you don’t have an umbrella, its too cold or the car is too far away. So you end up coming to the conclusion on working from home (AKA watching halloween movie marathons with your pet and some popcorn). Instead of loosing a day of productivity due to the weather, find something to accomplish indoors, like decluttering your closet!

Decluttering your home can be very time consuming, but if you start with a small project, like your closet, you’ll slowly get it done without feeling overwhelmed. Remove items from your closet that don’t have a place anymore to create a more organized and functional space.

  1. Old Costumes
  2. Bridesmaid dresses
  3. Gifts that you didn’t like
  4. Stretched out clothing
  5. Things you keep just because they were expensive
  6. Shoes that hurt your feet
  7. Tangled or discolored costume jewelry
  8. Free T-shirts
  9. Painting Clothes
  10. The “Fix it” Pile
  11. Free bags
  12. Whatever else you held onto last time you cleaned your closet

Now you can go back to that movie, cuddle up with your pet and know you accomplished something today!

If You Have These 12 Things in Your Closet, It’s Time to Get Rid of Them


The Key to Calm- Decluttering

Decluttering always seems to be on the brain but is constantly pushed back. It always seems like a huge project that will never be finished but that is not true. You can set goals for yourself to just do one room at a time, each month (or whatever timeline you choose), in order to get it done and not feel overwhelmed.

Still feel like it is too big of a task? Well here are 10 reasons that will get you motivated to declutter!

  1. Enjoy more free time
    • The less time you spend looking for things, the more time you have to do what you love!
  2. Spend less money
    • You know where everything is so you don’t accidentally buy something twice
  3. Feel more calm 
    • When your area is less consumed with things you will feel a sense of relaxation
  4. Always have something to wear
    • Have a closet full of things but nothing to wear? Getting rid of the things you don’t wear makes room for new things you will wear!
  5. Help others by donating to a good cause
    • All those clothes you don’t wear, someone else needs and will be forever grateful to you for donating them
  6. Get better sleep
    • Like we said before, less clutter = more peace. The less you have in your room, the less distracted you are making it easy to drift asleep
  7. Simplify your child’s life
    • Simple toys encourage kids to use their imagination and creativity
  8. Get out the door quicker
    • Simplify your morning routine by knowing exactly where things are. This will save you time and stress getting out the door everyday
  9. Make room for your car in the garage
    • Instead of standing in the snow this winter scraping off your car, declutter your garage so your car can fit
  10. Sell your home for more (!!!!!)
    • The less clutter the better when trying to sell your home. Buyers will be able to  better imagine themselves in your home when there are fewer personal items distracting them

7 Tips For Staging Your Home

When house hunting you’re looking for houses that you can see yourself living in. You work on imagining where you would put things, how the house would look with your things inside of it, and what personal touches you can do to make it yours. Why not keep this in mind when selling your house? You can help buyers envision your home as their future home. Below is an article clearly describing 7 tips for staging your house properly.

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BBQ safety tips and tricks

With the weather warming up it’s the start of a new season, barbecue season! BBQ’s are the best activity to bring friends, family and co-workers together. When throwing a BBQ you are concerned with the people you invite, the food and equipment to grill, the music and the thirst quenching beverages. The last thing on everyones mind is that BBQ a could potentially be dangerous! Don’t worry, we’ve got you covered so yours never is!

Here are 7 tips to make sure your BBQ is safe and your guests forever call you a grilling expert!

  • Grilling Safety

    Nothing spoils an outdoor barbecue more than burning the house down. Here are 6 tips to stay safe when grilling this summer, plus videos of cookout calamities. Read

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Home Improvement At The Click Of A Button

Technology is growing everyday and it is time we connect it with our homes! There are apps for just about anything. Not sure what the color of your walls are? Take a picture and an app will give you the closest match it can find! Working on a new house project and misplaced your toolkit? No problem, there is an app that has all the tools you need at the click of a button!

In the article below there are descriptions of different apps that you can use on your iPhone, iPad and iPod for everyday home improvement!

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How Much Mortgage Can You Afford?

There are many factors that go into making the decision to purchase a home. It may start with smaller questions like when and where. As time progress and the idea of being a home buyer becomes more real you ask yourself the big questions like what is my budget?

Below are tips that will help you when deciding how much mortgage you can afford!

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Should I Rent or Should I Sell?

So you are thinking about putting your house on the market but you’re not sure if you want to let go completely. Renting could be a great option for you but how do you know if it’s the right one. Below you can read in depth about the factors that go into renting and selling your home so you can make an informed decision when the time comes!

  • Should I Rent or Sell My House?

    When it comes to deciding whether you should rent or sell your house, are you worried you’ll make the wrong financial moves? Here’s how to make the right call. Read

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Single Women Homebuyers Dominate Market

Who run the world? Girls. According to the National Association of REALTORS®, single females contributed to a significant amount of home sales in the last year.

“Despite having a much lower income ($55,300) than single male buyers ($69,600), female buyers made up over double the amount of men (7 percent),” says Lawrence Yun, NAR chief economist. “Single women for years have indicated a strong desire to own a home of their own, as well as an inclination to live closer to friends and family. With job growth holding steady and credit conditions becoming somewhat less stringent than in past years, the willingness and opportunity to buy is becoming more feasible for many single women.”

Thirty-six percent were first-time homebuyers, and the typical home had three bedrooms and two bathrooms.

Bravo single ladies!



10 Over $10 Million

Spring has officially sprung in luxury real estate. The new season has not only ushered in brighter mornings and longer days, but also a fresh collection of distinguished residences to call home. From a gorgeous Pacific Palisades traditional with enviable outdoor entertaining spaces to a lakeside Minnesota estate with a three-hole golf course and proximity to a park, these significant listings are the perfect luxe launching pads for setting off on springtime adventures…

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Homeownership Better Way of Producing Wealth

According to the latest Beracha, Hardin & Johnson Buy vs. Rent (BH&J) Index homeownership is a better way to produce greater wealth, on average, than renting.

The BH&J Index is a quarterly report that attempts to answer the question:

Is it better to rent or buy a home in today’s housing market?

The index examines the entire US housing market and then isolates 23 major markets for comparison. The researchers use a “‘horse race’ comparison between an individual that is buying a home and an individual that rents a similar quality home and reinvests all monies otherwise invested in homeownership.”

Ken Johnson Ph.D., Real Estate Economist & Professor at Florida Atlantic University, and one of the index’s authors states:

“The nation as a whole is in buy territory. Continued near record low mortgage rates, unsteady stock market performance, and rents (on average) now out pacing the cost of ownership (maintenance, taxes, insurance, etc.) all combine to favor owning and building wealth through home equity over renting and reinvesting in a portfolio of stocks and bonds.”

Dallas, Denver and Houston currently remain deep in rent territory but, “there is some degree of good news from these markets for homeowners as the cost of renting is now increasing at a faster rate than the cost of homeownership — reducing the advantage of renting over buying.”

Bottom Line

Buying a home makes sense socially and financially. Rents are predicted to increase substantially in the next year, so lock in your housing cost with a mortgage payment now.

To Find Out More About the Study: The BH&J Index and other FAU real estate activities are sponsored by Investments Limited of Boca Raton. The BH&J Index is published quarterly and is available online at

Original Source: Keeping Current Matters

8 Ways to Prepare Your Home for Winter

  1. Have your heating system serviced. Look for a heating and air-conditioning contractor that belongs to the Air Conditioning Contractors of Americaand employs technicians certified by the North American Technician Excellence (NATE) program.
  1. Check your roof for damaged or missing shingles.
  1. Caulk around windows and doors. Silicone caulk is best for exterior use because it won’t shrink and it’s impervious to the elements.
  1. Clean your gutters of leaves and other debris.
  1. Add extensions or downspouts to your gutters so the water runs away from your foundation.
  1. Turn off exterior faucets. Undrained water in pipes can freeze, which will cause pipes to burst as the ice expands. Start by disconnecting all garden hoses and draining the water that remains in faucets.
  1. Replace the air filter in your furnace for maximum efficiency.  Slowly pour several gallons of water into the sump pit to see whether the pump turns on. You should do this every few months, but especially after a long dry season or before a rainy one.
  1. Restock winter essentials, such as salt, shovels, antifreeze and ice scrapers.

REPresenting Warmth. REPresenting Property.

Rug Guide

Guide to finding the right rug size
Click on the photo to learn more. Email me at for more information on interior design, staging, real estate and more.

First Time Homebuyer Checklist

Buying your first home is an exhilarating experience! It may mean you’re growing your family or you’ve finally gotten that promotion that will allow you to make a big investment. However, it can also be a very stressful time. Through the help of your realtor, lender and other great resources, you can be fully prepared for this exciting transition. The following steps map out the best way to prepare for your home purchase:

9 Months Out

  • Check your credit score. A Federal Trade Commission study found one in four Americans identified errors on their credit report, and 5% had errors that could lead to higher rates on loans. Knowing in advance will give you time to fix any errors or raise your credit score if necessary.
  • Talk to a mortgage broker to find out what you can afford. Lenders look for a total debt load of no more than 43% of your gross monthly income (called the debt-to-income ratio). This figure includes your future mortgage and any other debts, such as a car loan, student loan or revolving credit cards. Look for a mortgage broker who will shop for a competitive loan rate for you among multiple lenders.
  • Prioritize what you want in your home and neighborhood. Unless you’re buying new construction, no home will have everything you want. In order to focus your search and find your ideal home, it’s important to know what you can and can’t live without.

6 Months Out

  • Contact your realtor to map out your timeline and discuss your goals. An agent will work in your best interest to find you the right property, negotiate with the seller’s agent and shepherd you through the closing process.

3 Months Out

  • Focus your search and start actively looking at homes. At this point, hopefully you’ve scoped out neighborhoods that interest you and browsed through potential homes online. Now your realtor will schedule times for you to go out and view the homes.
  • Work with your lender to get approved for your loan. He or she will most likely require your W-2 forms, pay stubs, tax returns, bank statements, credit card and loan statements, and more.

2 Months Out

  • Make an offer on a home. It usually takes at least four to six weeks to close on a home. If you have a firm move-out date, allow enough time to deal with any hiccups that can delay closing.
  • Get a home inspection. One of the first things you’ll do after an offer is accepted is have a home inspector look at the property. If the home inspector finds something that needs repair, that may cause you to restructure the deal and could delay closing.
  • Find a real estate lawyer. Your agent will most likely be able to recommend someone to you that he or she has worked with in the past.

1 Month Out

  • Stay in constant communication with your realtor, your lender and your lawyer. You’re in the home stretch and you want to ensure that everyone has their ducks in a row for closing.
  • Get insurance for your new home. Don’t forget to secure insurance before closing. You’ll need to provide proof of insurance on or before closing.
  • Do a final walk-through of your new home. This usually occurs the day of closing to make sure the home is in the shape you and the seller have agreed upon.
  • Get a cashier’s check or bank wire for closing. You’ll get the amount owed at closing a few days before closing so you can secure a cashier’s check or arrange to have the money wired. Regular checks aren’t accepted.

While this list might seem overwhelming, your real estate agent will be there every step of the way to walk you through it. Please feel free to reach out to me with any questions at

Information taken from Photo taken from City of Chicago. 

$7,500 cash assistance now available to help cover down payment or closing costs!

1st Home Illinois is offering new incentives for first-time homebuyers OR buyers who have not owned in the last 3 years in our area (Cook County). $7,500 definitely comes in handy on a down payment or when covering closing costs!

Email Grace Goro or Susan Brown for more information |


In the latest Rent vs. Buy Report from Trulia, they explained that homeownership remains cheaper than renting with a traditional 30-year fixed rate mortgage throughout the 100 largest metro areas in the United States.

The updated numbers actually show that the range is from an average of 16% in Honolulu (HI), all the way to 55% in Sarasota (FL), and 35% Nationwide!

The other interesting findings in the report include:

Interest rates have remained low and even though home prices have appreciated around the country (3.9%), they haven’t greatly outpaced rental appreciation (3.7%). “In the past year, these two trends have made homeownership even more affordable compared with renting.”

Some markets might tip in favor of renting if home prices increase at a greater rate than rents and if – as most economists expect – mortgage rates rise, due to the strengthening economy.
Nationally, rates would have to rise to 10.6% for renting to be cheaper than buying – and rates haven’t been that high since 1989.
Bottom Line

Buying a home makes sense socially and financially. Rents are predicted to increase substantially in the next year, so lock in your housing cost with a mortgage payment now.

Original Source National Association of Home Builders