Month: September 2015

Property Tax Exemptions

  • Homeowner (Homestead) Exemption: Actually living in your home instead of having an investment property or vacation home entitles you to a sizable tax break.
  • Senior Citizen Exemption: Senior citizens may be eligible for tax breaks.
  • Home Improvement Exemption: If significant improvements are made to your home, the increased value of your home may be temporarily exempt from the assessment. Sometimes the increased value of your home is gradually phased into the assessment over several years so that your property tax bill does not dramatically rise. During the exemption phase, thousands of dollars may be saved in taxes.
  • Veteran Exemption: Veterans may be eligible for large tax exemptions and in Illinois, disabled veterans may receive a property tax exemption of up to $70,000 of the assessed value of his or her primary residence. 
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Real Estate Ad Terms And Lingo

4B/2B: 4 bedrooms and 2 bathrooms

Assum.fin.: assumable financing

Closing costs: The entire package of expenses paid by the buyer and the seller when the real estate deal closes. These costs include the brokerage commission, mortgage-related fees, escrow or attorney’s settlement charges, transfer taxes, recording fees, title insurance, etc. Closing costs are usually paid through escrow.

CMA: Comparative market analysis. A CMA is a report that shows prices of homes that are comparable to a subject home and that were recently sold, are currently on the market or were on the market, but not sold within the listing period.

Contingency: A provision of an agreement that keeps the agreement from being fully legally binding until a certain condition is met.

Dk: deck

Expansion pot’l: Expansion potential means that there is extra space on the lot or the possibility of adding a room or an upper level, subject to local zoning restrictions.

Fab pentrm: Fabulous pentroom, a room on top, but under the roof, that has great views.

FDR: Formal dining room

Fixture: Anything of value that is permanently attached to or a part of real property. Examples include light fixtures, window coverings, landscape, etc.

Frplc, fplc, FP: Fireplace

Gar: Garage

Grmet kit: Gourmet kitchen

HDW, HWF, Hdwd: Hardwood floors

Hi cells: High ceilings

In-law potential: Potential for a separate apartment, subject to local zoning restrictions.

Listing: An agreement between a Real Estate broker and a homeowner that allows the broker to market and arrange for the sale of the owner’s home. Listing is also used to refer to the home for sale itself.

Lo dues: Low homeowner association’s dues.

Lock box: Locked key-holding device placed on a home for sale so real estate professionals can gain access to the home after obtaining permission from the listing agent.

Lsd pkg: Leased parking area; may come with an additional cost.

MLS: Muliple listing service. This is a site which collects, compiles, and distributes information about homes listed for sale by its members, who are real estate brokers. Membership is not open to the general public, although selected MLS data may be sold to real estate sites.

nr bst schls: Near the best schools

pot’l: Potential

pvt: Private

Pwdr rm: Half bathroom or powder room

REALTOR: A real estate broker or sales associate who is a member of the National Association of Realtors. Not all real estate agents are realtors.

Title insurance: An insurance policy that protects a lender’s or owner’s interest in real property from assorted types of unexpected or fraudulent claims of ownership. Usually the buyer pays for the lender’s title insurance policy.

upr: Upper floor

vw, vu, vws, vus: View
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Things To Ignore While House Hunting


It can sometimes be easy to focus on the little things you see in a home that you don’t particularly care for and to miss the positive attributes of the home.  It can be difficult to envision yourself in a home when you are surrounded by memories of a different family. Here are 9 things you should ignore when touring a home:

  1. An older home: Many older homes have been built with quality materials and finishes and have been able to stand the test of time because of that.  You can still make your mark on an older home and there are many simple fixes that can be done to bring an older home up to date.
  2. Paint colors: The colors on the walls are very fixable and can be changed quickly and cheaply. It is more important to focus on the actual structure of the room instead of the owner’s taste in paint colors.
  3. Wallpaper: Even though you may see wallpaper that doesn’t fit your style, just remember that it can be taken down or covered up.
  4. Kitchen appliances: If the appliances in a home don’t meet your standards, just keep in mind that as long as you have room in your budget to replace them or at least a plan to change them out over time, you will be able to have the appliances you wish for.
  5. Worn or dirty carpet: Carpets can always be professionally cleaned or replaced with a different flooring option. There are numerous options for flooring now that are both attractive and budget friendly.
  6. Unpleasant odors: Giving the home a good cleaning should easily get rid of any odors in the home so unless the odor is due to a serious mold problem, the odor is not a major issue.
  7. Lack of curb appeal: If you are not impressed with the outside of a home, don’t worry, you can make changes in order to make it your own. Painting the front door a different color, sprucing up a front porch, or adding new landscaping will make a huge difference.
  8. Popcorn ceilings: Although these are outdated, they can be scraped off to achieve that smooth look you are after. It is a good idea to do this work before you move in though because it is a messy job.
  9. Not enough privacy: A lack of privacy can be remedied by putting up hedges or other trees or bushes.
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Green Upgrades With Fast Pay Offs


  • Compact fluorescent bulbs: These bulbs are affordable and claim to last as long as 10 incandescent bulbs (10 years with about 3 hours of use a day), and will save the homeowner $60. For a home with 25 light bulbs, you can buy new compact fluorescent bulbs for under $15 total and save about $1,500 over the course of about 10 years. Don’t forget that these new bulbs contain mercury and can’t be thrown out; they need to be brought to a home improvement store to be disposed of.
  • Consult with the utility company: Have your utility company come out and look over your home to determine where you can save money. They will be able to give you an estimate of how much major appliances cost a year and may be able to do small jobs such as putting weather stripping around exterior doors.
  • Save water: Aside from installing a low-flow toilet, you can also save a considerable amount of money by making changes in your shower. By unscrewing your shower head and installing a flow restrictor, you can conserve water and save money while doing so.
  • Insulate the attic: Putting insulation in the attic can pay for itself within a matter of a couple of years. If the attic is small and space is limited, insulation can be blown in.
  • Be cautious with windows: Double-paned windows can save you considerable amounts of money and are a good idea if you need to replace a window. Many homeowners wonder if they should go ahead and put double- paned windows throughout the home while they are having to install one anyway. Experts caution against this large investment, about $8,000-$12,000, because if a window is not installed properly, the homeowner will not see the savings.
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5 Features Homebuyers Want

Chicago Agent Magazine

What features should be emphasized when listing your home?

  1. Quartz: Quartz is rapidly growing in popularity; the number of times that quartz was mentioned in listings rose 86% in 2014!
  2. Smart home features: Smart home features are not extremely common yet, but they are on their way to being a very sought after home feature. Smart home features were mentioned 65% more in listings just last year.
  3. Stainless steel appliances: White appliances used to be the popular choice but now the stainless steel option is quickly taking their place. Stainless steel appliances have consistently risen in popularity every year since 2011.
  4. Freestanding tubs: Although a shower/tub combination saves space, a freestanding tub is definitely a plus for many homebuyers.  In 2014, listings that mention freestanding tubs rose a whopping 127%!
  5. Moving away from exposed brick: Even though exposed brick was a trendy choice in 2013, it is quickly losing its’ appeal. Why? Extreme weather is not good to exposed brick and can cause the mortar to fall out-which creates a lot of dust.
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Choosing The Best Flooring Option

Consumer Reports

  • Solid wood: Costs about $5-$10 per square foot. Solid wood is nice because it has a timeless, natural look and it can be refinished many times. On the downside, it does dent easily and it is not easy to install. Solid wood floors can change color due to UV light and can be water damaged easily as well. Bamboo is more costly than solid wood but it does seem to hold up better to wear and tear.
  • Engineered wood: Costs about $4-$9 per square foot. The great thing about this flooring is that it does cost less than solid wood but it still looks natural and adds warmth to the home. Using wide planks provides a modern look and it also can make a room look larger. Another positive is that many times, this material can be floated without glue or fasteners. Cons include the fact that engineered wood  still dents fairly easily and can also be damaged by flooding. Also, they usually can’t be refinished since they are composed of a veneer over substrate. 
  • Laminate: $3-$7 per square foot. Laminate is a very durable flooring option and can appear to be a variety of natural materials. Often times laminate can be floated as well. Many laminate options are stain resistant and also resist UV damage. Cons for laminate: most laminates dent easily and this flooring can’t be refinished. 
  • Vinyl: $2-$6 per square foot. Vinyl is durable yet still comfortable to walk on. Some vinyls can float and many of them look similar to real wood or stone. If you are installing vinyl yourself, try to choose planks or tiles instead of sheets that need to be precisely cut. Keep in mind that off-gassing may be a concern for homes with young kids and even the best vinyl products still look like vinyl up close.
  • Linoleum: $4-$8 per square foot. Linoleum is made to look like stone and other natural flooring and it’s made of tree bark and linseed oil. The best linoleum products are very scratch, stain, and fade resistant. Although linoleum is a great option, some vinyl products wear better and can be installed easier for the same price as linoleum. 
  • Ceramic tile: $8-$15 per square foot; $5-$8 for products that can be floated. Ceramic tile is a great authentic flooring option and is composed of minerals. Using ceramic tile that can be floated is easier to install and more cost effective. Although ceramic tile can create a very sleek look, it can be cracked easily from dropped items.
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