Month: May 2016

10 Most Sought After Home Features


Online real estate site ZipRealty asked about 1,000 home buyers what their list of desired features are in a home; here is a breakdown of the responses:

  1. Garage or parking space 86.8%
  2. Master suite 78.9%
  3. Plenty of storage space 72%
  4. Large/walk in closets 66.5%
  5. Guest bedroom 66.4%
  6. Outdoor entertainment area 64.3%
  7. Updated kitchen 60.6%
  8. Breakfast room/eat in kitchen 55.8%
  9. Large yard 43.2%
  10. Wood floors 40.8%
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Are You Making These Yard Mistakes?


  • Too random: Going crazy at a home and garden center sale and buying too many varieties of plants and flowers can create a chaotic look in your yard. Instead of being all over the place, try grouping 4 or 5 of the same flower or plant together in order to create a cohesive and peaceful look.
  • Too much mulch: Often times mulch is piled too high around the trunk of a tree. This may look nice, but in actuality it is not good for the tree. Too much mulch can suffocate the tree and deprive the inner bark from the oxygen that it needs. An excess of mulch can also make a perfect place for rodents to build their nests.
  • Cleaning up grass clippings: Although it may seem like the right thing to do (at least in order to be neat), it’s better to leave the grass clippings on the grass after the lawn is mowed. The clippings will decompose in just a few days and infuse the soil with nutrients in the meantime.
  • Left in the dark: Be sure to plant trees, bushes, and flowers that need part sun in spots that get at least 4 hours of sun per day. Don’t make the mistake of putting these plants in a mostly shady area and therefore not allowing them to thrive.
  • Going too big: Many people think that a small garden is nice so a large garden must be better. Don’t fall into the trap of planting a huge garden and then getting overwhelmed with all of the upkeep. If you are new to gardening, take it easy and start small the first couple of years to get familiar with the art of gardening.
  • Over-feeding: Putting too much plant food and fertilizer on your plants and flowers can actually harm them or even kill them. Instead of dumping unknown amounts of fertilizer on your plants, take the time to actually measure what you are using and be sure to use the correct product.
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9 Ways To Improve Curb Appeal

Are you looking for ways to improve the curb appeal of your home without taking a big chunk out of your wallet? Here are 9 ways to do just that:

  1. Add mulch: Mulch goes a long way in instantly giving your yard a face lift. The darker the mulch, the bigger the effect is. Not only does new mulch look nice, it saves water by cutting down on runoff.
  2. Improve the front door: Upgrading to new and modern hardware really improves the look of the door. You also want to make sure your front entrance is free of cob webs and other debris. Replacing the door bell, the door’s kick plate, and the outdoor light fixtures can also really amp up your home’s style.
  3. Fence: Fix any discolor or wear by using a semitransparent stain on your fence. This will improve the look of your yard by giving it an all-over fresh feel.
  4. Pressure clean: Rent a pressure washer to clean up your home’s exterior, driveway, walkways, patio, deck, stairs, porch, etc. Don’t forget about your front door and mailbox; be sure to clean those by hand if they need some attention.
  5. Accent color: Consider adding an accent color to your home’s window casements, shutters, or front door. If you are unsure as to how to choose a good color, head to your local home improvement store and look at the color accent cards that large manufacturers provide.
  6. Fill in your yard: Look for spaces in beds and borders and put in annual flowers.
  7. Cool-colored plants: It is a good idea to stick to plants in cool colors such as blue, purple, light pink, and white as people usually react in an emotional way to hot colors such as reds or yellows. Also, stick with either one color or one color with an accent color in order to create a polished and organized look. Planting flowers of many different colors may look too busy.
  8. Mow and weed: Ensure your lawn is taken care of by mowing the grass and pulling out the weeds. A well taken care of lawn translates that the homeowner takes pride in their residence.
  9. Light it up: Add lights to walkways and near plants/trees that you want to highlight. Illuminating your yard looks great at night and you never know when a potential buyer will drive by.
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Credit Scores


Your credit score plays a large role in the type of financing you will be offered when looking to buy a home. Banks usually decide on the terms of a loan based on the credit score category that you fall in to. It is important to check into your credit score and to ensure that you take any necessary steps to improving your score as much as possible before deciding to finance a home. Here is a quick summary of how banks view your credit score in relation to financing:

  • The lower the credit score, the more difficult it is to become approved for a loan and the loans that are obtained with a lower score will typically have a higher interest rate
  • In order to qualify for conventional financing, a borrower must have a minimum score of 620; some lenders have raised the minimum score needed for conventional loans through overlays (rule overrides)
  • The national average FICO score is 689
Below are the credit tiers according to Fannie/Freddie:
– 760 Plus New Tier 1 A
– 740-759 Old Tier 1 A
– 720-739 Fair Sub A
– 700-719 Fair
– 680-699 Average
– 660-670 Below Average
– 640-659
– 620-639
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The Five Most Common Painting Mistakes

1. Using cheap applicators: In order to do a nice job, it’s important to invest in quality rollers and brushes.

2. Not preparing: Repair work needs to be done to the walls prior to painting in order to ensure your painting surface is clean, dry, and free of loose debris.

3. Overextending each dip of the brush or roller: Many painting novices will not dip the brush or roller frequently enough. When you don’t dip enough, the paint can dry in the brush bristles and the roller material can mat down which makes for uneven application. As soon as you notice the paint breaking up, it’s time to re-dip.

4. Breathing mistakes: When you are trying to be precise, such as when cutting in a corner, breathe out or hold your breath. When you breathe in your hands are not as steady.

5. Dried out touch up paint: In order to make water-based paint last longer, place clear plastic wrap directly onto the top of the paint and then reseal the container. For oil based, add a half inch of water to the top of the container before resealing.

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Vacation Budget Tips

Booking a summer vacation? Check out these tips!

  • Look at websites that deal with vacation rentals. Often times, hotels or conference centers that deal primarily with business travelers have lower rates on the weekends. If renting a property, always read the entire listing and agreement before committing; don’t miss any details or fine print.

Rental Car

  • It is usually cheaper to rent in a less central location with a smaller company. Rent the cheapest car you can find and choose early morning pickup; it’s very likely that yesterday’s cars won’t be returned yet so the company will have to offer you a larger car for the same price.
  • Look over your existing insurance policy to see if you already have the right coverage for a rental car; if you do, think about skipping the rental company’s policy.
  • Don’t rent a vehicle that is too small


  • Follow major airlines on social media and make sure to join their rewards programs. Discounts can be earned over time and you will be able to keep up with promotions and sales.
  • Invest in available package deals; these are a way for both airlines and hotels to book empty seats and rooms using low prices.
  • Don’t check air fares for just one day; if possible, be flexible and look around for a deal.


  • Consider local destinations and attractions. There are many national and state parks that may only be a few hours away that can provide a wonderful family getaway experience.
  • Don’t put a trip on a credit card if you can’t truly afford it. Once interest payments start being made, that trip will end up costing a lot more than you originally planned on.
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13 Things Many Homeowners Forget To Buy

When you first moved into your home, you probably knew to buy the obvious items like light bulbs, a hammer, cleaning supplies, toilet paper, etc., but you may have forgotten a few often overlooked items. Here are some things that many homeowners neglect to purchase:

  1. A level
  2. Guest towels
  3. Oven mitt
  4. Plunger
  5. Fire extinguisher 
  6. Mixing bowls
  7. Coasters 
  8. Food thermometer
  9. Paper towel holder
  10. Welcome mat
  11. Salt and pepper shakers
  12. Watering can
  13. Tea kettle 
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Are You A First Time Home Buyer?

 4 Things You Should Do To Prepare To Buy Your First Home
  • Determine how much you can borrow: Meet with a mortgage lender and go over your financial history which will allow you to find out what your house budget should be, how much money you will need to put down, and what your monthly payment will be like. Going over your financial history is also a great time to discover any errors in your reports that need to be disputed and corrected.
  • Figure out where you want to be: Think about what type of neighborhood/town you want to live in. Do you want to live in a more rural setting or are you looking for something more densely populated with lot’s of restaurants, shopping, etc? Once you know your home budget, that can make determining your location easier and make pinpointing potential houses go more smoothly.
  • Discover the hidden housing market: Dawn is an expert in the housing market, specifically in the Kendall, Will, and DuPage County markets. You need an experienced and knowledgeable agent who will know about not only the houses listed for sale, but also those that are not listed yet, called off market listings.
  • Do your research: Looking at houses online is a great place to start and will help you to discover exactly what you may be looking for in a home as well as what your money can buy you in the market you are looking in.
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Boosting Your Credit Score


  • Monitor your credit: It’s difficult to improve your credit score if you don’t know what it is to begin with. There are many sites that offer a free credit report yearly and other sites provide you with your score from each of the three bureaus as well as daily credit monitoring so you are notified about any changes in your score as well. Some sites even let you know how your score might improve if specific actions are taken.
  • Correct any errors: After looking over your credit score, you may find an error. Some errors may be simple office mistakes and others may be something more serious such as identity fraud. In fact, in 2012 alone, 52 million Americans had errors on their credit report according to the FTC. If an error is found, contact the credit bureau that the error was found in.
  • Lower your credit utilization ratio: Aside from correcting any errors found and making payments on time, it’s also important to not use too much of the credit available to you. Having credit available to you is a good thing, however, using a high percentage of that available credit will be reflected negatively on your credit report. To help keep this ratio down, don’t close old credit accounts, even if you no longer use them. Make an effort to not max out credit accounts. If you don’t have very much credit available to you, try opening a new credit card with a low APR; many credit cards offer 0% APR for the first 12-18 months. If you don’t think you will be approved for a credit card, avoid applying for one since an inquiry into your credit history may slightly lower your score in the short term.
  • Be aware of balances and payment due dates: Always know what your account balances are and when the payments are due. Making late payments definitely lowers your credit score and if you are delinquent on an account, try to start making at least the minimum payments as soon as possible. If you are paying off a credit card and paying a lot of interest at the same time, try transferring your balance to a card with 0% interest.
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Please contact me with any questions or to request a Free Home Market Analysis