Home > Blogs > Allyson Hoffman's Blog

Allyson Hoffman's Blog

By Allyson Hoffman | Broker in Glenview, IL

    Posted Under: Home Selling in Chicago, Curb Appeal in Chicago  |  September 19, 2013 10:52 AM  |  951 views  |  No comments

    Hardy mums are appearing and a light jacket has again become necessary for many crisp morning temperatures.  Both are sure signs that the fall season is upon us.  Although many folks hate to see summer come to an end, there is no avoiding the onset of fall.  The change of seasons generates an inventory of chores that must be completed prior to the first freeze and commencement of winter.  To ensure a healthy yard next spring, routine fall maintenance must be completed.  Additionally, be sure to prepare your home properly to avoid adverse impact from harsh elements that winter brings.


    Starting outside, you’ll want to take advantage of the fall season which is the best time of the year to give attention to your lawn and landscaping.  Fertilization of your lawn will provide the necessary nutrients for the winter months to come and in the springtime your lawn should regrow lush and green.   There’s no need to mourn the loss of color in your landscaping.   A variety of plants can be incorporated to provide brilliant color through late November.  These plants include:  autumn crocus; strawflower; variations of aster; coleus; and dianthus.  Fountain grasses, burning and blueberry bushes will also add bursts of color.  All are easy to care for and deliver great curb appeal.  Remember to weed your gardens well in the fall to minimize new growth in the spring. 


    Fall is also the time to attend to your trees.  You’ll want to consider trimming any branches hanging low, too close to the house, or near electrical wires that can be weighed down by winter snow or ice, conditions that potentially can wreak havoc.  Rake away all tree debris, leaves and other forms of rubbish from the foundation of your house.  Make sure there are no entry points for animals seeking warmth.  If you have a crawl space, close the ventilation hatches keeping the cold air from entering underneath your house. 


    Be prepared for winter by checking that your outdoor tools are in good working condition and ready for action.  Rakes, snow shovels and snow blowers should be inspected, cleaned, easily accessed and ready for use.


    Gutter maintenance is also critical.  Clean your gutters and downspouts thoroughly and check for proper anchoring to the house.  Melting snow and freezing rain must have an easy escape route from the roof, into the gutter, down the downspouts and away from the foundation of your house.  You do not want ice dams to form in your gutters or on your roof.  Dams prevent water flow and when water has nowhere to go but behind the gutter or under your shingles, damage to interior walls and ceilings from seepage is a common result.


    Outside maintenance is important but interior preparations are also recommended.  It is paramount to have your furnace inspected and cleaned before the heating season begins.  It’s much wiser to have this service performed in the fall since it should be less costly than waiting until the winter season hits when a non-functioning furnace may leave you out in the cold.  Furnace upkeep is vital for safety reasons as is installing carbon monoxide detectors in your home. 


    Here are some other important interior chores to consider completing:

    · Locate your water main so in the event of an emergency it can be shut off

    · Insulate any exposed pipes (perhaps in the basement)

    · Ensure that there is adequate insulation in your attic

    · Find your air conditioner shut-off valve and turn it to the off position

    · Drain the air conditioning pipes to prevent freezing

    · Install weather stripping around all windows and doors to prevent cold air drafts

    · Replace screen doors and windows with storm doors and windows


    Finally, since many homeowners love snuggling up in front of their fireplace on cold winter nights, fall is the ideal time to guarantee the safety of your chimney.  Make sure the chimney cap on the outside is secure and consider having a certified chimney inspection for soot and creosote buildup.  A chimney care professional can also determine if your chimney liner is intact and if your damper opens and closes properly.


    Though many folks are probably thinking that it’s premature to be worrying about these projects right now, keep in mind that all too often, summer quickly turns to fall and then even more quickly to winter – the time will pass before we realize it has already gone.  So if you don’t want to find yourself outside braving the winter elements, use the beautiful fall season to your benefit.  Since preventative maintenance is truly necessary to safeguard your lawn, landscaping and home from  harsh winter conditions, it is better to be prepared today than to pay the consequences tomorrow.


    Allyson Hoffman, ABR, ACRE, CDPE, CRS, e-PRO, GRI, SFR, SRES
    RE/MAX Villager
    Serving Chicago's North Shore, North and Northwest Suburbs

    Get your latest Home Value
    Receive Your Personalized Listing Alerts

    Let’s Connect, Socially!



    Allyson Hoffman is your ultimate real estate resource for Chicago's North Shore, North and Northwest Suburbs and surrounding areas. Visit my website for detailed information regarding today’s real estate market.




    Photo courtesy of flickr.com

  • Improve the View from the Curb

    Posted Under: Curb Appeal  |  October 24, 2012 8:09 AM  |  348 views  |  No comments

    That fabled first impression is no myth, and if you're trying to sell your home, take a half-hour to evaluate what prospective buyers are seeing when they drive up to your home. Doing that by yourself can be a lot harder that you might think, simply because it's hard to separate your subjective experience out of the equation. This is simple to solve. Simply ask friends or acquaintances who are unfamiliar with your home to give you an honest account of their first impressions. Certainly, your real estate agent is going to give you an objective appraisal as well.

    Your job is to take those observations and find ways to improve the view from the curb. You should try to do everything you can to maximize the positives and minimize the negatives.

    Landscaping of the space between the curb and the front door is a primary concern. Maximize by trimming, edging and weeding. Neatness counts! Minimize by removing ailing or dead trees, shrubs, bushes and other plants. If you just can't get a decent looking lawn, perhaps resodding is the answer, or even more radical approaches like changing ground cover completely. Refresh that mulch! Deep browns and reds are so much more appealing than a dull, washed out grey at the base of your landscaping pieces. And prepare your lawn for spring now, following the guidance in this Chicago Tribune article.

    Structurally, make sure any damaged siding, roofing or other exterior parts of your home are repaired. Make sure the front of your home is clean and attractive. A power-wash is always a great place to start, and the DIY network has some excellent tips on doing it yourself. A new coat of paint is often a good idea, but you don't have to paint everything. Just touching up the trim, window and door frames after everything else is clean can brighten the appearance of your home.

    A little color can go a long way. Carefully coordinated window treatments are an excellent accent; check out this article from HGTV for ideas. Colorful flowers just inside the windows can create a sense of warmth and depth, especially in the drab, colder months of the year. If you have a lot of decorations on the front of your house, make sure they're clean and in good condition. You don't want to overdo those, either. Remember, you want a buyer to imagine the home as their own, not see it as someone else's!

    Have you tried any of these? If you have a second to email me, I’d love to see some before-and-after photos. How much time did you spend? Were you surprised at the difference a few minutes of work makes?

    This blog is maintained by Michael of Kim Hughes & Company. 
    Photo courtesy one2c900d/flickr.com

  • Adding Curb Appeal with Landscaping

    Posted Under: Home Selling in Chicago, Curb Appeal in Chicago, Going Green in Chicago  |  March 21, 2012 6:29 PM  |  1,007 views  |  No comments

    Having a well manicured yard is a great investment when selling your North Shore Chicago home. It creates curb appeal and helps your property retain maximum value when you choose to sell it.  Take advantage of the warmer weather to boost your curb appeal with these tips!

    A beautiful yard is a head-turner, no doubt about it. The good news is that even if you can’t tell a tulip from a turnip at the garden center, you can still create eye-catching curb appeal by paying attention to the basics of good landscaping. Ignoring your yard—or doing something that’s out of character with the neighborhood—can jeopardize the assessed value of your home. Poorly maintained landscaping can be as much as a 5 or 10% deduction in its value.

    Appraisers are quick to praise the allure of a well-tended lawn and good-looking landscaping when it comes time to sell your North Shore home, but most do not assign any specific increase in monetary value for upkeep.
    Nevertheless, most professionals agree that curb appeal and a well-maintained appearance prevent your property from losing value. Here are the top suggestions from real estate agents, appraisers, and landscape designers for boosting the curb appeal of your yard:

    Green up the Grass

    If your house has a front yard, make sure it‘s neat and green. You don’t want bare spots, sprawling weeds, or an untrimmed appearance.

    It’s very simple to go to Home Depot, buy fertilizer, apply it every six weeks, and water it. This easy maintenance will keep your yard looking green and beautiful.

    If the yard looks really scruffy, you may decide to invest in some sod. According to the National Gardening Association, the average cost of sod is 15 to 35 cents per sq. ft. If you hire a landscaper to sod your yard for you, labor will add 30% to 50% to the total cost of the project. 

    Another alternative is to plant low-maintenance turf grasses. Turf grasses are durable and drought-resistant. Expect to pay $18 to $30 for enough turf grass seed to plant 1,000 sq. ft. of lawn area.

    Add some color

    Flower beds add color and help enliven otherwise plain areas, such as along driveways and the edges of walkways. In general, annual flowers are a bit cheaper but must be replaced every year. Perennials cost a bit more but come back annually and usually get larger or spread with each growing season.

    If you’re not sure what to plant, inquire at your local garden center. Often, they’ll have a display of bedding plants chosen for their adaptability to your area. Also, they‘ll be inexpensive because they’re in season. Pansies are good in the summer, and asters and mums in the fall add vibrant color.

    Add landscape lighting

    For homeowners who have made a sizeable investment in landscaping, it makes sense to think about adding another 10% to 15% to the bill for professional lighting. You can’t see landscaping after dark, and buyers are not always looking at houses on a Saturday afternoon.

    The cost of a system runs from $200 for a DIY installation to more than $4,000 for a professional job. If you‘re doing it on your own, the key is to light what you want people to see, such as mature trees and flowering shrubs. 

    Plant a tree

    The value of mature trees is particularly difficult to determine. Mature trees contribute as much as 10% of a $100,000 property’s overall value. In addition, a properly placed shade tree can shave as much as $32 a year on your energy bills. Expect to pay $50 to $100 for a young, 6- to 7-foot deciduous tree.

    You can make your own initial assessment of the value of your property’s trees by visiting the National Tree Benefit Calculator. For example, a mature Southern red oak tree with a diameter of 36 inches in the front yard of a house in Augusta, Ga., would add $70 to the property value this year, according to the calculator. 

    If you are selling your home and would like some other helpful tips, contact me today to help sell your Northern Illinois home! 


  • 10 Simple Reasons You May Want to Try and Sell During the Holidays

    Posted Under: Home Selling in Chicago, Curb Appeal in Chicago, Design & Decor in Chicago  |  November 2, 2011 8:13 PM  |  1,663 views  |  No comments
    Halloween is over so you know what comes next! With all the hustle and bustle associated with the holiday season, you may think that now is the worst time to prep your house for showings and finally get your house off of the market. However, it seems that the this may be the perfect time to find the right buyer!

    Still not convinced? Here are some reasons that might change your mind.

    1. People looking are more serious buyers.

    2. Serious buyers have fewer houses to choose, so you have less competition.

    3. Houses “show better” with Holiday decor.

    4. Buyers are more emotional during the holidays.

    5. Buyers have more time to look during the holiday.

    6. Many people will buy by year-end for tax reasons.

    7. January is the month for transfers. Transferees cannot wait until spring; you must be on the market!!

    8. Sold listings have proved to be up August – December.

    9. You can sell now, but specify a delayed closing or extended occupancy until Early next year if you desire.

    10. By selling now you have an opportunity to buy during the spring, when Many houses are on the market.


    By listing now, you may have fewer actual showings, but more qualified buyers and less competition.

    Dress up your Chicago North Shore home with white lights and evergreens and possibly draw in the perfect buyer before New Years!


  • Success With Bulbs Seminar: September 24

    Posted Under: General Area in Northbrook, Curb Appeal in Northbrook, In My Neighborhood in Northbrook  |  September 23, 2011 6:21 PM  |  1,816 views  |  No comments
    Are you looking for a way to spruce up your home landscaping in northern Illinois home? Bulbs are a great way to add color to your landscape, whether you want to sell your home or just make a home improvement for yourself.

    Now is the perfect time to plant for next year's display and you can learn how to this weekend in Northbrook, Illinois! A free seminar is taking place at the Reds Garden Centerin Northbrook this Saturday, September 24 from 10:00 am to 11:30 am.

    Here you can learn bulb basics, including planting techniques, critter-proofing and recommendations for fabulous color and texture combinations. If you want to brush up on your gardening skills, come to this great seminar from the Reds Garden Center!

Copyright © 2014 Trulia, Inc. All rights reserved.   |  
Have a question? Visit our Help Center to find the answer