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Allyson Hoffman's Blog

By Allyson Hoffman | Broker in Glenview, IL
  • Are You Making these 6 Costly Mistakes When Selling Your Home?

    Posted Under: Home Selling in Chicago, Home Ownership in Chicago  |  March 6, 2014 8:13 AM  |  633 views  |  No comments

    Most folks who want to sell their homes know that cleaning and sprucing up prior to listing is advised.  However, several common mistakes that many sellers make can potentially have a greater impact on success than a dirty floor or soap scum on the shower door.

    Here are six mistakes sellers can make with potentially negative impact on the final sale price of your home. It’s prudent to do your best to avoid them:

    Failing to Get a Home Inspection

    This applies to older homes and newer homes as well. If you think your home could have problems that might require repair, get a home inspection prior to listing. This will allow you to identify and correct any problem areas in your home, on your own time and budget, before negotiating with a buyer.

    Not Properly Preparing Your Home for Sale

    In a competitive market, the first impression is essential. Take full advantage of that initial rush of agents with potential buyers that occurs in those first few weeks after listing. To help your home show well, consider repainting, fixing any minor problems and thoroughly cleaning it inside and out. Some sellers hire professionals to do this for them.

    Trying to Hide Issues with the Home

    Hanging a painting over a hole in the wall or a throwing a rug over that huge water spot in the middle of the floor might seem like a good idea at the time, but it isn’t. Today’s buyers and their agents are remarkably adept at finding these hidden problems. If you cannot afford to fix them, be honest about the problems to avoid a potentially contentious negotiating process, a deal falling through at the last minute or even a lawsuit.

    Allowing Your Pets the Run of the House

    Animals can be wonderful companions, and many people love them. But not all people love animals and some visitors may be allergic.  So in order to sell your home, make sure to appeal to the non-animal lover as well. Many experts suggest boarding animals with friends and family while your home is on the market.  If this isn’t an option, make sure any evidence of your furry friends (fur, litter boxes, etc.) is removed daily to avoid discouraging potential buyers.

    Not Choosing the Right Realtor

    When you decide to sell your home you will likely have several friends who know a real estate agent, and while the experiences of your friends and family are often a good place to start, make sure to choose a Realtor who knows your area and is an experienced listing agent with the skills and connections to sell your home quickly.

    Overpricing Your Home

    Sellers frequently overinflate the value of their home. That’s understandable, but pricing your home above market value could cost you money in the long run. If your home lingers on the market becoming a “stale listing” and you are forced to reduce the price, you could end up selling it for less than you would have if you had priced it correctly in the first place. Be willing to listen to your agent when it comes time to set the asking price for your home.

    Selling a home does not have to be a difficult process. In fact, with an experienced listing agent acting as your advocate and guide, the process can progress smoothly through closing and beyond. Contact me today if you are ready to sell your home. I will be glad to answer any questions you may have, and help get the process started.

    Allyson Hoffman, ABR, ACRE, CDPE, CRS, e-PRO, GRI, SFR, SRES
    RE/MAX Villager
    Serving Chicago's North Shore, North and Northwest Suburbs
    847-310-5300
    allyson@allyson.com

    Get your latest Home Value
    Receive Your Personalized Listing Alerts

    Let’s Connect, Socially!

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    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 markets.

    Photo courtesy of Images of Money at Flickr.com.

  • Steps to Finding Your Dream Home this Spring

    Posted Under: Home Buying in Chicago, Financing in Chicago, Home Ownership in Chicago  |  February 28, 2014 7:01 AM  |  616 views  |  No comments

    According to some experts, almost half of the home sales annually recorded in the United States occur between March and July. Likewise, this similarly applies to the Chicago area and its north shore, north and northwest suburbs. During this period, increased demand means home buyers face more intense competition from others. This competitive environment increases the importance of buyers being prepared and ready to act immediately when the right house comes on the market.

    To gain an edge, buyers can consider taking these steps in anticipation of buying a home in spring:

    Set a Budget

    Divide budgeting into two parts.

    First, structure a financial plan to cover one-time expenses such as your down payment, closing costs, moving expenditures, and the possibly furnishing and/or refurbishing your new home. Frequently, buyers will designate a separate savings accounts earmarked for these costs and begin saving well in advance of their purchase.

    Secondly, determine how much home you can comfortably afford. As a general rule, buyers should not purchase a home priced over 2.5 times their current annual income and monthly housing costs (mortgage payments, taxes, assessments (if any) and insurance costs) should not exceed 28% of their monthly gross income. Moreover, total debt payments (mortgage costs and other obligations such as car loans, credit cards balances and/or student loans) should not exceed one-third of gross monthly income. Stay within these parameters to ensure the likelihood that monthly bill paying poses no problems.

    Decide What You Want and Need in a Home

    Establishing what you want versus what you need is an important step in the process of buying a home. Wants include things that would be nice to have, but are not essential. Needs are must-have features that are essential. It helps to create a list of both before you begin exploring available properties, whether online or in person. Additionally, by meeting with your real estate agent to discuss these wants and needs, your home search should be more focused, meaningful and efficient.

    Apply for Loan Preapproval

    Contact lenders. This can be done online, but if you prefer the personal touch, that method may not be ideal for you. Your real estate agent should be able to provide references to top-notch loan officers and institutions. 

    Investigate your options for loan types, rates and terms. Once you’ve identified the right loan and lender for you, have a pre-approval letter prepared so that you’ll have it in hand when you find the right home.  The more information you provide your lender to assist in this process, the stronger and more compelling the letter may be written.  Ideally, your lender would have noted that your loan was approved through an automated underwriting program subject to your submission of supporting documents and verifications.  In a fast-paced market like spring, having this pre-approval ready to accompany any offer provides you an advantage, especially when competing offers  for the same property are presented by multiple interested buyers.

    Follow these steps to create a competitive edge this spring and increase your chances of securing the right home.  Feel free to contact me today and arrange a consultation. I will be happy to answer any questions you may have and assist you in finding your dream home.

    Allyson Hoffman, ABR, ACRE, CDPE, CRS, e-PRO, GRI, SFR, SRES
    RE/MAX Villager

    Serving Chicago's North Shore, North and Northwest Suburbs
    847-310-5300
    allyson@allyson.com

    Get your latest Home Value
    Receive Your Personalized Listing Alerts

    Let’s Connect, Socially!

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    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 markets.

    Photo courtesy of Ken Whytock at Flickr.com.

  • Winter Curb Appeal

    Posted Under: Design & Decor in Chicago, Home Ownership in Chicago  |  February 6, 2014 8:07 AM  |  413 views  |  No comments

    Having your house on the market in the winter means you'll be facing some special challenges. Without the benefit of landscape in full bloom, a home can take on a drab appearance. To avoid turning away potential buyers, here are three tips for better winter curb appeal.

    1. Adding a few winter-flowering shrubs and perennials to your landscaping can quickly turn drab into fab. Pieris Japonica, the Hellebore or Christmas rose, and winter jasmine are some options.

    2. If you've got visible mulch around your trees and shrubs instead of a crisp white layer of snow, make sure it's fresh. The longer mulch sits in the sun, the grayer it becomes.  At some point its hard to even tell it is mulch anymore. Rake up the old stuff and put in a layer of color against otherwise dormant landscaping.

    3. Take a good look at areas where ice and snow becomes a problem around your home during a winter storm. You might not have a issue with it, but it can be a huge negative for the elderly or those with disabilities. Shoveling snow and spreading salt or melting agents can alleviate the problems after they occur.  But for more a permanent solution, make sure you have good drainage away from your driveway and your house. Additionally, make sure to have your gutters and downspouts checked and cleaned if necessary. This will help to eliminate ice dams and the formation of massive (potentially dangerous) icicles and ice puddles as those begin to melt.

    Selling a home in winter may not be the most ideal time to show off your home's beauty, but you can mitigate seasonal challenges. Get in touch with me and I'll be happy to help you prepare to sell your home, and offer suggestions on the best way to increase your home's appeal.

    Allyson Hoffman, ABR, ACRE, CDPE, CRS, e-PRO, GRI, SFR, SRES
    RE/MAX Villager
    Serving Chicago's North Shore, North and Northwest Suburbs
    847-310-5300
    allyson@allyson.com

    Get your latest Home Value
    Receive Your Personalized Listing Alerts

    Let's Connect, Socially!

    Facebook
    Twitter
    LinkedIn
    Google +1

    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 markets.

    Image courtesy of ColinBroug/Stock.xchng.com

  • Protect Your Home with these Winter Maintenance Tips

    Posted Under: Home Ownership in Chicago  |  December 19, 2013 9:24 AM  |  232 views  |  4 comments

    Winter has arrived throughout the nation. Snow and ice that accompany winter weather can be damaging to your house. Protect your home this winter with these maintenance tips to make sure that you won't need any costly repairs in the spring.

    Snow accumulation on your roof can be a huge problem. Snow is heavy and can cause damage to your roof if allowed to build up. You can remove snow from your roof with special tools, but be careful. These tools can damage your roof if not used correctly. Unless you have experience with this, it's probably better to call a roofing expert for help.

    Also, watch for ice buildup on your roof. The top part of your roof can warm during the day and melt any accumulated snow. As water drains down to the cooler part of your roof, it can re-freeze into ice. Accumulated ice can force water into your attic and down your interior walls, causing damage. Excess ice buildup on your roof should be removed by a trained roofing professional.

    While you're checking your roof, also check your gutters for debris. Blocked gutters can be damaged by freezing water, and can also force melted ice and snow into your house. 

    After each snow, clear away any accumulation from doors and windows. Melting snow can leak in through small openings and damage walls and floors.

    Protect any exposed pipes in your attic, crawl space or outside your home. If pipes are not well insulated, water inside can freeze and cause them to burst.

    Finally, keep your home warm by taking care of your furnace. Change your furnace filter every 30 days so it will run more efficiently and will last longer.

    When you are ready to sell your home, rely on an expert for assistance. Contact me today for an appointment to discuss how to best prepare your home for sale.

    Allyson Hoffman, ABR, ACRE, CDPE, CRS, e-PRO, GRI, SFR, SRES
    RE/MAX Villager
    Serving Chicago's North Shore, North and Northwest Suburbs
    847-310-5300
    allyson@allyson.com

    Get your latest Home Value
    Receive Your Personalized Listing Alerts

    Let's Connect, Socially!

    Facebook
    Twitter
    LinkedIn
    Google +1

    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 markets.

    Photo courtesy Lize Rixt, Stock.XCHNG.

  • How to Price Your Home to Sell

    Posted Under: Home Selling in Chicago, Home Ownership in Chicago  |  December 13, 2013 7:07 AM  |  388 views  |  No comments

    One of the biggest challenges in selling your home is pricing it right. A fair price typically goes hand-in-hand with homes that sell quickly.  So here are some pricing tips to help assure that you price your home to sell.

    The most reliable method of arriving at value is to review the recent sales of similar homes in your neighborhood.  These homes, known as “comps” will give you the best information about where to start your pricing. You can also visit similar houses that are currently for sale to see how they compare to yours.  But keep in mind that their prices are asking prices and may or may not be realistic.  Take a look at how long those homes have been marketed to get a feeling for the accuracy of those asking prices.  Long market times are typically tied to overpriced homes.

    To get an accurate idea of price, don’t strictly rely on square footage when you look at the comps. You’ll want to obtain some details about how those homes are laid out, what features they offer and if there are any upgrades.

    In most cases, homebuyers will need to obtain a mortgage. Mortgage approvals hinge on many things, but one of the most critical factors is an acceptable appraisal of the home’s value which must be no less than the contract sales price. It’s important to keep this in mind when you are setting your price, so you don’t price your home too high. Even if you were, theoretically, able to obtain a contract at a higher price, if the appraisal comes in lower than the sales price, the buyer will be unable to secure a loan for the amount needed to close the sale.

    It’s important to keep emotions out of the pricing process. The price of your home shouldn’t be based upon what you paid for the house, how much you’ve enjoyed living there, what you need to buy your next home or the fact that your kids grew up there.  Instead, base your price strictly on what your house is worth today in your neighborhood.

    Don’t overprice your home – overpricing only gets you more of one thing and it is not money.  Overpricing gives you longer market time and that, statistically, leads to lower sale prices. Unless you are in a really hot market with very low inventory, you will likely just end up lowering the price on your house, a signal to buyers that it was overpriced. Likewise, pricing your home under market value to encourage multiple bids can work well in low-inventory seller’s markets but easily can backfire, if your market has ample inventory of homes for sale or if homes in your area are not selling quickly.

    The most important step in pricing your home is to talk to your Realtor®. A qualified real estate professional knows what’s going on in your neighborhood and can advise you on the best pricing strategy for your home.

    Are you ready to sell your home? If so, contact me today. I’ll prepare a customized market analysis to determine the value your home so you can be sure to price it right for your neighborhood.

    Allyson Hoffman, ABR, ACRE, CDPE, CRS, e-PRO, GRI, SFR, SRES
    RE/MAX Villager
    Serving Chicago's North Shore, North and Northwest Suburbs
    847-310-5300
    allyson@allyson.com

    Get your latest Home Value
    Receive Your Personalized Listing Alerts

    Let’s Connect, Socially!

    Facebook
    Twitter
    LinkedIn
    Google +1

    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 markets.

    Photo courtesy ponsulak, FreeDigitalPhotos.net.

  • Six Questions to Find Out if You Are Ready to Buy a Home

    Posted Under: Home Buying in Chicago, Financing in Chicago, Home Ownership in Chicago  |  December 5, 2013 4:24 PM  |  493 views  |  4 comments

    For many people there comes a time in when they begin to think about putting down roots and this generally includes buying a house. Buying a home is a major life event, and often, the largest purchase most of us will ever make.

    So, when that time arrives, it’s critically important to make sure you’re ready before you act. Here are some questions to help you assess if you’re ready to make the commitment to buy your own home.

    1. Do you plan to stay there for several years? Ideally, experts recommend that you should stay in your home for 5 to 7 years to make your home purchase pay off. Should you feel that you may need to move sooner, a better option for you may be renting a home.
    2. Are you are in control of your finances? Owning a home means paying your mortgage on time every month and also paying for your own repairs. That means you’ll need to be able manage a budget to pay for a home and for its upkeep.
    3. Do you have a stable income? If your income fluctuates, you may have trouble making your monthly mortgage payments.
    4. Do you have savings?  It’s wise to have savings to cover your closing costs, home maintenance or any household appointments such as window treatments and furnishings. These savings should also be available to cover unanticipated emergencies, such as storm damage.
    5. Do you have good credit? A good credit score will help to ensure that you get a good the best possible interest rate on your mortgage. If you’ve had a bankruptcy or missed several payments on credit cards or loans, you may need to wait before buying a home until you can repair your credit.
    6. Are you handy around the house? It helps since ownership means there is no landlord to call for repairs. You’ll need to have a plan for how to handle things like fixing a leaky faucet, broken dishwasher or backed-up sewer pipe and ordinary recurring maintenance such as yard work or painting.

    If you can answer yes to these questions and are still excited about owning your own home then you’re probably ready to buy.  Please contact me for an appointment to get the process going. I’ll be happy to help you determine how much house you can afford, and help you find your dream home.

    Allyson Hoffman, ABR, ACRE, CDPE, CRS, e-PRO, GRI, SFR, SRES
    RE/MAX Villager
    Serving Chicago's North Shore, North and Northwest Suburbs
    847-310-5300
    allyson@allyson.com

    Get your latest Home Value
    Receive Your Personalized Listing Alerts

    Let’s Connect, Socially!

    Facebook
    Twitter
    LinkedIn
    Google +1

    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 markets.

    Photo courtesy ponsulak, FreeDigitalPhoto.net.

  • Uncommon Tactics to Sell Your Home

    Posted Under: Home Selling in Chicago, Home Ownership in Chicago  |  November 27, 2013 12:58 PM  |  453 views  |  No comments

    If you’ve been waiting to sell your home, the housing market has definitely improved. So now may be the time to take action. But keep in mind that there are no guarantees on how quickly your home will sell once you list it.

    To improve chances of a quick sale, some homeowners have tried uncommon tactics to draw attention to their listings. The key is to make your home's listing distinctly different than the others on the market … so it stands out. Here are a few suggestions to consider that other sellers have tried to successfully achieve that sought-after quick sale. They may work for you, too!

    One thing that has always drawn attention includes offering incentives to buyers. Today’s market is no exception. Some popular incentives include offering to pay some of the buyer’s closing costs, including a home warranty that protects major systems and appliances, or even offering buyers plane tickets, a big screen TV, or new car.

    Another way to attract notice is to offer seller financing.  In these days of tight credit, not every potential buyer can qualify for a traditional mortgage. By offering financing, you potentially could attract attention from a larger pool of buyers and sell your home.

    Additionally, interesting photos of your home can improve your online marketing. Buyers get tired of seeing nearly identical photos as they look at online listings. Make yours stand out from the rest with bright floral arrangements or an unusual piece of furniture.

    In some areas, sellers are even offering buyers a chance to try out the home. Make sure you consult with your Realtor before you consider this!  This incentive offers potential buyers the opportunity to spend a night or two in your home. It can allow them, for example, to notice how quiet the street is or how lovely the light is first thing in the morning in the breakfast nook.

    These are just a few uncommon ways to attract attention to your listing. Discuss your ideas with your Realtor and decide if any will be right for your situation and your home.

    Are you looking to market your home for a quick sale? If so, contact me to set up an appointment to preview your home. I’d be happy to discuss a marketing plan tailored specifically to you and your family with the overriding objective of creating that potentially elusive quick sale!

    Allyson Hoffman, ABR, ACRE, CDPE, CRS, e-PRO, GRI, SFR, SRES
    RE/MAX Villager
    Serving Chicago's North Shore, North and Northwest Suburbs
    847-310-5300
    allyson@allyson.com

    Get your latest Home Value
    Receive Your Personalized Listing Alerts

    Let’s Connect, Socially!

    Facebook
    Twitter
    LinkedIn
    Google +1

    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 markets.

    Photo courtesy Oliver Delgado, Stock.XCHNG.

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