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Allyson Hoffman's Blog

By Allyson Hoffman | Broker in Glenview, IL
  • Remodel or Sell - Should You Stay or Should You Go?

    Posted Under: Home Selling, Remodel & Renovate, Property Q&A  |  February 9, 2012 11:10 AM  |  843 views  |  No comments

    You loved your house when you bought it and now it seems old and tired. You suddenly hate the floor plan and the paint and your plumbing has seen better days. Do you sell your home or remodel?

    Homeowners realize they need a change for many reasons: Some have growing families, others need a home office and still others have problems with their home's plumbing and electrical work.

    But whatever the reason, the homeowner has two options for change summed up in the simple question: Should I stay or should I go? Remodel or move?

    However, choosing whether to remodel or move is not simple. There are many factors both financial and emotional to consider, so where do you start?

    On the financial end, location determines the value of the property and whether a remodeling project or a move will be worth the money spent.

    Location also helps shape an owner's gut feeling about whether to stay or go.

    Some people are willing to live in an older home without the bells and whistles of newer construction because it is in a very desirable school district. Proximity to work, shopping, play, daycare and aging parents also may come into play.

    If owners like the location and general feeling of the current home, it usually can be turned into their dream house.

    Can you find another home with the same features in the area you want to be in?.

    All other factors being equal though, she says owners should trust their feelings!

    Are you stuck on the fence on whether to remodel or sell? Contact me today for professional help with your situation!


  • Winter Maintenance Tips

    Posted Under: Remodel & Renovate in Chicago, Going Green in Chicago, Property Q&A in Chicago  |  January 11, 2012 6:24 PM  |  1,527 views  |  No comments

    If you have looked at the weather report then you know that winter is in full swing in the Chicago North Shore. That means that local residents are bundled up in scarves, wool coats and boots - you may be ready for the low temperatures, but is your house?

    Here are some easy weatherproofing tips from Ilyce Glink. Add these tips to your winter home maintenance checklist to help keep your Northern Illinois home toasty warm and tohelp  lower your gas bill.

    Inspect and maintain home heating systems

    Get an inspection of your heating system done before the temperatures drop too low. Clogged filters or dirty air vents can reduce the efficiency of your heating system and raise your heating bill. An annual inspection can ensure that your heating system is working to the best of its abilities and that it won’t break in the middle of a winter snowstorm.

    Reduce window and door drafts

    For the price of a tube of caulk, you can dramatically reduce your monthly heating bill. Especially if you have an older home, you’re probably leaking a lot of your heat out through cracks around your windows and doors. Older homes are also notorious for leaking heat through the roof.

    Sears Home Services has a tip for checking for drafts or leaks: Hold a lit incense stick next to doorways and windows and watch the smoke. When you find leaks, seal them with caulk, and then watch for the savings on your heating bill.

    Clean gutters

    Many homeowners try to clean the gutters in the fall when the leaves can clog them up but many may not realize that clogged gutters can affect you all through the winter. When water freezes on your roof, it can create an ice dam. Melting ice and snow can find its way under shingles and cause major leaks and roof damage. Prevent this damage by making sure your gutters are clean so that the water and snow have somewhere to go.

    Insulate your water heater and pipes

    You wear a coat in the winter, why shouldn’t your water heater? An insulating blanket may be built into your water heater, but you should consider wrapping your pipes this winter. Your water heater has to work harder on the coldest days, and you can help reduce the energy required to keep your bath water warm.

    Upgrade to Energy Star products

    This tip may go against your saving money goals, but you’ll see results in the long run. Buying Energy Star products can require more money out of pocket upfront, but you’ll see a return from this investment through lowered energy bills and tax credits for certain energy-efficient appliances. (You may also be able to get a tax credit for upgrading your windows.)

    Do you have some winter tips for your home that you use to save money or just make winter a little more bearable? Share with us here, we would love to know!


  • Three Myths About Selling Your Home

    Posted Under: Home Selling in Chicago, Property Q&A in Chicago  |  December 21, 2011 8:46 PM  |  1,111 views  |  4 comments

    You have probably received a lot of advice If you are considering selling your home in Chicago, IL. However, you may be getting bad advice! Some of the information you hear may be outdated and not realistic in our current market. Here are a look at the top three myths.

    Myth #1:  Sellers should still price their home higher than market value to allow for negotiating room.

    Truth:  Keep in mind this is a buyers' market and pricing too is a big mistake.  If your home is overpriced in this current market, then agents showing your home will use your property to sell one of the other properties currently listed and in competition with your home.  

    Three important things to keep in mind when pricing your home: 

    1. Is your home updated?

    2.  Does it need cosmetic touch ups like fresh paint and new carpeting? 

    3.  Is your home in a location that will attract buyers or is there a major highway that runs thru the backyard? 

    These are all items that the buyers’ lender will use when doing an appraisal on the property.  The bottom line is this:  you can price your home at any value you feel is appropriate, however, it still needs to appraise for the selling price in the contract in order for the bank to approve the loan!  This is a common aspects that new sellers struggle with.

    A well-trained real estate agent who looks out for your best interests will consult with you on your home’s fair market value and guide you accordingly.  Remember, agents do not set the price of a home, sellers do.  Agents are here to give you current market information in order for you to make an informed decision to price the home in line with what is currently selling.  The worst thing to do is price it higher than what is selling—all you end up doing is chasing the market from a losing position.

    Myth #2:  The carpet needs replacing.  Why can’t I offer a credit at closing for new carpet?

    Truth:  Today’s buyers are looking for houses online and first impressions are critical!   More than 87 percent of today’s buyers are searching for homes online.  They are quite Internet savvy and know what they are looking for.  If your home looks great in the pictures, then chances are good that they will linger on your home’s listing a bit longer.  When they see worn carpeting (and yes, it does show up in the pictures) or outdated appliances they immediately proceed to the next home for sale. They don’t read anything beyond that. Realistically, if you were in the buyers shoes, would you?

    Before your home’s initial debut online, it is important that it show well to draw the potential buyers in—not turn them away!  What seems like a savings for the seller in the beginning of your home’s market time might end up costing much more in the long run.  Remember, buyers are comparing your home to other homes that are currently on the market.  Your home should be inviting so that everyone who looks at it can see themselves living there-move in ready! 

    Myth #3:  Updates are not necessary.  Let’s just list the house and see what happens.

    Truth:  Buyers probably won’t make it to your doorstep if your home doesn’t appeal to them online.  Again we need to be mindful of first impressions.  In today’s market, your home’s online presence is vital to drawing in buyers.  If the pictures of your home look great but the cabinets are circa 1970 and your appliances are old, then chances are good that they will be on to the next listing without batting an eye!  You don’t always have to replace the cabinets.  Sometimes a coat of paint and some new hardware will add life to your home and freshen up its appearance.  This is where a good agent’s expertise comes in handy.

    Find a professional agent who will give you good advice on your home sale who's suggestions are aimed at getting your home sold as quickly as possible and in the shortest amount of time.


  • Ways to Save on Home Improvements

    Posted Under: Remodel & Renovate in Chicago, Property Q&A in Chicago  |  August 3, 2011 8:13 PM  |  861 views  |  No comments

    With a sluggish economy and a slow housing market, many people are electing to stay in their existing homes for a little longer. Many plan to instead remodel their current Northern Illinois home and make some improvement.  Spending on remodeling is expected to rise this year and below are a few tips to help keep down expenses and still get the updates you want.

    1. First thing first: create a budget and plan and stick with it. Do a some research on the types of improvements you want and get a feel for both labor and materials costs. Use those numbers to create a basic budget that you know you can comfortably afford and then design a simple plan for making that happen. It will help your contractor understand your vision better and should keep you on track to stay within your spending limits
    2. Choose contractors wisely. Get at least three bids and check references. There are also online resources, like
    Angie’s List, that can be used to screen potential contractors. The low bid may not necessarily be the best bid – get your estimates in writing and line them up against your preliminary plan.
    3. Do the demo and prep work yourself. If you have the ability to do some basic demo, such as removing old appliances or fixtures, wallpaper, or popcorn
    ceilings, you can save money and focus your contractor on specialized skills like carpentry and electrical. Disposing of used materials and trash yourself will also help keep your costs down.Use recycled materials. It may make sense to use recycled lumber and other materials – even recycled hardware can add a unique touch and may be much less expensive (and greener) than new.
    4. Make selections quickly and stay with them. Time is money to your
    contractor and any delays you insert into the process by delaying or changing your selections can layer cost on without you even realizing it. Look for the types of materials and the color selections you prefer during your planning phase and don’t change your mind mid-stream.

    Updating your home can be a simple, affordable process that can make your home more livable for you and more desirable for resale down the road. If you follow some basic strategies, you are sure to be pleased with the improvements and save money in the process.

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  • Tax Breaks For Energy Efficient Home Improvements

    Posted Under: Remodel & Renovate in Chicago, Going Green in Chicago, Property Q&A in Chicago  |  February 9, 2011 6:58 PM  |  1,348 views  |  4 comments

    Tax time is here yet again!  As we are gathering our receipts and tax information for our 2010 returns, we are often not aware of all the income tax credits that we may be allowed.  One tax credit that is often forgotten is the additional tax credit for improving the energy efficiency of our homes.


    It is important to know that homeowners are provided a 10% credit for purchasing energy efficient improvements for your existing main place of residence in the United States under this tax law. In order to be eligible for this tax credit, the items purchased have to meet specific criteria as set forth by the 2000 Energy Conservation Code.


     The following items are eligible:


    • Insulation systems that reduce heat loss/gain
    • Exterior windows (including skylights)
    • Exterior doors
    • Metal roofs (meeting applicable Energy Star requirements)
    • Tax credits are also offered to taxpayers for expenses to the home that qualifies as a residential energy property. A residential energy property is also determined by meeting specific requirements as set forth by the Secretary of The Treasury.

      Eligible expenses include the following:


    • $50 for each advanced main air circulating fan
    • $150 for each qualified natural gas, propane, or oil furnace or hot water boiler
    • $300 for each item of qualified energy efficient property.


     Additional credits can be taken for the following:


    • Qualified solar panels
    • Qualified solar water heating equipment
    • Qualified fuel cell power plant


    For up-to-date information on this tax credit, please visit the IRS website. It will provide you with detailed information on Energy Credits for Homeowners, including maximum allowable credits.

    If you are a homeowner and are claiming some of these credits this year, share with us what energy efficent improvements you made in your home?


  • What To Look For When Buying A Generator

    Posted Under: Property Q&A in Chicago  |  February 3, 2011 6:28 AM  |  813 views  |  4 comments

    The recent winter storms remind everyone that somethings are out of our control. However, homeowners can prepare for power failure for extended periods due to storms or equipment failure. Having a backup emergency generator can be very beneficial. There are various types and sizes of generators out there that differ upon your needs. If you are a homeowner that is considering purchasing a generator, below are some helpful tips that can help you.

    Types of Generators

    Generators come in different sizes and deciding which generator type you need is determined by your power need in emergencies. The more items you plan to to provide power to, the bigger and more costly the generator.

    Stationary Generators

    A stationary generator is equipped with a forced air or other type of cooling system that allows it to be enclosed typically outside mounted on a concrete pad similar to a central air conditioning unit.

    • Permanent generators are installed as part of the electrical system and provide power to the building wiring.
    • Electrical current from the generator may back-feed into the home's electrical system and cause damage or fire and ruin equipment if it is not properly installed. It is recommended a qualified electrician install a generator to a home electrical system.
    • Stationary generators are far more powerful than any portable unit, a stationary generator will allow you to weather any outage for an extended period of time.

    Portable Generators

    • Best for use of a few selected circuits such as  for lights in the general living area, heating or cooling systems, or refrigerator.
    • If deciding to use a portable generator, it is important to select one that is adequately sized. Some electrical motors in home appliances and equipment can be ruined or damaged if they do not receive enough electrical current.
    • Portable generators are least expensive and can be transported for camping, trips or other locations where temporary power is needed

    Noise Level

    The noise level of your generator is a major factor in determining the right model.

    •Many areas have noise ordinances that may impact generator usage, particularly at night.
    •Noisy generators are unsuitable for many applications, including camping, powering outdoor events, and RVing.

    Most generators are labeled with a decibel rating. For every increase in 10 decibels, the noise level is 10 times more powerful. A generator that runs at 70 decibels is ten times as loud as a generator that runs at 60 decibels.

    Before you purchase a generator be sure to you have determined the total watts needed to power the items you need. This is important to help you determine what size generator is required. An electrician can help make this determination or you can check the manufacturer information for each appliance.

    Whether you choose a portable or a stationary, all generators burns fuel and must be run outdoors. Always follow the manufacturers instructions and never run it in the garage or inside the home.

    Has anyone purchased one in the last few days for our current storm?


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