Word Wednesday: HVAC

HVAC:  Heating Ventilation and Air Conditioning

 

The house we bought a couple of years ago was built in 1963.

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I fell in love with the house the moment I  walked in the front door, it had me at hello.
Before I’d even made my way through the entire house or seen the backyard I’d  already imagined myself living there…knew where I’d put our couch and bookcases.

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The furnace and air conditioning weren’t as old as the house, still, they were ancient. But I was already a goner by the time I  saw the green rusty monstrosity that was the air conditioner. I saw the house in the summer, the house was cool enough, the air conditioner WAS working, but darn, it looked like it was on its last leg. Learned it was installed in 1986. It was working, but for how much longer?

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No one looking at houses falls in love with a heating ventilation and air conditioning system. The HVAC is one of those after the fact things…irrelevant if you don’t care for the house, or a thing to contend with if you have indeed fallen in love.

The HVAC is one of those things that make the lovestruck buyer squeal in delight if they discover its relatively new…what great news! Love the house and the furnace is new!

If it’s old or ancient as was the case with the house that had already become the object of my affection…it’s a how do I deal with it??

What’s a buyer to do??

Decide if it’s a deal breaker.

Maybe you don’t love the house quite that much, maybe one of the others you’ve seen are lovable and have newer systems.

Ask that the seller replace it.

In my experience this doesn’t happen. But hey…you can ask.

Recognize a new HVAC system is in your sooner rather than later future and consider your offer price accordingly.

Sellers most often say, “it’s older but working fine, we’ve never had a problem with it.” But sellers, realistic sellers, know an old furnace and air conditioner are going to be an issue for most buyers and will take it into account in negotiating.

Cross your fingers and hope it keeps working.

If you go this route you’ll want to be sure to consider accumulating some savings for the day it goes kaput, because it will.

Request a home warranty from the seller or purchase one yourself.

A one year home warranty buys you time to save, and buys peace of mind too. If the furnace or a/c goes out during the coverage period, the warranty will cover much of the cost of replacement.

 

My house had me at hello. I was a goner. The HVAC wasn’t a deal breaker…and the sellers gave me the answer I most often hear, “it’s old but working fine.” They weren’t replacing it…heck, they didn’t even give it consideration in our negotiations, they didn’t care about their ancient furnace and air conditioner, and I guess I didn’t either. I wanted the house. In the end, they did agree to the home warranty. It was enough to have me squealing with delight…love the house, the HVAC is ancient, but there’s a warranty!!

 

Postscript: The warranty coverage period outlasted the ancient a/c…the house now has a new air conditioner…and the warranty covered most of it…squeal!

HVAC

 

The Amy Curtis Group specializes in helping folks buy homes that have them squealing with delight…give us a holler!

 

Your House is Ready for the Market… Are You?

Your House is Ready for the Market, Are You?

 

“All things are ready, if our minds be so.” William Shakespeare

Bob and Shirley are ready to move.

Their home is too much house and has too many stairs.

They’ve lived in their home for nearly 30 years. The house holds every significant moment and memory…

But they’re ready to move…they’re getting there.

Over the last several months they’ve been hard at work. Giving the house a fresh coat of neutral paint, making some needed repairs and updates. They’ve been going through 30 years of things…the things their girls left at home when they moved out…going through the things that once belonged to Bob’s mom…china, furniture, books and papers the things that made their way to Bob and Shirley’s house when Bob’s mom passed away.

 

It took time to sort through…the sorting through things was a task of memories. Memories of the girls’ childhood…the toys played with, the books read. Memories of mom and the china she loved to use for Sunday dinners. It took time to decide what to keep, what to get rid of…what to pack away, what to give away. It’s not easy…the sorting of things. They’ve gotten rid of so much still, for now, they’ve kept and packed some things they can’t yet part with.

 

Truth is the house looks great, photos could be taken tomorrow…they’ve purged and decluttered, they’ve painted and staged. The house could go on the market by the end of the week…the house is ready.

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The house is ready, but Bob and Shirley still have some getting ready to do.

Selling a home, especially a home lived in for thirty years is as much an emotional process as it is a physical one. For Bob and Shirley, the physical work is nearly done…the house looks great, it’s move in ready but they still have some emotional ready to do.

What is emotional ready?

Emotional ready means you can see your house as property, not your home. Emotional ready means feeling though you’ve loved your home, you’re certain you no longer want it. Emotional ready is you are more excited about the next house and next chapter in your life than you are sad to say goodbye to the home you’ve loved.

And Bob and Shirley are getting there…

While they’ve been hard at work getting the house physically ready we’ve been working on getting them emotional ready too.

We’ve spent some time in the market…exploring the different possibilities that might be in store for Bob and Shirley when their house sells. Because being emotionally ready means you’re excited about the next chapter, so you need an idea of where that next chapter will take you. So we’ve had many possibilities to explore…houses and townhouses, houses close to where they live now and houses nearer to their daughter and granddaughter. Homes in 55 and older communities because maybe this next move should be a complete change of lifestyle, not just address. It’s work that can’t be done online…Bob and Shirley needed to get out and see possibilities in person, try them on, see if they fit…see if they could see themselves calling the possibilities home.

We’ve been at it for months and the result? Bob and Shirley will be buying a home in a 55 and older community closer to their daughter…when the right one comes on the market. It took us time to get to this community and we haven’t found the just right house yet but the process has been incredibly helpful in getting Bob and Shirley emotional ready. In discovering the community and seeing the options that exist they’re excited about the next chapter, the new lifestyle it holds for them and excited to find their new home. It will be easier to put their home on the market knowing where they’ll be going…they’re getting ready.

We already know a ballpark price for their home but before we put it on the market we’ll spend some time in the market again. This time we’ll be looking at the possibilities from the perspective of the potential buyer of their home. What choices will the buyer have? What do properties offer? How does Bob and Shirley’s house stack up? Do they need to do anything more to their house or reconsider pricing to win a buyer over?  The process will help them see their home as a property, one in competition with the other properties on the market. The home they’ve loved will become a property for the market’s consideration.

 

And once they can see their home as a property, once they are ready to say goodbye to the home they’ve loved, once they’re excited to get to that new community and the lifestyle it offers…it will have taken months…but they’ll be ready!

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Being ready…a house being ready, a seller being ready,  is the surest way to a successful real estate experience…physically, financially, emotionally it’s most important to be ready.

 

Think you want to move?  Give us a holler…the Amy Curtis Group can help you get there…it’s one of the things we do best… we can help you get ready!

 

Word Wednesday: Downtown

down-town:  the main business section of a city.

Ask me where I’m from, and I’ll say, “Chicago”. And being from Chicago, “downtown” should be downtown Chicago.

“From Chicago” is the answer I give to someone who has no idea where Orland Park is…because really…I’m from Orland Park.

And the truth is…in “downtown Chicago” I’m as much a tourist as someone visiting from Detroit or Boston or King of Prussia the suburban town outside of Philadelphia. I too enjoy visiting downtown Chicago…

but downtown Chicago isn’t “my downtown.”

I’m drawn to the “downtown” of smaller towns, Chicago suburbs’ downtowns. Those parts of town that were there from the town’s beginning. Those areas near the train, a couple of blocks with the older storefront buildings with apartments up top. The streets with little shops, restaurants, and businesses and the neighborhoods of homes that surround them. Those are “my downtowns.”

Orland Park, the town I’m from doesn’t really have a downtown. Through intentional development, it’s sort of being created. But Orland Park does have Beacon Ave.

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The block of antique and consignment stores…vintage salt and pepper shakers, antique tablecloths and mid-century glassware…treasures abound on Beacon Avenue.

Beacon Avenue is also home to my favorite building, the old Orland State Bank Building.

I love that building. I remember the apartment my brother lived in on the top floor of the building…long after it was a bank and before it became Kay’s Old Orland Marketplace. It was a great apartment and the rooftop was the perfect place to lay out in the sun.  The old Orland State Bank building is Orland’s downtown to me.

Lemont has a downtown…

I live in Lockport now…it has a downtown.  A stroll down State St and downtown Lockport will keep you happily busy for an afternoon or evening. The Gaylord Building, Betsy’s Yarn and Tea Shop, Embers…I’m still learning “my downtown“.

Tinley Park, Mokena, and Frankfort have vibrant small town downtowns..and LaGrange’s has such a popular bustling downtown they built a parking garage to accommodate its daily visitors.

Chicago is a beautiful city, with an incredible downtown and if you’ve never been or don’t go very often, you should. It really is an incredible city.

But my downtowns? You won’t find The Bean in my downtowns, can’t see the matinee of Hamilton, or see Seurat’s A Sunday on La Grande Jatte or take an elevator to the top of the second tallest building in the United States either…but “my downtowns” are pretty cool places to be. Restaurants, shops, and awesome architecture can be found in each…art, live theatre, and summers full of fairs and festivals too. Downtown in suburban towns have so much to offer. 

Turns out, as beautiful and popular a real estate destination downtown Chicago is, most buyers still choose the suburbs. Downtown in suburban towns is a real estate destination too and offers a myriad of possibilities to call home.

If you’re looking for a place in the city, I know some great agents…but if you’re thinking home is in or around “my downtowns,” give me a holler…the Amy Curtis Group would love to show them off to you!

Downtown.

Word Wednesday: Local, Be Local

Local

Lo-cal

Adjective.

  1. Pertaining to, a city, town or small district rather than an entire state or country.

Local

When I was a kid, we went to Nagel’s gas station. We’d pull up to the pump. Our pulling up to the pump prompted the ringing of a bell that went off in Nagel’s garage. And Mr. Nagel would come out of the garage reaching for the rag from his pocket wiping the grease from his hands as he approached our car. Mr. Nagel would “fill ‘er up”.  He’d clean the windshield and some days check the oil. But every time we stopped at Nagel’s, Mr. Nagel would visit with our family.  He knew us by name, and we knew him. We knew his sons too because we all went to school together. He knew our car…maybe because he’d checked and changed the oil so many times…and he always knew how to fix it. When my dad would tell Mr. Nagel about some weird noise it was making, or some tug or pull my dad would try to explain, or a smell coming from the hood…Mr. Nagel knew what to do. Getting gas at Nagel’s wasn’t just getting gas…it was a thing…a visit…a something more than a car’s  “fill ‘er up”.

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Local

Nagel’s gas station was local. A local business, a local feeling. I remember lots of local in Orland Park…

Mr. Ed’s grocery store, Hawkins, Orland State Bank, and  Kosnar’s Drugs.

Places I remember going to when I was a kid. Places where the shop owners recognized us, knew us and we knew them, places where we shopped and visited and connected.

What was local is mostly memories.  Local is harder today. With rent prices and start-up costs, competition and risk it’s hard to start a local business. And for those small local businesses, because of the competition of big box stores chains, and online businesses, it’s hard for the small local business to stay in business.  

You don’t find it everywhere, but it still exists,  it’s still possible…the feeling those businesses of my memories evoked…

Some might call it good customer service but it’s more than that. It’s more than friendly, prompt service. It’s local.

Local is why in a pinch we might have stopped somewhere to put $5 worth of gas in the gas tank but only went to Nagel’s to “fill ‘er up”. Because stopping at Nagel’s was more than getting gas. And today, you might not come across it as often as used to…but you know local when you feel it…

Julie at Bob Davis’ office who calls me to remind me my car insurance is coming due but we stay on the phone and catch up some. Julie’s local.

Dr. Vaishnav, best pediatrician ever. Hated when my kids were sick but I loved seeing her…being with Dr. Vaishnav always made my sick kids feel better, made me feel good too. Dr. Vaishnav’s local.

Thimbles in Lockport where they don’t just sell fabric but visit and dive deep into whatever project you’re working on. Thimbles is local.

Jamie Corso of Tri-K Builders, he’s a great builder and cares as much about his customers as he does the houses he builds. Jamie’s local.

Even Starbucks is local when Cindy is working. Cindy can make a morning more pleasant, give a good start to a morning quicker than the drive-through line moves. 

It’s the feeling of familiarity and knowing someone cares. It’s comfort and mutual regard, friendly, trustworthy and personal.  Where the transaction allows the opportunity for connection.

It’s where your gas tank isn’t just filled, but you’re filled too. It’s a mutual feeling…it’s local.

Listing properties, showing houses selling real estate, that’s what we do. But if the Amy Curtis Group strives to be anything, we strive to be that kind of local.

If we can be of help with anything we’re happy to do it. Give us a holler…we’re local.

P.S. I called Dan Nagel yesterday.  Dan owns Nagel’s Auto Service in Orland Park. Called him with an odd request…I asked him if he had a photo of his dad and the gas station. Dan knew who I was, and he sent me the photo. Warms my heart that Nagel’s is still around…warms it even more that they’re still local.

Continue reading “Word Wednesday: Local, Be Local”

Lockport Market Watch 2017-Amy Curtis Group

I’ve lived in Lockport for 2 ½ years now.

I like it here.

I like that Berkot’s is just a couple of blocks from my house.

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I like State Street, the architecture of the of the old buildings, and I like seeing the new businesses popping up and visiting the ones that feel like they’ve been here forever.

 

I’m close enough to all the places I need to be close to…Orland Park, my office, most everywhere I need to be is 20 minutes away. I’m minutes from 355, and if I want to get downtown there’s a train.

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And my house…I do love my house. I still have to pinch myself, can’t believe the beautiful big picture window and the outdated kitchen with the mid-century vibe are really mine.  And the truth is, if my house were somewhere else it would most likely have been out of financial reach for us.

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In just the couple of years that I’ve been here, I’ve seen a flurry of real estate activity…outdated homes coming on the market and selling quickly and months later returning to the market freshly updated and selling quickly again…

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So this week as I’ve been diving deep into market numbers I wasn’t surprised to see the median price in Lockport increased by nearly 17% in 2017. With an increase of almost 17%, it outperformed other area suburbs. 

 

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An increase in the median price doesn’t mean that all Lockport homes saw 16+% appreciation, but Lockport’s 2017 numbers speak to its appeal among buyers looking for the things I’ve happily found here:

Nearby conveniences.

Pretty cool little downtown area.

Accessibility to the train and expressways.

An affordable unique home in an established neighborhood.

A solid investment.

The market’s liked Lockport as much as I do!

Lockport by the numbers:

Closed Sales: 587

 

Months Supply: 2.8 months

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Average Days on Market: 71 days

I’ve been diving deep into the numbers…and the stories they tell. Lockport’s numbers tell the story of some market love in 2017.

Curious what the market numbers mean for the value of your home? I’ve got those numbers too. Give me a holler!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Word Wednesday-Photographs

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A picture produced by photography.

Photographs

I’m headed out for showings with buyer clients, we have six appointments. We’re in the car headed to the first house when the typical question arises, the one I always ask…

“What house are you most excited to see today?”

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And as is typically the case, there’s one or two from the list of appointments we have set that’s generated the most enthusiasm.

The house or two that’s generated the most enthusiasm is the house that looked great online. The house that was captured in its best possible light. The house that was professionally photographed.

In all my years of asking  “What house are you most excited to see today?” Professionally photographed homes are picked most often.

The house with the dark photo of the dining room or the house with the photo of a bathroom with the toilet seat up or the house with a photo of the master bedroom where you can see the agent in the mirror with his iPhone taking the bedroom photo…

Those houses don’t make the most excited to see list.

Buyers are willing to see those houses, they’re just not excited about them.

When you’re selling your house, do you want your house to be one a potential buyer is excited to see or just willing to see?

Photographs

93% of homebuyers are online looking for their new home.

How your home looks online matters.

Photographs “show” your house before you “show” your house. The quality of the photographs matters and nothing compares to professional photography.

Professional photography generates enthusiasm for a house. And enthusiasm generates good offers.

It’s really as simple as that.

Photographs…not just any photographs…professional photographs are a must.

A quick search of Orland Park homes priced from 200-300K produces 47 properties. Of the 47 properties, 17 have professional photographs.  I guess not all agents agree.

Will the house with the dark dining room photo sell? Sure it will…eventually, all houses do. Chances are a buyer will like the house when they see it in person on their way to see the house they’re most excited to see. But if you want to sell your home why leave it to chance?

Photographs.

The Amy Curtis Group has their clients homes professionally photographed. It’s a must.

If you’d like to learn how we get our sellers’ homes on the “most excited to see” list, give me a holler.