This is Where You Belong

I was born and raised in Orland Park. I know Orland Park like the back of my hand. I know it’s neighborhoods, I know the shortcuts in and around town to avoid the traffic on LaGrange. I know it’s restaurants and parks. I’ve been to oodles of village events…Concerts in the Park, Taste of Orland Park, Orland Days. I’ve spent hours on summer days hanging out at Centennial pool. I know many of the village trustees and count the former Mayor among my friends. Orland Park is my hometown. I have a fondness for my hometown and feel a connection to it.

I moved to Lockport a couple of years ago. I didn’t intend to move here but a house found me (I’ll have to tell you the story sometime, it’s a pretty good one) and now I live in Lockport, Illinois. I like it here very much, but I don’t know Lockport like I know Orland Park and I don’t feel connected to Lockport like I still feel connected to my hometown. Maybe I haven’t been here long enough…but I’d like to have some of that same attachment, feeling of connection to Lockport that I feel for Orland Park. 

Is that possible?

I bought a book a while back…

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This Is Where You Belong: Finding Home Wherever You Are by Melody Warnick.

I’ve only started reading it and skimmed the chapters but with interesting research and a personal story it explores falling in love with where you live:

“The average restless American will move 11 times in their life. For Melody Warnick, it was move #6, from Austin, Texas to Blacksburg, Virginia, that threatened to unhinge her. In the lonely aftermath of unpacking, she wondered: How does the place we live become the place we want to stay? In This Is Where You Belong, Warnick dives into the research around our attachments to place and travels across the country to find out what draws Americans to where they live, and what makes them want to stay. What she learns will inspire you to embrace your own community-and perhaps discover that where you live now…is home.”

In the book she identifies what she calls “Place Attachment Behaviours” those things that people attached to their community do and then creates love where you live experiments around those behaviors:

  1. Walk more
  2. Buy Local
  3. Get to Know My Neighbors
  4. Do Fun Stuff
  5. Explore Nature
  6. Volunteer
  7. Eat Local
  8. Become more political
  9. Create something new
  10. Stay loyal through the hard times

I bought the book, I’ve started reading it…I’m going to finish reading it…and then I’m going to put it into action…

The book offers ideas of things to do for each of the behaviors. Some things I’ll never do. I can’t ride my bike to work, introverted me isn’t going to host a dinner block party, and I know I’m not going to hike…anywhere. But there were lots of ideas I can do, things I think I’d like to do. So I’m going to give a bunch of them a whirl and see what happens.

And if Melody Warnick is right, the doing of those things will foster the connection I seek. Valentine’s Day might be over, but I’m going to try falling in love…with my town, Lockport IL.

Join me in my journey or begin one of your own, a journey of connection to a community and finding home wherever you are.

The Amy Curtis Group is committed to helping each client find their “This is Where You Belong” home.  We’re here when you need us, give us a holler.

 

 

Word Wednesday: Love

Love – noun

10. Strong predilection, enthusiasm, or liking for anything: her love of books

9. Affectionate concern for the well-being of others: the love of one’s neighbor

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Photo by Laura Briedis on Unsplash

You can’t tell clients… “ I love you.”

I mean how weird would that be???

A professional relationship involving a big real estate transaction, one with legal documents and financial ramifications, a commission paying for services rendered…

“I love you” doesn’t fit.

Start dropping “I love you(s)” and a real estate agent might quickly find herself doing no realestating at all. Because “I love you”? That’s just too darn weird, right??

Love.

I am fortunate to love the work I do. Yes, being a real estate agent is hard and can be stressful, and unless you’re a super big producer the erratic income can add to the stress of the job. But I love the work…”strong predilection, enthusiasm, or liking for anything”…I love being a real estate agent.  I once wrote a post explaining why…

Top 10 Reasons I Love My Job

Love.

Anyone that knows me knows I am a person of feels…sometimes it feels like a curse, but it’s just the way it is. I am a person of feels; people move me. Their joys, sorrows, dreams, disappointments, fears, hopes…I can see them and feel them.  

Puts me in quite the predicament doing this real estate gig, because real estate is personal business. I mean, I sell houses but those houses are attached to people and their personal stories, and those stories are filled with the joys, sorrows, dreams and disappointments, fears and hopes I can see…

Young couples in love, starting their journey together, finding their first home…

Retired couples selling the home they’ve lived in for 30 years, the bittersweet process of letting go and moving on…

The still grieving adult child selling the home of the parent that’s passed away…

The family of four soon to be six busting at the seams of the house where their family began…

They slay me.

And I’m just there to do a job…get a house sold or help them buy the new one…but being one cursed with the feels, in the process of getting the house sold or finding the new one, those clients of mine get under my skin and make their way into my heart. My clients move me. You could say I feel affectionate concern for their well being.  

And that, according to the dictionary…is love.

Weird, isn’t it?

Love.

What to do?

On any other day I’ll bite my tongue, keep my weird hidden from view…but it’s Valentines’ Day so…I’ll just go ahead and tell the truth…

I love you.

Happy Valentine’s Day!

The Amy Curtis Group is skilled at big real estate transactions, we are professionals, we also get choked up and hug at closings, we won’t weird you out by saying “I love you” but we do. When we can be of help, give us a holler.

Organization

I’m in a blogging group. This week we’re supposed to be writing about “Organization.”

This is not a topic I can write about with much credibility because I struggle with organizing. Closets, drawers, big projects. Somehow my brain can’t break down the tasks or envision the way to completion.

When the subject of organizing comes up two things come to mind…my sister Lisa and my Bullet Journal.

When I want to organize something, I call Lisa. She’s awesome at organizing things.

When it’s time to organize my closet, switch out the winter for spring summer clothes…I call her. She helps me sort through clothes and accessories, helps me decide what to keep and what to give away. With her help, a closet becomes organized in a couple of hours…left to my own devices? There’s just no telling. When I’m trying to figure out how to make my laundry area in the basement more organized, cuter, more efficient, it’s her counsel I seek. She has that organizational eye for things. She sees an area in need of organization and she knows what to do.

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So, I don’t have it in me to write a blog post on the subject of “Organization” I can’t do it…not with a straight face anyway. And it would be a rather short post…Need Something Organized? Find your Lisa.

Instead, I’ll  give a plug to my favorite, best ever, changed my life organizational tool…

The Bullet Journal.

A bullet journal is the single best thing I ever started using to get and keep myself organized.

Heard about the bullet journal?

It takes a little time to wrap your head around the bullet journal, but it’s worth it. In a nutshell, a bullet journal is an all in one analog system and tool to keep track of anything and everything. Bullet journaling? It changed my life!

Things I Love About My Bullet Journal (that you might like too!)

The index

Who knew that an index on the first page of a notebook would be the key to opening the endless possibilities of a notebook’s use. An index in the front of a notebook…brilliant!

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Fewer Notebooks

I got to throw out all those notebooks I was hanging onto. Notebooks hung onto forever because there were notes from a conference I attended in one, someones’ address I might need, brilliant ideas, a book someone mentioned, all buried in the pages of notebooks. With a Bullet Journal, you don’t need the notebook, Books To Read, People I Met, Brilliant Ideas are collections you can include in your bullet journal. I still always have a notebook handy, but once the pages are filled I give it a look through once. Anything worth “keeping” is transferred to a collection in the bullet journal and the notebook can be tossed. Yeah!
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It can be Adapted to Individual Use

My bullet journal is my calendar and to do list, it’s also my book of lists, books I want to read, ideas for blog posts, it’s where I keep track of projects I’m working on too. I can track anything, do anything…all from the 240 plus pages of a Moleskin notebook. A teacher’s bullet journal? A stay at home mom? A project manager? College student? The bullet journal can and does work for anyone and the way they want to use it.

It’s Paper

I’m a pen and paper person. I remember more of what I write by hand than what I type, and too, paperless is out of sight, and for me,  out of sight is “out of mind” The bullet journal is tangible, and tangible works better for me.

Bullet Journal frees up mind space

The creation of my “Brain Dump” collection was mental bliss. To clear mental clutter, to get stuff out of my head? Aaaah. All that stuff I tried to remember? My bullet journal remembers for me.

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Things on my to-do list? Bills I need to pay when? Birthdays? Tasks? Events? Notes? The bullet journal offers the way to manage all of those things. I’d like to read more, write more, and drink more water? A simple tracker in my bullet journal reminds me to do the things I’ve decided are important to me.

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Lisa is my go-to organizational guru…my bullet journal is the place where I keep the list of things that need organizing and the reminders to call her for help. Does it get any more organized than that!?

When it comes to organizing, the Amy Curtis Group really does have you covered…Lisa in her ways, and me in mine. Need help organizing? Give us a holler. Want to move? We can help with that too…we’re organized!

Word Wednesday: Simplicity

sim-plic-i-ty:  noun

  1. The property, condition, or quality of being simple. 2. Absence of luxury or showiness; plainness. 3. Absence of affection or pretense.

 

I wonder if my mom used a Simplicity© pattern to make these summer short sets for my sister Lisa and I.

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That’s me on the left…get a load of those shorts!  And the fancy fringe around the hem of the top? It’s so crooked! And the center border down the front of Lisa’s top? That’s not straight either…Bless my mama’s heart, she tried.  She really tried…but somewhere along the line, she must have messed up and not followed the pattern.

Simplicity makes me think of my mom…and not just because of the pink summer outfits.

You wouldn’t know it by her initial sewing skills but my mom was an amazing woman with many gifts. She was a great prolific writer and an incredible cook. She was an artist, she could paint, knit and eventually became quite a seamstress.  She had an eye for design.

She was gifted and she shared her gifts with an absence of luxury or showiness, without pretense. She shared her gifts to enrich the lives of those around her, to care for and love on her people. She was simplicity.

Her writing, her beautiful writing was letters. Letters filled with stories well told, articles and recipes shared. Words were written, not to be published but written to stay connected to the people she cared about who were miles away.

My mom wasn’t a renowned chef but she had lots of people to feed and fed them well. When we’d sit down to dinner my dad would say, “I wonder what the rich people are eating today.” It was his highest praise. He was certain the most luxurious dinner tables had no better meal before them.

My mom was an artist. She took a watercolor class and painted for pleasure. When her four-year-old granddaughter took an interest in painting she pulled out the sable brushes she’d spent a fortune on and taught her granddaughter to paint.

My mom had an eye for design.  When I would come home from college for Christmas break,  there’d be red tapers glowing in the holiday candlestick holders on the kitchen table.  Lamps were decorated with the green and red ribbon, the Christmas tree in front of the living room window was bright and festive, touches of holiday everywhere, perfectly placed. There’s not a house in the pages of Home Beautiful that was as beautiful and welcoming as the home she decorated.

She was simplicity. She poured her gifts into the ordinary moments of life…no pretense, not for show. Not tied to a desire to be a writer, or a chef, an artist or a designer, shared only to enrich the lives of those around her, to care for and love on her people.

Simplicity.

I can neither cook nor write a letter as well as my mom did. I can’t paint and don’t have the patience to teach a four-year-old how to paint either.  At Christmas time I tie bows around my lamps but my house isn’t nearly as pretty. I am not my mom. She had her gifts. We all have our gifts. I have mine. But I am inspired by her.

Inspired to share what I’ve got, to share my gifts in the everyday moments of life…to use what I’ve got to make the world a little better, to enrich the lives of those around me, to care for and love on my people. She inspires me.

She is MY Simplicity pattern.

Sometimes I get messed up; sometimes I concern myself too much with show or pretense. Sometimes I concern myself too much with outcomes and worry about what others might think. Like my mama, I try, but I forget to follow the pattern and the execution of my simplicity ends up as crooked as the fancy fringe hem on that pink summer top…

But I need only remember my mom…just share gifts, follow the pattern.  MY Simplicity pattern.

Simplicity.

As corny, cliched, pie in the sky as it may sound, simplicity is the goal of the Amy Curtis Group. To share our gifts and knowledge of all things real estate to take care of the people we’re privileged to work with. Give us a holler.

 

 

 

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.