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.


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!


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!


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.


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.


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.


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…


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. 



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


A picture produced by photography.


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?”


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?


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?


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.






2017 Year in Review

2017 Year in Review
I like being a real estate agent. I like the work. And it’s nice to like your job…it makes the whole idea of working more pleasurable. Earning a living doing something you enjoy so you can do your life…it’s a good thing.


But it’s not the best thing…

The best thing is moments.

Those moments that feel like gifts. The moments too precious to think of as work…the precious real-life moments that are a privilege to be present in…


2017 had moments…


Rita was sure she was ready to downsize…Larry? Not so much. Larry liked his set up in his man cave basement. His fish tank, the pool table, his makeshift home office, his recliner and big screen tv…he was comfortable. And he liked the familiarity of where he’d lived for twenty plus years…the grocery store, the best place to get this or that, it all worked for him. But Rita wanted to get closer to the grandkids and Larry was grudgingly willing to consider it.


We started looking at properties, we’d already been through a few. It was the day we saw a little house in Lockport and Larry was taking a look around…and I asked him… “What do you think?” and Larry said…”I could see myself here.” To be there and see the look on his face, to sense in that moment he began letting go of his man cave and began looking forward to a home near the grandkids…


That was a moment.


Debbie’s husband Joe passed away earlier in the year. The house they had built together was too much to keep up with alone.  When we found Debbie the perfect townhouse on our first time out, Debbie said, “I know Joe is helping me do this.” To be there with her at a moment of both holding on and moving on…


That was a moment.


When I  unlocked the door to the adorable house on Olive and Janet and I walked in and I turned and looked at her. She had tears in her eyes. It was right there on her face  “Oh my gosh can I do this? Oh my gosh am I really going to do this? Oh my, I love this house.” And it happened with me standing right there…


That was a moment.


There was a moment when Fran and Tony found the house they were looking for which wasn’t so much a house they were looking for as it was a piece of property with a house on it. And we found it.


There was a moment when Gary said he was putting a new roof on the house but he really wanted the new buyer to pick out the color.


There was a moment when Chris was face timing with his mom in Ohio during the final walk-through of his and Robyn’s new home.


There were lots and lots of moments with my niece Lisa and her husband Rick while we searched and found and had to find again their perfect forever home.


And when Mary Ann and I were standing in her kitchen and she’s telling me she can’t believe she’s doing it but she’s moving to Arizona and her face reflected both the fear and excitement in doing such a thing…that was a moment.  Later when she asks me my size and then gives me her beautiful plaid Christmas coat and tells me it will make her happy knowing I will love that coat as much as she did…that was a moment with a cherry on top.


My daughter Joanna is an Account Supervisor with a marketing firm in the city and these last few months she’s been helping me organize and improve the work we do. And wow have we gotten some stuff done…new logo, new website, improved processes. It’s exciting knowing what’s been good is going to be even better. But it’s our Saturday status work sessions…working together, being together… so many moments.


Some years are better than others. Some years I’m in the top 5 in production in my office, some years I barely make it in the top 10…sometimes my business is up and sometimes it’s down. But every year I am grateful for a job that I love…and grateful most of all…for the folks that have given me the privilege of being present in…the moments.


2017 was no different…2017 had moments.


Should I Have My House on the Market for the Holidays?

Should I have my house on the market during the holidays?


If you have your ears or eyes peeled on anything real estate this time of year, you’ve heard or seen some variation of “The holidays are a great time to sell” real estate marketing theme. It goes something like this…“Inventory is low”, “Winter buyers are serious”, “Relocations take place in the 4th quarter”, “Demand is strong”, “There’s less competition”. The answer appears clear.

If you google “Should I have my house on the market for the holidays” in .5 seconds you’ll get 132,000 search results.

I guess that makes this 132,001….

Should I have my house on the market for the holidays?” 

Should you? I don’t know.

I’m not big on shoulds. If you ask me, we live by too many shoulds. Shoulds exert control, they’re stressful.  Shoulds mean we do things, not by choice, but because we think we have to.

Selling a home is loaded with shoulds. That’s one of the reasons it’s so stressful, the shoulds exerting their control. The shoulds creating the sense that your life and your house are no longer your own. Both being given over to the task of selling the house. Selling a home isn’t fun…it’s stressful. Even under the best of circumstances…it’s no fun mostly because of the shoulds:

You should keep your house super clean.

You should be ready to have your day, evening, weekend disrupted by showings and you should disappear for the hours they’re scheduled.

You should accept that there will be compromises to make…your home is worth the value the market puts on it and you may get much of what you want, but not everything is going to go your way.

You should know there will be no-shows for appointments, late shows, quick shows and long shows.

And while you may abide by your shoulds, there’s no guarantee others will…that feedback the agent should send? The lights that should be turned off? It’s not going to happen every time.

You should be aware of and prepared for all of this.

So…”Should I have my home on the market during the holidays?” You can decide. You should decide.

If you are ready to move and don’t mind the shoulds this time of year…don’t let the holidays stop you…


Homes sell every day of the year.

There are agents that can tell you stories of the homes they sold on Christmas Day…homes they showed and sold in blizzard conditions.

Homes sell every day, and yours can too. If your home is on the market and you need a break, you can take one…



If you want to have out of town guests for the holidays or want to throw your annual holiday party without worry that someone is going to call for an appointment the next morning…


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If you’d rather spend the next couple of weeks with cookie sheets spread across your kitchen counters, or want to leave your wrapping paper and gifts on the dining room table to wrap at your leisure you can do that too.

The shoulds will still be there after the holidays…homes sell every day and yours will too.

The first, most important should in real estate is…YOU. You should first consider you.

Selling a home is always only one piece of life’s puzzle…a part of a larger transition…one part of a larger life decision…and it’s with the entire puzzle in mind all real estate decisions are best made.

Selling a home means shoulds…and it’s doing the shoulds that will get your home sold. It’s not the time of year that matters. It’s when you’re ready and best able to give up fun and turn your life and house over to the task of selling your home. It’s when you are ready for the shoulds that make the difference.

Selling a house is a list of shoulds, but “during the holidays” isn’t one of them.

“Should I have my home on the market during the holidays?” You don’t need to listen to real estate’s marketing themes and you don’t need this one or the 132,000 other search results to the query…

You know best what’s right for you.  YOU decide.

Take It Off Baby

I was driving to the office the other day with the radio on. The radio playing in the car is unusual for me; normally I drive in silence. But on this particular day the sun was shining and I don’t know, I just thought it was a day for music.

I’m driving along thinking about the calls I need to make and the other real estate related to do’s on my list, and Barry White comes on.

“Love Serenade.”

I love me some Barry White, but Love Serenade…not so much. Not one of my favorites. Call me a prude, but it’s just too sexy for me. Sexy to the point that it makes me a little uncomfortable.

I’ve since googled “Love Serenade” and it is on a bunch of sexiest songs of all time lists. Paste Magazine has it ranked as #9; Virgin Media has it at #6. It didn’t make Billboard’s 50 Sexiest Songs of All Time list…but what do they know? They have Olivia Newton John’s “Physical” at #1. way. I don’t think “Physical” is very sexy at all…it doesn’t make this prude the least bit uncomfortable.

But I digress…Back to Barry.

“Love Serenade” didn’t make it on to Billboard’s sexy song list, but for purposes here we are going to have to agree to agree that Barry White’s “Love Serenade” is indeed a very sexy song.

Except for the day I heard it on the way to the office.

The music starts…and that velvet voice comes through the speaker…

“Take if off, Baby, take it all off.”

It must have been those real estate to do’s on my mind…because as Barry is singing to me to get naked, “take it off, Baby, take it all off”, I’m not thinking sexy, I’m thinking wallpaper.

Specifically wallpaper hanging in a house that someone wants to sell.

I get to giggling thinking about listing appointments I’ve been on where the house has all kinds of wallpaper, and the way I try to really kindly, politely tell sellers the wallpaper needs to come down. I explain that buyers aren’t going to love the Waverly Ivy and they are not going to want to go through the hassle and expense of removing it. I tell them that if a buyer will even consider a house with wallpaper,  they will probably discount the house by more than it would cost the seller to have it taken down and have the room(s) painted the latest shade of greige. Yes I agree with them, someONE might love Waverly Ivy as much as they do, but in general, buyers do not respond positively to wallpaper. I get the message across, but it’s not the easiest of conversations, so I dance around it some. So as “Love Serenade” plays, I’m giggling thinking,  I dance around  but Barry sings it like it’s got to be…

“Take it off, Baby, take it all off.”


The truth is, buyers won’t be singing a love serenade about a house with wallpaper. And truly, who says it better than Barry?

Because I always have real estate on the brain nearly everything reminds me of or brings me back to real estate…even music. Since “Love Serenade” every song I  hear somehow has something to do with real estate. I’m no music connoisseur but I think I might have a playlist. Amy’s real estate playlist…so more to follow.

In the meantime…if you want to sell your house, and it’s wearing wallpaper…

Take if off Baby, take it all off.






The Housing Market Has a Heart as Cold Winter


I am SO done with this winter.

I’m done with hats and gloves and my expensive North Face parka that doesn’t keep me any warmer than my less expensive parka did. I need this winter to end; I need my chapped lips and dry cracked hands to heal. I don’t want to leave my kitchen faucet dripping so my pipes won’t freeze.I don’t want to buy any more salt.  I want to hear some birds chirp, I want to see a daffodil. I don’t want it to be below zero, I don’t want it to snow, I want this winter to be over, I need it to end.

It’s March. March weather in my hometown is never perfect. March usually means gray skies, chilly temperatures, highs  in the 40’s. It’s not beautiful, but there’s usually a sense that spring is just around the corner. Not this year. This year it’s polar vortex, this year, if it’s not snowing, it’s freezing. This year it’s the winter that just won’t go away…and I’m just gonna lose it.

As I look out the window and see the seventy-fifth inch of snow start to fall, one thing is blatantly clear…what I want and need just doesn’t matter, I don’t control the weather.  All the wishing, hoping, complaining, wanting and needing won’t change a thing. I better  just grab my hat, gloves and not warm enough parka, bundle up and deal with it.

You’d never know it by the weather, but  the spring housing market is underway. With the spring market comes a whole new batch of home buyers and sellers…and often they come to the market with  wants and needs regarding home values. It usually goes something like this…

“I need X for my house because I owe Y on my mortgage.”

“The house is worth more, but I need to get the house for X, I’ve only been approved for  Y.”

“I want X for my house because I want to put Y down on my next house.”

You get the idea.

With their wants and needs regarding home values, buyers and sellers want to control the ” weather”. It’s as fruitless for them as it is for me.

The market, not buyer or seller wants and needs, determine property values. The market delivers its weather in the form of supply and demand, closed comparables, appraised values, motivation of the competition. The market doesn’t care what a seller owes, or what a particular buyer has been approved for. A buyer wants this, a seller needs that? The market couldn’t care less. The market has a heart as cold as this never ending winter.

Buyers and sellers have to recognize that they participate within a market they have no control over. They can make the best of it, put their best foot forward in it, they can push it to its limits, but they can not control it or change it.

Like me, buyers and sellers need to bundle up and deal with it.

What does that mean?

For buyers,  bundling up means having that preapproval letter ready, making a realistic offer with attractive terms, maybe even including a heartfelt letter to the seller.

For sellers,  bundling up means having your house in tip-top shape, making the small improvements your agent and stager suggested, it means presenting your property in its best possible light to the widest audience and it means pricing it appropriately for the market.

This winter WILL come to an end, birds will chirp and daffodils will bloom…but remember the market’s heart…it’s cold, no matter the weather.

Bundle up!