So you are ready to purchase a home. Where do you start? A great place to start the process is with engaging a real estate professional. Anyone can show homes but only a qualified real estate broker will help you navigate the process from contacting a financial planner, introducing you to a qualified lender and discuss your needs and wants to find you the right home. They should have access to off market properties as well as the MLS (Multiple Listing Service) to ensure you see everything that is available that fits your "must have" list. Qualified real estate professionals bring expertise and guidance that will make sure that you not only find a home that you love but one that will appreciate and will be marketable when you are ready to sell. 

How Long Does It Take to Purchase a Home?

Ever wonder how long it takes to buy a home? In this video I cover the 5 steps you’ll encounter during the home buying process. I’ve also included a link below to my “Roadmap of a Transaction” that shows the timeframe for each step as well as some of my partners I use in my brokerage business. All of my partners are based out of Chicago but my lender partners are able to originate loans throughout the country. Enjoy the video and let me know what you think in the comments.

Chicago Real Estate Market Data - February 2019

Below is a link to the Chicago Real Estate Market Data for Chicago. This report covers all the Chicago neighborhoods. What I find interesting is the increase of inventory since July of 2018. We will have to watch inventory going into Q2 of 2019 to give us more direction of the health of the market. There is a lot of data in this report so if you have any questions feel free to reach out to me and I’ll help answer any of your questions. 

333 W Hubbard St Unit 610 | 3 Bed | 2.1 Bath - 2300 Square Feet

Modern and inviting, this spacious 2,300 ft. combined unit offers three bedrooms, 2.1 baths and magnificent upgrades including designer lighting and custom features throughout. The main living area showcases a luxurious open concept with lofty 15-foot ceilings and large, nearly floor to ceiling, windows which frame stunning views of the cityscape. This space is warm and bright yet still maintains a cozy feel – wonderful for entertaining and relaxing alike. Gather around the table for a delicious meal, sip your coffee out on the balcony or settle in to watch a favorite show. The artfully designed chef’s kitchen leaves nothing to be desired boasting stunning quartz countertops, gas cooktop, stainless steel appliances, wine refrigerator and huge center island. Prepare a meal and take-in the gorgeous views. Each of the bathrooms are upgraded with marble countertops and fine fixtures. Ideally located, close to shopping dining and entertainment. Residents enjoy a beautifully landscaped courtyard and 24 hour doorman. 

2429 N California Ave #1S - Logan Square 3 Bed | 3 Bath | Duplex

This beautiful, three-bedroom, three bath home enjoys a fantastic location in Logan Square. Lovely details such as rustic exposed brick, built-in shelving and hardwood floors add character and charm. Relax in the inviting living room with large windows and ambient recessed lighting. Enjoy a thoughtfully laid out kitchen with stainless steel appliances and great cabinet storage. Sip your morning coffee in the lovely sunroom. Also find a fully fenced backyard and convenient 1 car garage. Ideally located within walking distance to parks, sports fields and nightlife.

How to Write a Successful Real Estate Offer

The Chicago real estate market is extremely competitive. I’ve had many buyers miss out on their first and even their second offer due to the competitive nature of the marketplace. I suggest my clients follow the suggestions below to increase their likeliness of getting their offer accepted.

  1. Find the property you love.

    Most people think that they are going to find the perfect home. I hate to be the bearer of bad news but that property doesn’t exist. Instead focus on the 90% property. Throughout this process you will find constant tradeoffs. Whether it be location, size or price, you will be making some sacrifices in your next purchase. Try to build a list of must have features and keep them top of mind. Then build a list of “nice to have” features so you know what is important. If you take this approach you will be much happier with your next home and it will give you clarity throughout the process.

  2. What is the home worth?

    Once we’ve found the home we need to figure out what it is worth. We will start with comparable properties that have sold in the last 6-12 months. But comps don’t tell the whole story. Other items that factor into the value of a home include current inventory, time of year, median price/square foot, market time of the listing, and list/sold ratios for the area.

  3. Preparing the offer

    After we’ve put together a thorough market analysis, we will write up our offer. It is best to make an offer that is close to what we think the property is worth. I’ve seen too many buyers write lowball offers that end up costing them money in the end. The reason for this is that it can offend the seller and then the rest of the process becomes contentious. If the seller is offended by your offer they won’t want to work with you and every step in the process becomes a fight. I often find that you get into a nickel and dime situation during every turn of the transaction which costs you money in the long run. Remember that the purchase price is only one aspect of the transaction. You still need to negotiate the closing terms and inspection items. There are dollars to be gained or loss in those aspects too and if you start with a lowball offer you are much less likely to have any collaboration during these steps of the purchase.

  4. Pre-approval letter

    You will want to include your pre-approval letter with your offer to validate that you are a legitimate buyer. I always recommend you work with the right lender for your situation. I normally recommend either Guaranteed Rate or Wintrust since they both have local underwriters who know the unique aspects of the Chicago real estate market and can be available if and when we hit a snag in financing.

  5. Letter to the sellers

    I recommend all my clients write a letter to the sellers introducing themselves. This helps differentiate you from other buyers and helps humanize the process. I’ve had multiple offer situations where sellers took our offer which was lower than the competition because they connected with the new buyers through this letter. It’s an extra step but I believe it is a competitive advantage in the end.

65 E Monroe St Unit 4115 Chicago, IL | 2 Bed 2 Bath

This magnificent condo, ideally located in The Loop, offers two bedrooms and luxurious finishes throughout. Lofty ceilings, large windows and sweeping views combine to create an exquisite living space. Enjoy the luxury of motorized blinds when you need more privacy. Enjoy a gourmet chef’s kitchen with custom quartz counters, backsplash, stainless steel appliances and large center island. Rest peacefully in the tranquil master suite boasting an exquisite spa style ensuite bath with dual sinks, Koehler and Grohe fixtures, walk-in shower and soaking tub. Elfa closet systems have been installed throughout the condo. Residents enjoy fantastic amenities which include a swimming pool, fitness center, movie theatre, lounge area, roof top gardens and more!

Do You Appeal Your Property Taxes?

Illinois is a unique place from a tax perspective. Each of the 1.8M parcels of land is reassessed every three years. This year is a reassessment year and the state is expected to increase assessed values to correspond with the increased property values that have occurred over the past few years. Most of my clients don't realize that they can (and should) appeal their property taxes. Chicago's property taxes are paid in arrears, therefore, most residents don't realize their property taxes have been increased until it is too late to appeal.  Below are a few highlights you should know about Chicago property taxes and how you can ensure you don't pay more than your fair share.

  • Everyone should be appealing. Property taxes are calculated using a complex formula that is based on the total revenue needed in the city budget.  If you aren't appealing your property taxes you will bear the tax burden of the people who have successfully appealed their property taxes.
  • Property values are reassessed every three years. 2018 is a reassessment year so you will not see the tax increase until the 2019 bill.  However, you will receive a mailer stating that your property has been reassessed. Be on the lookout for that document in the upcoming weeks. 
  • You have a short window to appeal your taxes. Click the link below to find out when the deadline is for your zone. (Cook County Assessor)
  • Your taxes can't be increased due to an appeal

If you've never filed a property tax appeal and want help you can contact Myer Blank and his firm can assist you in appealing your property taxes.

Myer Blank
Fisk Kart Katz & Regan, LTD

Common Mistakes When Selling Property

Most people only sell property every 4-7 years. Below are 5 common mistakes I see people make when they are trying to sell their property.

Pre-Inspect Your Property

The inspection process is where you lose most of your leverage in a transaction. Inspections are not cheap but they help you net the maximum amount for your property. If you know the issues your buyers are going to find it gives you the ability to get out in front of them and fix them before you go under contract. Buyers normally ask for 2-3x the amount it will cost you to fix inspection items. Fix them when you find them and you'll help maximize your sale. 

Finishes Matter

People buy finishes. Not all finishes require a lot of time and money. The best bang for your buck is paint and refinishing floors. Look to a qualified interior designer to help you pick finishes that buyers are looking for while working within your budget. Other items that offer significant returns are new hardware on cabinetry and tile backsplashes.

Lighting Upgrades

Many people are looking for good light in units. If you have developer fixtures or older lighting, replace a few key fixtures with unique pieces that help differentiate your property. Also, consider replacing older bulbs with new LED bulbs. They offer more light and offer significant savings from incandescent bulbs.

Details Matter

If your wall plates have yellowed replace them. Buyers use the condition of minor items as a proxy for overall care for your property. Remember you only get 1 opportunity to make an impression. 

Smart Homes Sell

The Nest thermostat and other smart home items not only set the tone for your home but buyers are looking for these 21st century luxuries. Nest and other smart home products are now heavily subsidized by ComEd. See the link here to find out which products are discounted through their program. 

What Upgrades Help Sell a Home?

Everyone wants to get top dollar for their house when they sell it. If you ask someone selling a car what they do before they sell it most will tell you they have it detailed. This is no different when trying to sell a house. But where do you spend your money to maximize your investment? Preparing your property for sale will help you get the best price for your home but it will also help you decrease the time it takes to sell your home which saves you time, money and stress.


The kitchen is considered the heart of the home. For a few hundred dollars you can replace the kitchen faucet set, add new cabinet door handles and update old lighting fixtures with brighter more energy efficient ones. If you have a slightly larger budget you can refinish your cabinets to make them look even better.


Next to the kitchen, bathrooms are often the most important rooms to update. They too can be improved without making a significant investment. Simple additions like a new toilet seat and a pedestal sink are easy for homeowners to install, and they make a big difference in the perceived value of a home.


New paint makes everything look clean and bright again. Make sure to choose neutral colors to help buyers envision themselves living in the space. You'd be surprised how many buyers remove properties from contention due to the color palette selected.