Pros and Cons of an Exclusive Real Estate Listing

Most listings that are on the market for sale tend to be advertised on the MLS (Multiple Listing Service). This massive database of listings is the most common way for properties to be advertised, as it available to all real estate professionals who are members and are a part of a specific real estate board. It’s not uncommon for buyers to head straight to this online database when they’re in search of their next home.

But as popular as the MLS is, it’s not always used to list properties for sale. Some sellers choose to have their listings exclusively marketed without the use of the MLS. There are obviously some advantages of exclusive listings, or else sellers wouldn’t take this route. But there are also a certain number of drawbacks associated with exclusive listings that warrant consideration.

What is an Exclusive Listing?

An exclusive listing is a listing that is not published on the MLS. Instead, it is exclusively held by one specific real estate agent.

As such, the agent will have to use other outlets to market the property for sale, which usually includes advertising the listing to professionals within the agent’s network, such as other agents, clients, builders, and anyone else who may be interested in the property. For this reason, an exclusive listing is more of a private sale than a publically-marketed property.

Pros of Exclusive Listings

Also known as “pocket listings,” exclusive listings offer a few benefits to sellers.

Be More Selective

Sellers have the advantage of being much more selective of the people that go in and out of their homes, as well as the sale itself. Rather than allowing all sorts of tire-kickers in the home who have no intention of buying it, sellers can focus more on qualified buyers who are actually serious about buying. At the end of the day, sellers can save time and effort.

More Privacy

Many celebrities tend to have their properties exclusively listed when it’s time to sell. Exclusive listings offer a certain degree of privacy that is not possible when a home is publically listed on the MLS, which affords sellers with the benefit of minimizing the number of people – buyers or not – who will bombard a home with showings.

But celebrities aren’t the only homeowners who use exclusive listings to sell their homes. The average homeowner can list their homes exclusively in an effort to maintain some level of privacy when selling.

Maybe they don’t want their neighbors to know that they are moving. Perhaps they are going through a particularly tough time that’s causing them to move involuntarily, such as a divorce, death of a spouse, or loss of a job. Some sellers simply don’t want to have their full names and addresses published online. Whatever their reasons for wanting to remain private, an exclusive listing can help maintain some confidentiality.

Test Out the Market

Some sellers might not necessarily be highly motivated to sell their home just yet. Instead, maybe they want to test the waters first before they jump in the market with both feet. An exclusive listing can give sellers an opportunity to experiment a little with the market to see what type of interest their home can get. Based on what they are able to learn from the exclusive listing, they can make any necessary adjustments that would increase the odds of a successful sale.

It’s not recommended to experiment once your home is listed on the MLS. Your listing’s details should be as close to perfect as possible in order to avoid sabotaging the deal. For instance, experimenting with price is not recommended when your home is on the MLS. Once it’s up there, everyone will see how much you’ve listed for.

If you ever have to lower the price, everyone will see that too and could use that information to their advantage at the negotiating table. It’s not uncommon for buyers to low-ball sellers when they find out that a listing has already gone through a price reduction. Instead, exclusive listings allow sellers to test out the price without the whole world knowing about it, and without the repercussions of changing the price.

Cons of Exclusive Listings

Along with all the advantages of exclusive listings come a few drawbacks as well.

Limited Exposure

Perhaps the biggest disadvantage of an exclusive listing for sellers is the limited exposure they get as a result. Without the MLS, sellers are missing out on a ton of exposure that they otherwise would have on this massive database of listings.

All participating real estate agents who maintain their MLS memberships have access to the MLS and the listings on it and are therefore able to direct their buyer clients’ attention to this online source. Any buyers who are not connected to the listing agent’s network will simply be unaware of the listing, even though they may have otherwise been interested in the property.

Potential Skewing of Market Information

Many will argue that exclusive listings can affect the accuracy of home prices and even reduce competition because they are not part of the MLS. That’s why there is a certain amount of controversy surrounding exclusive listings, as some believe that they skew the market to some degree.

In addition, exclusive listings may impede on a seller’s ability to understand the true market value of their home. And the minimal number of sale records compared to those found on the MLS can get in the way of an accurate perception of the market for buyers.

In fact, exclusive listings are not encouraged in some centers across the country for this very reason.

Your Agent Will Be Representing Both Buyer and Seller

If a listing agent ends up finding a buyer through an exclusive listing agreement, they will likely end up representing both the buyer and seller, which can present a conflict of interest.

Agents who work exclusively with a buyer or a seller owe a fiduciary duty to their clients and look out for their best interests. But things can get pretty sticky in a case where an agent represents both the buyer and seller in a real estate transaction. If you prefer to have an agent only represent you, then an exclusive listing is probably not the route you’ll want to take.

The Bottom Line

Exclusive listings certainly have their place in the real estate market, especially in specific cases where sellers require a heightened amount of privacy and want to have a lot of control over the buyers who see their homes. But along with exclusive listings also come a set of potential drawbacks that warrant consideration. Be sure to speak with your real estate agent in depth if you are considering listing exclusively without the involvement if the MLS.

CHICAGO NEIGHBORHOOD NEWS: Lakeview, Bucktown and Wicker Park, Lincoln Park, Lincoln Square, Chicago Loop, Evanston

CHICAGO NEIGHBORHOOD NEWS: Lakeview, Bucktown and Wicker Park, Lincoln Park, Lincoln Square, Chicago Loop, Evanston

Lakeview: Don’t forget to make a card for mom this weekend! Vanille Patisserie is hosting a Mother’s Day Card Decorating event at all of it’s locations this weekend. Lincoln Park (2108 N Clark St), Lakeview (3243 N Broadway), Chicago French Market inside Ogilvie Metra Station (131 N Clinton Ave.), and Hyde Park (5229 S. Harper Court). The event is this Saturday, May 12 from 10 am to 4 pm. Cards are included with any purchase from the patisserie. Find more information here!

Bucktown and Wicker Park: It’s time for the 2nd Annual Monarch Social. The event is Saturday, June 9 from 6-9 pm at Pipeworks Brewing Company. Tickets are $50 each and include unlimited Pipeworks flagship brews, music provided by local DJs, local food trucks,  and entry into Pipeworks Brewing Company’s brewery. All proceeds benefit the Ray Graham Assocation for People with Disabilities. This is a non-profit organization that provides a broad array of services and supports for nearly 2,000 people with intellectual and developmental disabilities. Buy your tickets here now!

Lincoln Park: There’s no better way to celebrate the arrival of summer than with the Good Libations Beer Fest! This is the official closing event of Illinois Craft Beer week, hosted at Theatre on the Lake against the backdrop of Lake Michigan and the Chicago skyline. This unique event challenges brewers to be creative by producing and pouring their favorite tropical brews. Guests are invited to try tropical-inspired craft beer from more than 60 local and out of state breweries and sample gourmet small bites prepared by chef Cleetus Friedman. Creative tropical attire is encouraged! The fest kicks off at 6 pm on May 25. Tickets are $60 and can be purchased here.

Lincoln Square: Mark your calendars for Maifest 2018! Mayfest Chicago is a 501c3 to promote Chicago’s German heritage. It benefits a number of German organizations including Dank Haus, the American Aid Society, the Donauschwaben Youth Group, German American Policy, and more. Maifest is the traditional German celebration of the arrival of spring! This 19th annual German festival features German foods, beers, live music, maypole dance, and other traditional German presentations. The festival takes place May 31-June 3 at Lincoln and Leland Ave. Hours are Thursday May 31 from 5-9:30 pm, Friday June 1 from 5-11 pm, Saturday June 2 from 12-11 pm, and Sunday June 3 from 12-10 pm. Find more information about this exciting festival here!

Chicago Loop: Join Watson Adventures for “The Loop Movie Locations Scavenger Hunt!” See Chicago through the eyes of Hollywood on this fabulous tour. The Loop has long been one of Hollywood’s favorite backlots. The tour takes you to places where TV or movie scenes have been shot, including the plaza with the orange Flamingo sculpture (Ferris Buehler, anyone?), Daley Plaza (The Fugitive), Chicago City Hall- Cook County Building (Blues Brothers), the El (Spiderman and The Incredibles), Marshall Fields, the Chicago Cultural Center, and more! No extensive knowledge of movies or The Loop is necessary- just bring a sense of adventure and comfy walking shoes. Find the hunt schedule and buy your tickets here.

Evanston: Get your read on at the Evanston Literary Festival! This marks the fourth year of this event. It will take place from May 12 through the 20th at a variety of venues in downtown Evanston. The festival celebrates the literary culture of Evanston! In partnership with a variety of local cultural institutions and businesses, this festival brings free readings, workshops, and live lit events to Evanston. It is organized by the organizers of the Chicago Book Expo, a 501c3  company that celebrates Chicago’s literary community. Find the full schedule of events here.


Restaurant Review – Butcher’s Tap

This week took me to another new neighborhood spot: The Butcher’s Tap. Located at 3553 N Southport, this neighborhood tap room is in the heart of Southport Corridor. We came in on a Sunday evening and there were plenty of tables available. There is a large patio outside, bar seating, tables throughout the downstairs area, as well as an upstairs section. We sat at the bar and were taken care of right away. The menu is huge! I had such a hard time picking what I wanted. I was intrigued by the Butcher’s Boards section. You can create your own charcuterie board by choosing either 3 or 5 of their artisan meats and/or cheeses. Your selections will be accompanied by nuts, crackers, a variety of fresh fruits, and spreads. I thought about doing this for my dinner, but there were so many other tasty options, I decided to save it for another night. I ordered the Lemon Chicken Club: sourdough bread smeared with garlic aioli, topped with smoked chicken breast, bacon, lettuce, and tomato mixed with a lemon tarragon vinaigrette. I ordered mine sans bacon with a side of coleslaw. The sandwich was absolutely delicious! The lemon vinaigrette was bright and tangy, a perfect complement to the smoky chicken. The sourdough bread was perfectly toasted as well. The coleslaw was nothing to write home about, but the sandwich was so great, it more than made up for it. My friend ordered The Diner burger: two quarter-pound patties, sharp cheddar, bacon, garlic aioli, and pickles. The bite I had was wonderful. The patties were flat, crispy, and perfectly cooked, and the cheese was melty, gooey, and sharp. I will definitely be back! There were so many other menu items I wanted to try.

Butcher’s Tap is open Sundays through Fridays from 11 am to 2 am and Saturdays from 11 am to 3 pm. They have specials every day of the week. Check them out here!


Kathy’s Home & Garden Tips – Outdoor and Indoor Allergies

Seeing all the blooming outside with trees budding and sprouting looks marvelous to those of us in the Midwest and other parts of the country, since we suffered through one of the coldest Aprils on record. But for those of us who suffer from seasonal allergies, it is the beginning of itchy watery eyes, stuffed noses, and sinus headaches. Try and limit your outdoor exposure when it’s windy out. If you are working outside, a mask can be very helpful. Especially in the spring and fall, keep your windows closed to cut down on spores coming into the house.  As far as medication goes, talk with your doctor. Different people react differently to medication. For myself, I’ve found a good all-purpose allergy medication like Allegra or Claritin along with a nasal steroid like Nasacort or Flonase works well. It’s also recommended to take these medications year-round, not just during “allergy” season. They need to build up to be truly effective.

Indoor allergens come from three main sources. First are dust mites, microscopic creatures that can trigger allergic reactions in many sensitive people. Dust mites, their waste, and dead mites are the cause. Pet dander is another component that causes a reaction. Dander is dead skin cells that have been cast off the animal. This is the allergen, not the hair as many people think. Cockroaches are a huge allergy trigger. We don’t like to think about them, but if you live in an urban area or large apartment building, it’s possible to have this problem without having them in your unit. Dead cockroach bodies disintegrate and blend with the dust and cause irritation. 

There are several ways to reduce allergens in the home. Hard surface flooring is the best. Carpets trap allergens that spew into the air every time you walk, no matter how much you vacuum or clean them. If you must have carpet, do clean and vacuum frequently with a HEPA filter vacuum. Use blinds instead of curtains. Vacuum lamp shades and upholstery frequently. Your bedding can harbor many allergens as well. Use an allergen proof mattress and pillow covers. Change your bedding weekly and be sure to wash in hot water.

Many people are severely allergic to pets. Pet allergies are caused by dander, not hair. There are dogs available now that are bred to be non-allergenic. I imagine these could work for people whose allergies are not severe. There a few other things that can help. Again, vacuum thoroughly and often. Have another family member bathe and groom the pet. Use non- allergenic shampoo. Don’t let the pet onto furniture and beds. Wash your hands well after handling your pet. Most children don’t display allergies to pets till after age five, so it’s best to wait till then before introducing a pet. 


How to Measure the Square Footage of Your Home

If you’re selling your home in the near future, one thing that you will want to find out is its exact size. Calculating the square footage will be a critical detail that buyers will want to know and will need to be included in your listing. Your home’s square footage is a critical element in establishing the listing price of your home.

But if you don’t come up with an accurate measurement, the value of your home could suffer.

If your home was a completely square box, calculating its square footage would be easy. But such is typically not the case, as most homes come with a host of little intricacies that can make measuring its square footage complicated. Couple that with the fact that different people measure square footage differently, and you can see how this particular calculation can be confusing.

That said, the standards for measuring square footage are determined by the American National Standards Institute (ANSI). But it is not mandatory to comply with the ANSI standard, though it’s highly recommended.

The question is, how do you calculate the square footage of your home to find out how big it is?

Calculating the Square Footage of Your Home

To make things easy for you, start off by sketching a floor plan of the interior of your home. Ideally, each level should be sketched out separately, and be sure to leave out any unfinished areas.

Break down each floor of your house into easily-measured rectangles, which will help eliminate the temptation to guess the length and size of rooms with walls that are not perfect.

Measure the length and width of each rectangle. While a measuring tape can work to calculate the square footage of your home, a laser measuring tool would be much more convenient. Once you have the length and width accurately measured in feet, you can calculate the area of each rectangle by multiplying the length by the width to figure out the area.

Jot these numbers down in the appropriate spaces on the sketch you drew, then add them up to get the total square footage of your home. You likely might wind up with fractions, so just round up to the nearest foot.

If some of the rooms in your home have subsections, break the room down into smaller parts and measure each box on its own. Once you have all the measurements, add each of them up to obtain the total area of the room. For instance, in the case of a 700 square-foot bedroom with a 150 square-foot closet, both of these spaces would be measured separately. The total would then be 850 square feet when added together.

What About Rooms That Are Irregular in Shape?

Calculating the area of a square or rectangular room is easy enough. Simply multiply the length by the width and you’ve got your answer. But calculating the area of a room that’s circular or irregular in shape will require that you use the appropriate mathematical equations to come up with the final area. There several different mathematical equations that can be used to determine the area of a variety of shapes, so you’ll need to establish the shape of the room before using the appropriate equation.

There are also online calculators that you can use. Just plug in the shape and necessary measurements, and the calculator will do the hard work for you.

Not All Areas of the Home Should Be Included in Your Calculation

When calculating the square footage of your home, it’s important to note that not all areas should be included in the final number. For starters, any space that is below grade should not be part of the total square footage, which means any basements or crawl spaces would be excluded.

Attics would typically be excluded as well, unless the space is finished and there is at least a seven-foot clearance to make the space potentially habitable. If that’s the case, the attic would be included in your calculation. Garages, sheds, patios, and exterior staircases are also not to be included in your square footage calculation.

That said, you might still want to know how large these particular spaces are for your own knowledge. You can even include these dimensions in the listing for buyer information, as long as it is clear that they are not part of the overall square footage of the home.

The Bottom Line

If your home has perfectly square or rectangular rooms with little to no complexities, figuring out the square footage on your own is relatively simple with the right tools and simple math. But you can run into a little bit of trouble if your home is oddly shaped and has lots of spaces that are not exact squares or rectangles.

In this case, you might want to call in a contractor or appraiser who has experience in measuring the exact size of homes. This is definitely not a number you want to get wrong, because the answer you get will have a direct impact on the value of your home, as well as your listing price.

THIS WEEKEND IN CHICAGO – Chicago Is Heating Up!

When a spring weekend brings us an abundance of summer fests, you know Chicago is heating up!

A family favorite event returns to Cricket Hill (600 W. Montrose Dr.) in the Uptown neighborhood this Saturday (10:00 a.m.-4:00 p.m.) with the 20th annual Chicago Kids and Kites Festival.  Once again, the city will provide free kite kits (while supplies last) so the kids can build, decorate, and fly their own kites!  There will be balloon artists, crafts, and face painting for festival goers as well as the Windjammers Kite Team thrilling the crowd with synchronized kite flying maneuvers throughout the day!!

Come celebrate great beers on the grass of Soldier Field (1410 S. Museum Campus Dr.) in the South Loop at the Chicago Beer Classic this Saturday with two sessions (11:30 a.m.-2:30 p.m. & 4:30 p.m.-7:30 p.m.).  Besides sampling, learning about, meeting the master brewers, and voting for the most valuable brew, this festival also features a tailgate before or after your designated session at Gate 0 with a variety of food trucks, swag for purchase from Chicago-based vendors, and beer pong.  Also, attendees have an opportunity to build their own custom pretzel necklace, discover games & activities, and so much more.  It’s Chicago’s “can’t miss kickoff” to the arrival of summer!

A celebration of Mexican culture that’s enjoyed worldwide will be celebrated this Saturday! It’s Cinco de Mayo! Check out the following events:

Bar Crawl De Mayo (11:00 a.m.-6:00 p.m.).  Ticket includes admission, a T-shirt, a brunch buffet, three $4 gift cards to use on the crawl, two tickets to the Laugh Factory, giveaways, and more!  Get out to the best bars in Wrigleyville and celebrate!!

Grab Cinco By the Cervezas Pub Crawl (2:00 p.m.-7:00 p.m.).  Join Bash Events, Tecate, and Dos Equis on their crawl through 14 of the best bars Chicago has to offer kicking off from Deuce’s and The Diamond Club (3505 N. Clark St.).  Enjoy giveaways, $3 Tecate, $4 Dos Equis, free tacos, and much more while their trolley takes you to your next destination on the coolest pub crawl in the city!

The Kentucky Derby also takes place this Saturday in Louisville.  If you’re not able to attend personally, the spirit of the Derby lives on in Chicago and its surrounding areas!  So, get your big hats and seersuckers on and join one or more of Chicago’s Kentucky Derby Parties!  You won’t be disappointed!!

Finally, Wing Fest will be held at the UIC Pavilion (525 S. Racine Ave.) in the University Village/Little Italy neighborhood this Sunday at 1:00 p.m.  This annual, sell-out event features unlimited wings from some of the best chefs in the land. There will be live music, beer, cocktails, a men’s and women’s wing eating contest, as well as photographers and videographers roaming the floor seeking out the messiest shirts, the best outfits, and the most dedicated fans!  All of this fun ends with the announcement of the restaurant winners in each wing category and the “Best of Fest” trophy awarded to the top scoring restaurant!!

Do You Feel the Heat?

8 Reasons Why Sellers Regret Not Selling With a Real Estate Agent

No one said that selling real estate was cheap. In fact, it can be downright expensive. Because of the potentially hefty price tag associated with selling, many sellers may be tempted to go it alone without the help of a seasoned real estate agent in an effort to save some money in commissions.

But while they think they may be avoiding some fees, solo sellers might actually be biting off more than they can chew. In fact, most sellers regret not employing the services of a real estate agent and wind up calling a professional at some point throughout the transaction.

Here are a few reasons why you might regret not hiring a real estate agent to help you sell your home.

1. You Don’t Have the Training and Experience

There’s a lot to know about selling real estate than just how to post a listing on MLS. Selling a house takes a lot of industry knowledge and know-how to ensure a successful transaction. Without the help of an agent, you’ll have to acquire all of this information on your own if you want to come out on the other end with a successful deal.

Many sellers who go the FSBO route regret not using a realtor for the simple fact that these professionals have far more education and experience that could have come in handy when marketing the property and negotiating a contract.

2. You Don’t Have the Inside Scoop of the Neighborhood

Sure, you may have lived in your home for a while, but how well do you know the area in terms of real estate value and what buyers might be willing to spend in your area? Do you know what buyers are looking for in a home in your neighborhood? In-depth knowledge of real estate in a particular community is crucial to ensuring a lucrative deal.

Real estate agents have in-depth knowledge and are experienced in finding the pertinent info about your neighborhood. They have the tools to find comparable sales to help you identify how much your home is worth, which will come in handy when it comes time to price your home.

They’ll also know the type of buyers searching in the area and what they’re looking for in a home to help you market it accordingly and attract an offer quickly. Unless you’re an agent yourself, you won’t be able to take advantage of this insider information.

3. You Won’t Have a Buffer Between You and Buyers

Do you really want to hear buyers complain and nit-pick about your home at showings and open houses? Do you want to wheel and deal directly with buyers at the negotiating table? Selling real estate is a highly emotional experience for sellers.

It’s not surprising to know that debates on price and other factors can get pretty heated between buyers and sellers. Part of the job of a real estate agent is to act as a buffer between buyers and sellers so that the transaction can proceed in a professional way without any heated exchanges.

4. You’ll Spend a Lot of Time Fielding Calls and Scheduling Showings

Like most Americans, you probably have a job to go to every day. As such, you probably don’t have a lot of free time to dedicate to selling your home. Real estate agents spend a lot of time taking phone calls, booking showings, hosting open houses, marketing the property, and networking with other agents to get the word out there about a listing.

Do you have the time and the network do all that? Probably not, which is a solid reason why an agent should be part of your sales team.

5. You Won’t Know Exactly How Much to List For

You might be tempted to price your home high in order to profit handsomely. But arbitrarily picking a price based on what you believe (whether accurately or falsely) your home is worth is not the way to sell a home in a reasonable amount of time. In fact, you could be sabotaging the sale of your home if you don’t price according to market values.

Real estate agents help guide their clients to make the right choices in terms of listing prices. They’re able to use the tools available to them and the knowledge they’ve acquired through training and experience to establish an appropriate listing price.

If you can come with the right listing price for your home, you stand the best chance of selling quickly and for top dollar. On the other hand, listing at a price that does not accurately reflect the current market will leave you high and dry.

6. You’ll Have to Gather All the Industry Experts Yourself

Selling real estate rarely only involves just a real estate agent. Typically, there are plenty of other experts that are involved with these types of transactions, such as lawyers, escrow companies, title insurance companies, home inspectors, home stagers, and contractors. These services are usually needed to successfully sell real estate.

Having an agent working with you will afford you with the benefit of being able to tap into their network of professionals. Sure, you can always find and choose your own professionals, but an agent can offer you recommendations of experts that they’ve previously had positive experiences with. For this reason, your agent can help you make the best decisions on who to work with.

7. You’ll Have to Deal With a Lot of Paperwork

Today’s real estate purchase agreements are several pages long and are filled with a ton of jargon that you might not understand. On top of the actual contract, there is usually other paperwork that is typically associated with transferring property ownership.

Not only is all that documentation time-consuming to go through, it can even land you in legal hot water if there is anything missing or incorrect. You don’t want to be on the hook for any mishaps with real estate paperwork, and you don’t have to be if you let the experts in real estate handle all that pesky paperwork for you.

8. You Might Not Have the Appropriate Negotiating Skills

Negotiating the sale price and all other terms of the contract requires a good deal of skill, level-headedness, and experience. If you’re the emotional type and have little to no experience wheeling and dealing real estate deals, you could wind up with a transaction that doesn’t benefit you as much as it could have had you hired an experienced real estate agent to handle the negotiations for you.

The Bottom Line

A real estate transaction is not the time to attempt a DIY endeavor. Your home sale is a big deal and is certainly not something that you want to mess up. As such, you’d be well advised to team up with an agent who knows all the ins and outs of selling real estate so that you don’t end up making mistakes along the way that can cost you a lot more than what you may have saved in commission fees.

CHICAGO NEIGHBORHOOD NEWS: Lincoln Park, Lakeview, Bucktown and Wicker Park, River North, Andersonville, Portage Park

Lincoln Park: Where can you enjoy grilled cheese, doughnuts, pierogis, tacos, and more— all in one place? At the Lincoln Park Zoo Food Truck Social, of course! Experience the finest meals on wheels Chicago has to offer, all while checking out the zoo after-hours. In addition to dozens of food trucks, there will be fun activities, a DJ spinning tunes, and drinks available for purchase. The event is Saturday, May 19 from 6:30 to 9:30 pm. Tickets are just $10, $8 for zoo members. Children 12 months and under are free with a paid adult ticket. Check out the line-up of food trucks and purchase your tickets here!

Lakeview: It’s that time of year again! The Chicago Critics Film Festival is here! Featuring over twenty-five programs selected with care by some of the most respected film journalists in the city, this year’s film festival includes four documentaries. The festival will be held May 4-10 at the Music Box Theatre. Highlights of this highly-curated festival include First Reformed, starring Ethan Hawke, On Chesil Beach, starring Saoirse Ronan, a 25th anniversary screening of Jurassic Park, and more. Find the full film line-up here. Individual screening tickets are $12, special event tickets are $18, and the festival pass is $150.

Bucktown and Wicker Park: Meet People Chicago presents “The 606 Trail Bar Crawl”! The crawl includes four bars along the 606 and the group will walk the 606 trail in between bars. Besides meeting new friends and new people, this crawl will give you the opportunity to explore the neighborhoods of Wicker Park, Bucktown, and Humboldt Park. Participating bars including Lemings Tavern, HumbleBar, Jack & Ginger’s, and Boulevard Sports Lounge. This crawl has two event dates: Saturday May 5 and Saturday May 12, both from 4 to 9 pm. Tickets are just $15! They’re selling quickly, so get yours here, now!

River North: It’s not too early to mark your calendars for “Taste of River North”! This fabulous food and wine festival takes place July 20-22. Every season, over 30,000 people gather to taste some of River North’s most dynamic eats, sip on cold beer, and listen to the best party jams live on stage! Dogs are also catered to, with their own special food truck and activities! There’s also a devoted children’s area, so your kiddos can join in on the fun. Participating restaurants include Pranzi, Big & Little’s, Da Lobsta, Hutch, and more. Hours are Friday July 20 from 5 to 10 pm, Saturday July 21 from 12 to 10 pm, and Sunday July 22 from 11 am to 8 pm. There is a $5 suggested donation for entry.

Andersonville:  There’s never been a better time to check out Midsommarfest! It’s the annual street festival along Clark Street between Foster and Catalpa, with two days and three nights of dancing, music, kids’ entertainment, and delicious food. Vendors from around the region sell their wares, local shops and restaurants welcome the warm weather with specials and sales, and dance troupes, DJs, and longtime favorite bands keep the party going. There is a suggested $10 at the gate; children 12 and under and seniors are free. The festival takes place June 8, 9, and 10, so mark your calendars now! Find more information about this amazing festival here.

Portage Park: Join the Irving Park Community Food Pantry on its inaugural Neighborhood Walk through the Old Irving Park neighborhood where the pantry is located. Help them raise funds for the Pantry and generate awareness of hunger in the community. All funds raised will go into the Greater Chicago Food Depository account. The Pantry procures food from here at an average cost of $0.04 per pound. The walk is on Saturday, May 18 and will begin assembly at 8:15 am at the Pantry, 3801 N Keeler. The walk steps off at 9 am and will be 1.7 miles! There is no registration fee, but they ask walkers to bring a few items of shelf-stable food to donate (peanut butter, canned tuna, energy bars, Mac and cheese, etc.). They are also looking for men’s white crew socks and toiletries for both men and women. Find more information here!


Restaurant Review – The Roost

Moving to a new neighborhood is so exciting, for so many reasons. But I always love discovering new restaurants in my area. This weekend took me to The Roost: Carolina Kitchen, located at 1467 W. Irving Park Rd. Just a three block walk from my house, I already know this will be a dangerous spot. This location is newly remodeled, they’ve just added a full bar and expanded seating area. We stopped in at around 9 pm on Friday night and the place was quietly bustling, with patrons seated at the bar, playing games at their tables, and picking up to-go orders. We ordered our food to go! My friend ordered the Nashville Hot fried chicken sandwich. This spicy fried chicken is brushed with a coat of fiery, ground pepper paste- not for the faint of heart! You can choose a brioche bun or a biscuit- he chose the biscuit- and two sides. He picked the Creamy Mac and Cheese and hand-cut potato chips. I ordered the Nashville Hot Hillbilly Tacos: a fiery hot fried chicken tender wrapped in a flour tortilla topped with coleslaw and chipotle ranch. You can either order the tacos a la carte or as a meal, with two tacos and two sides. I thought the tacos would be much smaller, so I ambitiously ordered the meal. For my sides, I also chose the Mac and cheese and cucumber coleslaw. We waited about 20 minutes for our food to be ready and then walked it home. When we pulled it out of the bag, it was still piping hot! Nothing needed to be reheated- always a plus for take-out. And the food was delicious! My friend’s biscuit sandwich was absolutely wonderful. The biscuit was fluffy, the chicken spicy, and the dill pickles perfectly crunchy. My fried chicken tacos were gigantic! I could easily have done with one taco and one side, the portion was huge. One of my favorite things was the Mac and cheese. It was dripping with cheese and the flavor was awesome. We will most definitely be back!

The Roost has three locations: Irving Park, River North, and The Loop. The Irving Park location is open Mondays through Thursdays from 9 am to 10 pm, Fridays and Saturdays from 9 am to 11 pm, and Sundays from 9 am to 3 pm. Find more information on the other locations’ hours on their website.


Kathy’s Home & Garden Tips – Stretch Your Family Budget

Even if you are comfortable financially, why pay more than you need to? I know some people that make a game of finding bargains and then give their savings to charity. Have doubles from BOGO deals at the grocery store? Give to a food bank.

Everyone knows I love vegetable gardening. What I don’t always talk about is how much money you can save! Often in the summer, our dinners are a small piece of meat or fish and the remainder is from our garden. Not only does this save money, but you can grow more healthy and organic food. Even city dwellers can grow a few tomatoes, peppers, and lettuce in a balcony pot. You can also donate excess garden harvests. Freezing and canning are easy too and all the rage now. We will talk about different preserving methods at harvest time.

Plan all your family meals for the week. Use the flyer from your favorite store (most are available online) and plan according to sales that week.  So much can be done to save money online, especially with groceries. You can get printable coupons and many stores offer apps with coupons that you store on your phone. Another way to say is to not throw out food. Freeze leftovers. Have extra veggies? Make and freeze stock in ice cube trays for later. Always rotate and use freezer items in a timely manner.

Buy off season! This is an oldie, but a goody. You often think of buying off season for things like luggage, snow blowers, and lawn mowers. But there are many other items that can be cheaper depending on what month you buy in. Buy large appliances and TVs in April and May. Try dishes and household goods in June during wedding season. January is a great time for carpet and flooring after the busy holiday remodel season. September and October are perfect for summer items like patio furniture. October is also the best time to buy and plant trees.

Bargain hunt constantly. With today’s online access, there are a wealth of discounts available online. Sign up for email programs for special offers. Even smaller purchases are worth checking online. There are many companies that offer good prices and free shipping on items we use regularly, like pet food and supplies. With our busy lives these days, we can save money and time with auto delivery from places like Amazon

Many bargain hunters know the value of yard sales, thrift shops, and swap meets. If you have young children, these can be invaluable. Children grow so quickly and it’s silly to buy new, especially for play clothes. If you are furnishing your first apartment, thrift stores are fantastic for furniture, accessories, and appliances. If you are around my age (late 50s) and are starting to pare down, have your own yard sale. Always check with your village for rules and proper permits. You really can make quite a bit of money with stuff you’d otherwise throw out. Just make sure everything is clean and displayed nicely!