Kathy’s Home & Garden Tips – Beginner Painting

Now that the weather is getting a bit cooler, it’s time to think of some indoor projects. Around Chicago, we’ve had some rainy weekends- perfect for tackling that room that could use a new coat of paint or a color change. Hiring a professional can be pricey. Painting on your own is quite easy with a little preparation and care.

First, measure your room. Multiply the number of feet from ceiling to floor by the diameter of the room. Add the square footage of any doors or windows and subtract. When you buy paint it’s best to over, rather than under, estimate. Paint is difficult to match exactly. Latex paint is appropriate for most home uses. Use flat for ceilings and semigloss for the walls, as it’s easily cleaned with soap and water. You may choose oil-based for high moisture areas, like kitchens and baths, but remember you’ll need a solvent for clean-up.

I recommend cloth or newspapers for a drop cloth. Plastic disposable ones are quite slippery and not environmentally friendly. Tape the edges to the baseboard to prevent drops. Use flat, latex paint for the ceiling. Roll the paint in overlapping, two- foot strokes. Choose a medium nape disposable roller cover. Invest in a real paint tray and use disposable liners. When painting walls, always “cut in” first. Use a 2-inch angled brush to paint around the entire perimeter of the wall, around windows, and doors. Finish with the roller. Roll straight up and down, working in 3-foot sections, going from left to right (if you are right handed), the opposite way if left handed.

Windows can be tricky, but not if you are careful. First, tape off the glass with painter’s tape. And open both sashes slightly. Place toothpicks between sash and frames to prevent drying closed. Use your angle brush with a light hand.

Save leftover paint for touch-ups. Always remember paint is considered hazardous waste and cannot be thrown into city garbage. Contact your city or village hall for proper disposal of paint and painting garbage.


How Long Does Mortgage Refinancing Take to Complete?

Are you looking to get a lower interest rate for your mortgage? Do you want to look for a way to pay off your mortgage faster? Are you considering using the equity in your home to pay for a major expense?

Then a mortgage refinance may be something that could be useful for you.

Refinancing involves taking out a new mortgage to replace the existing one. You’ll have to go through an approval process before a refinance goes through, and the process can either close faster or slower compared to when applying for your first mortgage.

Sometimes refinancing can take a while to complete. The question is, how long? And what exactly goes into a mortgage refinance?

How Long Does a Mortgage Refinance Take?

While there are a number of factors that can influence the length of time that it takes for a mortgage refinance to go through, they typically take about 30 to 45 days to complete, on average. That said, it can take a lot longer than this to complete a refinance if there are any obstacles that are met along the way.

So, what goes into a mortgage refinance? And why do such processes take so long?

Steps to a Mortgage Refinance

Refinancing takes a while because of all the in-depth steps that are required, including the following:

Finding a lender. Many homeowners just work with the lender that they already have their first mortgage with. But you’re not necessarily tied down to this lender. If you so choose, you can work with another lender to get a mortgage refinance. If you do decide to go with another lender, the process may take a couple of days longer because you’ll have to submit all paperwork that your current lender might already have.

Filling out and submitting an application. Just like you had to fill out an application for your initial mortgage, you’ll have to fill out one for a refinance as well. These applications are rather lengthy, as you already know. But your lender will be able to help you move along the application process rather quickly by guiding you on the documents that will need to be submitted along with the application.

The documents that you will likely have to submit can include the following:

  • Paystubs
  • Two years worth of W2’s
  • Bank statements
  • Tax returns from the last two years
  • Asset and liability statement if self-employed
  • Profit and loss statement if self-employed

Waiting for your loan estimate. No more than three days after submitting your application, your lender will be required to provide you with your loan estimate and disclosures. The estimate will detail the monthly payment information and the amount you’ll be responsible for paying in closing costs. After this, the loan will be processed after your lender carefully reviews all of your documents.

Waiting for the property to be appraised. Your lender will want to verify what your home is worth before approving the refinance.

Underwriting and closing will take place. Probably the longest step in the refinancing process is the underwriting phase. This is the part where all of your documents will be checked for complete accuracy and takes about a week or so to complete. If there’s an issue, however, this phase can take a lot longer. Generally speaking, underwriting a refinance takes longer than a first mortgage.

If everything checks out, then closing will take place, which should only take a few hours.

Can You Speed Up the Process?

The refinance process already takes a long time, but is there anything you can do to speed it up?

Maybe. The first thing you’ll want to do is work with a competent loan officer, as this can be a major reason why the process can take forever. Further, you can make sure that you fill out your application completely with no errors and ensure that you submit all pertinent paperwork on time.

The Bottom Line

Refinancing is definitely not something that will happen tomorrow. It definitely takes time, but it will be worth the wait if you’re able to refinance at a lower interest rate or if you need to get your hands on some equity to cover a costly expense.

THIS WEEKEND IN CHICAGO – Amazing Autumn Fun Awaits!

Welcome to Chicago’s first October weekend where amazing autumn fun awaits us!

The popular West Town Food Truck Social again pairs up with the annual West Town Art Walk on Noble Street between Chicago and Chestnut Avenues in the West Town neighborhood on Friday (4:00 p.m.-10:00 p.m.) and Saturday (11:00 a.m.-10:00 p.m.).  This dual event is a one-of-a-kind neighborhood-wide food and art festival where guests can taste some of Chicago’s best mobile eats, from lobster rolls to empanadas to chicken wings to tacos! All of that comes with a side of Chicago’s most tantalizing original art in all forms including visual, musical, fashion, and more!  It’s also a kid and dog friendly event with giant Jenga for the kids; plus plenty of picnic tables with umbrellas to take a break from all your art walking.  A great time for some “snacking-n-strolling!!”

The 4th annual Bacon and Beer Classic will once again take over Soldier Field (1410 S. Museum Campus Dr.) in the South Loop on Saturday (1:00 p.m. VIP, 2:00 p.m. General to 5:00 p.m.).  Enjoy 100+ all-inclusive craft beers from the best local breweries and discover new styles too.  Experience bacon like never before by sampling 30+ unlimited bacon dishes from the most innovative chefs.  Dance to live music, play lawn games, compete in the bacon eating contest, and more!  After all, it is Oktoberfest time!!

There’s no better way to usher in fall than at the 31st annual Apple Fest being held Saturday (9:00 a.m.-8:00 p.m.) and Sunday (9:00 a.m.-6:00 p.m.) at the Western Brown Line Station Parking Lot (2300 W. Leland Ave.) in the Lincoln Square neighborhood.  Dozens of vendors participate every year selling everything from candy apples, fresh apple pie, hot apple cider, bushels of apples, to scarves and hats!  Then, head over to the Lawrence Avenue Music Stage for some great local music and chef demos.  There’s also lots of activities for the kids in the Leland Avenue Kids Zone!  There’s something for everyone at Apple Fest!!

Join the Rogers Park neighborhood for an afternoon of live music, crafts, food from local restaurants, beer & wine tastings, and family-friendly activities at the Taste of Clark Street on Sunday (2:00 p.m.-6:00 p.m.).  This event takes place along Clark Street between Devon and Touhy Avenues.  Pedicabs will also be available to ride from the “HUB” (Morse Ave.) to Devon Ave. or Touhy Ave. so you can get to the participating businesses faster!!

Check out fall’s most “spirited” event at the 7th annual Crypt 5K on Saturday (7:00 p.m.-10:00 p.m.) at Rosehill Cemetery (5800 N. Ravenswood Ave.) in the Edgewater neighborhood.  Run or walk (if you dare) through this candle lit course on the sprawling 350-acre Victorian-era cemetery that opened in 1864 and is home to many famous Chicago eternal spirits!  In addition, there’s a post run/walk party at Fireside Restaurant (5739 N. Ravenswood Ave.)!!

Rosemont’s Parkway Bank Park (5501 Park Place) once again celebrates the fall season with the return of its annual Family Fall Fest on Saturday (1:00 p.m.-6:00 p.m.).  This fest features a variety of free activities for the entire family to enjoy including a petting zoo, pumpkin painting, magic acts, and more!  Live music is provided by Kaleidoscope Eyes (Beatles tribute band), Istvan & His Imaginary Band (children’s entertainment group), and the 1980s rock tribute band Infinity!!

Finally, the Bank of America Chicago Marathon takes place Sunday (7:30 a.m.) beginning and ending at Grant Park (337 E. Randolph St.) in The Loop.  Thousands of runners from more than 100 countries and all 50 states will race on an iconic course; taking them through 29 neighborhoods on an architectural and cultural tour of Chicago!

Here’s to an Amazing Autumn Fun Weekend!

CHICAGO NEIGHBORHOOD NEWS: Lincoln Park, Bucktown and Wicker Park, Lakeview, Andersonville, Chicago Loop, Oak Park

Lincoln Park: Want to Sunday Funday AND give back to your community? Mark your calendars for Sunday, October 14 and Sunday, October 21 (from 10 am to 6 pm)— it’s Sunday Funday: Brunch, Shop, and Give! Throw on your favorite flannel and head over to Halsted & Armitage for a day of fun! Start by grabbing a bite to eat at one of the many delicious brunch spots in the Armitage Halsted Shopping District. Then, take your receipt to participating mobile merchants and get 10% off your purchase! Button & Zipper will also be accepting donations of used coats to share with local charities. For more information, click here!

Bucktown and Wicker Park: There’s no shortage of Halloween activities for you here in Chicago! Join Dove’s Luncheonette for “Dove’s After Dark Late Night Cocktail Pop Up” on Friday, October 26 at 10 pm. Dove’s will be transformed for one night only into a low-lit, late-night drinking destination! They’ll be serving up spooky, agave-based cocktails in celebration of Halloween and blasting retro vinyl. Entry is free and cocktails start at just $6. For location information and more, click here.

Lakeview: Are haunted houses too scary for you? Then you’re in luck! Annoyance Theatre presents “Haunted House”! Travel down into a spooky cave at the bottom of the lake and you’ll find a haunted house. Inside this creepy cave, scary (and not-so-scary) characters pass their time by haunting the audience and being haunted themselves! Written and performed by Lydia House, the show is directed by Parker Callahan and features an entirely original score performed live by Ava Lake. The show runs from October 7 through the 28th on Sundays at 8 pm. Purchase tickets in advance here!

Andersonville: It’s that time of year again! It’s the Sweetish Stroll in Andersonville! Formerly known as the Dessert Crawl, this sweet event is on Sunday, October 28 from 2-5 pm. There are two different routes where you’ll explore the sweeter side of Andersonville. The first is the August Gloop Route! Stops include Candyality, DeFloured: A Gluten Free Bakery, First Slice Pie Cafe, Frio Gelato, and more. The second is the Veruca Salt Route! Stops include George’s Ice Cream & Sweets, Lady Gregory’s, Terry’s Toffee, and more. Tickets are on sale now for just $20! Get yours here!

Chicago Loop: Lyric Opera presents the international singing phenomenon Choir! Choir! Choir! On Friday, October 12 at 8 pm, this unique performance blurs the line between being an audience member and a performer by bringing strangers together to sing popular songs. This concert will tribute the iconic band Fleetwood Mac! All attendees receive a sheet of music lyrics, are then divided by vocal types and ranges, and taught vocal harmonies. Magically, a unified, beautiful choir will be formed in just 90 minutes! Vocal experience not necessary, just come ready to have a good time! Tickets are just $25, but capacity is limited, so be sure to snag yours today here!

Oak Park: Summer might be over, but Farmer’s Markets are still hanging on for a few more weeks! Get yourself over to the Oak Park Farmer’s Market on Saturday from 7 am to 1 pm! The market is held in the Pilgrim Church parking lot (460 Lake St.). Enjoy the sounds of live bluegrass music and the smell of fresh, homemade donuts while you shop for your favorite local bounty. You can find seasonal fruits and vegetables, meat, cheese, eggs, bread, flowers, plants, honey, maple syrup, grains, and dairy products. Find more information here!


How Does Your Debt-to-Income Ratio Affect Your Ability to Secure a Mortgage?

Getting a mortgage involves a lot more than just filling out an application and waiting for approval. Your lender is going to assess your financial profile in great detail, and several factors come into play that determines whether or not you’re able to get approved for a mortgage.

One of the more important factors that lenders will consider before agreeing to extend a home loan to you is your debt-to-income ratio (DTI). this seemingly unassuming little number plays a key role in whether or not you can secure a mortgage.

What is a Debt-to-Income Ratio (DTI)?

Your ability to make your mortgage payments every month will depend on how much money you make. Obviously, your income will play a role in whether or not you can afford a mortgage, and therefore whether or not a lender will approve your application.

But the amount of debt you carry also comes into play. You might make a decent living, but how much of that income is dedicated to paying down all of the other debt that you currently hold? It’s quite possible that you’re nearly maxed out on all of your other debt payments and may not have enough left over to support a mortgage payment on top of it all.

A debt-to-income ratio is a representation of your debt relative to your income. More specifically, it’s calculated by dividing your monthly debt obligations by your monthly income.

For instance, if you are currently responsible for making $3,000 in debt payments every month and your income is $5,000 monthly, then your debt-to-income ratio would be 60%.

How Does Your DTI Play a Role in Mortgage Approval?

What your DTI tells lenders is how strapped you are in terms of other debt obligations and how much money you have available from your income that could be dedicated to paying a mortgage.

Keep in mind that the ratio originally calculated above does not take an additional monthly mortgage payment into consideration. If your DTI is already quite high without factoring in a mortgage payment into the equation, odds are you’d find it extremely difficult to cover mortgage payments on top of everything else you’re trying to juggle.

In turn, your lender is probably not going to be too confident about loaning you any money for a mortgage if you’re already maxed out on other debt obligations.

For instance, if your DTI is already at 60%, adding a mortgage payment into the mix will make it even higher. Even just a low $1,000 mortgage payment would send your DTI up to a whopping 80%.

Basically, lenders look at your DTI ratio to determine your ability to pay a mortgage. Ideally, the number should be low, as a lower number reflects lower debt loads and higher incomes, which is the ideal combination for mortgage approval. The higher your DTI is, the more likely you would be to default on your mortgage.

Generally speaking, lenders like to see a DTI of no more than 36%. In the example illustrated above, a DTI of 60% would be considered quite high. With a DTI that high, lenders would be more likely to reject your mortgage application because you would be considered too much of a risk.

Even if you were approved for a mortgage, your interest rate would likely be higher compared to a borrower with a low DTI. The reason why a higher rate would be charged is to protect the lender to some degree if you were to default on your home loan.

At the end of the day, a lower DTI will improve your chances of getting approved for a mortgage at a lower interest rate. In contrast, a higher DTI will have the opposite effect.

Your DTI Doesn’t Paint the Full Picture of Your Ability to Afford a Mortgage

As helpful as DTIs are for lenders to determine your ability to secure a mortgage, they don’t exactly tell you everything when it comes to figuring out whether or not a mortgage is actually affordable for you. Even if you’re able to get approved, you might still find it difficult to comfortably afford that extra payment.

Your lender might take in a number of important factors into consideration to make sure you can cover this extra payment. But they don’t know all of the ins and outs of your life and other expenses.

For instance, groceries, child care fees, gas for your car, utilities, and other expenses are not required to be communicated to your lender. They won’t be factored into your DTI equation: only you can budget for these expenses, which is crucial.

The Bottom Line

A lower DTI is ultimately your goal when it comes time to apply for a mortgage. Aside from making more money, you can lower your ratio by paying down your debt. If you’ve got some time to play around with before applying for a mortgage, consider making a valiant effort to whittle down your debt. Consider focusing on higher-interest debt first, such as credit cards.

Doing so can not only help to lower your DTI, but it can also improve your credit score too, which are both important in securing a mortgage at a lower rate.

Restaurant Review – Red Hot Ranch

Sometimes, you just have to have a burger and fries. And when you’re on the hunt for Chicago’s best burger, you have them a little more often! This week took me to Red Hot Ranch, a Chicago favorite with two locations- one in Lakeview and one in Wicker Park. From the outside, it appears to be just another Chicago hot dog joint. Let’s be fair, it appears that way from the inside too. It looks like any other fast food restaurant, with a large number of tables and an old fashioned menu. The menu is simple; you can almost count the number of available items on two hands. I knew I had to order The Red Hot Ranch Burger. I decided on the double cheeseburger (with fries it’s just $5.25!). The burger comes with special sauce, lettuce, tomato, and onion. With one bite, this burger jumped to the top of my list. The thin griddled burger patties were cooked to crispy, juicy perfection. The veggies were fresh and crisp, which I always appreciate. The cheese was gooey, melty, and delicious, combining with the other toppings to make a glorious, messy delight. The burger is simple, but that’s what makes it work! The flavors of each ingredient have room to shine, making for a truly awesome burger. And you can’t beat the price! The fries were very tasty as well. They’re fresh cut, blanched, double fried, and there’s a huge portion. My only regret is that I was too full to order a milkshake! But don’t worry, I’ll be back!

Red Hot Ranch has two locations: one in Lakeview, one in Wicker Park. The Lakeview location is at 3057 N Ashland Ave. The Wicker Park location is at 2072 N Western Ave. Hours for both locations are Mondays through Thursdays from 10:30 am to 4 am, Fridays and Saturdays from 10:30 am to 5 am, and Sundays from 10:30 am to 4 am.


Kathy’s Home & Garden Tips – Easy Fall Decorating

Check out the grocery store first for decorating items. Large and small pumpkins are available, as well as squashes of all colors, shapes, and sizes. You will also find so many varieties of apples and pears. From red to gold and green- they’re all fall inspired! Gather several different colored pears and apples to display in bowls for a centerpiece. Use a red or orange piece of cloth for a runner. Add pinecones, in-shell nuts, and fall leaves. Add low candles in fall colors for a warm glow.

Fall plants are a great addition to your front door décor. Mums come in so many colors; you can do a display in any shade from white to red. With a little care and watering, they will have beautiful color till the snow flies. Variegated Croton is an annual that has large, colorful, shiny, striped leaves. Their colors are very fall oriented and tolerate cool temps. Ornamental cabbages (like kale) and plants (like gray white Dusty Miller) pair well for fall inspired arrangements. Pair these with pumpkins and squashes for a beautiful front door décor.

Search garage sales and thrift stores for small vintage frames. Find some leaves in great fall colors with interesting shapes. Press them under a weight till dry. Place in the frame with a bright background. Go through your old photos and frame some to make a display with the leaf frames and then arrange on a table or wall.

Glass hurricane lamps are very versatile. Start with a tall orange or red candle. Decorate by adding different items around the candle base. Try small acorns or assorted in-shell nuts. Check out the vast array of dried beans, they come in many colors and sizes. Or try my favorite: candy corn! Be careful when burning the candle so you don’t burn the base.

Craft stores are, of course, a wonderful place to find fall decorating supplies. Faux pumpkins come in all colors, shapes, and sizes. Stack three white pumpkins in a planter, like a topiary, and decorate with greenery. You can keep this out well into winter. Pick up some decoupage and decorate faux pumpkins with fall colored fabric. Get the kids involved decorating their spaces for fall too! Have fun!


These 10 Things Are Compromising Your Lawn

You’ve got a lot of tasks to tend to when it comes to maintaining your home, and lawn maintenance is one of them.

But did you know that certain things you might be doing could actually be harming your lawn? If your grass is looking like it could use a little TLC, it might actually be because of something you’ve done.

Before you go out and tend to your lawn, make sure not to commit the following blunders.

1. Cutting the Grass Too Short

There’s a reason why homeowners cut their grass short: so they don’t have to mow the lawn as often. But while you might think you’re saving time, you’re actually doing your lawn a disservice.

Cutting the grass blades too short can increase the chances of lawn disease and bald spots. Blades that are too short are not able to take in the crucial energy from the sun and other sources as a result.

And if you cut off the blade entirely, the grass stem will be exposed. When cutting the grass, don’t hack off any more than a third of the length of the blade.

2. Using Dull Blades on the Lawn Mower

Instead of getting a nice clean cut, the blades of grass will basically just be ripped off when using a lawn mower with dull blades. This is a problem because the ends will end up being frayed, which can make your grass vulnerable to disease, pathogens, and dryness.

Your best bet is to make sure your lawn mower has sharp blades to avoid any of these potential issues.

3. Cutting the Grass When it’s Wet

Don’t cut the grass soon after a rainfall. Mowing the lawn when the grass is still wet can damage the blades. Not only that, but you’ll increase the odds of weeds and diseases spreading as a result of grass clippings clumping from all the moisture.

Further, cutting the grass while it’s wet is also a bit dangerous because your chances of slipping on it are much higher. Make sure the grass is dry before you cut it.

4. Not Plucking Your Weeds

If you allow weeds to grow, the chances of them spreading around are pretty high. At that point, your lawn will be inundated with weeds and your weed removal job will be even more tedious and time-consuming.

Every weed that grows can produce dozens of seeds, which can easily spread. Keep on top of the weeds to avoid any unnecessary additional work you’ll have to do in the future.

5. Watering at the Wrong Time of the Day

It’s important for your lawn to get some moisture, and the most obvious way to do that is to water your lawn on a regular basis (adhering to any water conservation regulations in your local area, of course). But when you water your grass matters.

For example, watering in the middle of the day is a bad idea. That’s because the moisture will be easily evaporated by the heat and sun. If you water at night, your lawn will be vulnerable to fungus.

Instead, your lawn should be watered in the early morning hours. That way the lawn will be better able to absorb the moisture and retain it without losing it to the elements and being susceptible to potentially harmful fungus.

6. Watering Too Frequently

Watering your lawn is important for obvious reasons, but sometimes you can water too often. In addition to wasting water – which is a huge no-no in particularly dry parts of California – you run the risk of getting in the way of deepening the root system, which can make your lawn more vulnerable to disease. Instead, water less frequently but more in-depth with each session.

7. Not Watering Enough

On the flip side to the above-mentioned issue, not watering enough also has its consequences, which really don’t need much explanation. If your lawn is not given enough moisture, it will dry out easily and the root system will be too shallow to absorb nutrients from the soil very well.

8. Not Tending to Your Soil

The blades of grass are obviously important to tend to, but the soil should also be cared for. If your soil isn’t healthy, odds are your grass won’t be either. Soil without enough organic matter can’t help the roots absorb adequate amounts of moisture or nutrients.

Ideally, your soil should be able to hold moisture well but also drain adequately when you water the lawn. Consider having your soil tested to make sure it’s healthy enough to sustain an equally healthy lawn.

9. Not Fertilizing Properly

Fertilizing is a great way to keep your lawn healthy. But if you don’t get it right, you can actually damage your lawn. If that happens, you’ll have to either reseed the lawn or completely redo it, depending on the extent of the damage.

Applying fertilizer can actually burn the grass blades, leaving you with grass that looks more like hay than anything else. Be sure to understand the right strength fertilizer that should be used, as well as the appropriate application to avoid causing damage.

10. Killing Off All Insects

There’s no doubt that certain types of insects can wreak havoc on your lawn. But there are plenty of other insects that can actually help to keep it healthy.

Certain spiders and ladybugs, for instance, can help get rid of sap-sucking insects, and bees pollinate the plants. Before you start arbitrarily spraying an insecticide on your lawn,  consider using specialized solutions that are designed to target specific critters.

The Bottom Line

Your lawn plays a key role in your home’s external appearance and curb appeal. Knowing how to properly care for it can keep your home looking in tip-top shape and can even help maintain your home’s value.

THIS WEEKEND IN CHICAGO – Embracing All Things Fall!

Chicagoans close out yet another month! This last weekend in September, we’re embracing all things fall!

Opening the fall art season each September, Expo Chicago will host more than 135 leading international galleries from 27 countries and 63 cities for one of the highest quality platforms for global contemporary art and culture at Navy Pier’s Festival Hall (600 E. Grand Ave.) in the Streeterville neighborhood.  This exposition highlights the vast cultural opportunities that Chicago offers art enthusiasts, collectors, dealers, and visitors.  It also features select aligned programming, museum exhibitions, gallery openings, and much more!

Celebrating its 11th year, Chicago Gourmet – Rock the Fork, the nation’s premier culinary experience, returns this weekend to Millennium Park (201 E. Randolph St.) in The Loop.  Each September, celebrity chefs headline cooking demos on two stages, popular wine and mixology seminars serve up the coolest trends in a glass, and there’s an awesome lineup of delicious food, wine, spirits, and beer tastings that keep the crowd a rockin’ and a rollin’!  Join this concert of culinary delights to celebrate two of Chicago’s most beloved cultural attributes – food and music!!

Music and art, in all its forms, will be on display at the 6th annual Edgewater Arts Festival on Granville Avenue between Broadway Street and Sheridan Road in the Edgewater neighborhood this Saturday and Sunday (11:00 a.m.-7:00 p.m.).  This family oriented festival features 100 Chicago based juried artists exhibiting their original works in all mediums, three stages of live music with co-headliners Great Moments in Vinyl (performing Fleetwood Mac’s Rumours album Saturday at 7:15 p.m.), a beer and wine garden, local vendors, and more!

Oktoberfest Chicago will be bringing on autumn this weekend in the West Lakeview neighborhood at St. Alphonsus (1429 W. Wellington Ave.).  In addition to beer, brats, pretzels, pop, and Bavarian music acts on two stages, craft beer tastings will take place on Friday and Saturday nights (6:00 p.m.-9:00 p.m.) in the parish’s German Beer Hall. Kinderfest, featuring games and other activities for youngsters and families, is on Saturday and Sunday (11:00 a.m.-4:00 p.m.).  It’s one of Chicago’s most popular celebrations of fall and all things Bavarian!!

The 12th annual Hyde Park Jazz Festival takes place this weekend at Midway Plaisance Park (1130 Midway Plaisance North) in the Hyde Park neighborhood.  Two outdoor stages will feature over 150 of the finest in local, national, and international jazz artists with an outdoor dance floor.  Food/beverage vendors, picnic areas, artisan vendors, and family-friendly programming are also highlighted at this free festival!

The 2018 ALS Walk for Life takes place Saturday (9:30 a.m. festivities begin, 11:00 a.m. walk kicks off) at Soldier Field (1410 S. Museum Campus Dr.) in the South Loop.  Attendees will take a two-mile stroll along Chicago’s beautiful lakefront and complete the walk through Soldier Field before crossing the finish line.  Join the ALS family as they walk for hope, walk for help, and walk for life!!

Finally, the Chicago Cubs will be wrapping up their regular season this weekend hosting the St. Louis Cardinals at Wrigley Field (1060 W. Addison St.) in Wrigleyville.  Will the Cubs win their division?  Only time will tell!

Embrace Fall Because Winter is Next!

How Can Buyers Tell if a Seller is Willing to Negotiate?

Every buyer wants to get a deal on things that they buy, and real estate is no exception. In fact, the bigger purchases are definitely the ones that buyers want to get the best price on given the enormous cost associated with them.

If you’re looking to buy a new home in the near future, you’ll likely have a budget that you have to work within. Not everyone has millions of dollars in their bank accounts that can give them the flexibility to buy anything they fall in love with. Most buyers only have a certain amount of money to spend when it comes to buying a house.

When you find a home that fits within your budget, you may want to negotiate with the seller in order to whittle down the price as low as possible. It’s all part and parcel of real estate deals: both buyers and sellers will want to wheel and deal in order to get the best outcome.

But even before you put in an offer on a home, there may be signs that the seller is open to negotiations. Spotting a seller who may be willing to bargain can help you attain a more successful outcome on the purchase of your new home and potentially save you a lot of money.

Here are some ways to tell if a seller may be willing to negotiate with you.

The Home is Vacant

If the home that you’re interested in is vacant, that obviously means the sellers have already moved out. Sometimes the home might not be completely vacant and will still have some furniture left behind, but there may be other signs that the sellers no longer live there, such as boxes packed up, no clothes in the closets, an empty fridge, and so forth.

If you notice that the sellers have already moved out, there may be a chance that they’re motivated to find a buyer and get the home off their hands. If they’ve already bought a new home, moved into it, and started paying a mortgage on it, odds are they’re carrying two mortgages until they’re able to find a buyer.

If that’s the case, they probably want to sell quickly so they won’t be under the burden of carrying two mortgages.

The Market is Slow

Depending on the market, the seller’s motivation could go either way. If homes are being bought really quickly, then it’s likely a seller’s market. In this case, sellers probably don’t have to work as hard to sell their homes.

Buyers could get a better deal in a slower market because there’s simply less competition. In this type of market, there’s more inventory than buyers in demand. In this case, you may be in a better position to negotiate with the seller.

The Listing Has Been Up For a While

If the market is rather cool, it could be taking a while for homes to sell. The number of days on the market (DOM) for listings simply refers to how long it’s taking for homes to sell in the area. Check out how long a listing has been up on the market. If you notice that the DOM on a listing is higher than the average, you might be able to negotiate.

The Seller is Offering Incentives

There are a few different tactics that sellers can use to draw in buyers, and offering incentives is one of them. Perhaps the seller of the home you have your eye on is including some perks to sweeten the deal. They might be offering to throw in the furniture or appliances, or they may be offering to partially cover closing costs.

Whatever the incentive may be, the fact that the seller is offering them may be a sign that they’re motivated to sell, which is the perfect position you want them to be in to negotiate.

The Listing Mentions “Motivated Seller”

Speaking of motivated, the listing description itself might actually directly tell buyers that the seller is motivated. If the seller is really anxious to get the home off their hands, they may want to directly advertise this fact.

No matter what the market may be like, a seller who is truly motivated is probably not interested in a lot of back and forth and instead just wants to get a deal done. If you discover that the seller is motivated, find out exactly what their motivations are so that your negotiating tactic can be even more effective.

The Seller Wants to Close ASAP

Sellers might mention that they’re looking for a quick closing. Obviously, that means they’re looking to sell quickly and get their home off their hands. Whether it’s because they’ve already moved out or need to get the money out of their home quickly, wanting a quick sale often means the seller is open to negotiation.

The Bottom Line

The motivation of a seller plays a key role in how willing they are to negotiate. While an unmotivated seller may have all the time in the world to find a buyer who’s willing to offer the price they want, sellers who are more eager to sell can provide a great opportunity for buyers to get a great deal.