Neighborhood News – Lincoln Park, Lakeview, Chicago Loop, Navy Pier, Greektown

Several sure signs of summer are returning this week to our fair city. Street festivals, arts and crafts fairs, World Turtle Day,🐢  and Greek Independence Day highlight Chicago’s neighborhood adventures this week!

Signs of Summer Part 1…LincolnPark’s annual kickoff to summer is MAYFEST, 1000 W. Armitage (@Sheffield) celebrating its 25th season from Friday, May 20 to Sunday, May 22. Friday’s opening night runs 5pm-10pm, and Saturday and Sunday runs from noon to 10pm. Music and entertainment on two stages  showcases Chicago’s most acclaimed musicians. Mayfest offers delicious summertime food, and “all the libations needed to light up your weekend,” according to the organizers. They recommend $5 Mimosas on Saturday afternoon and free wine tastings on Saturday and Sunday. A suggested donation of $10 supports local charities. For more information, click here.

Signs of Summer, Part 2… It’s a very special Saturday, May 21 at Lincoln Park’s Peggy Notebaert Nature Museum, 2430 N. Cannon Drive. From 2pm-4pm, celebrate World Turtle Day by getting “up close and personal with the Museum’s resident turtles as well as several special guest species!” Meet reptile experts and learn how the Museum is working with the endangered Blanding’s turtle in the Chicago region, then take part in a very special Blanding’s feeding! Plus, make your own turtle-y awesome craft to take home! For tickets, click here.

Signs of Summer, Part 3…Down the road from Mayfest, at Lincoln and Roscoe, a new event premiers on Saturday and Sunday, May 21 and 22, from 10am-5pm.  The Spring Lincoln Roscoe Art & Craft Fair features paintings, sculptures, and fiber pieces, décor, jewelry and more; all handmade by artists and artisans. The festival also hosts live music, festival food and fun art activities for kids hosted by local businesses. Bring your gently used wall art to the festival to donate to the Chicago Furniture Bank, a nonprofit that distributes furnishings and art to those leaving shelters and moving into permanent housing. The event is hosted by the Lakeview Roscoe Village Chamber of Commerce. Free! For more information, click here. 

A Summer Reckoning…Harper Lee’s Pulitzer Prize-winning masterwork, ‘To Kill a Mockingbird’ starring Richard Thomas (‘The Waltons’) as Atticus Finch, an upstanding, widowed lawyer dedicated to justice for all in a small town, at the James Nederlander Theatre, 24 W. Randolph Street. Shows run through Sunday, May 29. Audience members are required to wear masks. Other requirements may be added or relaxed based on evolving guidance. For tickets,  click here.

Summer’s Promise…”The web of our life is of a mingled yarn, good and ill together.” At Navy Pier’s Courtyard Theater, 600 E. Grand Avenue, the plot of Shakespeare’s rarely-seen dark comedy, ‘All’s Well That Ends Well,’ revolves around the notion that no challenge can match the power of a determined woman, who is in love with a young man who does not return her affection. As the website says, “The resourceful Helena will go to any length to turn her visions of romance into reality—only to discover that happy endings are never as simple as they seem in fairy tales.” So true. Through May 29 at the Chicago Shakespeare Theatre. For tickets and information, click here.

A Victorious Summer…Celebrate the 200th anniversary of Greek Independence on Sunday, May 22, at 2:30 p.m. with the Greek Independence Heritage Day Parade on South Halsted. According to the organizers, during this parade celebration, visitors can see colorful traditional costumes and hear historical Greek melodies. The Greektown Agora (‘marketplace,’) runs from 12pm-6pm at Elysian Field at the corner of Halsted and Van Buren Streets, features vendors selling Greek gifts including art, jewelry, and crafts. For more information, click here.

Alison Moran-Powers and Dean’s Team Chicago

Restaurant Review – Honey Butter Fried Chicken welcomes dogs and their families to patio dining

As a dog parent, I look for places my entire family can have a great meal out. Where can I take my dogs, so they can feel like part of our larger family group?

Chicago is a great city for dog- friendliness. Many restaurants, especially during summer and fall, cater to our friends. For suggestions, click

One highly recommended, casual, family-friendly spot in Irving Park elevates fried chicken to an art form, while its patio welcomes our furry friends. This is Honey Butter Fried Chicken.

Recently, they posted a cute picture on their Facebook page, “We ❤️ our furry friends here at HBFC! With the warm weather this week, come hang out with them on our patio!”

It certainly helps to have a beautiful, welcoming patio that is both kid-friendly and pet-friendly. But the key to its longevity lies in attentive service and using antibiotic-free, cage-free, and humanely-raised chicken.

Even the prestigious Condé Nast Traveler took notice. “Honey Butter Fried Chicken’s interior feels artsy and industrial, with exposed ducts and wired metal light fixtures offset by wood-paneled walls and a cartoonish mural of the Chicago skyline,“ they intoned. “The full menu is listed on a blackboard behind the register, and the unmistakable aroma of freshly fried poultry permeates the air. “

A Google reviewer agreed. “Lovely outdoor patio, heated patio and indoor dining space. Order is placed on kiosks and it’s pretty self-service from there. Staff is friendly and takes great care of special requests. Chicken sandwiches are delicious to the last bite. One thing I liked is that they have multiple sandwich options to choose from based on fillings and not just heat level like other chicken spots. I just wish they had fries.” 

Try ”The Bubbe” Fried Chicken Sandwich, with fried chicken strips, “Everything Spice” mayo, and house-made dill pickles. Or, for adventuresome palates, “The Original” Fried Chicken Sandwich, is made with fried chicken strips and candied jalapeño mayo, and served with crunchy slaw. 

Vegans and vegetarians have a place here as well. Their Fried Tofu Honey Butter Sandwich has local non-GMO fried tofu and Honey Butter. Their Fried Tofu Buffalo Sandwich also has local non-GMO fried tofu, blue cheese, honey buffalo sauce, and a carrot and celery giardiniera.

Unusual sides include Buffalo Mac ‘n Cheese, which combines pimento mac ‘n cheese, fried chicken, buffalo sauce, and “fried crunchies.”Pimento Mac ‘N Cheese has Wisconsin cheddar and breadcrumbs.

Over the weekend, Honey Butter Fried Chicken serves brunch from 11am-3pm. Try their ‘brunched-up’ sandwiches with farm eggs, unique corn cake waffles with chicken, and southern style biscuits and gravy. Their homestyle cooking goes great with locally roasted coffee, and Honey Butter Fried Chicken’s Bloody Marys!

Another Google reviewer wrote, “The honey butter fried chicken sandwich is soooo good. The crispy chicken outer edges with the moist tender chicken on the inside combined with the honey butter works really well together. We ordered other dishes such as the French toast with chicken and the multi-piece chicken meals and they were also quite good. I would return for the sandwich alone. The service was excellent – you could tell the girl that was working there enjoyed being there – so nice to see that! She was attentive and sweet. We highly recommend this place for the great service and yummy food.”

Honey Butter Fried Chicken is located at 3361 N. Elston Avenue. They are open Sundays, and Tuesdays-Thursdays, 11am-9pm, and Fridays and Saturdays from 11am-10pm. They are closed Mondays.  For information and reservations, click here.

Alison Moran-Powers and Dean’s Team Chicago

Chicago Home and Lifestyles – Caring for cast iron cookware

Cast iron is the original nonstick cookware that can withstand extreme temperatures even in the oven. It comes in all types from regular skillets, grill pans, to griddles. Your grandmother used one way before nonstick coatings became all the rage. Then we found out the older nonstick pans were actually toxic. The pans made today are safe but do not offer the versatility of cast iron nor its’ heat resistance.

Cast iron does need a little extra care but it will last for years with proper seasoning. Seasoning is what happens when fats are heated to a point where they reorganize into something that bonds to the metal and gives you a nonstick surface. Oil is the best friend to the cast iron. It keeps it protected, keeping rust causing moisture away. Heat plus oil builds the patina and acts like moisturizer on your skin. 

Some new cast iron comes pre-seasoned, and you can cook on it right away. Test for it by heating a tablespoon of oil for 3 minutes then cooking an egg. No major sticking? You’re good to go. Seasoning an older skillet can take more times for the best results. Older skillets have smooth surfaces whereas new ones have a slightly pebbled surface. The pebbled surfaces are said to hold onto seasoning better. 

Contrary to popular opinion you can use a little mild soap to clean a skillet. Nor will metal utensils damage your surface. Cast iron will put up with a little abuse, it’s been around for hundreds of years. It is easy to maintain the surface of your cast iron. After cleaning return the pan to medium low heat. Rub it down with paper towels until it is smooth and shiny with no visible residue. You can also heat in the oven at 200 degrees for 15 minutes. Non saturated oil is best. Sunflower and soybean are affordable options. If you are short on time and cannot reheat at least wipe a thin film of oil to protect the surface, buffing till all greasy spots are gone. 

Lodge is a good source for cookware and all the knowledge you need to cook with and care for your cast iron. Go to and click on cast iron 101 for all the information you need.  

Kathleen Weaver-Zech and Dean’s Team Chicago

How to Sell Your Home to Family Without Making it Complicated

If you’re planning on selling your home, you might have a relative who might be showing interest in buying it off of you.

That could potentially make things a lot easier for you, considering the fact that there’s no need to market your property, and you can close the deal quickly.

Or, it could turn into an ugly mess that can leave you both on awkward terms with one another.

You want to make sure you get what your home is worth in the current market, but you also don’t want to compromise the relationship with the relative you’re selling to. When it comes to money, anything can happen.

Keep the following tips in mind when selling your house to a relative or close friend so you can keep the relationship intact while getting the most out of the sale.

Be Up Front About Your Relationship

If you or your relative don’t want to land in any hot water with the government, you’d be well-advised to disclose the nature of the relationship between the two of you with your lender. Anyone who fills out an application for mortgage insurance with the Federal Housing Authority will typically be asked to submit an Identity of Interest Certification form if there’s a relationship between the buyer and seller.

It’s not exactly common to have a mortgage denied as a result of family ties, but failure to reveal this information can point to mortgage fraud, which will lead to a denied loan application.

Make Sure Both Sides Are Getting a Good Deal

Your relative might confront you about taking your home off your hands with the intention of getting a hefty discount. And perhaps you might want to help them out in that way.

On the other hand, you might want to get the most out of the deal as possible. But if your relative can get a much better deal on the house down the block, there’s no sense in wheeling and dealing with you.

Either way, dealing with price points on a real estate sale between two parties who are close to each other can lead to major tension.

The best solution to this potentially sticky situation is to have a mutually agreed-upon appraiser come in and evaluate the home for both of you and provide an unbiased opinion of what the home is presently worth under today’s market conditions. That way no one is low-balling anybody, and only the fair price is being worked with.

If you do decide to offer a discount, make sure you’ve got an experienced real estate agent in your corner to help ensure that both parties benefit from the transaction.

Make Sure They Can Afford the House

Even after you and your relative agree on a price for the home, you still have to make sure they’ve got the finances to back up the purchase. It would be pretty awkward if you both go so far as to have a legal contract drafted up to complete the real estate transaction, only to find out shortly after that they can’t get approved for a mortgage.

Never assume that they’ll be able to find a lender who is willing to loan out the funds needed to finance a big purchase like this. Regardless of whether they’re buying off of someone they know, or a complete stranger, they’ll need to get approved for a mortgage.

If you fail to inquire about whether or not your relative is good for the cash before agreeing to sell to them, you could wind up back in square one if they fail to qualify for a loan.

Act as if you’re selling to any other buyer, and not just a relative, and ask for a pre-approval letter from their lender before you start negotiating on a price.

Get a Home Inspection

Even if the person buying from you has spent a ton of time in your home, that doesn’t necessarily mean they know all the nitty gritty about it, including any potential problems that may be lurking.

Maybe you aren’t even aware of some of the possible issues that might be hiding in your home. If any problems pop up after they’ve bought and moved into the home, it can cause some tension in the relationship.

To prevent that from happening, make sure you have your home inspected by a professional home inspector that you both agree to hire. That way any issues will be uncovered and laid out before the buyer. Not only will this help them make a more informed decision, it’ll also keep things kosher between the two of you.

Deal With Special Tax Issues

If you decide to arrange a seller take-back mortgage with the buyer, make sure you dot your “i’s” and cross your “t’s” with the IRS. That’s because they’ll calculate “imputed interest” when seller-backed mortgages for relatives are involved.

Even if no interest was charged on the mortgage, the IRS will consider interest to have been paid for tax reasons. They calculate imputed interest as a means of collecting tax revenues on mortgages that aren’t attached to any interest, or if the interest rate is extremely low.

Simply put, you could be subject to mortgage interest revenue if you carry a no-interest mortgage for your relatives, and they in turn could owe money in the form of capital gains taxes if the house is flipped for a quick profit.

While plans to sell to a family member have worked for many Americans, they’ve also turned out to be relationship killers for others. To make sure you’re part of the former group, make sure you seek the advice of a real estate agent and mortgage broker to protect both you and the buyer to avoid any problems in the near future.

THIS WEEKEND IN CHICAGO – Kick-Back – Relax – Enjoy Spring!

The roller coaster of temps from cold to hot are settling down to where they should be just in time for another beautiful May spring weekend here in Chicago! So, kick-back, relax and enjoy what this weekend has to offer!!

This year marks the return of in-person events with Illinois Craft Beer Week from May 13 through May 20.  This event celebrates Illinois craft brewers and the robust network of enthusiasts, team members, suppliers and partners that support the industry across the state. It also features a powerhouse lineup of in-person, fan-favorite festivals with a mix of taproom events, special promotions, advocacy outreach, and more! Plus, complementing the in-person festival will be a series of hybrid events. This Saturday’s hybrid event is Patio Parties (enjoy the taproom outdoor patios now open) while Sunday’s is Small Brewery Sunday (craft beer fans are encouraged to make a beer run to a neighborhood brewery rather than the grocery store to support economic growth in your neighborhood).

Join MPC Events for The “606” Trail Bar Crawl this Saturday (4 p.m. – 7 p.m.) meeting up at Humble Bar (3018 W. North Ave.) in the Humboldt Park neighborhood. The 606 Trail is commonly called the Bloomingdale Trail and is a former Chicago dilapidated railroad line that is now one of Chicago’s new jewels!  Participants will visit 3 bars along the 606 where you’ll stop for drinks and grab bites to eat, and in between the stops you’ll walk The 606 Trail exploring the neighborhoods of Wicker Park, Bucktown and Humboldt Park. It’s a great way to meet people, explore Chicago, and have fun!!

Immerse yourself in locomotive history at the Pullman Railroad Days this Saturday and Sunday at the Historic Pullman Foundation Exhibit Hall (11141 S. Cottage Grove Ave.). Visitors will get to explore four historic Pullman Cars from different eras at the 111th Metra station which includes Amtrak’s 1981 George M. Pullman (the final passenger car built by the Pullman-Standard Company), as well as the new exhibit “Railroaders: Jack Delano’s Homefront Photography” which is a striking visual exploration of the hard work and heroism of railway workers in the yard, on the trains and in the station during World War II.  Plus, don’t miss the. guided tours of the factory site, the historic Pullman neighborhood, and the Hotel Florence as well as the virtual reality experience that guides viewers through the technology powering America’s freight railroads! It’s a mix of free events and a single ticket for entry into others – All Aboard!!

Want to catch a baseball game this weekend? Here’s who’s in town:

The Chicago White Sox are hosting the New York Yankees this Saturday at 6:10 p.m. and Sunday at 1:10 p.m. at Guaranteed Rate Field (333 W. 35th St.) in the Bridgeport neighborhood.

The Chicago Dogs will be taking on the Gary SouthShore Railcats this Saturday at 6 p.m. and the Lincoln Saltdogs this Sunday at 3 p.m. at Impact Field (9850 Balmoral Ave.) in Rosemont. Fans of all ages are welcome for a one-of-a-kind experience where every day is fan appreciation day!!

Sue Moss and Dean’s Team Chicago

Neighborhood News – Lincoln Park, Old Town, Magnificent Mile, Museum Campus, Chicago Loop

Spring, thy name is now Chicago! It’s time to explore new worlds and boldly go where you haven’t before. And Chicago’s neighborhoods are stepping up with awesome new activities and gatherings to bring us all together.

In Lincoln Park…share a ‘Night of Ideas 2022’ at the Chicago History Museum, 1601 N. Clark Street, on Thursday, May 12, from 6pm to 11pm.  This ‘Marathon of Ideas’ ponders the theme “Where are we going?” According to the website, participants can explore the Museum after hours while engaging in intellectual talks, panels, and workshops on topics like living together in a city, social justice, education, urban planning, climate change and more. Guests include Chicago Department of Cultural Affairs and Special Events Erin Harkey, social justice artist Tonika Johnson and Chicago historian Sherman ‘Dilla’ Thomas.For more information, click here.

Still Gogh-ing…extended by popular demand through July 30, theImmersiveVan Gogh’s works –  includes the Mangeurs de pommes de terre (The Potato Eaters, 1885), the Nuit étoilée (Starry Night, 1889), Les Tournesols (Sunflowers, 1888), and La Chambre à coucher (The Bedroom, 1889) continues at Old Town’s Lighthouse Art Space, Germania Club Building, 108 West Germania Place. Date night packages and Yoga are available. For tickets and information, click here

Through the Lookingglass Alice! It’s back! Lewis Carroll’s classic tale is reimagined by the Lookingglass Theatre,this is a story about “birth and becoming, transition and transformation, and holding fast to the fantastic in the face of it all. It’s the anthem of Theatre Without a Net. And after a 7-year hiatus, the beloved story of a 7-year-old girl is back – painted in a fresh coat of magic for a new generation (audience and artist) to discover.” Lookingglass Alice is running now through July 31 at  Water Tower Water Works building, 821 N. Michigan Avenue. For tickets, click here

Penguins Walking… Remember the cute penguins that toured Chicago’s great landmarks during the pandemic? They’re back for The Great Penguin Party at the Shedd Aquarium, 1200 S. DuSable Lake Shore Drive, on Friday, May 13, from 6:30pm–11pm! The Museum Campus’ 21+ event has a 1920’s-era vibe, swinging to the Green Mill’s (Chicago’s original speakeasy) Alan Gresik Swing Orchestra. Add in delicious hors d’oeuvres and a beer and wine open bar (cash bar for cocktails) in the $100 per person ticket…it’ll be an awesome night! For tickets and information, click here.

Au Revoir, Moulin Rouge! Say a fond au revoir to the James M. Nederlander Theatre, 24 W. Randolph Street’s production of Moulin Rouge’ which performs its last Chicago production at the Nederlander on Saturday, May 14. “Enter a world of splendor and romance, of eye-popping excess, of glitz, grandeur, and glory! A world where Bohemians and aristocrats rub elbows and revel in electrifying enchantment.” Welcome to Moulin Rouge (trans: ‘red mill’). A colorful feast for your eyes and ears, the musical features modern and classical tunes from the last 60 years. For tickets, click here.

Write on…The inaugural American Writers Festival on Sunday, May 15, coincides with the American Writers Museum’s fifth anniversary. The free literary festival will be held at four stages inside the Chicago Cultural Center, 78 E. Washington Street, and one stage at the American Writers Museum, 180 N. Michigan Avenue, 2nd Floor. More than 75 contemporary authors, artists and playwrights will attend, including Cristela Alonzo (Music to My Years), David W. Blight (Frederick Douglass: Prophet of Freedom),Soyica Diggs Colbert, (Radical Vision: A Biography of Lorraine Hansberry), Joy Harjo, the 23rd Poet Laureate of the United States (Poet Warrior), andEvan F. Moore, (Game Misconduct: Hockey’s Toxic Culture and How to Fix It). As the website states, The Festival will host discussion panels and author signings with leading contemporary writers across various genres, including children’s and young adult fiction, science fiction, history, biographies, poetry, and satire, who will share their insights into their craft. For more information, click here.

Alison Moran-Powers and Dean’s Team Chicago

Restaurant Review -The Piggery Restaurant & Rooftop

Chicago weather has sure been crazy these past few weeks! From 80 degrees this week to April snow, area restaurants have needed to prepare for the best and worst of times during the spring season. 

With the weather so warm, I looked for all-ages outdoor dining options this week. One restaurant that captures the moment, rain or shine, is The Piggery. Just a mile from Wrigley Field on Irving Park Road, the Piggery has the Triple Crown of outdoor dining options: a rooftop bar, a fairy-lit tent and a blazing fire pit for dining and drinking pleasure. 

During the week, sandwiches, ribs, and daily specials dominate an extensive menu. Start with gluten-free Pig Pen Fries, with chili, chorizo, queso, caramelized onions, and pico de gallo. Or Pulled Pork Nachos, with guacamole, olives, sour cream, jalapeño and queso. 

The Piggery earned raves for their specialty-The Piggery Cuban, pairing pulled pork with ham, bacon, chorizo, Gouda cheese, pickles, a fried egg, and chipotle dressing, and served with fries. For those who prefer chicken or fish to pork, there’s a roasted BBQ Chicken, which gives you a half bird, prepared with Cajun rub and The Piggery’s own BBQ sauce, or Blackened Tilapia, served with avocado over roasted tomato sauce. Both the chicken and tilapia are served with your choice of two sides.

One Google reviewer wrote, “Great local place. Friendly service, amazing beer selection on tap (mostly local) and the pulled pork is awesome. Weekly specials plus taco Tuesday and weekday rib specials make this a solid week day choice as well. A+ restaurant. Also dog-friendly on a massive patio, so good place to go if mask mandates come back, or if you just like being outside.”

Weekends were made for brunches like this. On Saturdays and Sundays, from 10am to 2pm, customers can feast on many brunch options. Along with $15 bottomless mimosas, there are Swedish pancakes filled with lingonberries and Nutella banana crepes. Triple Berry Sourdough Pancakes combines fresh blueberry, raspberry, strawberry and mixed berry compote. The Piggery’s Breakfast Sandwiches are served on a croissant with scrambled eggs and hash browns. True to its porcine roots, there’s a Breakfast Sausage Sandwich, pairing a pork patty with cheddar and pico de gallo. The BLT is bacon, tomato, and lettuce bathed in chipotle dressing.

While reviews averaged 4.3 stars, there were more than a few that rated The Piggery a five. One Google reviewer was rapturous. “This was a life changing experience… I swear when the waiter came out she was Jesus! I could have kissed everyone on the mouth despite Covid. Duck + BBQ sauce = the secret to my 3rd marriage. 😉” 

The Piggery is located at 1625 W. Irving Park Road. Their kitchen hours are Mondays-Thursdays, 11am to 9pm, Fridays, 11am to 10pm, Saturdays, 10am to 10pm, and Sundays, 10am to 9pm. For reservations and more information, click here.

Alison Moran-Powers and Dean’s Team Chicago

Chicago Home and Lifestyles – Keeping calm during an argument

We’ve all been there.

You feel the adrenaline kick in, your face gets hot, and you are suddenly ready to say things you may never be able to take back. Whether the argument is with a friend, coworker, family member, or a complete stranger, you really don’t know how things will turn out. Hopefully it does not escalate into violence! You cannot necessarily control the situation, but in those first few seconds you can control yourself

You need to understand how you react normally to these situations. There are four basic reactive responses. “Fight” instinct will take an aggressive position. “Flight” will have you leave the situation entirely. “Freeze” will leave you unable to respond. “Fawn” instinct will have you doing anything to please the other party. So, realizing how we have responded in the past will help you avoid these situations in the future. Remember that the “Fight” response will usually lead to the most long-lasting damage. 

Be aware that these responses are affecting you at a subconscious level. Our brains do this so that we can react quickly in a dangerous situation. You need to know how to identify the “fight” impulse and learn to react logically. Try to mimic the feeling of “fight” in your body. Where do you feel it? Does it have a color? Does it feel numb or tingly? Memorizing the way “fight” feels will allow you to recognize it in the future.

Once you realize the “fight” response there are ways to stay calm in a fight. The best way to deal with this situation is to remove yourself. You can go into another room and scream into a pillow. Start typing in your notes app everything bothering you until you calm down, then delete it. Take a moment to soothe yourself. Do one of your favorite physical activities, like yoga or a brisk walk. This will bring you back into a safe place where logic rules. 

Of course, there are times when removing yourself is not possible. But as we now recognize the signs of the “fight” response we have time to calm down before things get out of hand. Breathe deeply. Often that will be enough to stave off a bad response. Summon all the restraint you can until you can leave. Remember that the fallout from a fight could be long lasting and might not be able to be fixed!

Kathleen Weaver-Zech and Dean’s Team Chicago

Boost the Value of Your Property With These 10 Simple Home Improvement Tips

Want to boost the overall value of your home? It’s a lot easier than you might imagine. In fact, a few key updates and changes can really hike up your home’s value with minimal work and investment up front. Consider the following tasks to help increase the value of your property and build instant equity.

1. Clean Up the Landscaping

Talk to any real estate agent or home stager and they’ll tell you the same thing: curb appeal speaks volumes. And the first thing home buyers will see when they pull up to your home is its landscaping. A yard full of weeds, overgrown grass, and unkempt bushes aren’t going to cut it in the property value department.

Homeowners tend to focus more on their interiors when trying to make a good impression, whether or not they plan on selling. But what about the exterior? Landscaping is one of the top three investments that boost the highest returns. Even $500 spent in outside yard work can rake in $2,000 in property value when everything is said and done, so it’s worth the upfront cost.

2. Change Your Front Door

After homebuyers have made it past your landscaping, they’ll be greeted by your front door before they step foot across the threshold. But how exactly will they be greeted? Never underestimate the power of a front door when it comes to impressions and property value.

Within the first six seconds of entering a home, people will already have formed an impression. And the front door has a lot to do with it. A door that has peeling paint or rusted hinges can make the overall home look dingy. But the opposite is also true: a new, well-maintained, freshly painted door can make the home seem more inviting, and thereby add a little extra in its value.

3. Create More Space

Back in the day, it was customary to have a bunch of different, smaller rooms. But these days, sophisticated homebuyers – especially within the millennial age group – are looking for more space to use. That doesn’t necessarily mean they need more square footage; instead, what they’re essentially seeking is an open concept and optimal flow and functionality.

If your home is cornered off by a myriad of walls, consider knocking some of them down. Even if they’re load-bearing, you can still remove them and leave a decorative column post to retain support. Right now buyers want a wide open space, and kicking down a couple of walls can be an easy and affordable way to create it, and thereby add more value to your home.

4. Enhance the Lighting

Looking for a cheap and easy way to boost your ROI? Consider updating your home’s lighting, which will noticeably elevate your property’s appeal.

Anything from dimmer switches, to pot lights, to pendant lamps can make a massive difference in the look and feel of a home’s interior. Lighting of various types creates a sense of space and air, and also allows you to create a specific mood.

5. Make Minor Repairs

You’d be surprised at how much of a difference a few minor issues can make in the look and feel of a home. From leaky faucets, to chipped floor tiles, to scuff marks on the walls, these little flaws can make an otherwise nice home look tired. Before you even start thinking about more major upgrades like a kitchen renovation, address the more basic things first.

These little fixes can really go a long way towards property value. Even spending a few hundred bucks fixing small things around the house can increase the value of your property by a few thousand dollars.

6. Upgrade Your Flooring

One of the first things people see when they walk into a home is the flooring. What are they stepping on? Creaking hardwood? Uneven tiles? Dated carpeting? About 94% of professional real estate agents recommend investing a little money on floors when it comes to boosting property value. And you don’t have to blow the budget, either.

Depending on what you install, you can recoup twice as much in value compared to what you spend. If you are planning on installing a completely new floor, consider hardwood. It’s what the majority of homebuyers want, and have even come to expect when they’re on the prowl for a new home.

7. Up the Energy-Efficiency Factor

If the HVAC system in your home is aging terribly, and your utility bills are through the roof, it’s about high time you swap that system for an energy-efficient one. Sure, it might cost you a pretty penny up front, but the amount of money that it can save you in heating and cooling bills will all be worth it.

In fact, you can save as much as 40%. Recent studies have shown that energy savings add 20 times the yearly savings to the overall value of your home. Energy-saving systems and appliances make your home more desirable.

8. Tune Up the Bathroom

Just about every real estate broker says that sprucing up the bathroom is a sure-fire way to add some value to your property. But you need to be careful in how you upgrade it. Spending way too much money on unnecessary finishes and features could land you more in the hole than before you started.

Focus on the kinds of upgrades that the neighborhood calls for. Stick to the upgrades that are economical, easy, and fast. Simple things like adding a glass shower door or replacing an old pedestal sink for a more decorative vanity can go a long way in spiffing up the bathroom, and the overall impression of your home. Do it right, and you can expect a 62% ROI on a bathroom update.

9. Give Your Kitchen a Facelift

In much the same way as a buffed up bathroom can add value to a home, so too can the kitchen. In fact, this central space is probably the most important room in the home, so it only makes sense to give it the attention it deserves. Done properly, you can recoup anywhere from 75% up to as much as 100% on a kitchen remodel.

Just like with a bathroom remodel job, it’s important to keep your expenditures in check when it comes to the kitchen. For example, if the average home value in your neighborhood is $300,000 and you put in $70,000 into your kitchen remodel job, you’re essentially out-pricing your home. If your kitchen doesn’t warrant a total gut job, focus on smaller things that bring the most ROI, such as new countertops, appliances, cabinet doors, light fixtures, and handed and knobs.

10. Paint

Talk about maxing out your return on investment. The number one way to add value to your home with the least amount of money required is though a simple paint job. In fact, you can get back as much as 168% ROI with a simple paint job. Before you even think of listing your home for sale, look around and make a judgment call about whether or not the place could use a fresh coat of paint.

Any peeling, scuff marks or discoloration will warrant a new coat of paint. And if your walls are painted fuchsia pink or lime green, you might want to change it to something more neutral to attract more buyers, and thereby increase the value of your home.

Even if you have no intentions of moving any time in the near future, updating your home in various ways can do wonders to the value of your property. But before you take the hammer to nail, make sure you get some sound advice from a real estate agent or appraiser to find out exactly what features your neighborhood calls for, and the recommended amount that should be spent on each project to maximize the amount you can get back.

THIS WEEKEND IN CHICAGO – Variety of Celebrations Take Center Stage!

This type of weekend has been a long time coming here in Chicago! Not only are there a variety of celebrations taking place, but the weather may actually be sunny, warmer and dry for a change. Take advantage of this weekend because you’ll never know when the next one like this will come along!

Didn’t have a chance to celebrate Cinco de Mayo this past Thursday? You’re in luck as many establishments will be celebrating this Saturday in a variety of ways including the following:

Moe’s Cinco de Mayo DAY Party takes place between 12 p.m. and 5 p.m. at Moe’s Cantina (155 W. Kinzie St.) in the River North neighborhood. Party at the biggest Mexican bar in Chicago for Cinco de Mayo.  A ticket gets you admission; a Mexican brunch buffet (12 – 3 p.m.); beer, Bloody Marys, Mimosas, Margaritas and more (12 – 4 p.m.); a live DJ; giveaways and more!  Here’s your chance to get out and enjoy the fun, day-drinking culture Chicago offers!!

The 6th annual Tacos N’ Tequila Bar Crawl returns bigger than ever between 2 p.m. and 9 p.m. with registration (2 – 5 p.m.) at Rock Bottom Restaurant & Brewery (1 W. Grand Ave.) in the River North neighborhood.  There are VIP and General Admission tickets available for purchase. The VIP gets you early entry at 2 p.m. with an exclusive VIP kick-off party; 2 free taco and 2 free drink tickets; a chance to enter the Taco Eating Contest (6 p.m. at Mother Hubbard’s Sports Pub); add-on a sombrero for only $10, plus all the GA benefits. The GA gets you in at 3 p.m. with the door cover charges waived; up to 50% off drinks, margaritas, and beers; 25% off select foods; tasty, themed drinks; DJs at select bars; a digital bar list, and much more! It’s time to get Taco’d!!

All Cinco de Mayo’d out?  This Saturday just so happens to be Kentucky Derby Day. Break out your most stylish floppy hats and pastels for the various Kentucky Derby Watch Parties taking place in Chicago along with Time Out Market’s (916 W. Fulton Market) Kentucky Derby Watch Party at 3 p.m. in the West Loop. Plenty of Mint Julep and Old-Fashioned specials will be available for purchase to quell your nerves while you root for your selected horse to win!  Plus, there will be prizes awarded for Best Hat and Best Dressed!

Finally, Sunday brings us Mother’s Day!  Celebrate Mom with the best Mother’s Day Brunches in Chicago or take her to one of the exciting theater productions taking place this weekend! Here are a few:

Moulin Rouge! The Musical runs through May 14th at the Nederlander Theatre (24 W. Randolph St.) in The Loop. This Broadway production has won 10 Tony Awards including Best Musical!  This Musical is a theatrical celebration of truth, beauty, freedom, and above all, Love!!

SIX offers two performances on Saturday (2 p.m./8 p.m.) and one on Sunday (2 p.m.) at the CIBC Theatre (18 W. Monroe St.) in The Loop.  After taking Broadway by storm, SIX makes a triumphant return to Chicago.  Join all six of King Henry VIII’s wives as they push their murderous, conniving husband aside and take back the mic, sharing and singing their own stories!

LaMer Entertainment has partnered with the Museum of Science & Industry to bring you an exciting comedy stage play, “The Ghetto Salon and Spa” this Saturday and Sunday (3:30 p.m./7 p.m.) at the Museum’s Grand Dome Theatre (5700 S. Lake Shore Dr.) in the Hyde Park neighborhood. This hilarious comedy musical has something for everyone with a series of twists and turns and surprises around every corner to keep you laughing until the very end! Plus, all proceeds will go to the non-profit organization “Kids R Actors 2.”

Finally, the Chicago Cubs are hosting the Los Angeles Dodgers this Saturday (1:20 p.m.) and Sunday (6:08 p.m.) at Wrigley Field (1060 W. Addison St.) in the Wrigleyville neighborhood. Great way to wrap-up Mom’s Day!  Especially with a W!!

Sue Moss and Dean’s Team Chicago