This One-of-a-Kind Home Will Lift Your Spirit

These days, it isn’t easy to surprise us. When you’ve been around homes as long as we have, you tend to get an idea of what to expect from any given property simply by staring at it from the sidewalk.

But every now and then, a truly unique house comes along and reminds us that, with enough attention to detail (and maybe just a little bit of faith), any place can be transformed into the perfect idea of home.

On a corner lot in Whiting, Indiana — a short 18 miles southeast of the city of Chicago — sits 1701 Cleveland Ave. This amazing four bedroom, four bathroom all-brick home boasts an open-floor concept, ample natural light, and impeccable craftsmanship, nestled on a quiet street in a peaceful neighborhood.

Oh, and did we mention that just 9 years ago, the property was known as St. John Lutheran Church?

The home’s owners, Monica and Thomas McKeown, converted this place of worship into a truly unique living space in 2012. Thomas had purchased the lot two years prior, after the Evangelical Lutheran ministry saw its congregation dwindle down to just a handful of regular members.

Originally constructed in 1914, the building’s foundation is as solid as they come; the walls of the lower level are several feet thick, reinforced by steel beams. The church was originally built to serve not only as a beacon for those looking for spiritual guidance, but also as a shelter, should the horrors of World War I ever reach the mainland.

Some might hesitate at the challenge of converting a church into a primary residence, but after years spent as a certified gemologist and jeweler, Monica knew exactly how to spot a diamond in the rough. The couple chose to retain much of the original structure’s look and feel, and to preserve every inch of stained glass the property had to offer. But the wiring and plumbing would be completely redone, and the space itself be molded and shaped, in order to provide all of the domestic amenities a person would need to feel at home.

Today, a century’s worth of history has been combined with just the right amount of comfort and style, resulting in a home that can appeal to even the most particular of tastes. Features include a brand new roof, several walk-in closets resulting in ample storage space, an art studio, and even a fully-functioning bell tower (which of course, was rung in celebration of the Cubs 2016 World Series Championship).

After living in the home for over 9 years, Monica and Thomas have decided to sell. The property’s full furnishings are being gifted to the eventual buyer (down to the piano). Situated just a short commute from Chicago, and only a half mile from Whihala Beach on beautiful Lake Michigan, 1701 Cleveland could be the perfect residence, vacation home, or investment property for you!

For more information, or to schedule a private tour, please contact the listing agent, d’aprile properties’ own Vince Kisala.

VINCE KISALA
REALTOR®
(312) 804-2193
vkisala@daprileproperties.com
www.vincekisala.daprileproperties.com

#daprilecares — Meet Kaylee, Our 2019 Bear Necessities Ambassador

Spend just five minutes with her, and try not to be impressed by 10-year-old Kaylee Marth. Despite her youth, Kaylee is whip-smart — as quick with a joke as she is with her genuine smile. She balances that precocious intelligence with a quiet innocence, and though she may speak softly, there is a sense of conviction behind her every word.

The daughter of Rose and Dan Marth, Kaylee is a kind and compassionate free spirit, who loves to be outdoors and experience the world around her. She is an avid cook, and devours new books and movies every chance she gets. She already serves as a reading tutor to children her own age, as part of a school program. And to top it all off, she is an accomplished jazz and lyrical dancer — her team recently finished first overall at a national competition in Las Vegas. Put it all together, and it is hard not to be in awe of all she has accomplished in just her first decade. 

And that is before you come to realize that she is also a cancer survivor.

Kaylee’s mother Rose is a cherished member of the d’aprile properties family, working as an agent in our Hinsdale office, serving the western suburbs of Chicago. But for three tense and trying years prior, all of her time and effort was put toward helping her little girl fight a disease that no child or parent should ever have to face. 

“It was a scary time — our whole world came crashing down. We had to face the idea that we could possibly lose our baby.”

On January 7, 2013, doctors informed Rose that Kaylee had Pre-B acute lymphoblastic leukemia, a form of cancer found in the blood and bone marrow. With less than 200,000 reported cases a year, it is a rare disease, but highly treatable. Those first few days were a whirlwind for the Marth family; within 48 hours of her diagnosis, Kaylee had begun chemotherapy treatment at Lurie Children’s Hospital.

The goal is to ensure that each child is in remission within 28 days of initiating treatment. Once the cancer cells are eliminated, the next stage is to increase and maintain the body’s defenses, ensuring that no relapse occurs. On March 14, 2015, Kaylee successfully ended her treatment, and is now cancer-free.

Despite already being her biggest fan, Rose couldn’t help but admire the grace that Kaylee showed in the face of such terrible circumstances. “Her personality throughout the whole ordeal was awesome. The truth is, she is the one who helped Dan and I get through, by always remaining bubbly and positive.”

Against such odds, it can be easy to forget what it’s like to be a kid. That’s when the Bear Necessities Pediatric Cancer Foundation came into the picture. After meeting with a social worker, Rose and Kaylee learned of the organization’s Bear Hug program, creating customized experiences in order to brighten the life of a child battling cancer.

“At first I was hesitant,” Rose recalls. “We had always been fortunate to have an amazing support system of family and friends around us. I thought surely there was someone else more in need than us.” But after it was explained that the focus of the program was to help kids rediscover their childhood, Rose and Kaylee were on board. Soon, the entire family was off to Universal Studios on behalf of Bear Necessities — and Kaylee was realizing her dream of visiting Harry Potter World first hand.

“The great thing about it is that you are so wrapped up in fighting the illness, that you forget that your children still need to have fun, and enjoy life,” Rose recalls. “When she first got sick, it took us so long before we would even go out to dinner. There were so many experiences that we kind of held back on. That Orlando trip was really the first time we left the house to spend time as a family — it turned what was a really dark time in our lives into smiles and laughter.”

“It’s definitely made us appreciate day-to-day life, even more than we did before” Rose states. “For us, it’s about giving back, and being thankful for her continued health, as well as many of the other kids we met along the way. Because you know, there were good stories, and some stories that weren’t so good. And once you’ve been through something like this, you just want to do all that you can to help others who know this pain.”

Today, Kaylee and her family take every opportunity to give back to those in need. It was Kaylee’s idea to turn her “End of Treatment” party into a fundraiser for kids with cancer. And in 2019, she is excited to join hands with d’aprile properties, and serve as the Bear Necessities Ambassador for our annual #daprilecares campaign. Our goal is to help BN in their mission to eliminate all forms of pediatric cancer.

If you would like to join us in the fight, please visit our our page and donate.

In the end, what advice does Rose have for other families who go through what hers went through? “You have to know that you will get through it. It may not seem like it now, it may not seem like it in a month. But you have to remain positive, for yourself and your child. If you can do that, you will somehow manage to pull through, even when you think you can’t.”


Won’t You Be Our Neighbor?

Welcome to our Mortgage Minute series, where our partners over at Midwest Lending break down the particulars of home financing, and bring a personal touch to the lending industry, as only they can.

You’ve found the perfect home, and are looking to settle in what looks like the quaintest community this side of Mayberry. Your future neighbors wave as you pull in the driveway. The house is mere blocks from a great school that the kids can walk to. And the property taxes! So low you can afford to take an extra weekend vacation this year!

Thus represents the average amount of research that most new homeowners put into their potential new ‘hood. You think about the kids, you think about your wallet. But there is so much more to your community than good schools and friendly neighbors. The area you live in needs to be as perfect a fit for your family as the four walls that surround them while they sleep at night. After all, your home more than just the property you live in; it’s a collection of the people and the personalities that make up your entire neck of the woods.

So what else should you be looking at? How do you find the facts you need to settle on the right area for you and your family? Think of it like playing a game of Monopoly: you’ve chosen the Thimble piece, got your cash in order, and picked up the dice. It’s time to take a look at the rest of the board. And you can do it without leaving the comfort of your own home.

Go Directly to Jail, Do Not Pass Go: No matter how nice a given area looks, crime can be lurking just around the corner. A fairly quick search on sites like crimereports.com or spotcrime.com can give you all you need to know about violent crime statistics in the area, and offer access to police blotter aggregators. Heck, a “Google Street View” sneak peek can give you a quick glance at the feel of the block. But if you really want to feel safe about your future neighborhood, reach out to the local police department and ask them for a crime report — they’ll be happy to oblige.

Pennsylvania Railroad: The kids might have a short walk to school, but did you think about your work commute? What about your proximity to the freeway, or your nearest hospital? Quiet, peaceful neighborhoods tend to be located in slightly more isolated areas, which often reduces the amount of public transportation options. Make sure that you have ease of access to all of the activities that make up your life, from your office to Home Depot. A little time spent on sites like walkscore.com could go a long way towards making every day life accessible to you and your family.

Community Chest: Last but not least, what about the culture that makes up your new ‘burb? Does the neighborhood value diversity and take pride in its local businesses? Are you going to be overrun by baby strollers, or kept up at night by singles looking to party till dawn? Research income, racial diversity, age, and relationship status stats on sites like city-data.com. Your lifestyle is an important part of the place you call home; make sure that you and your family FEEL like a part of the community.

Of course, your d’aprile properties local area expert can help you find the perfect place to settle. But by taking the time to do a little homework upfront, you’ll know ahead of time exactly what you’re looking for in a community.  

It’ll be better than winning 2nd Prize in a Beauty Contest…



Busy Parents’ Guide to Selling a Home

Photo by Daria Shevtsova from Pexels

We’d like to introduce you our latest guest blogger, Kris Louis of Parentingwithkris.com! Kris combines her first-hand experience as a home seller with her everyday experience as a mother, in order to bring a fresh perspective to the real estate process.

Selling a home can be stressful for anyone. Selling your home when you have kids can often seem downright impossible. However, with a little planning, you can keep your home clean and have it ready for showings, even with very little notice.

Store Half Your Stuff

According to real estate experts, decluttering your home is a must. When a buyer walks through your home, they want to imagine their own belongings there, and they can’t do that if they can’t see through all the clutter. So, box up at least half of your stuff and put it in storage, removing all the outdated decor, family photos, kids’ artwork, knick-knacks, sports gear, and bulky furniture. Ideally, you want your house to look like a minimalist model home.

Also, keep your kids’ favorite toys in the house, but store all the rest. Assure your children that you’re not throwing their toys away — you are just putting them aside until you get into your new house. For the toys remaining, have a simple storage solution (like an ottoman or bench with storage inside), so you can get toys out of sight in a flash before a showing.

Deep Clean from Top to Bottom

Get crayon marks off the walls, sticky stuff off the baseboards, and handprints off the doorknobs and windows. Scrub the kitchen and bathrooms until they sparkle. If you don’t want to deep clean yourself, hire someone. According to Kiplinger.com, most buyers do not want wall-to-wall carpeting. If you have the money, replace your carpets with vinyl planks, wood flooring, or tile. Used carpets never look quite new, even if you steam clean them. Another bonus of replacing carpet is that other types of flooring are easier to clean in a jiffy.

Stage Your Home and Take Photos

To stage your home, make sure there are no toys, baby gear, or pet items in the living room, kitchen, bathrooms, or other common areas of the home. You want as little personal items in the home as possible. In your kids’ rooms, paint over any kiddie-themed murals and remove bean bags, dollhouses, play tables, and so on. Decorate with simple, gender-neutral decor. Once your house is clean and everything is staged, you should have professional photos or video taken to create a virtual tour of your home. Your real estate agent can recommend someone experienced to use the right angles and lighting to make your home look larger.

Prepare for Showings

Ideally, you’ll be able to give your realtor set hours to do showings every week. If he shows the home during these blocks of time, you’ll know the schedule and be able to clean ahead of time. In between showings, you’ll still have to live in your home without getting it messy, which seems impossible with kids. So, get in the habit of cleaning bathrooms and doing laundry every night. If possible, grill and eat outside as much as possible, using paper plates. Your kids will think you’re having a fun picnic, and your kitchen will remain tidy.

Although scheduled showings are ideal, undoubtedly there will be times when last-minute showings are necessary. Practice a 15-minute clean routine so you can get your home clean quickly when you get a call about an unexpected showing. In 15 minutes, you can:

  • Remove toiletries from the bathroom, put down the toilet seat, and wipe off the counter.
  • Empty every garbage can and diaper pail, and spray air freshener nearby each.
  • Put dishes in the dishwasher, quickly sweep the kitchen floor, and wipe off the counter.
  • Make the beds, fluff the pillows, and close the closets. Turn on all the lights in the house, and open blinds and curtains to let in the light.
  • Pick up any remaining clutter and check for any off-putting smells.
  • Grab a few toys and some snacks and head to the park or another outing with the kids.

Staging your home right and keeping it as tidy as possible will make it more attractive to potential buyers. With a little effort and a good routine, you will always be prepared for showings, and you’ll have offers rolling in before you know it.



Dancing in the Streets!

All photos courtesy of Alex Santos

The corporate headquarters of d’aprile properties sits at 1732 W. Hubbard St., on the west side of Chicago. Two years ago, it might have seemed like a seemingly inauspicious central location from which to operate a thriving full-service real estate firm.

Nestled among faceless factories and towering industrial edifices, it may seem like the most unlikely place to drive foot traffic toward your business. So what do you call it when that West Town manufacturing neighborhood that you call home suddenly morphs into the jewel of the Chicago beer-brewing industry?

Lucky?

Our signature location now rests comfortably amid what is now unofficially dubbed as the Chicago Brewing District, comprised of Goose Island, Great Central Brewing Company, All Rise Brewing, Finch Beer, and of course, our next-door neighbor and GABF-winner, On Tour Brewing Co.

How times have changed! On August 3rd and 4th, d’aprile properties happily took part in the 2nd annual Dancing in the Streets Festival. The brainchild of our good friend and On Tour Brewing Company founder Mark Legenza, this one-of-a-kind craft beer and live music family event is co-sponsored by the West Town Chamber of Commerce and Chicago’s Brewing District.

The d’aprile properties booth was run by agents and staff alike, and featured a t-shirt tie-dying station. All proceeds benefited our 2019 signature charity, the Bear Necessities Pediatric Cancer Foundation.

The streets were packed with Chicago craft beer enthusiasts and jam-band fanatics alike. Festival attendees were treated to a surplus of savory taco trucks, local artwork, crafts, and games for all ages. Those who came for live music were treated to 10 eclectic Chicago bands over two days, including Terrapin Mountain, Paradise Waits, and Mr. Blotto.

Needless to say, a good time was had by all! We are already looking forward to next year’s event, as we continue living and loving our amazingly vibrant neighborhood home.


How to “Win” National Garage Sale Day

Celebrated across the U.S., National Garage Sale Day takes place each year on the second Saturday of August. Many households take advantage of the holiday to purge their homes of unwanted clutter, from furniture and antiques to old toys and clothes. Often, residents of certain neighborhoods — and even entire towns — will launch community-wide sales, in order to satisfy the hunger of casual shoppers and yard sale aficionados alike.

Anyone who has ever lived in the suburbs knows how hectic a neighborhood can suddenly become once people see a well-placed Garage Sale sign. So how do you beat the crowds and ensure that you get the best bang for your buck? Glad you asked!

  • Plan Ahead and Make a List: Forget driving around looking for signs — today’s savvy shopper knows that the best way to scope out the best sale spots are through apps like  YardSaleTreasureMap and Nextdoor. Also, remember that there is danger ahead: low garage sale prices cause impulse buys! Don’t buy things you don’t need, treat it like a trip to the grocery store. Know what you want to buy ahead of time and stick to your list!
  • Be Nice: Many people think that in order to be successful at a garage sale, you need to be a cutthroat negotiator or “haggler”. Remember, sellers are often nostalgic, so show genuine interest in important items, and be sure to voice your appreciation of their quality. You may end up with more negotiating room, or find yourself the victor in a bidding war by tapping into the seller’s sentimentality!
  • No Price Tag? Make an Offer: The most overused sentence at any garage sale? “How much do you want for the (insert item here)?” Don’t be aggressive, but do be assertive. Don’t give the seller the chance to pad the price, simply ask, “Would you take $5 for this?”
  • Know When to Walk Away: You show up on Saturday morning, and the seller refuses to budge on an overpriced item that you desire. Don’t cave — it’s better to walk away than overpay for someone else’s throwaway item. But if you just can’t let it go, come back late on Sunday and see if the item is still there. You may find that the seller is more motivated to negotiate before they close up shop.

Now you have all the tools you need to become a garage sale superstar! Happy Hunting!


What to Expect When You’re Inspected

Congratulations! You’re through the marketing phase of selling your home and you’ve found the perfect buyer. The contract has been signed, and the closing table is within sight!

The Contract Phase is the final step before home closing. Typically, during this period the buyer will order a home inspection to be performed. Home inspections are a vital part of the real estate process, and oftentimes the contract will be contingent on the final results. The more you know about the inspection process, and how it affects you as the seller, the more confident you can be moving forward with your transaction.

Items identified during a home inspection might seem minor when looked at individually, but collectively they can add up to major headaches in the form of delayed closings, repair costs, or even a renegotiated sales price. Follow these few simple tips to help ensure that your inspection goes smoothly.

Be prepared: Inspectors are required to enter every area of your home, so make sure that they have easy access to any attic or crawlspace. Remove any additional clutter that may block the inspector’s view. And if your home is vacant, make sure that all utilities are still turned on and working. Yep, they need to be checked too!

Let your agent meet the inspector: You may feel the need to be present during your inspection, to ensure that things go smoothly. Take our advice: make yourself scarce. Trust your real estate agent to be present, and to handle any questions that may come up. If you try and shadow or constantly engage the inspector, you can delay the process. You also may make the buyer uncomfortable, as it is their right to attend the inspection.

If it’s broken – fix it:  Don’t hide anything, as the inspector will find it. Concealing even the smallest defects makes you look deceitful, and will cause the inspector to wonder what else you’re hiding. If you feel that a given defect is serious enough to affect the process, have it fixed ahead of time.

Get the upper hand:  If you do have concerns about the condition of your home or property, hire an inspector yourself to check out your home prior to listing it for sale. You’ll get an honest opinion on any repairs and improvements that may affect your sales price. Talk to your d’aprile properties agent about these items for additional advice on what changes will have the greatest impact on your home’s value.

Don’t worry, you’ve got this! Put your faith in your d’aprile properties real estate professional. Their job doesn’t end once the contract is signed. In fact, that’s when their most important work begins!


Life is Better at the Lake

On Thursday, July 25, d’aprile properties once again held its Lake Geneva Boat Tour event! Because a majority of second home buyers in the Geneva Lake market reside in the Chicagoland communities we serve daily, this annual tour is a fantastic opportunity to better acquaint our Illinois-based agents with the area, and enjoy a fun day together in the sun.

Our day began at the Lake Geneva Yacht Club, who served as both our boarding location, and the event space for our after party! Our gracious hosts provided their pier, so that all in attendance could climb aboard The Walworth, also known also as the U.S. Mailboat. The ship is an extremely versatile setting, hosting a variety of special events such as weddings, anniversary parties, and business meetings. Tonight, it would play host to approximately 100 real estate professionals, all looking forward to seeing all the beauty and excitement that Geneva Lake has to offer.

Our agents were treated to an hour of refreshments, cocktails, and plenty of crisp and clean lake air, which was good for the senses and for the soul. The entire party then disembarked in order to take a private tour of Black Point Manor, a one-of-a-kind architectural masterpiece sitting on five acres, with a private lagoon, perennial gardens, and 464 feet of level lake frontage.

The listing is presented by our very own Wendy Murphy, and is currently offered at $8,495,000.

Back on the boat, our d’aprile properties team members enjoyed a beautiful sunset, before heading back to the yacht club for a private open-deck cocktail party, where they dined and danced the night away.

This amazing event is one of the highlights of the d’aprile properties calendar, and we want to thank all of our partners and attendees who combined to make this year’s tour a wild success. We’re already looking forward to next year!


Just Add Chlorine?

As the season for family trips and summer vacations nears its end, many homeowners ask themselves the same question — would it be easier to simply put in a pool? After all, there’s nothing like taking a dip in your very own crystal-clear swimming pool on a hot summer day. Many homeowners and home buyers see a pool as a high-end amenity that will enhance their family’s life and make their home more desirable on the resale market. But the idea of peacefully floating in the privacy of your own backyard may distract you from the reality that comes with pool ownership.

Before making a decision, you need to determine the total value that a swimming pool will bring to you and your family — not only as part of your biggest financial investment, but also to your quality of life. Let’s look at each.

Will an in-ground pool add market value to my home?

To answer that question, your best bet is to speak with your d’aprile properties real estate agent. They will look at comparable homes that have a swimming pool in your neighborhood, and provide you with a fair market estimate based on those findings. If you live in a higher-end neighborhood, and most of your neighbors have pools, it may make sense to add one. Let’s say that your home is currently valued at $250,000, but a similar home in your neighborhood with an in-ground pool is on the market for $285,000. A market value increase of $35,000 sure sounds like a smart investment, right?

But the number crunching doesn’t stop there. Remember that installing a pool comes with significant cost. According to HouseLogic, the average amount in the U.S. to install, equip, and fill a 600-sq.-ft. concrete pool starts at $30,000. That $285,000 estimated price tag for your home may no longer sound as exciting, seeing as how after you spend the money for installation, you are now left with a net increase in value of only $5,000. And let’s not forget, maintaining a pool also costs money — heating, filtration, and cleaning can easily run you thousands of dollars per year. In the end, HouseLogic states that by installing a pool, on average, owners might increase their home’s value 7% when it comes time to sell.

Will an in-ground pool add quality of life?

As with most decisions in life, money is not the only factor involved. Ask yourself the following questions:

  • Do you live in a warm-weather climate, where you could maximize the use you get out of your very own pool?
  • Is your property large enough to accommodate a pool, and still leave room for gathering and entertaining? 
  • Do you have young children who will benefit from the added physical activity that comes from having a pool?
  • Will a pool simply make those hot summer months more bearable?

In the end, no one but you can truly determine the value that a swimming pool will bring to your home. It is best to add up the personal benefits that will come from spending summers in the sun, and then speak with your d’aprile properties agent to make sure that the financial value will benefit your family’s future.


d’aprile West Town Walks the 606!

Photo Courtesy of choosechicago.com

On Friday, July 19, our West Town Chicago and Lakeview offices teamed up for our first annual Walk the 606 Event — a fundraiser to benefit the Bear Necessities Pediatric Cancer Foundation.

The 606 is a Chicago landmark — a linear park and trail network that combines art and history with event spaces and alternative transportation avenues. Over a decade in the making, the 606 was the signature project of Mayor Emanuel, and provides both residents and visitors alike with acres of breathtaking green space.

Our agents bravely endured the extreme temperatures (at one point reaching 107 on the heat index value), and raised over $1,000 for the cause, before coming together to cool off at Jack & Ginger’s pub.

We want to thank each and every team member for participating, and for raising awareness of this great Chicago foundation. d’aprile properties is committed to supporting Bear Necessities in their mission to eliminate pediatric cancer. If you would like to join us in our mission, please visit our fundraising page HERE.