2nd City? Try Again.

Chicagoans are a proud people. They take pride in their city, and in the 77 distinct and diverse neighborhoods that form this beautiful tapestry of history, art, and culture. They celebrate tradition while simultaneously looking toward the future, happy to serve as the center of entertainment, hospitality, and industrial innovation for the entire midwest.

It seems as if the rest of the country is taking note.

For the third year in a row, Chicago was named the best big city in the U.S. by the readers of Condé Nast Traveler. A record 600,000 registered voters weighed in, touting the city’s architecture, museums, local cuisine, and limitless craft breweries as major selling points. But the magazine made it a point to touch on one of the more personal aspects of the city, citing its residents as, “some of the most pleasant people you’ll find anywhere.”

In a statement on Monday morning, Chicago mayor Lori Lightfoot proudly stated, “This wonderful recognition not only reflects the beauty and excitement of our great city, but also our tourism industry’s dedicated efforts to attract people from across the country and around the globe.”

“Chicago will always roll out the welcome mat for visitors and continue showcasing the sights and sounds of our world-class institutions and cultural life throughout our dynamic neighborhoods and communities, as well as in our magnificent downtown.”

Let d’aprile properties be your personal tour guide to all of the wonder that the great city of Chicago holds. Each and every one of our city-based agents is a targeted expert, personally experienced not only with their marketplace, but with the surrounding communities as well. Being part of a community means having a unique grasp of why people are drawn there in the first place — the promise of good people and unique experiences, in a place that feels like home.

Experience. Expertise. Empathy. It’s time to discover what makes d’aprile properties different.


#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.”


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.



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!


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.

 

 

 

 

 

 


Saving for Your First Home as a Millennial

It’s finally here, the first time you get to choose a new place to call home. The big question is: are you prepared for it? Many Millennials are quite ready; in fact, they represent the largest group of homebuyers in America. In other words, if you’re in your 20s, you are part of the generation that is taking over the house-buying arena. So how will you know if you are prepared, and have saved enough money for a first home purchase? There are a few things to consider:

Budget Is Everything

If your budget isn’t set up properly, you may be in danger of future financial problems. Make sure you have reviewed your budget before you begin looking for your home, just so you know how much home you can afford. A term to keep in mind that is often used in the financial industry is the Debt-to-Income ratio (DTI). Put simply, your DTI is a comparison of how much debt you have (and will have) to your income stream. This comparison is very important to include in your budget when you’re creating or reviewing it.

Remember, when buying a home for the first time, you will be taking on more debt — often more than $100,000. So, if you already have a lot of debt and a low income, loan agencies may think twice about offering a large mortgage to you. Being able to pay off your debt is key in building your financial present and future.

A Savings Account Creates Opportunities

During the home-buying process, make sure you’re saving as much money as possible. A savings account is important because most loan agencies will require a down payment on the home, which would require a large amount of money in your account before you buy. It’s best to compare banks to find the best offerings that match your lifestyle and financial goals. As you search for a new bank, remember that online banking can offer special accounts that incentivize you to save money.  One of which is the absence of fees — which normal banks would charge — including start-up fees, monthly fees, and more. Other perks could include the ability to set up transfers when you get paid.

There are plenty of other ways to grow your savings account on your own. One could be to pay yourself before anyone else. To do this, you can set up automatic transfers from checking to savings on your pay day. Another suggestion would be to spend money at the grocery store, instead of eating out. There are plenty of ways to save, just find what works for you.

Secondary Income May Be Necessary

Finally, if you find homes are out of your price range, you may want to consider a “side hustle”. There are many opportunities that won’t overwhelm your schedule, and are easy to pick up. any jobs allow you to work from home, such as Survey Junkie, or Swagbucks. Both companies will pay you to take surveys; the length of a survey will determine how much you receive. Another at-home job is Inbox Dollars; they ask you to watch videos and give feedback on them — simple, quick, and easy.

Other excellent side hustles include ridesharing, homestay, and food delivery services. Though each may be simple, they will require more work than taking surveys or watching videos. As you make your choice on a secondary form of income, keep in mind that you are working to increase your savings, which will allow you to buy the home that you want.

Fun Should Be a Part of the Process

No matter where you are in the process, buying your first home is one of the most exciting times of your life. Though it takes preparation and planning, make sure you have fun while finding the home you’re happy with – after all, it will be yours soon!


The Down Payment Dilemma

Photo courtesy of rawpixel.com from Pexels

It’s a phrase you’ll hear often coming from today’s home renters: “I would love to own my own home, but I just can’t afford the down payment!” It doesn’t matter how high your credit score is, or how much money you bring home in your paycheck — saving up a large enough sum of money to put down on a piece of real estate is no small feat. It takes patience, careful planning, and more than a little discipline with your personal finances. When you factor in today’s rising home prices, many feel that coming up with a down payment on a new home is at best a long-term goal, if attainable at all.

But the truth is, home ownership may be more within reach than you think. Let’s start by dispelling some myths surrounding the dreaded down payment:

MYTH #1: It Starts at 20%.

Flat-out FALSE. It is a long-standing misconception that you need to put no less than 20% of the home sale price down, in order to receive financing. The notion has been around for so long that, according to a 2019 study by NerdWallet, more than 6 in 10 Americans (62%) believe this to be true. 

While an upfront payment of 20% will allow you to secure a loan without mortgage insurance, you can actually get home financing today with as little as 1% down, depending on the loan program. In fact, if you are in the military, or live in certain designated rural areas, you may even be able to get a loan with no money down at all, if you meet certain criteria. Talk to your d’aprile properties agent, and allow them to refer you to a mortgage professional who can steer you toward the right loan product for your personal financial situation.

MYTH #2: Cash Will Win Out Every Time

Half truth. We live in a competitive housing market, and oftentimes a solid home in a sought-after neighborhood will often receive multiple offers. The belief out there is that a cash buyer will always win a bidding war over a first-time home buyer, because they are guaranteed to close on time, with no potential hurdles to their home financing situation. This is not always true; in fact, it is not uncommon for a first-time home buyer to win a bid over a cash bidder, depending on the seller’s individual situation. 

Sometimes, the seller may not be in a hurry to sell, and a first-time home buyer may be able to persuade them with a higher bid. Also, consider the fact that many sellers go through a rather emotional experience when saying goodbye to their home — a sincere, hand-written letter from the buyer may resonate with the seller, giving them a leg up on an all-cash offer.

MYTH #3: Lenders Frown Upon Gifted Down Payment Funds

False. The truth is, it is perfectly legal to be gifted the money for a down payment by a family member. If your parents or grandparents have the means, almost any lender will allow them to provide you with payment assistance. It just has to be done the right way — and there will be extra paperwork involved. First, it has to truly be a gift, with the donor providing a signed letter stating that the funds do not have to be paid back. Second, the donor must of course prove that they have the necessary funds to provide such a gift, so they should be prepared to have their finances inspected. Finally, gifted funds have no effect on the underwriting process. You’ll still need to have good credit, and be able to prove that you have the financial means necessary to pay your mortgage once you close.

In the end, while they may take a few extra steps on your part, there are many ways for someone short on cash reserves to make a solid down payment on a home. The key is to determine your home buying power BEFORE you begin your home search. After all, no amount of expertise on the part of your real estate agent will help if you aren’t financially prepared to make an offer. Be sure to talk to your d’aprile properties agent, and let them introduce you to their trusted mortgage pro, who will let you know in confidence if the time is right for you to buy.


Celebrate National Ice Cream Month at Julie Ann’s in Crystal Lake!

Summer’s heat can be brutal — thank goodness July is National Ice Cream Month! We have former president President Ronald Reagan to thank for it; in his 1984 proclamation, The Gipper called for all citizens of the United States to observe these events with “appropriate ceremonies and activities.” He also declared the third Sunday (Sundae?) of the month as National Ice Cream Day.

The world’s coolest and most consumed confectionery (your average American eats 23 lbs. of ice cream a year) can be traced back as far as 2nd century BC. It is said that Alexander the Great — King of Macedonia and one of history’s greatest military minds — was frequently known to scarf down a snack of snow and ice laced with honey and nectar. Can someone get this man some sprinkles?

No matter how you choose to celebrate this month-long dedication to dairy’s finest form — by cone, cookie, or cake — we at d’aprile properties know there’s only one place to go: Julie Ann’s in Crystal Lake! Located conveniently downtown, Julie Ann’s has been a staple in Crystal Lake since 1985. If you want to get technical about it, Julie Ann’s actually specializes in frozen custard. Owner Peter Wisniewski credits his particular recipe’s popularity to its slow production process, and a rich blend of 10 percent butterfat, egg yolks, cream, and sugar.

While the old staples such as vanilla, chocolate, and butter pecan are always on hand, the menu takes pride in offering new, creative combinations daily — a flavor calendar is available for each month’s concoctions! Treat your tastebuds to Dough Crazy Concrete, Dark Chocolate Avocado, or Oreo PB Blob Due Basi. Beyond the cone, Julie Ann’s also offers a custom cake and pie menu, as well as frozen custard cookie sandwiches.

Ice cream is the cure for what ails ya! So as your busy summer hits its peak, take a break and relax your spirits with a tasty treat from Julie Ann’s! After all, if you reverse the word ‘stressed’, you get ‘desserts’!

 

Julie Ann’s
Fresh From Cow to Cone
6500 NW HWY Crystal Lake, 60014
(815) 459-9117