A Little In-Cider Information

They keep the doctor away. They make teacher happy. And they never fall far from the tree. Crisp, sweet, and perfect in a pie — apples are a staple of the fall season. But the only thing we enjoy more than eating apples is the long-standing autumn tradition of apple picking.

September to early October just happens to be prime pickin’ season. And, as luck would have it, the Chicagoland area has some of the best and most accessible apple orchards in the midwest! So grab a few baskets, pile the kids in the car, and head out to fetch some fruit!

d’aprile properties is here to share a few tips that will make you the perfect picker. Read all the way down to see a list of some of the coolest orchards in the area!

TIP ONE: START ON THE FRINGE

Apple trees naturally grow outward — meaning the apples closest to the trunk will be the youngest, while ones on the outside branches will be the most ripe. Remember, the ripening process ends at the time of the pick, so make sure you’re selecting apples that are ready for eating (preferably after covering them in caramel).

TIP TWO: DON’T YANK

Be gentle in your picking. Pull upward, with a slight twist, and your apple will pop right off the branch. Yanking sharply can harm the tree. Above all – DON’T SHAKE THE TREE. Shaking will cause multiple apples to fall, and bruise. It’s a terrible waste.

TIP THREE: BE GENTLE!

As previously mentioned, apples bruise quite easily. By tossing apples into your basket, or piling them so high that they weigh down on each other, you risk bruising — which speeds up the rotting process. What’s worse, rot spreads, meaning one bruised apple could ruin your whole bunch.

OUR FAVORITE LOCAL ORCHARDS:

APPLE HOLLER: 5006 S Sylvania Ave, Sturtevant, WI — 65 miles north of Chicago

ALL SEASONS ORCHARD: 14510 IL Route 176, Woodstock, IL — 65 miles northwest of Chicago

COUNTY LINE ORCHARD: 200 S County Line Rd, Hobart, IN — 40 miles southeast of Chicago

HEINZ ORCHARD: 1050 Crest Road, Green Oaks, IL — 40 miles north


Mortgage Minute: Buying a New Home While Selling Your Current

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.

Do you remember what it was like to buy your first home? If it has been several years, you might be pleasantly surprised just how much easier it is today! The days of signing piles of paper while waiting weeks for a decision are over thanks to today’s online mortgage technology.

That’s not likely the only thing that will be different this time around, however. For this purchase, you’re also juggling the sale of your current property, while you shop for your next home. So how exactly does that work?

You may end up feeling like a juggler, with too many balls in the air. And while it will be a little more tricky than last time, rest assured that your Midwest Lending mortgage professional will do the heavy lifting for you.

Timing Matters

Ideally, you’d want to use the equity from your first home as a downpayment for your new home, right? Passing those funds from one place to another would make this whole process a cinch.

Unfortunately, rarely will a transaction happen so seamlessly, and that’s partly due to market conditions. If you are in the market to buy your forever home, research your local real estate market first. Look at both the area where you are selling, and the areas you are considering your next purchase.

When considering the selling side, talk to your real estate agent about how long comparable properties have been sitting on the market. This information is useful for determining how to price your home competitively, while still making a reasonable profit. It is an easy trap to fall into, listing your home too high, only to drop it several times before you get an offer.

Considering the purchase of your new home, you’ll also want to research the market. Decide which areas you might want to purchase in — that way, when your current home is under contract, you’ll know precisely where to make your own bid. Of course, you’ll also want to have talked to your Midwest Lending mortgage professional ahead of time, so that you can be sure you are properly pre-approved for this new offer.

Regarding Contingency Offers

A sale and settlement contingency offer is when you use the proceeds from your current home to fund the purchase of your new home. Of course, this means that your offer is dependent on the sale of selling your existing home.

While ideal for you as the buyer, it’s not a very attractive deal for the seller of the home you hope to purchase. If another offer comes in from a buyer with a proper pre-approval letter and no contingency, they will often win the bidding war.

Sellers can even entertain other offers after they’ve accepted a contingent offer. In order to facilitate a “non-contingent” offer, you may want to consider a bridge loan. 

Bridge Loans

A bridge loan is a short-term loan used until a person secures permanent financing, or removes an existing obligation. It allows the user to meet current obligations by providing immediate cash flow. Essentially, you agree to “rent” your current home. That way you can sell your home and still live in it for 2-3 months while you shop for your next home. While the option is not always available, it’s definitely worth looking into.

There are many moving pieces when it comes to buying a home. Luckily, you have a team available to take care of all the details. Your dedicated Midwest Lending loan mortgage pro will work with you and your realtor to make your next purchase quick and hassle-free. Contact us today to learn more!


ARRR You Ready for a Move?

Sometimes you just need to have a little fun.

Actually, the need for the healing power of random, silly fun was the driving force behind the creation of International Talk Like a Pirate Day. Which is today, September 19. Enjoy.

What? You’ve never heard of it? For shame! Where ‘ave you been, ye landlubber?

Actually, you probably aren’t alone. There is a long and lush tale about how the day actually came to be, but we’ll try and summarize: back in 1995, two self-proclaimed non-athletes, John Baur (aka Ol’ Chumbucket) and Mark Summers (aka Cap’n Slappy) were playing racquetball. Quite poorly, they would add.

And when an errant shot caused one of them to crash into the wall with a resounding, “ARRR!” the idea for Talk Like a Pirate Day was born. Well, actually, it would actually take almost seven years, and the improbable assistance of renowned author, nationally syndicated columnist, and Pulitzer Prize-winning writer Dave Barry — but the day would be made official in 2002.

With so much doom and gloom hovering over the news these days, sometimes a little random silliness can be just what the doctor ordered. And while we are all about providing the highest level of real estate service here at d’aprile properties, we also can’t pass up on the chance at some good-hearted fun. So in honor of International Talk Like a Pirate Day, we’d like to tell you why now is a great time to buy a home:

AHOY! At d’aprile properties, our agents be fully committed to providin’ each an’ every matey (client) with a singularrr full-service real estate experience. An’ there be no better time to be lookin’ fer a new ‘ome than in fall! Our ship is chock full o’ Seadogs, experienced capn’s who will steer your ship toward the horizon, straight ta home ownership! All ye ‘ave to do be give us a call. We’ll be both yer trusted mate, an’ yer guide to wherever yer real estate dreams take ye.


Buying a Home in Your 20’s

Navigate your way to any online lending or real estate source, and you’ll no doubt be inundated with articles about how young people are completely stressed out about buying a home. Heck, we wrote one back in June.

The problem with simply throwing out statistics regarding today’s youth — and their hesitancy toward jumping into the market — is that it does very little to actually help or guide this group of extremely capable buyers. So let’s take a look at what is truly important to consider when purchasing property in your 20’s.

Look past the negativity surrounding the current state of the housing market and today’s student debt levels. The truth is, according to a recent study, four out of five members of Generations Y (born between 1984 and 1995) and Z (1995 – 2015) are certain they want to be homeowners. Additionally, members of Gen Z are twice as likely to be saving or plan on saving for a home by age 25.

Generations Y and Z often come out of the gate with more earning power than their societal predecessors, along with a more evolved sense of financial savvy. They know they need to build credit and save for a down payment. But what else must they consider to ensure that their dreams of homeownership become reality before they turn 30?

Consider Your Career: How established are you in your current job — is it your career, or a stepping stone toward something greater? Is your role likely to change in the near future, through advancement, relocation, or otherwise? You want to make certain that if you do buy, you will be able to stay in the home long enough to recoup your transaction costs, and build some equity before selling.

Consider Your Lifestyle: Do you currently live in the city, state, and country where you want to live? Do you have access to all of the amenities you need to enrich your personal life? Do you want a white picket fence in the suburbs, or a condo just blocks from a bustling downtown? Remember, you’re not just buying four walls and a roof — you’re securing a community of your own. Make certain it’s the right one for your way of life.

Consider Your Future: Looking to tie the knot within the next 3-5 years? Hear the pitter patter of little feet coming around the corner? Maybe you just need space for the three puppies you’ve been waiting to adopt. The point is, right now this decision may seem all about you, but life changes pretty quickly. Take all possibilities into consideration, and make sure that whatever you buy, wherever you buy, the property remains suitable for everyone in your life.

Every individual, no matter their age, faces the prospect of homeownership with different backgrounds and personal circumstances. They key is to surround yourself with the right people, who can help you make the best decision for YOU. First, find yourself a home financing expert. Then, align yourself with a real estate agent who truly cares about you and your future. Only then can you feel fully comfortable taking this very big, but very manageable step toward stability and security.


Carving Out Some Fun

Can you believe it? Fall is almost here, and Halloween looms on the horizon. It’s time to start thinking about costumes and decorations. And no fall season would be complete without a trip to the pumpkin patch.

Keep the following in mind when searching for the perfect pumpkin or the most gorgeous gourd:

CHECK THE STEM: The texture and color of your pumpkin’s stem will tell its story. A soft or loose stem is a clue that the pumpkin could be prone to rotting. A green stem means the pumpkin has been freshly picked, but a tan or brown stems mean the pumpkin was harvested at least a few days ago.

SPOTS ARE BAD, M’KAY?: Soft spots on your pumpkin? Not good news. This may be a result of excess moisture or insects getting into the pumpkin, causing rot or mold. The more moisture and rot, the less time that pumpkin will look fresh on your front stoop.

ROLL WITH IT: We all know that pumpkins come in all shapes and sizes. So how do you check to see if yours will stand up throughout the season? Lay it gently on a flat surface, and check for the roll. A good, flat-bottomed pumpkin will stay in place, both in the patch and on your porch.

Happy Hunting! Check the list below for some of the best public pumpkin patches in the area!

Goebbert’s Pumpkin Farm & Apple Orchard —  Pingree Grove

Sonny Acres Farm — West Chicago

Didier Farms — Lincolnshire

Konow’s Corn Maze — Homer Glen

Siegel’s Cottonwood Farm — Lockport



The Real Estate Market is Going Back to School

If you’re like us, you made the mistake of blinking — in that instant, summer came and went. Labor Day? Done. Vacation season? Merely a memory. Now the kids have gone back to school, causing some parents to shed tears, and others to quietly sigh in relief.

Now fall beckons, with promises of pumpkin spice and sweater weather. What to do with all this peace and quiet? While most consider spring and summer as the premier real estate seasons, there is still plenty of life left in the market as autumn approaches. So whether the house seems a little too quiet — or you are secretly reveling in the silence — now may be the perfect time to learn your most important home buying lessons.

A is for Availability: Many parents have more time on their hands in fall, as they’re not balancing babysitters and summer sports tournaments. That means more time for online home searches and open house visits. Plus, now that everyone is back from vacation, there tends to be an uptick in market listing activity after Labor Day. As a fall buyer, you will likely face less competition for desired properties, and will draw even more attention from your dedicated real estate agent as the season begins to slow.

B is for Benefits: Tax benefits, to be exact. If you can close on a new home before year’s end, you will be eligible for a few attractive tax deductions come April. Deductible items include closing costs, property taxes, and mortgage interest. Even if you close on your new home in December, you can deduct property taxes and mortgage interest from your entire year’s earnings.

C is for Crunch Time: Most homes go on the market in spring or summer, and some will inevitably still be there come fall, much to the chagrin of their owners. That means that the seller likely has a little extra motivation to get the deal done. As the holidays approach, sellers are eager to close so they can move on to planning parties and events. They also may be looking to take a gain or loss for the current tax year. Just remember: when a seller is motivated to close, the buyer often can seize the upper hand when it comes to negotiations.

Call d’aprile properties today. We’ll help you get pre-approved, and make sure that you are ready to become a homeowner this fall!


September is Childhood Cancer Awareness Month

Every single day, 43 children are diagnosed with cancer.

The average age of a child diagnosed is six years old.

12% of children diagnosed with cancer do not survive.

The statistics are grim. The images that accompany them are often difficult to look at or comprehend. And for those of us who have been lucky enough to avoid cancer’s terrible grasp, it may be difficult to relate to those who must fight their own personal battle, each and every day.

The easy path is to turn our heads away. But nothing can change until more of us become involved. Creating awareness is the first and most important step toward defeating an epidemic that is quickly growing out of control.

Because the fact is, cancer doesn’t care about age. It ignores gender, ethnicity, and socio-economics. Despite major advances – from an overall survival rate of 10 percent just 50 years ago to nearly 90 percent today — the number of diagnosed cases annually has not declined in nearly 20 years.

September is Childhood Cancer Awareness Month, an annual national health campaign by major childhood cancer organizations to raise funds for research into its cause, prevention, diagnosis, treatment, and cure. In 2019, d’aprile properties has dedicated our collective philanthropic efforts toward the Bear Necessities Pediatric Cancer Foundation, and their incredible efforts toward eliminating all forms of pediatric cancer.

A black doctor sits on the floor in front of large windows with her patient. The patient is a caucasian girl with cancer. The girl is wearing a scarf on her head. The doctor is talking and holding the girl’s hands. The child is smiling up at the doctor and listening intently. There is a large teddy bear on the floor next to them.

Pediatric forms of cancer are completely different than the types of cancer that affect adults. It remains the number one cause of death by disease in children — 1 in 8 will not survive. Out of those who do, 60% will suffer long-term side effects.

Yet despite these terrifying numbers, less than 4% of all cancer research dollars are allocated to children. What’s worse, only 4 cancer treatments have been specifically developed and approved for children in the last 20 years.

It is hard to imagine that a few dollars here or there could make a difference. But this isn’t just about money. It’s about fostering hope. It’s about reminding these amazing children that they still have a childhood, and that we will always stand by them and their families, no matter the odds.

If you would like to join our efforts, please visit our fundraising page and donate. Or contact your dedicated d’aprile properties real estate agent, and ask how you can join or support the #daprilecares Team in October’s A Walk for the Bear.

Follow Bear Necessities on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram to learn more about childhood cancer and their fight. By sharing their posts, you are creating awareness, and helping to spread the word about childhood cancer.

Meet Kaylee, our 2019 #daprilecares Ambassador, and read her story HERE.

Read more about our annual campaign for Bear Necessities, HERE.


Finding Real Value

Looking to sell your home in the near future? How do you gauge its worth? There are several factors that determine how much value a given home has on the market, such its location, and the popularity of the neighborhood surrounding it. Unfortunately, those factors are mostly out of your control.

What is under your control is the condition of the property. If — like 70% of American homeowners — you believe your house is your biggest asset, it makes sense to take into account the sales value that any additions or renovations will add to your home, even if you aren’t in the market to sell right away.

Certain home projects will always add value to a home, such as a newly renovated kitchen or bathroom, or the addition of a room or story. But many homeowners sink large amounts of money into projects that are merely trendy at the moment, and may find it more difficult to get a return on their investment.

Let’s look at a few home additions that are very popular today, and see what impact they may have on your home’s market value.

Hardwood Floors – Valued for their stylish look and charm, wood floors are a popular alternative to the carpeted floors of old. Their true value lies in their durability, and the relatively easy manner in which they can be cleaned. However, your best bet is to use soft, neutral colors, as more vivid hues and patterns may be a turn off for potential buyers.

Verdict: Definitely adds value.

Outdoor Kitchens – A classy add-on that benefits both resident and guest, outdoor kitchens have exploded in popularity in recent years. They allow homeowners to entertain friends and family, or simply eat family dinners outdoors without making too many trips in and out of the house. The right amount of outdoor space is key, and homes in warmer climates will definitely benefit even more from an alfresco alcove. The most important factor in regards to value is to make sure that you don’t fall prey to adding too many bells and whistles that cause the construction cost to outweigh the added market value.

Verdict: Likely to provide value (if not overdone).

Wine Rooms and Cellars – This one may completely depend on the size/style of the home. Many potential buyers will see a wine room or cellar as a ‘wow’ factor, adding a touch of class and luxury to an upscale residence. But for homes with less square footage, or who reside in more modest neighborhoods, it may be difficult to justify such an expenditure. According to realtor.com, wine cellars rank highly among home buyers who have incomes greater than $150,000. Others may simply see it as wasted space.

Verdict: Maybe. It all depends on the home, and the right kind of buyer.

When it comes to determining the true value of your home, your best bet is to call your dedicated d’aprile properties agent, who will run a free comparative market analysis for you. Only then will you know how your home stacks up against others in your neighborhood.


#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…