d’aprile locales – Pennyville Station

Welcome to ‘Locales’, a series that highlights vendors, businesses, and organizations who stand out in their respective communities through their passion and purpose.

May we introduce you to: Pennyville Station

When you first sit down with Tony and Samantha Antonacci, you immediately recognize two people who have spent a lifetime supporting each other. Their playful, natural rapport as a couple is evident, and the pride they take in raising their family together can be seen from miles away.

But the carefree and considerate bond they share also reflects two individuals who have been through all of the weight, pressure, and stress that come with committing fully to your dreams. Luckily, they have come out clean on the other side, together.

“It was a hefty mix of pride and panic,” Sam laughs, when asked about her immediate reaction to the news that her husband had finally decided to open his own restaurant. “But I believed in him, so I was supportive of his dream from day one.”

Tony Antonacci grew up in the restaurant industry. His family owned the beloved Edison Park bistro Basta Pasta, which he would manage for years alongside his father, Tino. He would also go on to spend nearly a decade at the popular American steakhouse Tavern on Rush in downtown Chicago.

But despite all of his success, there was always one glaring problem — he wasn’t satisfied cooking someone else’s menu.

“I’ve always loved food, always loved going out to eat. But I’ve continually had this dream in my head of the restaurant I wanted to create, where everything on the menu is some representation of one of my favorite dishes. If I was going to open my own place, I wanted to cook the kind of food and serve the kind of drink that made me happy.”

And that is how Pennyville Station came to be, first opening its doors to the public in downtown Park Ridge on May 31. So far, it has been an undeniable success; the food and drink menus have been widely praised, and they’ve recently expanded their hours to include brunch. The location’s decor has also been applauded — it is the work of local Park Ridge mom and designer Kristen Massucci. “That’s how I knew we were on to something” Tony states confidently. “Sam and I actually met Kristen for the first time at Lollapalooza! Here I am in the middle of one of the biggest concert events in the world, and I meet a Park Ridge designer who immediately understood what I was going for, aesthetically. It was like it was meant to be.”

The unique and eclectic menus were created by Tony himself, featuring nothing but “clean” food — sustainable farm ingredients, all antibiotic and hormone-free. He then challenged his head chef, Jose ‘Mosquito’ Alvarez (who he brought over from Tavern on Rush) to help make it happen.

The food is farm-to-table (items on the menu that are tagged come from locations within 100 miles), and the menu itself has been described as “New American”. But with only 18 items that are constantly evolving and changing, Tony uses his own simple phrase to capture it. “It’s…a little different. There’s a lot of meat. I’m always experimenting and trying new things.”

With that statement, Sam jumps in with a behind-the-scenes story. “We kept getting food delivered to the house, and I’d be so excited to get a package! Then I’d open the door, and it turns out, it was…meat. Again.”

Sam Antonacci is one of d’aprile properties own, a successful real estate agent serving Park Ridge and the surrounding communities. With three girls ages 13, 10, and 7 at home, she and her husband team up to ensure both get the time they need to succeed in their individual careers. “Opening Pennyville was a lot of hard work, but it has also provided so many advantages. He takes the girls to the restaurant during the day during prep, and they cook breakfast together. That gives Mom the quiet time she needs to work on her real estate business.”

Owning a popular local restaurant, which only helps ingrain you within a tight-knit community like Park Ridge, doesn’t hurt either. “They say it takes a village, and I have a fantastic support system around me. If I need to show a home or attend an inspection on short notice, I have my family, and other moms in the area, who support me. Plus, I have access to a lot of coffee. And maybe just a little wine.”

In the end, while Tony and Samantha have succeeded by doing things their own way, they know they have the people of Park Ridge to thank for their success. “This is the community we live in, that we’re proud to be a part of. The feedback has been great, and more and more people stop by everyday to talk about what a great thing we’re doing here. I made this place what I wanted it to be. But if my vision doesn’t consistently satisfy my patrons, then I’m not doing it right.”

If there is any doubt about Tony’s commitment to customer service, just ask him about his service model. “It’s simple. The answer is yes. Now what is the question?”


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.


#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.”


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!


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.


d’aprile properties Named to Real Trends 500 List

“Potential is not an endpoint but a capacity to grow and learn.” — Eileen Kennedy Moore

d’aprile properties is honored to have been included on the Real Trends Five Hundred, recognizing the largest independent, largest real estate brokerages in the United States by sales volume. Real Trends, based on Colorado, is the undisputed leader and trusted source of news, analysis, and information on the residential brokerage industry since 1987.

The REAL Trends 500, now in its 32nd year, remains the undisputed leader in ranking the performance of residential real estate services firms. Due to their requirement of
independent verification, the REAL Trends 500 is the trusted source for information about the performance of real estate firms across the country.

For 2019, d’aprile properties has successfully earned the following accolades:

  • 436 Largest Brokerage in the United States ranked by closed sales volume in 2018
  • 126 Largest Independent Brokerage in the Country by number of transactions
  • A spot on the Real Trends “Up-and-Comers” List

d’aprile properties is a full-service real estate company, serving clients throughout Illinois, Indiana, Michigan, and Wisconsin. We are committed to providing exceptional service to our clients, as well as advancing the individual careers of our team members. For four years running, INC.com has included d’aprile properties on their annual list of the Fastest Growing Private Companies in America. Our growth and impact on the industry have also been publicly recognized by RISMedia, who included d’aprile properties on their Power Broker report, a list of the nation’s 500 Top-Producing Brokerage Firms.

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


d’aprile properties: 2019 Top 500 Power Broker

We are proud to announce that RISMedia —the residential real estate industry’s definitive source for news and information — has ranked d’aprile properties among the Top 500 Power Brokers in the United States for 2019. RISMedia’s annual Power Broker Report & Survey is the industry’s most comprehensive report, ranking the top real estate brokerages in the country, according to sales volume.

Now in its 31st year, the Power Broker Report has long celebrated the exceptional business feats of remarkable real estate leaders, whose innovation and integrity continue to shape the real estate industry. We are excited and honored to be included on this prestigious list.

d’aprile properties is committed to providing an inventive and action-oriented environment for our team of agents, one that allows individuals with true focus and ambition to thrive and succeed from their very first day. Our agents routinely rank among the top producers in each of our individual markets, and consistently outpace industry income.

With access to state-of-the-art technology and a proven customer service methodology, our agents stand a head above the competition. We know that our clients appreciate the value of local market expertise, and every d’aprile properties agent combines empathy and experience in order to exceed the expectations of our customers.

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


The Freedom of Home Ownership

 

When was the last time you gave thought to the concept of the American Dream?

For generations, the idea was built around one simple concept: opportunity. Every man and woman born in this country — or who managed to find their way to it — was given a promise. Work hard, never quit, and you can secure wealth and build a life of your own, regardless of your station. Owning land and/or property represented freedom at its most pure, and the pursuit of happiness would often end at a white picket fence, surrounding the perfect home in the middle of a quaint, suburban paradise.

We all hoped, with absolute sincerity, to someday be kings and queens of our own little castle. 

But times, inevitably, have changed. Today, a quick online search of the term “American Dream” brings up headlines filled with sarcasm, pessimism, and outright negativity.

“Fool’s Dream.”

“Outdated Concept.”

“Dead and Gone.”

At some point along the way, the bright-eyed optimism behind our collective drive to succeed, and to create quality and comfort for those we love, has become a concept often frowned upon. Many now see the American Dream as a pursuit of the material, a selfish and outdated attempt at social mobility.

We at d’aprile properties must — respectfully — disagree. We believe that the American Dream is alive and well. As a society we have seen our motivations change and adapt over time, but as individuals we all still want the same thing: the freedom to choose how we live. We strive not only to improve our own lot in life, but to make sure that those that follow us can begin their own journey, with hope and optimism for the future.

 

As a real estate company, we will never apologize for promoting the benefits of home ownership, and the many freedoms that come with it. Be it an apartment in the city, a two-story Cape Cod in the suburbs, or a vacation getaway along the coast — coming home means safety and security. It offers peace of mind in a place that you humbly call your own, but proudly welcome others into. It means being wealthy in spirit. It’s about being part of a community. 

We wish you a safe, and spectacular Fourth of July holiday. Celebrate your independence, in whatever form it may take.

 

 

 


Hey Gen Y — Why So Serious??

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.

Did you know that the Millennial generation represents the largest group of homebuyers in America? It’s true: Gen Y makes for 37% of recent home buyers in this country. Gen X is next, albeit significantly behind at 24%. In fact, according to a recent report by the National Association of Realtors, 2019 will be the sixth consecutive year that millennials led the U.S. home buying charge.

So why are millennials (born between 1980 and 1994) often criticized for living too long with their parents, or only being interested in renting, when the statistics clearly paint a different picture?

The source of this unfair reputation may be answered through the results of another report, this one by Clever Real Estate. It seems that millennials are twice as likely to be stressed about homeownership than Baby Boomers, and are also much more likely to experience buyer’s remorse than older generations. This uncertainty toward ownership is sending adult children back to their parents’ homes, either out of necessity or an attempt to save money.

So what is causing this panic and confusion? The NAR stats mentioned earlier point to the following as some of the most serious millennial concerns:

  • Mortgage payments are too high (41%)
  • Additional maintenance after moving in (33%)
  • Their property has depreciated in value since purchase (21%)
  • High interest rates (17%)
  • Location isn’t ideal or poor quality of school districts (14%)

Other outside factors, from student loans to financial instability, only add to the anxiety. For some, the responsibilities of homeownership are simply a bit more than they bargained for. But for this particular generation — and those that will follow — it is important to keep things in proper perspective. Yes, the stress that comes with buying a home is very real, and millennials should not overextend themselves to make a home purchase. But they should not fear the possibility, if properly educated on the process.

Many buyers today never speak with a real person when it comes to home financing, preferring to handle everything online. This can only result in a less educated home buyer, and an even less confident home owner. They need to speak with someone who has the expertise and the integrity to show them the reality that comes after being handed a set of keys. That is why speaking with an expert such as your Midwest Lending mortgage pro is so essential.

Millennials shouldn’t fear home buying — for those who are stable in their careers and ready to set down roots, homeownership can be the key to emotional and financial security later in life. They simply need to take the time to know what they are getting into, with a devoted professional by their side.

Midwest Lending is a residential mortgage broker, committed to providing their clients with the highest quality home loans, combined with some of the lowest mortgage rates available.