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?”


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 Rivalry of a Lifetime

Photo Courtesy of SportsInteraction.com

d’aprile properties proudly serves clients in both Illinois and Wisconsin — so we’ll TRY to stay unbiased here. But some serious interstate calamity is about to go down.

Historically, your typical NFL season kicks off with a contest featuring the defending Super Bowl champion, which would be the Patriots. Again. However, 2019 begins a season-long celebration of the 100th anniversary of the NFL. So the league passed legislation in order to allow for a one-year exemption to do something new and exciting for this unique season.

The Chicago Bears will play host to the Green Bay Packers on Thursday, Sept. 5 at 7:20 p.m. CT, at Soldier Field. That means that the oldest — and arguably most intense — rivalry in all of sports will once again rock the football world. Bruising will ensue. Tears (of at least one fan base) will be shed. And another chapter of this 100-year saga will be written, adding to a story that has taken some thrilling and often odd twists and turns throughout the last century.

Photo Courtesy of acmepackingcompany.com

Things Are Pretty Even Steven: This will be the 199th game that these two pigskin powerhouses have played since their inaugural faceoff in 1921. The Packers have won 97 games, the Bears have won 95 games, and there have been 6 ties. Yet, despite almost 200 battles across a literal century, there have only been two playoff contests. And yes, as you can imagine, that record stands at 1-1.

Same Journey, Different Paths: Despite the fact that the two teams have been playing for 100 seasons, the Bears and Pack have only reached the playoffs in the same season on four separate occasions. In both instances where the two clubs didn’t end up playing each other in the postseason, they were eliminated in the same round in 1994 and 2001.

The Packers Rule the Air: When it comes to high-flying football, Packers’ QB Aaron Rodgers is nothing short of a Bear Killer. In fact, he’s won 16 of the 21 games he’s started against Chicago, throwing for 5,156 yards, 45 touchdowns, and just 10 interceptions.

But the Bears Own the Ground: The Bears lead the series in rushing yards by a significant margin, but no one did it like Sweetness. Walter Payton rushed for 2,484 yards and 19 touchdowns against the Packers in 24 career games, with the Bears going 17-7 in those contests.

With these two teams so evenly matched over the years, it’s impossible to say who will come out on top. No matter the final outcome, it is safe to say that the 2019 season will get off to a wild start!


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

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.



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!


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!


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.