Homeward Bound - Northwest

Very few open houses scheduled this weekend

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Joe Zekas

20 years on the North Shore without going native.

On Thanksgiving weekend Black Friday is followed closely by Bleak Sunday for home buyers shopping at open houses.

We were unable to locate any open houses this Sunday in Arlington Heights, Buffalo Grove or Mount Prospect.

Only one home is open for viewing in Hoffman Estates, a 4-bedroom, 2-bath at 3930 N Firestone Dr, priced at $305,000.

In Rolling Meadows, two homes are hosting open houses. The first is a newly-listed 4-bedroom, 2-bath at 3703 Oriole Ln priced at $249,000. Also newly listed is a 3-bedroom, 2 bath priced at $265,000 at 2501 Cedar St.

New lakefront listing in Des Plaines

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Joe Zekas

20 years on the North Shore without going native.

2000 Berry Ln, Des Plaines, Illinois

An unusual property came on the market in Des Plaines just two days ago, a rambling home with the look of a classic lakefront retreat.

For all the rustic appeal of its site, 2000 Berry Ln is in east Des Plaines and close to O'Hare airport, I-294, and downtown Des Plaines.

According to the listing, the 5-bedroom home, which has 5 full and 2 half baths and a 3-car garage, was "impressively renovated in 2007" and is priced at $1,000,000.

The home is almost immediately west of the Des Plaines River and a stretch of forest preserve .

What does $300,000 buy in Arlington Heights, Mount Prospect and Rolling Meadows?

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Joe Zekas

20 years on the North Shore without going native.

The short answer to the headline question is that $300,000 will buy you a lot more in Arlington Heights, Mount Prospect or Rolling Meadows than it did just a few years ago.

You'll currently find 138 single-family homes listed for sale between $275,000 and $325,000 in that trio of relatively close-in northwest suburbs.

Thirty-eight of those listings are for 4-bedroom homes, several of which sold for much more than their current listing price during the boom years.

A bank-owned 4-bedroom, 2 ½ bath home at 4130 North Yale in Arlington Heights is under contract with a list price of $275,000. It had sold for $405,000 in November of 2006.

A 4-bedroom, 2-bath home at 1442 S Fern Dr in Mount Prospect has been on the market for just 11 days and is currently listed, after a "price reduction," at $277,400. The "price reduction" was $100 - yet another instance of the kind of stupid Realtor tricks that we're seeing frequently these days.

In Rolling Meadows, a 4-bedroom, 2-bath home at 107 Croftwood Ct that sold for $320,500 in 2005 has been on the market since April and is currently listed for $299,000.

William Ryan Homes offers to lease your home if you buy theirs

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Joseph Askins

William Ryan Homes, MarketPlace Homes

Want to take advantage of historic low interest rates to buy a larger or more deluxe home, but are afraid you can't sell your existing home? William Ryan Homes has the solution for you.

"Many prospective buyers tell us that they have concerns about whether they can sell their existing homes in today's market conditions," said Debbie Beaver, vice president of sales and marketing. "We believe that MarketPlace Homes' new long-term leasing program can remove this obstacle and enable buyers to move forward with their purchasing plans.

Under the offer, MarketPlace Homes will guarantee monthly lease payments on your current home as well as take care of the utilities, maintenance and tenant repairs.

"Why not buy a brand new William Ryan home at today's low prices and wait and sell your current home later, when prices recover?" says Debbie. "MarketPlace Homes takes care of the hassle of your current house so you can provide a new home for your family right now."

"William Ryan Homes has long been dedicated to helping buyers realize the American dream of homeownership. As market conditions change, we have adapted with practical new ways to keep the dream viable for our customers," she said. "We've only just released the program this week and already have our first buyer that can take advantage of this tremendous program.

MarketPlace Homes is a seven-year-old privately owned company based in Michigan that offers a long-term lease program and a rent-to-own program to assist consumers and builders alike. The company has already assisted in the leasing and purchase of hundreds of homes nationwide.

With the lease program, the homeowner receives a rental payment every month, and utilities, maintenance and repairs are handled by MarketPlace Homes. In addition, if MarketPlace Homes sells the home during the lease period, the homeowner receives 100 percent of the asking price. More details about the program are available at William Ryan Homes sales offices throughout suburban Chicagoland.

William Ryan Homes communities include nine locations in the Chicagoland suburbs. For model hours, directions and contact information for the William Ryan Homes communities, please visit WilliamRyanHomes.com.

The William Ryan Homes philosophy of "Customer Driven by Design" has resulted in more than 8,000 satisfied customers since the company was founded in Chicagoland in 1992. The popularity of William Ryan Homes designs and construction has resulted in growth into Arizona, Wisconsin and Florida markets as well as Chicago's suburbs. Every home is built to Energy Star guidelines, and includes their outstanding 1-2-10 Transferable Warranty.

This is a sponsored post for William Ryan Homes.

Lights out in Barrington Hills?

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Joe Zekas

20 years on the North Shore without going native.

Night scene in Barrington Hills, Illinois

Of all of the forms of pollution out there, light is one of the least worrisome - unless you're a resident of Barrington Hills

Trib Local recently reported on an ongoing squabble over proposed limits on nighttime lighting in the tony community where homes are on minimum 5-acre lots.

Depending on the outcome of this set-to you might not have a lot of exterior lighting if you buy the newly-built 5-bedroom, 7-bath home at 95 Bateman Rd in Barrington Hills, but you'll have the makings for some good old-fashioned noise pollution. The listing says the home has "all the bells and whistles."

The property's been on and off the market for just over 3 years. In June of last year it was listed for $2.999M. The price was recently cut to $1.899M, and the seller will reportedly "consider all offers."

If you're a proponent of limiting light you might want to lob some of the property's "unique natural stones" at your light-hearted neighbors.

Arlington Heights condos at well below 2004 prices

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Joe Zekas

20 years on the North Shore without going native.

downtown Arlington Heights, IL

If you have any doubt about the amount of pain in the housing market, you need only compare the selling prices of selected condos between 2004 and now.

A second-floor 1-bedroom that sold for $130,000 in 2004 and resold for $140,000 in 2006 has gone through foreclosure and is currently offered at $47,000. Unit 201 at 2634 Windsor Dr in Arlington Heights is described in the listing remarks as bank-owned and also noted as agent-owned, something that makes no sense.

Unit 111 at 2323 S Goebbert Rd in Arlington Heights is a 2-bedroom, 2-bath with an asking price of $66,500. It's also described as lender-owned, and sold for $165,000 in December of 2004.

The dark humor joke during the condo bust of the early 80s was "what's the difference between having a venereal disease and owning a condo?" Answer: "You can get rid of VD."

A roundup of northwest suburban real estate news

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Joe Zekas

20 years on the North Shore without going native.



Not all the stories linked below are traditional real estate stories, but they are news items that may affect your thinking on where to move for your next home.

  • An environmentalist wants to change Elgin
  • Des Plaines needs a payday loan
  • Debating wind turbines in Arlington Heights
  • Seekingi a new developer for a Barrington site
  • Palatine to raise taxes, cut jobs
  • Some tips for winterizing your home
  • Des Plaines Historical Society home for sale
  • Palatine school district wants higher taxes
  • Rolling Meadows seeks tax hike, loan
  • Homebuilder predicting very challenging year ahead

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    Joe Zekas

    20 years on the North Shore without going native.



    D.R. Horton, one of the nation's largest new home builders, says it is expecting "another very challenging year for the homebuilding industry, as the fundamental drivers of demand, the overall economy, job growth, and consumer confidence are still very weak." The company says it is "likely that our sales and closing volumes will be below our volumes in fiscal 2010."

    D.R. Horton continues to build at Symphony Meadows in Volo, where it has several homes available for quick delivery, priced from the $190s to the $240s in its Horizon Series. The Horizon Series is one of four price points available at Symphony Meadows, a sprawling development with 100s of yet-to-be-completed home sites.

    Tiny Volo had been one of the fastest-growing communities in northern Illinois prior to the building downturn of the past several years.

    Earlier this year I walked through one of the models at Symphony Meadows, and you can join me by watching the above video.

    Comparing property taxes in select northwest suburbs

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    Joe Zekas

    20 years on the North Shore without going native.

    Biltmore Country Club, North Barrington, Illinois

    Rising real estate taxes are becoming an increasingly important factor in home affordability, but they're only one of many factors buyers weigh in selecting their next community.

    Property taxes can vary considerably within a community based on the governmental districts and special assessment districts that have authority to levy taxes on a home. The biggest difference is typically attributable to school districts, but park districts and special-purpose districts can also vary within a municipality, so bear in mind that the following estimates may not apply to a particular home.

    For purposes of these estimates, I've assumed a home with an estimated fair market value of $500,000 and the minimum homeowner's exemption of $6,000. You can learn more about how those terms impact the estimates, and see the detailed components of tax rates for various suburbs in this PDF file, one of a number of real estate tax reports available from the Cook County Assessor's office.

    Using those assumptions, here's what you'll pay in property taxes in each of the following suburbs on a $500,000 home:


  • Barrington, $8,150

  • Barrington Hills, $9,128

  • East Dundee, $11,299

  • Hoffman Estates, $9,076

  • Inverness, $7,704

  • South Barrington, $8,241
  • A royal drubbing at Kings Walk in Rolling Meadows

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    Joe Zekas

    20 years on the North Shore without going native.

    Location. Location. Location. The Kings Walk condos, on the surface, have an appealing location.

    The condo complex, which consists of a dozen buildings, is at the northeast corner of Plum Grove Rd and Euclid Ave, adjacent to Countryside Park, close to Route 53, less than two miles from Woodfield Mall.

    Despite its location and amenities (a clubhouse and pool), Kings Walk owners have seen significant decreases in the value of their homes in recent years, and have seen them linger on the market for extended periods.

    The 2-bedroom, 2-bath Unit 2D at 4512 Kings Walk Dr, for example, has been on the market for over 2 years. It was originally listed at $163,000 and now carries an asking price of $99,000 as a short sale - one of several short sales currently on offer at Kings Walk. Unit 2D last sold in January of 2004 for $139,000.

    Other Kings Walk sellers have taken steeper hits. Unit 1B at 1906 S Plum Grove Rd sold for $128,000 in 2005, and just $60,000 in May of 2009. It's one of a number of units at the complex that have gone through the foreclosure process.

    You can follow the dismal pricing history of other Kings Walk units at BlockShopper.

    Schaumburg racks up two more honors

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    Joe Zekas

    20 years on the North Shore without going native.

    417 Birmingham Ln, Schaumburg, Illinois

    TribLocal recently reported that the Village of Schaumburg added two more awards to the length list of honors that it's received over the years. The recent awards recognized the village's environmental initiatives and its public works department.

    Prospective new residents are more likely to be impressed by Schaumburg's selection as the only United States finalist in its population category in the 2010 International Awards for Livable Communities.

    The livability of any community is, of course, a matter of judgment and personal preference. Renting can be a great way to test a place's livability without making a long-term commitment.

    There are currently 65 homes and condos listed for rent in Schaumburg in the local Multiple Listing Service. Rents range from $885 a month for a 1-bedroom condo to $4,500 for a never-occupied new home (pictured above) offering 4 bedrooms, 4 baths and a 3-car garage.

    A helicopter view of Des Plaines

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    Joe Zekas

    20 years on the North Shore without going native.



    Des Plaines Patch Local Editor Lisa Cisneros recently took to the sky for a helicopter tour of Des Plaines, which you can see in the above video.

    We also recently took a helicopter tour from Schaumburg Regional Airport around and around downtown Chicago and north to Wilmette. You can see some of our video from that tour at this YouTube playlist.

    Helicopter tours, alas, are not available for everywhere you might be searching for a new home. Google Maps and Microsoft Bing aerials, however, will give you an excellent picture of the location of virtually any home you're interested in.

    Wheeling and dealing on Wheeling condos

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    Joe Zekas

    20 years on the North Shore without going native.

    Clubhouse rendering, Prairie Park condos, Wheeling, Illinois

    TribLocal is reporting that the Village of Wheeling may have on hand the cash to fund a deal previously approved with MB Financial and the developer of the Prairie Park condominium project to complete the troubled development and its long-promised but unbuilt clubhouse.

    According to TribLocal, which reports that 70 of the 240 units in completed buildings remain unsold, the Village's total investment in the project will eventually amount to $10.5 million in TIF (tax-increment financing) funds.

    In addition to the unsold developer units, there are a range of resales at the project, which appears to have left at least some purchasers reeling in Wheeling.

    Take Unit 311 at 45 Prairie Park Dr as an example. The current owners bought the 1-bedroom for $230,000 in 2005. It's been on and off the market for nearly 18 months and is currently listed as a short sale at $149,000.

    When I look at the development's Web site, one of the things that strikes me is the developer's hyper-vague description of its track record. The firm's "principles" (sic) have been "involved with the planning and construction of commercial, retail and residential properties in the Chicago metropolitan region." Most buyers would rather see details on those properties, and the extent of the firm's principals in them, than pictures of the developer's cute kids.

    Your chance to go to Harvard

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    Joe Zekas

    20 years on the North Shore without going native.

    520 Country Brook Ln, Harvard, Illinois

    No, not the Harvard that the locals pronounce hah-vud.

    We're talking about the once-sleepy far-northwest suburb that rocketed to prominence when Motorola located a large plant there, then landed with a thud when Motorola pulled out. The loss of 1,000s of jobs can put a big hurt on a small community.

    From a quick glance at some of the properties currently for sale in Harvard, it appears that the housing market has yet to recover from the shock of Motorola's departure, or to benefit much from the new owner of the plant.

    The median price of a home in Harvard is in the $140s. A few thousand dollars less than the median will put you in a 4-bedroom, 2 ½ bath home built just a few years ago. The home, pictured above, is listed as a short sale. It's been on and off the market for just over two-and-a-half years, at prices as high as $260K.

    If your price range peaks out at $100K, check out this 3-bedroom, 2 ½ bath corner-lot duplex. The property sold for $162K in 2005, and resold in September for $56,575. It's currently offered at $99,900.

    If your budget has a lot more flex in it, look at the 12,000 square foot "Executive Estate and Cattle Ranch" that's priced at $3,600,000.

    Condos close to pre-school, Metra in downtown Des Plaines

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    Joe Zekas

    20 years on the North Shore without going native.



    Many young families look for starter housing close to the things that their lives revolve around. For some, that means a house of worship, a pre-school, parks, shopping, restaurants and public transportation or the expressway.

    Within several blocks of all of those requirements, the mid-rise condos along Graceland Ave in downtown Des Plaines currently have dozens of resale 2- and 3-bedroom, 2-bath condos priced from the $120s to just shy of $400,000. Not far from downtown there are new-construction townhome developments, including Lexington Park (a client of ours), where 2- and 3-bedroom, 2 ½ bath townhomes start at $239K.

    Most of the condo buildings in the area have a WalkScore upwards of 90, corresponding to a "Walker's Paradise."

    The video above is from the First Congregational Church of Des Plaines Pre-school, and the one below is from the Choo Choo diner.

    A 4-bedroom home on Lakeshore Drive for $199,900

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    Joe Zekas

    20 years on the North Shore without going native.

    242 Lakeshore Dr, Crystal Lake, Illinois

    Before you get too excited, read the not-so-fine print. That's 242 Lakeshore Drive in Crystal Lake, and the home is close to, but not on the lake.

    Still, at this price, a few steps from the beach, you might want to think "weekend getaway" home.

    If the listing is accurate, the 11-room, 4-bedroom, 2-bath packs in a lot more features than you'd expect from a price that's more than 10% below the 2001 selling price. The home is said to have a remodeled kitchen with cherry cabinets and stainless steel appliances (including a dishwasher and Jenn-Air range), updated baths, and new siding, roof and gutters.

    Elgin again tops northwest suburban foreclosure list

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    Joe Zekas

    20 years on the North Shore without going native.

    When we last reported on foreclosure filings in Chicago's northwest suburbs, Elgin topped the list with 303 filings.

    For the third quarter of 2010, Elgin again ranked first with,336 filings.

    Des Plaines was in second place at 172 filings, while Palatine and Streamwood tied for third with 168 foreclosures.

    Other northwest suburban municipalies with more than 100 foreclosure filings were Schaumburg, 166; Carpentersville, 159; Hoffman Estates, 143; Arlington Heights, 136; Lake in the Hills, 126; Wheeling, 123; and Crystal Lake, 105.

    Foreclosure filings are typically far more numerous than completed foreclosures.

    See third-quarter foreclosure filings and completed foreclosure auctions in the latest report from the Woodstock Institute, and read the Tribune's recent story on the report.

    Roaches and gangs in Arlington Heights apartments?

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    Joe Zekas

    20 years on the North Shore without going native.



    Before rushing out to sign up for a "beautiful, spacious" apartment advertised on Craigslist, you might want to check whether there are any reviews available on the Web.

    Take the seemingly bargain-priced apartments at Country Glen in Arlington Heights for an example. Two months free rent on an $880 two-bedroom sounds great, no?

    You'll find a different spin on Country Glen from Yahoo and ApartmentRatings reviewers who suggest bad management, roaches and gang problems. At Yahoo, curiously, the property is listed in Buffalo Grove. The Arlington Heights village map places Country Glen outside its corporate boundaries. It does have an Arlington Heights mailing address and ZIP code.

    I found no reviews for Country Glen at Yelp, but Yelp is often a great resource.

    Barrington Hills short sale below 1999 price

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    Joe Zekas

    20 years on the North Shore without going native.

    Bing aerial, 7 Creekside Ln, Barrington Hills, Illinois

    The home at 7 Creekside Ln in Barrington Hills has been on the market for more than two-and-a-half years. In November of 2008 it was priced at $1,299,900. The current asking price is $710,000. In May of 1999 the home sold for $795,000.

    The 5-bedroom, 4 ½ bath, 4-car garage home is being offered in "as os" condition as a pre-approved short sale. It includes a 5+ acre site and what's billed as a "private lake." The lake in question, as you can see from the aerial photo above, doesn't appear to be much larger than the 3,900 square foot home.

    Marengo, where Louis Sullivan lost out to McDonald's

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    Joe Zekas

    20 years on the North Shore without going native.

    Shady Lane Farm, Marengo, Illinois, Marengo Historical Society image

    Marengo has at least two homes listed on the National Register of Historic Places: the Orson Rogers House and the Charles H. Hibbard House.

    Marengo once hosted another piece of history: what is believed to be the only school ever designed by Louis Sullivan. That property, however, was acquired at auction in 1989 by a new owner who said he lacked plans for it, but hoped to put it to a "productive use." A McDonald's was later built on the site. Arches, some of you may recall, were a prominent feature of many of Sullivan's buildings.

    You can learn more about Marengo history at the Web site of the Marengo Society for Historical Preservation, and the Society's YouTube channel.

    If you just want to own a piece of Marengo history - and a Bed and Breakfast in the bargain - the 5-bedroom, 3 ½ bath 1880s-vintage Mansard home is for sale for $499,900. Guests who are unhappy with your breakfast offerings are a few short blocks away from Egg McMuffins.

    Close-out offers include eco-chic Colfax model at Heritage of Palatine

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    Joseph Askins

    Heritage at Palatine, Illinois

    (The following is a sponsored post for the Chicago Tribune's Fall 2010 Festival of Homes.)

    The eco-friendly Colfax model is now for sale during the builder's closeout sale at The Heritage of Palatine, a new 48-unit luxury condominium development at 50 S Greeley St in downtown Palatine.

    "Three luxury Colfax models are available for purchase starting in price from $279,900," says Marylu Max, sales manager for R. Franczak & Associates. "The most notable is the builder model which is known as our 'eco-chic' Colfax model in which the design team used many eco-friendly materials as not to leave a carbon footprint on the earth."

    Only eight condominiums remain for sale. They feature two-bedroom or two-bedroom-plus-den residences with two baths. They range in size from 1,456 to 1,716 square feet of living space. Prices range from $279,900 to $349,900.

    The eco-chic Colfax model, Residence 215, was professionally designed and decorated by Streamwood-based MB Interiors. It is priced at $314,900 and includes all upgrades.

    The two-bedroom, two-bath Colfax offers 1,515 square feet of living space. This split-bedroom plan features a dramatic entry with views of the kitchen and impressive great room with access to the balcony.

    "The Colfax model features a neutral color scheme of crèmes and mushrooms accented by unique design materials," says Beth Severson, co-owner of MB Interiors. "Some of these eco-chic accents include bamboo wood floors, green-guard recyclable wall paper, shelves made of reclaimed railroad ties, draperies and pillows made with organic cotton and hemp fabrics, sand cast recyclable aluminum chairs and a table made from reclaimed auto and bicycle tires."

    "The Heritage of Palatine is also approved for FHA-insured financing which will allow down payments as low as 3.5 percent to qualified buyers," says Max.

    The Heritage of Palatine sales center is located at 50 S Greeley St and is open daily from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. For more information or a tour of the models, call 847-705-6238 or visit RFranczak.com.

    Talking bluntly about Huntley home prices

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    Joe Zekas

    20 years on the North Shore without going native.

    Village of Huntley, Illinois

    Some of the Chicagoland communities that experienced the most rapid growth during the past decade are currently experiencing painful housing market conditions.

    Take Huntley as an example. The village's population stood at 5,730 in 2000 and nearly quadrupled to 22,923 by 2008. Much of that growth occurred in large subdivisions accessible off of Route 47. Del Webb's Sun City alone will account for approximately 6,000 homes when complete.

    A drive along Route 47 in Huntley will take you past subdivisions that have a forlorn, semi-abandoned look. And, depending on the time of day, traffic conditions will give you plenty of time for a close look.

    A RealtyTrac heat map of Huntley foreclosures shows dark red, ranking Huntley high on the list of problem foreclosure areas. A quick look at Redfin listings surfaces quite a few homes that have fallen sharply in value since the time they were purchased.

    A 4-bedroom, 2 ½ bath home at 11230 Balmoral Dr is currently listed as a short sale at $229,000. It sold for $357,620 in November of 2003. A 5-bedroom, 2 ½ bath at 10302 Hunter Trl is asking $249,000, far short of the June 2005 purchase price of $359,900.

    We've seen a national trend of well-capitalized builders acquiring abandoned subdivisions at fire-sale prices, planning to hold the land until the market eventually recovers. At that point, the builders may be well-positioned to compete on price with resale buyers who bought from builders with a higher cost structure.

    Small town charm in East and West Dundee

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    Joe Zekas

    20 years on the North Shore without going native.



    The median price of currently-listed homes in West Dundee is $350,000, and the 67 homes on the market range in price from $142,000 to $899,900.

    Twenty-six homes are for sale in East Dundee, priced from $99,999 to $469,900, with a median price of $185,000.

    As you might suspect from the number and price of homes on the market, West Dundee is the more populous (8,015) and affluent (median household income, $70,219) of the Dundees. East Dundee has a population of 3,149 and a median household income of $68, 735.

    The higher-priced homes in West Dundee tend to be in areas annexed during the 1950s and 60s.

    The Fox River separates East from West Dundee. Both communities still take pride in and promote their historic pedigree and their small town charm.

    ABC's Good Morning America recently featured West Dundee as hosting the "best block in America." As you watch the ABC video on YouTube, and the above Daily Herald video, you may question, as I did, the selection of a block where only White faces are seen as the best of America.

    Looking for diversity in Ringwood

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    Joe Zekas

    20 years on the North Shore without going native.

    4920 Patty Ln, Ringwood, Illinois

    "Ringwood is diverse for a small town," says the Village Web site.

    We're a bit confused about what passes for diversity in Ringwood. According to City-data, the village population consists of 464 whites, 3 Asians, 1 Black person, 2 Hispanics and 1 person of mixed race.

    Perhaps buildings are what Ringwood has in mind when touting its diversity:

    [Ringwood] has historic structures, single-family homes, apartments, subdivisions, farms, businesses such as Rohm & Haas, Huntsman, Modine Mfg., and institutions such as the Ringwood United Methodist Church and the Ringwood Primary Center.

    Ringwood subdivisions, such as they are, exhibit some classic subdivision traits. There are, of course, streets that appear to be named after a developer's daughter: Patty Lane, Kaylin's Way. Tall Oaks Drive is perhaps named after the trees that were bulldozed to make way for a subdivision.

    Many of the homes in Ringwood are of recent vintage, built within the last 10 years. The 3,250 square foot, 4-bedroom, 2 ½ bath home pictured above sold new in February of 2001 for $300,000. It's been on and off the market for the last two and a half years and was last offered at $249,999. It recently went under contract.

    Will Realtors ever refuse to list an overpriced home?

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    Joe Zekas

    20 years on the North Shore without going native.

    When I'm out looking at homes with real estate agents I often ask whether the home we're at is overpriced, and by how much.

    Since the agents know me, and their companies are clients of my firm, I typically get a candid answer.

    The answer, all too often, is that the home is overpriced by 10, 15, 20 percent or more. The selling agent's legal obligations to his or her client would not allow that level of candor with a buyer. But the buyers, and their agents, are acutely aware of the disparity between the asking price and the market value, as evidenced by the length of time that many homes are languishing on the market while well-priced homes sell quickly, sometimes with multiple offers.

    Listing agents are, generally, more sophisticated and market-aware than agents who represent buyers. They're well aware that the homes they've listed are overpriced, and the experienced agents have made their sellers aware of that fact.

    Some sellers lack confidence in their agents and believe they know the market value of their home better than their agent does. Some simply want to "take a shot" at the higher price with the understanding that they'll reduce it quickly if it doesn't receive an offer at the listing price. Some sellers are not terribly motivated to sell, and are willing to wait a long time and sustain a great deal of inconvenience while waiting for their price. Agents know which sellers fall into each of those categories.

    Agents' motives in accepting overpriced listings differ, but the one thing most have in common is that they won't refuse to take an overpriced listing.

    Millbrook Pointe the best choice for value-conscious buyers

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    Joseph Askins

    Millbrook Pointe, Wheeling, Illinois

    (The following is a sponsored post for the Chicago Tribune's Fall 2010 Festival of Homes.)

    Today's homebuyers are value conscious and recognize a great buy when they see one. That's why traffic continues at a strong pace at Millbrook Pointe, a value-oriented Wheeling townhome community built by Northfield Group.

    With Phase 1 reaching its 60-percent milestone, Gary Levitas, president of Northfield Group, attributes his stellar sales of 17 homes in four months to a combination of affordable prices starting at $269,900, all brick and stone construction and innovative design.

    You can move right into a 2,200-square-foot, three-bedroom / 2.5-bath townhome in a prime Wheeling location, featuring granite countertops, stainless steel appliances, Pella wood windows and a full basement for $269,900.

    Recent buyer Joe Prokop said that before purchasing a home he toured countless developments and nothing came close to what he got for his money at Millbrooke Pointe. "It has everything, great prices, great location, quality building materials, and open floor plans. There's no better place to live for the price."

    "While our incentives are appealing, potential buyers will be equally impressed by our innovative floor plans and complete customization," said Levitas. "Our spacious townhomes are crafted to feel like single-family homes." With up to 2,700 square feet of space, they have an abundance of windows that let the outdoors in. Kitchens are roomy and accommodate center islands, while master bedrooms are quite sizeable and are separated from the other bedrooms for added privacy.

    You can choose from two upscale townhome plans. One offers four bedrooms and 3.5 baths with a first-floor master suite. The other is a three-bedroom / 2.5-bath traditional layout. Or buyers can opt for a charming three-story rowhome design featuring two or three bedrooms and 2.5 baths.

    Millbrook Pointe townhomes are built to the highest construction standards and include specialized products such as Pella wood windows with double-pane insulation, 3.25-inch base moldings and casings around the windows and doors, cathedral ceilings, solid-core wood doors, and many more upgraded features.

    From 294 north, exit Lake Cook Road, go west to Milwaukee Avenue, then south on Milwaukee to Wolf Road, right on Wolf for a quarter mile to entrance on left. The sales office is open daily from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m.

    Call 847-347-2300 or visit MillbrookPointe.com for more information.

    Wauconda's Liberty Lakes reaches final phase of sales

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    Joseph Askins

    Liberty Lakes, Wauconda, Illinois

    (The following is a sponsored post for the Chicago Tribune's Fall 2010 Festival of Homes.)

    Town and Country Homes is currently selling homes in the final phase of homesites at Liberty Lakes, a master-planned community in northwest suburban Wauconda. The homesites include a selection of desirable locations that can accommodate walk-out and look-out basements.

    Liberty Lakes will include over 900 homes when complete, and the final phase features the Congressional Series of single-family homes. Two model homes are open for viewing, and prices start at $199,995.

    "Liberty Lakes offers an exceptionally large number of floor plans to choose from, all of which are priced affordably, constructed with quality and filled with deluxe features that are often priced as extras," said Donna Zizek, director of marketing for Town and Country Homes, a K. Hovnanian company. There are approximately 10 homesites that will accommodate the walk-out and look-out basements, so interested buyers are urged to act quickly.

    The Congressional Series includes 14 floor plans featuring a ranch and two-story designs. The homes range from approximately 2,052 to 3,238 square feet and include three or four bedrooms, 2.5 baths, optional or partial basements, and two-and three-car attached garages. The homes include 9-foot first-floor ceilings, luxury master suites with walk-in closets and private baths plus concrete patios. Additional options may include dens, lofts and bonus rooms to further personalize the homes.

    Liberty Lakes is located in an area of serene natural beauty and takes its name from the ponds that accent the landscape. Hikers, joggers and equestrians will enjoy easy access to the regional Millennium Trail which winds through the community for more than a mile and borders the Lake County forest preserve.

    A trusted builder in Chicago for over 50 years, Town and Country Homes, a K. Hovnanian company, is currently building homes for first-time and move-up buyers in eight neighborhoods throughout the Chicagoland suburbs.

    To visit Liberty Lakes, take Route 12 north to Route 176. Turn right (east) and proceed to Fairfield Road, turn left (north) on Fairfield and follow to Gilmer Road. Turn left (west) onto Gilmer Road exit ramp and turn right (west) onto Gilmer. Entrance is a quarter mile west, turn right on Sedgebrook Drive and follow to the sales center.

    For more information, visit TownAndCountryHomes.com.

    A 30,000 square foot estate in Barrington Hills

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    Joe Zekas

    20 years on the North Shore without going native.

    7 Fox Hunt Rd, Barrington Hills, Illinois

    When you see a home in Barrington Hills that has a name, odds are that it's owned by a top-tier personal injury lawyer. I'll leave it to readers to determine whether that's the case with Hidden Ponds," a 30,000 square foot home on 70 acres in Barrington Hills.

    Hidden Ponds, at 7 Fox Hunt Rd, has been on the market for some time, and is currently offered at $12,500,000, down from $14.5M. Among its endless features are a spacious pub, a full-size indoor basketball court, and an in-ground pool with pool house.

    The listing doesn't disclose whether the swans pictured on one of the ponds are year-round residents or rented for the season, as is often the case.

    The Fox Lake area puts you in a boating state of mind

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    Joe Zekas

    20 years on the North Shore without going native.

    Microsoft Bing aerial, College Trail, Grayslake, Illinois

    Quite a few Chicago suburbs boast of a laid-back, more rural lifestyle, and some of them may actually have areas that come close to it. .

    If you want to sink deeply into laid-back you have to be, I think, in a place where boats are almost as common as cars. You might not have a boat, but your neighbors surely do, and being around boaters sinks into you and scrapes away stress. Sipping a cold one (or six) out on the water also helps.

    In Chicagoland, you have to head to western Lake County to find a place where boating and the boating mentality are pervasive. A recent Tribune community profile provides a good introduction to Fox Lake and environs.

    The tiny lake cottages that once dominated the area have given way, in many cases, to lavish lakefront estates, but the dominant tone of the area is far from upscale. Chicagoans looking for a weekend getaway spot will find it generally more affordable than Michigan's New Buffalo or St Joe. As a bonus, you don't have to go through Gary to get to Fox Lake.

    New homes in a natural setting at Autumn Grove in Volo

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    Joseph Askins

    Autumn Grove, Volo, Illinois

    (The following is a sponsored post for the Chicago Tribune's Fall 2010 Festival of Homes.)

    Autumn Grove is a single-family home community offering versatility for all seasons. Located in the leafy Lake County village of Volo, this development, built by William Ryan Homes, includes 10 acres of lush open space with ponds, large trees, a bike path, and rolling terrain. Nearby lie Fox Lake, the Chain of Lakes, and the Volo Bog State Natural Area, with its 800 acres of marshes, prairie restoration areas, and woodlands. It is an area that promotes year-round activity and fitness.

    With 10 different floor plans to choose from, including two single-story plans, the new homes have three, four, or five bedrooms, and will range from 1,776 to 3,175 square feet. Included with each home are a 10-year Guarantee Dry Basement, ergonomic kitchens designs, two and three-car garages, and 700 square feet at no extra cost with their free finished basements.

    Optional features include designer master baths, Signature Morning Rooms, fireplaces, volume ceilings, walkout and lookout basements, first-floor suites, bonus game rooms, gourmet kitchens, and much more.

    Homes start from $175,000 and reach to the upper $200s.

    Autumn Grove is conveniently located. Only five minutes from a Metra commuter rail station, homeowners will enjoy the easy access to Routes 120, 12 / 59, and 83. The community is served by the excellent Wauconda School District 118 and numerous stores and restaurants along Route 120.

    The William Ryan Homes 1-2-10 transferable / limited warranty, along with its exclusive My Home 24/7 customer interactive website and Hard Hat Buyer Inspection program, is included on every home it builds. The company complies with GREEN-Built and Energy Star standards for energy efficiency, ensuring consistent room temperatures and uniform comfort throughout the home. This can save homeowners up to 50 percent in energy use and expenses.

    To visit the models at Autumn Grove, take Rand Road / Route 12 and to Belvidere Road / Route 120. Turn right onto Route 120 to Route 60. Turn right on Route 60 and follow to Fish Lake Road. Turn right onto Fish Lake Road; the community will be on the right.

    Sales hours are 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Monday, Tuesday, Saturday, and Sunday; and 1 to 6 p.m. Friday.

    For more information, visit www.WilliamRyanHomes.com or call 847-201-7952.


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