TCW - Jobs, Money & Opinion

Foreclosures Drive the Chicago Residential Real Estate Market

RE Blog-5.30.11.jpgMany homeowner's and investors in the Chicago area are disappointed by the current value of their residential property that appears to still be decreasing.  They are concerned "if and when" the price for their home will return from record lows.

Most who bought their home between 2000 and 2007, during the housing "bubble" are greatly affected by the downturn in the market.  The value of their property is often 30-40% less than the market highs during this time; much lower than economists expected.  Many homeowners that do not have to sell are waiting on the sidelines for the residential market to improve.  But, will it and when?

The driving issue which is slowing down a recovery is the large amount of foreclosures that are still entering the Chicago market from homeowners and investors that can't afford to maintain and finance their property. 

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Facebook's New 'Best Practices Guide' a Winner

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Building a Facebook fan base can be extremely time-consuming, but the company has made it easier with its new "Best Practices Guide."  The 14-page guide does a good job of explaining not only how businesses can build a fan base but also how to use Facebook to reach specific business objectives.

The guide opens with five "guiding principles": build a strategy that is social by design, create an authentic brand voice, make it interactive, nurture your relationships, and keep learning.

Next comes common business objectives and ways to reach them.  These include building awareness, differentiating yourself from the competition, increasing traffic and sales, building loyalty, and gaining insights by observing customer's actions and comments.

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Can You Protect Your Investment Portfolio From Risk?

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I recently moderated a panel of experts whose job is to research investments for financial advisors and individual investors. This particular panel presented the results of its research on how to manage portfolio risk and in particular, tail risk. Tail risk means the holdings in a portfolio fall in value more than two standard deviations from the average. In simpler terms, tail risk happened to most of us in the fall of 2008.

The presenters discussed the research and they agreed that there is no easy or perfect way to reduce investment portfolio risk.

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Lisa Loeb Talks Life, Work and Being a Mom

"You say, I only hear what I want to..." You might remember Lisa Loeb, who will be in town performing on June 3 and 4, from her #1 '90s hit, "Stay." It wasn't easy, but I was able to talk to the singer for a few minutes about life, work and being a new mom.

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A Meeting of Body & Mind: Chicago's Newest Spa Wellness Center

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Chicago has a new Spa & Wellness Center in the Loop that is changing the definition of Spa's.  Maximus Worldwide, an asset management firm specializing in the management and branding of spas, has teamed up with real estate developer Michael Reschke to create one of the most innovative spa, exercise and wellness centers in the country.

Located in the JW Marriott Hotel at 208 South LaSalle Street, the VALEO has a philosophy of "pampering with purpose".  It caters to business people who are seeking a refugee from their busy lives, where they can exercise, get a facial, and a nap in their infrared sauna which is said to help bodies, detox.  They also bring in special meals to those that request vegan, soy or gluten-free food.

The VALEO opened November, 2010 and is already building a loyal following.  Featured on the Oprah show this week, it already has the seal of approval from the "O".  The staff at the VALEO provides services for those who are seeking a total body and mind experience,  in one place.  There's a feeling of calm the minute you step off the elevator into the space.

VALEO subscribes to an "Integral Balanced Platform".  They have an 8-point program that defines their unique philosophy on total fitness and well-being.


  1. They believe in controlling inflammation by reducing it through various spa services and exercise.
  2. A nutritionally balanced diet is recommended with fresh foods and complex carbohydrates and ascribe to the Zone diet.
  3. The infrared sauna is used to reduce toxins in your body which they say helps the body warm up from the inside, acting as a catalyst to stimulate your body to release toxins.
  4. They believe in using exercise and body therapy combined to stay in shape.  Yoga, Tai Chi, Pilates, martial arts and Sheanectis (a combination of all martial arts) classes are offered to focus on the mind and body.
  5. Believe in using beauty enhancements when needed such as Botox, Restaline and other fillers.
  6. They believe in the rebalancing of hormones and the proper sugar balance to ensure good health.  They have sources to help their members with this regime.
  7. Appropriate supplication of vitamins is recommended and testing can be done to make sure your body has the "right" vitamin supplements.
  8. Lastly, live long and keep learning is key to their philosophy.

As unique as the VALEO is, so is their membership program that is being offered. The first 250 members of the club can lock in their $175/mo dues, if they stay current on payment.  There is no contract term and the only requirement of a prospective member is that they fund their Wellness Bank.  No monthly dues are collected, until their bank funds are exhausted. It's an interesting concept that has worked well for the current members who typically use up their "bank" of experiences in three months.

The VALEO hours are 7am-8pm, 7-days a week.  They will also open the club to those that need specialized hours.  The exercise room has state-of-the-art equipment, an infrared sauna that is like being in Aspen in front of a fireplace, relaxation rooms that are like being in your own den and experience rooms, which are as nice as any I have seen.

The VALEO is a special health club spa wellness center where one can engage in experiences that help them look and feel their best.

Contact Shannon Helfrich at for more information or call her at 312.660.8250.  Mention this article on the TCW blog and receive a FREE experience of your choice! Don't miss the opportunity.  I can't wait to take my first Sheanectis class, followed by the infrared sauna!

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e-Marketing Workshop Series Will Help You Create an Online Presence

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Business owners who want to establish or enhance an online presence will learn how to do so at a new e-Marketing Workshop Series presented by our firm's client, the Women's Business Development Center (WBDC). 

Each workshop will be held on a Wednesday, from 6 to 8 p.m. at the WBDC, 8 S. Michigan Ave., 4th Floor, in Chicago. 

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Hottest Office Space in Town!

Looking for the amenities of a Class A office building in the Chicago Loop, without paying for it?  Check out the newly renovated 208 South La Salle building, located on LaSalle Street between Adams and Monroe, where value conscious businesses have made this office space their home.


This historic landmark building was built in 1911 by famed architect DH. Burnham.  It's 21-story steel frame classical revival style building once served as an office and banking complex.  The building has a 155' by 54' central open light court that makes for a bright space for tenants in most locations in the building.


Yet, after many decades of wear, the building had lost its luster.  Michael Reschke, Sr., founder of the Prime Group, saw the potential in this 580,000 sq. ft. building and purchased it in 2006.  He hired Chicago's local favorite architect, Lucien La Grange to re-design the space.


Reschke wanted more than just offices in the building and was able to secure the J.W. Marriott hotel to take floors 1-12 by converting it into hotel rooms, conference center, restaurant, lobby bar and spa/health club.  The grand entrance features a three-story glass curtain wall that allows light to spill into the street and expose the hotel's full lobby, adding energy an to the hotel's elegant design.


The real perks for a tenant in 208 South LaSalle is the direct access to the J.W. Marriott, which has become one of the most popular hotel properties in the City!  This New York-style hotel with its enormous lobby, features a bar with a fireplace, and is a wonderful place to bring your client when you want to meet outside of your office.  Why pay more for more office space than you need when you have a Class A hotel in your building?


Nestled in the lower level of 208 South LaSalle is the hottest premiere health club and spa in the City right now!  Named the Valeo, it is owned and operated by Maximus Worldwide with other locations in Las Vegas and South Beach, where spas are an integral part of a life.  Why not here in Chicago where downtown workers can find some RNR away from the chaos of the City?  It offers a generous discount to both the office tenants and hotel guests, so you and your client can both enjoy the experience.


The leasing agent for 208 South LaSalle is Beitler Real Estate Corp who also acts as the leasing company for the Prime Group's other office building at 11 S. LaSalle.  CEO, J. Paul Beitler, is a 35-year Chicago real estate veteran who has developed over 10-million sq. ft. of Class A office space and manages 30-million sq. ft. of office space in 16-states.


J.P. Beitler III and Michael Reschke, Jr. handle the leasing for the Beitler Real Estate Corporation.  There's a real comfort and clarity in working with them to ensure the right space that makes a would-be office tenant feel they made the right choice.


Rental rates for the 208 South LaSalle building are $26-27/sq.ft. "all in" which includes real estate taxes and operating costs.  Office spaces are available from as small as 500sq. ft. to 18,000 sq.ft. This makes this a great choice for smaller tenants that want the same amenities as larger tenants without paying the price. The office space is "turn-key" for new tenants with space built out to their needs.  All they have to do is "turn the key" and it's all set to go.


The real perk for office tenants is the Valeo spa/fitness center. It is offered at $175/month with no initiation fee, but a "$1200" bank that is held for future spa services rendered, all at a discount to the office tenants.  More on this spa in my next blog!  It's very special.


For more information on 208 South LaSalle, please contact JP Beitler or Michael Reschke, Jr. at 312/768-7000.

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Cinco de Mayo

Cinco de Mayo is a huge deal in the Garcia household, how about yours?

Tonight, why not celebrate with Cinco de Mayo crafts and activities for kids.

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Small Business Competitions

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Winning business and industry awards can provide you with a way to set your business apart from the competition, attract new customers and employees while retaining existing ones, and be considered part of the elite category of women who've been designated as remarkable leaders. All too often, however, entrepreneurs fail to do the research and put in the time necessary to create a really great winning entry. Keep reading for a few tips and reminders as well as some awards currently accepting applications:
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Are ETFs Better Investments?

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So much has been written lately about exchange-traded funds (ETFs) and all their so-called flaws. Some complaints and warnings about ETFs include:

1.    ETFs do not always sell at the price that reflects the underlying value of the holdings.
2.    ETF investing faces bubble-like conditions. ETFs as a class may come crashing down.
3.    Sometimes ETF fees are just as high as those of actively managed mutual funds.

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Sexual Assault Awarness Month Comes to a Close: Conclusions?

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Demonstrators with Rape Victim Advocates gather at Daley Plaza on April 29, 2011 to protest the silence that surrounds sexual violence.

This past January, a Toronto police officer told a group of citizens that the key to women avoiding sexual assault was to not dress like "sluts."

The remark sparked justified outrage; Slutwalk Toronto was born, and on April 3, over 1000 protesters took to the street to spread the message that "being assaulted isn't about what you wear...but using a pejorative term to rationalize inexcusable behaviour creates an environment in which it's okay to blame the victim."
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Is Now a Good Time to Sell Your Home?


How do you determine what your home is worth and when to sell it?  Do you hire an appraiser?  Does your real estate broker set the value for your home?  Or, do you use the price of a comparable home or condo as the listing price for your property?


All of these resources will render a different number.  A bank appraiser may value your home at a lower price to protect themselves from a bad loan.  A real estate broker may price your home too high to secure the listing. So how do you know what the real value of your residence is and when to sell it?


I contend that the value of your home is what someone is willing to pay for it!  There are many other considerations besides comparables that differentiate your home from others.  Perhaps, it's your fabulous kitchen with Bosch appliances, your view of the Lake or an outdoor patio.  Yet, before you list your home or invest in another, it is important to have as much information as possible in order to set the right listing price for your home.


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It's OK to Walk Away

Walking away is a cognitive and purposeful act that does not require emotional closure (although it is easier if you find emotional closure first).  Walking away requires you to first look at yourself and take responsibility for the role you played in the situation.  After taking responsibility, you can begin to set boundaries for yourself and make changes in your behavior and attitude.  These actions can make your decision to walk away more clear and easier to do. 
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Getting Media to Say "Yes" Requires the Right Approach

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You may be so busy "getting social" through social media that you've overlooked a powerful way to get exposure for your business: tried-and-true traditional media.

Newspapers, magazines and broadcast outlets are still alive, influential and receptive to a good story and reach in a single stroke far more readers, listeners or viewers than the average tweet or blog posting. The key to success is in your approach.

Bill Moller, host of a popular Saturday morning show on WGN radio, says he hates cookie-cutter pitches and can recognize them in a heartbeat. He responds to a great subject line, a succinct and convincing story angle, and a demonstration that you understand what he's looking for in a guest or topic.

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Combating Sexual Assault on College Campuses

When navigating the exciting choosing-a-college process, few parents or students likely take into consideration the number of sexual assaults reported by that university; bottom line, we trust our institutions to keep us and our loved ones as safe as possible. But recent events at USC, Yale, Notre Dame and other institutions raise the question: are schools looking out for their own best interests or their students when it comes to reporting sexual assaults and other related incidents?

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Taxes For 2011: Pay Less Starting Now

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 As for taxes, it's time to think about the old adage, "It's not what you earn, it's what you keep." Now that you may have felt the pain of writing that tax check, you can consider the most tax-efficient ways to manage your finances in 2011.

1. First, when managing your personal portfolio of investments, be sure you differentiate your taxable account from your tax-exempt account, such as your 401(k) or rollover IRA. Certain investments will benefit you more in one account than the other. If you like to invest in the stock market yourself and you buy and sell shares often, then that kind of activity is best done in the tax-exempt account because otherwise the federal government will tax you at your full rate if you incur a gain on the sale of a stock within 12 months.

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Are You Flaky?

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How We Survived Our Spring Break Road Trip.

A few months ago while researching three bedrooms suites anywhere within 6 hours of our home we stumbled upon Traverse City Michigan. So we decided to head North for Spring Break.

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YWCA Reaches Out To Survivors of Sexual Violence

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Support and encouragement can be one of the most helpful things to a survivor of sexual violence, and YWCA makes it their goal to do just that. Offering many support services Jeanette Castellanos Butt and her team at YWCA Metropolitan Chicago work to give survivors the resources they need to rise above sexual violence.

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Angela Rose "Shatters the Silence"

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Today, Angela Rose is a crusader for victim's rights. As founder of PAVE (Promoting Awareness Victim Empowerment), a multi-chapter, national non-profit, she transverses the country on a mission to shatter the silence that surrounds sexual assault.

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A lesson From Grandma; Teaching Kids About Saving Money

Our six year old daughter came home from a shopping trip with Grandma with a revelation.  She excitedly told me that she wants to earn an allowance. Ok, she had my attention.  

She explained that Grandma had allowed her to purchase a toy, but it had to be $10 or less.  Now, she wanted to start earning money so Grandma wouldn't have to spend her $10, our daughter wanted to be able to buy it herself. 

I thought to myself how nice this was that she wants to use her own money, until the next sentence came out. 

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Has the Clutter in Your Living/Work Space Taken Over Your Life? Tips from B Organized

We all have been there, where all our closets and drawers are overfilled with too many items, and we still keep stuffing them until the doors almost fall off the hinges!  I have been hit in the nose by a box I was saving just in case I needed it, sliced by a scissors that was in my junk drawer and hit by a 12lb bowling ball that almost broke my toe as it rolled over my foot!



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A Look Into Sexual Assault Legalities with CAASE

Fighting for women and their rights can at times be an uphill battle, but this is the battle that Kaethe Morris Hoffer, Legal Director at Chicago Alliance Against Sexual Exploitation (CAASE), fights every day. She gives a voice to the women and men who have survived sexual assault. 
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Can Facebook Ads Jump-start Your Business?

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When university professor Dr. Sara Schwarzbaum opened Couples Counseling Associates in downtown Chicago a year ago, she decided to test Facebook advertising to create buzz - quickly - for her services.

It worked. Today, Facebook ads account for more than one-third of her part-time practice - enough to support herself and two associate counselors. The ads underscore her credentials as an experienced and effective counselor with a downtown Chicago location.

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On a Mission for Survivors

When Denise Rotheimer's daughter, Jasmine, was 11 years old, she and her 14-year-old cousin went to a sleepover at their aunt's house. There, their 22-year-old cousin, Michael DeSario, lured them into a game of truth-or-dare, spiked their juice with hard liquor and committed an act of sexual violence against them.
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When It Comes to Charlie Sheen, We're All #Losing

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This past Saturday in Detroit, audience members who paid $150 to see Charlie "Tiger Blood" Sheen take the stage turned against him within 20 minutes, booing his attempts at entertainment. The 5,100 seat Fox Theatre went from sold out to only a few hundred patrons as Sheen paraded his "goddesses" around and shouted, "I've already got your money, dude," in response to hecklers. 

I'd like to say that guests who left the show had the good sense to abandon a sinking ship; unfortunately, they already had the bad sense to buy tickets in the first place. So let's call it a wash. 

One could be fooled into thinking the negative Detroit reaction signals a turning of the tides against Sheen. But I'm not really holding out hope.
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eDrop-Off Comes To The Gold Coast!

The Gold Coast in Chicago has a new store that is a must for anyone who is looking for a place to sell their bridge and designer fashions that have been dormant in their closets! A popular consignment store on Halsted, where the smart sellers know where to unload their designer duds, e Drop-Off has been a mainstay.  Owner Corri McFadden has now expanded her operation to include a location on Rush Street, between Elm and Division.

At first glance, the store looks like a high-end boutique sporting a chandelier, slate gray walls and mannequins wearing Chanel.  Yet, nothing is sold at the store; rather items are all sold on eBay.  McFadden is a pro at selling on eBay, having been doing it for 7 years, right after she graduated from a fashion design school in Chicago.

A Kansas City Native, she says she has always been an entrepreneur.  When she was in 7th grade and she needed money to go on a trip for school, she arranged consignment of candy with a local manufacturer for 120-days and sold the candy for the Drill team, making enough money to go on the trip! 

When McFadden first started, she sold anything she could on eBay through an eBay store.  Two years ago, she rebranded her company to focus on the resale of designer clothes for mostly women, but does sell some items such as watches, sunglasses and outer jackets for men.

Her business has taken off and she now has 23 people working for her including a management team, photographers, copywriters to verify the authenticity of the products and in-house specialists.  She and her team sell an average of 1,000 items a week during her 7-day auctions on eBay.  She makes it easy for customers to use her service by offering free pick up and wardrobe consultations, along with paying for shipping for items in and out of state.

It's like "Santa's Workshop" for fashion, with mounds of beautiful designer clothes being packaged for sale, everyday.  This successful entrepreneur not only knows fashion, but she is also a proficient business woman.  At 29 years old she has excelled at her business and shows no signs of stopping.  She is wise beyond her years and says, "I want to be a role model, a real role model for people to show that that you can be successful doing what you love and to be yourself and to follow your passion!" 

Mcfadden wants to be a role model in the fashion industry and a person that young men and women look up to.  She has big plans for herself and the company that I am not able to divulge, but watch out Chicago! Corri McFadden is a person we will be seeing a lot of. 

Check out her new Gold Coast store location on Division.  The winter hours are M-F, 10-4, and Sat., 10-3.  The Halsted store, where there are 3,000 sq. ft. with clothes that can be viewed before the auctions, is open M-F, 10-7 and Sat., and 10-3. 

Go to for more information or to for bidding. Call (773) 525-7467 or toll free at (866) 962-5550.

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Sexual Assault Awarness Month Interview Series

Today is the first day of Sexual Assault Awareness Month, founded in 2001 to "promote a degree of national unity in voice and action regarding SAAM activities, to encourage interaction and feedback from across the nation, and to build momentum based on previous years' activities."

Ten years later, the statistics are still shocking:

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Selecting a School for Your High Achieving Child

High achieving parents usually look for opportunities and resources that can benefit their children.  Education and health are usually the main two areas of focus for parents.  Today's blog will focus on helping you find the most affordable, high quality education for your child.
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5 Important Tax Savings Tips To Use Before April 15

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 1. Take advantage of tax credits.

Tax credits earn special attention as they not only reduce a tax bill, but they can earn you a refund. These include the Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC), Child Tax Credit, Recovery Rebate Credit and first time Homebuyer Credit.

Whether you have an employer or are self-employed, subject to income limits, you may qualify for these credits. You do not even need to itemize your deductions. For more information, contact the Internal Revenue Service.

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