3 Questions to Ask Before Buying a Waterfront Home

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– Guest blogger: Alicia Eisenbise, Social Media Specialist 

In our area, when you think of waterfront property your first thought may be Lake Michigan, especially if you’re looking for a vacation or weekend home. Karen Strohl, a Previews Property Specialist in New Buffalo, said her first question after a client says they’d like a “waterfront property” is “What type of waterfront? Are you looking for Lake Michigan, an inland lake or a river?”

Harbor Country, where she’s located, has some of the most amazing Lake Michigan waterfront properties, but the lakefront comes at a price so she makes sure to find the buyer’s price point and educate them on the type of properties that would fit into their range. For some, an inland lake may be a better value in terms of size, privacy and amenities. For others a country home would suit if it’s within a short trip of the lake.

If Lake Michigan is the waterfront property you desire, then then next question Karen would ask is, “What type of beach access do you want?” In Harbor Country, there are three types of beach access.. Which type of beach access appeals to you?

  • A waterfront home in St Joseph with Littoral Rights.

    A waterfront home in St Joseph with Littoral Rights. Listed by Donna Iwamoto & Karen Strohl.

    Littoral rights: Do you want complete privacy and control? Then you’ll need to ask for Littoral rights. It is the most valuable and ensures that you own the property and the beach to the high water mark. “Having littoral beach rights mean one is assured of privacy on the beach because one controls who is allowed on their particular stretch of beach.  Littoral beach rights guarantees a very low density of people using the beach, and Chicagoans love the luxury of space and privacy.”

  • Lakeside MI  home with an Association Beach

    Lakeside MI home with an Association Beach. Listed by Donna Iwamoto & Karen Strohl.

    Association beach: This is the second most valuable. It means you share a beach with a group of homeowners, but it is not public. It allows you to have a more private, less crowded experience.

  • Township beach: This means the beach is open for public use of the residents. It saves you money, but these beaches are generally more crowded.

Another question high on Karen’s list for a prospective buyer is “how will you be using the home?” There are some couples who want a cute little cottage where they can escape from it all without visitors. Others want a home that extended family and friends can use as a vacation or weekend home base.  There are so many options. For example, Lakeside has large homes with lawns and is a more formal community. Whereas Union Pier has a lot of cottages and is less formal. The experience ranges within from the Indiana border through to St. Joseph, Michigan.

One of the many reasons people love this area is that the “proximity to the city makes it very desirable.”  Karen herself is from Chicago and was charmed by the clean, white, fine sand beaches and how you can “experience a lifestyle typically you don’t have in Chicago.”

Welcome Home: An American Soldier’s Return Home


“Home is my favorite place.”

That’s how this video starts and I’m not sure a better intro could be given. In this vignette from the series we call “Welcome Home” we talk with the Michael & Michelle Hults about what home means to them. Michael served in our military for many years but when he came home from service recently the place he loved to come back to was almost completely ruined.

Superstorm Sandy, as it did with many homes in the Northeast, had taken its toll on the home of the Hults and with Michael being away there just wasn’t the means or the opportunity to fix all this damage themselves. That’s where designer and craftsman extraordinaire, George Oliphant of NBC’s George to the Rescue, comes in.

George helped make the improvements necessary to get the house back to livable conditions and even made some improvements to help the Hults get back to enjoying the place that was so precious to them.

Michael remarks that one of his most favorite memories of home is bringing his son home for the first time. I know that feeling all too well Michael and there’s nothing quite like that feeling of coming home for the first time with that new baby.

Watch the video above and see how much the concept of home means to this military family.

Have a happy and safe 4th of July!

Originally posted on Coldwell Banker Blue Matter.

Achieving Curb Appeal with the Wow Factor

Lovely curb appeal in this North Barrington home listed by Ron Sever

Lovely curb appeal in this North Barrington home listed by Ron Sever

When it comes to selling your home, you always want it to stand apart from the competition. This is why the wow factor is so important in today’s market. The outside of your home is the first thing gives visitors an impression of what may be inside. If it fails to inspire from the outset, they may not even come to see the inside.

Typical tasks for increased curb appeal include: tidying the landscaping, removing dirt from the walkway and driveway, mowing the lawn and cleaning the windows. Going beyond these basics and dressing up your home with a few key accessories will give it the wow factor that will attract potential buyers to your property.

Modern House Numbers by Los Angeles Kitchen and Bath Fixtures Atlas Homewares

1. Add big, bold house numbers. It’s easy to swap out house numbers, and this one thing can make a huge impact. Echo your house style in the numbers you choose — a clean sans serif font for a modern house, hand-painted tiles for a cottage, or aged copper for a Prairie-style home.

Modern Exterior by Cambridge Architects & Designers LDa Architecture & Interiors

2. The front door makes a statement. Paint your door a fresh color to evoke the flavor of the home: green creates energy; red is inviting and draws the eye; black is elegant and dramatic; and orange is invigorating. Plus, add a door knocker. Gorgeous hardware and a new paint job can make even the plainest door welcoming.

Traditional Porch by Atlanta Architects & Designers Stephen Fuller Designs

3. Simple porch furniture entices you to visit and take a seat. A pair of matching rockers, Adirondack chairs or a cozy glider is a must when you have a front porch that is visible from the street. Having seating on your porch gives a friendly feel to your space.

Traditional Exterior by Rhinebeck Interior Designers & Decorators Mari Kirwood Design Associates

4. Planters and flowers give you color.  A window box full of bright red flowers livens up neutral exteriors. Or, add a few new pots with colorful flowers on either side of the door. Just like a beautiful necklace can make an entire outfit shine, striking flowers can give your home that final perfect touch.

5. Lighting can be the icing on the cake. Updating your current lighting fixture or adding a few solar lights along the pathway, or as an accent, will show potential buyers you have gone that extra step to create a unique place they can call home.

Translating the Language of Real Estate

Guest blogger: Matt Dobbe, Regional Marketing Coordinator, Coldwell Banker Residential Brokerage – Wisconsin Region

Funny bubble of real estate abbreviations

As someone new to the real estate industry, I’ve learned that buying a home is more than just bed and bath counts. It’s waterfront property, big yards, BICCs and a friendly neighborhood. It’s FSBOs, REOs and contracts and paperwork…A lot of paperwork.

It probably shouldn’t have surprised me, but I didn’t realize how much had to be signed, approved and permitted when buying or selling a home. I also didn’t know that all real estate agents were fluent in more than one language: The Language of Real Estate. The Language of Real Estate consists largely of acronyms and abbreviations and if you happen to be one who’s not fluent in Real Estate, deciphering what a certain acronym or term may mean can make it seem like you’re trying to crack a decades long real estate code; similar to Tom Hanks in The Da Vinci Code.

It took me a while to learn that FSBO meant ‘For Sale By Owner’ and that a short sale is a sale in which the sale price of a home will not cover the outstanding debt on it. Although I’m certainly not a master in the Language of Real Estate, I’m proud to say that I’ve been able to crack the Real Estate Code (without ever calling Tom Hanks).


If you’re like me, you feel a sense of accomplishment after you learn a new language. You feel how rewarding it can be to navigate yourself through a foreign land. If you’re an agent, helping a customer find the home of their dreams is even more rewarding. The smile on their face when they’ve finally signed all the paperwork, dotted the ‘i’s, crossed the ‘t’s and moved into their dream home…That’s the same in every language.

Here’s a link to our Glossary of Terms help in your translation. 

View Magazine Summer Release

A letter from the President
A Letter From The President

Fran Broude, President and COO Coldwell Banker Residential Brokerage
Click here to see the View Summer 2013 

I am happy to report that the spring real estate season is in full bloom! We are off to a strong start with the market showing signs of life and significant improvement that we haven’t seen in years. According to our multiple listing service, in the first quarter of 2013 the number of closed home sales was up 24% compared to the same time last year. Another notable finding is that the average market time is currently 137 days, down 22% from 2012. There are many factors that are feverishly driving the market recovery, but at the same time inventory levels continue to fall to record breaking low levels. The multiple listing service also reported that by the end of March new listings in Chicagoland were down 3.2% and the number of homes for sale fell to a 2.8 month supply, down 58% from last year. This trend combined with a surplus of potential buyers is creating a sense of urgency. Now more than ever, both buyers and sellers need a proven real estate company with experienced real estate agents who they can rely on to negotiate the best possible price for their home and who can best advise how to handle a multiple offer situation.

This in conjunction with Coldwell Banker’s innovative technology makes our clients positioned to succeed in today’s fast paced market. Providing the most successful experience possible for our clients is what we strive for by continually developing our online tools. One example is HomeBase, our proprietary system that provides secure, 24/7 access to transaction-related communication and documentation without all the paper! HomeBase Inbox helps you stay organized in your home search process with tools that make it easy to find, review and maintain a record of the properties that interest you. And HomeBase Intouch ensures that online inquiries reach our agents immediately so they can respond to a potential buyer quickly. Let the search begin by taking a look at this issue of the View and by visiting ColdwellBankerOnline.com.

What do Home Buyers Really Want?

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A real estate frenzy ignited in early spring as people across the country were eager to start the process of buying or selling their homes. There is undeniable momentum in the market with home sales picking up each month and surpassing numbers from the past several years. According to the National Association of Realtors, this year the pending homes sales index rose 10.3 percent above April 2012, marking the 24th consecutive month of being above previous year’s levels.

At Coldwell Banker Residential Brokerage homes are selling quickly, particularly those that possess specific features coveted by today’s home seekers. As a seller, modifying your home to include some of these findings can prove to be beneficial in getting your home sold.

“Features that will never grow old to homebuyers still exist, like updated kitchens and bathrooms, reputable school districts, hard wood floors and plentiful storage space,” said Fran Broude, president of Coldwell Banker Residential Brokerage. “But new housing trends, such as open floor plans, new construction and smart homes are on the rise and are a sign of the times,” said Fran Broude, president of Coldwell Banker Residential Brokerage.

Wide open spaces: Long gone are the days of families seeking formal dining space for everyday use. Open floor plans, specifically in the kitchen area, have become increasingly popular to create an atmosphere where families can enjoy each other’s company while at home. Another benefit to open spaces is that it can give the illusion of larger rooms and make your space more conducive for entertaining. According to the National Association of Realtors’ 2013 Home Features Survey, eat-in kitchens were even more important to home buyers than stainless steel appliances and granite counter tops, showing the shift in conventional dining space.

New construction: There are plenty of reasons to buy a new construction home, including ease of maintenance, personalization options and benefits of modern design features. In 2012, we saw the first increase in new construction since 2007 and according to a study done by RISmedia and Dennis Walsh & Associates, 90 percent of prospective buyers have included new construction homes in their search this past year. The surge in new builds can be partly attributed to the demand for housing in a market that is experiencing unusually low inventory levels.

Smarten up your home: Investments in advanced technology for your home can be relatively inexpensive and can be the differentiating factor between your home and the house down the street. Digital Trends recommends home automation systems by companies like Crestron and AMX that provide unbelievable features that sense when you walk into a room and then automatically adjusts the temperature, triggers the lights, draws the shades or even gets the party started with piped in music. In today’s fast paced world, convenience is key! In fact, RISMedia recently released a national survey of 18-35 year olds in which 53 percent stated that home technology capabilities are more important than curb appeal.

Outdoor Spaces are a Selling Point

As summer approaches, many home sellers and agents are looking to the great outdoors to catch a buyer’s eye. Offering an outdoor sanctuary adds value to a home, whether it’s a beautiful garden, alfresco dining space, screened-in sun room or a resort worthy swimming pool. These outdoor living and entertaining spaces have made their way to the top homebuyers’ wish lists.

American homeowners increasingly are drawn to adding outdoor rooms for entertaining and recreation, according to the 2013 Residential Landscape Architecture Trends survey. In fact, the category of outdoor living spaces, defined as kitchens and entertainment spaces, received a 94.5 percent rating as somewhat or very popular.

“Creating an outdoor oasis that extends beyond your typical terrace or deck can be an important point of differentiation and may sway a buyer’s decision,” said Fran Broude, president Coldwell Banker Residential Brokerage. Here are some ideas on how to make the most of your space and create a backyard that you’ll never want to leave.

  • Go alfresco: There’s no better way to enjoy a meal than under the stars, especially when hosting guests. Go the extra mile by setting up a full service bar and built-in cook’s station in the backyard.
  • See the light: Continue entertaining into the evening by installing outdoor lighting. For example, Tiki torches add a tropical vibe, while low voltage lighting provides a mellow and peaceful feeling.
  • Make it last: Further helping to blur lines between outdoor and indoor spaces is the rise of screened porches, heat lamps and outdoor fireplaces, making them livable nearly year-round.
  • Decorative water elements: By including a waterfall, swimming pool or hot tub you will feel like you’re at the spa every day. If you want to be really unique, build a fountain or a fish pond that will give your yard a sense of tranquility.

Check out these homes currently on the market that have amazing outdoor space:

Gorgeous outdoor living space - Chicago IL

This eclectic home in the West Town neighborhood has is situated on three combined city lots with a gigantic private yard that is unheard of for city living!  The landscaping and outdoor dining table looks perfect for outdoor entertaining.  It is for sale by agent Joseph Gasbarra for $2,750,000.

Amazing paved backyard with BBQ

The paved stone pathway in the backyard of this charming Evanston home is perfect for entertaining. The gorgeous stone grill with counter top space is the perfect addition. The home is listed by agent Allyn Rawling for $850,000.

464 South Ridge rd Lake Forest IL

A pool house, saltwater pool, terrace with outdoor fireplace and tennis court spread upon 2.6 acres of stunning grounds make this Lake Forest home an outdoor haven. It is listed by Ann Lyon, for $5,375,000.

2000 South Ela Rd Schaumburg IL

This newly added stone and cedar pavilion has loads of seating and a huge fireplace. It makes this Schaumburg home the perfect setting for entertaining friends and family. The home is listed by agent Brian Bertoia for $899,900.

1721 Mansie Court Libertyville IL

Nothing says luxury like a hot tub in your back yard. This Libertyville home has all the outdoor living space you could ask for. It is listed by Ann Lyon, for $995,000.

Annual Chicago Coldwell Banker Charitable Foundation Breakfast

A flood may have postponed our initial Foundation Breakfast for the Chicagoland area on April 18, but nothing could stop us from celebrating our record setting check presentations with our giving partners on May 13 in Rosemont. This brief video is just a glimpse of some of the amazing work that is being done by our partners with the funds lovingly raised and given by our leadership team, sales associates and employees.

The Coldwell Banker Charitable Foundation has raised over $600,000 since its inception in 2007. We’re happy to report $180,000 was raised in 2012 alone. Our primary purpose is to support local housing-related charities that directly benefit the needs of the people and communities we are privileged to serve.

For more information on the Coldwell Banker Charitable Foundation, visit givehousing.com and Like us on Facebook. We care. We support. We give back. 

Create a Woman Cave in Your Home

– Brooke Balco, Communications Specialist, Coldwell Banker Central Region

A place where moms can check out from reality and check in to peace and quiet.

Tranquil Mother's Day

Mother’s Day is right around the corner and Coldwell Banker Residential Brokerage has the perfect gift idea- the gift of peace and quiet! Every woman, mother or not, should have a place in their home where they can take some time to themselves to unwind and do something they enjoy, whether that means reading a book, soaking in the bathtub, or planting flowers.

The first step to creating a “woman cave” in your home is to get inspired. Look through images of your dream home to get your creative juices flowing and see what is realistic for your personal space. Here are a few inspirational ideas to get started:

Create a cozy nook

To create a perfect place to cuddle up and read a book, knit or take a nap, the key is to look for a space in your home that is removed from noise and clutter. This can also be the perfect way to transform an awkward corner, windowsill or loft space into a comfortable area for a little relaxation. Some of the best spaces for a “nook” are next to a fireplace, near a large window filled with natural sun light, or even on your balcony.

Cozy Library

This charming Lincoln Park single family home boasts a magnificent library with a wood burning fireplace flanked with built-in bookshelves. Flooded with light form the large bay window, this room is the ultimate retreat for quiet time! The vintage home also offers two offices, five bedrooms and four full bathrooms! It is listed by Coldwell Banker Residential Brokerage’s DelGreco Team for $1,385,000.

Me Time in this cozy nook

Get creative and transform an unused den, extra bedroom or office space by adding plush décor to design an intimate setting, like in this Gold Coast home. By adding a canopy and daybed in the room it creates the perfect ambiance for some “me time”. This dream home also includes a wood paneled library, chef’s kitchen, and roof top deck. It is currently for sale for $643,500, listed by Coldwell Banker Residential Brokerage agent Terry Forrest.

Enjoy a spa day

Every woman dreams of a luxurious spa bathroom in their home, so why not make your dreams come true? There are several do-it-yourself projects that can make you feel like you are away at a spa, such as replacing bath fixtures and faucets, painting the walls, updating your bathtub with a whirlpool spa, and adding natural materials such as teak, bamboo and stone to your décor.

Spa like bathroom

This extraordinary Lincoln Park home makes you feel like you’re at a country club. The master bathroom includes a spa marble bath with double vanity, glass surround steam shower, and a separate whirlpool tub. You also can’t miss the natural light shining through filling the room with sunshine. This 4 bedroom, 4 bathroom single family home is currently for sale for $2,095,000, listed by Coldwell Banker Residential Brokerage agent Jennifer Ames.

Luxurious bathroom

The master spa bath in this fully renovated Bucktown home screams luxury! This enormous space includes a spa bathtub, sauna, storage space, double sinks and loads of natural light. The home also has four outdoor spaces, including a garage roof deck! It is currently listed by Coldwell Banker Residential Brokerage’s Dorger McCarthy Group for $829,000.

Create an outdoor oasis

Need some fresh air? Enjoy yourself while making the most of your outdoor space by planting a serene and tranquil garden. To get started, here are a few tips: choose an area that gets at least six hours of sunlight per day, plant a variety of flowers for a colorful display, and do your research before breaking ground . Also, plan ways to enjoy your outdoor oasis by incorporating outdoor furniture or a pond to create a comfortable place to hang out and enjoy the beautiful flowers.

Outdoor space

A look inside (and outside) this Lincoln Park home will surprise you when you discover the unbelievable two-story garden and green house. It is currently listed by Coldwell Banker Residential Brokerage agent Chaz Walters for $1,079,000.