Friday, December 4, 2009

Top 10 reasons to sell during the holidays

Many of you may think that the holiday season is a slow time for real estate. That misconception is often times fostered by Realtors who want to take the month of December off. The truth is,it is actually a great time, and NEVER MORE SO THAN THIS YEAR! With interest rates at ALL-TIME low and the extension of the first-time buyer tax credit, you cannot afford to waste time! Below is a list of some reasons why the holiday season is ideal to sell!

1. Buyers looking are truly serious
2. Your house looks great decorated
3. People are always looking 365 days/year
4. Less competition (less homes on the market)
5. Moving costs are usually less expensive
6. Interest rates are great!
7. May be a tax benefit (Especially for First-Time Buyers!)
8. Easier to schedule a closing
9. Be in your new home for the New Year
10. More time to shop while I show your home

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Monday, September 28, 2009

Stay Tuned for the next seminar...

I am happy to report that the free First-time Homebuyer Seminar went extremely well. Those who attended had all their questions answered and participated in a lively discussion. Because I have gotten more inquiries from those who couldn't make it, my team and I have decided to put together another seminar. We are discussing possible dates now and will update this blog once it is scheduled. Be sure to check back in a few days! Better yet, subscribe to the blog and you'll get the notification once we have it scheduled! 

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Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Norridge Man Creates "Friendly Confines" At His Home (Field)

Most Cub fans like to visit Wrigley Field for day baseball, to look at the lush field and its ivy-covered walls and to relax in a great atmosphere. Some go as far as describing it as Heavenly. For Norridge resident Dean Igaravidez, it is home.

No, Igaravidez doesn’t actually live at Wrigley Field. Instead he’s turned where he lives into Wrigley...well, at least the back yard!

Complete with ivy covered walls, distance markers, a miniature infield, and numerous signs that one would find at the real Wrigley, Igaravidez can enjoy most of the comforts of Wrigley without leaving home.

Igaravidez, a 58-year-old produce manager, said the idea for his tribute started about eight years ago when he was in his backyard at 4059 N. Ozanam Ave., looking at his detached garage.

“I thought it would make a nice outfield wall,” Igaravidez said. So, the next step for him was to call a landscaper friend and plant some ivy.

“We only planted three plants. It’s Boston Ivy, which is the same as at Wrigley, Igaravidez explained. “The first year after I planted it, nothing really grew. Then one day I arrived home from work and bam! It had sprouted.”

Despite the fact that the ivy comes back every spring, there is some maintenance that is required. “You have to continually trim it and in August it starts to fade a bit …kind of like the Cubs,” Igaravidez joked.

After the Ivy took off, Igaravidez turned his lawn into an infield, cutting out the grass by hand to create the base paths and a raised pitcher’s mound, which he then filled with the same type of clay-dirt that they have at Wrigley Field.

Igaravidez said one perk of working at a Lincoln Park grocery store is getting to know many people -- such as beer distributors who are Cub fans who have access to different items, several of which have made it into his yard. “I have people,” Igaravidez joked.

Indeed, a sign-maker friend donated the home-run distance signs that hang on the “outfield” wall on the Ivy. He also has the numbers of all the Cub hall-of-fame players and Ron Santo on the outside of the garage door, along with a Waveland Avenue street sign. A new scoreboard is currently being made, after the last one had to be retired due to harsh weather. Of course, the “W” flag is a must, although these days Igaravidez, who jokingly described himself as “old,” explained that he only has the energy to fly it after big wins.

“I never flew the “L” flag,” he added.

Besides having to keep the ivy from overgrowing, Igaravidez said it is a challenge to cut the grass properly and also to keep the family’s chocolate Labrador “Brando” from relieving himself on “sacred ground.”

Brando the Cub critic!

“He always urinates on the side of the garage where he is supposed to go, but sometimes he goes number two in left-center,” Igaravidez said. “Maybe he’s trying to tell [Alfonso] Soriano something.”
Driving past the front of Igaravidez home, one probably would not notice anything out of the ordinary. The house is a well-kept white frame-house with lots of flowers and a nicely manicured lawn. Of course, the doorbell does play ‘Take Me Out To The Ballgame.’

“The house is my wife Jill’s domain, I have the yard and garage,” he explained. Indeed, when asked his wife’s opinion of his tribute, Igaravidez said “she hates it,” and clarified, saying, “Let’s just say she’s not as enthused as me.”

A few minutes later, unaware that her husband was being interviewed, Jill Igaravidez arrived home and gave a look that reminded me of Alice looking at her husband Ralph Kramden in The Honeymooners, wondering what scheme he was up to now. And while Jill admitted that while she also is a Cub fan, she said she did not warm up to it until their three grandsons, between age 2 and 8, began to appreciate it. One difference between his yard and Wrigley Field (although debatable lately) is that Elmo currently occupies the pitcher’s mound at the Igaravidez home.

“That is for the grandkids, obviously.” Igaravidez explained.

One great thing about having two Major League baseball teams in Chicago is the friendly rivalry that often occurs between friends. Of course, in Norridge, the population is overwhelmingly Cub friendly. Igaravidez said his neighbors do not mind that his devotion is on display and no one ever stole or damaged anything. Last year though, he did receive a letter in the mail from a White Sox fan.

“It had a Bridgeport return address,” Igaravidez said. “It was before the playoffs and he just told me that he hoped the Cubs choked. He sent another letter after they did lose,” Igaravidez said.

“Once in a while we will be sleeping late at night and someone will drive by and yell something,” Jill said. “Some of the things aren’t repeatable,” she said with a laugh.

For full disclosure, I am also a Cub fan, and was sure to wear a Cub shirt for the interview. When asked if he would have talked to me had I worn a White Sox or other team shirt, Igaravidez explained that since I wasn’t family, it was fine. Asked if his three daughters are also Cub fans, he laughed and said “of course, or they wouldn’t be welcomed home.”

Ironically, Igaravidez said if it wasn’t for Wrigley Field he may have grown up a (Heaven forbid!) White Sox fan.

“My grandfather was a White Sox fan because they had a Latin manager [Al Lopez] and they were good, having won the American League Pennant in 1959,” Igaravidez said. Despite the winning ways of the White Sox and the poor record of the Cubs at the time, Igaravidez said his love affair began the first time he entered Wrigley Field as a boy.
“I really fell in love with Wrigley Field first, then the Cubs.” Asked about his relationship with the Cubs today, Igaravidez described it as “religion.”

These days Igaravidez doesn’t go to the real Wrigley Field as much as he used to, (he was a bleacher bum in 1969), mostly because of the inflated prices and because he is “not as young as I used to be and am not crazy about the hassle of the huge crowds.” And although Igaravidez admits to falling asleep before the end of the late away games on the West Coast, he still watches or listens to most games, even while working.

“Luckily Lincoln Park is Cubs country so when there is a game on they will put it on the televisions in the store,” Igaravidez said.

As for the Cubs chances to break their 101-year championship drought, Igaravidez said they have the talent but injuries and inconsistent play are holding them back. He added, half-seriously, that “if they do win, life would be over; there would be nothing left to live for. At least we can say wait until next year.”

Looking into his yard, he lamented the end of season and the start of football. “I should also tell you that I’m also a big Bears fan,” he said with a smirk. “…No, I don’t have room,” Igaravidez said, answering the question before it could be asked.

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Thursday, July 30, 2009

The time to start looking for First-Time Buyers is now!

Remember that to get the $8,000 tax-credit from the government, your home must be closed by December 1. So, if you are a first-time home buyer who is thinking about buying, the time to start looking is now. I'm more than happy to help you, so contact me today. Also, go to for great first-time buyer resources!

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Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Norridge, a great town for first-town home buyers

Good schools, a safe community and affordable homes make Norridge an ideal place for first-time buyers. And now, with prices low as well as interest rates, not to mention the $8,000 tax credit for first-time home buyers --- the time has really never been better to buy.

To learn more about the tax credit, watch this brief video below. Be sure to contact me for more information and to answer your questions!

Also be sure to click here for more resources for first-time home buyers!

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Monday, July 13, 2009

Pricing your home correctly is still the key in today's market in Norridge

The Chicago Tribune, quoting data from Clear Capital, a Truckee, Calif.-based provider of real estate valuation data to investors, reported that in the past 90 days, 43 percent of home sales in Cook County have been bank-owned foreclosures.

They've sold faster, too, with an average local marketing time of 53 days for a foreclosure compared with 73 days for a traditional sale. The reason for this is simple: Bank-owned properties feature sellers who are Wall-Street finance-types with no emotional attachment to the home. Their decisions are made on raw data - like square footage and mortgage-margins. They don’t put these properties in the newspaper, but exclusively online because they cannot afford to lose any more money or time. And while they reject crazy buyer offers with the flick of a pen, they also set prices squarely in the market. Sometimes, even lower than average, because they are unemotionally trying to sell the property, without ego. They price it to attract buyers and sell. So, when your neighbor’s house has been on the market for a year –it’s probably because he is trying to sell it for what he could have gotten in 2005, not 2009! Pricing something right is essential and is why you need a Realtor to help you. I cannot stress how important this is, especially in this competitive market.

Luckily the foreclosure picture in Norridge is a lot better than the rest of Cook County. Right now in Norridge, of the 99 single family homes currently on the market, less than five are currently bank owned. But when you combine the bank-owned with those in pre-foreclosure, it brings the number up to 15, or 15%, still less than the 43 percent in Cook County overall but enough that it has impacted home values in town.

How much?
Well I analyzed data from the last five years and discovered that prices this year are averaging 63% of its high in 2005, down to $260,217 from $410,922. Keep in mind that 2005 was the peak of the speculation frenzy, when every Tom, Dick and Harry believed he was going to be the next Donald Trump. What resulted was a price run-up that was way out of line with reality. So, while prices may be lower than they ideally should be right now, I believe the current market is closer to reality than it was in 2005.

Please analyze the chart that I put together and let me know if you have any questions or comments. Post them on this blog or email me at

You’ll discover that prices probably have bottomed-out and that market time has actually decreased – a lot closer to the quick market times of 2005 and 2006 than the previous two years WHEN LISTED WITH A REALTOR. For those who still attempt to sell on their own, market times are longer than they’ve ever been. Another example as to why it is essential to enlist the help of a professional.

The stats I’ve compiled are definitely interesting and can spark a lot of discussions. I look forward to helping answer your questions and helping you to sell your home quickly and for the most money possible.

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Friday, May 15, 2009

Harwood Heights barred from stimulus funds

Harwood Heights is one of three suburban Chicago police departments that have been barred from the $1 billion in federal stimulus funds headed for law enforcement agencies. A total of 26 departments from across the nation have been barred.

Harwood Heights, Calumet Park and Stone Park received funds from the Community Oriented Policing Services program formed in 1995. But their failure to meet the program's guidelines will bar them from stimulus funds.

According to federal officials, Stone Park failed a requirement to retain police officers a year after the COPS grants expired. Calumet Park misspent about $37,500 in money from the program. Harwood Heights misspent $362,000.

Harwood Heights officials declined to comment.

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Friday, April 10, 2009

Happy Easter and Happy Passover!

One of the great things about Norridge is the "community-feel" of the town. This afternoon I arrived home and a few minutes later heard some voices outside. I did not think much of it at first but after a few minutes I wandered to my front window to see where it was coming from. It turns out that it was parishioners from Divine Savior -- doing their Stations of the Cross Procession on Good Friday. Turns out the front of my house is one of the stations -- I hope this is a good thing for me!
Whatever your faith, I hope you have a great weekend and Happy Easter!

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Sunday, March 29, 2009

Village Trustee Named Acting Norridge President

Norridge Village Trustee Ronald Oppedisano is now the acting village president.

According to a report in the Pioneer Press, following the March 20 death of Village President Earl Field and funeral services Wednesday, Oppedisano was chosen to serve as acting village president during a special meeting Thursday night at Village Hall. The motion was made by Trustee Dennis Stefanowicz and seconded by Trustee Dominic Falagario.

Oppedisano most recently served as the Chairman of the Streets, Sidewalks and Alleys, and Information Technology Committee.

In addition, as a Trustee, Ron also serves on the Law and Ordinance Committee and on the Village Properties, Environment and Economic Development Committee; and he has led the way for the formulation of a Master Plan for the future development of our Village. Ron is also a member of the Emergency Telephone System (911) Board.

For more information on Oppedisano, click here

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Tuesday, March 10, 2009

First -Time Homebuyer Credit Form

As part of the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009, the IRS has officially released Form 5405 -- better known as the First-Time Homebuyer Credit Form.
True to tax code standards, the 10-field form is accompanied by 3 pages of instructions. Form 5405 is a helpful, go-to resource for home buyers with questions about the tax credit. For example, the form distinguishes tax consequences for homes bought in 2008 versus 2009, and clearly defines the term "first-time home buyer".
In addition, Form 5405 highlights the math behind the tax credit.

In general, the First-Time Homebuyer Credit is equal to the lesser of:
$8,000 for homes bought in 2009
10 percent of the home's purchase price

Married couples filing separately are entitled to half of the expected credit, and homes sold within 3 years are subject to a credit repayment in the year the home ceases to be the "main home".

Form 5405 is a comprehensive reference. However, be sure to check with your accountant for specific questions about your personal returns and how the First-Time Homebuyer Credit may impact your finances. There is no substitute for professional, paid advice.
Download the form here!
For more information vital to first-time buyers, click here!

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Saturday, February 28, 2009

First Time Home Buyers Tax Credit Explained!

Young families are attracted to Norridge for a lot of reasons. Proximity to downtown, great parks and schools, affordibility... the list goes on and on. Fortunately, first-time buyers can now take advantage of tax savings!

That's right! The American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009 features an $8,000 tax credit for first-time buyers who purchase a home on or after Jan. 1, 2009 and before Dec. 1, 2009.For detailed information, contact me. For an overview, I have posted a brochure for you to read and share! To view the brochure, click here

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Monday, February 16, 2009

This month's Person You Should Know: Michael Pugliese - Cutting hair and solving problems one customer at a time..

From the early morning until evening, six days a week, Michael Pugliese helps to solve all the world’s problems from his business in Norridge. No, he’s not a philosophy teacher at Ridgewood High School, dealing with hypothetical scenarios. He’s the proprietor of Michael’s Barber shop, just down the street from Ridgewood.

Located at 7539 W. Montrose, the barber shop has been a Norridge institution since 1956. There, 47-year-old Pugliese, along with fellow barbers Joe Briguglio and Tony Cucinella cut the hair of clients aged 1 to 100.

A simple barber shop lined with auto and sports magazines, newspapers and a television tuned to the local news or sports action, Michael’s is a place for customers to catch up with each other, share local gossip and also to vent about things.

“We solve all the problems in the world here,” Pugliese joked. When asked to give an example, Pugliese declined, exhibiting a sort of attorney-client privilege between him and his customers.

While customers come from as far as Schaumburg and Mundelein, Pugliese said most of his clientele are split between Norridge residents and Chicago’s Northwest Side, many of the latter being city workers. Pugliese estimated that it takes about 20 minutes to cut the average customer’s hair, and while some are in and out for a quick haircut, others linger to shoot the breeze, especially in the weeks before Christmas, when he sets up a table to share homemade cookies and wine.

Pugliese came to America in 1984 from Calabria, Italy, and has been cutting hair since he was a young child. “In Italy, after school I would work for the local barber. I would sweep the floor of his shop, watch how he worked and then learned how to cut hair,” Pugliese said.

Upon arriving in America, Pugliese worked at the now shuttered Quasar factory in Franklin Park while taking part-time night classes to earn his barber license. Two years later, armed with his barber license and a better handle on the English language, Pugliese resumed his life’s passion, working as a barber at a shop in Franklin Park.

In 1997 Pugliese ventured off on his own, buying what is now Michael’s Barber Shop. Initially handling all clients, Pugliese hired Joe Briguglio six months later and the pair is still working side by side. In addition, Tony Cucinella also cuts hair three days a week. And while the shop has always been busy, the size of the shop always has been more than he needed. So, in 2003 Pugliese remodeled the back of his shop and began renting it to Eva Luviano, who operates Eva’s Hair Salon. Eva’s is an appointment-only salon that caters to mostly women. The two shops share the entrance, but nothing more --the waiting areas of both shops are far enough apart where the mostly-male clientele at Michael’s can feel safe talking and joking amongst themselves and not feel like they are being spied on by friends of their wives!

Since he began cutting hair, Pugliese said prices have increased a bit, [it is $15 for a haircut at Michael’s] and styles have come and gone.

“Kids hairstyles change a lot… short, long, spiked, etcetera. You have to be with the times,” Pugliese said.

Standing on your feet six days a week may seem hard, but Pugliese said he loves working for himself. Luckily for his customers, Pugliese says he has no plans to put his shears down anytime soon.

“You gotta love your job because you’re not going to become rich cutting hair,” Pugliese said. When asked how long he pictures himself working, Pugliese laughed and said he’ll probably retire in 20 to 25 years.

(Michael Pugliese and Joe Briguglio)

When he’s not working, Pugliese enjoys spending time with his wife Marisa and three children, ages 8, 10 and 12 at their home in Norridge. He also is an avid supporter of Ridgewood High School Athletics and soccer fan.

Michael’s Barbershop is located at 7539 W. Montrose. Hours are 9a.m. – 6:30 p.m. Mon-Friday and 9am-5pm on Saturdays. Walk-ins only. Phone is 708.583.9739.

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Monday, February 9, 2009

Recent snapshot

In June I posted a six month activity report for Norridge, letting you know how many homes sold from January to June 2008, the avergage selling price, and other facts.

I am happy to report, despite the "slow market," from July 2008 to present, 48 homes have sold at an average price of $301,327. This is up from the 25 homes that sold the previous six months. Yes, it is true that the average selling price has lowered, but this just proves what I've always preached -- that price is the number one obstacle to selling your home!

Currently there are 83 homes on the market in Norridge with the average asking price of $423, 725. (The most expensive being $1,299,000 and the least expensive $132,950. Most are in the 270-380K range.)

In addition, there are 7 homes currently under contract -- ranging from $169,500 to $362,000.

I anticipate a plethora of homes coming on the market soon. If you are thinking of selling, it may be wise to get your home on the market before the onslaught! Please contact me today to pick my brain!

Bob Chiarito
Proud to live and work in Norridge!

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