Reflections on Chicago, Real Estate, and Life!

Sunday, December 31, 2006

Are you a "good" city driver?

Recently, I took a quiz titled, "Are you a good driver?" This topic really peaked my interest, because I have been notoriously called "a bad driver." I am not naming any names here, but this accusation can be traced back to some of my older family members, as well as my teenage cousins.
In my defense, I believe I am simply an aggressive city driver, one who takes control of the situation at hand, and makes traffic move more quickly. To truly understand how I perfected my driving skills, a review of my DMV record is necessary. (Warning: This may be extremely painful reading for parental figures).

Let's start with the teenage years. My first car was a 1996 Saturn coupe, which I received on my 16th birthday. It was a great little car, and cute, but that didn't last long. Here is the list of the things that happened to me while driving the Saturn.

1. The driver's side mirror mysteriously "fell off" while I was driving through the ATM, in a hurry to get some cash no doubt!

2. The passenger side mirror was swiped off during an incident in a parking garage.

3. The front bumper was dented, because I had to go through one of those gates at a parking garage. I lost my parking ticket and couldn't get out of the garage without it, OOPS!

4. I side swiped a BMW in a snow storm. Sorry, mom and dad. I know it was painful to have to pay the man in cash, so that we didn't have to file another claim with the insurance.

5. I passed a cop on the shoulder on Butterfield RD. in Wheaton. I still don't understand why he was stopped in the middle of a one lane highway? Let's just say he wasn't happy with me, since I was already driving on a speeding ticket.

6. This one wasn't my fault, I swear! In high school, I let a coworker pull my car up for me, so I wouldn't have to walk in the snow. Without my knowledge, he drove to the back of the nursing home I worked at and was trying to fly over ramps with my car. My car was dragging on the ground all the way home, the $2000 dollars in damage was not as scary as the expression on my Father's face when he saw the Saturn.

That's enough incriminating evidence against me for now. Let's move on to how these experiences have made me a better city driver.

After college, I bought a new Honda Civic. Anyone who put themselves through college and has $60,000 in loans to prove it, realizes that a &17,000 car is not cheap! I vowed to learn from my previous mistakes and keep my Honda in tip top condition. Shortly after, I moved to Chicago with a clean driving record, since all my offenses occurred before the age of 18. I found it much easier to obey the rules of the road in the big city!

Firstly, I have not had any speeding tickets in Chicago! That could be because the speed limit is as fast as you can possibly move on city streets (usually under 30 mph). I didn't have any accidents until September 2006, when I had a three car crash at Halsted and Dickens. I took 60 percent of the blame, but come on people, why are you stopping for more than 2 seconds at a stop sign?? Doesn't that mean that it's my turn? One mistake so far, but that's nothing compared to my past! On a positive note, I am often told by my passengers that I am the best parallel parker they know, and I can pass a slow driver on the right, or on the left if needed, with great ease.

Anyways, after reviewing my driving record and the results of my driving quiz, I came to the conclusion that I am not a good suburban driver (too many rules), but that I am a great city driver! I have used my past failures to assist me in becoming the best city driver that I can be!
However, I have decided to "fine tune" my driving skills just a little, so that in the future I don't scare any of my clients away!

Thursday, December 28, 2006

Father Knows Best

I decided that since I have written about practically everyone else in my life that I should include my father in one of my entries. After all, if I am to learn about sales from anyone, it should be my dad. He is a prime example of a natural salesman, and I don't mean this in a bad way, but it's true! Bob, as most of our friends and family know him, is always thinking of new ways to convince people to do something. For example, on Christmas, my dad gifted me with a real estate article to read, (right then and there of course, Bob waits for no man!). He even highlighted the sections that he felt were important, just so I wouldn't miss any key points. Bob never neglects to use his persuasive, nonnegotiable tone when trying to get his point across, (which I have picked up on over the years), so I decided it would be a wise choice to read the article right away!

In addition to his powerful demeanor, my dad also has some classic lines that he uses when conversing with clients, friends, relatives, or people he meets on the street. My personal favorite is a line that really sums up my dad's salesman like skills, which is when he simply states, "I made all the right moves." He said this after he talked with my former boss at my wedding, (notice the former part). After he had that lengthy conversation, Bob pretty much laid it all on the line for me. He was pretty elated when he reported back to me that I had received a rave review from my boss. Also, Bob made sure to let them know that I thought the world of them, (one of his sales techniques is to provide positive feedback). Unfortunately, that time the "moves" didn't work out, but there have several triumphs for my dad, IE: whenever he lands a new contract at work.

Basically, I feel that I do have a great sales role model to look up to, even though there may be a hint of sarcasm in this piece, (as usual). I always know that my dad will be able to provide me with solid sales advice, and although it may be harsh at times, it can be refreshing to have an honest perspective on one's career moves. Also, I can look forward to a constant stream of reading material coming my way. What more can a girl ask for?

Chicago Neighborhoods Part 2

Recently, I had a client express interest in living in Logan Square, Lincoln Square, or Ravenswood, therefore I began researching those areas. I am not as familiar with Logan Square, as compared to other neighborhoods in Chicago. However, I recently met a couple who purchased a single family home in that area less than one year ago. This couple recently had a baby and was struggling to find an affordable single family home, with a yard, close to downtown. My interest was peaked when the couple informed me that their neighborhood was full of new construction projects, and that a lot of families were relocating from nearby, yet pricier neighborhoods.

Logan Square is viewed by many as an up and coming neighborhood, which may mean that it is an opportune time to move there. On the other hand, some may feel that the term "up and coming" indicates that the neighborhood needs another 5-10 years of improvements before it should be considered. Overall, it may just be a great time to check it out and see if it suits your living needs.

Wednesday, December 27, 2006

Holiday Withdrawal

All the candy, cakes, cookies, and pies have been devoured, every present ripped open, every stocking taken off the mantle, and all wine and beer bottles have been emptied, so what's left????, not very much!

After the holidays some may feel relieved; after all, your drunk aunt has gone back to the 'burbs, your mom's nagging has subsided, you are not forced to eat a bunch of fattening foods anymore (or you may want to continue doing that since they taste so good, and new years resolutions haven't kicked in yet), and all annoying siblings have returned to their home states (Thank God)!

Then again, you may be experiencing some indescribable holiday withdrawal symptoms. These may include, but are not limited to, a larger stomach (looking in the mirror and thinking, "Oh, I am just bloated"), a sad feeling which leads to more eating in hopes of making it "go away", a force inside your body that somehow keeps you at least 100 feet away from any gym or other exercise facility, and an internal alarm clock that refuses to go off anytime before 9 a.m.

Me? I am ready to get back on a normal schedule, work hard, sell homes, and find some great clients to work with, but wait, first can I have just one more chocolate chip cookie, O. K., better make that two!

Tuesday, December 19, 2006

Memed Again...No tag backs this time!

O.K. so I forgot to say, "No Tag Backs," and I was memed again courtesy of Eric Rojas. So here we go again.......

5 more things that you may not know about me:

1. Vacuuming gives me migraine headaches (Or at least this is what I told my Mother when I was growing up).

2 I am very gullible, basically I believe everything that I am told, please don't use this to your advantage!

3. Money magically disappears from my hands, pockets, and purse. Once I get it, it's gone! My Mom used to say that no matter what, I would pick out the most expensive thing at the store, even when I was unaware of the price.

4. My dog, Butch, is my life, he has his own web page, pillow on our bed, he also attends doggy day care religiously, has play dates at the dog park and the dog beach.....Do I sound like a crazy dog lady yet?

5. I hate Seinfeld!

I have been Memed!

My friend and colleague Geno Petro has Memed here it goes!

Five Things that most people do not know about me.........

1. I am an extremely picky eater. I say, "No Thank You" to onions, mushrooms, anything crunchy and unidentifiable, most meat, any steak, anything found on the bone, any sauce that even has a hint of onion in it, most anything home cooked, (perhaps you were wondering why I don't cook?), shredded chicken, draft beer, basically any beer besides miller lite bottles, any fruit desserts ( I especially hate apple pie), any dressing besides Ranch, you get the idea!..........

I am in the process of earning my masters degree. It is a slow process, but I have completed six courses in my marriage and family counseling program. After observing so many failed marriages and children that suffer as a result, I decided to pursue my MA in counseling. Plus, I love talking with people as much as possible, (some even claim I talk too much)?

3. I want a big family! Yes, it's true that although I am a city girl, many of my ideals do not conform to a city lifestyle. I want at least 3 children, but most likely 4. Everyone says, "Just wait until you have one", but they don't know me! I am a multitasking queen, a person who needs to be constantly on the move, and can put up with a room full of screaming count me in!

4. I can not sit through a 30 minute T.V. Show. Once, without my knowledge, a friend of mine counted how many times I got out of my chair during a 30 minute T.V. program. It was something like 22 times. I guess I am not one for staying put!

5. My nickname in college was "Bebop." My friends claimed that I would "bebop around" the bars and talk to everyone in sight. How's that for friendly????

Monday, December 18, 2006

Puppy Dog Sweaters!??!?

Another busy weekend filled with Christmas shopping, open houses, and even a little house hunting of my own! After my open house Saturday on Cleveland in Old Town, I ran over to meet with an agent to view a property in the West Loop. This 2 bedroom condo was a potential home for my husband and I, plus I enjoy seeing as many listings as possible to keep me up-to-date on the current market.

When I arrived, I was greeted by a woman from a well known Chicago agency who has been in the business for quite a while. We chatted for a moment about real estate, where I live, and what I am looking for. However, almost immediately she seemingly forgot everything we had just discussed and began asking me obvious questions that I had already answered.

Firstly, she mentioned how, "This is a fabulous location, there is a dog park nearby, you can walk to the Metra, restaurants on Randolph street, and Greektown is just 2 blocks away." I just ignored the fact that I had already told her twice where I lived (Greektown). Moving on.....she also casually mentioned, "I just want to let you know that I have had five showings today, and I have a second showing tonight, Oh and by the way this unit is priced to sell."

The conversation carried on in this same fashion; me repeating myself, and her ignoring every word that I said. Although I was clearly uninterested in buying this property from her, she continued to go on and on about how great it was. I do realize that everyone has their own approach to sales and real estate in particular, but there are just some things that I would do a little differently with my client. At least I was able to learn something from my short conversation with this seasoned agent, mainly that I never want to become an automated salesperson, one who simply goes through a routine with every client, denying each person a tailored approach, and trying to force a client into buying something that isn't suited for them. This was definitely a life lesson learned about what type of agent I want to be and what standards I will set for my business.

Most importantly, I want to be an agent who listens to my clients, and refrains from wearing any sort of knit sweater, especially one with puppy dogs and/or Christmas trees on it!

(This particular agent will remain anonymous due to possible embarrassment from fashion crimes formerly committed).

Thursday, December 14, 2006

Open House This Weekend!

Please join me for an open house this weekend! I will be at 1444 N Cleveland #2 in Old Town. The open house is from 1-4 p.m. Saturday the 16th and Sunday the 17th. The unit is an immaculate 2 bed/2bath with hardwood floors, crown molding, granite kitchen, balcony, private deck, jacuzzi tub in master bath, and a one car garage!
Please contact me for more info and see you there!


Wednesday, December 13, 2006

Comparing Home Values

Becoming a realtor has made me more aware of home pricing in different areas of Chicago and the suburbs. For instance, today I came across a new subdivision in Bourbonnais, IL., (some consider this a suburb of Chicago, others say it is too far away to be a "true suburb"), but anyways the brand new homes there are HUGE and inexpensive. Since my husband's business and family are located 55 miles away from our great city, I am often forced to make the hike to the middle of nowhere.

However, for a brief moment in this new subdivision, when I was walking through a 3000 square foot home for 250,000 dollars, I forgot that I was in the middle of a vast cornfield. "Wow," I thought to myself, "I can have this huge house, perfect for the large family that we desire, for the same amount that we will be paying for a small 2 bedroom condo in a less than desirable neighborhood in Chicago.

As I sat in the office/possible 5th bedroom, I began picturing our life in that house, a home larger than our parent's could ever have dreamed of. Then I began thinking how great it would be to be close to grandparents someday.......Then I forced myself to stop that train of thought, "Oh wait second, I know there is a catch to this idyllic situation. For one, I almost broke one of my life commandments, to never live within 30 miles of any in laws!" (That's a good one to have in my opinion).

As I walked down the double staircase into the grand foyer, it all started coming back to me. This is the middle of nowhere, there is nothing to do in the Kankakee metropolitan area, I am not a country girl ( I mean I definitely don't cook or clean or know how to do yard work), and I belong in Chicago!

Back to reality, the model home was pretty sweet, and it would be great home for someone, but not for me! Give me that 2 bedroom condo and a street spot and I am good to go.

P.S. If you are my mother-in-law and you are reading this, I am sorry!

Monday, December 11, 2006

Buy Or Rent?

This is the time of year when many people begin to reevaluate their current living situations. Many Chicago residents have leases that are up in the springtime and right about now they are asking themselves, "Should I renew my lease for another year, or buy something?" Of course, I say it is a great time to buy right now! However, I realize that people are busy with the Holidays, and that they will most likely be putting their Chicago home search on the back burner until January. On the other hand, it is an optimal time for clients to decide what they are looking for in a home, so that the agents can begin to narrow down the search parameters. Also, it can't hurt to look at some properties now, before the January/February spring market rush!

Friday, December 8, 2006

Chicago Neighborhoods

Chicago's many neighborhoods make it an extremely unique city. Most people have only explored a few of Chicago's main areas, so that is why I have decided to do a blog on Chicago hoods. This week I am covering the Loop. Of course, the loop is constantly filled with tourists, but it has much to offer the locals as well. Some of the best things to do on the weekends include; going for a walk or taking the train downtown, attending an exhibit at the Art Institute, having lunch at a cafe (Such as the Grand Luxe), or going shopping on State Street and Michigan Ave. Since I am a West Loop resident, I consider the loop to be my backyard, and I love it! Please contact me if you would like more information on living in the Loop or any of Chicago's diverse neighborhoods.

Monday, December 4, 2006

First Open House Weekend

This weekend I sat my first open house at 4445 N. Paulina in Ravenswood. It was freezing cold, both Saturday and Sunday, and Saturday was actually the coldest December 2nd on record in Chicago! I learned the hard way that I should not walk on the icy sidewalks carrying my open house signs from corner to corner. Sunday, I chose to drive with my signs to selected destinations, anywhere from 1 to 6 blocks from my open house. I guess I am used to walking everywhere, but it is difficult walking in the snow with 8 signs that weigh about 20 pounds each! Anyways, it was pretty dead all weekend, I had 2 groups on Saturday, and 2 on Sunday. All of the prospective clients were working with agents, but I still felt them out by responding to questions pertaining to the property, and by asking them what exactly they were looking for in a home. Overall, it was great just to be there, waiting for any consumer of real estate services to walk through that door and become a potential client. I am anxious for next weekend, no matter where I am at, I know that I will be given a chance to meet people and convert them into my clients. I am ready to get them in my car!

Friday, December 1, 2006

Snow Snow Go Away!!

Remember summer? That wonderful time of year when it is warm outside.... when temps range from 60-100 degrees ....Oh, wait a second... two days ago it was just like summertime..... everyone was walking outside without jackets on, I was jogging outside in shorts, and enjoying the breeze as I left my window open all night......Wow, was that really two days ago?? We were being spolied by mother nature!
However, this morning I woke up and had to scrape my car windows, I had to wear a hat and gloves, my heat was turned up to 73! I felt like this was the worst possible morning to get up and do anything at all, but then I remembered that it is December 1st, and this is Chicago, it is not supposed to be 65 and sunny! What are we in Phoenix??? Actually, we should be thankful for the snow, because we are able to live in the best city in the nation. If you are truly a Chicago native, this should be a cakewalk! Think about it....would you rather be in the middle of the desert (referring back to Phoenix), living in one giant suburb, eating horrible pizza (because no one else makes pizza like we do), uneventfully awaiting another nonwhite Christmas? Or would you rather be here with all the other Chicagoans complaining about the measly three inches of sleety snow??
OK, to be honest, I will be complaining a little more if this weather keeps people from attending my open house this weekend. So please come visit me at 4445 N Paulina #B3 this Saturday and Sunday from 1-4 P.M. I will be there ready to convince you why this is the best city to live in and to show you a great property! Bundle Up and Go Bears!......