Outdoor Inspiration in Grayslake

Give your outdoor spaces a pop of color with bright pillows, gorgeous flowers, and creative centerpieces!

Outdoor spaces attract buyers and can even increase a home’s selling price – over one-third of buyers want a patio or terrace, according to the National Association of REALTORS®. I’m getting some inspiration from my parents’ house this weekend in Grayslake.

Grayslake Patio

Grayslake Patio 2Grayslake Outdoor Space 2

Grayslake Outdoor Space



Celebrating Frank Lloyd Wright’s 150th Anniversary

If you ask the average person to name a famous American architect, the answer would most certainly be – Frank Lloyd Wright. An American icon, Wright shaped and inspired modern architecture like no one else. This year marks the 150th anniversary of Wright’s birth on June 8th, 1867, and there are events and tours planned throughout 2017 to celebrate his life and work.

Wright left a deep imprint on the Chicago architectural landscape in particular with “Prairie style” houses that broke the mold of the typical straight-sided, boxlike structures. Wright’s work features a long, low, and open plan structure with spacious family living areas that flow together in an uninterrupted space. In honor of this milestone year, I’ve shared some pictures from my tour of his Oak Park, IL home and studio and some nearby homes designed by him.

DSC_4806.jpgDSC_4813.jpg10014876_10152085878755963_158071608_o.jpgDSC_4764 copy.jpgDSC_4817 copy.jpgDSC_4831 copy.jpgDSC_4824.jpg

LAKE COUNTY: Foreclosures & Short Sales


Don’t miss out on a great deal!

Be the first to know when foreclosures and short sales hit the market in Lake County, IL. Sign up below to get a free list of homes updated daily from the Multiple Listing Service (MLS).

By clicking the button above, I certify that I have read and agree to the Terms of Use and Privacy Policy, and to receive account related communications from Better Homes and Gardens Real Estate electronically.

First Time HomeBuyers – Credit Score Basics

Shot_29_Agent_Presentation_02661 2

When it comes time to apply for a mortgage, lenders review several factors including your credit score, employment history, debt-to-income ratio (your outstanding debt versus your gross income), the size of the loan, and the amount of your down payment. Although your credit score is just one factor in your application, it could make the difference between being approved or turned down for a mortgage.

Find out your credit score

Credit reports are created by the three major credit card bureaus: Equifax, Experian and TransUnion. Some of the information shown on the reports includes:

  • how many credit cards and loans you have open
  • how long you’ve had your credit cards and loans open
  • history of on-time payments
  • credit limits
  • how much of your available credit you’re using
  • how much total debt you have
  • hard inquiries

Based on these reports, credit scoring models, such as FICO, assign a credit score to you, which can range from 300 to 850. Lenders use your credit score to determine whether to approve you for a mortgage and how much interest you’ll pay for the mortgage. To find out your credit score, create a free account on CreditKarma.com, CreditSesame.com or Credit.com.

Improve your credit score (if necessary)

A credit score of 650-699 is considered fair, 700-749 is good, and 750 and above is considered excellent. You can improve your credit score by paying down your debt and making on time payments. Avoid applying for new credit cards or loans right before trying to securing a mortgage and prior to closing on your home as this can lower your credit score by affecting the number of hard inquires on your report and the age of your available credit lines.

Keep in mind that there are still options for those that have less than perfect credit. Realtors have strong working relationships with reputable lenders that can give you in-depth advice and get you pre-approved so that you know how much house you can afford. Contact me at jbarats@starhometeam.com for referrals to local lenders that can help get you one step closer to the place you’ll call home.

3 Tips for Buying a New Construction Home

sold_sign_with_house_in_background resized2

New home construction in the Chicagoland region is at the highest levels since the Great Recession, according to Metrostudy’s 1Q17 survey,  with 7,249 units being built including single-family detached, townhomes, duplex units and condominium units in the twelve-county region. If buying a brand new, move-in ready home sounds appealing to you, follow these three tips to ensure you do not make a costly mistake.

  1. Hire your own agent – Builder’s sales agents are paid to represent the builder and usually will not provide a well-rounded understanding of the positives and negatives of the development or of the builder. Hire your own agent to represent you. This will be at no cost to you since sellers pay commission to the buyer’s agent, and you will have a professional on your side that can do the negotiating for you.
  2. Upgrades – When touring a model home, keep in mind that it is usually an upgraded version of a standard home. Be sure to find out what features are included in the standard home, what upgrades are available, and the cost of the upgrades. Buyers will usually be given the option to customize flooring, wall paint colors, countertops, appliances, and light fixtures. Depending on the cost of the upgrades, you may decide to purchase the standard home and hire your own contractors to make updates.
  3. Hire an inspector – Many buyers assume that new construction homes are flawless and don’t require an inspection. Even new construction homes could have defects, and it is recommended to get two inspections – one before the walls are closed (to examine system installation and framing) and another prior to closing after the home is built.