Real Estate Tips
So. . .
Ever thought of a Realtor as a Sherpa?
Hadn’t crossed my mind either but the folks at Adwerx have made the connection: if you were going to climb Mt Everest, you would know what tools to get and you could acquire those tools but you would not know the way to utilize everything or the path to the top so you would hire a sherpa.
The same goes for buying and selling homes. Clients have access to many resources online and otherwise but don’t always know the best way to make sure the deal hits the closing table so they hire a Realtor. I am proud to be featured as a Realtor in Adwerx’s ongoing series #BeTheSherpa for exceptional service to my clients. Read my story here. Call me if you are thinking about buying or selling as I’d love to open your next door too! @Adwerx.
High Tech Marketing: Retargeting Ads Help Sell Wilmette Homes
Ever looked at a pair of shoes on Amazon then had that same pair of shoes follow you around the world wide web? You know the ones, taunting you, “Buy Me, Buy Me, Buy Me”! In all likelihood, you’ve succumbed, at least once. This style of advertising is called retargeting. It works to sell shoes and it works to sell homes too! I am proud to offer every one of my sellers a 3 week retargeting campaign as part of my service package in order to entice as many potential buyers as possible to come take a look at their home. My partnership with Adwerx, the largest retargeted marketing real estate company, allows my listings to appear on NewYorkTimes.com, Yahoo.com, USAToday.com, etc. If an individual located near one of my listings has also visited a real estate-related website, they will find my listing popping up as they cruise around the web. This keeps my listings top of mind for potential buyers and gets my sellers’ homes in front of the people most likely to buy or sell a home. With more than 7,000 impressions a week targeting local buyers with a demonstrated interest in real estate, my sellers receive every advantage in the marketplace. Embracing high tech solutions while incorporating traditional methods is not only wise, but also essential when marketing homes in this highly competitive marketplace. @Adwerx.
Residential solar power spreads in Wilmette | The Wilmette Beacon
Reprinted from The Wilmette Beacon.
Ten years ago, Beth and Harry Drucker installed solar panels on the roof of their home on the 2500 block of Greenwood Avenue in Wilmette.
The Druckers are known around Wilmette for being a green couple. Beth Drucker co-founded Go Green Wilmette in 2006. They drive a Toyota Prius with “Reduce” on the vanity plate, though they ride their bikes when they can. They also have smaller-impact habits: turning off lights and unplugging electronics when they’re not in use.
And the solar panels were yet another way to be green — as well as to inform people about a lesser-known industry. While the Village of Wilmette does not have records that indicate the first residential solar panels installed in Wilmette, the Druckers’ home is believed to be one of the first.
“We wanted to put these things up to have conversations with people,” Harry Drucker said.
The Druckers’ panels, though undeniably noticeable, are quietly effective: Two solar thermal panels face the southern skies, transferring solar energy into heat that warms their water supply. Twelve solar photovoltaic panels face southwest and convert solar energy into electricity.
Heat and electricity production are at the highest during the summer, but the Druckers said the panels will provide half their warm water and electricity over the course of the year.
Since those panels were installed in 2006, similar installations have adorned Wilmette, notated by a detailed map maintained by the Druckers.
It shows most of the 27 residential installations spread across town as far west as New Trier Court and as far east as Michigan Avenue.
Regina Dominican High School and Highcrest Middle School also have solar photovoltaic panels.
Six new installations sprung up in 2015, the probable result of Solar Chicago, a short-lived program that pooled communities — including Wilmette — together to buy panels in bulk.
But increases like these, albeit progress, are still slow to come.
“A lot of us needed to start doing this stuff yesterday,” Harry Drucker said.
Solar in Illinois
Illinois ranks 18th nationwide in number of solar-powered homes, according to current data from The Solar Foundation, a nonprofit organization that aims to make solar energy more understandable.
Of the approximately 22,090 solar-powered homes in Illinois, Cook County ranks first in the number of individually installed solar arrays (the linking of several solar panels), with 127 as of December 2015.
But not all areas of Cook County are conducive to drawing solar energy.
“When you’re in an area like Wilmette, sometimes it doesn’t make sense [to have solar panels] because of tree coverage,” said Community Development Director John Adler, who helps permit residents who want to install solar panels.
While trees are a boon to property values, they present challenges to those wanting to benefit from solar power.
Bruce and Laurie Davidson live on the 100 block of 17th Street, a road with a smattering of mature trees.
About a year ago, they installed 10 panels on the north-facing roof of their home and eight panels on the south-facing roof. Electricity generation is more productive on the south roof, but Bruce said there was only room for eight panels there.
Paul Doughty and his wife, Kim Rode, live in a home enshrouded by trees and vegetation on the 1900 block of Lake Avenue.
They found installing 20 solar panels on the roof of their detached garage, where they grow vegetables in storage bins on the perimeter, was the most efficient. Their array has been in place since February 2015.
In 2014, the Village of Wilmette eased some regulations required of solar energy systems to make it easier for residents to install the systems.
But still, installation requires diligence.
“I wish the process were more turnkey,” Doughty said. “It’s not quite easy in Illinois yet.”
The politics of panels
Incentives for solar through the federal government are reliable: Residents can receive a 30 percent tax credit on qualified expenditures from their solar installations.
Incentives through the state are less forthright.
Last December, a bill was passed through the Illinois legislature to extend the Department of Commerce and Economic Opportunity Solar and Wind Energy Rebate and Grant program through 2020.
But restrictive permitting and installation deadlines subsequently imposed on homeowners looking for rebates, along with a long waiting period to see whether a system is approved for a rebate, turns some off from the whole process, said Lisa Albrecht, a board member of the Illinois Solar Energy Association.
“People assume solar is a do-gooder decision, but in reality, the numbers have to be there or people won’t make the investment, so rebates were really important,” said Albrecht, who is a renewable energy specialist for Solar Service Inc., a Niles-based solar installation company.
Most of those installing solar systems are from the middle or middle-upper class, Albrecht said.
In 2006, the Druckers, who had Solar Service Inc. install their panels, paid $17,956 out-of-pocket for their 14 solar thermal and solar photovoltaic panels. They received both a federal tax credit and a state rebate.
Harry predicts it will take another five years for the panels to pay off.
The cost of Paul and Kim’s 20 panels in 2015 was $10,488 after a 20 percent discount for taking part in the Solar Chicago program was applied, as well as a federal tax credit and state rebate. They are waiting for the state to release funds for solar renewable energy credits, a program in which they enrolled last summer that is supposed to pay quarterly based on solar production.
Those looking to install systems now may not see as many incentives while funds remain intangible.
“Illinois’ policies have been very broken and they’ve been quite unreliable,” Albrecht said. “You never know if you’re going to get assistance in purchasing a system.”
The benefits of solar
But for those ready to dole out some cash — and patience — for these systems, there are benefits.
An electric bill of the Druckers’ in May totaled 68 cents for electric use — the lowest they’ve seen. At its highest, their bill has been $35.
Paul Doughty and Kim Rode installed their system when their daughter encouraged them to do so after she came home from a field trip with the fourth-grade class at Harper Elementary School to see the Druckers’ system.
“It was daunting at first to learn about this, particularly if you’re not of an engineering bend,” Doughty said. “But it’s a good investment for the home, and it makes it more attractive.”
“People are really curious about it,” Kim added. “Being able to tell others about it has opened a lot of people’s eyes.”
And of course, many value feeling green.
“We look everywhere and we see the opportunity to make clean, renewable energy,” Beth Drucker said.
Doughty suggested looking for those opportunities: “You can do more than filling up your recycling bin to call yourself green.”
Do you know about the huge tax benefits of the CAGE? The CAGE is one of the most desired areas in all of the North Shore, and especially Wilmette. Its proximity to the lakefront, as well as downtown Wilmette, make its expansive lawns and grand homes very popular. About 600 homes in the CAGE fall within the Ouilmette Historic Landmark District and this can have a huge impact on the property tax bills for these homes.
Tax Benefits of the CAGE – Wilmette: Ouilmette Historical Landmark District
When purchasing a home within this historic district, if you spend 25% or more of the home’s fair cash value (as determined by the assessor’s office), you can receive a property tax freeze for 8 years, with a graduated step-up for an additional 4. Purchasing a older home in this historic district can really benefit your pocketbook as well as maintaining an important piece of Wilmette history. For details about the tax freeze, click here. If you would like help in finding your dream home in the CAGE or elsewhere in Wilmette, please email or call me at 847-778-0540 – I’d be happy to help!
My new website offers Chicago’s North Shore residents (or those looking to move here) the most engaging community information and unique market statistics not found anywhere else!
For example, some of my favorite North Shore Living features include:
- Search for homes by local elementary school boundaries with the “Search by School” feature!
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I want my friends and neighbors to stay informed. I want my clients to gain every advantage in this competitive marketplace. Wilmette homes, Glenview homes, Winnetka homes, Kenilworth homes, Northbrook homes and Evanston homes – find everything you need to live, buy and sell on Chicago’s North Shore!