July 10, 2019

Home Selling Tips

Home Selling Tips

 

By Charese David, Chicago Real Estate Broker

 

Interview real estate brokers. Check out broker reviews as this will provide good insight. Zillow and Yelp reviews are great to browse, along with references from past clients. Research their credentials to determine if they are a good fit for your home buying or selling goals. This real estate professional should have a wide range of knowledge about the Chicago market. They will help you understand the nuances of the property values.

 

Once you find a real estate broker, ask for a Custom Analysis on your home. This is more than an MLS review of tax records and comparables. It involves in-depth research, reviewing specific property details versus just pulling generic numbers. When I work with clients, I take time to research their property, taking into consideration variables such as school districts, location, renovations, the structure, age of the property and so much more.

 

Take a look inside and outside your home. Are there things that need to be fixed? Call a handyman to make the repairs. Be willing to invest money so your home will show at its absolute best. This is also the time to purge by donating items that you don’t use. Organize your home, clear the clutter to allow potential buyers to envision themselves in the space. For more tips, check out How to Prepare to Sell Your Home.

 

As a part of my process, I work with my sellers to assess their property in determining the property value and how to update it to sell. I give advice on cosmetic changes such as light fixtures or paint, minimal investments that will improve your chances of selling your home faster and for asking price. I know what buyers are looking for, what the market demands and the current trends. My experience includes both new homes and home renovations, so I am up to speed on the latest styles and technology.

 

Another part of my process in working with sellers is to help them understand what is going on in the market and what to expect when you actually go to list your home. If you’re selling in order to purchase a new home, find out how the timing can work in your favor or against you.

 

If you have any real estate questions, please contact me at (312) 399-1271 or charese@menardjohnson.com.

Posted in Chicago
July 10, 2019

Home Buying Tips

 

Home Buying Tips
By Charese David, Chicago Real Estate Broker

 

Take your time. Buying a home is a big decision and not something you want to rush into. Get organized, do your prep work before you start the process. Meet with a mortgage broker to provide insight on interest rates and determine a price range you’re comfortable with. I can recommend a few very good mortgage brokers, if you’re looking for one.

 

Research the neighborhoods that you would like to live in. You can start by searching prices online to find properties that fit within your budget. Once you’ve narrowed down the area(s), spend time in the neighborhood(s) at various times of day. Hang out in coffee shops, wander the retail and grocery stores, eat lunch or dinner in the restaurants, grab a drink at a local pub and explore public transportation. 

 

Get a good sense of the type of people and establishments in the area. How safe is the neighborhood? Ask around, research online - real estate brokers are technically not allowed to discuss safety issues, making it important to get a feel for the community as a whole. 

 

Your real estate broker can share information about the history of an area, zoning restrictions (for fixer upers), local commerce and community events and media. They can tell you if an area is sleepy community or one that has a more social atmosphere. And even if you have your neighborhoods narrowed down, your broker may offer suggestions in alternate neighborhoods where you can get more bang for your buck and possibly a bigger return when you go to sell years down the road. 

 

If you have young children and you’d like to enroll them in school, check out the CPS (Chicago Public School) website for school rankings. Call the school and ask specific questions about the teachers, classroom size and community involvement. Then map boundaries so you know where to look for a home. 

 

If you have any real estate questions, please contact me at (312) 399-1271 or charese@menardjohnson.com.

 

Posted in Chicago
July 10, 2019

Things to do in River West

By Charese David, Chicago Real Estate Broker

 

A great way to relish the Chicago summer is to explore our neighborhoods. River West is a fun destination to show out-of-town guests or hang out with friends. With all the great restaurants and unique shopping along Ogden Ave, Grand Ave and Racine Ave, there’s a lot to do. My favorites Italian eateries are D’Amato’s Bakery, Bari, La Scarola, and Piccolo Sogno

 

For the cool antique stores, head west on Grand Ave past Ashland Ave and check out Urban Remains, and The Painted Lady, just to name a couple. It’s fun to spend a few hours roaming through the neighborhood. Then head to the West Loop to Aba’s roof top for a delicious Mediterranean meal. 

 

If you have questions or comments, please contact me at (312) 399-1271 or charese@menardjohnson.com.

 

Enjoy summer!

 

June 3, 2019

A Perfect 36 Hours in Chicago

By Charese David, Chicago Real Estate Broker

 

Summers in Chicago are amazing and the perfect time to host out-of-town guests. I love showing people this city - it has so much to offer. I have my favorite spots, so I decided to share my perfect 36-hour Chicago itinerary when guests come for a visit. 

 

Day 1: Late afternoon arrival. Spend the evening locally, starting out in my neighborhood, Roscoe Village. First stop, Lush Wine and Spirits for a nice glass of wine on the outdoor patio. Then stroll along Roscoe Street to visit some of the shops. 

 

At 7pm, have dinner reservations at Turquoise Cafe to enjoy Turkish food or Le Sud for Southern French cuisine. These are two of my favorite restaurants in Roscoe Village. Dine alfresco on a delicious meal in the beautiful setting of this lovely tree-lined neighborhood. 

 

After dinner, venture to Southport Corridor for dessert at Jeni’s Ice Cream - a real treat. Wander the street, taking in the evening sights and sounds of Southport Avenue. Then head back to my house for a nightcap in the backyard. 

 

Day 2: Start the day with a hearty breakfast at my favorite diner, Tempo Cafe in the heart of the Gold Coast. After breakfast, hop on Chicago’s First Lady for a 90-minute architecture boat tour. It’s a great way to learn the history of landmark buildings along the river and a fun way to see the city.  

 

Once the tour is done, stroll up and down Michigan Avenue to take in the shopping and tourist  scene. Along the way, head south to Millennium Park to see the Chicago Bean, of course, to take a selfie or get a shot of the Chicago skyline in the reflection of the sculpture. The whole area is just wonderful, with so many different things to see and even relax in the gardens. 

 

Next it's time for a snack and luckily there are a lot of choices in the area. My picks are across the street at either Remington’s or the Gage for a taste of “refined, rustic American fare complemented by innovative libations.” Then it’s off to the Art Institute of Chicago to wander through the amazing and varied art collections. The building itself is fantastic. 

 

There are a couple of options to choose from after the museum. Either head back to my house to relax or stop by the Lincoln Park Zoo on the way home. The great thing about the zoo is that it is a beautiful area to wander through and it’s free. On the way home, pick up snacks and drinks to hang out in the backyard before dinner. 

 

For dinner, our choices are either in the West Loop at La Sirena Clandestina for Latin / Brazilian cuisine. Or Mexican food in Andersonville at Octavio Canitna. After dinner, end the evening under the stars in my backyard. 

 

Day 3: Before the guests leave, wander to John’s Place or Commonwealth for a delicious brunch of American comfort food. And if there’s enough time after brunch, stroll and shop along Roscoe Street before departure. 

 

There are so many great restaurants, cafes, shops and tourist attractions in Chicago - it’s hard to narrow it down to 36 hours. The cool thing is that there really is something for everyone. That’s why I love it here. And why my guests keep coming back.

 

If you have questions or comments, please contact me at (312) 399-1271 or charese@menardjohnson.com.

 

Cheers to new fun-filled adventures in Chicago!

May 9, 2019

Springtime in Chicago

By Charese David

It’s that time of year to have some fun! Chicago is the place to be as the weather gets warmer. There’s a new vibrance as outdoor patios and backyards come alive with laughter and revelry. It’s the time of year when the city hosts festivals, garden walks, farmer’s markets and summer picnics. I can feel the change in the air. Chicagoans know how to take full advantage of this season!

I love this season because of the beauty of urban gardens and flower planters. Flowers make me happy. And being outside in the colors of nature has been shown to help people relax. As I drive through neighborhoods and down Michigan Avenue, I’m in awe of the gorgeous landscaping around our city.

One of my favorite places to buy plants, herbs, flowers, shrubs and trees is Gethsemane Garden Center in Andersonville. They even have patio furniture and garden gifts. It’s so inspiring to walk though the rows of colors and smell the freshness of spring. I’ve always found the staff to be super knowledgeable for any garden project. See above for my recent video at Gethsemane. After a long winter, this is my retail therapy!

For more inspiration, here’s a story from our archives, Simple Steps to a Beautiful Urban Garden.

If you need gardening advice or reliable landscapers, call or text me at (312) 399-1271 or email at charese@menardjohnson.com.

Happy Spring!

Posted in Design Ideas
April 8, 2019

The Chicago Cubs at Wrigley Field

Charese David in Wrigleyville talking about Wrigley Field and the Cubs.

Wrigley Field is a classic American baseball field and iconic to the Chicago landscape. Tourists, locals and baseball fans flock to Wrigleyville, which is part of the larger Lakeview neighborhood. As other cities moved ballparks to the suburbs, Wrigley remains unique as it is integrated seamlessly into a walkable neighborhood filled with restaurants, bars and music venues. 

 

Built in 1914, Wrigley Field is the nation’s second-oldest major league ballpark. It wasn’t until 1988 that lights were installed on the field for the first night game. Rich in legend and nostalgic to baseball fans, the game is played in natural grass, sun-soaked ivy covers the brick walls, most Cubs games are scheduled in the afternoon, the field has intimate surroundings that connects players and fans, and the ballpark is in a residential neighborhood. A great place to spend a warm afternoon!

 

Wrigleyville has always been much more than a neighborhood only for sports lovers. It has a wide range of events, ethnic cuisines and unique shops. With the development of the boutique Hotel Zachary, real estate price points are rising as the neighborhood lures people to live and play in the area.

 

After the Cubs won the World Series in 2016, there is even more buzz in Wrigleyville as new restaurants, bars and shopping have moved in. It is an entertainment hub with lots of family-friendly activities. Let’s face it, Wrigleyville is a happening place filled with fun things to do and a great destination for our city!

Posted in Chicago Events
March 7, 2019

Giving Everything She Can

Charese David

 

Article by Chicago Real Producers

Charese David came to Chicago in 1986 with no money and no job. She had just graduated from University of Michigan with a degree in communications and was ready to embrace the adventure of living in a new city. Failure was not an option.

 

With a talent for the arts—music, photography, design, and cooking—Charese immersed herself in video production for three years. She then joined a small video duplication company, where she stayed for sixteen years, helping it grow, as its director of sales, into a full-service duplication, distribution and fulfillment, media organization. 

 

As her company started to undergo several mergers and acquisitions, the company culture began to change. Although Charese loved her clients, her workplace became an unpleasant and unproductive place for her to work. She no longer loved working at the company, and knew it was time to move on. 

 

Initially, Charese felt that real estate was a career that would allow her to engage with clients for a longer period of time and to truly make a difference in their lives. She wanted to have a more personal experience and be able to guide people through an important transaction in their life. So, she obtained her license in 2005 and worked part time for a year before leaving her corporate job for good. 

 

Charese didn’t realize how prepared she was for real estate until she became a REALTOR®. She found she had already gained a lot of knowledge and experience in real estate by renting and owning several different properties herself throughout Chicago. In addition, she didn’t realize how much she’d be able to use her creative talents in photography and design to further help her clients. Real estate was really a perfect fit for Charese.

 

However, starting from scratch in a new industry after a sixteen-year career at one company was no easy feat. It was 2006, and the economy was on the brink of recession; she’d have to fight her way through it. “It was one of the best educations I could have ever had. I was able to overcome the challenges by providing great service to my clients, and by really being a full-service broker. Real estate takes a great deal of work and perseverance,” she says.

 

As a full-service broker, Charese does everything she can for her clients. She goes to every inspection, showing, and closing, and she doesn’t rely on anyone else. She also consults with clients about their renovation ideas, painting selections, and overall design of their homes. She has worked with many developers on various projects and has provided design for new construction, as well as for multi-units and condominiums.

 

“Real estate, for me, is not just about making money: it’s about helping people realize a dream and being there to help with the discovery. Being a part of my clients’ happiness and seeing them radiate with joy after we close is so rewarding. And I’ve been so enriched by the friendships I’ve made,” says Charese.

 

Friends and family are everything to Charese. She loves entertaining and cooking for people at her home while drinking good wine. “I guess I just like sharing with friends and family, whether it’s creating pizzas in my pizza oven or having a sit down dinner—it’s really a huge part of who I am,” says Charese.

 

Charese is passionate about music, and she loves animals. Coming home to her dog, Delilah, makes her smile every day. Charese donates to a number of organizations, but she donates to Paws and the William Ferrris Chorale regularly.

 

One of Charese’s favorite quotes is by Estée Lauder: “When I thought I couldn’t go on, I forced myself to keep going. My success is based on persistence, not luck.”

 

Published in Chicago Real Producers, December 2018

Feb. 6, 2019

Chicago Spring 2019 Real Estate Market

With the spring market right around the corner, what's going on in Chicago real estate? One thing is for sure, it's unpredictable. Some predictions are showing opportunity, while others are seeing a slow down. Unless you have a trusted real estate broker as a resource, it can be confusing as you map out your 2019 real estate goals.  

In this video, Charese David shares what she is seeing in the Chicago right now. And yet, this can be a different story tomorrow. To get a pulse on the latest real estate market from an experienced, reliable broker, call or text Charese at (312) 399-1271 or email her at charese@menardjohnson.com.

 

Related Articles:

Tips for Home Buyers

What's Your Home Really Worth?

How to Prepare to Sell Your Home 

Why Hire a Real Estate Broker?

Questions to Ask Before Hiring a Real Estate Broker

Jan. 9, 2019

Refresh Your Home, Refresh Your Mind

Hamilton Home
By Charese David

Simple changes in home decor can make a big difference in the way a room feels. It can lift the mood, energize the body, and improve the overall feeling of well-being. Clearing a space can also help to focus the mind. And starting with small changes may lead to motivation to tackle bigger projects.

 

Here are some tips to get you started:

 

Curb Appeal: This is the first impression of your home. Make sure the front entrance is neat and clean. In any season, keep up with regular yard maintenance. Landscape lighting can add beauty and drama, especially when you’re entertaining guests. Flower boxes and planters near entryways or on windowsills create softness and color. It’s also fun to dress up these areas with seasonal foliage to celebrate each holiday.

 

Interior Lighting: The brighter your home, the better. Use bulbs that emit soft light instead of CFLs, which can take five minutes to warm up and can give off a harsh, white light. Soft light bulbs illuminate immediately and have a warm impact on the eyes. Lighting is sensory driven—it affects the mood. 

 

Adding new light fixtures can change the look of a room, and is an economical way to update your home. As winter approaches and the days grow shorter, new light bulbs in ceiling lights and floor lamps help to brighten rooms, too.

 

Natural Scents: Plants can neutralize the air in your home. Fresh-cut flowers can delight and enliven the senses. The innate connection that we have to nature has proven that plants often have a relaxing effect on us and can help to improve our health and well-being. And infusing fragrance into a room using flowers, diffusers, or candles can change the overall feeling of a space. 

 

Walls and Floors: If your artwork has been hanging in the same place for so long that you no longer see it, move pieces around. This can provide an entirely different feel to a room. On neutral-colored walls, an easy way to add a design touch is to add a pop of color and certain styles of framed artwork. 

 

Here’s another idea: use carpet tiles instead of a floor rug. Mix and match the colored tiles to create playful patterns. Change the patterns occasionally for a different look.

 

Shelf and Table Displays: If you have an overstuffed bookshelf, take time to go through and thin it out. Give the books you no longer use a second life by donating them. Display meaningful objects in cleared spaces to make the shelf more interesting—an eclectic style statement can turn into a fun conversation with guests. Toss old magazines to freshen up a coffee table. And when arranging objects on a table or mantelpiece, place three objects of subtly different sizes in a small cluster for a carefully curated design look. 

 

Accessories: An easy way to create a new feel in a room is by switching out the pillows or throws you currently have on your furniture. Colorful pillows will brighten living rooms and bedrooms. With a dark sofa, you can bring in light-colored accent pillows for dramatic effect. 

 

Look at your kitchen with fresh eyes, too: move small, countertop appliances and counter displays to new areas. Store items you don’t use often. Simply changing out kitchen and bath towels can make you feel good. Add seasonal accents around your home to make it more festive. 

 

Clean and Declutter: Decluttering spaces can declutter your mind and create new energy. Clean out closets by donating old clothes and shoes. Remove items from rooms that are collecting dust. Clear desktop spaces and clean out junk drawers. Check under your kitchen and bathroom sinks and toss toxic cleaning chemicals, old beauty products, and items you no longer use. Organize your medicine cabinet and throw out expired vitamins, supplements, and pills. Look for expired products in your refrigerator and cupboards, too. Go through your garage and basement to get rid of old paint, caulk, plaster, remodeling supplies, or other products that are dried out or broken.

 

Fresh Paint: Paint has an emotional impact that can evoke feelings of comfort. Rooms with light and neutral colors can appear larger. Metallic accent colors and mirrors will help brighten a room. An accent wall adorned with dark paint or elegantly patterned wallpaper is a great way to bring in color without overwhelming the room. 

 

If you have questions or comments, please contact me at (312) 399-1271 or charese@menardjohnson.com.

 

Posted in Design Ideas
Dec. 6, 2018

Simple Ways to Give Back

 

The Joy of Giving Back
By Charese David

 

Giving Back this Holiday Season

 

As we enter the holiday season, it’s the perfect time to focus on gratitude and giving. Choosing to do something good during this time can be the start of a wonderful tradition for yourself or your family. It can also refocus your attention onto something that feels good and alleviate some of the stress of the season. And there are many ways to give back that don’t require a lot of planning. 

 

Little Acts of Kindness

 

When we think of giving back, it’s often to strangers for some cause. How about looking to family and friends? This time of year can be stressful, so simply reaching out to see how a friend is doing can go a long way. If someone is overworked, volunteer to babysit or walk the dog. Shovel your neighbor’s sidewalk. Volunteer to drive a friend to the airport or pick them up. Cook a meal for your sister’s family. Host a movie night and chill with friends. Read a book to kids or an elderly relative. Listen closely in conversation and you’ll hear exactly what those around you need at this time. 

 

Pay it Forward

 

Another simple, yet clever way to give back is to pay it forward. Get the drink or lunch of the person behind you at the coffee shop. Pay the toll of the car after you. Hand out $5 dollar gift cards to people you interact with such as your bank teller, cashier and coffee barista. Leave a thank you note in your mailbox for the carrier. Add extra tip for the server when you’re out at a restaurant.

 

Drop off pencils, craft supplies or books at your local school. Instead of food donations, find out if your local food back needs other items, like shampoo, soap, feminine hygiene products, toothpaste, and toilet paper. Find a place in your community where you can donate blood. Bring cookies to a local nursing home. Donate your used magazines to someone who is housebound. 

 

Spend time at your local library helping someone with their resume. Send out holiday cards to deployed military members. Get your kids to donate toys or sports gear they no longer use. Volunteer at your local animal shelter. 

 

Smile, hold doors open for others and wish them ‘Happy Holidays’ when out shopping. Say ‘hello’ and ‘thank you’ to strangers. Paying it forward doesn’t have to be monetary. Just a smile, will brighten someone’s day and they in turn, will carry that smile to the next person. 

 

Find an Organization that Inspires You

 

There is so much you can do at any time of the year. It can be volunteering time and/or money. The most important thing is that it resonates with your heart. if you’re unsure of where to start, here are some websites that offer opportunities to make a difference in your community. 

 

Chicago Cares - https://www.chicagocares.org

 

One Good Deed Chicago - https://onegooddeedchicago.org

 

VolunteerMatch - https://www.volunteermatch.org

 

Hands On Suburban Chicago - https://www.handsonsuburbanchicago.org

 

 

Donating to a Cause

 

In the spirit of giving back, I’ve put together a list of organizations close to my heart. Ask your employer if they’re matching donations to causes. And if not, would they consider it?

Salvation Army - https://www.salvationarmy.org

Chicago Food Bank - https://www.chicagosfoodbank.org

Meals on Wheels Chicago - https://www.mealsonwheelschicago.org/volunteer/how-to-help/

Peace Hospice and Palliative Care - https://www.peacehospice.net

The Catholic Charities - https://www.catholiccharities.net

Mercy Home for Boys and Girls - https://www.mercyhome.org

Boys and Girls Clubs Chicago - https://bgcc.org

PAWS Chicago - http://www.pawschicago.org

Chicago Canine Resuce - https://chicagocaninerescue.org/volunteer/

The Anti-Cruelty Society - https://anticruelty.org

I find that when I put my attention on helping others, I receive much more in return. I hope that you receive what you desire. Wishing you a festive season filled with love, laughter and good eats. Happy holidays!