Elmhurst real estate blog archive


Displaying blog entries 1-10 of 13

Prepping To Put Your House on the Market? Read This First!

by Thomas Makinney

Are you thinking of listing your house this spring? Great idea! It’s the best time to sell a home—the days are longer, the sun brightens up rooms, and buyers are eager to get settled before a school year. But as you assess what to do before you put your house on the market, we’ve got a few tips.

1. Beware the DIY

Before you try upgrading the electrical yourself or finally rodding out your plumbing line, stop and consider calling a professional. The money you save could also be money you have to pay back when a home inspection uncovers aspects of the house that aren’t up to code, and buyers can often quickly pick out projects done in a shoddy manner.

2. Don’t over-improve

Most people know that kitchens and bathrooms get the best return on the investment, however, a complete/gutted kitchen overhaul will only get you a 62% ROI while a minor remodel (cabinet doors, new countertops, new or newer appliances) typically returns 81% of the investment. Also, keep in mind comparable homes. Buyers of mid-market houses don’t expect top-of-the-line appliances, and by putting them in, you may find yourself priced out of your key demographic.

3. Fun amenities don’t appeal to many buyers

For some buyers, a swimming pool is the ultimate luxury, but for others it’s a liability or just another thing to take care of.Bidets, wet bars, and themed rooms also fall into this category.

4. Bold walls and floors

A room painted jade green or bright red might add a pop of color to a house, but it also makes the space seem smaller and can prevent buyers from imagining their furniture. Consider painting rooms in a neutral white, gray, or beige before listing. The same concept applies to carpeting. That bright blue carpeting in the bedroom might look great with your drapes, and the checkered carpeting in the family room might be a fun conversation piece, but for a buyer, it’s just one more thing to replace.

5. Over-decorating

You may love Precious Moments figurines, dried flowers, or three layers of draperies, but buyers have trouble seeing behind the visual stimulation. A good rule of thumb is to let in as much natural light and as you can and declutter surfaces as much as possible so buyers get a sense of how the space flows. The same goes for walls—limit your artwork or framed photographs.

Finally, listen to your real estate agent. We have years of experience in knowing what sells, and we genuinely want to help you get top dollar. We are happy to make recommendations, just don’t take them personally. Saying you need to weed out your bookshelves or take down framed family photos isn’t a reflection on you, it’s what will help your home sell quickly and at a good price.

If you’re thinking of listing your house soon, give us a call. We’re happy to give you a free consultation and offer our professional opinion. Reach out to us at (630) 441-5570 or www.gmregroup.com.

Don’t let your home sale be stalled by roadblocks

by Thomas Makinney

If you’ve ever wondered why some houses sit on the market for weeks or months while others get snapped up in a matter of days, we have some answers. There are some frequent roadblocks that often lead to a languishing listing. Luckily, they’re all easily fixable.
1.     Mediocre Asking Price. Buyers are often indifferent if the price is too high compared to similar homes. And often, you’re missing an entire segment of the market who are only searching in a certain range. The right price makes the home stand out in comparison, especially if it’s an oversupplied sub-category. Don’t make the mistake of thinking that a higher price gives you more negotiating room. In reality, the right buyers either don’t see it or move on when they see better homes in the same price range.
2.     Outdated or dirty. Homes should either be beautifully dated or updated and CLEAN. A clean, dated, and staged home with a compelling asking price sells and so does a clean, updated, staged home with a compelling asking price. Make sure walls, ceilings, and floors are washed and cleaned (and wipe the countertops frequently).
3.     Too much clutter. Buyers want to envision themselves in a home. It can be hard to see beyond too many knickknacks or papers or laundry. Too much furniture makes rooms feel smaller and claustrophobic.
If your home is still languishing despite having the right price and being properly updated and clean, consider staging. Staging involves someone coming in and helping place furniture, artwork, plants attractively as well as removing excess items that may make buyers think the home is smaller or has too little storage space.
Here at Gracik Makinney, we help all of our clients not only price their homes but offer advice and tips for what to update, clean, and remove. Call us for more information, (630) 441-5570 or visit our website www.gmregroup.com.

Best financial investments for Elmhurst homes before going to market

by Thomas Makinney

Thinking of putting your house on the market in the new year? Before you do, you might want to get your house in order. Not sure where to start? Wondering where you can get the biggest bang for your buck? We have some guidance on the best investments you can make in the current market.

First off, neutral painting of walls, trim, doors, ceiling, and even cabinetry is HUGE (don’t forget the outside as well as inside). Updated flooring also makes a major difference. You want to convey to the buyer, “Move in, get comfortable, and take your time making it your own.” It’s hard to see beyond dirty walls and stained carpeting.

Take a look at your front entryway. In the real estate market, people really do judge a book by its cover. Pretend you are a potential buyer walking up to the front door and waiting for the agent to open the home up. Take a sharp critical look at what you see—from overgrown bushes to chipped paint on the door to dim lighting in the entry.

It would be great if every home on the market had an updated kitchen and bath, but this is unrealistic and often cost prohibitive. However, some enhancements can be done for a modest price and really make a big difference. Consider updating appliances, countertops, plumbing fixtures, lighting, and textiles.  

Beyond that, you’ll want to make sure all major problems are fixed. Broken air conditioners, leaky roofs, dripping faucets should all be taken care of before your house goes on the market. If you don’t want to replace a roof, consider a credit to the buyer as part of the sale price.

Other solid investments include a fresh coat of exterior paint, new garage doors, energy-efficient windows, and updated appliances. If you do decide to do a kitchen or bathroom remodel, make sure you don’t price yourself out of the market (or take shortcuts for a high-end home). You don’t want to put a luxury kitchen in a $250,000 home.

If you have specific questions about what you need to do to your home before you put it on the market, please reach out to us at (630) 441-5570 or through our website, www.gmregroup.com. We’ve sold thousands of homes in the area and can give you a free consultation. 

Redecorate, Renovate, or Remodel?

by Thomas Makinney

Fireplace remodel before and after. $600 project.

For many people, spring cleaning means taking a fresh look at our houses and living spaces. As we wipe down the remnants of winter, sometimes our homes flaws become painfully obvious: no place for hats and boots, a dark and dated kitchen, a bathroom that grows smaller every day.

These realizations bring you to three options: You can choose to redecorate, renovate, or remodel. Before you decide, you’ll want to determine your overall budget as well as the potential investment, that is, the amount you will get back from a project when you go to sell the house.


Sometimes, the easiest and most effective solution to a home’s problem is simply redecorating. A fresh coat of paint, new window treatments, and/or a new area rug can do wonders as can adding shelving or storage solutions. And don’t underestimate the power of decluttering or at least rearranging home décor. Simply moving furniture and adding new lights can make a huge difference.


Then there are situations where fresh paint and new throw pillows aren’t going to change anything, and you might need to consider making a larger change. You may need to knock down a wall to give the house better flow, install new flooring and baseboards, update doors and hardware, or build a bigger closet in a bedroom. These projects require a bigger budget and time commitment but can really change the functionality, not to mention personality, of a room.


Alas, new countertops in your kitchen won’t change the size of the kitchen and new shelving in the bathroom won’t ease the morning rush. For some problems, the only real solution is a remodel. Kitchens, bathrooms, and master bedrooms tend to give you the most return on your investments. But, keep in mind not only your budget, but also the value of neighboring homes when deciding what to do. You don’t want to be the priciest house on the block, but you don’t want to be the lowest either.

Read this to find out what home improvements offer the most value.

If you have questions about a project or want to know what you need to do to get your house ready to list, call us at (630) 441-5570 or visit our website, www.gmregroup.com.

Flipping houses back on the fast track

by Thomas Makinney

Anyone who watches HGTV knows that flipping houses is once again a lucrative way to make extra money. The concept of buying an outdated home, renovating it, and then selling it for profit caught on big about 15 years ago but came to an abrupt halt when the market crashed in 2008.

Now the market is rebounding, and Chicago is a good place to be.

The Chicago area ranks as the 20th-most profitable market in the country right now. The gross profit for homes flipped is $81,162—not too shabby.

Wilmette and Avondale top the list of the most lucrative places in our area for home flippers. In both towns, flippers grossed profits of more than $200,000.

The gross profit figure is the difference between the purchase price of a home and the sales price of the home post-flip. It doesn’t account for all the costs spent on the rehab.

According to Crain’s Business Report, flippers' gross profits nationwide were $62,624, which is the highest going back to 2000, the earliest year for which it has data.

Elmhurst is definitely seeing an uptick in the once-popular flipping area. If this is something you’d like to try, contact us to find a condo, townhouse, or house to flip! Reach us anytime at (630) 441-5570 or via our website, www.gmregroup.com.

Home Improvements That Offer The Most Value

by Thomas Makinney

Thinking of doing a remodel or upgrading a room? It’s no surprise that some projects are more lucrative than others when it comes to selling your home.

While you know best what your home really needs, it’s helpful to keep in mind which projects give you the best return on your investment. Is it better to do a minor kitchen remodel or go all out with a major remodel? Will you recoup the cost of a deck when you go to sell?

Remodeling Magazine just released their Cost Vs. Value Report for 2017 and tracked 24 projects that that offer the highest and the lowest value when you go to sell your home. They looked at 99 markets nationwide and checked out the average cost of popular remodeling projects with their average value at resale one year later.

Just to note, curb appeal projects continue to garner a higher ROI than work done inside the home. So changing out the front door, replacing windows, and updating siding are better bets investment-wise than remodeling the interior.

Top 5 projects with greatest ROI in the “midrange” cost category nationwide:

  1. Attic Insulation (Fiberglass) (107.7% ROI)
    Average Cost: $1,343
    Average Resale Value: $1,446
  2. Entry Door Replacement (steel) (90.7% ROI)
    Average Cost: $1,413
    Average Resale Value: $1,282
  3. Manufactured Stone Veneer (89.4% ROI)
    Average Cost: $7,851
    Average Resale Value: $7,019
  4. Minor Kitchen Remodel (80.2% ROI)
    Average Cost: $20,830
    Average Resale Value: $16,699
  5.  Garage Door Replacement (76.9% ROI)
    Average Cost: $1,749
    Average Resale Value: $1,345

Top 5 projects with greatest ROI in “upscale” cost category nationwide:

  1. Garage Door Replacement (85.0% ROI)
    Average Cost: $3,304
    Average Resale Value: $2,810
  2. Entry Door Replacement (fiberglass) (77.8% ROI)
    Average Cost: $3,276
    Average Resale Value: $2,550
  3. Window Replacement (vinyl) (73.9% ROI)
    Average Cost: $15,282
    Average Resale Value: $11,286
  4. Window Replacement (wood) (73.0% ROI)
    Average Cost: $18,759
    Average Resale Value: $13,691
  5.  Grand Entrance (fiberglass) (70.1% ROI)
    Average Cost: $8,358
    Average Resale Value: $5,855

Top 5 projects with the lowest ROI in the “midrange” cost category nationally:

  1. Bathroom Remodel (64.8% ROI)
    Average Cost: $18,546
    Average Resale Value: $12,024
  2. Master Suite Addition (64.8% ROI)
    Average Cost: $119,533
    Average Resale Value: $77,506
  3.  Backyard Patio (54.9% ROI)
    Average Cost: $51,985
    Average Resale Value: $28,546
  4.  Backup Power Generator (54.0% ROI)
    Average Cost: $12,860
    Average Resale Value: $6,940
  5.  Bathroom Addition (53.9% ROI)
    Average Cost: $43,232
    Average Resale Value: $23,283

Top 5 projects with the lowest ROI in the “upscale” cost category nationally:

  1. Major Kitchen Remodel (61.9% ROI)
    Average Cost: $122,991
    Average Resale Value: $76,149
  2. Master Suite Addition (59.9% ROI)
    Average Cost: $250,687
    Average Resale Value: $150,140
  3. Bathroom Remodel (59.1% ROI)
    Average Cost: $59,979
    Average Resale Value: $35,456
  4. Bathroom Addition (57.1% ROI)
    Average Cost: $81,515
    Average Resale Value: $46,507
  5. Deck Addition (composite) (56.4% ROI)
    Average Cost: $39,339
    Average Resale Value: $22,171

We find that these statistics hold true for Elmhurst too, with the best investment returns from mid-range kitchen and bath remodels. Elmhurst homes also get a high ROI from mid-range finished basements and tear-off roofs.

If you’re considering doing a remodel or an addition, check with us first. We’re happy to advise you on ROI value for homes in Elmhurst. Call us at (630) 441-5570 or contact us via our website www.gmregroup.com.

Find Your "Homespiration" with these Design Sites

by Thomas Makinney

 Could your digs use some updating? Lacking inspiration?



Home design sites like Houzz and Dwell can help you find your new color scheme, teach you how to optimize space with clever storage methods, and even build-out nooks or entire rooms.

With over three million photos and products to browse, your next DIY project will feel more like you have a team of experts helping you along.

If you want a “country kitchen” look but don’t know where to start, you can easily browse photos, ideas, materials, and articles that can point you in the right direction.  Join in a discussion forum to ask questions or share your own home renovation experiences. Helpful advice and guidance is right at your fingertips!



If you’ve wondered what exactly goes into “Contractor fees,” there’s an article for that. Or how about creating a natural bird habitat in your garden? Yes, they’ve covered the “how-to’s” there as well.

If you’re like us, you love getting a look inside unique or updated homes, and these sites give you VIP access to thousands of real deal dwellings throughout the world.  Check out farmhouses, villas, Victorians, urban duplexes, ranches, and more.  Find out what products the experts are using, and which furniture to use to complete your home’s new look.  Did I mention Houzz has an APP? You can take it with you to the store while you’re trying to match your newly found inspiration.


Whatever style appeals to you, you can find the blueprints for your next project with these great resources.  If you’re looking for help with buying or selling, the Gracik Makinney Real Estate Group is happy to answer your questions, feel free to visit us on the web or call us at 630-441-5570. 


Self Improvement by Home Improvement

by Thomas Makinney

You’ve heard the expression, “Cluttered house, cluttered mind,” but what other home characteristics are potentially enabling unhealthy habits?

Believe it or not, you don’t have to qualify for the show “Hoarders” to be negatively affected by your home setup. Consider some of these positive improvements for your home to boost a healthier, higher quality lifestyle for you and your loved ones:

Downsize your Refrigerator

It is much easier to cut down on excess junk, limit frozen items full of preservatives, and keep a clean and organized refrigerator when it is smaller in size.  Less room for storage means having to be more selective about your purchases, and that four pound bag of cheddar cheese won’t seem too reasonable anymore. In addition to the many health benefits of your new necessity-only fridge, you’re also reducing your carbon footprint, as well as your electricity bill. 

Keep the Dinner Table a Dinner Table

Nowadays it is more often a homework station, a place to pay bills, or write emails. Keep the table set with place settings, and try to reserve it for meals only. Keeping it in a prepared and inviting state will remind you to make family dinners a priority. If it looks more like a table at your favorite restaurant than a workstation, it will be much easier to frequently enjoy quality time over a home-cooked meal together. 

Zen-ify your bedroom

Clear surface areas, fewer distractions, more sunlight, and fresh linens. It is easy over time to clutter up the bedroom, have the TV on “just because,” let dust bunnies move in to those hard-to-reach spots, and go too long without changing up your bedding. These little things add up, and while you can’t put your finger on it in the moment, they are inhibiting your peaceful night’s sleep. Keeping these factors in focus and ensuring you’re giving yourself the best environment for a good night’s sleep will greatly improve not just your nights, but your days as well. 


Designate a Work-out Space

This can be an entire room in your home, or just a small corner if you’re tight on space.   Even if you prefer to work out in the gym, it is much harder to neglect your fitness routine when a yoga mat, free weights, and fitness DVD’s or magazines are right at your fingertips. Let a workout space inspire and motivate you!


Optimize your Outdoor Space

Balcony or backyard, patio or sprawling acres, make sure you’re making the most of your outdoor space. Particularly after this winter, spending time outside in the fresh air and sunshine is invaluable.  Update your patio furniture, install a hammock, or invest in some outdoor activity equipment and games. Make your outdoor space as inviting as a room in your home, and de-stressing will be as easy as walking out your back door.

If you’re ready to shake things up even more and start fresh with a new home, the Gracik Makinney Real Estate Group is here to help. Visit us on the web at www.gmregroup.com, or give us a call at (630) 441-5570!

Spring Curb Appeal

by Thomas Makinney

As we head into May, the colors of spring are in full bloom. In Elmhurst, we’re seeing lawns growing lush and green, gardens sprouting flowers. Everyone wants to have the best lawn on the block, especially if you’re looking to sell in this spring real estate season.

Most people are shocked to hear how much value curb appeal can add to a home – in data collected from a HomeGain.com survey, nice landscaping can add nearly $1,777 to your home’s value. By following these tips, you can easily up your curb appeal in just a day or two.

The landscape is the first area that catches a person’s eye. Give your lawn an upgrade by re-sodding bare areas. Keep your lawn neat and green by applying fertilizer every 6 weeks. Trimming shrubs and adding flowers gives an instant makeover. This adds color and helps to liven up the landscape as a whole. Annual plants tend to be less expensive, but will only last one season. Perennials are more of an investment plant – they come back year after year if planted correctly. Be sure to ask your local garden center if you have any questions about what tree, plant or flower would be best for your home.

Porches are a great place to spend your Elmhurst summer. Porch maintenance is important, because this area is exposed to all the harsh elements. Wooden porches should be cleaned and resealed on a yearly basis. If your porch is vinyl or composite, these should be washed at least once annually. Before washing, make sure to remove any debris off the area using a putty knife. Once this is done, you can begin washing the floor and railings. Be sure to use the cleaning product recommended for your porch. The same maintenance is recommended for decks as well.

Once you have your yard looking top notch, you want to show it off to the neighborhood. Do this by adding some outdoor lighting. By placing lights strategically outside, you can play up the architectural features of your home as well as accent your landscape. Additionally, extra lighting adds security to the home. Solar lights are popular now; these are a great choice because of their green energy source. LED lights are also recommended for outdoors. LED bulbs give off a warm light, recommended by lighting designers to best show off your home and landscape.

If you’re interested in learning about other outdoor improvements recommended for increasing your home’s value, we’d love to hear from you. All of us here at The Gracik Makinney Group are committed to helping our clients and keeping Elmhurst looking its best. Stop in for a visit at 190 North York Road here in Elmhurst, or give us a call at 630-441-5570, and let’s increase your curb appeal.

Best Ideas for Improving Your Elmhurst Home

by Thomas Makinney

We love our Elmhurst homes, but all of us probably also have one or two changes that we’d like to make to them. Home improvements, even minor ones, can make your home feel like a whole new space, and some improvements may even pay for themselves when it comes time to resell. Here are some tips on updates and remodels.

The National Association of Realtors suggests that curb appeal projects such as siding, window and door replacements can recoup more than 70% of their cost at resale time. What’s more, replacing them with more energy efficient options will also save you energy costs in the meantime. Another outdoor project that sees great payback is creating an outdoor living space. Going beyond the traditional deck or patio, outdoor kitchens and living rooms have taken fresh air living into a new dimension, and can give your home an up-to-date feel that’s sure to attract attention.

On the inside, the quickest and easiest way to update your home is with paint. New paint refreshes a room, and creating a feature wall in an accent color can modernize it and add a touch of flair. Another simple indoor update is lighting. New fixtures not only tend to be more energy efficient, they also accessorize your home with a clean, modern touch.

Basements can be more than simple storage spaces – they can be bonus living spaces too. Add functionality (and value!) by creating a family room, home theatre, or even a guest suite out of this overlooked gem.

As families have evolved, we’re spending more and more time together in our kitchens. That means our kitchens are evolving too, from just places to cook meals to spaces for entertaining, work, and family gatherings. If you’re considering a kitchen remodel, pay attention to how you and your family use the space. Then, make plans that incorporate features that facilitate and encourage those uses. Cooking and eating areas are a given, but think about variables such as creative storage solutions, work or office spaces, or a kitchen island that can serve a number of functions at once.

If you’re thinking of making improvements to your home, we’d be happy to share our thoughts about the best bets for resale success. All of us here at The Gracik Makinney Group are committed to providing the best service possible to our clients – current, former and future. Stop by the office at 190 North York Road here in Elmhurst, or give us a call at 630-441-5570 and let’s get planning.

Displaying blog entries 1-10 of 13