Elmhurst real estate blog archive


Displaying blog entries 1-10 of 14

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     Outdated or dirty.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.

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.

Ready to consign? Ready to donate? Ready to buy?

by Thomas Makinney

With the holidays behind us and the kids finally back at school, it’s a great time to make some New Year’s Resolutions for your home.

Are you feeling overwhelmed with too much stuff? Hoping to get your house on the market soon and need to declutter? Or are you hoping to spruce up your house a little bit and fill in some gaps?

We’ve found some great places for you to donate or sell your items, as well as places to buy everything from couches to lamps to new windows.

Before you clean out, decide whether you want to donate or sell your items. A thrift store accepts donations of items – you don’t receive money but you do get a tax write-off. A consignment store sells the items for you: Once an item has sold, they take a percentage and pay the rest to you. If you decide to consign, be sure to check how the store determines percentage, how they determine the lowest price, and what happens if the item doesn’t sell.

Thrift stores generally have lower prices while consignment stores generally have higher quality. But not always. There are treasures and bargains at both places just as there are benefits and drawbacks to donating or consigning.

That said, here are some options for great resale stores in our area, followed by furniture consignment stores.


Resale stores:


869 S. Rohlwing Road

(630) 517-2080


The retail store features furniture, lighting, and appliances, as well as building materials such as cabinets, flooring, doors, paint, lumber, sinks, toilets, and windows and screens.

You can also donate furniture (non-upholstered), appliances, and building materials. They also accept new building materials, as well as cars, trucks, trailers or boats.

All proceeds benefit the DuPage Habitat for Humanity, which helps build homes for limited-income, working families.


Pink Elephant Resale

121 W 1st St

(630) 834-7379

Located in downtown Elmhurst, the store sells and accepts donations and features furniture, kitchen items, clothing and accessories, books, and paintings.

All proceeds benefit the Edward-Elmhurst Memorial Healthcare.


Community Shop

23 W Calendar Ave
La Grange

(708) 354-3803


The Community Shop accepts and sells furniture, home décor, housewares, collectables, and seasonal merchandise.

Proceeds benefit Community Nurse, a health center for lower-income individuals and families in the western suburbs.


Brown Elephant Resale Shop

217 Harrison St.
Oak Park

(708) 445-0612


Brown Elephant accepts and sells antiques, art, lamps, housewares, upholstered furniture, dining room furniture, bedroom furniture, books electronics, as well as clothing, shoes, purses and jewelry.

Benefits Howard Brown Health, an agency that provides healthcare resources and education for lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people.



Sharing Connections – donations only

5111 Chase Ave.
Downers Grove

(630) 971-0565


Sharing Connections accepts gently used cribs, mattresses, box spring sets, dressers, table and chair sets, sofas and loveseats.

They then provide furniture and household items to local families who are referred through domestic violence shelters, housing organizations, food pantries, schools, and veteran and teen parent programs.


And of course, don’t forget the Salvation Army, Goodwill, and St. Vincent DePaul thrift stores for other great finds. These thrift stores accept almost all donations (check locations for their policy on upholstered furniture.)


Consignment stores:

The Courtyard

63 Village Place

(630) 323-1135


High end furniture and home accessory store, which accepts donations or consignments.  Located in downtown Hinsdale, the store sells fine furniture, artwork, lamps and chandeliers, quality rugs, china, crystal and silver, jewelry, and home accessories. The Courtyard is staffed by volunteers and all proceeds benefit the Wellness House, which provides individuals and families information and resources after a cancer diagnosis.


Divine Consign

809 S. Oak Park Ave.
Oak Park

(708) 386-3366


A high-end furniture consignment store. They accept and sell sofas, sectionals, loveseats, chairs, dining room furniture, dressers, beds, sofa tables, consoles, mirrors, wall art, floor and table lamps, and home décor.

They offer pickup and delivery serves for a small fee, and customers can combine pickup with delivery of furniture purchased at Divine Consign.

Their sister store, Trends, also in Oak Park, sells consigned clothing.


My Favorite Things Upscale Resale

136 Ogden Ave
Downers Grove, IL 60515

(630) 963-5518

Formerly located in Hinsdale, My Favorite Things sells home décor and decorative furnishings alongside women’s clothing and accessories. Clothing consignments are done seasonally, while home furnishings and furniture are accepted year-round.


Slipcover Plus Upholstery and Consignment

451 Madison St
Oak Park, IL 60302

(708) 386-9398


Slipcover Plus has a 2,000 sq. ft. showroom of new and consigned furniture, including bedroom sets, dining room furniture, sofas, loveseats, chairs, lamps, desks, and cabinets. They also have an extensive slipcover, re-upholstery, and furniture restoration business. 


And for something fun:

Jackson Square Antique Mall
112 E Burlington Ave
La Grange


(224) 388-9152

An antique emporium with more than fifty dealers selling We home decor and furnishings, antiques, collectibles, jewelry and clothing.


April Checklist. Are You Ready for Spring?

by Thomas Makinney

A little work on your home in April means that you can head into spring ready to relax over a barbecue and tackle garden work. Take some time now to make a few repairs and get your house sparkling.

Clean gutters and downspouts. Don’t neglect this important task. Clogged gutters from fall and winter debris can cause water to pool, damaging the roof and siding. Cleaning out the gutters also prevents water from cascading down the side of the house into the foundation and window wells where seepage can occur.

Inspect paths and driveway. Repeated freezing and thawing takes a toll on asphalt and concrete. Check your driveway and paths for cracks and schedule repairs as needed.

Wash windows. Welcome the spring sunshine by clearing dirt and grime from windows inside and out. Consider rinsing off your screen doors and windows, and check your screens for any small tears, which can let in mosquitoes and flies. Pick up a screen patch kit to repair them.

Lighten up your house. Make room for the sun by lightening up your interior. Go room by room and clear out unloved items. Put away heavy throw blankets and extra couch pillows. Freshen up the mantel or other styled spaces. Wipe down walls and baseboards. Consider changing out curtains or rugs to something lighter for the season.

Change up the garage. Empty the snow blower, stack the snow shovels and ice melt, and organize sleds and ice skates. Tune up the lawnmower, pull out garden tools and sprinklers. Check air pressure on bike tires and get them tuned up if needed. If you have young children, clean off outdoor toys and swing sets.  

Maintain wood decks and fences. Outdoor woodwork needs to be regularly stained and resealed. Check gates, fencing, decks, railings, pergolas and other outdoor structures for any repairs needed.

Other tasks to consider:

Wash siding. If your siding is looking dingy and dirty, attach a siding cleaning kit (available at most home improvement stores) to a regular garden hose and clean off the winter grime.

Spruce up the porch or entryway. Sweep the floor and wipe down any exterior windows, windowsills, and doors. Lay down a fresh doormat and put out a pot of flowers. If you have porch furniture, clean it off and wash the cushions.

Boost curb appeal. Spring is a great time to make upgrades to your home’s exterior. Even small changes, like new house numbers and a shiny new mailbox, can make a big impact. If you’re planning to put your house on the market soon, boosting curb appeal can help lure in potential buyers.

Schedule cooling-system maintenance. If you have central air conditioning, schedule professional maintenance before the start of summer. A properly maintained system cools better, uses less energy and lasts longer.

If you’re thinking of putting your house on the market this spring, give us a call. We offer free consultations and have loads of great ideas to get your house sparkling and sellable. Reach us at (630) 441-5570 or at www.gmregroup.com.



Showing Your Home for the Holidays

by Thomas Makinney

Selling your home this time of year is not as hard as it has been historically believed to be.  As we discussed last week, buyers who take time out of their holiday schedule and brave the cold and the snow to tour homes are serious buyers.  There are, however, a few things to keep in mind when you’re showing your home to buyers around the holidays. Here’s a list of pointers to prevent Santa from sabotaging your home sale:


Don’t over-do the exterior decorations. Sorry, Griswold! This year is not the year to illuminate the whole block. Too many lights and decorations (outside and in) can make the home look cluttered, masked, and personalized to your family.  You want buyers to see the home as a blank slate, and make it easy for them to envision their own holidays there.  

Do Try to think of your indoor decorations this year as accents, rather than features.

You’ll want buyers to be paying attention to your gorgeous hardwood and noticing the new countertops, not distracted by a life-sized talking Santa or your replica Leg Lamp from a Christmas Story in the front window.  Embrace your minimalist side this time, opt for subtle red bows, and flameless candlesticks for soft lighting and ambiance.

Don’t overwhelm the house with scents.  We know, Yankee Candle makes a Christmas Cookie candle that smells so real you want to eat the wax, but you don’t want to overwhelm buyers with anything, especially something that they could find off-putting or shorten their tour.


Do keep your gifts in a secure and hidden away location.  While its a common tradition to put presents under the tree (even if only for decorative purposes) weeks in advance, you want to keep your home as clutter free as possible.  Clear some room in a closet or the basement for that Red Ryder BB Gun, and the special box marked “FRAG-I-LE.”

Don’t take the height of your ceiling as a challenge to find the tallest tree you can fit. A large tree will take up space and make a room feel smaller than it is, and inversely a small tree can make a room appear larger.

At the Gracik Makinney Group, we want you to have festive and happy holidays without losing potential buyers.  Whether you are considering selling or buying, we are here to help. Visit us on the web at www.gmregroup.com or give us a call at 630-441-5570.  

Drone Technology for Real Estate Marketing?

by Thomas Makinney

drone.jpgWe don’t yet have hoverboards or power shoelaces, but the McFly version of the year 2015 is not terribly off.  Amidst a list of the ‘Back to the Future’ franchise promises that never became a reality, the hovering camera is here.  Though the FAA has strict regulations against using drones for commercial purposes, the National Association of Realtors would like to amend the ban to allow aerial shots to be taken via drone for the purpose of enhanced real estate marketing.  

Lifting the ban could create potential issues with privacy, abuse of the technology, and other industries appealing to lift the ban for their business uses.  The new regulations that are expected to set new parameters and give a timeframe for the possibility of an allowance for drones is expected within the next few weeks.


With the year 2015 nearly upon us, there is a short list of Back to the Future predictions that have actually come to fruition, and there is still time for more.  (Cubs fans, don’t hold your breath on that 2015 World Series win prediction!)

When selling your home, marketing is key.  Contact the Gracik Makinney Group at 630-441-5570 for more information on our comprehensive marketing plans for your next home sale.

Keep Your Elmhurst Open House Safe and Secure

by Thomas Makinney

When potential buyers come to view your Elmhurst home at an open house, you want them to be safe. You also need to ensure, however, that your personal things are protected as well. Here are some tips for each situation.

To start, these three actions can help you avoid liability from someone getting hurt while viewing your Elmhurst property.

  • Check your outside areas. Fix loose or cracked steps leading to the house; if they’re at all slippery, put down rubber mats. Block off any potentially dangerous yard areas and be sure you have childproofed decks and pools.
  • Inside, cover any exposed wires and replace any fixture or wiring that’s unsafe. Move long electrical cords or phone cords out of walking areas, take up slippery throw rugs, and fix or replace any wall-to-wall carpet that’s loose. Handrails should be in place for those visitors who need to use them, and, of course pick up clutter for safety as well as looks.
  • Children often come to an open house, so be sure to lock up medicines, cleaning supplies, and household chemicals. Pets should be contained or removed so they can’t jump up on visitors.

The flip side is ensuring that you and your possessions are also safe during the open house. Sadly, there are unscrupulous people who will come to your Elmhurst open house to steal things. Or they will scope out the house so they can break in and steal from you later. Here's how to reduce your risk.

  • Keep valuables out of sight, preferably in a locked box.
  • Lock up credit cards, checkbooks and money.
  • Keep all expensive medications locked in a cabinet.
  • Remove high-priced clothing from closets.
  • Asking all your guests to sign a register might make a thief think twice about robbing you.
  • Never discuss your personal habits or schedule with visitors.
  • Walk the potential buyers around or at least keep them in sight at all times.
  • Have friends or relatives be on site during the open house, or consider hiring a private security service.

Following these suggestions will make your property safe for prospective buyers as well as for you and your belongings while you're in the process of selling.

If you’re looking to buy or sell Elmhurst real estate or properties in the surrounding area, contact the Gracik Makinney Group, or call (630) 567-5902.

Avoid These Slip-Ups to Sell Your Elmhurst Home

by Thomas Makinney

While the housing market is definitely improving, buyers still hold the upper hand.  This means that your Elmhurst, IL home must be kept in the best possible condition to attract a buyer.  Below are five mistakes that can prevent you from getting that longed-for offer. Whether you’re a novice or an experienced seller, these are worth your attention.

Removing Your Furniture – If you need to move out quickly, whether for a new job or some other reason, try to leave your furniture behind until the house sells. It’s been proven that an empty house takes longer to sell, and owners get less than their asking price. Empty houses look bigger, but often they can seem gloomy.

Rejecting a Home Stager – Professional home stagers are trained to make your Elmhurst property look its very best—and worth a lot more than you’re asking.  Studies show that about 95 percent of professionally staged homes sold within 33 days, while on average non-staged homes took 196 days.  Non-staged homes also stay on the market 83 percent longer.  If you can’t leave your furniture in the house, definitely consider using a home stager.

Pets and Pet Smells – Cat, dog, or bunny, your pets—and their smells—should be out of the house for a showing.  Remember that many people have pet allergies, and a potential buyer won’t see much while sneezing.  Removing the pets is the easy part; the smells can be more challenging. Steam clean your carpets, furniture, and any pet bedding.  Ask your agent for additional advice on how other clients have handled this.

Clutter and Dirt – If all of your stuff is lying around—even somewhat organized—buyers can’t picture their stuff in the house, and this can be the key to a sale. Dirty kitchens and bathrooms will also send buyers out the door. You must clean and de-clutter for every showing.

Overly-High Asking Price – Work with your agent to properly price your Elmhurst real estate. This should be an amount that makes sense in the current market, not what you think the home is worth or what you’ve decided you need.  Priced too high, the home won’t sell no matter how beautiful and fresh-smelling you’ve made it.

While not a complete list, these are some of the critical things that can help secure an offer sooner rather than later.  And in today’s market, sooner is definitely better.

We know how to spot and correct any issue that affects your real estate transaction.  If you’re looking to buy or sell Elmhurst real estate or properties in the surrounding area, contact the Gracik Makinney Group, or call (630) 567-5902.

Not Just Buying and Selling

by Thomas Makinney


The decision to purchase a property in the Elmhurst area is just the first step.  From the initial viewing of the property, to the closing, to the preparation and the final move, your decisions will have an effect on your level of satisfaction (or dissatisfaction) with the results.  It can all be a bit overwhelming.

Your real estate agent (Ahem!  That’s me!) is in a position to know where to go for the answers to all your needs.  It is in the best interest of your real estate agent to refer you to the people and companies that will make your transition as smooth as possible.  After all, if you are happy with your property, and the way the preparations to take possession went, you are a walking testimonial to the reliability of your agent.

Does your new property require updating or renovation?  We know the best (and worst!) contractors in the business.  Whether the job is waterproofing, or moving a wall, or just a cosmetic spruce-up, tell us what you need and we will put you in contact with the people who can do it beautifully, and for a reasonable price.  Perhaps the property needs landscaping, or even just a good cleaning on the inside.  Please, just ask us, and we’ll give you our best contacts.

By the same token, if you have a property to sell, and it needs preparation, we can help you find the right people for the right job.  We want your property to sell, and we want you to be happy with our handling of that property, so, again, we will send you to the best companies for your needs.  It’s a mutually beneficial service.

If you want service that goes beyond finding or selling your property, and you’re looking for property in the Elmhurst and DuPage County area, call me, Tom Makinney, at our home office, (630) 567-5902, or check out my website


Elmhurst Illinois Open Houses For October 23, 2011

by Thomas Makinney

Gracik Makinney Real Estate Group Open Houses

Address: 757 BERKLEY AVE
City: Elmhurst
Price: $755,000
Scheduled for: 10/23/2011 from 02:00 PM to 04:00 PM
Address: 746 E Oliviabrook Drive
City: Oak Brook Terrace
Price: $544,900
Scheduled for: 10/23/2011 from 02:00 PM to 04:00 PM
Address: 744 E Oliviabook Drive
City: Oak Brook Terrace
Price: $488,900
Scheduled for: 10/23/2011 from 02:00 PM to 04:00 PM
Address: 742 E Oliviabrook Drive
City: Oak Brook Terrace
Price: $449,900
Scheduled for: 10/23/2011 from 02:00 PM to 04:00 PM
200 Sunnyside Ave, ElmhurstAddress: 600 HAWTHORNE AVE
City: Elmhurst
Price: $275,000
Scheduled for: 10/23/2011 from 02:00 PM to 04:00 PM

All Other Elmhurst Open Houses

Address:  316 N Shady Ln
City: Elmhurst 
Price: $259,900
Scheduled for: 10/23/2011 from 01:00 PM to 03:00 PM

Address: 918 S Cambridge
City: Elmhurst 
Price: $324,000
Scheduled for: 10/23/2011 from 01:00 PM to 03:00 PM

Address: 362 N Oaklawn Ave
City: Elmhurst 
Price: $349,000
Scheduled for: 10/23/2011 from 01:00 PM to 03:00 PM

Address: 158 S Rex Blvd
City: Elmhurst 
Price: $400,000
Scheduled for: 10/23/2011 from 01:00 PM to 03:00 PM

Address: 468 W Montrose Ave
City: Elmhurst 
Price: $499,900
Scheduled for: 10/23/2011 from 01:00 AM to 04:00 PM

Address: 303 W Elm Park Ave
City: Elmhurst 
Price: $525,000
Scheduled for: 10/23/2011 from 01:00 PM to 03:00 PM

Address: 424 Highview Ave
City: Elmhurst 
Price: $699,000
Scheduled for: 10/23/2011 from 01:00 PM to 03:00 PM

Address: 158 S Rex Blvd
City: Elmhurst 
Price: $400,000
Scheduled for: 10/23/2011 from 01:00 PM to 03:00 PM

Address:  250 N Myrtle Ave
City: Elmhurst 
Price: $748,500
Scheduled for: 10/23/2011 from 01:00 PM to 03:00 PM

Address: 473 S Kenilworth Ave
City: Elmhurst 
Price: $749,000
Scheduled for: 10/23/2011 from 02:00 PM to 04:00 PM

Displaying blog entries 1-10 of 14