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March 22, 2018

5 Things to Do This Weekend

There are a wide range of activities for you to do this weekend, no matter if you are a parent who is eager to take your children out to enjoy the first weekend of spring, nature lover who want to mesmerize at the beauty of spring flowers, a health enthusiast, or a Snoopy lover.  



Egg-streme Egg Hunt

Location: Vaughan Athletic Center, Aurora, IL

Date and time: Sunday, March 25th, 2018 at 1 pm

Egg-streme Easter egg hunt obstacles for different age groups where little ones compete for fun and collect eggs along the way.  Don't forget to dress for the weather as this is an outdoor event.

*Registration and admission fee may apply



Location: The Sanctuary Church, Romeoville, IL

Date and time: Saturday, March 24th, 2018 from 9 am - 12 pm

Glow-in-the-dark egg hunt, petting zoo, pony rides, bounce house, donuts, crafts, face painting and interactive Easter story.  This event is free!

*Reserve your free tickets ahead of time.


Macy's Flower Show: "Once Upon a Springtime"

Location: Macy's, Downtown Chicago, IL

Date and time: Sunday, March 25th - April 8th

This flower show features heroic characters triumph over competing forces to usher in the beauty of spring.


Good Food Expo

Location: UIC Forum, Chicago, IL

Date and time: Friday, March 23rd & Saturday, March 24th

This food fest displays locally-grown organic cuisine and samples. The food expo also features leaders in agriculture, chef demonstrations, and real-life farmers!


Snoopy and the Red Baron Exhibit

Location: Elmhurst History Museum, Elmhurst, IL

Date and time: Starting Friday, March 23rd at 1 pm - Jun 17th, 2018

This new traveling exhibit from Charles M. Schulz Museum is opening its exhibit in Elmhurst.  The exhibit features reproductions of Schulz's original comic strip artwork, WWI artifacts, photos, film clips, models, collecting and more inspired by the Flying Ace.

*Please check the museum website for detail hours.






March 15, 2018

5 Things to Do This Weekend

1. St. Patrick's Parade and Chicago River Dyeing

One of Chicago's favorite traditions, the St. Patrick's Day Parade and Chicago River Dyeing, takes place this Saturday!

Date: Saturday, March 17, 2018

Time: River dyeing at 9 a.m.; Parade at noon

Be sure to check the road closures and public transit information ahead of time. 


2. Chicago Flower & Garden Show

This is absolutely for you if you love nature.  It's a great way to get some new inspiration and education on converting that rooftop, backyard, or just your indoor space.  They also have kid activities for the whole family to enjoy.  

Dates: March 14-18, 2018

Location: Navy Pier


3. Chicagoland Family Pet Expo

Pet lovers! You will find more than 200 exhibits of pet-related products and services.  Be sure to check it out if you love fun entertainment and attraction for the whole family.

Date: March 16-18, 2018

Location:  Arlington Park Racecourse


4. Maple Syrup Festival & Sap's Rising

Learn about the history of maple syrup making by walking in the sugar maple forest for an educational trip.  *Different activities on different dates.

Date: March 17 & 18, 2018 

Location: River Trail Nature Center, Northbrook


5. Get Sticky! Maple Syrup Day

75-minute guided tour on discovering the secret of turning tree sap into syrup while enjoying samples along the way.

Date: March 17, 2018

Location: Fullersburg Woods Nature Education Center, Oak Brook


*Please check ahead for admission and event detail as some require registration.


June 9, 2017

U-Pick Strawberry Farms

Who doesn't love fresh strawberries?  If you are looking for some fun activities to do with your family while enjoying the beautiful summer weather, then fruit picking is perfect for you.  

Since we are in the strawberry season, here's a list of the farm that is not too far from the Northwest Suburbs of Chicago.  Some of these farms also offer other fruits and veggies picking.

Knutson's Country Harvest

13550 Townhouse Road

Newark, IL 60541



Olive Berry Acres

2575 West Mine Road

Mazon, IL 60444



Stade's Farm and Market

3709 West Miller Road

McHenry, IL 60051



Susie's Garden Patch

10258 US Highway 20

Garden Prairie, IL 61038



Thompson's Strawberry Farm

14000 - 75th Street

Bristol, WI 53104


Please let us know if you know of other farms and which one you like better!

Posted in Activity
March 8, 2017

How to Avoid Home Shopping Burn-Out

Do you find yourself searching and browsing for that perfect home, but only find yourself more overwhelmed and frustrated? Don’t you wish your dream house will appear right on your screen or in front of you at just a snap of your fingers? Unfortunately, this is not possible. The question is how many houses does a person need to see before he or she finds that “perfect” one?

Finding a home is never easy! It takes effort and sometimes “luck” in order to come across the one that is truly for you.  Some find theirs in just a few showings, while others are exhausted night after nights of searching, and yet, they still can’t seem to find “the one” even after compromising a few criterion. The simple truth is that sometimes, we just have to realize that there might not be that perfect house waiting for you, but you can certainly make a nearly perfect house into YOUR perfect home.  So how can we do that?

Let’s start with finding a house …

This is similar to an employee seeking a position. That person needs to know where he’s starting from and where he wants to be.  He will need to evaluate positions using a set of criterion, such as:

Current & future …..

  • Job descriptions
  • Work Schedule
  • Location of the position
  • How his values and missions align with the company’s

After these important details have been carefully evaluated, there are still other factors that need to be considered.  For example, the values of the company, the company size, its reputation, compensation, and as well as the possibility of promotion.

To avoid being frustrated in finding your nearly perfect house, you should also do a similar kind of evaluation.  It is crucial that you identify what is important to you; the must-haves and the must-not-haves for your next house.  You will definitely have a better idea of what is truly important to you as you go through a few property tours.  Here are just some ideas for you to start making your list:

  • Size or type of the house – number of bedrooms and bathrooms, square footage, and etc.
  • Features and structures – number of stories, basement, attic; bricks, frames, and etc.
  • Location of the house – where the house is located;  city, near the city, or far from the city; public transportation, and what kind of neighborhood.
  • Price – price of the house, including the insurance and the property taxes

Just like in job hunting, after having the general and important ideas, the next thing is to come up with a list of the details. For example, determine if a family room, garage, fireplace, and etc. are important to you.

To prevent yourself from getting lost in a sea of properties online, you can find a comprehensive list here that can help you to make the whole buying process easier and more enjoyable.

Posted in Buying
Feb. 9, 2017

Traveling Oyster Bar


Oysters and whiskey?

Logan Oyster Socials, a traveling oyster bar, will show you at Beef & Barley this weekend with a two-hour event at your choice of afternoon or evening session.  It features East and West Coast oysters that paired with four Koval whiskeys. 

In addition, each ticket includes an amuse bouche, shrimp, additional oysters after the guided pairing.  Don't forget your raffle ticket for a chance to win Beef & Barley gift certificates, Koval products or even more oysters!

$59, or $115 per couple.

3:30-5:30 p.m. or 6:30-8:30 p.m.

Sunday, Feb. 12

Beef & Barley

3001 N. Ashland Ave.

Posted in Chicago Living
Jan. 31, 2017

HGTV-Style Home Renovation

I’m sure you’ve seen the shows on HGTV where the hosts are buying a home and then renovating it to a beautiful home. I often have people scratching their heads on how these people are actually buying a home and fixing it up. Well, most mortgage loan programs are just focused on buying a home. We have a program that allows our borrowers to buy the home, as well as add the renovation costs into the loan! Plus, most mortgage programs require a property to be in sound condition with no structural defects or required repairs. Not the 203k Home Renovation Loan! It's made for homes needing anything from a light spruce up to major repairs, improvements or new additions. Here are a few important things to know about a 203k Home Renovation Loan:


        Combine Purchase and Improvements

  • The 203k loan covers your purchase price and the cost of improvements. The proposed work must be supported by a "value upon completion" appraisal. You can save by financing renovation costs into the original mortgage rather than racking up credit card bills or dipping into reserve savings later.

        Create the Perfect House

  • If you're having trouble finding the right house in the right location, the 203k is the perfect solution. Just take a well-located home, add your own personalization and improvements, and make it "just right."

        Determine Your Eligibility

  • As with the regular FHA program, credit requirements vary yet can be more flexible than with conventional financing. There are no income limits or first-time buyer status requirements.

        Minimize Out of Pocket Costs

  • The 203k can be obtained with as little as a 3.5% down payment. Gifts can be used, sellers can contribute toward closing or costs can be rolled into the loan amount right along with your pre-paid taxes and insurance.


Applying for the 203k requires more work than other loans, but given all the advantages, it is a great option to consider! If you want to learn more or already think a 203k is right for you, reach out, and we'll work together to get you started today. Our phone number is 847-840-8117, email is, or you can visit our website at


How to do a HGTV style home renovation loan from Nick Magiera on Vimeo.

Posted in Buying, Investing
Jan. 12, 2017

Real Estate Short Sales: Good, Bad, or Indifferent?

When real estate is sold for more than the outstanding balance owed on the mortgage loan on the property, the lender is paid in full at the closing from the buyer’s funds, and the seller pockets the excess.  Everyone is happy. Such was the world before 2008.  

But, if the property is being sold for less than the outstanding loan, the lender comes up short at closing and there are no proceeds for the seller to retain. Indeed, the seller must then dig into his pocket for funds with which to pay the shortfall to the lender. Or, the seller can try to do what is referred to as a “short sale.”

Simply stated, a “short sale” is the sale of any real estate – residential or commercial – for less than the balance owed to the lender holding the lien on the property, with that lender’s approval of the sale. A seller is not required to obtain the lender’s permission to sell the property as long as the full balance of the loan is repaid at closing, and when the lender is paid in full, it is legally obligated to release its lien. With a short sale, however, the lender’s approval is required to sell the property because the bank will need to release its lien in order for the sale to be completed, and only the lender has the authority to agree to release its lien in exchange for a payment of less than the full mortgage balance owed. A lender has no obligation to release its lien when paid anything less than the full balance owed.

Mere decline in a property’s value below the amount of the outstanding loan balance does not qualify the seller for a short sale. Most lenders will not consider an application for a short sale without a demonstrated financial hardship. Typically, this means that a homeowner will have to miss one or more mortgage payments in order to have sufficiently demonstrated to the lender that financial assistance is warranted. While lenders have come to realize that short sale transactions are often better options than foreclosing on the mortgage, they usually assert that if a borrower is current with his payments, the borrower doesn’t need the lender’s assistance, and the short sale application is denied.

Demonstrating financial hardship is not limited to missing mortgage payments. It will also likely entail providing financial statements, check stubs, unemployment stubs, bank statements and tax returns to prove the hardship. It is not uncommon that a short sale will be denied by the lender because the lender finds that the homeowner “strategically defaulted” in order to be considered for short sale approval (i.e. the homeowner purposefully failed to make its mortgage payments in order to be considered for a short sale). Unless the seller can prove that his monthly expenses exceed his monthly income, the short sale may be denied.

Most lenders will require the seller to list the short sale property with a real estate agent for the current fair market value of the property. Short sale applications for significantly less than the fair market value of a property will almost certainly be denied, and “for sale by owner” transactions are almost never approved for short sale.

After a short sale is completed, the lender has a choice to either write off the deficiency balance, or pursue the borrower for the deficiency. More often than not, lenders write off the deficiency balance.  That can create another problem for the seller: the amount of a forgiven debt is treated as income to the seller for federal income tax purposes. At year’s end, the lender will send an IRS form 1099C to the seller. If the seller is solvent (i.e. if he is able to pay his debts as they become due) at the time of the short sale, the tax consequences for the bank’s forgiveness of debt could be substantial. However, if the seller’s total debts exceed the fair market value of his total assets at the time of the short sale, some or all of the cancelled debt may not be taxable. This should be explored carefully.

The seller may also find his credit score impaired as a result of the missed mortgage payments and the reporting of the debt after a short sale as “paid for less than full balance.” The drop in credit score may make it nearly impossible for the seller to purchase another property with conventional financing during the seven years that the foreclosure remains on his credit report. On the other hand, completing a short sale can help build the credit score more quickly by eliminating the debt and allowing the person to focus on making timely payments toward his other debts.

Sellers of property worth less than the outstanding mortgage balance on the property should carefully weigh their decision to sell the property before making an election to complete a short sale, but if a financial hardship arises, a short sale may be the best option.


Crystal L. Siver
Attorney at Law
(708) 724-6959 - Direct
Posted in Selling, Short Sale