MHT’s Favorites: Local Haunts to Visit Before Halloween

By | Community News, Morrison Home Team News, Neighborhood Focus | No Comments

Spooky season is upon us, and here at MHT, we love a good fall festival and even a little scare every now and then. Here are our picks for some great festivals, haunted houses, and other Halloween activities to do in the Northwest Suburbs and in Chicago!

Family Friendly Fall Festivals

Barrington: Scarecrow Festival 2018

Saturday, October 13: 11:00am-2:00pm

Held at Memorial Park in the Village every year, this is a great free festival for some family fun over the weekend! Expect pumpkin decorating, cookie decorating (yum!), scarecrow building, pony rides, face painting, and food!

Long Grove: DIY Scarecrow Day

Saturday, October 13: 11:00am-4:00pm

Located next to the Country House (430 Robert Parker Coffin Road), this festival is all about making your own scarecrow. Bring your own tools, scarecrow accessories, and builders and you will be able to make your own masterpiece! After they are built, the scarecrows get displayed around the village until the end of the month!

Chicago: Jack’s Pumpkin Pop-Up

Goose Island, Chicago

Here is a great opportunity throughout the month of October for families and couples in the city to experience some fall fun! This event hosts Chicago’s largest corn maze (with a bar in the middle of the maze), carnival rides for the family, and food and entertainment! Check out the schedule online and buy your tickets for the new coolest Halloween event in Chicago!

Top Haunted Houses in the Chicagoland Area

While this isn’t exactly our cup of tea, we thought to include it to get everyone into the scary Halloween spirit!

Basement of the Dead

Aurora

This is ranked as one of the top haunted houses in Illinois. Also know for it’s very real looking/acting killer clowns, bloody nuns (who doesn’t love a good bloody nun), and claustrophobic halls (yes please sign me up). And if you get through all of the rooms? You can play some carnival games!

HellsGate Haunted House

Lockport

This house is so secret that you have to park in the Metra parking lot and get shuttled to the location of this haunted house. Then you get 45 minutes to get through the multi-level mansion and if you find the skeleton key during your scream session, you will get your ticket for free!

Best Chicago Urban Legends:

For some reason these all seem to be about young girls who died and haunt everything…but here are a few of the city’s top Urban legends.

The Italian Bride

Mt. Carmel Cemetery is best known for being the resting place of many gangsters, including a one Al Capone, one of the most famous residents in Julia Petta, also known as the Italian Bride. Legend has it that this poor girl died in childbirth, but for years after her death, her mother would have dreams of Julia telling her she was still alive and needed help getting out of her grave. Six years after she died, her family exhumed her grave and found her body still perfectly in tact as it had been when she was alive. Many visitors to the cemetery have reported seeing a ghostly white women near Julia’s grave.

Resurrection Mary

One of the more famous ghost stories, Mary, who loved to dance, was killed in a car accident while walking home from a dance hall in 1934. But that doesn’t stop her from continuing to go out in the city. She has been said to still go to the dance halls (maybe the night clubs now, but she would look out of place in her 1930’s attire) and dance with a young man all night. Then when she asks him for a ride home, she says she lives at Resurrection Cemetery because her dad is the care taker. When he drops her off there, she disappears before his eyes. Can you image that poor uber driver nowadays? Give that guy 5 stars.

We hoped you enjoyed our Halloween edition of this blog post! And we also hope you weren’t too spooked out to stay for more!

If you know of anyone looking to buy or sell in the area, please pass this post on to them along with our referral!

 

 

 

How to Make a Strong First Impression with Curb Appeal

By | Featured Listings, Selling a House | No Comments

You have recently listed your home, congratulations! Now you are tasked with the daunting project of keeping your space show ready at all times so that perfect buyer can see it at a moment’s notice. When it comes to making an impression, here at Morrison Home Team, we believe that curb appeal should be a priority. Think of it as the hook, drawing potential buyers in to see more of your house. With the exception of Chip and Joanna Gaines, buyers want a pretty house. We are here to help you make that first impression last with a few tips on how to boost your curb appeal!

Shutter Up!

These photos right here is a great example of what a difference adding shutters can make to your home! This listing at 239 W Russell in Barrington looks naked without them! If you have been going back and forth about if they are worth it or not, we highly recommend them! Shutters do wonders for the outside of your house.

Freshen Up

Is your façade looking tired or dirty? How about a fresh paint job? This is a great excuse to check out the current housing trends and see which colors buyers are drawn to the most. By changing the color, it could breathe new life into a home, and make it noticeable!

Paint the Front Door

If you don’t want to take on a paint job on the entire house, why not just freshen up the front door? There was actually a study done by Zillow earlier this year that showed homes with black front doors sell faster. Now if that’s not motivation, I don’t know what is!

Here is a lovely example of a black painted front door at 636 Lill Street in Barrington! The contrast against the yellow is just perfect.

Upgrade the Landscaping

Whether you replant your garden, or add some extra color, it’s up to you. It has actually been proving that gardening is a great way to calm your mind and connect with nature. Since selling a home can be a daunting process, what a better way to calm your mind and make your home look more beautiful!

Now we don’t expect you to go as over the top as these incredible gardens as 14 Longmeadow in Barrington Hills, but talk about curb appeal, right?!

Small but Noticeable Changes:

Sometimes, you don’t need a big change, but rather some small details that could add to your curb appeal. Here are a few of our ideas for some economical and easy updates:

  • Add a welcome mat to the front porch
  • Add potted plants around the door
  • Flowers around the mailbox, this is the first part of the house that is seen!
  • A front porch bench to make the space look warm and welcoming
  • Hang a seasonal wreath on the front door to add some color!

We hope these tips helped!

Are you currently looking to buy a house or sell your house? Contact John Morrison and the Morrison Home Team at 847.409.0927

Get to Know MHT: Our Favorite Restaurants

By | Community News, Morrison Home Team News | No Comments

Here at Morrison Home Team, we consider ourselves to be experts in the Northwest Suburbs. Whether that means experts in the housing market, buying and selling locations, or the food scene, we know our stuff.

Our clients often ask us for recommendations if they are looking for a place to eat so we have compiled a list of our favorite restaurants in the Northwest Suburbs, and what to order below. Bon appétit!

John’s Favorites: My wife and I love Italian food and fresh sushi, so those are our go-to options in the area.

Agio: Located in Palatine, this Italian spot has an intimate feel as if you were in a little hole in the wall in Italy! John recommends the baked clams as an appetizer!

DiBenedetto Trattoria: Another Italian choice, this one in Hoffman Estates. John recommends the stuffed artichoke, but you can’t go wrong with the chicken parmesan or pasta alla vodka!

Bistro Wasabi: A sushi restaurant in Hoffman Estates where you can either choose a table, or sit and watch your sushi rolls be prepared by the masters at the sushi bar. Apart from the sushi, John recommends the Maguri Salad with chips, it’s his favorite!

Look at how delicious that all looks! Photo from: Trip Advisor.

Liz’s Favorites: I am Italian, so when I find an Italian restaurant that has food that tastes as good as my own, then it becomes my favorite!

 Spunky Dunkers: This awesome donut stop is perfect to fulfill your sweet tooth, or bring a lot of joy to your coworkers! These donuts are handmade all day, and did we mention they are open 24 hours? Don’t miss the red velvet donut…it’s one of our favorites! There are locations in Palatine and Arlington Heights.

We can almost smell the scent of fresh, sweet dough in this photo. Photo from: Thrillist

Asahi: Sushi sushi sushi! This awesome, casual spot is perfect at delivering fresh, handmade rolls quickly with friendly service and delicious dessert as well! Try the Sexy Roll and the Sato Roll, you can thank us later!

Francesca’s Famiglia: A classic Barrington Italian establishment, and for good reason! The simple, delicious dishes, lengthy wine list, happy staff, and the perfect place to throw a party! We love the Linguine Fagatarro in the warmer months and the Pollo alla Romana in the chillier months!

This is definite food porn at Francescas…Photo from: Unveil Events

Ciao Baby: And now for a more modern take on Italian in Barrington! We love Ciao Baby for an easy, but delicious, lunch stop! Try the “Mini Me” which is their famous dipped Italian beef, just a smaller portion! And don’t forget the French fries!

Lisa’s Favorite: I prefer the freshest ingredients when I go out to eat, and Mexican food usually hits the spot!

Bien Trucha: craving Mexican food? This Geneva joint is the perfect place! Lisa says that her favorites include homemade guacamole and shrimp tacos, all made from scratch with fresh ingredients! Pair it with a margarita and it’s even better!

This margarita is the perfect compliment to these adorable tacos! Photo from:  Chicago Tribune

Crystal’s Favorite: When I eat here, I feel like I have been transported to Spain!

Tapas Calpé: Looking for small plates and a killer wine list? Look no further than this Spanish tapas place in Cary! Crystal recommends the smoked salmon or white fish and a charcuterie board. If you’re looking for more classic Spanish dishes, try some patatas bravas (spicy potatoes), jamón ibérico (Iberico ham), and some gambas de ajo (shrimp in oil).

 

Now…we are officially hungry. Photo from: Tripadvisor

Hopefully these recommendations satisfy your taste buds!

Are you looking to buy or sell your house in the Chicago Northwest Suburbs? Contact John at the Morrison Home Team at 847.409.0297.

Why to Buy and Sell Your House in the Fall

By | Buying a House, Selling a House | No Comments

When it comes to the housing market, the general consensus is to buy or sell in the Spring and Summer, since that is the busiest time for real estate. While it’s true that the warmer months tend to see more action, that doesn’t mean that you should omit fall and winter completely! Why not continue your buying and selling process when the rush has died down and you are able to take your time and make the best decision for you and your family?

John and the Morrison Home Team, believe that Fall and Winter are the best, secret times to buy or sell. We broke down the reasons for both buyers and sellers below:

Buyers:

Fewer people searching for houses

Like we mentioned, spring and summer are the busy, busy times in the real estate world. But in the fall? We tend to see a fewer number of buyers actively searching. This trend continues through the winter, until the cycle picks back up again in the spring (by the way, our Spring Market starts the first week of February). So why not use this to your advantage? With fewer buyers, John and your Morrison Home Team broker can devote more time to you and your needs. The other perk? There is a lower chance of someone going up against you in a bidding war on your dream home!

This incredible home at 63 Brinker Road looks even more incredible in the fall foliage!

Sellers are serious

This is a huge plus when it comes to fall purchasing. With a smaller number of houses on the market, more often than not, it means that these sellers aren’t experimenting or “just trying to see what they can get” for their house. They are truly looking to sell, which will make the negotiation and closing process so much easier, since both parties are 100% interested in closing the deal! And if coffee is for closers, then we want that coffee!

Sellers:

Competition leaves the market

Since Spring and Summer are such hot months to have your home on the market (literally and figuratively), we tend to see a lot of the remaining homes leave the market for the colder months. Therefore, there is less competition when buyers are searching for their dream home. Now is the time for your house to stand out from the crowd and for sellers to have more of a chance to achieve the sale that you have been looking for!

This village listing at 200 W Russell Street is a great spot to jump on as the leaves change!

Buyers are serious

Much like the fact that you, as a seller, are more serious, buyers are as well! They aren’t just “shopping around” to see what they can find. If they are out and about, trudging through chilly rain, snow, and freezing temperatures, they are serious about buying! Use this to your advantage to negotiate a deal that will satisfy both parties and you will be very glad you kept your home on the market during this time!

Are you thinking about starting your home buying process this fall? Contact John Morrison or another Morrison Home Team broker to get started!

Four Projects to Tackle Before Listing Your House

By | Featured Listings, Selling a House | No Comments

When it comes to selling your home, sometimes you just don’t know where to start. At Morrison Home Team, we don’t want you to feel overwhelmed, this should be an exciting time! To help with that stress, we had compiled a list of 4 projects to start and finish before listing your house. By checking these off your list, you will not only diminish your stress, but also gain a competitive edge against other houses in the market.

Keep Up With The Small Things

Let’s face it, sometimes we get used to living in the same place for a while. This could lead tp us not noticing when something small needs to be fixed or updated. Before listing your house, we urge you to walk around and check up on projects that haven’t been a priority lately. Change light bulbs, fix your mailbox, paint the window panes, fix that one drawer in the kitchen that is a bit cockeyed, cover old nail holes and touch up the paint in the bedrooms. These little fixes go a long way!


We love how simple and elegant this bathroom is in one of our former rentals. If you have a tiled bathroom floor, make sure to check for any chips in the tile!

Spruce Up Your Floors

This is a bit of a bigger project, but one that could really help the sale of your house. When it comes to sprucing your floors, there are a couple of options:

  1. Clean your carpeting
  2. Freshen up your hardwood floor

Hiring a carpet cleaner, especially if you have pets or children, will go a long way with minimal effort. This will also ensure that the carpeting will look “fluffy” and the rooms will seem all around brighter! With regards to hardwood floors, consider restaining, if you feel the color is outdated, or refinishing them to give the room a bit of extra shine.

This contrasting dark floor is beautiful against the light walls and décor in another one of our former rentals!

Clean Out Your Closets

We are very sorry to tell you, but when your house is on the market, gone are the days of shoving things in a closet and calling the place clean. Closets are a huge selling point for homes and because of that, buyers like look inside to see how big they are. The best way for them to gauge the size is by cleaning out and reorganizing everything in the closet. Throw out or donate items that aren’t needed anymore and purchase storage containers to tidy up the space for everything else. This will do wonders!

Amp Up Your Curb Appeal

The outside of your home is the first thing that buyers will notice when they pull up, so give them that wow factor! We recommend trimming the bushes, weeding the yard, even planting a few flowers or adding some mulch if the yard really needs it. If it’s warm, make sure your grass is well watered and green. Something else that is a quick fix: repainting your front door. A study from Zillow earlier this year stated that homes with black front doors sell faster than other colors! Add a welcome mat and some potted plants, and you will successfully wow your buyers.

This luscious green entry is lovely at our listing on 417 N Cook Street! Take a closer look at the details next to the garage, we love that curb appeal!

Do you have more questions about projects to take on before listing your home, or just want to learn about the process? Contact your Morrison Home Team agent, or send us a message in the “Contact Us” tab of the website, we love hearing from you!

Staging Your Home to Sell

By | Featured Listings, Selling a House | No Comments

At Morrison Home Team, we know selling your home can be a big undertaking. Especially when it comes to making it “show ready” at a moment’s notice, just like this sunroom is at 210 E Liberty Street. So how do all of those homes you see listed on the MLS always look so picture perfect? The secret: staging.

Staging is the practice of strategically arranging furniture and décor to help the house look it’s best during the selling process. This could be done simply by rearranging preexisting décor, hiring a professional stager to rent and arrange furnishings if the house is vacant or lacking items, or even by giving the house a complete refresh with new paint and other minor modifications to aid the sale.

Why stage? Well, according to a 2017 National Association of Realtors survey, 77% of buyers’ agents say that proper staging helps clients to better visualize the space as their own, which is the goal after all!

In order to make this process less daunting, we have compiled a few of our best tips to get your house ready to sell, and to sell quickly:

Tidy Up

This is definitely the most important step for anyone selling their home! In order for home buyers to best visualize the space as their own, it is best to tidy up the space. Box up knick-knacks and personal items that are cluttering space and neatly store them out of view. This will not only keep the focus on the home, but it will also tastefully show what the room can offer without looking too busy. When that is done, it’s time to deep clean. Dust, vacuum, shine, polish, and bleach whatever catches your eye that you think could have an impact on the sale of your home. Make sure not to use too many scented products, as this could trigger allergies or just general distaste for the smell. This is a great first step to making your home sell ready.

This gorgeous kitchen and eating area at 7 Kaleigh Court. is perfectly tidied! Nothing distracting on the tables or walls, and everything is beautifully cleaned!

 

Stage the Most Important Rooms First

If it comes down to not having the time or money to stage the entire home, simply working on a few rooms could really increase the value. The most “important” rooms to stage are usually considered the most used rooms in the home. These include the living room, kitchen, and master bedroom. If these are the only rooms properly done, then it still gives your home a boost compared to other, unstaged homes. Other rooms such as kid’s bedrooms, bathrooms, and the basement, while they still should be organized and cleaned, they are not as vital to the selling of a home.

This family room at 636 Lill Street is a great example of staging important rooms first. This staging shows how to best use the space

“Float” your Furniture

A common decorating myth is the belief that all furniture should be situated along the walls of the room. This technique, though, generally makes the room look much smaller than it actually is. The idea of “floating” your furniture means creating spaces positioned around an area rug, a coffee table, or a fire place closer to the center of the room. This will not only make the room appear to be larger than it actually is, but also create more of an intimate feel that draws people to a room.

This living room space at 9 Hubbell Court is the perfect example of “floating furniture” around the area rug.

Boost Your Curb Appeal

Staging your home doesn’t just belong on the inside of the house! Curb appeal is an easy way to draw attention to your home from the moment that a possible buyer pulls into the driveway. Entice them with a trimmed lawn, crisp landscaping, lovely gardens, and even a welcome mat! If you are listing in the winter, show that your home can still be lovely in the snow by keeping the driveway and walkways cleared and hanging a winter wreath on the door. A little care goes a long way!


This home at 1626 Dublin Court in Inverness has such lovely curb appeal!

Don’t neglect the backyard, they certainly didn’t at Dublin Court

Now you are ready to start staging your home! If you are currently looking to sell and would like some more information on properly staging your space, get in touch with your Morrison Home Team agent to discuss opportunities available.

Are there any more questions you have about staging a home? Contact us by typing your question into the options on the side of this page (or on our Contact Us menu option) or simply reach us via email at john@morrisonhometeam.com or by phone at 847.409.0297.

The Dos and Don’ts of Buying a House

By | Buying a House | No Comments

Buying a house can be exciting, intimidating, exhilarating, and exhausting…all at the same time! Our job at Morrison Home Team is to make this transition as quick and easy as possible. Here are some of our best tips when searching for a home, whether you’re a first time home buyer or a seasoned veteran.

Do: Visit several houses before buying

While it seems like a bit of a hassle, you wouldn’t marry someone you have only met once, right? This is why shopping around and going for a showing, or possibly two, to the house you are considering is in your best interest! Compare prices and amenities of other homes for sale in the area to see if you’re really going to get an appropriate deal on the home you want to purchase. By only looking at one house, you may miss out on some really great opportunities.

Do: Research the Neighborhood

One of our preaching points when house searching is: location, location, location! Even if the home has incredible curb appeal or all of the amenities you’re looking for, look past the picket white fence and gourmet kitchen and really check out the area. Do you see your children playing safely in the backyard? Is this a community that you can happily become a part of? We recommend writing down what you are looking for, then finding a neighborhood that checks every point on your checklist.

Do: Keep your budget in mind

There is nothing more stressful than being on a tight budget. When house searching, the idea is to find a home where you can continue your lifestyle comfortably. On the other hand, if you want to make your dream home possible, there are many options to make it more affordable. Talk to your Morrison Home Team broker about fixer-upper homes or possible ways to negotiate the price down into a more comfortable number.

Don’t: Buy a house just for its décor

Feel free to take all the inspiration you want! But try to picture what the house will look like with all of the decorations removed and focus on the structure. Is it still what you are looking for? Sometimes it can be hard to separate the bare bones of the home from the extra “fluff”, but we recommend doing just that before purchasing.

Don’t: Forget the home inspection

Foundations and windows and roofs, oh my! Your dream home may look perfect on the surface, but underneath there could be a lot of problems that you are agreeing to take on when you purchase the house. That’s what licensed home inspectors are for! Trust us, it is worth the time and money to have a professional go over the entire home with a fine-toothed comb to determine what needs to be improved. When that is done, you can sit back and relax that everything has been checked off by a professional.

Don’t: Do it alone

That’s why we, the Realtors at Morrison Home Team, are here! We are the #1 team in Barrington and the Northwest Suburbs. We are skilled in our marketing and negotiating techniques, as well as experts in our market. Trust us with your buying and selling needs and it will make everything so much easier for you!

Are there any more questions you have about buying a home? Post them below, or contact us via email at John@morrisonhometeam.com or by phone at 847.409.0297.

 

Doug (in blue) with some very excited new buyers!

 

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