Christkindlmarket ChicagoI am a big fan of winter in Chicago. The city is rich with tradition for young and old alike, especially over the holidays. My favorite childhood memories include viewing the animated holiday displays in the store windows along State Street, getting my picture taken with Santa Claus at Macy’s (then Marshall Field’s), seeing the Nutcracker Ballet with my grandmother, and visiting the Museum of Science and Industry’s spectacular Christmas around the World and Holiday Lights exhibit. Nowadays, there are even more opportunities to enjoy, like ice skating at Millennium Park or Wrigley Field, perusing Christkindlmarket with a cup of hot spiced wine in hand, and snuggling up in the back of a horse-drawn carriage for a ride along Michigan Avenue.

While you’re enjoying winter in the city, though, don’t forget some of these practical seasonal considerations.

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keeping home sale contracts togetherThere was a time when a home seller’s biggest challenge was getting a buyer to step up and make an offer with terms that the seller was willing to accept. In today’s market, however, getting an agreed upon purchase contract puts you only halfway toward your goal of selling your home. The process of getting from contract to closing is fraught with more challenges than ever, resulting in more sales falling apart long before the homeowner gets to the closing table. In Illinois, buyers can cancel their purchase contract during attorney and inspection review without providing a reason, meaning sellers sometimes never learn why their sale fell apart.

There are many factors that may cause a contract to unravel. Understanding what they are and how some can be avoided can help prevent disappointment down the road.

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upward trendThose of us with retirement accounts have probably noticed the upward trajectory of the stock market over the past several months, but it shouldn’t go unnoticed that some key numbers are up in the national and Chicago real estate markets as well.

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Restoration Hardware Pillar CandlesThere are pros and cons to having your home on the market over the holidays. Typically, there are far fewer buyers actively looking this time of year, but the good news is that those who are out tend to be serious about finding a home. This means that if you must interrupt your holiday to show your property, it will likely be worth your time.

However, showing your home during the holidays can pose new challenges. While a little holiday ambiance can enhance a home’s presentation, too many decorations will cause it to feel crowded and turn off buyers. Here are some points to consider if you are trying to sell over the holidays.

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Play it Safe at Navy PierI have blogged twice before about fire safety, first after I witnessed a friend’s home sustain significant damage after an electrical appliance caught fire and again after I took my children to a fire station for a tour and safety lesson. Now, I want to follow up to let you know about an important new exhibit about fire safety at the Chicago Children’s Museum on Navy Pier.

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