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There are many fantastic beaches along the Chicago North Shore and well into the city. The city beaches can all be visited free of charge, with North Avenue beach being the most popular.  I’m not sure of the total count, but there are beaches from Rogers Park to the South Side.

Evanston has six beaches with one being a dog beach. A beach token must be purchased to avoid the $8 charge per visit to enter onto an Evanston beach. I favor Lee Street beach in Evanston for no significant reason, but it’s definitely an attractive place to relax in the sun.

Wilmette has a fantastic beach at Gilson Park, but I’m not sure of the current cost. Winnetka, Highland Park and Lake Forest have a few notable beaches.  I’d recommend clicking on the town and city links I have on the side bar for more information about the lakeshore offerings in the various municipalities. There’s a lot to choose from along Lake Michigan’s shores, so have fun and explore a bit.

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We all know the value of home improvement, but many homeowners overlook one of the most important factors in a homes worth. Landscaping can add significant value to a property. Start with a design that uses logic, to create usable outdoor space. Features are really important in landscape. Ponds, outdoor rooms, sculpture, fountains, terraces, distinctive trees, creative planting and tasteful paving are all important. Quality is a must. Skimping on detail and using cheap materials can actually detract from a homes value. Budget is important to focus on while in the planning stages and not when a project is already underway. It’s not cheap to have a designer landscape but neither is the cost of owning a home. So why not pay for it, enjoy it and see it as a worthy investment.

According to The Boston Globe, just having a landscape can add 12.7% to your property value. A sophisticated and functional garden can tack on 42% more to your home’s value.

Money growing in your garden

Mature plants, spacious patios, and other outdoor features can all add value to your property.

By Elizabeth Gehrman

“Show me your garden . . . and I will tell you what you are like,” wrote the English poet Alfred Austin in 1905. Today, the words might more aptly be “Show me your garden and I will tell you you’ll get more money for your house.” Up to 12.7 percent more, to be exact, according to a 2007 paper by Virginia Tech horticulturalist Alex Niemiera that brought together research from the previous decade. The factor that added most to a home’s value – up to 42 percent – was design sophistication. For more…..

Contact Watercolour Gardens for landscapes designed by an Oxford trained designer. Tel. 847 380 2699.

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The Chicago North Shore has a fairly transient population, which has helped to keep the real estate market moving forward.  If it were not for the number of large corporations and universities located in the area, property sales would have been badly pinched, like other parts of the country. 

Barron’s seems to think the market woes might be short-lived.  There are signs, the real estate market might have already reached a bottom. 

This real-estate rout has been more painful than prior ones, but it may be shorter-lived. Indeed, there are early signs of recovery.

A FEW YEARS AGO, AN ACQUAINTANCE SENT Wellesley College economist Karl “Chip” Case a T-shirt depicting a cartoon of a smiley-face house surrounded by soap bubbles, called “Mr. Housing Bubble.” But it was the words captured in a comic-book cloud on the shirt that gave this otherwise goofy image its bite: “If I pop, you’re screwed!”

The dark humor hardly was lost on Case, co-creator along with Yale economist Robert Shiller of the now-canonical S&P/Case-Shiller Home Price Indices. In pairing recent sale prices of U.S. homes with the prices those same homes fetched previously, the index is substantiating what every sentient American knows: The U.S. housing market is in a deep funk, probably the worst in 50 years, according to Harvard’s respected Joint Center for Housing Studies.

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