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7 At-Home Projects That Can Help Move Your Sale Forward

7 At-Home Projects That Can Help Move Your Sale Forward

The COVID-19 crisis has had far-reaching impacts here in Chicagoland and around the world. As we all do our part to practice proper social distancing, it’s important not to lose sight of your real estate dreams. Despite everything going on, the market is still strong, and there are still plenty of ways to keep your real estate plans on track — including moving forward with the sale of your home. 

In fact, spending more time at home can be a perfect opportunity to get busy with small projects that can help get your property ready to sell, whenever the time is right. This way, you can stay busy and active while staying safe at home — and keep working toward your goals, at the pace that’s right for you. 

Looking for easy, at-home projects that you can safely tackle right now? We’re here for you. Here are seven projects that can get your home ready to sell:  (more…)

10 Calming Hobbies You Can Pick Up at Home

10 Calming Hobbies You Can Pick Up at Home

It’s easy to start to feel a little cooped up or even anxious as we all adjust to our temporary “new normal” at home. There’s a lot of uncertainty right now, and many people are feeling some extra stress. Fortunately, there are lots of relaxing and rejuvenating hobbies that people of all ages can use to step away and decompress when cabin fever starts to settle in.  (more…)

Investors 101: Everything You Need to Know To Work With Investor Clients

Investors 101: Everything You Need to Know To Work With Investor Clients

The fourth episode of Your Competitive Edge with Baird & Warner is live now and features Heidi Rogers, the assistant managing broker of our Oak Park office. In this episode, Heidi shares her expertise on working with investment buyers versus traditional homebuyers —  how to find them, what they need from an agent, and what skills and training resources Baird & Warner can provide. 

When it comes to setting agents up for success, we don’t just have the best tools and resources —  we have the best people. That’s why we’re highlighting leaders and experts within our company in a 12-part video series with Inman. Each video will feature individuals from our company covering everything from training, culture, technology to sales strategies and our one-stop-shop approach.

Work with people who can help you really succeed. Join us. It’s easier here.


Making the Most of Your Outdoor Spaces

Making the Most of Your Outdoor Spaces

While many of us across Illinois are staying at home right now, it’s important to remember that staying home doesn’t always have to mean staying inside — especially as we head for the warm, sunny days of summer. 

Going outdoors and enjoying some fresh air and sunshine can have remarkable benefits for your health and well-being. Studies have shown that spending time in nature can give you an energy boost; improve your memory and concentration; and offer a broad range of significant health benefits. 

In addition to spending time in Chicagoland’s many wonderful parks and greenspaces, look for ways to make the most of your home’s outdoor living spaces. Whether you have a sprawling backyard or a small patio, here are a few ways to really enjoy your home’s outdoor areas while staying safe and comfortable this summer:  (more…)

Local Resources to Make Social Distancing Easier

Local Resources to Make Social Distancing Easier

Whether you’re looking to hone a new skill, laugh your troubles away, or talk to someone who understands what you’re going through, there are lots of free or low-cost resources that can help make social distancing easier. 

Remember that you don’t have to go through these unprecedented times alone. While we may all be staying distant right now, individuals and organizations from around Chicagoland have created new virtual resources and programs, so that we can all stay connected and take care of each other — while staying safe at home. (more…)

How to Set Up Your Home for the Perfect Video Call

How to Set Up Your Home for the Perfect Video Call

In our new normal of social distancing, video calls have become a fact of life. Video conferencing apps like Zoom, FaceTime, and Skype make it easy to stay connected with work, friends, and family — while staying safe and comfortable at home. 

In the real estate industry, brokers are using video calls to reach out to their colleagues and clients, and even help lead virtual tours and open houses of listings. Baird & Warner Title Services, our very own title company, has also developed methods for 100% contactless and remote closings, to provide a seamless experience while social distancing.

Outside of work, video calls can be a great way to have a game night with friends from around the country, or even host a virtual party or get-together with your neighbors. 

It can take some time to get used to video calling, especially if this technology is new to you. Looking for some tips for making sure your next video conference goes off without a hitch? Whether you’re checking in for a work meeting or celebrating a holiday with family, here are five simple ways to prepare before your next video call: 

1.) Pick the Perfect Spot

Location, location, location. Before your next video call, try to find a spot in your home that can help you focus on the conversation — and minimize the risk of issues and distractions for everyone on the other end. 

Look for a quiet spot in your home where there will be minimal “foot traffic” from family members (including the furry, four-legged ones). Before the call, you can even hang up a “Do Not Disturb” or “Recording In Progress” sign, to remind people to be quiet. 

Try to find a place where you can speak without too much of an echo, and try to cut down on ambient noises in the background by closing the window and making sure you’ve turned off the TV and radio. Test your microphone before the call to make sure your audio input sounds clear and free of feedback. 

And remember that nothing interrupts a video chat like lags and internet outages. Avoid taking calls in a room where your WiFi tends to be spotty. To help ensure better call quality, you can plug into the internet securely with an ethernet cable, or invest in a system to help boost your wireless signal.

2.) Clean Up Your Background

During a video call, remember that the other people on the line want to focus on you — not the rest of your home. 

Before a call, open up a video window and see what will appear in the background behind your head and shoulders. Take some time to clean up any visible messes, and take down artwork or decorations that might be distracting or clutter up the screen. 

If you can, try to find a background that is plain and simple, with solid colors that can help keep the focus on you. If you’re nervous about showing off your space, Zoom allows you to add a virtual backdrop to your calls. 

3.) Be Mindful of Your Lighting

Have you ever wondered what makes professional movies and photo shoots look so good? One of the keys to a great image is proper lighting. Fortunately, you don’t have to invest in expensive equipment to optimize the lighting for your next video call. Instead, just focus on following a few important principles. 

First and foremost, avoid rear lighting. When you sit directly in front of a light source, it can make your face look shadowy and obscured. Instead, try to position yourself so that the light source for the room is in front of you or off to the side, where it can brighten up your face completely. 

If possible, try to avoid being lit from below or from directly overhead, as both of these positions can also create deep shadows. If you can, try to look for a light source that will look clean and natural on camera, and avoid lighting that casts you in a distracting color or makes it hard to see you on video. 

Looking for more lighting guidelines? Here are a few resources worth checking out: 

4.) For the Best View, Keep Your Camera at Eye Level

Whether you’re using a smartphone, a built-in laptop camera, or a separate webcam, try to set up your equipment so that you can get a clear and unobstructed view of your face. 

Sit a comfortable distance away from the camera — not too close or too far. If you’re nervous about looking just right, you can have a test run before your call, to see what distance looks best, and if there are any seating arrangements that help you stay in frame comfortably. 

When possible, try to set up your camera so that it is at eye level. As Aliya Chaudhry explains for Verge, this makes it so that “it appears as if you’re looking at the person you’re talking to” when you’re on screen. If your camera is too low, it looks like you’re leaning over your viewer; too high, and you’ll look small or removed. You can always create a quick, DIY platform out of books or a box to elevate your camera to just the right height. 

5.) Plug In Your Favorite Headphones

Wearing headphones can make video calls easier for you and everyone on the other end of the line. On your end, plugging in headphones can make it easier to hear the people you’re speaking with, and block out ambient noises and distractions.

For the people on your video call, plugging in headphones can help cut down on echoes and feedback, and help make sure that your call remains private and secure.

How Are You Making the Most of Your Time at Home?

This is the time to remember what’s truly important — health, family, and the bonds that tie us together. Whether it’s now serving as a school, office, playground, or simply a safe space, our home has never been more important. We know this is as well as anyone. At Baird & Warner, Chicagoland has been our home since 1855.

We are here for you, no matter what. We understand that you still have important real estate decisions to make, and our mission is to make achieving those goals easier. We will continue to provide the most updated information and guide you through this extraordinary time with a calm and steady hand.

We’re making real estate easier and helping our neighbors in need.

We’re making real estate easier and helping our neighbors in need.

We believe in doing the right thing — for our people, for our clients, and for our communities. In fact, we developed our One-Stop Shop model so we could do the right thing for buyers and sellers by giving them the best real estate experience possible. Now we’re using our One-Stop Shop to give back to the community during this critical time. 

From now until June 30, the Baird & Warner Good Will Network fund will make a $100 donation to the Chicago Community COVID-19 Response Fund whenever our clients choose to work with our own Key Mortgage or Baird & Warner Title Services. And that’s on top of the $150,000 donation we announced on March 31 to support those affected by COVID-19 across Chicagoland.

These donations help organizations across Chicagoland provide increased access to things our neighbors need right now: food and basic household supplies; rent, mortgage and utilities assistance; and nonprofit safety and operations assistance.

Our agents, loan officers, and staff have always taken great pride in supporting the communities where we live and work, and that have supported us over all these years. Now, more than ever, we’re committed to being there for our clients and our neighbors in need. So when buyers and sellers choose our One-Stop Shop, they can rest assured that they’re not only getting an easier real estate experience, they are making a real difference in our communities.

As Steve Baird said in his open letter: Chicagoland, we’re by your side — no matter what.

The Best Scenic Bike Routes to Try This Weekend

The Best Scenic Bike Routes to Try This Weekend

With the Lakefront Trail, 606, and Riverwalk out of commission for the time being, Chicagoans are without two of their favorite recreation hotspots for exercise and recreation via bike. In the suburbs too, closures have affected forest preserves and other bike-friendly green spaces.

However, biking for exercise, relaxation, and to enjoy warming Chicago weather is an excellent socially distanced activity to partake in right now, so here are a few places to still check out.

312 River Run

This nearly two mile path along the Chicago River between Belmont and Montrose will soon become one of the most well-known bike paths in the city. The highlight is a bridge that flies along and over the River just north of Addison (pictured above). Because it just opened last November, however, it hasn’t caught on with the masses as much as it soon will. Now is a great time to experience this beautiful ride with less people around.

Illinois Prairie Path

The lengthy remains of a former commuter rail line, the Prairie Path stretches west from Forest Park to Wheaton, where it splits into branches to Elgin and Aurora. Following surprisingly straight lines through many populous communities, it alters between wooded forest or open space trail, running along streets and railroad tracks, sidewalks and residential streets. The impressively coordinated system, which stretches over 60 miles in total, is regarded as the first major rails-to-trails conversion in the United States.

Fox River Trail

Patching together stretches of abandoned railroad and purpose-built path additions, the Fox River Trail technically stretches over 38 miles from Algonquin all the way to Oswego. Running along one of the larger rivers in the region, this trail can offer truly spectacular views, especially in the popular stretch between Elgin and Aurora. While a few parts involve crossing surface streets, the trail’s continued popularity encourages further improvements: the City of Aurora closed a crucial mile-long gap a few years ago with a protected bike lane along River Street.

Cal-Sag and Major Taylor Trails

The 26 mile Cal-Sag, one of the region’s newest trails, ties together the south suburbs in a way no other trail can. It follows the small Cal-Sag Channel from near Lemont all the way to Calumet City near the state line. “If the Cal-Sag Trail were a health club, it would be a 3.7 million square foot recreational and fitness facility that serves everyone and costs nothing to join,” boasts the Friends of the Cal-Sag Trail group.

Near Riverdale, the Cal-Sag meets its older cousin, Major Taylor. A 1990s rails-to-trails conversion, Major Taylor runs straight northwest into the city from Riverdale through West Pullman and Beverly to the Dan Ryan Woods around 83rd Street. The majority of the trail is on a comfortable, paved off-street path, but there is a 10 block gap between 95th and 105th where you’ll be on standard surface streets.

None of these near you? Here are some great resources to find other bike routes throughout our region. In the city, a great place to start is the official Chicago bike map, which maps out all bike routes and infrastructure. Taking it a step further, the Chicago Reader’s “mellow” bike map suggests hundreds of low stress corridors for bikers — bike lanes or not. There are also useful bike maps to be found for the Cook County Forest PreservesLake CountyDuPage CountyKane CountyWill County, and the entire state of Illinois.

10 Clever Ways to Make Your Space Feel Brand New

10 Clever Ways to Make Your Space Feel Brand New

As we all play our part in flattening the curve and keeping our communities safe, it’s easy to start to feel a little bit cooped up at home. 

Fortunately, there are all sorts of ways to refresh and revive your space when you’re getting tired of your walls, furniture, and decor. Looking for some inspiration? Here are ten simple, creative ways to make your home feel just like new in no time:  (more…)

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