Chicago Relocation

The Wal-Mart Effect

March 27, 2013

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John D’Ambrogio

The Wal-Mart effect

Here are some comments from Baird & Warner’s own Tom Gill.

Mary Ellen Podmolik wrote an interesting  article last June for the the Chicago Tribune: titled The Wal-Mart effect on home values. Below are pieces of the article along with our comments.

Feelings on the retail juggernaut Wal-Mart are highly controversial and extremely mixed from person to person. Some people love the low prices and location convenience often associated with the store. Others strongly oppose the negative effect that it has on local business, as well as the decline that comes with wages. There are several Wal-Marts in the Chicago area, including one near the West Loop Gate, only a few blocks from Baird & Warner’s corporate office.

However the effect a Wal-Mart has on a housing market surrounding it is not something that brings forth a clear answer. Maybe people dislike having one around because the increased traffic and noise, yet maybe people would prefer one nearby because the prices and ease of doing their shopping. University professors and brothers Devin and Jaren Pope decided to find out.

Their research of over 1 million home sales between 1998 and 2008 showed that homes within a half mile of a Wal-Mart increased between 2 and 3 percent, while homes up to a mile away from a Wal-Mart increased around 1 percent. In dollars this translated to about $7,000 and $4,000 respectively.

The results that were uncovered were not very surprising. It was a minor shift one way, and one which I personally would have guessed. With the downturned economic situation, it makes sense that more people would put a small value on lower priced goods that were so close nearby.


Pixar’s Rules of Storytelling (for Real Estate)

March 20, 2013

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John D’Ambrogio

Some ideas from Baird & Warner’s Elizabeth McGrath

Pixar, the master of storytelling, has a knack for getting their audience to care.  Who expected to be so emotional watching a toy cowboy say goodbye to his childhood friend?  Or memorize the address of a kidnapped clown fish’s new home? (P. Sherman 42 Wallaby Way Sydney, Australia).  Thanks to good writing people are connected to and remember these events from Pixar’s worlds, which is quite an impressive feat.

While working at Pixar, Story Artist Emma Coats tweeted rules and truths she learned about writing and storytelling, lifting the veil on the behind-the-scenes magic.  Her top 22 tweets have been compiled into Pixar’s 22 Rules of Storytelling and the list has gone viral a few times, most recently a couple weeks ago.

While most of us don’t spend our free time imagining the mundane life of a superhero family we all write everyday.  Listings, blogs and emails all require good, quality writing.  The beauty of Coat’s guidelines is that they can be applied to any writing.  Use her rules and your information has the potential to be as memorable as the cone of shame.  From Coat’s top 22 tweets here are my top five to make your writing as compelling as a Pixar film.

Top Five Pixar Rules of Storytelling for Real Estate 

  1. You gotta identify with your situation/characters, can’t just write ‘cool.’  What would make YOU act that way?
  2. What’s the essence of your story?  Most economical telling of it?  If you know that you can build out from there.
  3. Simplify. Focus. Combine characters.  Hop over detours.  You’ll feel like you’re losing valuable stuff but it sets you free
  4. Come up with your ending before you figure out your middle.  Seriously.  Endings are hard, get yours working up front.
  5. Putting it on paper lets you start fixing it.  If it stays in your head, a perfect idea, you’ll never share it with anyone.

Using these five tips effectively will entrap your audience and, most importantly, have them remembering your message after the walk away. Finish this sentence.  ”You are a TOY!”  ”You are a sad, _______, ______, ___.”  See it works.

Check out all 22 rules if you have a second.  It was very hard choosing only five since, like the movies, they’re all brilliant.  Or use this article as an excuse to re-watch your favorite Pixar film.  Personally I never expected to love a movie with such little dialogue so much but there’s something about Wall-E that makes me want to watch it over and over.  To me, that’s effective writing.

Did you know: “A Bug’s Life,” “Monster’s Inc.,” “Finding Nemo” and “WALL-E” were all thought up in a single one hour lunch.  Talk about productive dining.


The Smallest House in the World

March 13, 2013

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John D’Ambrogio

Below are some comments from Baird & Warner’s own Tom Gill.

Is your house simply way to big? Are you looking to downsize to a more practical way of living? We’ve found the extreme yes to both of these questions.

Appropriately named, the “One-Sqm-House” is exactly one square meter large. Designed by German architect Van Bo Le-Mentzel, this house comes equipped with a lockable door, a window, and a chair. That’s it.

This comes with extreme convenience; the house has wheels, weighs less than 90 pounds, and can fit through most doors and in elevators. You can even build one of these houses yourself, for around $300. Don’t like your neighbors? No problem. Want a better view? You got it. One-sqm-House can be moved literally anywhere you can roll it. Any neighborhood can be your neighborhood with One-sqm-House.


Selling Soon? Go Efficient and Refresh

March 6, 2013

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John D’Ambrogio

There’s a lot of talk about this being the year of the return to home buying so it’s important to do anything that could give a listing an edge.  Chicago Magazine offered their advice on what could make your home the home for home buyers.  Here are two quick smart tips on what can be done.

Refresh, not Remodel

Refresh rooms such as the bathroom or kitchen by purchasing new light fixtures, new counter tops or a new bathroom pedestal.  There’s no need to renovate entire spaces since most buyers will come into your home with a vision of how they want their space to look.  Remodeling could prove to be a waste of hundreds of dollars only to have someone come in and change all the work done.

Extra Tip: Make sure appliances are consistent. Here would be a place to spend money since buyers look for a kitchen that is uniform. It is not necessary to have a complete stainless steel kitchen, but your appliances shouldn’t be a hodge-podge of colors and styles.

Go Green

Yahoo Real Estate Horizons survey showed that half of all potential home buyers said their next home needs to be energy efficient. This step is simple enough. Implementing items such as low-flow shower heads, an attic fan or programmable thermostats all add up to hundreds of dollars saved in utilities every year and that’s something that’s high on home buyer’s list this year.

Extra Tip: Even if you’re not sure you are selling soon, it is not a bad idea to look into energy efficient products. It potentially could save you much more over time. For easy fixes, check out TLC’s “How To Guide“.

These simple steps can be a key investment for you to spend wisely and sell fast.

Some comments from Baird & Warner‘s Elizabeth McGrath



Your Space is their Venue

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John D’Ambrogio is a new website that promises a “marketplace that connects people who are looking to find and book their perfect venue for their event with venue owners who are looking to rent their space.

Locations in Chicago range from traditional iconic spots such as the Art Museum, Trump tower, staple bars and restaurants, to more unique spaces such as condos with skyline views, Wrigleyville rooftops with views of the field and the lake, and giant suburban homes with sprawling backyards.

Event up requires a 15% service fee, but they allow you to choose how long you’re willing to rent your space.  From a few hours to a few days or weeks you could be making money off your extra space and help other Chicagoians host an unforgettable event.

On either end of the venue gig  this site provides a unique opportunity for Chicagoians.  You have the potential to make your event memorable and unlike any other night your guests have ever attended.  That babyshower sounds a lot more fun on a rooftop doesn’t it?

At the very least, take a look at – it gives “…consumers access to unique spaces that previously would take tons of time or were impossible to find.”

Some comments from Baird & Warner‘s Elizabeth McGrath