Real Estate Information

Community and Real Estate Updates

Rouso Group


Displaying blog entries 1-10 of 13

6 Methods to Black Friday Madness

by Nicole Spagnola



Take a deep breath, grab your computer, a pen & paper or word document (whatever works for you) and have confidence in your plan of attack with these 6 Methods to the Madness.



Research Ads

Use some of your down time (Down time?  During the holidays?  What’s that?), and explore Black Friday ads.  A simple Google search could get you what you need, or specifically look into your stores of interest.  This will come in handy when narrowing down your list based on your budget.


Check Social Media

Advertising on social media has become one of the top methods of marketing!  It’s even being said that “Facebook is the Internet” and Instagram has grown to become a close second.  Making a point of logging onto your social media accounts, following your main stores of interest and doing a bit more research to see what they’ve offered on social media could open the door to additional savings. 


Cyber Shop or Join the Madness

During your ad research, take note of which ads are for online vs. in-store.  More than likely, the ads will differ depending on where they’re taking place.  Some may start sooner, last a shorter amount of time, or just be completely different.  Knowing the details before you get too far into your planning will help a great deal when it comes to your budget and plan of attack.



Don’t fall victim to shopper’s remorse.  First, make a list of the items you would like to walk away with on Black Friday.  Then, take a look at your budget.  Last, through process of elimination, prepare your final list that works with the budget you have.  This will help you stay more organized and ensure peace of mind through the chaos.


Map your List

Who else makes their grocery list according to department?  The same technique should DEFINITELY be applied to your Black Friday list.  It saves time and frustration, and those are 2 things you most definitely need to preserve that day!


Don’t be Impulsive

This is a day where you want to have a plan and STICK TO IT!  You’ll feel a lot better and more fulfilled in the long run if you go and return with only what you intended to purchase and avoid distractions.  If you really needed/wanted it, it would have been on your list and in your budget! 



11 Must-Dos for hosting Thanksgiving Day!

by Nicole Spagnola

Hosting a Holiday is stressful enough.  Use these 11 tips to help alleviate stress and address preparation that could slip through the cracks!



Get Ready for Garments

Depending on your foyer arrangement, either temporarily clearing out your front hall closet or tidying up a bedroom can both be sufficient options for preparing for the overflow of coats, bags & shoes to come.


Don’t look like Hoarder for a day

You want your guests to feel comfortable, so take the extra time to put away clutter & dust where you’ll have the most traffic.


Get Knives Nice & Sharp

Your day will go much smoother without unnecessary inconveniences.  One way to help ensure this is to prep your tools ahead of time.


Safety First

With mass amounts of cooking, candles & distractions, one way to have peace of mind during the holidays is to double check your smoke detectors.


What’s Cooking When?

One of the most important parts of hosting is eliminating as much stress as possible.  Take some time to plan your cooking schedule so you’re not frantically preparing your meal at the last minute.  Some recipes require specific thawing, marinating & appliance use, so being cognizant of these factors is very important. 


Who’s Sitting Where?

Take into consideration the ages of your guests.  Typically, young children are best seated at their own separate pop-up table.  As for the older guests who may have difficulty moving around, seat them at a convenient place suitable for their needs.


Don’t Forget about the Outside

The outside of your home should look almost as nice as the inside.  Have some fun after the mundane tasks have been completed like raking, weeding, etc. and go out and get some mums and a decorative wreath.


Get Ready for Leftovers

Make sure your Tupperware is organized and readily available for guests to take home leftovers.  If you don’t want to share your favorite Tupperware, check out the dollar isle or Dollar Store and grab a set specifically for the holiday.


Salt & Peppa!

This task can easily be overlooked, but addressing this before the chaos occurs will help eliminate one more thing from your busy day.


No Drip Dry!

This is not an issue you want to run into on the big day.  Make sure your bathrooms are ready for company by stocking up on toilet paper & setting out clean hand towels. 


Get Ready for the Spread!

Don’t expect space to just appear for the holiday spread.  Plan exactly where food and drinks will go so they are appropriately accessible.  If you need to buy or borrow at folding table, then make those arrangements ahead of time & make room for the extra furniture.



6 TV Series to Binge Watch this Fall

by Nicole Spagnola

No shame in the Binge Watching game because the Season of Snuggles is upon us.  Embrace it with this flawless lineup we've created just for your lounging pleasure.




Better Call Saul

This crime drama set in 2002, now on its third season, follows Jimmy McGill who eventually evolves into the corrupt lawyer we all know and love from award winning series Breaking Bad, Saul Goodman.  6 years before he represents Albuquerque's most notorious criminal, Jimmy hustles his way through his career with the help of Philadelphia cop, Mike Ehrmantraut.


Curb Your Enthusiasm

Now on its ninth season, award winning series, Curb Your Enthusiasm depicts the fictitious life of Larry David, co-creator of famous sitcom, Seinfeld.  The comedy allows viewers to laugh on the behalf of Larry’s awkward, real life situations where he is often made the victim of comedic misunderstandings. 


Vice Principals

You’ve never seen school administration quite like this.  When vice principal, Neil Gamby and co-vice principal, Walton Goggins set their sights on the newly up-for-grabs principal position, things get ugly.  They get even uglier when, from out of left field, English teacher Dr. Belinda Brown is instead appointed and the two begin to attempt to sabotage her.  Instead, their comedic war against her becomes the reason behind their own demise. 


Stranger Things

Science fiction horror, now on its second season after an outstanding first season, continues to unravel the secrets behind “The Upside Down”, a portal to an alternative dimension created by the United States Department of Energy. 


Twin Peaks: The Return

This mystery drama takes place 25 years after the appalling of murder of homecoming queen, Laura Palmer.  The town of Twin Peaks appears to be picture perfect, but as Special Agent Dale Cooper digs into the case, he discovers the dark secrets that lie within.



Based off the Marvel character, David Haller/Legion, this science fiction series follows the troubled Haller, who diagnosed as a child with schizophrenia, lands himself in yet another psychiatric hospital where he meets Sid.  After a dramatic encounter between the two, Haller learns that there may be more to his mental illness. 






'Tis the Season to be Freezin' : Where to Warm-Up This Season!

by Kailey Rousonelos

Baby, it's cold outside... and what better way to stay warm than with a cup of hot chocolate?! 
Visit these cocoa-kissed locations for your chocolate fix!


Ghirardelli Chocolate & Ice Cream Shop
830 North Michigan Avenue, Chicago
400 North Michigan Avenue Suite 100, Chicago

Ghirardelli has been making chocolate longer than any other American manufacturer! Get a taste of their high-quality selected cocoa beans in your mug!


Mindy's Hot Chocolate
1747 North Damen Avenue, Chicago

Enjoy a cup at Mindy's and choose one of their many signature recipes! Every cup comes with a homemade marshmallow and is sure to put a smile on your face.


832 West Randolph Street, Chicago

At BomboBar, each cup of deliciousness is paired with a homemade donut... what could possibly be better than that?


Dylan's Candy Bar
445 North Michigan Avenue, Chicago

Dylan's Candy Bar has always been known for its sweet treats and mesmerizing displays, and they even offer mugs of hot chocolate big enough to share... but you won't want to!


449 North Clark Street, Chicago

XOCO features a unique "bean to cup" chocolate program, and they have sacks of cocoa beans delivered straight from Tabasco, Mexico! Each cup of hot chocolate is made to order and has a sweet Mexican twist!





Harvest Memories With Holiday Cocktails

by Kailey Rousonelos

Looking to explore your inner-bartender?
Your loved ones will be more than thankful for these simple, yet delicious holiday cocktails!


Bourbon Spiked Apple Cider
Bourbon of choice
4 cups of apple cider
1 cinnamon stick
1 tablespoon of orange juice
3 whole cloves
1 star of anise


Cran-Cinnamon Cocktail
8 ounces of Rum of choice

64 ounces of cranberry juice
4 cinnamon sticks
2 juiced oranges, or 1 cup of orange juice
8 teaspoons of sugar


Pumpkin Cider Fizz
1.5 ounces of Vanilla Vodka

1.5 ounces of ginger beer
2 ounces of apple cider
1.5 ounces of pumpkin puree


Pear Sangria
1 bottle of Riesling
1/3 cup of Brandy of choice
3/4 cup of pear juice
1/4 cups of simple syrup
1 pear
1/4 cup of pomegranate seeds



How to host a successful Friendsgiving

by Nicole Spagnola


How to host a successful Friendsgiving


Host absorbs Turkey duty

If you’re willing to host, then you’re well aware that the responsibility of Turkey chef is yours!


Apps on apps on apps

Don’t be the victim of HANGRY guests!  For those of you who aren't exactly chef Ramsey, go ahead and snag an appetizer as your contribution.


Menu clarification

So you don’t end up eating Turkey and 4 different types of mashed potatoes and pies, openly discuss who’s making what.


Cover the basics 

Turkey, gravy, potatoes, stuffing, vegetables, pie.  First, make sure those are covered, then you can move on to all your Pinterest inspired extras.


Bottle of wine is your ticket in

Running out of this is a no, no, so grab a bottle on the way and call it a day.



Let’s be honest, we could all use some free food!  So play the no shame game and grab some stuff to go!


Don't leave a mess

Team work makes the dream work, and what better way to show your amazing host that you’re thankful for them than by washing a dish or two.


Bring games

Eat, drink and be merry!  Whether it’s competitive or just plain silly, have some fun with your friends and don’t just come for the free food and booze!


Frightfully Delightful Events!

by Kailey Rouso

~Get your BOO on this weekend~

 Don't miss out on a chance to gear up for a spook-tacular Halloween!



Come check out all 48 of the spooky skeleton friends located throughout Downtown La Grange!
Click here to see a map of where all our skeletons are hiding so you can see them all!

To be entered for the prize package drawing, take a picture with your favorite skeleton and post on Facebook, Twitter or Instagram. Be sure to tag the La Grange Business Association, the sponsoring business and #skeletober


Halloween Walk 
Saturday October 28 
10am-12pm in Downtown La Grange 

Bring the whole gang and wear your costumes and enjoy no tricks, only treats! Line-up starts at 9:30am at the Cossitt School playground. When the walk ends at 12pm, enjoy crafts and pumpkin bowling near the fountain at Village Hall!


BOO! at the Zoo
Saturday October 28 and Sunday October 29
10am-4pm at Brookfield Zoo
8400 W. 31st Street, Brookfield

Bring your friendly ghosts and goblins to Boo at the Zoo! Don't miss out on a day of fang-tastic activities and memories for the last Boo at the Zoo of the season. Click here to see a detailed list of events.


Haunted Halloween Ball
Saturday October 28
9pm-3am at the Congress Plaza Hotel
520 S. Michigan Avenue, Chicago

Eat, Drink, and be SCARY at this adult-only Halloween extravaganza! The Congress Plaza Hotel is known as one of the most haunted hotels in the world, so there's no better time to see for yourself than dressed up in a spooky costume! 

Click here for ticket information.









Ghostly Gatherings This Weekend

by Kailey Rouso

Get into the "spirit" of Halloween this weekend at these Fraken-tastic events!


Come check out all 48 of the spooky skeleton friends located throughout Downtown La Grange!

Click here to see a map of where all our skeletons are hiding so you can see them all!

To be entered for the prize package drawing, take a picture with your favorite skeleton and post on Facebook, Twitter or Instagram. Be sure to tag the La Grange Business Association, the sponsoring business and #skeletober


Boo! at the Zoo
Saturday October 21 and Sunday October 22
10am-4pm at Brookfield Zoo
8400 W. 31st Street, Brookfield

Bring your friendly ghosts and goblins to Boo! at the Zoo this weekend and enjoy the BOOtiful fall decorations and activities! Click here to see a detailed list of events.

Brew Moon
Saturday October 21
6-11pm at The MAX

4750 S. Vernon Avenue, McCook

​Eat, drink, and be SCARY! Come enjoy a night of "witches brew" and live entertainment all night long!
General admission is $7 in advance, or $10 at the door. Tasting tickets are $50 in advance, or $55 at the door, but a cash bar will also be available!

Click here for more information about the event!


6 Unique DIY Halloween Costumes

by Nicole Spagnola

You know what's scary?  Showing up to a Halloween party in the same costume as someone else there!  Leave those worries at the door with these 6 Original Do-It-Yourself Halloween Costumes!
Who says evil can’t be cute?  Look beyond Disney princesses and channel your inner villain this Halloween!
Costume Checklist:
  • Black strapless top
  • Purple long sleeve under shirt
  • Purple tutu
  • Black fabric to make tentacles for the tutu
  • Conch shell necklace (paint shell gold)
  • Silver hair spray
  • Shells for hair
Ms. Frizzle
Be the bearer of nostalgia this Halloween and remind everyone of those favorite TV days in elementary school!
Costume Checklist:
  • Blue dress
  • Galaxy fabric to cut planets out of and hot glue to dress
  • Green lizard to super glue to dress
  • Red 1’ heels
  • Old earrings to hot glue planets to

Betty Boop
Kick your femininity into high gear this Halloween and glam yourself up in this iconic tribute.
Costume Checklist:
  • Red strapless dress
  • Fishnet stockings
  • Red heels
  • Gold hoop earrings
  • Red lipstick
  • Red garter belt 

Ace Ventura
Alrighty then!  You’ll have more than the animals flocking to you this Halloween!
Costume Checklist:
  • Red and black striped pants (think about using pirate costume pants)
  • White tank
  • Hawaiian shirt
  • Black belt
  • Black combat boots
  • Homemade "Pet Detective" business card
Forrest Gump
Charm the hearts of all in this good-hearted get up.

Costume Checklist:
  • Light blue and white plaid button up shirt
  • Khaki pants
  • Brown belt
  • Retro Nikes
  • Red Bubba Gump shrimp cap
  • Box of chocolates
Ron Burgundy
Great Odens Raven!  In this costume you’ll be kind of a big deal; people will know you.
Costume Checklist:
  • Maroon suit
  • White button up shirt
  • Light blue tie
  • Fake mustache
  • Brown dress shoes
  • News reporter handheld microphone 
  • Print out four “Channel 4 News” artwork pieces to hot glue to each side of the microphone 




It’s gotten to the point that I get questions every day from friends, family, buyers, sellers and neighbor... "What is going on with real estate taxes and what can I expect?”  And I’m sorry to say, for most of us, it isn’t pretty!

Though taxes are increasing at a faster rate than ever in all counties, every three years in Cook County, there is a reassessment done of all properties called the tri-annual reassessment.  2017 was that year.  So I will use Cook as an example though you can expect similar stories in all counties.  The tax bill that Cook County property owners just finished paying August 1st, 2017 covered the 2016 tax bill based on the former assessment of your property as we pay our taxes in arrears (one year behind).

Property owners recently received a notice of REassessment for 2017 that will be used to calculate new tax bills for 2017, 2018 and 2019 payable in the following year.       

Based on what I am hearing, finding in my real estate practice and seeing on the assessor’s website, 2017 assessments have increased at a higher rate than ever seen before…..on average of 25% to 50% higher than 2016.  I represented a seller who closed on their property a few months ago who got notice of an increase in assessment of 55%.

HOLD ON!  Does this mean my real estate taxes will go up what percentage the assessed value went up?  Unfortunately, the answer is MOST LIKELY.  

For example, if you owned a home in La Grange, La Grange Park, Western Springs, or anywhere else in Cook County, where your 2016 real estate tax bill was $10,000 and your 2017 assessment went up 30% (as mine did), it is very likely that your 2017 tax bill once mailed payable in 2018 will be $3,000 more than 2016 or $13,000.  If you have a mortgage company paying your taxes out of your tax escrow account included in your mortgage payment, you will see an increase in your payment to pay for the current shortage to pay 2017 taxes plus an increase in the payment to prevent any future shortages.  That’s one major OUCH.

So what would I recommend?  I’ll tell you what I did.  I called my favorite real estate tax attorney and filed a protest.  I was just notified last week that she was able to get a reduction...though not big, it was something.  However, I have several listings whose reassessments far exceed what they are on the market for and those could be strong candidates for larger reductions.

I would recommend that you visit the  website to check what your new 2017 reassessment is compared to your former 2016.  It will show you both.  Calculate the increase by subtracting the market value of 2017 from 2016, then dividing the resulting number by 2016 market value to see what % increase you were assessed.

If you do not have your 2016 tax bill handy, visit to check out what you or your mortgage company paid in 2017 for 2016 taxes.  Multiply the % increase times the full 2016 tax bill and this should give you an approximate indication of your upcoming 2017 tax bill.  

Just a couple more things.  The final bills are based on two other factors which you have no control over and cannot protest:  The tax rate and the multiplier.  In my calculations, I am hoping these 2 factors do not go up as well, but we don’t know for months from now.  As with anything else, these seldom go down but who knows...maybe there really is a “Real Estate Tax GOD”!   But I really wouldn’t count on it.

You have 2 opportunities to protest your property assessment.  Deadlines depend on the township your property is in.  The first opportunity is for an appeal to the assessor’s office.  The deadline for that appeal has passed for many townships, though there are a few still open.  Check on the website or check with the real estate tax attorney.

The second opportunity is quickly coming which is an appeal to the Board of Reviews.  The Board of Reviews has a tendency of being more sensitive to the appeals and there is a little better chance for relief.  But the window to protest at the Board of Reviews level is fast approaching and only lasts 30-45 days depending on township.  So, there is still time.

The cost of the attorney I use and recommend for appeals in Cook County is $97 upfront and then 50% of the first year tax savings as calculated by the appealed assessment.  The appealed assessment lasts 3 years even though you only pay for the first year.  There really isn’t much of a downside.  And this attorney will not take the case unless she feels she can help.

Whether you are staying put in your home or selling now or in the future, you need to take a look NOW.  I have several sellers that are in the process of protesting even though they are selling or plan to soon as it can impact the sale and/or sale price of their properties.

As a service to my marketplace, I am happy to share the attorney who I and many of my clients are using.  

Anastasia Poulopoulos


And feel free to contact me with any questions.

Good Luck.  We all need it.  


Dean Rouso, Broker, ABR, CRS, GRI, CNC, CNE, Certified Negotiator

Displaying blog entries 1-10 of 13