Navigating the Art and Science of Real Estate

Navigating the Art and Science of Real Estate

What in the world is going on with North Shore real estate? Is it a good time to buy or sell? Should I act now or wait? What should I do? If these are questions you are asking yourself, you are not alone. Real estate on the North Shore is complicated. Today, selling a house is very different than making a home! While on a national basis you are reading one thing, our local market is quite different. Understanding the complexities and nuances of our specific market is key. With that in mind, it is best to enlist an expert who can help you navigate both the hard data and the statistics of the market and overlay that with the nuances and idiosyncrasies of our specific micro market. As in many fields, there is a fundamental science as the basis for knowledge, but the true masters in their fields truly understand the art of their industry. Good doctors are scientifically trained and yet are truly artists as they find each diagnoses requiring special analysis and execution.

While real estate decisions are not life or death, for most people the sale of their home is very serious business as it is often their single largest financial asset. As you venture through the process either as a buyer or a seller, you want to be in partnership with someone who is able to advise you and add value to the process so you can make both smart lifestyle and financial decisions.

So how do you navigate North Shore real estate … as a buyer?

Searching for a home is full of emotions and can be the fun part of the process. With technology, there are so many ways to find houses online (try and you can search from afar to begin to learn what different types of homes offer. It is important with all the inventory on the market to understand the different pricing structures of the market. While the principles of supply and demand rule — with excess supply, the way to increase demand is to lower price — it’s important to analyze the statistics on the houses on the market and the specific properties you are pursuing. However, it’s not that simple. There are a variety of pricing structures and houses are all at different points in their lifecycle, which has an impact on price. Houses can be segmented into multiple “buckets’ based on whether they are overpriced, well-priced, or even underpriced.

Understanding the nuances of the market help you determine which bucket each house is in. Further, every house is a “bundle of goods” and in your “bundle” there are many elements that determine the value. The two most important elements are location (of course you know the golden rule of real estate) and amount of land. Other elements include condition and size of house, renovated kitchen, family room, good master, finished basement, etc., etc. At any given price, there is a trade-off between land/location and the finishes in a home.

Every buyer has their specific set of objectives that are much “higher order benefits” than the number of bedrooms and baths that determine their comfort level on the continuum of trade-offs. All the data is available online today, but it is the interpretation and conclusions to be drawn from years of navigating the market that are critical to making a smart choice. Additionally, there is the art of negotiating the most competitive price with terms that are favorable to the buyer but still work to put a deal together. As with most artists, it is their very personal style and ability that achieves the most fruitful end.

… as a seller?

We all love our home, a place of wonderful memories. With the financial conditions in Illinois and with changes in federal tax laws, there is a new market dynamic. Truly, the external factors of the macro market are affecting individual house prices more than the home down the street.

I follow a set of “Market Truths” that are the key drivers to the current market environment. Some are economic truths: understanding the impact of changing supply and demand, the excess supply, the loss of the “leap-frog pricing” in an appreciating market, and the division of overall market into price segments. The current market is a “tale of two cities” based on price.

Further, other “Market Truths” are based on Consumer Behavior: changes in 1) non-urgent and value driven buyer behavior given economic environment and 2) understanding the nuances of different buyer profiles. Yes, the market stats, the comparable prices, and lots of data is available. Again, the insights gleaned from this data are what is important.

In addition, technology has altered the paradigm of real estate. Since buyers are experiencing their “first showing” online, the importance of photos is exponential. Each room must be presented in its best light before the photos are taken. The “Real Estate Redesign” of a house (this can also be called staging, but it is so much more) is based on the understanding that your goal is now financial (or “how do I return the most money on this transaction?”). Your beautiful, warm family home should be converted to a desirable “product.” Check out Compass Concierge, a unique new service to help you pay for preparing your home for market (painting, landscaping, etc.) and delay your payment for those services until closing.

Finally, pricing properly is paramount. The goal is always to “take home” the most money. What is the highest list price to yield that result? There is so much to discuss around this subject. The innovative tools of technology that create a marketing presence beyond a simple print ad is key to the process. Be mindful that marketing to the other brokers and to buyers directly are both important. Finally, putting a deal together to meet the seller’s goals takes the experience of a fine hand.

The good news is that there are loads of buyers out there searching for houses in the North Shore. It has truly never been a better time to buy due to the intersection of low prices and low interest rates. Whether a buyer or a seller, the complex real estate market of the North Shore is so much better with a partner who understands how to navigate both the art and science of real estate.


Paige Dooley

Paige Dooley, Compass

Paige has been a leader in the North Shore real estate market for more than 20 years, including 13 years as No. 1 in market share in Winnetka, where she expertly navigated real estate markets spanning explosive growth to tough economic cuts to the complex recovery of recent years. Paige energetically guides her clients though the art and science of real estate with tactful discretion. Paige is a passionate advocate for her clients who often reciprocate their commitment by hiring Paige for their parents’ and/or children’s homes. Paige is an enthusiastic supporter of education, a past president and long member of the Winnetka Public School Foundation, past chair of the beloved Winnetka Children’s Fair, and a member of the Winnetka Historical Society.

Paige Dooley Team

Paige Dooley Team, Compass

Paige has long believed in the power of Team: the Paige Dooley Team delivers a truly innovative approach to real estate combined with the devoted work ethic and attention to detail discerning buyers and sellers expect. Their utter devotion to integrity and discretion and more than $1 billion in combined sales has earned them respect among the North Shore luxury market.

Jody Savino, Sara Sullivan, Tracy Hedstrom, Janet Thomas and Roxanne Quigley

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