photos © Jonna Reilly Photography

Featured Articles

Summer in the Southport Corridor: Shops, Restaurants and New Construction

Summer in the Southport Corridor: Shops, Restaurants and New Construction

Many of us can agree, few things in life are sweeter than summer in Chicago. We have the Cubs, Sox, Millenium Park, Lake Michigan scintillating in the sun and neighborhood street fests.

One street (actually avenue) in particular beckons in the summer: Southport. Young, old, families, 20-somethings and even dogs love the Southport Corridor in Lakeview. That’s the only part that stays the same. So much about Southport is changing and for the better. New shops and restaurants keep cropping up, just in time for al fresco, dog-friendly dining season.

New construction homes are improving the landscape of the Southport Corridor as well. JM Partners is introducing three new construction homes by Bloomfield Development Company, LLC. Residences at 3716 N. Lakewood Ave. and 3643 N. Lakewood Ave. are each situated on a 30-foot, extra-wide lot. 3643 N. Lakewood also boasts two rare, highly sought-after features: a raised patio off of the family room and a breezeway to an attached garage. Both homes are just a couple of blocks from Blaine Elementary. Bloomfield expects to complete these homes this fall.3643 N Lakewood

Bloomfield is also starting construction on a new single family residence at 1452 W. Henderson. This home is only two blocks from the Southport Brown Line L stop and is close to all the shops and restaurants in the heart of the Southport Corridor.  Bloomfield is on track to complete the home on Henderson in spring 2016.    

Are you ready to live near Southport yet? At least grab lunch and maybe even a new outfit there. You just might get hooked.

Jim Miller and JM Partners can help you sell your current home and find that perfect next property, including these in Lakeview. Contact us at 773.617.6638 or

Five Quick Home Makeovers

Five Quick Home Makeovers

It’s time for a younger, fresher look for your home. Whether you’d like to sell this spring or just need a touch-up, injecting new life into your property doesn’t have to be costly or time consuming.

  1. Paint  — Keep extra paint cans of both your trim and wall colors for touch-ups. When potential buyers and even guests enter your home, they will notice scuff marks, kid drawings on the wall and cracks in your paint. Put down a drop cloth and cover up those blemishes.
  2. Door and Cabinet Hardware – Update the look of kitchens and bathrooms easily by installing shiny new pulls and knobs. Any home improvement store will have a large selection of inexpensive yet quality hardware. Make sure to know your measurements before heading to the store. New handles and hinges on interior doors is a small change that makes a big difference in the look of your home.Declutter
  3. Clutter – Removing clutter is crucial if you are selling your home. Dedicate 15 minutes a day to cleaning out your rooms. Start simple by tackling stacks of papers and magazines. Shred, recycle or store them away.
  4. Switch Plates and Vent Covers — While you’re heading to the home improvement store, pick up new light switch plates and vent covers. These details are like small wrinkles and fine lines that need a little attention. The result is a better overall appearance to your home.
  5. Light Fixtures—New lights brighten any room. But these range in price significantly depending on your needs and budget. Perhaps you’d like to start small by only focusing on kitchen and bathroom fixtures. You can find decent bathroom sconces for a relatively inexpensive price. If you’re thinking about a new dining room chandelier, the cost could be much greater. And if you’re selling your home, don’t forget light fixtures are considered part of the sale unless you indicate otherwise in writing. And remember to turn to Jim Miller and JM Partners for efficient, effective assistance in buying or selling a home. Contact them at 773.617.6638 or


Experience Lincoln Park In Your Own New Construction Duplex

Simply click on the link above. Then relax and enjoy the serenity of this video of 2607 N. Ashland Ave. #1E in Chicago’s Lincoln Park neighborhood. Situated near Wrightwood Park and Prescott Elementary, this lower duplex features a brick and cedar exterior with expansive floor to ceiling windows. An elevator allows you direct access to the unit, where you’ll be treated to Italian cabinetry and designer appliances from Gaggenau and Miele. The three bedrooms and three and a half baths invite you to decompress with a soaking tub and steam shower with body sprays. The floor plan encompasses 2,800 square feet. The outdoor living space includes a deck, fenced yard and professional landscaping. This is a smart home complete with an advanced home automation and security system.

There are only two units left in this contemporary new construction building. Unit #1E is listed at $850,000 and Unit #1W is listed at $830,000. For more information or to schedule a showing, contact Jim Miller and JM Partners at  773.617.6638 or

Spring Into Action on Home Maintenance

Spring Into Action on Home Maintenance

If you’re a college basketball fan, you might be setting your DVR to catch the March Madness games. But did you notice something else on the calendar? It’s officially Springtime in Chicago. That means besides the TV, there’s much more in your home that needs your attention.

Just like it was wise to prepare your home for our icy blast of winter, now it’s time to get ready for a warmer and wetter season. There are several things you can do both inside and outside your home that go beyond simple spring cleaning.

–If you have window wells, one of the best ways to protect your home during severe storms is to purchase well covers. These covers are made of polycarbonate plastic and prevent water from pooling in your well and overflowing into your lower level.

–Make sure your sump pump is operating properly. Invest in a battery backup if you don’t have one already. If you do have a backup system, make sure the batteries are charged.

–Clean your gutters and downspouts to ensure they’ll drain properly in a heavy rain.

–Check the caulk around your windows to see whether it cracked or dried out during the winter.

–After the winter season, it is important to have your dryer vents inspected and cleaned. Clogged dryer vents are one of the leading causes of house fires.

–Look for any tears or caulk separation in the flat roofs commonly found in the city.

– Turn off your radiant heat systems.

– If you have a fire prevention sprinkler system in your home, spring is a good time to schedule a backflow inspection. You don’t want the sprinkler water to backflow into the water you use for drinking, cooking and showering. Illinois law mandates annual backflow inspections.

– If you have an exterior irrigation system, you can turn it on to test the sprinkler heads and check the timer.

– Adjust the timer on your outdoor lights if they don’t have sensors to turn on automatically at dusk. Check for any damage to your fixtures or for bulbs that need to be replaced.

–Have a heating and air conditioning professional inspect the exterior air compressor to ensure your air conditioner is ready when the weather heats up. Turn off the humidifier and clean or replace the filter. Also change the filter on your furnace and air conditioning unit. Always change your filters every season.

Now that your home or condo is ready for spring, let’s hope those temperatures stay on the rise. If you’re warming up to the idea of selling or buying a home this season, give Jim Miller and JM Partners a call. Contact them at 773.617.6638 or



Show Your Best Home

Show Your Best Home

The timing is perfect for buyers. They’ve received their bonuses. Mortgage rates are low. Despite the flurries and frigid temperatures, the spring home sales market is blossoming. 

If you’re a seller, this means you need to get in gear quickly. There are several ways to whip your home or condo into shape to make the best presentation at showings and open houses. 

Get Rid of Clutter

Now is the time to sell, donate or simply throw away anything you don’t want or need in your home. Or you may want to put some larger extra items in a rented storage space. Do whatever it takes to rid your home of clutter. Make sure you clean out your basement, garage and especially your closets. Buyers want to see plenty of built-in storage. That means you need to show them you have enough closets, drawers and shelves to fit all of their belongings neatly.

Clean Everything and Everywhere

Not only should your living space be neat, it should also be spotless. Windows, sinks, counters, showers, mirrors – pretty much everything should be free of dust, dirt and even smudgy little fingerprints. Either put on your rubber gloves and start scrubbing or hire a professional cleaning service to get the job done. Don’t forget carpet stains and household odors. Consider having the carpeting steam-cleaned or replaced if it’s heavily worn. And you may love your cats, but most buyers don’t want to see their litter boxes. The same goes for dog fur.

Remove Personal Belongings

Buyers need to be able to envision themselves in this now sparkling, clutter-free space. That means they can’t see reminders of you and your family everywhere they look. Take family photos off the walls and bookcases. Keep the kids’ toys organized and out of the way as much as possible. Put away your hard-earned diplomas and school sports memorabilia. You can reward yourself with them again later after your house is sold!

Consider Getting a Home Inspection

Now that your house or condo is starting to look like it’s ready for sale, you should make sure there are no potential underlying problems. A professional home inspection could alert you to any repairs you might need to make. Get the heating and air conditioning units looked at as well.

Stage for Success

Staging is a great way to put the finishing touches on a home and ensure it looks polished and inviting. An experienced Realtor like Jim Miller and JM Partners can help you with ideas for arranging the furniture and décor to maximize space and appeal. If the budget allows, a professional staging company can completely redecorate any room with furniture and accessories. According to the National Association of Realtors, some agents who represent buyers agree staging a home could increase the dollar amount buyers are willing to pay by 5-10 percent. Twenty-eight percent of buyer agents in a January NAR survey say their clients are more likely to overlook property flaws if a home is staged. The median cost of staging a home is nearly $700. If staging is not in the budget, you could do something as simple as displaying fresh flowers in vases for showings.

Show Emotion the Door

One of the hardest aspects of selling your home or condo is taking your emotions out of the process. Negotiations will be a lot easier if you can take a step back emotionally. Try not to look at this place as your home where you created some great memories. This is now simply a house you want to sell for the highest price possible. You may hear some negative feedback from other Realtors and potential buyers along the way. Don’t take it personally. It’s part of the business of selling a home. Stay positive and focused on the end result.

In the meantime focus on Jim Miller with JM Partners to assist you in buying or selling property. Contact them at 773.617.6638 or

Everyone From Foodies to Fido Inspiring Spring Home Trends

Everyone From Foodies to Fido Inspiring Spring Home Trends

With Valentine’s Day behind us, it’s time to look forward to something else we all love in Chicago: Spring.

The warmer weather means home sales heat up as well. If you’re buying or selling during this busy season, here are some in-demand trends to watch for.

Foodie Kitchen and Baker’s Kitchen – You’ve heard the terms chef’s kitchen and gourmet kitchen. Now you can add foodie kitchen and baker’s kitchen to that list. Even in urban environments, more people are growing fruits and vegetables in their own gardens. They have different cooking needs and are looking for different kinds of appliances capable of high-temperature and induction cooking. A double oven that cooks on both convention and convection settings is now standard. High-end consumers are searching for something more, such as a combi oven, which is a combined convection and steam oven.  A baker’s kitchen includes options like small divots that are used to bring eggs to a determined temperature.

Fifty Shades of Grey…. and Bursts of Color – Grey is the new beige. But as everyone now knows, this color is anything but boring. Design experts also agree white is everywhere, especially in kitchens. Look for bright spring hues to shake things up in pops of coral, aqua, yellow and lilac._MG_9573

Copper – This is the metal designers say is in for 2015. You can add it in small, budget-friendly ways, such as hanging copper pans from a rack.

Smart Home Smarts – Now with so many options for connecting everything from your security system to your HVAC system to your washing machine, in the coming months we’re going to start hearing more about what really works and what doesn’t.

Bring the Outdoors in – Everyone’s heard of the open floor plan. A way to make it new is to add windows. Adding light and increasing air flow helps a home feel more open.

Focus on Outdoor Living – In addition to grills and outdoor furniture, city owners are adding fireplaces and raised patios to their outdoor living spaces. Pets are also getting the luxury treatment with private dog runs and wash stations.

While it’s fun for sellers to update their homes with the latest design trends and gadgets, they also have to be mindful of whether the cost of the updates will actually add increased value to the sale of their home.

Looking for a reason to buy or sell now? The Chicago Association of Realtors says let the current low mortgage rates be your motivation. Rates are expected to start rising by the end of the year. So go ahead and contact Jim Miller and JM Partners. You can reach them at 773.617.6638 or

Home Automation Competition Turns up the Heat

Home Automation Competition Turns up the Heat

Everyone has been there. It’s the middle of the night and one of your smoke detectors is beeping nonstop. You think there’s no way it’s a fire. The dumb thing must be malfunctioning/needs new batteries/is such a pain because all you want to do is sleep. So you stumble around the house trying to figure out which device is ruining your life. Once you identify the culprit, you get a chair, climb up and unscrew it. You’ll deal with it in the morning, or in a week… or whenever.

Now might be the time to deal with home automation advances. You can turn to Google Nest Protect, a smoke, carbon monoxide, heat and motion sensor. Nest Protect has a human-sounding, automated voice that literally tells you, “Heads up, there’s smoke in the hallway.” So you know when and where there’s an actual problem. You also get a verbal warning before an alarm. It goes a step beyond other automated voice alarms. That’s because you can control Nest Protect from your smartphone or tablet. And it acts as a nightlight if you physically need to check out a potential issue.

Google purchased Nest Labs in early 2014 and introduced Nest Protect and its counterpart Nest Thermostat to a wider audience. Nest Thermostat learns every time you use it. You simply use it like a regular thermostat. It will remember your choices and program itself accordingly. All you have to do is turn a ring. Many people would admit Nest just looks cooler than a regular thermostat. It’s small, circular, domestic (hence the name) and streamlined.

Nest knows to turn the temperature down when you leave or at night, and it turns the temperature up when you come home or wake up. Nest says thermostats control half your energy bill. So the energy conservation may save you money as well. Of course you can also set the temperature from your smartphone. Nest Thermostats run $250 per unit. Nest Protect units are $99 each.

Just this month Nest announced a Works With Nest Initiative. Nest is partnering with several companies to help conserve energy in customers’ homes. Two smart lock companies – August and Kwikset Kevo – can alert Nest to warm or cool the house upon your entry or exit. Nest can work with Whirlpool washers and dryers, too. Nest will alert these machines when you’re home so they can switch to quiet mode.

honeywell-lyric_000In June 2014 Apple’s home automation partner, Honeywell, unveiled the Lyric thermostat, a Nest competitor. Just like Nest, Lyric can be controlled remotely from an iPhone or iPad. It also can learn from your schedule and adjust itself accordingly to save energy and money. Honeywell says Lyric is different from Nest in that Lyric features a Fine Tune option. Fine Tune adjusts the temperature based on an algorithm that accounts for indoor and outdoor temperature and humidity.

Lyric sells for $279 a unit. Because Lyric is not owned by Google and Honeywell is an Apple partner, Honeywell hopes Lyric will be music to the ears of iPhone and iPad users who might not trust the Google product.

When it comes to buying or selling a home or condo, put your trust in Jim Miller and JM Partners. Contact them at 773.617.6638 or

Planning a Winter Getaway? Don’t Leave Your Home Out in the Cold

Planning a Winter Getaway? Don’t Leave Your Home Out in the Cold

The average January temperature in Honolulu is 80 degrees. The average January temperature in Miami is 75 degrees. The average January temperature in Chicago is… a balmy 24 degrees. That actually sounds relatively warm compared to some of the frigid temps we’ve endured this month here in the Windy City. 

If you’re a snowbird or just planning a short trip to escape the Chicago winter for a bit, there are some ways to ensure your home withstands our inclement weather while you’re away. You can also use these tips even if you’re staying in town. 


*To prevent water from freezing in your pipes, open the cabinets under your sinks. This allows warm air to come in contact with your water pipes. Leave your heat on while you’re gone. Set the thermostat to at least 60 degrees. 

*Check to see where your water main pipe enters your home. Make sure warm air surrounds the pipe or have a plumber properly insulate the pipe to help keep it from freezing. 

*On extremely cold days, it’s a good idea to leave one faucet dripping. A slight trickle is enough. Moving water is less likely to freeze. 

Interior Maintenance


*Change the air filters in your furnace. If your furnace has a built-in humidifier, don’t forget to change its small filter as well.

*Wipe the condensation off your window frames every morning. Remove screens if you have to. Sometimes you will find frozen condensation. You may find pools of melted condensation. It’s important to wipe your windows because excess condensation could cause mold.

*To help minimize condensation, open curtains and blinds and raise shades every morning. Don’t leave them closed. The air won’t be able to flow around your windows to help dry them.

*If you have radiant floor heat, make sure you don’t adjust its temperature more than two degrees per day. It can take up to 24 hours for the water temperature to adjust throughout the tubing in the floor.

*Check the humidity levels in your home. If the humidity level is too high, there will be too much moisture around your windows. If the humidity level is too low, you could see cracks in your wood trim and your hardwood floors could separate too much. Slight separation of the wood floor planks in the winter months is normal. They will expand again as the weather warms up.

Exterior Maintenance 

*Make sure your windows and doors have proper caulking to prevent cold air from entering and warm air from escaping your home.

*If you have sprinkler systems as part your landscaping, drain the water in the system before winter hits. If you don’t the water could freeze, causing the pipes to burst.

*Keep your scupper boxes, gutters and downspouts clear of debris to help prevent roof problems.  If your gutters and downspouts have excessive ice buildup, consider installing heating cables to keep the melting snow from freezing again.

*Clear excess snow from exterior windows and doors to prevent water infiltration once the snow melts.

Don’t wait for a warm-up to buy or sell a home or condo. Contact Jim Miller and JM Partners at 773.617.6638 or


Warm up to High-Tech Snow Removal

Warm up to High-Tech Snow Removal

Where’s the snow? It’s mid-December and the white stuff is nowhere in sight. For kids and snow removal services, that’s awful news. For many others, it’s a welcome break from traffic snarls and shoveling hassles that snow creates.

But some homeowners are warming up to the idea of letting technology lessen the burden of snow removal. They are installing radiant heat in outdoor stairs, patios, gutters, sidewalks, walkways and driveways.

There are generally two types of radiant heat systems – hydronic and electric.  Hydronic systems use hard plastic tubing filled with water.  A boiler heats the water, which then travels through the tubing and transfers heat to the desired location.  Hydronic tubing is commonly found embedded in concrete foundation slabs to heat the lower levels of homes.  It is also sometimes placed under limestone front steps, within sidewalks, under driveways, or beneath stone patios.

Hydronic radiant systems are usually activated in one of two ways.  Remote moisture and temperature sensors can automatically turn the radiant boilers on when it snows.  Alternatively, a thermostat placed indoors can activate the system, which is tied to the exterior tubing.snow-melt

Electric radiant systems do not use water or tubing, but rather electric mats placed under similar surfaces.  They do not require a boiler and instead tap into the building’s electrical panel.  Electric systems can be activated manually with a switch, or automatically by external sensors – similar to hydronic systems.  Either way, you can dash out the front door without having to grab your shovel.

Another way to beat Mother Nature is to place electric radiant heat cables in your gutters and downspouts.  These cables warm up just enough to melt the snow and ice that accumulate in the gutters, allowing the water to run off the roof and down the downspouts.  This prevents one of winter’s nastiest problems – ice dams. Ice dams form along a roof’s edge and block melting snow from draining off the roof. The water that pools behind the ridge of ice can leak into a home and damage walls and ceilings.

Radiant heat systems range in price from a few hundred dollars to a few thousand dollars, depending on the surface area you want to cover.

Last year Chicago was pummeled with 82 inches of snow. It was only the second time in the city’s history we endured more than 80 inches of accumulation, according to the federal government. Have a snow removal plan in place when 2015 brings another winter blast.

The best holiday gift could be selling your home or condo or buying a new one.  Contact Jim Miller and JM Partners at 773.617.6638 or


Home Court Advantage

Home Court Advantage

If you think full-size basketball courts in a home’s lower level are just for Michael Jordan or the families on “The Real Housewives of Orange County”, think again. Home courts and even home golf simulation areas are becoming increasingly popular right here in Cook County.

Granted, many homes cannot accommodate a full-size court. If you’re willing to spend tens of thousands of dollars, you can install a court that’s between 1-3,000 square feet. These courts are versatile and can be used for riding tricycles, playing dodgeball, volleyball, roller hockey or even tennis. You also don’t have to install the court in your lower level. Some people are turning their garage into a home court.

For parents it’s a relief to know their kids are at home. For kids it’s a great way to have fun and improve sports skills indoors during the cold-weather months. You can bet if your house has the home court, you will be hosting lots of your kids’ friends.

Dads and some Moms, too — Don’t fret if your kids are hogging the basketball court. There is something special you can install just for you: an in-home golf simulation environment. The catch is that you will need your lower level ceiling to be 10 feet high. Most new construction ceilings in the lower level are at nine feet. If you buy a new construction home early enough in the process, you can request that one area of the lower level be raised to accommodate the golf simulation. That’s exactly what some new construction buyers are doing. You will need a minimum of 100 square feet. The price ranges from a few thousand dollars to more than $50,000. But it beats having to fly South in order to golf in the winter.residential-simulation-icon.238.148.s

Companies such as Foresight Sports, which is a PGA partner, are installing these golf simulation areas in Chicago homes. A simple setup allows you to hit balls into a net. But with the help of site surveys and design consultation, you can oversee the building and installation of your dream space for true-to-life virtual golf. A smart camera system creates the scene on a TV screen with full audio and visual effects. You can be virtually transported to famous golf courses all over the world without leaving your basement. After learning from your on-site training, you can improve your golf performance and accuracy by analyzing every shot’s speed and trajectory.  

prod-inset-custom-sim.150.120.sFor championship performance in buying or selling a home or condo, contact Jim Miller and JM Partners at 773.617.6638 or