StrawStickStone is a practical shelter blog for Chicago with articles like these...

We’re Back Online! (Sort of.)

Hi! It's been seven years since I last updated StrawStickStone and about three years since the site was hacked by spammers forcing me to take it offline. We're back. Although

Quality Control Week #2: Recognizing Low Quality

Hey all! Sorry about the silence last week. Between business and the recent floods in my neighborhood it was absolutely frantic. As always, my clients come first. So when we

Quality Control Week #1: What Affects Building Quality?

You probably know that there are different grades of quality when it comes to food. The USDA has three different grades for poultry, eight for red meat, and hundreds for

Talking Trash

Chicago garbage pickup (or “scavenger service” as we Realtor wonks like to call it) is a bigger deal than you’d think for landlords. It tends to get overlooked by newer

What Happens If Your Landlord Dies?

In previous articles I’ve addressed what a landlord should do if a tenant dies in the middle of a lease. However, I’ve not discussed the topic from the other side. So what

The First 10 Things You Should Do After Closing

So you’re about to close on your first house. Congratulations! You’ve come a long way and it’s probably been a big hassle to get here. Saving money, filling out paperwork,

Safety and the Illusion Thereof

One of the most common questions among renters and buyers moving to new areas is whether or not those areas are “safe.” In fact, the majority of moves, be it

10 Mistakes Made by First Time Landlords

Last year I did two articles about mistakes made by first time renters and first time buyers. Today we’re going to look at errors made by first time landlords. 1. Setting Arbitrary Rent

Rent Bacon: March 2013

No Foolin’. The Rent Bacon index number is an indicator of how a district is performing compared to the HUD Fair Market Rents. Landlords can use

Rental Site Review: Zillow

A couple of months ago, I posted a review of SearchChicago.com, the Sun-Times online classifieds page. I concocted a scoring method to rate rental websites on a 40 point scale based

Field Guide to Chicago Apartments: Studios

It’s been a while since we pulled out the old Field Guide for a humorous look at some of the different types of Chicago apartments. Last summer I gave you

Exploring the Taboo against Prices on “For Sale” Signs

Once Upon a Time Buyers agents as we know them in modern Illinois did not always exist. There was a time (and in some states it still exists) when agents

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