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Getting Pre-Approved

by Tom Cain and Company

It is extremely important that you connect with a qualified lender. We can recommend lenders who have earned our trust and with whom we've had good experiences in the past. The lender will review your financial position to determine the price most suited to your ability to pay and your comfort level.

The Pre-Approval Process will help you in the following ways:

>You will know in advance what your payments will be.

>You won't waste time considering homes you cannot afford.

>You can select the best loan package without being under pressure. There are many options and programs to choose from in today's market. Your lender will explain the alternatives to help you select the one best suited to you.

>Sellers will find your offer to purchase more favorable if they know in advance of your ability to secure financing. This will make your offer more competitive if you are in competition with other offers. Nowadays, most listing agents require a pre-approval letter to accompany all purchase agreements.

>You'll have an estimate of your closing costs and we will explain them to you in detail.

>You'll have peace of mind.

Best piece of advice!

Take the pre-qualification one step further and get a full loan approval. This is the best approach!

De-Bug Your Home

by Tom Cain and Company

Keep critters outside where they belong

“The ants go marching one by one hurrah, hurrah!” is a great childhood song but it’s not so great when it is actually happening in your home. So in a quest to solve an ant problem and keep bugs out this summer, check out these effective methods to keep the bugs at bay.

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Ants

Unfortunately, ants are like bees; they live in a colony with one or two queens that lay eggs to produce more ants. There are many different types of ants and they fly and swarm in the spring just like termites. Spraying ants does absolutely no good because you are only killing the ants that you see rather than taking out the queens and the nest. Baiting ants, on the other hand, can be very effective.

Ant bait traps can be found at your local super market or home center. These little plastic bait traps should be placed anywhere you see ants. It may take some time and experimentation with a few different brands before you see a decrease in your ant population. If you’re just not that patient you can call in a professional insect control expert like Terminix to deal with the problem. They have access to a larger variety of baits and are trained in distinguishing which type of ant you have, and therefore use the most appropriate treatment to control your ant problem and locate the ant nest.

$50 Off Terminix® Pest Control

Termites

Termites are by far the worst bugs that can attack your home because they have the potential to cause very expensive structural damage. Often you won’t even know they are there until it is too late. Subterranean termites are the most common termites in the United States and one of the most difficult bugs to deal with. These termites live below ground and will generally stay away from sunlight and air. You will know subterranean termites are in your home or neighborhood when you see swarms of the winged version of this insect flying around in the spring. A termite inspector can also inspect your home to determine if you have subterranean termites. The first level of defense against subterranean termites is prevention. These insects need moisture and wood or cellulose to survive. There are several steps you can take to make your home less attractive to termites, including:

  • - Check to make sure all of your gutters are clean, working properly and water isn’t pooling anywhere near your foundation.
  • - Keep woodpiles elevated, dry, covered and away from your house.
  • - Remove any old wood debris from under the house or porch.
  • - Keep soil and wood chips away from wood siding and wooden posts.
  • - Remove dense vegetation from the base of your foundation. 6-8 inches of clearance between your foundation and your home is a good rule of thumb to protect your home against termites.
  • - Damp cellars, crawl spaces and attics should be dried out and the source of the moisture needs to be identified and corrected.

In addition to termite prevention, there are a number of approaches for dealing with the insects once they have started to dine on your home. Chemical termiticides can be applied as barriers beneath your home and around the perimeter. Some of these chemicals actually kill the insects and other types actually just repel them. More eco-friendly types of treatments include termite “traps” that lure the insects away from your property, and the application of heat, cold, microwaves and electrical currents by termite professionals to kill the insects. Treating exposed wood with Boric acid is another popular treatment that is less toxic than the traditional termiticides. The best way of dealing with subterranean termites is to call in a termite professional and have your home inspected and treated before things get out of control. Most pest control companies also offer maintenance programs to make sure the termites don’t return.

Flying Bugs, Spiders, and Creepy Crawlies

Keeping flying bugs, spiders and creepy crawlies out of your home this summer starts with a good spring cleaning and repairing any damaged screens and window/door seals. Sometimes a new $7.00 rubber door guard placed at the bottom of your door will be enough to stop insects. You or a professional can also apply insect barrier sprays around the perimeter of your home and at door and window openings to deter pests and keep them outside.

An effective and more eco-friendly method of insect control is to go to the garden center and purchase a Praying Mantis egg. When the weather warms up the egg will hatch and you will have your own veritable Mantis army out there patrolling your yard for other insects. Spider traps placed in dark, out of the way places like the basement are fairly effective at dealing with summer spiders. Traditional and new types of bug zappers are also available to deal with large populations of flying insects like mosquitoes. If you come across a serious infestation like a beehive you should always call in a professional to deal with the problem.

Summer-ize your home and keep the bugs outside this summer. The sooner you go after an insect problem the better, because insects are the most successful animals on the planet. With a little work and a little help from a professional pest control firm like Terminix, you can sleep better at night knowing your home is bug free.

Hidden Treasures

by Tom Cain and Company

 

Cash in on your clutter

Who doesn't love a good purge of all the clutter that accumulates around the house? Holding a garage sale is a great way to motivate yourself to clean out all of your closets, storage rooms and drawers so that you can be on your way to a clutter-free life, and maybe even pocket a little cash, too.

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Like most things, the best garage sales often come down to planning. Planning which items you want to sell, planning the date and time, planning your marketing strategy. A good plan will go far in helping you achieve success in your garage sale.

Here are five fool-proof tips to help you have the best garage sale ever — from planning to pricing to marketing, these tips will have you well on your way to garage sale success and waving goodbye to clutter!

1. Prepping for the Sale

The best way to begin preparing for your garage sale is to start gathering the items you no longer need. This is easier for some than others, but this is a good rule of thumb: If you haven't used/worn it in a year, it's safe to get rid of it. Be thorough as you go through every bin, box, closet and drawer. But don't stop there; check out the places you're in every day — scour the garage, the kitchen cabinets and your linen closet for anything you simply don't need anymore.

Once you've gathered all your items, separate them into groups as much as possible. By tackling all the clothing at once, you'll be able to move on to thinking about kitchen utensils and gadgets. Grouping your objects will also help you when it's time for set up. If your clothing is all together and ready to go, it will be easier to put those items exactly where you want them.

2. Pricing

Pricing for a garage sale is the most important part of preparation, and unfortunately also one of the hardest things. It is always best to do a little research into your items. Google that barely used Cozy Coupe and determine its cost when new, then consider how long you've had it, its condition, and even what you would want to pay for it used. Pricing low is a good strategy if you want to move your items as quickly as possible, pricing realistically is a good strategy if you are willing to negotiate and pricing high is a good strategy if you want to waste your time. Be realistic about your items, their condition and the fact that this is a garage sale — it's about clearing the clutter!

3. Organizing the Sale

Now that you've assembled your items and priced them, some of the work is all finished. This is great news! Now on to organizing your sale. When do you want to have it? Depending on where you live, your best time of year to have a garage sale is in mild weather. Spring is the traditional time of year most people hold a sale, which means your customers will not be sweating and overheated and hopefully not stuck in the rain — although that can happen.

What's the best day to host a garage sale? Typically, garage sales happen on the weekend, mainly Saturdays. But recently, garage sales have become big business on the days leading up to the weekend. Friday and Saturday is now a preferred set of days if it's possible for the garage sale host to pull it off — with Friday often being the busiest day. Whichever day you choose, check out your local calendar of events and make sure your date doesn't coincide with a popular event.

What's the best time to host a sale? Mornings. Mornings. Mornings. Pick a reasonable time for yourself but make sure it's early enough to entice the "garage sale regulars." A reasonable time is around 8 a.m. No matter what, be prepared to have customers around even as you set up — early birds love a good garage sale.

4. Marketing the Sale

Now that you have your date and time picked, it's time to market your sale. Set up a newspaper advertisement to run the day before and day(s) of the sale. The paper is like a roadmap for garage sale regulars, and you don't want to miss your spot on their map. Craigslist is also one of the best places to advertise your sale. Your town has its own tab on Craigslist and you can give plenty of information on your listing, like the date of the sale, start and stop time, the type of items you'll be selling, etc.

Don't forget about community newsletters, and even church newsletters. Some organizations allow advertising personal events, like a garage sale. Take advantage of every opportunity you can think of to tell people about your sale. The more people that attend, the more likely your unwanted items will find a nice new home!

The night before the sale, you'll want to advertise your sale with a few strategically placed signs at major intersections and thoroughfares. If your house is even slightly hard to find, be sure to use more signs with large arrows to direct the way. You'd hate to lose a customer because they can't even find the sale, right?

5. Holding your Garage Sale

The day of, get up bright and early and prepare to make a buck. Put a smile on your face and welcome people to the sale. If it's a balmy morning, offer lemonade or water to your patrons. If it's a chilly morning, put out a little coffee. Hospitality can go a long way in encouraging customers to check out your items and buy!

Make sure you set up your items as attractively as possible. For example, if you're selling a dining room set, set up place settings and flowers to help people see the potential of your gorgeous table! As the sale progresses, check that your items remain neat and tidy so people can see what's for sale and not be turned off by a junky feel. If it feels junky, they might just think it's junk!

Once your sale has wrapped up and it's time to clean up, decide what you want to do with remaining items. Donating them to your local Salvation Army or Goodwill is a great way to get rid of what's left. If you've got some great stuff left, consider holding on to it until your next garage sale or giving it to a friend who might be able to use it. Another great place to get rid of quality items you no longer need is Freecycle. This is like a local message board filled with things people have to give away to someone who might need it. Nothing feels better than knowing your items are going to someone who could use them.

Make a plan, stick to it and make a few bucks as you clear your clutter! Best of luck to you and your garage sale!

Top Reasons to Buy in a Down Market!

by Tom Cain and Company

Are you sitting on the fence about buying a home? Right now, is a great time to buy if you are financially secure and have all your ducks in a row; i.e. downpayment saved, credit rating in good repair. Some top reasons experts are saying now is the time to buy:

1. Rates are lower now than they have been in years! It's a great time to take advantage of the rates now in order to keep your monthly payment at a reasonable amount.

2. Inventory is rather high at the moment and homeowners are eager to sell. Now is a great time to find your dream home!

3. Because of the quantity of homes on the market, prices are lower than they have been in years. Not great for the market overall, but for buyers who are prepared to purchase, lower prices mean getting a great home and more than likely a great price!

4. Another benefit of higher inventory levels is the opportunity to negotiate with buyers. If the window treatments are just your style or kitchen is outfitted with appliances that are perfect for you, don't hesitate to negotiate those items into the price of the home. If nothing else you have one more item to negotiate with in order to get the perfect price for your needs.

5. The Bottom Line. Buying a home is always a fantastic long-term investment. So if you're in the position to buy, go ahead. You'll more than likely get a great price for the home of your dreams!

Visit: www.cainandcompany.com for more information on purchasing your next home!

6 Tips For Choosing Window Treatments For Your Home

by Tom Cain and Company

By Rose Kennedy

1. MINIMAL IS IN
Strip away heavy window coverings and replace with simple shades. One path to less fabric is using an upholstered cornice, says Sue Pelley, national spokesperson for Interiors by Decorating Den, or a flap valance like the Ace three-piece set from Swags Galore.

Design by Gail Drury

2. LIGHTEN UP
Natural light in the kitchen is essential. "Pleated shades offer a privacy treatment and still allow plenty of light," says Pelley.

Just one example of an attractive pleated shade is the Smith + Noble version, available in tones ranging from White to Sky Blue, in subtle stripes and a tropical-looking pattern. It even comes in versions suitable for skylights or arched windows.

Design by Beth Haley

3. PICK CURRENT COLORS
If you're using fabric, make sure it's in a contemporary tone.

"The terra cotta shades are very 'in' mixed with greens, blacks and golds," says Pelley. "You can also mix cotton fabric prints, either within a treatment or coordinating a print in the valance or cornice with another print on the cushion seats or place mats."

If your kitchen is particularly tiny, then light, cool colors can make it look larger and brighter, while dark, warm colors can make an oversized kitchen more inviting.

Design by Lin Lee

4. TRY SOME TEXTURE
Another hot trend is Roman shades made of rattan, bamboo or other natural fibers, says Pelley: "They add visual interest with their texture, but still roll up smoothly like the Roman shades of old."

Design by Jill Hertz

5. SOFTEN DIRECT LIGHT
Too much direct sunlight is also an issue in kitchens, says Pelley, since it makes it hot and unpleasant to work in. Simple wood blinds or woven wood shades, like the Provenance sold by Hunter Douglas, will filter the light without looking too heavy.

Design by Phyllis Harbinger

6. CONSIDER SOME CURVES 
"There are typically lots of straight lines in the kitchen — the cabinets, the appliances, the counters —everything is straight or square," says Pelley. "It's a good idea to add a window treatment with soft curves to open the space up, especially in a small kitchen."

Arching a valance is a good option, particularly over the sink. Other options include a curved cornice, a box-pleated valance with a curved line along the bottom or a London Shade from Smith + Noble that is nearly flat at the top but falls from inverted pleats to gentle swags along the bottom, with wings at either side.

 

ENERGY STAR: Save Energy and Save Money

by Tom Cain and Company

We’ve all seen the Energy Star logo on appliances and in stores, the green cursive “energy” with a star at the end. But what is Energy Star? And how is it helping American consumers lessen their carbon footprint and save money.

What is it?

Created in 1992, Energy Star is a joint program developed by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and the Department of Energy to identify energy efficient products which promote the reduction of greenhouse gases. It also encourages consumers to switch to more energy efficient practices. It is designed for homeowners to save money while being more mindful of the ever changing global climate.

Energy Efficiency

According to Energy Star, “Americans, with the help of Energy Star, saved enough energy in 2009 alone to avoid greenhouse gas emissions equivalent to those from 30 million cars.” They also tout savings to homeowners of nearly $17 billion in utility bills. The EPA’s Energy Star partnership says to look for household products which earned the Energy Star rating; products prescribed to strict guidelines set by the two federal agencies. Home Buyers can also look for the Energy Star logo when choosing a new home as a means to increasing energy efficiency and lessening one’s carbon footprint. These homes are built with features making them 20-30% more energy efficient than standard homes.

Tax Credits

Are you in the market for home improvements and would like to stash some cash in your pocket? The federal government offers tax credits to homeowners who upgrade their home to be more energy efficient and utilize Energy Star products. These credits recently changed in 2011 but consumers can go to the Energy Star website (www.energystar.gov ) and look for the updates. Or click the following link and go directly to this page:

Quick Tips

Energy Star recommends the following practices for homeowners to start saving energy and money:

  • Change your HVAC air filter regularly
  • Annual maintenance on your HVAC system can improve efficiency
  • Keep air ducts clear to allow for proper air circulation
  • Choose Energy Star windows and save $20-$95 per year on heating and cooling
  • If you have an older water heater, wrap it in a heater blanket and save up to $30 annually
  • Set your water heater to 120°F, you’ll save on consumption and standby losses
  • Replace your five most used lights with Energy Star bulbs and save $70 per year in energy cost
  • Unplug battery/phone chargers when not in use
  • Turn off your computer monitor if you leave it for more than 20 minutes, turn off the computer completely if you do not use it for two or more hours; sleep mode does not stop your computer or monitor from drawing power
  • Game consoles used as DVD players draw 24 times the energy than a regular DVD player and 4 to 7 times as much as a stand-alone Blu-ray

The Ultimate PC Upgrading vs. Buying New Guide

by Tom Cain and Company

by Home Life Perks

It’s 2010. No one should have to suffer the agony of a slow PC, especially with the cost of hardware these days. If this is a problem for you, consider the following options: upgrade, buy refurbished or buy new.

Considerations reviewed in this article:

  • What is causing my PC to choke?
  • What can I do that doesn’t involve using a screwdriver?
  • Can my computer be quickly upgraded, cost effectively without damaging anything?
  • If the upgrade is too expensive, should I buy new or refurbished?
  • Buying new vs. refurbished?
  • What about my data?

There’s nothing like a fresh operating system, clean hard drive and a RAM upgrade when you’ve been experiencing slow performance for some time. Whether your OS needs a clean install or your computer needs a RAM upgrade, it’s important to consider that these challenges might be less of a headache than one might expect.

If your computer is less than five or six years old, its possible that a quick tune up is all that is necessary. Computers bought more than seven or eight years ago may not be worth the cost of repair, given the affordability of new PC's and the reliability of refurbished computers.

A Breath of Fresh OS

If your computer is sluggish and is less than a few years old, it’s probably due to software bloat, file corruptions, viruses and possibly environmental factors, such as temperature and dust. The best option to salvage your machine is to backup your files on an external hard drive and re-install the operating system that came with the computer. This may sound like a daunting task, but it’s actually quite simple if you’re prepared to spend a couple of hours following the prompts provided by your operating system installation guide.

If you conduct a fresh install, you should install any critical updates your system suggests. Many people forget to do this and it leaves their computer open to vulnerability. With a fresh operating system install, you’ll likely achieve a noticeable difference in performance.

If you’ve installed the new OS and the computer's performance hasn’t noticeably improved, then only consider upgrading if new memory costs less than $30. If it costs more, then consider a refurbished computer from a credible dealer such as geeks.com or overstock.com. If you do notice a major improvement and feel the need for more speed, then consider going for the gusto with a memory upgrade.

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Adding Memory

Memory is cheap these days. Popping in a few extra sticks of ram is as easy as pie. Crucial.com'sautomatic scanner tool will tell you exactly what type of RAM you need and provides a “How To Install Memory” video on YouTube. Many times, this is the only necessary action to give your computer a substantial boost in performance.

Going New or Refurbished

If your PC is starting to look like an antique compared to your other furniture and parts cost more than $150, you may want to consider buying refurbished for as low as $200 or new for as low as $350 from reputable online resellers such as Geeks.com, Overstock.com, Newegg.com and Dell.com. If you haven’t searched for a new PC in a while, you’ll be amazed at how little they cost compared to a decade ago.

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Refurb dealers, such as Geeks.com and Overstock.com, offer comforting return policies and decent protection plans. It’s not uncommon to find a 1-2 year old computer for less than a third of the original cost, with hardly any wear and tear. Such manufacturers have tested each machine and reformatted the hard drives, so when you boot up, the feeling is as good as new.

When considering a refurb, try not to pay more than 50-75% of the cost of a new computer. At that point, buying new is probably worth the few extra bucks.

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Summer Vacation--A great time for the family, right down to the planning!

by Tom Cain and Company

Summer vacation is that time of year when the kids are out of school and ready for something exciting to pass the time before class begins again in the fall. This summer season while amidst the chaos of work, new schedules for the entire family with the cessation of school, and the never-ending hectic spin of the average American family’s daily grind, why not make planning your summer trip enjoyable.

Children love to be a part of any planning you might do, whether it be a day trip to the zoo or a picnic getting them involved makes the process a special bonding time for everyone. Let’s take that same approach to planning a summer vacation. Begin by having a family meeting. Allow every member of the family to share their ideas for a great family vacation. Drop them into a hat and choose! Voila!

If dropping “destinations” in a hat is a little too sporadic for your family, don’t worry. Having a destination in mind and then allowing the family to get involved in shopping and preparation for the trip can be just as fun. Talk to children about what they would like to do while you’re away. Look up information online and show the kiddos pictures of the things you will see or let them choose an activity to do together.

For the trip there bring along games, puzzles, and books for entertaining little fingers and minds or the latest novel, if you aren’t driving, and could use a little reading time.

Remember, rather than the details of your trip being the most stressful part of the summer, make it the most fun!

1704 Lincoln Road

by Tom Cain and Company

$184,900

OPEN LIVING ROOM AND DINING ROOM AREA. EAT IN KITCHEN, NICE FENCED YARD, MATURE LANDSCAPE. HOME FEATURES LOG FIREPLACE DOWNSTAIRS AND GAS LOG FIREPLACE WITH INSERT HEATER UPSTAIRS. LARGE LIVING AREA. STONE FIREPLACE, PARTIALLY SIDED WITH INDIANA STONE. AVERAGE UTILITIES $138.00 PER MONTH FOR GAS & ELECTRIC. ONE YEAR HOME WARRANTY BY SELLERS AT CLOSING.

Call Tom Cain for more information or visit:

www.cainandcompany.com

The Apple iPad-A Real Estate Agent's New Best Friend

by Tom Cain and Company

I stumbled up on this article about the apple iPad and it has some great information about the new apple iPad. Check it out.

by Rob Janson

 

I’ve been looking lustfully at the rumoured Apple tablet for months, wondering about the possibilities. As of Wednesday, Steve Jobs and his team have finally put to rest most of those rumours and have released to the masses the iPad, Apple’s first stab at the tablet market.

There’s much to be said about the iPad, some good and some bad. So without further hesitation here’s a take on the product from the perspective of a real estate professional (not a Realtor, not an agent, just a Marketing & Technology Consultant that deals with real estate transactions of all sorts on a daily basis).

First the good. The iPad is going to impress your clients and make other agents envious. It’s pretty. It’s light. And it will be fast. With a 9.7-inch display and a mere 0.5 inch thick, it weighs in at only 1.5 pounds. Powered by a 1 gigahertz processor, it will be available with up to 64 gigabytes of storage. You’ll be able to view your photos quickly on a large screen, browse (most) MLSs via Wi-Fi or for a modest $14.99 to $29.99 AT&T will allow you use their 3G service and supposedly there will be no contract required.

Headed to a listing appointment? Woo them with a presentation made in Apple’s iWork Apps which look simply amazing. Flip the iPad from your perspective to your clients and the screen instantaneously adjust for their viewing pleasure. Running a CMA? Cloud CMA will provide an amazingly intuitive experience and keep you completely mobile. You'll also be able to browse maps and get rid of your Garmin or TomTom with the iPads GPS functionality.

An added advantage is Apple’s latest addition to the iTunes Store. The iBook store will put all your favorite motivational books at your fingertips, and possibly allow you to publish your own within the store. I can see it now…your clients searching your city not only to find your iPhone App which works on the iPad but also your listing presentation. Books not your cup of tea. Take notes and schedule appointments on the iPad without having to carry around a pen and paper or struggle with your smartphone’s tiny screen. Email is sure to be a breeze on the iPad as well.

Now for the not-so-good. The iPad doesn’t support Flash. That means your Flash based website will look a little lackluster and all those online videos not on YouTube and Vimeo won’t be readily accessible. That’s really about it for the bad.

Many technology experts are slamming the iPad for not including a stylus for taking notes and signing contacts etc. I expect that Apple will be releasing a pressure sensitive stylus in the near future, as Steve Jobs certainly didn’t completely overlook such an important feature for a tablet. I will likely be an add-on much like the physical keyboard which is already on the Apple Store.

Lastly, while we can’t be sure of it’s compatibility at this time, it is reasonable to assume the iPad will be  able to be tethered with most DSLR cameras, allowing use as a field monitor for shooting photos and video. Alternatively, one could use an Eye-Fi card to wirelessly upload photos and video directly from any camera to the iPad. That could provide a great WOW factor for your clients as they view your photos of their listing instantly as your taking them throughout the property.

However, the best feature of the iPad is it’s amazing price. The base model is priced at $499 going up to $799 for all the bells and whistles. That puts it in your hands for less than the first release of the iPhone. The price point alone will make the iPad an instant celebrity in the world of technology. When can you get your hands on one? The Apple iPad is slated to hit the streets in April 2010.

Displaying blog entries 1-10 of 52

Contact Information

Photo of Tom Cain and Company Real Estate
Tom Cain and Company
RE/MAX Choice
2919 Crossing Ct.
Champaign IL 61822
217-359-3131
Fax: 217-359-2334

Champaign County Chamber of Commerce