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Displaying blog entries 1-10 of 20

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!

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!

General Tips for Home Improvement Projects

by Tom Cain and Company

Summer is a great time to get caught up on some of those home improvements we've all been telling ourselves we are going to do. Whether your home improvement project is a fresh coat of paint, removing old wallpaper, or adding an addition you're sure to find some of these tips helpful.

1. Plan, Plan, Plan! Always plan before starting a project. It makes things flow much more smoothly if the project is planned from start to finish! Decide on a plan, buy materials and track progress according to the time frame you're hoping to complete your project. Deciding on a plan and sticking to it can drastically reduce stress when taking on a home improvement project.

2. Budgeting! The budget can be the biggest headache, especially if you complete your project and realize you've gone over your budget. Who wants that stress? Before you start your project calculate the cost of all expenses, from demolition to supplies to finishing touches. After you've gotten a solid budget in place add around 10%-20% for those unexpected surprises that always show up with home improvement projects.

3. Materials! Know what you need and have it before you get started. It can be a pain to be right in the middle of your project and realize you've forgotten a key component!

4. To use contractors or not to use contractors! If you decide that the do-it-yourself approach is not right for you. Plan early to interview several contractors. Take bids for the work you want done and call references! Know as much as you can about the contractor you choose. Remember, this person will be in your home so he/she needs to be upstanding reputable in their field.

5. Schedule! Decide early in the process what time frame you would like to complete the project in. Whether you have hired a contractor or are completing the project on your own, sticking to a time frame is a good idea. If you've chosen to go with a contractor, make sure they stick to  your schedule and don't slack off.

6. Change management plan! This is incredibly important if you've chosen to go with a contractor. Make sure a plan is set in place for any changes that might need to be made--before you start the project. Your contractor needs to know what your expectations are early on and a lackidaisical approach to changes can drive the budget through the roof.

7. Get a lien waver signed by contractor. A lien waver states that your payment responsibilities have been completed. This is  necessary step to ensure your protection and make sure you come out of your project feeling on top of the world!

One the most important tips to heed when attempting a home improvement project is that tings come up. Don't stress over the little things and your project is sure to come out looking like perfection!

For more information on real estate and helpful information for home improvement visit:

http://www.cainandcompany.com/

What's the Market Looking Like in Champaign-Urbana?

by Tom Cain and Company

Each week I monitor the market, always checking out; current rates, trends and any other information I can get my hands on. Going forward, I'm going to post information weekly with an overview of what I find. This week, I received an article from a local mortgage person with his thoughts on the current market that I thought I would share.

Good Morning, hope you are having a great week.  Late last week on Thursday, I sent an email when the market had changed talking about how we could be in another round of weak economic data, meaning interest rates could be moving down. 

We are firmly at the 4.625% range, down from 4.875% just a couple of weeks ago.  From what I am seeing, good economic data is hard to find, so the logic would be that we could be in this range for a while. Most people already refinanced last year when we were in this range, so I don’t expect a rush to refinance.  However, if one of your clients was unaware last fall of the interest rates and did not take advantage, it might be a good time to look at their numbers.

 On the home front, we continue to see an excess of local home inventory, and weak demand for housing.  Again, logic would say that home prices should stay steady or even some pressure to go lower, just by the simple high inventory and weak demand.  I know, not what anyone wants to hear….

So where is the silver lining?  On the home front, if you are in a position to buy, it is a very good time.  For the economic data and weak economy, might be a good time to make yourself invaluable to your employer and your clients.  We should be fine, just need to be vigilant and excellent at what we do.

For more information on available Homes for Sale in the Champaign area visit: http://search.cainandcompany.com/idx/5025/basicSearch.php

For questions visit:                                                                                     http://www.cainandcompany.com/Buyer-Resources/Questions

For all your Real Estate Needs visit: http://www.cainandcompany.com/

Finding the Right Energy Efficient Windows

by Tom Cain and Company

There are alot of options out there for windows. Some are more affordable than others, but finding the right windows for your home can make a world of difference in the efficiency of your home which can drastically affect the cost of heating and cooling. Listed below are some links to more information on finding the right fit for your home and your budget!

Check these out:

Cain and Company Real Estate

http://www.cainandcompany.com/Buyer-Resources/Buyer-Tips/Energy-Efficient-Windows

Homepower Magazine

http://homepower.com/article/?file=HP117_pg56_Boulac

DoorandWindow.com

http://www.doorandwindow.com/

For more tips on home improvement and preparing your home to sell click here: http://www.cainandcompany.com/blog

Find us on facebook: https://www.facebook.com/#!/CainandCompany1989?sk=wall

Wood Flooring: Not such a hard choice

by Tom Cain and Company

Home Life Perks

Wood Flooring: Not Such a Hard Choice

Give the rooms in your home a new beginning by installing rich, stylish and polished hardwood floors. Popular, durable, and cost effective, hardwood flooring is a compelling choice for a number of reasons:

  1. Looks great and fits easily into any decor with it's timeless appeal and beauty.
  2. Lasts a lifetime and will add value at the time of resale.
  3. One of the most ecologically sound decisions you can make for your home. Wood is the healthiest option for indoor air quality.
  4. More cost effective than you may think and well worth the investment.
  5. Easy to maintain and if kept properly, will only look better with age.
Three important factors to consider when purchasing hardwood floors is their durability, cost and color:

Durability:

If durability is an important part of your decision, consider staying away from woods like white pine, fir, and chestnut for your flooring. These softer woods can easily dent and not support large amounts of force. Varieties like walnut, cherry, and teak ranked the highest on hardness and durability tests conducted within the industry. (Janka hardness test)

Cost:

When considering price, it is important to remember that plank size, color, and finish all play a role in how expensive your hardwood flooring will be. Typically, exotic woods like Brazilian cherry or Australian cypress can run upwards of $13.00 a square foot, while more common and readily available woods like Maple, Pine, or Bamboo will generally cost between $4-6 a square foot. It is also important to remember to add on at least $2-4 a square foot for labor and installation.

Color:

Variety is also a large part of what makes hardwoods so appealing. The wood grains, board widths, and different types of wood all factor into the color of hardwood floors. Below is a small chart to help you break down what woods would fall under the categorization of light, medium, or dark.

LightMediumDark
  Ash   American Cherry   American Walnut
  Beech   Hickory   Bloodwood
  Birch   Red Oak   Brazilian Mesquite
  Maple   BirdsEye Maple   Brazilian Teak
  White Oak   Brazilian Cherry   Brazilian Koa
  Pine   Bolivian Rosewood   Purple Heart
  Natural Bamboo   Australian Cypress   Santos Mahogany
  Eastern White Pine   Strand Bamboo   Carbonized Bamboo

The investment that you make will increase the value of your home, lend comfort and warmth, and instantly add character and polish to your floors.

Estimate your Square Footage

In order to estimate how much hardwood flooring installation will cost you, apply this formula:

  1. Measure the Length and width of the area (work in inches for convenience)
  2. Multiply the length * width
  3. Add 10% to the total. This will give you room for error
  4. Divide the total by 144
  5. The answer will give you the total square footage of your room

Thinking outside the box!

by Tom Cain and Company

Home Life Perks

Thinking Outside the Box

If you're paying a ton of money for cable and other services, but not getting the desired level of satisfaction, consider altering your home entertainment setup.

New services such as Netflix and Pandora make great additions to basic cable or digital TV at a fraction of the cost. Benefits include:

  • Access to an extensive selection unrivaled by your local cable company.
  • Availability around your schedule.
  • Easy to .
  • No extra devices required. Internet solutions generally require a high-speed connection and a Netflix ready device such as a Roku box, or a popular game console, such as the Nintendo Wii.
  • Cost effective. These new services eliminate the need for premium channels and a la carte on-demand services, which can take a toll on your wallet.

A quick cable company feature contrast:

Basic cable or digital television is a home entertainment staple many need. Most cable companies' basic package will do, however, each cable company stands out or excels in one area more than the next.

  • Comcast: Xfinity is powered by a fiber optic network that delivers the fastest internet available.Therefore, bad weather will never affect your viewing. For people who bundle services and/or are fanatic about a strong internet connection, Comcast is a dominant choice.
  • Direct TV: Unlike other carriers, Direct TV allows you to record and watch shows in any room with one DVR.
  • Dish Network: Dish Network has developed the Slingloaded DVR, which allows you to watch your DVR'd shows on your mobile device or computer. However, rivals such as the Slingbox may offer more compelling features and a better user experience.
  • AT&T U-Verse: Record four shows with Total Home DVR. U-Verse also offers web and mobile remote access for your showings and a slick channel surfing interface.

Digital Television:

  • DTV Converter Box: If you are considering an internet based streaming solution for all your movie needs, you might get away with free digital TV for your daily dose of the news. As of February 2009, everything has gone digital. Affordable DTV boxes are available at many of our fine retailers.

Internet trends ready for prime-time:

New technologies and companies on the scene like Blockbuster/Netflix, Youtube, Hulu, Last.fm and Pandora offer a variety of videos and music for a fraction of the price. A bit about each:

  • Hulu: The new kid on the block. Access hit shows, movies and clips free of charge on your computer 24/7. Share videos with others or imbed them in your social media outlets. A subscription service allows you to add movies and shows to your "queue", acting just like a DVR system.
  • Blockbuster/Netflix: Blockbuster and Netflix offer their own version of "In Demand" by allowing you to watch their content on your TV, Blu-Ray, Tivo, PS3, Wii, Xbox, cell phone or other mobile device. Streaming is the free bonus in addition to any DVD's you get in the mail. Prices starting as low as $9 a month.
  • Pandora/Last.fm: are Meccas for the music lover. Totally free music on the internet. With Pandora you enter the name of a song, album, or artist and create a channel dedicated to that type of music. Create over 100 unique channels of music and refine them anyway you would like. Rate suggested songs and artists sent to you and create your own musical library. While basic Pandora is free, an upgrade is available for a slight fee.

Spring Cleaning!

by Tom Cain and Company

Spring Cleaning time is here and for many, it can be quite an undertaking. Check out these tips to make the entire process easy and organized!

Step One: Determine what you really need/frequently use and put the rest aside.

There are a variety of different items people hoard, and closets bear the brunt of the hoarding. Do you still have clothes and shoes you wore in high school? It may be time to get rid of these items. Don't worry, your groovy bell bottoms and miniskirts may have been appropriate then, but if they are sitting in your closet collecting dust, you should probably just get rid of them. A good rule of thumb is: If you haven't worn it in the past two years, throw it out; excluding special occasion gowns and suits, of course. Follow this rule with everything in your house. If you haven't used something in the past two years, there's a good chance you won't miss it when it's gone.

Step Two: Make a profit or a charitable donation with your excess belongings.

They say "one man's trash is another man's treasure." You may not have any use for your old belongings but someone else could see them as a great benefit to their lives and may even think they are worth a pretty penny. Your vintage clothing we discussed earlier can be put up for auction on eBay to make some decent money from the hipster crowd. The same can be said about shoes, books, kitchen appliances and more. Another alternative method for gaining profit from your old, unwanted belongings would be to hold a garage sale. Garage sales can actually bring in a pretty good amount of money that you never knew your old junk was worth. If there is any excess after the sales, or if you would just rather not mess with sales at all, you can simply drop your excess belongings off at a local thrift store to make a charitable donation.

Step Three: Take it room by room.

Once you get all of the excess junk out of the way, cleaning can still seem like an overwhelming task. The best way to ease the stress of the job is to simply start with the easiest room in the house and work your way up from there. For example, you can clean the bathroom one day, the living room the next and so on.

Step Four: Cleaning while you organize.

To ease the task of cleaning after everything is organized, you can practice cleaning while you organize. Use this time to attack major problems as you see them, such as a stain or spill on the carpet beneath a pile of junk.

Step Five: Clean on a day when the kids are gone and there will be little interference.

There is no subjective best time of day to clean because everyone has different schedules. Choose a time according to your schedule where you will have a full or even a half day of free time to devote to cleaning. If there are other people in your house, encourage them to either help you clean or leave the house that day so you can clean and organize without interruption. As far as a general time of day, it would probably be best to begin early in the morning so you can make quick trips to the store as needed throughout the process.

Step Six: Give each room a unique cleaning treatment.

Every room is structured differently and serves different purposes. Because of this, you should apply different organizational techniques and cleaning strategies to each room. For example, the garage requires more organization and less cleaning than other rooms in the house. The kitchen will need to be mopped and scrubbed. Another good tip is to clean in old clothing so you don't mind getting it ruined. One of the best products you can use to help organize your closet is the Closet Genie, which can be found at a local dollar store and is an easy-to-use and secure way to maximize closet space.

Step Seven: How to stay organized.

The best way to stay organized is to constantly get rid of things you don't use anymore. For example, if you just bought a pair of new shoes, get rid of an old pair you don't use anymore and replace the shoes instead of adding to a collection. This allows you to keep a steady amount of belongings in your home and will eliminate the build-up of clutter. Another easy way to stay organized is to simply put things back where they belong after you use them. Staying organized is a great way to avoid Spring cleaning until the next year comes along.

Tips on Packing!

by Tom Cain and Company

If you are moving  and aren't sure where to begin, take a look at some of these tips for successful packing.

Use strong containers that are in good condition and can be secured tightly with twine or strapping tape. these can usually be purchased from your moving company. Purchase special boxes for dishes, wardrobe, and other special items.

Label each box with its contents, which room it should go in, whether it is fragile, and whether it should be loaded last so as to be unloaded first.

Don't load more than 50 pounds into any one box, and make sure that the weight is evenly distributed.

Cushion contents with newspaper or other packing material to prevent breakage. Use newsprint paper or tissue paper for items that might be soiled by newpaper. Towels and cloth napkins are great for wrapping fragile items.

Pack books tightly in small boxes. Alternate bindings and wrap valuable books separately. Have your rugs and draperies cleaned before moving and leave them in their wrappings for easier handling.

Remove all breakables and liquids from drawers and pack them separately. Seal medicines and other containers to prevent leaking and pack them in a leak-proof bag or container.

Pack linens and clothing in drawers, but don't overload them.

Carry all valuables with you. Do not pack jewelry, documents, coin or stamp collections, or anything that will be difficult to replace. The contents of a safety deposit box can be moved for you by your bank.

Moving with Children

by Tom Cain and Company

If you think moving is hard on adults, imagine what it's like for children. They're starting over and trying to meet new friends while getting used to a new home, neighborhood, and school. Think about your children's specific needs before, during, and after the transition and you'll make a big difference in how your children feel about the move and how they adjust afterwards.

Before the Move: Preparing

Give your children a chance to express their feelings, and be honest about your own feelings. Children who have a chance to express themselves work through their doubts more easily. 

Help children compile a list of phone numbers and addresses of friends, relatives, and other important people. Knowing they can stay in touch with these people will be reassuring.

Take your children to your new home before you move and explore the new neighborhood and town or city together.

Try to line up some activities in which your child can participate after the move: a sports team, music lessons, or a scouting troupe. Not only will activities like these keep your children involved but they will help the kids feel like part of a group.

During the Move: Remembering What's Important

Stay as upbeat and calm as you can. Your own mood will impact your children's moods.

Involve your children in the packing. Older children can put their own belongings in boxes, and children of all ages will enjoy decorating the boxes containing their things.

Stick to your routines. Have meals at the same times you normally do.

Don't pack things that your children treasure. Take special blankets, favorite books, and other prized items in the car or on the plane with  you.

Help your children say goodbye to the imporatn people in their lives. For their friends, a party is a fun way to celebrate the friendship.

For many families, moving day means a long car trip or cross-country flight. Prevent backseat blues and airline angst by adding travel fun and games to your plans. 

Allow you child to bring an album with pictures of their old home and friends. This will allow them to express their feelings and provide you with a chance to reassure your child that it is natural to feel loss and initial discomfort with such a big change.

After the Move: Getting Settled

To make your new home seem more like home, hang your child's or family portrait in a prominent location or create a tabletop display of family photographs.

Take pictures of the new home, neighborhood playmates, family members, and school. Start a new family album to show there is fun and family togetherness available at the new home.

Don't spend too much time unpacking--at least not right away! In the first few days, take time to enjoy your new home with your family. Take walks and check out local restaurants.

Above all, listen. Be there when your children get home after the first day at their new schools, even if it means having to leave work early. Ask often how things are going, and take time to listen when they talk.

Displaying blog entries 1-10 of 20

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