Champaign IL Information and Resources


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What is your house worth ?

by Tom Cain and Company

Many people have asked this year what their house is worth in todays market. For some people they are not able to sell their house for what they owe on it but still need to move. One great option is to consider renting your home until we start to see appreciation again. For many people coming to work at the University of Illinois they have a home inn a different state that hasn't sold yet so their only option is to rent a home for a year to see if their house sells.

By renting your vacant home it can take the cash flow strain away from your monthly cost. Utilities and monthly rent can and does add up to a great cost saving. We also have a way to protect home owners against high repair cost by offering a one year home warranty that will protect high replacement cost items such as furnance and air conditioning, plumbing and electrical, and major kitchen appliances. There have never been more renters in the market place and now is a good time to hire a property manager to help you stop the bleeding of paying for a home that you are not living in.

For more information call me Tom Cain to see how I can help you.


Tom Cain
RE/MAX Choice
217-359-3131 office
217-202-3136 cell

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:

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:

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For all your Real Estate Needs visit:

Offering a 1 Year Home Warranty

by Tom Cain and Company

A home warranty offers coverage for your home while it is for sale and once your property is sold, you can transfer ownership of the warranty with the home. This can be a bit of a bargaining tool when trying to negotiate a sale, although, it probably won’t be a deal winner, it gives you the opportunity to offer one more incentive to any prospective buyers. Generally, home warranties have a wide range of options for coverage but might include:

Washer/Dryer, Refrigerator, central vacuum, sump pump, dishwasher, whirlpool bathtub and the electrical system as an example for x amount of time for $xxx.

Most home warranties also offer an upgrade that can include:

Heating system and furnace, hot water heater, all duct work and plumbing system.

It is possible to make the home warranty become effective at closing so that the buyers have the benefit of the full year of coverage. I recommend doing this for your buyers.

Costs vary but tend to range from the around $250.00 to $600.00 on the high side. It just depends on the company you choose to buy coverage through and the options you want included.

A home warranty does not cover incidents covered by home insurance and it is important to have a home insurance policy in place as soon as possible after you purchase a new home. Home Insurance covers personal items in your home as well as any damage to any part of the actual home. A home warranty resembles a service contract, in that; it covers systems within in the home that could possibly have issues such as the hot water heat, a/c, or duct work.

If you are in the market to purchase a new home, don’t be afraid to ask for a home warranty when negotiating the sale! It never hurts to be prepared for those rare occurrences that can be rather costly. If you are selling your home, offer a 1 year home warranty as an added bonus to whoever purchases your home. It never hurts to have one more negotiating tool!

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.

Moving Timeline

by Tom Cain and Company

Moving can be a very daunting task!

Here are a few tips for making your move as smooth as possible!

One month before your move:

* Arrange for moving your furniture and personal belongings either by hiring a moving company or renting a truck. Get estimates from several moving companies or truck-rental companies and be sure to obtain a hand truck (appliance dolly) if you're moving yourself.

* Gather moving supplies: boxes, tape, rope, and anything else you might need.

* Plan your travel itinerary and make transportation and lodging reservations in advance if you are driving to your new home. (Leave a copy with a friend or relative.)

* Some moving expenses are tax-deductible, so you will want to save your moving-expense receipts (if the move is employment-related) for tax deductions, including meals, lodging, and gasoline. Record expenses incurred during your house-hunting trips.

* Develop a plan for packing, such as packing last the things you use the most. See page 46.

* Notify others of your new address: post office, charge accounts, subscriptions, relatives and friends, national and alumni organizations, church, mail order clubs (books, videos, catalogues), firms with which you have time payments,and your past employer to make sure that you receive W-2 forms and retirement-account information. Save your old address labels to speed up filling out change-0f-address forms for your new address.

* Notify federal and state taxing authorities or any other governmental agency necessary.

Two weeks before your move:

* Notify and get refunds from your present utilities: gas, electric, water, cable, and phone. Arrange for services at your new address.

* Have your car serviced if you are driving a long distance to your new home.

* Recruit people to help you on moving day.

* Arrange for someone to take care of your pets and children during the move.

* Confirm moving company or rental-truck arrangements.

One day before your move:

* Keep moving materials separate so they don't  get packed until you are finished.

* Pick up rental truck if you are moving yourself.

* Fill up your car with gas and check oil and tires.

Take a deep breath and before you know it you will be on your way to your new home !

Moving Preparation Checklist

by Tom Cain and Company

Tips on Having a Garage Sale!

1. Allow plenty of time--three or four weeks--to prepare for the sale.

2. Choose a date that will not conflict with holidays.

3. Weekends are more convenient for more people than weekdays.

4. Your sale is likely to attract more people if you join together with neighbors in an effort to have more merchandise. Some homeowners' groups are sponsoring neighborhood sales that are proving popular!

5. Practical household goods are popular items; adult clothing has less appeal.

6. Merchandise your items attractively in neat, clean surroundings.

7. Cluster like items together; place the more desirable items in the back of the garage so browsers are urged to look at other merchandise  on their way to the most popular items.

8. All items should be clean, polished, and in good repair.

9. Locate your appliance table near an outlet so customers can try before they buy!

10. Be sure that there is adequate parking space and a place to load large items.

11. Have plenty of bags and boxes for packing and newspapers for wrapping glass items.

12. Place a classified ad in the local paper. Include 3-4 items for sale, directions, and other details.

13. Take advantage of free publicity on bulletin boards in grocery stores and other public places.

14. Provide directional signs to your property.

15. If your home is listed for sale, have flyers about your home available for people to take.

16. Visit other sales to form an idea on how to price things. Be prepared to bargain down your prices.

17. Post a notice that all sales are final and payment must be cash.

18. Have plenty of change in a cash box that is kept in a protected spot. Keep a record of sales, especially when there are several sellers. One recording method that is simple and efficient is to use small white stickers for prices. When an item is purchased, remove the sticker and place it next to the name of the seller on a piece of paper.

19. On a hot day, have ice water or lemonade available so people will stay longer, and on cold days serve hot chocolate.

20. Tell your real estate agent about some of the  major items in your sale. She/he may have a client looking for just that thing! One person's trash is another's treasure!

Seller's Seminar

by Tom Cain and Company

Tom Cain of Cain and Company Real Estate will be hosting a Seller's seminar on "How to sell your home in today's market". The seminar will be held at Cain and Company Real Estate in Savoy on Saturday, May 14th, 2011 at 10am. Com join us for some great information on how to get your home sold as quickly as possible. Please call or email to RSVP. Limited seats available.

Join Us for coffee and refreshments and great information!

Cain and Company Real Estate

101 N. Dunlap Ave, Box 95
Savoy, IL 61874

To RSVP respond to or call 217-359-5646.


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Contact Information

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

Champaign County Chamber of Commerce