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Tuesdays with Tom

by Tom Cain and Company

Tuesdays with Tom ( Laura Bryan) from hdavid films on Vimeo.

General Gardening and Growing Tips

by Tom Cain and Company

If you're thinking of starting a garden this summer there are several steps in the process to consider. Here are a few tips for successfully growing a great garden this season compliments of Home Life Perks.

Space is everything: Even if you are keeping your garden small, the space in which the plants grow is important. If you overcrowd your pot, or the area in the ground, your plants will suffocate. Changing the pot as your plant grows or leaving sufficient room between seeds, bulbs or plants in the ground will help keep everything inside your garden thriving and looking great!

Watering without overwatering: The idea behind all plants (except for maybe a cactus) is that water will help it grow. Keeping the soil moist is key. Allowing the plants to be in too much water is not healthy, especially when seeds were just planted as they will swim up to the surface.

Asking for help: When you go to the nursery or home improvement store for your garden products, ask questions. There’s no use getting a bunch of products that won’t grow in your backyard. Shade and space play a big part in how plants will react and if you can’t provide the amount of sunlight needed, your garden will not be as successful as you had planned.

Gardening can add life to any space. Fragrances of blooming plants can’t be reproduced with room sprays. And there’s nothing better than making dinner with food you grew from your garden, not to mention the conversation factor. Like everything else, good gardening is reliant on education, so the more you know before you break ground, the more successful your garden will be.

Tuesday with Tom - Pastor Gary Grogan

by Tom Cain and Company

Tuesdays with Tom (Gary Grogan) from hdavid films on Vimeo.

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

Experts Forecast 2011 Housing Market

by Tom Cain and Company

Reuters

We asked top real estate experts Ilyce Glink of Thinkglink.com, Paul Bishop of the National Association of Realtors, Barbara Corcoran of the Today show, and Dan Green of TheMortgageReports.com to share their thoughts on the housing market in 2011.

Here’s their takeaway on what to expect.

Real estate isn’t much better than in the past two years. Unemployment is still high, and real estate sales are tied to jobs. Unemployment might have to go below 8% before the market is spurred.

Even with record low interest rates, lots of people don’t qualify to buy a house. And the number of households is shrinking. People don’t have enough money to live separately. Also, foreclosure is impacting housing enormously. Buyers don’t want to pay what sellers want. That drives down prices.

Some markets are very tough, like Florida, Michigan, Arizona and parts of Illinois. Prices may not have hit bottom. But it’s localized; even in Florida, some pockets are doing OK. Across the country, homes prices are up 1%. But after falling 35%, prices aren’t going to jump that much. This massive drop is unprecedented in the past 100 years.

What to Expect From Real Estate Next Year

Real-estate outlook for New Year

I expect existing and new home sales to be weak this year.

Headwinds will temper recovery

Paul Bishop is an economist at the National Association of Realtors (NAR).

The real estate market will recover slightly this year. It won’t bounce back like you’d expect.

What’s pushing the housing market is low mortgage rates, high housing affordability and some economic growth. We’re adding jobs at a modest pace.

Headwinds include high unemployment, and our forecast doesn’t suggest that it will drop. And foreclosures are keeping the market from moving ahead more quickly. High levels of foreclosures exist in areas such as Florida, Nevada, parts of Michigan, and Ohio. Consumers will be more cautious. They don’t want to buy a home today because they fear falling prices. And there’s new concern about the process itself. It’s such a mess. We don’t know what the impact will be.

There are signs that the market is stabilizing.

Hardest hit areas are mostly at or near [price] bottoms. Best performing areas are in the middle of the country, from Texas up to North Dakota. They avoided subprime mortgages and never saw rapid increases in price. They haven’t suffered as much. And they’re not dependent on [cyclical] business like finance, retailing and construction.

Short-term, supply is high. About 4 million homes are on the market. That’s 10.7 months of inventory, which hasn’t changed much in the past few months. We hope to get to the 8- or 9-month range by the middle of this year, partly driven by population growth. It won’t be a straight line up, though.

Mortgage rates will rise. NAR expects them to average 4.8% this year.

More of the same in 2011

Barbara Corcoran is a nationally known real estate and business expert.

I see more of the same this year, for a few reasons. There will be more foreclosures. And getting a new mortgage is great if you have a stellar credit rating. It’s as if amazingly low interest rates were rendered meaningless.

There are rays of hope, though. As many markets are up as down in the third quarter, according to NAR. Florida, southern California and Nevada haven’t hit bottom yet. Until we get rid of foreclosures, we can’t have a rebound.

There are pockets of growth. Boston is in good shape, and Columbus, Ohio, is doing well. Parts of Florida are happier prospects, like the Treasure Coast. Markets with momentum should have an easier time this year. Metropolitan areas always lead the parade.

The government should lower mortgage rates for everyone. It’s like a Cash for Clunkers program, but for houses.

Mortgage rates: a sprung coil

Dan Green is a loan officer at Waterstone Mortgage and writes TheMortgageReports.com.

There’s more room for mortgage rates to rise than fall. I tell clients to lock in something now. When rates start to rise, they’ll rise quickly. There is lots of concern about ARM (adjustable-rate mortgage) resets. But I never believed that. The ARMs adjusting in 2011 are tied to LIBOR, and it’s cheap. Most mortgages are going to adjust down.

But mortgage guidelines will get tighter. It will be harder to be approved. There’s extra scrutiny by banks. They’ve raised their minimum requirements so the loans are better. That decreases the buyer pool.

This article was originally published on HSH.com.

Read more: http://www.foxbusiness.com/personal-finance/2011/01/06/experts-forecast-housing-market/#ixzz1NEiWGlQ7

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.

Home at the Grill: Tips and Tools for this Summer Season

by Tom Cain and Company

Home Life Perks

The weather is warm, your spirits are high, and the grill is getting hot. Before you toss on the charcoals or purchase a new propane tank, take a minute to read through some of these fun grilling tips.

A few prepping tips:
  • Your grill, gas or charcoal, should be cleaned after every use with a stiff wire brush. The black buildup that forms on the grates could be full of carcinogens.
  • Consider an electric starter or chimney starter instead of lighter fluid. These handy devices conserve money and make your meat taste better.
  • Brining, the act of submerging your meat in saltwater for several hours before cooking, infuses meat and poultry with additional flavor and moisture. Brine meat for roughly an hour and make sure that your water (or any other liquid of your choice) has 1 cup of table salt to each gallon of water. Creating a brine is only limited to your imagination. In addition to water, mix in juices, beer, wine, or any spices to add extra flavor and punch.
  • Consider a cooking spray like the Weber Grill'N Spray. Safe to use on a hot grill or open flame, this cooking spray helps coat the grill making cooking easier as well as less food residue to deal with at clean up.

Temperature Control: it can make a difference!

  • Searing: the way to go for a crusty exterior and cooler center. Start your grill at a high temperature to sear the surface of the meat, then lower the temperature to finish it off. This is a great method for pork chops, chicken, and roasts.
  • Slow roasting: slow and low is the way for getting your meat fall off the bone tender. Great for pork butts and chicken, roasting should be done on a grill using indirect heat. If using charcoal you want to bank coals on both sides of the grill, and if using gas or gas powered infrared, use the outer racks.
  • Medium/high heat: the most popular and consistent temperature to grill meat. Perfect for steaks, cooking over direct heat is an easy and quick way to get the job done. With a well oiled grate, lay the steak down and cook a few minutes on each side until done to your liking.

Buying Supplies:

Tuesdays with Tom - Pat Fitzgerald

by Tom Cain and Company

Tuesdays With Tom (Pat Fitzgerald) from hdavid films on Vimeo.

Is It Time to Go Hybrid?

by Tom Cain and Company




July, the most expensive month for gas, is the perfect time to discuss conserving fuel. A question some may be asking themselves, is it time to go hybrid? Hybrid technology has actually been around for over 100 years, but only has gained popularity and familiarity with the American public the last decade. Auto makers have answered the demands of consumers to offer more efficient and economical alternative energy vehicles. From electric cars to vehicles running on hydrogen and solar power, alternative technology has grown greatly.

A Hybrid vehicle, simply stated, is an automobile that has two or more major sources of propulsion power. Most hybrid cars currently on the market have both conventional gasoline and electric motors, with the ability to power the vehicle by either one independently or both working together in tandem. The first mass produced hybrid vehicle, the Prius, was introduced to the American market in 2000. However, with the growing popularity of hybrid technology, every major carmaker has hybrid vehicles for each of their models. Coupled with luxury automakers like Lexus, Cadillac, and BMW, hybrid technology is available to a higher income demographic without sacrificing luxury and brand recognition.

Overall, hybrid technology is capable of drastically changing our world. The face of alternative technology is changing daily. Fuel efficient vehicles can offer benefits like tax incentives, cost savings at the pump, reduced carbon footprint, as well as America's dependence on foreign oil. In light of the recent oil spill in the Gulf, we all know how important this is. Although at home and abroad it appears that there have been amazing advancements in green technology, we still have far to go, and the future holds exciting developments.

If you can't quite go hybrid... make sure to take advantage of these fuel saving tips:

  • Drive with the windows up on the highway. Open windows cause air drag, reducing your mileage by 10%.
  • You can improve your gas mileage by up to 3.3 percent by keeping your tires inflated to the proper pressure.
  • Keep your speed down. Traveling at 55 mph give you up to 21% better mileage when compared to former legal speed limits of 65 mph and 70 mph.
  • Avoid rough roads if you can. Gravel and dirt roads can use up to 30% more gas.
  • Lighten your load: do not keep unnecessary objects in your vehicle. It causes more gas consumption, esp. while driving on an incline.

Displaying blog entries 1-10 of 19

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