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Why A Leap Year?

by Rose Price


So, you’re most likely working an extra day this year and not getting paid for it!  It’s a leap year.  The strange worldwide calendrical event, where old folks finally celebrate their sweet sixteen, women propose to men and depending where you live, it can bring good or bad luck.  February will have 29 days this Month, but why? Why do we do it?  Why all this confusion of an extra day?  

 It’s all about Astrology:  

 One solar year is 365 and a quarter day long (around 365.242 days). It takes roughly 365 days, 5 hours, 48 minutes, and 45 seconds for the Earth to Orbit the sun. It’s that extra five-or-so hours that are to blame for Leap days. Every four years, an extra day is added to the calendar to compensate for those missing quarters of a day. Since a solar year is 0.242 days longer than the calendar year, and not exactly 0.25, the Julian calendar drifted off by one day every 128 years. The Gregorian calendar fixed this problem by establishing a model which considered every fourth year a leap year. Also, according to Gregorian calculations any year which is divisible by 100 and not by 400 will not be considered a leap year (eg. the year 1900). Experts, however, say there are still tiny discrepancies with this method and our Gregorian system will have to be revisited...in about 10,000 years.  Now that we got the Science stuff out of the way, there are actually a lot of really fascinating facts surrounding leap days/years.  

First let’s look at some folks who took complete advantage of this extra day:

The Month of February originally had 30 days, during the reign of Julius Caesar, but when Caesar Augustus came to power, he wanted August (the month named after him) which had 29 days then, to have 31 days, just like the month of July (named after his predecessor Julius). So, he stole a couple days from February to make the number of days in August similar to that of July. Since then, February has had 28 days with Feb. 29 as the leap day. 

During his final trip to the West Indies, explorer Christopher Columbus used a lunar eclipse on Feb. 29, 1504 to his advantage. After being stranded in Jamaica for months and the indigenous people refusing any more help to him and his crew.  Knowing that a lunar eclipse was due, Columbus gathered the native chiefs on Feb. 29 and told them God will punish them by painting the Moon red and the only way God would withdraw the punishment is if they would co-operate again. Soon, the panicked chiefs agreed and heaved a sigh of relief when the Moon emerged from its shadow. Pretty sly there Chris!

Now, one of the more fun traditions is the tradition of women proposing to men.  This happens on a leap day.  There are many historical explanations; one goes all the way back to the 5th Century, when St. Bridget complained to St. Patrick that women and to wait too long for their men to propose, so St. Patrick announced that a single day in a leap year, the last day of the shortest month would be the day women can propose to men!

In Denmark, the day when a woman can propose to her man is Feb. 24, a tradition that goes back to the time of Caesar. However, if a man refuses a woman’s proposal on that day, Danish men have to give 12 pairs of gloves to the lady and in Finland, if men refuse, they have to give fabric for a skirt.

In a few European countries such as Greece, leap years are considered bad luck and people are advised to avoid certain ceremonies and activities like weddings or buying a house. In Russia, leap years are believed to bring abrupt weather patterns and increased risk of deaths.

The town of Anthony in Texas, USA is known as the ‘Leap Year Capital of the World’ and holds a festival that includes a guided trip to an Aztec Cave, a party at the horse farm and square dancing. In 2016, the festival will run from Feb. 25-29.

Famous records associated with leap days:

St. Petersburg, Florida, became a city on a leap day in 1892 

 Hattie McDaniel became the first African-American to win an Academy Award for her performance in “Gone with the Wind” on a leap day in 1940.

Other Fun Leap Year Facts:

The first ever Playboy Club was opened by Hugh Hefner in Chicago, Illinois on Feb. 29, 1960, a leap day.

 A baby born on a leap day is called a ‘leapling,’ or a ‘leaper.’ The probability of being born on a leap day is one in 1,461, as four years have 1,460 days with one extra day added in the leap year, bringing the total to 1,461. 

According to leap year folklore, beans and peas planted in this year 'grow the wrong way.

 Sir James Wilson (1812-1880), Premier of Tasmania is the only notable person known to have been born and died on Feb. 29.

 The civil code in China, since Oct. 10, 1929, suggests that the legal birthday of a leapling is on Feb. 28. In Hong Kong, March 1 is considered the legal birthday of someone born on a leap day.

 Feb. 29 is also marked as Rare Disease Day. 

In Champaign, we believe it's GREAT LUCK to Buy a Home during Leap Year...especially when Mortgage Rates are at Historic Lows! If you'd like to learn more about the Housing Market here in Champaign, give us a call at 217.202.8843 or visit our website

Spring House Hunting Tips For Champaign IL

by Rose Price

Forget the groundhog, you can tell it’s almost spring by all the “For Sale” signs in the yards.  

It’s shaping up to be a competitive home buying season, inventory is low and demand is high!  So, if you snooze, you lose!  Literally.  

Lack of preparation is the number one reason people lose their dream home, so here are some tips to keep you ahead of the competition.  

Close your laptop!  Get out of the house and look the old fashioned way

Using Real Estate sites to search for your home is the norm.  90% of people search for listings online during their home-buying process.

Starting your search online is a good idea, but don’t get so caught up that you forget there is a world outside too.  Inventory, in most markets is expected to be tight, so you want to get out and look as soon as possible.  Remember when demand outpaces the inventory of homes, buyers need to be ready to move quickly.  So get pre-approved, know what you are looking for and when you find it, pounce!  

Another thing to remember is that photos online are taken to make the home look it’s absolute best, so it may not accurately represent what you see when you pull up, rather just what the Seller wants you to see.  So, use the internet as a tool, not your whole strategy.  

Some sites let you select certain neighborhoods and then receive alerts when new homes become available, this is the perfect use of the internet, you become alerted and then can go see the home for yourself.

Educate Yourself .  Know the Market Values and Market Trends

Rely on your Realtor for this.  The best source of information is a well connected Real Estate Agent.  They’re the expert and have a wealth of information to share with you.  Ask questions and be sure you really understand the bigger picture.  You can also check out sites like Curbed.com for trends in particular areas and to see where new inventory is popping up.  

Everything isn’t always exactly as it appears.  There could be “micro trends” which are little trends unique to a certain area in your region that could affect prices.  Things like, maybe new homes are selling at a premium to older ones or the demand for condos outpaces the demand for single family homes.  These things will affect your price.  Be aware, too, that there could be micro-trends in your region that 

BUY NOW.  Snag A Low Mortgage Rate—Now

Mortgage rates are going up.  So, now is definitely the time to buy.  Take advantage of the low interest while you can.  

Mortgage rates are still historically low, so buyers are getting a lot more bang for their buck and at payment levels that will be affordable for decades.  Mortgage rates are so low right now that monthly payments are lower than rent in a lot of markets.  

It’s predicted that these low interest rates will stay through the spring.  Home Buyers received another gift recently, when The Federal Housing Authority, which backs loans for borrowers who make low down payments, lowered the annual insurance premium required from 1.35% to just .85%.  It’s estimated that this will save more than 2 million FHA homeowners about $900 a year.  

What this means: It’s a prime time to jump on a home loan. Mortgage rates can be unpredictable—and a decision by the Fed to raise interest rates mid-year, as many economists predict, could cause them to spike.

Build A Home Buying Dream Team…Then Make A Bid

To be a serious contender in the Home Buying game, you need to be organized and ready, especially if a bidding war begins.

You will need a savvy real estate agent obviously, but you’ll also want your lender, inspector and attorney to be ready so you can move fast.  

Complete your mortgage application and get your loan amount determined in advance.  Things move faster today and if you are not 100% pre-approved, you probably won’t get the house.  Some people, the most successful buyers are even going one step further and getting fully approved before purchasing.  Not all lenders offer this, but some do, and if they do, it’s a way to ensure you are the top contender.  And the better known your lender is locally, the more likely you’ll win the confidence of the seller.  Lenders from the Internet can seem sketchy in the eyes of Sellers and their agents.  It’s always best to use someone who is known locally.  

Don't Be Afraid To Sweeten The Deal

So, what if you are stuck in a bidding war with an equally qualified buyer?  How do you win?  

One way is to include an escalation clause, which is an amount that you are willing to pay above a competing bid.  

For example, if you included an escalation clause of $3,000 to your bid of $200,000 and the second offer came in at $205,000, then your bid would get bumped to $208,000. 

You can also consider removing contingency clauses.  Contingencies are terms of a contract that must be met or the buyer or seller can walk away from the deal; home inspection, appraisal and financing contingencies are among the most common.  All of these presents a certain level of risk, so consult with your Realtor and team before removing any.  These can often be removed just by doing due diligence.  For instance, you can remove the financing clause if you get fully approved.  Also, be sure to conduct a pre-inspection prior to making your offer, this way, you won’t have to include an inspection contingency.  

There are also smaller but nice gifts you can use to entice a Seller.  Find out what date the Seller prefers to close, then use that date in your contract.  You can also offer to close as quickly as possible, and offer to accept rent payments from the Seller until their planned move date. Adding these little perks can mean a lot more than you think.  There have been times my seller ultimately went with a lower bid, simply because it had NO CONTINGENCIES. Many Sellers prefer NO RISK as opposed to a few extra bucks.  

Most of this has to do with preparation and knowledge.  Don’t get caught off guard and lose your dream home because you weren’t properly prepared.  This starts with your Realtor.  Find a trusted expert and then work hard with them!

If you're looking for more information or tips on the buying process in Champaign IL, call The Rose Price Team, experts in relocation and led by Rose Price, a trusted Real Estate Agent since 1989.     

 

 

 

Weekend Of Theatre In Champaign IL

by Rose Price

As You Like It
Parkland Theatre’s Second Stage

February 18, 19, 20, 25, 26, 27 at 7:30pm
February 28 at 3pm

A clever adaptation of As You Like It, secondly titled “Being the record of one company’s attempt to perform the play by William Shakespeare”. Many key scenes from the original are performed while the seven desperate players attempt, often hilariously, to cover all the parts and make some theater magic. Touching and very funny, it is a true tribute to the core theme of As You Like It … All the world’s a stage.
Seating in Parkland's Second Stage goes quickly.  So Reservations are strongly encouraged.

Ticket prices: Adult- $15 Student and Senior (65+)- $13 Youth- (12 and under) $9 Groups of 15 or more- $11 each

Open seating except for groups and those with medical needs.

Reservations

The Little Mermaid at the Virginia Theatre

‚ÄčFebruary 18, 19, 20 

7pm (2pm matinee* on Sat)

Champaign Central and Centennial High School Drama Departments have teamed up in the first ever joint production at the Virginia Theatre in Downtown Champaign.  This inaugural event will feature the full length Broadway Musical.  

Tickets: $15 Adult/$10 Student and Senior/$8 Children 10 and under

The production is being supported by Champaign Unit 4 School District, Central & Centennial drama departments, Champaign Park District, the Virginia Theatre, as well as private donations.

Support The Project!

A Mid Summer Night's Dream Lyric Theatre at Krannert Performing Arts Center

February 19 and 20 7:30 PM

February 21 at 3:30 PM

Benjamin Britten’s music creates enchanting, otherworldly landscapes which are the perfect compliment for the retelling of this romantic comedy. As rustic characters, royalty, and fairies entwine in the mystical woods at evening, love potions and mistaken identities create mischief and disorder which will only be dispelled as dawn arrives. Lavishly imaginative in story and in musical score, this production of A Midsummer Night’s Dream will surely beguile you!

Buy Tickets

More About the Lyric Series

 

Interested in more of what makes living in Champaign/Urbana so great?  Give Rose Price  a call. She'll be happy to make your dream of owning a home in Champaign/Urbana a reality!.  

Our community is filled with Arts & Cultural experiences of all types! Come and explore what makes the Champaign/Urbana area such an exceptional place to live!

THE DOWN PAYMENT: CHAMPAIGN IL

by Rose Price

With a booming economy and comfortably plump market in Champaign IL, there are many more first time homebuyers flooding the market. So I thought it fitting to start a few blogs for those less familiar with how buying a home works, I mean, lets face it, even if you’ve been buying homes for 20 years, the process doesn't get less confusing.  So, lets start at the beginning; naturally, the Down Payment.

Let’s discuss what a Down Payment IS and IS NOT.

Definition of Down Payment

For a home buyer, the Down Payment, from here on out referred to as the DP, IS the sale price minus the mortgage loan amount. It IS NOT the same as the buyer’s cash outlay (the two are often confused). They are different by the amount of settlement costs charged to the buyer. 

For example, if the price is $100,000, the settlement costs $5,000 and the buyer has cash of $30,000, the amount available for down payment is only $25,000. 

Thus why many home buyers pay a higher interest rate in exchange for a lender rebate that will cover some or all of the settlement costs.

The DP IS NOT the same as the owner’s equity, except on the day of the purchase. Owner equity is what the owner could potentially net from selling the property. Where as the down payment is a one-time measure as of the purchase date, owner equity changes month by month. It will rise above the down payment as the mortgage loan balance is paid down and as the market value of the house rises, due either to property improvements or to market changes. AND obviously the owner equity could also decline if house prices fall…remember 2008? 

Why are down payments necessary?  

Basically to protect the lender.  You risk losing your down payment if your home ends up in foreclosure, so it's a way to make sure you make your monthly payment obligations.  

Minimum down payments

Most mortgage lenders require a down payment of at least 3 percent. FHA loans (mortgages insured by the Federal Housing Administration) require a down payment of at least 3.5 percent. Depending on your credit history, the type of dwelling and your reason for buying, the minimum down payment could be 5 percent, 10 percent, 20 percent or more.  This is why it makes sense to shop around for a mortgage.  Use your Real Estate Agent as a resource.  They will be able to help you find a few different mortgage options.  

Mortgage Insurance

When you make a down payment of less than 20 percent, your only option is to also buy mortgage insurance. There are two main types:

Private Mortgage Insurance (often called PMI), is paid to an insurance company. You will pay what are called annual premiums, which you will most likely pay monthly and most insurers also offer the option of an "upfront premium", in which you make a big payment at the beginning of the loan.

FHA insurance is paid to the federal government. When you get an FHA-insured mortgage, you will pay an upfront premium AND monthly premium payments.

Additional Fees

In many cases, lenders charge fees for down payments of less than 20 percent. Those fees will be on top of mortgage insurance premiums. Usually, the smaller the down payment, the higher the fee.  These fees will be paid at closing, FYI.  Sometimes the lender will charge a higher interest rate instead of fees.  

Options For Down Payments:

Appraised Value VS Sale Price

A big questions I get, is whether in the case where the appraised value is higher than the sale price, the difference can be counted as part of the down payment? From the lender’s perspective, the answer is “no”.  The property value used in determining the down payment is the sale price or appraised value, whichever is lower. The one and only exception to this is when the seller provides a gift of equity to the buyer (usually a family member). In these cases, the lender acknowledges that the house is being priced below market and will accept the appraisal as the value. In most of these cases, Lenders will require two appraisals and then they will take the lower of the two. 

Land as the Down Payment

Another big question is if land purchased as part of a plan to construct a new home can be used as down payment? The answer is “yes” actually. However, the land is then valued based on how long it has been held. If the owner has held the land for a long time, the lender will appraise the completed house on the lot and the difference between the appraisal and the cost of construction will then be viewed as the down payment.

So, if a builder charges $160,000 for the house and the appraisal comes in at $200,000, the land is assumed to be worth $40,000. A loan of $160,000 in this case would have a down payment of 20%.

However, if the land was purchased recently, the lender will NOT value it for more than its purchase price. If the price was only $30,000, for example, the lender will value it at $30,000, and the down payment will only be 15.8%.

Down Payment and Mortgage Insurance

From the borrower’s perspective, a larger down payment means a lower mortgage insurance premium. For example, a home purchaser with a good credit score who puts 3% down on a conventional loan will pay a monthly mortgage insurance premium about twice as large as the premium on an otherwise identical loan with 5% down, and 4 times as large as the premium on an otherwise identical 15% loan with 20% down.

I know, still a bit confusing, but that’s why we’re here, this is what we do!  If you need help navigating the murky waters of first time home buying, give the Rose Price Team a Call, we'd be happy to help you get into your first Champaign IL home.  The best way to buy a home will always be to find a good Realtor you trust and then let them do all the hard work and remember don’t be afraid to ask questions if you need things clarified.  If your Agent doesn’t encourage you to ask questions…find another Agent.  

Not ready to talk to an agent yet?  Then check out some of the FREE Home Buyer Tools we offer.

Yes, Niche is at it again, and with more praise for Champaign IL.  This time the praise is for the professors.  

Anyone who went to College knows that a big part of the College experience relies on the Professors who teach the courses.  There are those that INSPIRE and then those that just PERSPIRE.  There are even websites dedicated to helping students pick the Best Professors before registering for classes. Well Champaign clearly has enough inspiration to go around, coming in at #3 on Niche's Top 10 Illinois Colleges With The Best Professors.

Niche analyzed more than 1,700 four-year public and private universities across the U.S., in order to put together a list of the schools with the top professors based on factors like the professor salary index (average salary normalized against the local median salary), how much is spent on research, student surveys, faculty awards, student to faculty ratio and faculty diversity.

Below are the Top 10 Illinois Colleges with the Best Professors, and note the three highest ranked Illinois colleges (Champaign Included) are also ranked nationally. 

10) Illinois Wesleyan University

9) University of Illinois at Chicago

8) DePaul University

7) Columbia College Chicago

6) Loyola University Chicago

5) Illinois Institute of Technology

4) Western Illinois University

3) University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign

2) Northwestern University

1) University of Chicago

Want to find out more of what makes living in Champaign/Urbana so great?  Contact Champaignrose , she'd be happy to share her passion for Champaign IL and help get you into your Champaign IL Dream Home.  

Boost Wintertime Curb Appeal for your Champaign IL Home!

by Rose Price

BOOST YOUR HOME'S CURB APPEAL DURING THE WINTER MONTHS!

It's easy to do with these simple steps:

1. YES....I'll Take Door Number One!

If you want to make a great impression & be remembered...start with your entry door. Even a fresh coat of paint with new hardware can make a statement! Go for a "pop" of a coordinating color and you're in for an amazing transformation!

2. BRING ON THE GREEN!

Evergreen shrubs look terrific in pots on the porch and can add a great boost to the look of your Entry way!

3. SAFETY FIRST....

Be sure your walkways are clear of snow and ice. It's that simple It prevents injuries due to slip and falls, and a shoveled or plowed driveway creates clean line that look great and imply your property is well cared for.

4. SAY GOOD-BYE TO MR. & MRS. CLAUS

Once we've reached the New Year it's time to take down the Christmas Decorations and neatly pack them away and store them for next year's festivities. Nothing is worse than a home that is on the market at the end of January...still sporting it's Christmas finest!

5. PORCHIFY!

Your porch is an excellent assest....Spring, Summer, Fall or WINTER! If you have the space, set out a Rocking Chair with a Cuddly Winter Throw or Bistro Set that is perfect for your home type that you can "stage" for the season. Let your prospective Buyers visualize what an evening during warmer months may be like spending time out there!

The "Spring" Home Selling season is HERE!! If you're considering putting your Champaign/Urbana Home on the market, the time is NOW! Use these tips to give the front of your home the extra WOW factor that will make Home Buyers want to get in the inside and take a tour!

For more Home Buying Tips give Champaignrose a call at 217-202-8843 or visit my website at champaignrose.com. You can also get great tips and ideas from my Facebook & Pinterest Page!

Super Bowl Sunday In Champaign IL

by Rose Price


 

Where will you be Super Bowl Sunday?

Faith Baptist Church 

Faith BC will be hosting a special Super Bowl Party for teens!

Pastor Roger will be hosting a Super Bowl Party February 7th after the evening service at his house.  Cost is $2.00 per person.  Please sign up on the youth bulletin board if you will be attending.

FAT CITY BAR & GRILL

505 S Chestnut St
Champaign, IL 61820

Fat City is a great place for live music and dancing, but it's also a great place to watch Football, With 14 flat screens and a projection screen inside Fat City, and another 6 flat screens and a 10' x 16' projection screen in The City Center (the largest in Central Illinois by the way), Fat City/The City Center is the best place in town to watch a football game!  Where else are you going to watch the Super Bowl on a 10' X 16' screen?!

Huber's

1312 W Church St
Champaign, IL 61821

Great neighborhood joint.  Friendly people, FREE popcorn, decent little menu, great local company and beer... What more do you need for the Super Bowl?

Bromley Hall Super Bowl Party

5:30 pm - 9:00 pm

Bromley Dining Hall, o 910 South Third Street 

Champaign, IL 61820 

Hall wide super bowl party featuring all kinds of Super Bowl snacks throughout the game and other various football foods like Hamburgers, Brats and Chili Dogs.

 

 

 

Now, if you are going out to the bars for the Super Bowl, here's some information to consider:

According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, an average of 28 people die a day as a result of drunk driving crashes. And, in 2012 at least, the agency noted that 40 percent of all crash fatalities on Super Bowl Sunday were connected to drunk driving.

WOAH!

So, don't be a statistic this Sunday.  If you're going out to watch the game, there are a few options to stay safe.  Public Transportation, designate a sober driver, call an Uber, or download the SaferRide app from NHTS.

  

Early Spring For Champaign IL?

by Rose Price

Take of your jackets, you won’t need them.  The most famous Weatherman of all, Punxsutawney Phil has confirmed an early spring for all, and just to verify, a Groundhog in Canada has reported the same, and if you’re still not convinced, it seems Groundhogs everywhere concur with Phil, including General Beau Lee in Georgia and Staten Island Chuck in New York.  Notice the repetition here (which is actually the collective noun for groundhogs)?  Ahh, I get it now Harold.

 So, who do we listen to?  Not everyone agrees with Phil.  For the Northeast and mid-Atlantic, AccuWeathermeteorologists are concerned for just the opposite, predicting cold air and possibly snow, that could linger into March.  However, a quick warm up is predicted, allowing milder air to arrive faster than it has in the past two years for both regions.

Big cities around the Great Lakes will have nice weather for an early planting season in May, with milder temperatures and frequent sunshine expected.  

Spring will kick off with periods of wet weather across the Southeast, increasing the risk for flooding throughout the region. Florida, Georgia and South Carolina will be at an especially high risk. From late February through March, the threat for severe thunderstorms will ramp up in Florida. Elsewhere however, severe weather will get a slow start with below-normal tornado totals predicted for the month.

Come April, warmer air will help to fuel severe storms, allowing multiple, widespread outbreaks to occur. Atlanta, Charlotte, North Carolina, and Chattanooga and Nashville, Tennessee, are all in the line of fire. In the Gulf Coast states, the severe weather may turn into flooding events during April and May. Those concerned for early tropical development can breathe a sigh of relief: The chance for an early impact will be low. 

There you have it, the weather forecast from two very different kind of Weathermen.  

Now For the most Famous Groundhog's Day of all:

The bizarre tradition of Groundhog Day originated from an ancient celebration of the midway point between the winter solstice and the spring equinox (the day right in the middle of astronomical winter.) According to the ancient superstition, sunny skies mean a stormy and cold second half of winter while cloudy skies indicate an early arrival of warm weather.  This evolved in Germany where a Badger or a Sacred Bear was the predictor and evolved again with German Immigrants in the 18th and 19th Century.  It is similar to the Celtic Holiday Imbolc, which is celebrated on Feb. 2nd and also includes weather predictions.

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