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Spotlight: Quick Bathroom Renovations

by Rose Price

Home owners considering putting their house on the market often know they have work to do to maximize the value of the property. Renovations that include new flooring and appliances can go a long way, but usually need to be done by professionals, are expensive and time consuming. But, there are things you can do yourself. Today, let’s talk about making the most of your bathrooms.

The first step is to do a maximum cleaning job on the bathroom. It’s going to be easier to identify the biggest problem if everything is a spotlessly clean as possible. I’m talking about the old-fashioned, Momma’s watching you type of clean. Wash the sides of the cabinets and make sure that the area behind the toilet shines!

With that out of the way, what you see is the best of what you’ve got. Now you can start to prioritize ways to give the space a quick renovation.

Some things are almost mandatory if you’re looking ahead toward selling. The walls, for example, should be spotless and a simple, neutral light color, preferably white. Any other choice you make is a potential problem for possible buyers, who will be looking for things they’ll have to do after buying. Strip that wallpaper! Prime and paint. A fresh coat of paint is an amazing start on a great renovation. And it’s easy enough that just about anyone can do it themselves.

Got grout? You need to make sure it’s as white as possible. The Do-it-Yourself Life website has an excellent article on cleaning tile grout quickly and inexpensively. And don’t overlook the shower or tub.

Make sure your light fixtures are clean and the lights bright. Fixtures are easy to overlook when cleaning, but clean fixtures keep the look bright. Make sure the bulbs are fresh and match, and don’t even try to hide imperfections with dim light.

Add decorative touches, but keep them simple. Again, a buyer is going to do their own thing in the room, and it’s hard to imagine that when your own stuff is cluttering up the space. Make sure you coordinate colors, and avoid garish artwork.

At this point, you may want to replace a fixture or alter the flooring. But, you’ve already got a good start on improving your home and making some potential buyer a little more interested in your home. For more ideas, check out this article on Stylist Home.

Rose Price, CIPS, CRP
Prudential Landmark Real Estate
ChampaignRose.com

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This blog is maintained by Michael of Kim Hughes & Company.
Photo courtesy A30_Tsitika/flickr.com

Planting a Good Investment

by Rose Price

Tree of HeavenLooking for a simple way to add beauty and value to your home? Plant a tree!  There are a wide variety of trees that thrive in central Illinois, but making the best choice takes a little work. Adding a healthy, beautiful tree is an excellent investment in your home’s value.

First of all, you’ll want to have a good assessment of the quality of the soil where you want to plant the tree. The pH balance of your soil, for example, can make the difference between a beautiful tree and a dead eyesore. Soil testers can be purchased at most lawn and garden centers.

The University of Illinois Extension has a wonderful website filled with information about trees you might want to consider. You can use the site to filter trees by size, tolerance to different conditions, exposure and use. It also contains useful warnings about pests specific to central Illinois.

You’ll also need to know how well-drained the planting area is before you put the tree in the ground. Too much water in the soil can cause problems for the roots. Adding bark mulch around the base of the tree will help add nitrogen to the soil.  And wrapping trees in the fall and winter will protect them against the cold and deer.

Whatever your choice is, you’ll probably want to consult with a local garden center or tree farm to confirm you’re making a good decision.  Do you have a favorite tree? Send me a picture! Plant a tree, invest in your home’s value, and make Illinois just a little more beautiful.

Rose Price, CIPS, CRP
Prudential Landmark Real Estate
ChampaignRose.com

Search for Homes in the Champaign Area 
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This blog is maintained by Michael of Kim Hughes & Company.
Photo courtesy ReallyBoring/flickr.com

Tips for Buying a Home

by Rose Price

Are you ready to find the perfect Champaign, Illinois home for you? Then you'll need to think about a few things before getting started.  These are some of the top 10 things you need to know when buying a home.

1. Don't buy if you can't stay put.

If you can't commit to remaining in one place for at least a few years, then owning is probably not for you, at least not yet. With the transaction costs of buying and selling a home, you may end up losing money if you sell any sooner - even in a rising market. When prices are falling, it's an even worse proposition.

2. Start by cleaning up your credit.

Since you most likely will need to get a mortgage to buy a house, you must make sure your credit history is as clean as possible. A few months before you start house hunting, get copies of your credit report. Make sure the facts are correct, and fix any problems you discover.

3. Aim for a home you can really afford.

The rule of thumb is that you can buy housing that runs about two-and-one-half times your annual salary. But you'll do better to use one of many calculators available online to get a better handle on how your income, debts, and expenses affect what you can afford.

4. If you can't put down the usual 20 percent, you may still qualify for a loan.

20% is the norm these days, but there are options if you don't have the cash. There are a variety of public and private lenders who, if you qualify, offer low-interest mortgages that require a down payment as small as 3 percent of the purchase price.

5. Buy in a district with good schools.

In most areas, this advice applies even if you don't have school-age children. Reason: When it comes time to sell, you'll learn that strong school districts are a top priority for many home buyers, thus helping to boost property values.

6. Get professional help.

Even though the Internet gives buyers unprecedented access to home listings, most new buyers (and many more experienced ones) are better off using a professional agent. Look for an exclusive buyer agent, if possible, who will have your interests at heart and can help you with strategies during the bidding process.

7. Choose carefully between points and rate.

When picking a mortgage, you usually have the option of paying additional points -- a portion of the interest that you pay at closing -- in exchange for a lower interest rate. If you stay in the house for a long time -- say three to five years or more -- it's usually a better deal to take the points. The lower interest rate will save you more in the long run.

8. Before house hunting, get pre-approved.

Getting pre-approved will you save yourself the grief of looking at houses you can't afford and put you in a better position to make a serious offer when you do find the right house. Not to be confused with pre-qualification, which is based on a cursory review of your finances, pre-approval from a lender is based on your actual income, debt and credit history.

9. Do your homework before bidding.

Your opening bid should be based on the sales trend of similar homes in the neighborhood. So before making it, consider sales of similar homes in the last three months. If homes have recently sold at 5 percent less than the asking price, you should make a bid that's about eight to 10 percent lower than what the seller is asking.

10. Hire a home inspector.

Sure, your lender will require a home appraisal anyway. But that's just the bank's way of determining whether the house is worth the price you've agreed to pay. Separately, you should hire your own home inspector, preferably an engineer with experience in doing home surveys in the area where you are buying. His or her job will be to point out potential problems that could require costly repairs down the road.

Rose Price, CIPS, CRP

Prudential Landmark Real Estate
Champaignrose.com

 

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An exhibit entitled Prologue to Presidency: Abraham Lincoln on the Illinois Eighth Judicial Circuit will make a stop at the Champaign County,  Courthouse in Urbana from May 17 through June 18. This exhibit offers a groundbreaking view of Abraham Lincoln and of Lincoln’s America during the middle of the nineteenth century. The exhibit is free and open to the public during regular Courthouse hours, 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. Monday through Friday. For security reasons cell phones are not allowed in the courthouse.

The exhibit reveals a very different perspective of Lincoln the politician, and of Lincoln the president. He is often thought of as a “railsplitter” and a man of the people, but the exhibit shows that he was actually a sophisticated lawyer who learned the use of legal technicalities and mastered the art of argument. Indeed, Lincoln was shaped as much by his professional life as by any other single force, and by the end of his 21 years on the circuit, he was ready to enter the most elite group of lawyers in the nation. In spite of Lincoln’s statements in his autobiography he was, in fact, a very accomplished lawyer. It was those accomplishments, and Lincoln's entire experience on the circuit, which propelled him to the presidency.

Thanks news-gazette for the info on this historical Champaign County event!

Rose Price, CIPS, CRP

Prudential Landmark Real Estate
Champaignrose.com

 

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    Featured Champaign Properties 

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Choosing a Pest Control Service

by Rose Price

Summer is almost here in Champaign Illinois. Unfortunately, that means the bugs are here too. If you are a homeowner who has these uninvited guests, fortunately they can be controlled. Household pests can be eliminated through a combination of preventive measures, including proper sanitation and over-the-counter pesticides. However, some pest infestations may be extensive or a particular pest may be difficult to control, requiring pest control services.

While many household pests are merely a nuisance, some can cause serious damage to our homes or property and other pose dangers such as bites, stings, and transmit disease-causing agents. Choosing a pest control company is a serious matter, you want someone who is honest, dependable, state-certified, and who has the proper training and expertise to use the pesticides safely in your home. Below are some tips to help you in your search to find a professional in your area.

• Select a company based on their reputation, time in your community and willingness to answer your questions. They should give you written material that describes the problem they propose to treat and how they propose to treat it including what chemicals will be used and in what amounts.

• Pest control companies differ in their guarantees so be sure to Inquire on the specifics. If a guarantee is given, know what it covers, how long it lasts, what you must do to keep it in force, and what kind of continuing prevention and management are necessary.

• While the cost is an important factor, it is important to not base your decision on price alone. An advertisement in the phone book or the "deal of the week". Be cautious of unsolicited sales pitches and never select treatment just because your neighbor's property is being treated or because there is "leftover spray from another job." Get references and check them. 

• Make sure you receive a written estimate detailing how much will they charge to do an inspection to determine the extent of your problem, outline the services they would perform.

• Ask how long it will take to solve your pest problem, and how often the company will return to do more work or to track results. Ask the company what other measures they can take to manage the pest problems, or what you can do to reduce future pest problems.

Choosing a quality
pest control company is an important decision. You want the company to get rid of the pests but you also want to keep your Champaign Illinois home safe.  Do not be pressured by a sales person or a company to sign a contract immediately or to pay in advance, take your time to make a sound decision. The key to any decision is having confidence in the company you chose.

 

Rose Price, CIPS, CRP

Prudential Landmark Real Estate
Champaignrose.com

 

    Search for Homes in the Champaign Area 

    Featured Champaign Properties 

    Champaign Condominiums 

    Selling Your Champaign Home

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Dance For People With Parkinson's

by Rose Price

Parkinson's disease is a devastating disease that affects thousands of people and sadly has no cure. Krannert Center is hosting an event this Friday, November the 18th along with Mark Morris Dance Group, Unity Parkinson's Disease Support Group, Carle Clinic, Dance at Illinois, and Krannert Center Marianne Jarvi and Kate Kuper, instructors Beverly Hillmer, accompanist.

This workshop originated by the Mark Morris Dance Group and the Brooklyn Parkinson Group focuses on improving mobility, flexibility, balance, range of motion, mood, and overall quality of life. Caregivers, friends of patients, and anyone with mobility issues are welcome to join in this free movement session with live music led by Marianne Jarvi and Kate Kuper of Dance at Illinois. Please dress comfortably for this gentle, full-body workshop.

This event is Friday, November 18th at 10am at Krannert Center for the Performing Arts located at 500 S. Goodwin Ave.,Urbana, IL 61801. Phone  (217) 333-6700
 
 
 
 
 
 
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