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Displaying blog entries 71-80 of 80

New Years Eve at High Dive

by Rose Price

High Dive is closing out 2011 in Champaign with a triple-bill of local bands! The current cream of the crop are joined by a reunion of a former top-tier CU rock band. Champagne toast at midnight, complimentary coat check, 400+ balloons, and great time.

$20.00 in advance (and $TBA at the door)

Doors/Bar Open 8:00pm
Temple Of Low Men 9:00-10:15pm
Elsinore 10:45-12:00am
The Dirty Feathers 12:30-1:45am

Make plans now and don’t wait until the last minute to scramble for tickets for this Champaign New Years Eve event!

Have a safe and happy New Year!
 

 

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Hidden Benefits to Buying a Home

by Rose Price

If you have been thinking of buying a home, chances are that you have asked yourself the standard questions: Have you saved enough money for a down payment? Can you afford the expenses associated with owning a home? Are you going to stay in the home for a short period of time or is this home a place you intend on living in for years to come? Can you qualify for a mortgage?

There is alot to think about and if you are considering the benefits of home ownership, some of those benefits are missed by homebuyers when considering their options.

Tax deductions when you own a home

Mortgage interest tax deduction. First-time homebuyers may be pleasantly surprised when they file their personal income taxes after they purchase a home as their primary residence. The interest payments they have made to their lender are fully deductible. When you start making mortgage payments, almost the whole loan payment consists of interest. In the early years, you pay little principal back on the loan. If you have an equity loan on that primary residence, you can also deduct interest paid to the lender on loans up to $100,000.

Property tax deduction.

In addition to the mortgage interest tax deduction, you can also deduct on your federal income taxes your real estate tax payments associated with your primary residence. IRS Publication 530 has more information about how to deduct your property taxes. And, for now, it seems that Congress will continue the mortgage interest tax deduction and the real estate property tax deduction.

Buying a home with extra perks

Buying a historical property. Buying a historical home has its pros and cons. You may be able to buy a home with history and heritage, but you may have to pay quite a bit more to renovate and keep up with home maintenance. If your historic home is in an historic district, you may have other limitations on what you can do with your home and how you must maintain the home. There may be a federal tax credit and state tax credit available to owners of historic property. In some parts of the country, if you own a historic home, you may be able to get a real estate tax benefit from your local tax assessor’s office. Thirty states now offer state rehabilitation tax credits for historical properties. Keep in mind that you may have to comply with certain building standards to keep and maintain historic property to receive a tax benefit. If you’re willing to put in the work to maintain a historical home and restore it to its original beauty, you may benefit financially. Start your search for a historic home with the National Trust for Historic Preservation.

Buying in a community targeted by state or federal governments for redevelopment.

One of the most important rules of real estate is Location, Location, Location. In some cases, you can benefit by finding a neighborhood that has the backing of the federal or state government. Some government agencies will give lenders incentives to have them lend money in certain communities and neighborhoods. If you can qualify for these benefits, you might find that the interest rate on your loan is below market or that some of the closing costs associated with your purchase are covered by the lender or the governmental agency. The Community Reinvestment Act is a federal law that encourages lenders to meet the needs of borrowers in low- to moderate-income communities and the location of some of these properties can be targeted under specially designated census tracts. Talk to your mortgage broker or real estate agent to find out if you can look at homes in these census tracts.

Additional benefits of home ownership

Building Equity. At the beginning of the life of your loan, you will be paying most of your payment to interest. But every month, that balance will shift and you will be paying more of your payment toward principal and less to interest. Instead of paying rent to a landlord, you will be making the payment toward your investment in equity. While the last decade has not been a good one for homebuyers, historically, when you make your monthly payments, you will find that your loan balance decreases and you increase equity in your home.

Freedom of being a homeowner. If you look at rental listings you might find such criteria as “no pets” or “no painting.” Owning your own house gives you the freedom to make your home into whatever you want it to be, and the satisfaction that comes with building a home. You can make changes and upgrade your home, building more of an investment in your future and being the king or queen of your castle.

Owning a home is a big step and you should think carefully about what home you purchase for you and your family. Do you still have questions about owning a home? Contact me!


 

Join Champaign art enthusiasts at the National Biennial Ceramics Invitational!

Suze Lindsay curates this year’s 13th National Biennial Ceramics Invitational. Suze Lindsay has been a professional potter for over 20 years and is a practicing artist in North Carolina. She was at Penland School of Crafts on a two year fellowship from 1987-89, and subsequently received her MFA from Louisiana State University. Lindsay has selected ceramacists for this exhibition who were former classmates from these institutions and who possess proficient skill in the diverse realm of pottery − some addressing pottery's straightforward utility, others using it as a springborad to produce conceptuaol vessels and other works of art.

Participating artists Margaret Bohls, Jim Brashear, Kathryn Finnerty, Douglas Herren, Maren Kloppmann, Neil Patterson, Jenny Lou Sherburne, Jane Shellenbarger, Janice Strawder and Holly Walker. An accompanying  catalogue for the exhibition will be available .

This free Champaign event runs from December 22nd at 3pm - Monday, January 2nd, 2012 and will be hosted at 
the Parkland Art Gallery at 2400 West Bradley Avenue, Champaign, IL 61821.

 

 

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Tips for Being a Good Host and a Good Guest

by Rose Price

Having a home in Champaign, IL during the holidays means that you have access to some of the most beautiful scenery in the country this time of year. While holiday get togethers are fun they can also be stressful!  Here are a few tips to ensure that you have a fun holiday weekend with your family and friends this Holiday.

Holiday: Tips for Hosts and Guests

Hosting the big holiday dinner is a huge responsibility. It's normal to feel overwhelmed with cooking, cleaning, decorating, and maintaining the guest list. (And let’s not even begin to think about the clean-up afterwards!) Here are some tips on how to make  your holiday fun for everyone.

1.  Remember, people will take your food- So, plan for leftovers ahead of time. Have some extra Styrofoam containers, paper plates, aluminum foil, and plastic grocery bags available for guests so they can take a little morsel or two home at the end of the evening. This will prevent the loss of your favorite Tupperware, plates, or bowls from your own cabinets

2.  Prepare for clean-up- Be sure to keep some extra cleaning supplies nearby just in case an accident happens, and it is also a good idea to always keep some soapy dishwater in the sink for used cutlery and plates as guests finish eating.

3.  Don’t be afraid to ask for help-As the host or hostess, it’s easy to assume that it’ your responsibility to do everything. This isn’t true! Asking for help with cooking, decorating, or cleaning will be a fun, easy way to get things done efficiently.

4.  Don’t leave out the specialty foods-Make sure that there is a variety of things for all of your guests to eat. It’s usually good to have a few dishes that are vegetarian, vegan, low-fat, and/or low-carb.

 

As a guest, it is important to remember that you have many responsibilities as well when it comes to showing good manners.

1.  Be thankful for the invitation. A thank-you note or small gift (such as candles or box of chocolates) is a great way to show appreciation to your host or hostess. Also, it is a good idea to offer to bring a dish, even if it is not a potluck dinner.

2.  If you have special food needs (such as vegetarian, low sodium, sugar free), you need to make sure your host or hostess is aware of the situation and can make necessary accommodations for you.

3.  Timing really is everything- Simple concept: if dinner starts at 7p.m., be there at 7p.m.! It is always a good idea to arrive on time or no later than half an hour after the scheduled time.

4.  Be available to help- Remember, your host/hostess has gone through a lot of work to accommodate you. It is of utmost importance that you do as much as you can to lend a helping hand when you have the opportunity.

If you have any holiday tips we’d love to hear from you! Have a Happy Holiday!

Spurlock Museum Weekend Events

by Rose Price

There are several exhibitions at the Spurlock Museum in Urbana to check out this weekend. Take a break from the holiday chaos and crowded shops and enjoy a day at the museum!

The Warriors, Guardians and Demons exhibition is currently running. An important part of the Spurlock Museum's Centennial Celebration is honoring the many generous people who have supported the Museum through the donation of artifacts. This lobby exhibit features a selection from the large collection of Asian carvings donated by Mr. Fred Freund.

Als, the museum is hosting the Collecting and Connecting Exhibition.  To mark our 100th year as a vital part of educational and cultural missions of the University and as a resource to local communities, the Spurlock Museum celebrates the people, collections, voices, and ideas that have made our century of service meaningful.

The museum is located at  600 S. Gregory, Urbana. Visit the website for hours and more information.

 

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How to Have a Good Move!

by Rose Price

If you have just purchased a Central Illinois home and will be moving soon, you know that you will need to deal with the dreaded packing and unpacking!  Not many people enjoy this process, but it can be a lot less stressful if you are organized and make a plan. Here are a few tips to get you started.

Plan ahead and research the best price and service if you will you require the assistance of a moving company. It’s a good idea to price this out ahead of time by using a moving calculator.
 

Stock up on the following supplies: strong packing boxes (more than you think you will need), markers and tags to label boxes, rolls of packing tape, bubble wrap for fragile items, packing paper, scissors and a knife for opening boxes.
 

Pack room-to-room keeping similar items together and use smaller boxes for heavier items so it is easier to lift.
 

You don't need to spend alot of money on packing items to protect your delicate items. You can use towels, linens and curtains to line the bottom and sides of boxes with fragile items. All fragile items should be individually wrapped and clearly marked FRAGILE.
 

Make sure that any opened boxes or jars are tightly sealed before packing them. You don't want to find out that the bleach spilled once you have reached your new home!
 

Use colorful tags to identify the contents of the box and which room it will be taken to in your new home.


There will be so much to do and it will be easy to forget what you have. Make a master list of all household items and personal belongings.
 

Be sure to pack a box with all the essentials and mark it “Open Me First.” This box may contain items such as: a few basic tools (flashlight, pocket knife, masking tape, light bulbs), bathroom essentials (toilet paper, soap, shampoo, toothbrushes & paste, hand towel), Kitchen items (paper towels, coffee maker & filter, paper plates, cups, utensils, pet food, trash bags).
 
Moving to a new home should be an exciting time and planning ahead will make all the difference to avoid a experience  Do you have any helpful moving tips that worked for you? Share them with us!

 

 

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Is Now the Time to Refinance?

by Rose Price

As interest rates drop to historic lows, several homeowners in Champaign, IL are making the decision to take advantage of refinancing their home. Keep in mind, even if your neighbor is refinancing, it might not be the right move for you. Below are some things you need to take into consideration before making your final decision regarding refinancing.

Although rates are low right now, the present economic crisis has caused a lot of lenders to reduce the amount of loans they give out.  This is a drastic change from the last few years when requirements were very loose and almost anyone was eligible for a mortgage. If you are figuring out how to save on your mortgage refinance, its vital to make sure you do your homework and get your facts right.

First, look at your loan-to-value ratio. In a no-cash-out refinancing (where the amount of your new loan doesn't exceed the balance of your existing loan, plus points and closing costs, if applicable), you may be able to borrow as much as 95% of your home's value. However, if the value of your home has fallen below the amount of your existing mortgage balance, you may not be able to refinance at all. This sadly, has been the case for many homes.  But you may be able to proceed through the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009's Home Affordable Refinance program.

The major advantage of refinancing to a new lower interest rate is that you will save a substantial amount on your monthly mortgage payment. This is of course why most people choose to refinance their mortgage. It is important to keep in mind however that there are going to be costs involved with refinancing such as closing costs, points, and possible appraisal  and attorney fees.

Do your research and shop around for the best refinancing interest rates. All banks are not created equal, some banks and financial institutions charge higher rates than others. Normally, the smaller Community Banks and Credit Unions are more consumers oriented and charge lower rates.

In addition, when shopping around, look and compare interest rates and points versus no points before you refinance. Look out for embedded points included in the closing costs. Keep in mind, some lenders will include points in the closing cost without necessarily actually quoting these costs as points.

As a homeowner, it is important you do your research and educate yourself -- reach out to a professional who can walk you through refinancing as it's not a one size fits all solution.   

Have questions? Contact me today for help understanding the entire refinancing process.

 

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Best Bathroom Remodeling Choices

by Rose Price

Many homeowners in Central Illinois are making the choice to remodel their existing home in lieu of buying a new home as a result of the recession and economy. In a recent survey by the National Association of Home Builders (NAHB), it is reported that respondents indicated that a bathroom remodel was one of their most common projects during the first half of this year. In fact, almost 61% percent of all remodels were done on bathrooms.

The popularity of bathroom remodeling may be attributed to the concept that it can be a very affordable way to make your master suite more comfortable and add value to your home when it’s time to sell.

If you are considering making some improvements to your bathroom, below are some tips to help give your bath a great lift:

Vanity Sinks: From artistic vessel sinks to furniture pieces that have been modified to accommodate plumbing, sinks can become a bathroom showpiece while keeping their functionality.

Countertops: Granite, ceramics, recycled glass and marble are all popular materials to consider if you want to update the counters of your existing vanity.

Showers: Open, walk-in showers are very popular right now and can be designed to accommodate more than one person.

Faucets: Old, polished brass fixtures really date your bathroom – check out new silhouettes and finishes for your faucets and cabinetry.

Lighting: Bathrooms that are well lit, especially with natural light sources look fresh and modern. Consider glass block windows and skylights to bring in natural light and create an open feeling.

Tile: Tile can be used creatively in the shower and wet areas as well as the floor and for backsplash.

As with any home improvement project, it is a good idea to first list your objectives, create a budget and do your homework before you select a contractor. The NAHB also offers a list of resources and reference guides to help make decisions and find qualified professionals.

 

 

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Did You Know Your Cell Phone Can Do This?

by Rose Price

Cell phones are a part of life and most of us carry them everywhere and are lost if we forget it at home!  While technology has improved over the years that cell phones can do so many things we never imagined. However, there are some other neat tricks that can help in an emergency that you might not have known. Below 5 things you never knew your cell phone could do! These tips might be helpful as we begin the holiday travel in Central Illinois.

1. Emergency - The emergency number worldwide for mobile phone is 112. If you find yourself out of the coverage area of your mobile network and there is an emergency, dial 112 and the mobile will search any existing network to establish the emergency number for you, and interestingly this number, 112 can be dialed even if the keypad is locked.

2. Hidden Battery Power - This seems to happen when we need our phones the most! Not to worry, to activate, press the keys *3370# Your cell will restart with a reserve and the instrument will show a 50% increase in battery. This, reserve will get charges when you charge your cell the next time.

3. Have You Locked Your Keys In The Car? Does your car have the remote keyless entry? If you lock your keys in the car and you have the remote keyless entry and the spare keys are at home, call someone at home on their cell phone from your cell phone. Hold your cell phone about a foot from your car door and have the person at home press the unlock button, holding it near the mobile phone on their end. Your car will unlock. Distance is no object. You could be hundreds of miles away, and if you can reach someone who has the other "remote" for your car, you can unlock doors or the trunk.

4. How To Disable A Stolen Mobile Phone - To check your mobile phone's serial number, key in the following digits on your phone - *#06# A 15 digit code will appear on the screen. This number is unique to your handset. If your phone gets stolen, you can call your handset provider and give them this code. They will then be able to block your handset so even if the thief changes the SIM card, your phone will be totally useless. If everyone does this, there would be no point in people stealing mobile phones.

5. Free Directory Service For Cell Phones - Cell phone companies are charging us $1.00 or more for 411 information calls when they don't have to. When you need to use 411 information, simply dial: 800-FREE411 or 800-373-3411 without incurring any charge at all.

 

 

 

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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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