Sharon Harkness' Blog

Champaign Real Estate Blog

Sharon Harkness


Displaying blog entries 1-10 of 64

Why Fall Might Be The Best Time To Buy A Home

by Sharon Harkness


A lot of people think the best time to buy a house is during the Spring market. And, it is... the sense that more houses are listed for sale in the Spring. But, there's also a heck of a lot more buyers trying to buy those listings. The thing is, some of the houses listed back in the Spring don't end up selling. (Usually just because they were overpriced.) Now, it isn't like new listings don't happen in the Fall. There's always new listings coming on the market. But it's not like, just because it's Fall and not Spring, prices are necessarily going to fall. In other words, new listings aren't likely to list for a lot lower than you would have seen in the Spring. However, the homeowners who did list back in the Spring, are much more likely to be anxious (perhaps even desperate) to sell their home. They've created their own problem...they missed the boat by pricing too high. Which is great news for you, if you're looking to buy a home:

  • Less competition. (Many buyers stop looking at this time of year...for no good reason.)
  • Motivated sellers. (They're sick of being on the market, and wondering why nobody bought their house.)

But it isn't always easy to find those listings. They don't wave a white flag, or lower their price to some ridiculous amount everyone would notice. If only it were that easy... Just because someone listed their home back in the Spring doesn't mean they'll be all that negotiable. There are certain things a great real estate agent will know to look for. And I love rolling up my sleeves and finding the ones we can most likely negotiate the best deals on. So, got anything you want me to roll up my sleeves and look for? Real estate deals won't just fall in your lap, but I can certainly help you find one this Fall. Bonus Want another reason to buy a home in the Fall? You can take advantage of year-end sales to outfit your home! Hardly anybody buys a home who doesn't want (or need) to make improvements, however small. So why not coordinate your purchase with sales on items you'll need? According to Consumer Reports, September is an ideal time for buying carpet and paint. In October lawn mowers go on sale, and the same goes for appliances and cookware in November.

Keeping Your House Cool This Summer

by Sharon Harkness

This summer, we battle the heat but also the bills to keep the house cool. The infographic shows helpful tips on saving energy and keeping the house cool during this summer season.

Save Energy and Keep Cool This Summer


From Visually.

Safety Tips When Using The Grill Master

by Sharon Harkness



Summer is the season for grilling. Cooking out can be done anywhere outside the house: poolside, patio, and beyond. It is also worthy to note that using gas and charcoal grills leads to 16,900 emergency room visits and $96 million in property damage every year. Indeed, the safety of our family and home is of utmost importance. It is dependent whether we follow guidelines in grilling.

Here are a easy to remember tips on keeping your family and your home safe. Consider printing a list and posting near the cooking area to remind you or anyone grilling before getting started:

  • Maintain distance. Keep the grill well away from your home and deck railings, and out from under eaves and overhanging branches.
  • Keep the barbeque grill clean. Remove grease or fat buildup from the grill and in trays below the grill.
  • Never leave your grill unattended, and keep children and pets at least three feet away from the grill at all times.
  • Always make sure the lid of a gas grill is open before lighting.
  • Give the grill special attention.If using starter fluid for a charcoal grill, use only charcoal starter fluid, and never add charcoal fluid or any other flammable liquid to the fire. Keep charcoal fluid out of the reach of children and away from heat sources.
  • If your charcoal grill has an electric starter, use an extension cord.
  • When finished grilling, let the coals cool completely, then dispose in a metal container.

Source: National Fire Protection Association, DTE, PA Insurance 

Home Sales in Champaign County Dips to 3.9% in May 2017

by Sharon Harkness


In Champaign County, sales of homes dipped in May this year compared with the same time last year. In May this year, 271 homes were sold, a decline of 3.9% from 282 last May 2016.

"I think they're right around where they need to be," said CCAR President Jim Waller. "Last year was a good year, and we're not that far down from that."

"We're still lacking some inventory," he said. "We'd love to see some more listings. There's a lot of buyers, and they're not all able to find what they want."

Of the homes sold this May, 124 were in Champaign, 60 in Urbana, 23 in Mahomet and 14 in Savoy. Homes stayed listed for 61 days though as compared to 69 days last year.

The median price of homes currently listed is $155,00 in May, a 5.8% increase from $146,500 in May 2016.

"Low mortgage rates are still triggering more buyer demand in this market but some buyers are finding it taking a bit longer to find the right property that suits their prerequisites. The number of new listings and inventory of homes for sale continue to decrease in the Champaign market area," said Jim Waller, president of the Champaign County Association of REALTORS®. "REALTORS report inventory sales and strong buyer demand is leading to more multiple offer situations in this hot spring/summer selling market and buyers have to proceed quickly on their offer if they find the home they wish to purchase."

Sellers should note that buyers are eager to purchase and are searching the market right now. In fact, Waller expounds that Champaign County is a still a viable place to reside despite the dip in sales.

"It's economically stronger than most of the state," he said. "And we have some companies in town that are hiring."


[Infographic] Spring Clean Up

by Sharon Harkness

Spring 2017

by Sharon Harkness

Cool Things To Do In Champaign Urbana This February Part 1

by Sharon Harkness


D.I.Y. Weekend Wizards


Orpheum Children's Science Museum

346 N. Neil St.
Champaign, IL 61820

Saturday, February 04, 2017
1:00pm to 3:00pm

Visit website


Lunar New Year at Allerton Mansion



Allerton Park & Retreat Center

 515 Old Timber Rd.
Monticello, IL 61856

Saturday, February 04, 2017
Start Sat 5:

Visit website


Raas Mania 2017


Foellinger Auditorium at the University of Illinois - Urbana-Champaign

Foellinger Auditorium
709 South Mathews Avenue
Urbana, IL 61801

Sat, February 4, 2017
7:00 PM – 10:00 PM 

Visit website


Japanese Tea Ceremonies

Japan House

2000 South Lincoln Avenue
Urbana, IL 61802

Sat, February 18, 2017
2:00 PM – 3:00 PM 

For more information



Venice Baroque Orchestra: Vivaldi's Juditha Triumphans


Krannert Center for the Performing Arts

500 S. Goodwin Ave.
Urbana, IL 61801

Saturday, February 04, 2017
Starts at 

Visit website


February Bird Hike and Intro to eBird

Allerton Park & Retreat Center

515 Old Timber Rd.
Monticello, IL 61856

Sunday, February 05, 2017
7:00am to 10:00am

Visit Website


 14th Annual Chocolate Fantasy

Downtown Monticello

101 W Washington St.
Monticello, IL 61856

Friday, February 10, 2017
5:30pm to 8:30pm

Visit Website



Parkland College Theatre

2400 W. Bradley Ave.
Champaign, IL 61821

Thursday, February 09, 2017
Start Sat7:

Visit Website



Selling Your Home in Winter

by Sharon Harkness

It may be a common misconception that it is more difficult to sell your home in winter than summer. But there are advantages to selling during the cold months. A study shows that buyers tend to have more urgency from December to March. Also, homes listed in winter sells faster than in spring.

Actually, winter is the best time to show off a warm, cozy and family oriented home! If you decide to list your home, these strategies will help your home become a hot seller.

Value It Right 

Winter is a terrible time to test the market and list high. In the event that the house doesn't get an offer, you may need to reduce the price below the market value to grab a buyer before new properties show up in spring and make yours look stale by comparison. 

Check closing costs of similar properties sold in the previous 30 days, then eye current listing costs to ensure your home won't look overrated. 

Begin with the outside 

As with whatever season of the year, ensure that the house looks kept and tended to, with overhang troughs immaculate and minor repairs managed. While you can't paint in winter, washing paintwork can have a noteworthy impact. Make sure that the windows are recently washed and repaired as well; winter light has a technique for highlighting grime. Warm up the curb appeal by adding cool-weather plants to liven up the outdoor space.

Make a good first impression

Once a planned buyer comes inside, note that you may have just 10 to 15 minutes to make an impression that lasts. Start with the living room. Lighten up the fireplace. Declutter. Display pictures that indicate how the house would look like during the warmer season.

A vital point for unoccupied homes: ensure the heat is turned on a few hours before the showing. All the window-dressing and organizing won't lure purchasers to wait inside a house that is cold.


Home Upgrades that Work

by Sharon Harkness

An upgrade is commendable when it can either serve to lower your average cost for basic items while you remain in the home or increase the value of the home's sale price when you choose to make it available.

1. Barn Doors

A sliding entryway is an extraordinary approach to adding a redesigned look to the room, and it's a generally straightforward upgrade with little cost. If your closet doors have been overused, a barn door is a good replacement. 

2. Paint

The fastest approach to make a room look new again is to include a new layer of paint. Homebuyers frequently observe the measure of work that would go into painting over a splendid red divider, and may even request that the seller paint over it themselves. 

3. Working fireplace

Don't remove that fireplace. 54 percent of agents polled by Angie's list said a gas-burning fireplace builds the home's estimation most, however,  a review of 2,000 mortgage holders and homebuyers showed 58 percent want to have a fireplace that burns wood at home. It is clear that having a fireplace is a positive for your homevalue. 

4. Landscaping 

Frequently underestimated by homeowners when they put their home available is the home's curb appeal. As the first thing any buyer will see when they come to visit the house, it's critical to seed  dead grass, mow the lawn or garden regularly and add some blossoms or shrubberies without overpowering the yard.

5. Minor Bathroom Remodel

Expel dated wall covers and apply a crisp layer of paint. Spraying on the surface gives speedy scope. For that old tub,  re-caulk or re-caulk it for a like-new look

6. Minor Kitchen Remodel

Cover old vinyl with floor leveler.  Light up the kitchen by sanding and painting existing cupboards. It's a great deal less costly than purchasing new ones. Change curtains and window molding. 

7. Deck, Patio or Porch Addition 

Include planters on the front porch. Give a yard an amazing passage with a unique gate.  Ensure patio railings are safe and alluring. Cover cooling units with a wooden trellis. 

8. Light Fixtures 

Outside lighting is a simple and practical approach to adding magnificence and security to your home. Consider adding lighting to the walkway, a hanging pendant light to the front entryway. Also, an extra light close to the garage works Discover styles that supplement your home. 

9. Windows and Trim 

Replace broken glass. Sand, scrape and paint the trim. Clean within and outside of the windows until they sparkle. Include a few window boxes to offer a homey appeal.

6 Hacks for Hosting Thanksgiving [Infographic]

by Sharon Harkness

Displaying blog entries 1-10 of 64