10 Amenities That Get Homes Sold During Winter

Many homeowners believe attempting to sell their places during winter is a losing proposition. Real estate agents, however, know any season is the right one when a property is attractive and represents a great value.

With inventory typically lower during the cold weather months, it’s actually a perfect time to put a home on the market. It also doesn’t hurt to set the stage — or sweeten the pot, if you will — by evoking a warm and welcoming vibe that makes would-be buyers want to hang up their coats, kick off their boots, and stay a while.

There’s no denying it’s cold out there, so why not embrace it? The following are amenities that prove winter really can be the most wonderful time of the year.

1. Fire pit

#Cozy #night by the #fire during the #holidays…

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Create a covetable outdoor space with the help of a fire pit. Whether it’s made of stone and serves as a permanent fixture or is a movable and affordable centerpiece for backyard S’mores-making, adding the element of fire ups the charm factor immediately.

2. Hot tub

A nighttime soak in this Jacuzzi ® Hot Tub will bring a smile to your face in no time

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Wait, is this a home or a five-star resort? Watching steam rise from a frothy hot tub on a chilly afternoon or evening makes anyone want to move right in! Giving a place the spa treatment, will remind home-shoppers that with this luxurious item on the premises, winter can last as long as it likes.

3. Home theater

Think the kids will like this one? #SoldbyKenitaTang #Kenitatangrealtor #Movienight #hometheater #movies #Kids #Realtor

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Especially during the winter, and particularly in cold weather climates, playing up the ability to have a blast indoors does wonders for buyers’ peace of mind (moreso if they’re parents). A home theater, even on a smaller scale (think flat screen and an old-fashioned popcorn maker), helps visitors envision themselves and their families surviving those endless snow days in style.

4. Fireplace

It’s almost impossible to resist the hypnotic allure of a roaring fire. According to the National Center for Real Estate Research, fireplaces have a positive impact on the selling price, with each fireplace adding about 12 percent. If a home has this feature, by all means, strike a match and watch that property heat up!

5. In-home wine bar

Baby, it’s cold outside — so why leave the house? This wine bar is one way to keep spirits merry and bright. It also conjures up thoughts of hosting holiday parties and gatherings as new owners envision celebrating and showing off their place.

6. Hot cocoa bar

Hello Friends!! I hope you all had a great Thanksgiving!!I've been pretty busy working on projects all last week and still haven't put up my Christmas tree. I did manage to get my hot cocoa bar done!! Is Everyone finished with their decorating yet or are you like me and it's taking you forever!! I'm normally not like this, but I'm struggling on trying to figure out how I want things to go. Hoping to figure it out and get it done by the end of the day. Happy decorating!! #mugrackmonday #signsandstemsmonday #wordsindecor #merrymerrydecor #mymerryhome #merrymondaydecor #myfarmcharmchristmas #verymerrymonday #mystyledholidayhome #lovingmyholidayhome #hotcocoabar #raedunn #raedunnchristmas #targetdollarspot #hotcocoa #coffeestation #farmhousechristmas #christmasdecor #holidayraedisplay Cute coffee banner is from @diyinspiredhouse Have a Holly jolly Christmas sign is from @rusticchicksboutique and Hot cocoa sign is from @houseon77th Awesome shops to check out

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On the other end of the spectrum, but no less festive, a hot cocoa bar offers a sweet welcome all ages can enjoy. Placed in the kitchen, dining room, family room, or foyer, this treat station makes you feel comfortable and right at home.

7. Wood-burning stove

Wood-burning stoves represent a delightful throwback to bygone days. Their timeless appeal will charm visitors at the same time they warm up a home. Thanks to advancements in technology, these old-fashioned heaters are more energy efficient than ever.

8. Home sauna

A home sauna? Why not? We can do that.

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Calling all athletes and anyone who could use a haven from the stresses of the outside world! (So, OK, everyone!) An in-home sauna is the oasis you’ve been seeking. Steam away those cares while enjoying health benefits that include improved circulation, detoxification, and even sinus relief.

9. Storm survival kit

Throwing in a highly-desirable item often increases interest from buyers. In a snowy climate, there are few tools as sought-after as a snowblower once that white stuff starts falling. Want to keep the enticement more affordable? Heavy-duty snow shovels, high-end gloves, rock salt, and de-icer all come in handy as well. First-time home-buyers who may be snow-removal newbies will appreciate this gesture.

10. Highlight energy efficient upgrades


In addition to being comfortable temperature-wise, if a home is as energy-efficient as possible, that’s something buyers will definitely want to know — and remember. Creating a list of any upgrades to windows, doors, HVAC units, and the roof, as well as the installation of energy-saving appliances, means more money in buyers’ pockets and less going out the window.

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Annual Pie Giveaway

Every year, Sharon Harkness Inc thanks their clients, vendors and referrals as part of our annual  Thanksgiving celebration. Invitations to come and celebrate with us are sent through email every year.  Thanksgiving pies are pre-ordered, lovingly labelled and arranged in our meeting place near our office.

The Sharon Harkness team is thankful for all the people we work with through the years and at present. Indeed, the relationship cultivated is not merely limited to work but friendship and more business have been formed as referrals. We are happy to see them during these times. We are grateful for you.

We hope you had a happy Thanksgiving!

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1808 Glenwood Oaks Court

Carefree living can be yours in this two bedroom two bath condo tucked away on a cul-de-sac only minutes from campus.

Listing presented by licensed real estate broker Lisa Duncan with Sharon Harkness Inc, Keller Williams Realty: TREC. Call us today (217) 898-938.

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Real Estate Apps Can Go Wrong

Nowadays, online shopping has almost taken over the act of physically going to a store and checking the merchandise. Almost anything can be done online. Yes, even the concept of buying and selling homes online has been embraced for convenience and efficiency. People who are interested to buy or list their homes resort to apps that are available online to check out the real estate market.

Homeowners who wish to put their house in the market now have the option to show pictures and other pertinent details of their property. They can also get to communicate with online shoppers and asses the serious shoppers.  Because online listings now, can show to would-be buyers almost everything they need to know before actually seeing it.

The thing about all these information thrown in the internet though may render consumers misinformed because of several issues with these listing sites.

There are common things that these listing sites can get wrong:

1. Fake listings: In this time where fake news are all over the internet, it is definitely true that there are also fake listings. For example, posters or online flyers with pictures fake house are posted in these sites merely as click bait.Worse, these fake listings are used to get your personal information for marketing purposes. Like in online or offline shopping, scams happen. One home owner was shocked to find pictures of his home were posted in a listing site after a suspicious would-be buyer informed him about it. Apparently, someone stole the pictures from another listing site, assumed his identity and asked people for holding fees on a home they would never own.



Zillow.com instructs its users how to be alert of scams and internet fraud so you don’t waste time and energy engaging with fake listings.

2. Listings may not be updated: Many times, some listings aren’t updated. Listings that may show Active in these sites may actually be Pending or are already Sold. Or a house that is labelled Sold has  been brought back to the market.

This may confuse some sellers and those who wants to put their homes in the market. Potential buyers may pass on a perfect home or sellers might miss out on buyers because the listing information is out-of-date.

In an effort to avoid losing potential buyers or sellers who search for information online, some listing sites (like Zillow, Trulia, Realtor.com) gets automatic updates from the brokerage company’s database for a more accurate information on their other listing sites. This means that realtors connects their  database or their main listing site to these apps in order to widen the exposure of their client’s property. Any edits or updates can automatically be reflected on the listing site connected to the realtor’s main listing site. This has so far reduced the update fiasco. However, an updated listing site may still have incorrect information that may confuse online home shoppers.

3. Property information may be incorrect: This poses potential problems for both buyers and sellers. The number of bedrooms may not be posted correctly, pictures are labelled or arranged wrongly or worse, the location may not state where the property is located exactly. Indeed, there are still technical glitches in the app’s feeds. Buyers may use a feature that estimates the property’s worth but the disparity may be off by 8% nationally. This can scare off buyers of your property.

The BEST option:
Because of misinformation, your home sale or search may just be a waste of time and energy. Hence, it is always best to work with a real estate agent. Not only are real estate agents reliable in terms of access to a property that you are interested in but they can also take you on a tour to the home you are interested in or bring in potential buyers to your home.

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Fall Frenzy 2017 Contest

Social media is an effective tool in real estate marketing. According to a study, millenials (94%) and babyboomers (84%) prefer to use online sites to search for homes they want to live in. Furthermore, homebuyers now use social media to find their future homes.

We at the Sharon Harkness team are thinking of better ways to widen our reach and gain more traction as we become more active in our social media pages. Last week, the team concluded its Fall Frenzy contest by drawing a lucky new follower in one of our social media accounts. For several weeks, flyers and images of our Fall Frenzy contest were posted to encourage and attract more likers in the community.

So on October 20, 2017, a winner was drawn! Here’s a video of Lisa Duncan and Barb Schwartz picking the winner.

The winner, Annessa Parisi, came over the office and claimed her price, an Apple watch! Congratulations, Annessa!

We intend to share more information to our clients, referrals and followers in our social network. Visit our pages now and engage with us. We want to hear from you!

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Why Fall Might Be The Best Time To Buy A Home

A lot of people think the best time to buy a house is during the Spring market.

And, it is…

…in 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.

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.

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Safety Tips When Using The Grill Master

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 

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

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.”

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