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CHAMPAIGN – Home sales in the Champaign County area were up from a year ago for the third straight month, according to September statistics from the Champaign County Association of Realtors.
However, the rise in activity still seems to be fueled primarily by lower-priced homes – and the availability of the first-time homebuyer credit.
URBANA – Therese Catanach hopes to get a tax credit of about $6,500 as a result of buying a home last month on East Park Street in Urbana.
The doctoral student at the University of Illinois moved to town from College Station, Texas, and decided she didn't want to rent any more.
CHAMPAIGN – A longtime mortgage broker in Champaign and Northbrook has become part of a larger financial-services firm based in the Chicago area.
Revere Mortgage Ltd. has been acquired by Wintrust Mortgage, a subsidiary of Barrington Bank & Trust Co. That bank is one of 15 banks owned by Wintrust Financial Corp., a Lake Forest-based financial-services firm.
CHAMPAIGN – Kay Bird is not a Pop Tart.
She is a Realtor with 31 years experience.
"A Pop Tart real estate agent is one who gets a call from someone who saw a 'For Sale' sign, says, 'I can be there in half an hour;' and jumps in the car to go," Bird says.
When you become successful, you don't need to be on call on 30 minutes' notice.
CHAMPAIGN – Real estate developer Dan Hamelberg said he has been acquiring property near the city's Second Street Reach project with hopes of building apartments – and possibly condominiums – near it.
The massive Boneyard Creek detention project, already under way, is expected to create a huge pond and park-like section in the area where Second Street once extended from University and Springfield avenues.
URBANA – Sarah Brown-Schmidt and her husband, Duane Watson, looked at about 20 homes this year before deciding to buy a Queen Anne-style house on West Main Street in Urbana.
They ended up paying $315,000 for the house, which had been on the market about a year, Brown-Schmidt said.
The sellers "had been asking for quite a bit more, but they dropped the price," she said. "We ended up making an offer close to the eventual asking price."
Debbie Insana is out to prove that there are various shades of green with the first house – the Insana family house – at her Brickhouses Road development in rural Urbana.
The house will be showcased from noon to 5 p.m. Sunday at the Brickhouses Road subdivision, located just east of the intersection of High Cross and Airport roads in rural Urbana.
CHAMPAIGN – Apartment buildings on the University of Illinois campus are filling up – but landlords say in many cases, it's taking longer to lease them out and requiring a few discounts.
Last year's opening of high-rise apartment complexes on Green Street and Springfield Avenue boosted the number of units available on campus. And this year and last, landlords felt the effects.
PHILO – It was the worst-kept secret in this small town.
Rumors had been circulating for at least a week that Nathan and Jenny Montgomery and their two boys and two girls had been chosen for ABC's "Extreme Makeover: Home Edition," the TV show that depicts a family getting a brand-new home built for them within a week, while they are on vacation.
CHAMPAIGN – Maybe it was the cooler weather.
Maybe it was optimism sparked by a surging stock market.
But something caused people in Champaign County to get in the home-buying spirit in July.