The cold season has arrived, it's official - Winter is Coming. Here in Columbus, we've already experienced our first snow (with hale, no less)! For homeowners, that means it's time to prep your home for winter to avoid costly emergency winter repairs, and keep...
The cold season has arrived, it’s official – Winter is Coming. Here in Columbus, we’ve already experienced our first snow (with hale, no less)! For homeowners, that means it’s time to prep your home for winter to avoid costly emergency winter repairs, and keep everyone cozy through the season.
Taking a little bit of time to winterize your home can save you a lot of time, and money, later on. Check out these tips for preparing your home for the fall and winter.
1. Check window and door weather stripping for damage.
2. Disconnect water hoses and turn off outdoor water supply lines and irrigation system.
3. Wrap exterior water pipes or hose bibs with heating tape.
4. Clean your gutters.
5. Check your roof for damage or leaks.
6. Fill cracks in your driveway and foundation.
7. Check attic insulation for pest damage.
8. Have your furnace serviced.
9. Check your chimney for obstructions and make sure your damper is working.
10. Clean and store your lawnmower.
11. Aerate and fertilize your lawn.
12. Change the air filters in your HVAC system. Learn how to maximize the efficiency of your HVAC system for Winter HERE. Discover how to utilize your HVAC system to help protect against allergies and illness, even COVID HERE.
13. Change smoke detector batteries.
14. Clean and store outdoor furniture.
15. Have landscaping pruned and put fresh mulch down.
16. Bring potted plants inside.
17. Change your ceiling fan direction. Here’s how to DIY: How to Change a Ceiling Fan’s Direction
18. Clean humidifiers before using.
19. Check the condition of your pool cover.
20. Make sure snow equipment is working.
Remember, when in doubt, hire a professional to address home repairs. Should you ever need to utilize a home warranty or insurance to cover any damages or replacement costs, having record of maintenance performed by a licensed and insured contractor can bolster your claim! For recommendations on local contractors, or questions on which home projects to prioritize before winter – Connect with me directly.
Thinking about selling your home but not sure if the fall is the right time of year? There are actually several great advantages to put your home on the market in the Fall. Here are some of the benefits of listing your home during fall in Columbus:
- There is Less Competition. Typically spring and summer are high season for listing family homes, as people want to move over the summer before the new school year starts, so listings usually decrease in the fall, which means less competition and higher sales prices. The Columbus, Ohio market saw a very strong summer season with still too little inventory for the number of buyers – with less competition you can still expect strong home values and fairly quick-turn sales (if listed strategically).
- Great Weather for Buyers. When the heat of the summer is gone and cool crisp days return, people just want to be out and about more! That may be especially true this year, as we have all spent more time at home during COVID. With precautions put into place for showings and open houses, buyers can safely visit your home this fall. There’s also the option of virtual tours and showings – which has become very popular this year due to the pandemic; many homes in the Columbus area sold sight-unseen.
- Fall Enhances Curb Appeal. Spend the summer taking care of any external repairs that need finishing, then you can celebrate fall by planting some seasonal flowers, staging you or front porch with potted mums, pumpkins, and a fall wreath, and carry the theme inside with fall scented candles. For very little investment, your home can stand out and appear cozy and inviting – even leaving a some of Ohio’s renowned fall leaves on the lawn can add further appeal.
- Buyers are Serious. Fall and winter buyers tend to be more serious. They may need to move by the end of the year, or they want to get settled before the holiday season. The demographics of buyers may shift towards younger professionals, first-time home buyers, empty nesters, and retired people, who have more flexibility over when they move than people with schoolchildren and are therefore more likely to be serious when they do go looking.
- Increased Corporate Relocations. Similarly, companies that relocate employees regularly sometimes take advantage of the fall market, knowing they can get better deals on moving expenses. Companies also tend to make personnel changes in the fall as that often corresponds with their new fiscal year.
Spring is in the air and in Columbus, Ohio that means there’s plenty of pollen and dust too. While we are all practicing responsible social distancing and staying home, why not take the time to do a deep cleaning?
Here are some ideas and tips from professional cleaners and organizers to help you get the job done.
- Designate an area to collect items to be donated. A closet, a corner of the garage, or a spare room. This way you can collect everything in one place until you are able to take it to a donation center.
- Pick a method for de-cluttering: Follow the Marie Kondo’s advice and clean out the entire house by category, in this order: clothing, books, papers, miscellaneous items, then sentimental items. Another approach is to tackle the task by area, one cabinet, closet, or room at a time.
- When cleaning, start from the top with ceiling fans, crown molding, door and window frames, and cabinet tops, and work your way down, finishing with the floors.
- Remember to clean these easily over-looked spots: the top of, underneath, and inside of the fridge, inside the microwave and oven, behind the washer and dryer, the dryer vent outlet, air vents, windows and screens, window blinds, computer keyboards and gaming controls, toys, the shower curtain and drain, the garbage disposal and splash guard, patio furniture, the grill, outdoor trash and recycling containers, and outdoor door mats.
- Set up an annual or semiannual appointment for carpet, rug and upholstery professional cleaning. A do-it-yourself option is to rent a cleaner from your local grocery or hardware store – these machines often have attachments to clean stairs and upholstery. If you don’t mind a little extra work and sweat, it’s a great way to refresh the home.
- Keep an ongoing list of needed repairs to tackle yourself or have a handyman come in periodically to check things off the list.
- Spruce up landscaping with fresh mulch and plants. Have tree limbs trimmed away from your roof.
- Have your home’s exterior pressure cleaned, including the roof, driveway and patios.
- Launder your bedspreads, blankets and mattress pads. Don’t forget about your pet’s beds also.
- Don’t waste money on a lot of cleaning products. Baking soda and vinegar can accomplish a lot for much less than brand cleaning products cost. Click here for some homemade cleaning solution from Good Housekeeping.
BONUS: Spring cleaning is also a good time to do a safety check on your home and hold a family fire or emergency drill. Check the pressure on fire extinguishers, test smoke and carbon monoxide detectors, make sure doors and windows lock and open properly, and check for unsafe wiring, improperly stored flammable materials, and child safety hazards.
Sprucing up with the potential to list soon? Excellent – let’s connect to see what your home is worth today.
These are unprecedented times that we live in. The Covid-19 pandemic has changed how we socialize and conduct business. Some of that change is short-term and some may prove to be long-lasting.
In Columbus, Ohio, real estate has been deemed as an ‘Essential Service’. That doesn’t mean it’s business as usual. Realtors and related services are proceeding with caution as we innovate and prioritize ways to place health and safety first. With that said, real estate CAN be performed effectively with safety in mind.
I’m collaborating closely with clients as we proceed through the listing or buying process carefully. Realtors are also utilizing new contract addendum’s for Extensions and Terminations, which protect both the buyer and seller in a transaction should certain delays occur from government actions related to the COVID-19 pandemic. While some of our process have changed, the housing market in Columbus is still thriving; homes values remain strong and buyer’s are moving quickly with our low inventory. The following are just a few steps we’re adopting to ensure everyone’s health and safety through real estate transactions today. Click here for direct updates and safety precautions advised by the CDC.
The current understanding of the COVID-19 virus is that it does not remain airborne for long after coughing or sneezing. It resides the longest on surfaces such as counters and doorknobs. As we prepare to list and sell your home, I advise we follow these guidelines to ensure the safety of all parties:
- Instead of holding open houses, we may choose to add a video walk-through to our marketing
- We will limit the showing to just the agent plus two clients at a time. Now is not the time for the whole family to attend. I will convey a request the buyer’s agent to leave any children in the car with one adult while the other views the home and then the next adult can view the home.
- Before and after a showing, either myself or the sellers should wipe down all doorknobs and general surfaces with a disinfectant.
- To avoid buyers having to touch surfaces, seller’s should leave all interior doors and cabinets open and accessible.
- We will require that all agents and buyers wear a mask or thick scarf during the showing, as well as gloves. I will provide disposable masks and gloves which will be left out for agent and buyer use as needed – and I recommend sellers offer a trash receptacle for their safe disposal.
- If anyone in the household experiences any symptoms that fit those of the virus, I recommend getting tested (if available) and we postpone either listing or showing for at least two weeks.
Since the COVID-19 virus does not remain airborne for long and resides mainly on surfaces, you should be able to walk into a house and feel safe as long as you follow these guidelines:
- As a means of reducing the exposure to my buyers I am offering to do a video call tour of the homes.
- For in person showings, we are aiming to limit the showings to two clients at a time. For those with children, I request that the children remain in the car with one adult while the other views the home and then the next adult can view the home.
- Before and after a showing, we should all use a liberal amount of hand sanitizer and be sure rub it in thoroughly covering all of the exposed skin on your hands until fully absorbed.
- We will all wear a mask or thick scarf as well as disposable gloves, I will have extra on hand for use as needed. Only those with gloves should open doors and cabinets or touch any surfaces.
- If anyone in your household experience any symptoms that fit those of the virus, I recommend getting tested (if available) and we will postpone the search for at least two weeks.
We’re all in this together. I am offering virtual meetings and presentations for anyone looking to proceed with their buying or selling plans, or to answer any questions. If you have doubts about pursuing buying or selling a home right now, you are not alone. Many people are overwhelmed by the many unknowns we’re all facing. However, I am here to address your concerns around real estate, and talk through the options that best suit your needs and current concerns. If you have any questions or want to have a chat, please don’t hesitate to contact me.
There’s nothing like moving into a home that is truly new, with no smells, smudges or dust left behind by a previous owner. Even better is when you get to make your own custom selections. With the market in Columbus, Ohio, it’s challenging to find or even snag the right home. Many people are taking advantage of new build home developments or custom home opportunities. But buying from a builder is a different ball game and it’s important you know how to play. Consider these questions if you are considering new construction.
Should you use a real estate agent? I think so! The builder may have sales agents or an assistant that helps buyer’s through the process, but those people work for the builder. It’s always a good idea to have a professional advocating for you, and most builders will pay agents a commission for bringing the buyer. It’s important that your agent accompany you to the first visit to the model center or builders’ office so that representation is established.
Does the builder have a good reputation? We’ve all heard stories of builders who fail to deliver on their promises, using lower grade materials than quoted, or even disappearing before the work was completed. Check out your builder before signing anything. Find out if there are any complaints registered against them and ask for references from other homeowners. Find out if you can tour a model or a recently completed home, and bring someone who can judge the quality of the workmanship.
Should you use the builders’ lender? Many builders work with a preferred lender that offers attractive discounts on closing costs when you finance through them. It’s important to know if the lender is working as a referral or if the mortgage company is owned by the same company that is building your home. If your lender and builder both work for the same company, it’s a good idea to have an attorney review your contracts as an independent set of eyes.
What are the deed restrictions and is there an HOA? Developers usually file a subdivision’s restrictive covenants when applying for approval to build the development. Any persons buying property in the development are bound to abide by these restrictions. You can get a copy of the deed restrictions from the builder. Also ask if there is, or will be, a homeowner’s association, what the HOA fees will be and what they cover.
Can the builder charge extra for unexpected cost increases? Look over the builder’s contract carefully, or have an attorney do so, and note if there is an escalation clause that would allow the builder to pass cost increases onto you in the event that materials or labor costs increase during construction.
What warranties are provided? Normally a builder offers a warranty lasting from six month to two years, possibly longer for some items. You should know what is covered under the builder’s warranty and for how long. All the major structural items and mechanical systems are usually covered. Appliances are not, but they should come with a manufacturer’s warranty. Damage from weather, shrinkage or expansion of the home or foundation, and anything resulting from the homeowner’s failure to provide maintenance or from work done on the home after construction is not covered.
What is the timeline for completion? This will depend on whether the build is a production home, meaning the builder is building select models throughout a development, or if you have hired the builder to build a custom home. Production homes can be completed in three to four months, where custom homes usually take a minimum of six months. Regardless, the builder should be able to give you a timeline outlining each phase of construction. Factors affecting the timeline include weather, delays receiving building supplies, or the number of changes you make along the way.
Can you choose different finishes or colors? Again, it depends on the type of build. Certainly, if you are building a custom home, you can make as many changes as you are willing to pay for. But if the home is part of a development and the builder has color palettes and finishes chosen, there may be a limit to how much you can change. Often the builder will allow you to change paint colors, flooring, fixtures, tile or appliances, as long as what you choose is in line with the budget he set, and those items have not already been ordered.
Can you get a credit if you buy your own appliances? If you already own your own appliances or prefer to choose something different from the builder’s choice, ask if you can be credited back the amount he had budgeted to pay for those items.
Is landscaping included? It’s no fun to get to the end of construction and find out there is no budget for landscaping. Find out what the builder plans to put in in terms of grass, trees and shrubbery. You may want to make additions or changes to his landscape plan.
Ready to begin exploring new build opportunities for your budget? The first step is connecting with a Realtor (like me) and reviewing the developments, and home builders in your area. Let’s connect!
Lenders look at more than just your credit rating. They want to know that you have a steady income and are responsible with your money. As you consider buying a home, take some time to evaluate your financial situation before shopping lenders. Here are just a few key tips and tricks at ensuring you’re in the best position for mortgage approval:
- Stay at your present job. The bank will want to see, at minimum, your last two tax returns. If you want to buy a home this year, it’s not the time to start over in a new industry. If you are just getting started in the professional world, you may need to work a while longer in order to show a history of steady income.
- Put off buying a new car. Be careful about buying big-ticket items like a new car or boat or on credit until after you have closed on your home.
- Pay down credit debt. If you are carrying a balance on credit cards, work hard to pay those down or off. Try not to use credit cards if you can’t pay the balance off monthly.
- Pay your bills on time. Incurring late payments will reflect poorly on your credit report, so keep track of deadlines or set up automatic payments before they are due.
- Save up cash for a down payment. You have a better chance of being approved for a lower amount, so try to save up for a down payment to reduce the loan amount.
- Don’t forget the closing costs. In addition to a down payment, lenders will also want to see that you have enough to cover potential closing costs, which in Ohio is an average 2-3% of what you pay for the home. For example, if you buy a home at $250,000, your closing costs could range from $5,000 to $7,500.
- Say no to cosigning for others. Now is not the time to cosign on any loans with family members or friends.
- Throw those credit card offers away. Each time you apply for credit, the provider will pull your credit history, which affects your score.
If you’ve applied for a mortgage and didn’t qualify, make certain to clarify lender feedback. A rejection could be around something that is very easily resolved, like an inaccurate note on your credit report. And remember, not all lenders work the same; a savings and loan bank may consider lower credit scores and smaller down payments than a commercial bank. It’s important to shop around and find a lender that appreciates your unique situation and can coach you through the steps you may need to take in order to qualify.
I work with several lenders serving the Columbus area, each with their own unique loan programs and qualifying credit standards. For a list of recommended lending vendors, contact me and ask for my Home Buyer Guide.
Thinking of selling your home this year? Maybe you are ready to upgrade or downsize, move to a new neighborhood, or take advantage of the sellers’ market in Columbus, OH. In any case, there are some smart moves you can make before you list to ease the process of selling your home.
- Bring in a handyman. Have repairs made to leaky faucets, torn screens, broken door or window locks and handles, faulty electrical outlets, drywall damage, missing grout or caulking, broken sprinkler heads, rotten wood and anything else that would give a buyer reason to wonder, “What else is wrong with this house?”
- Clean out storage spaces. Closet by closet, cabinet by cabinet, and drawer by drawer, get rid of items you no longer use. Your goal should be to show that the home has plenty of storage space, not spaces bursting with clutter.
- Put away excess decor. Go for a minimalist look so that buyers can see the bones of the house and not have to move or look around decorative items to see the home.
- Ditto on the Family Photographs. Humans are naturally drawn to people’s faces. If your home has family photos on every wall and shelf, buyers will be distracted by all the pretty faces.
- Have the exterior pressure-cleaned. Make sure to include the roof, patios, porches, driveway and walkways.
- Spruce up the landscaping. First impressions are everything. You want buyers to want to come inside and not drive on by. Increase your curb appeal by trimming shrubbery and trees, putting down fresh mulch and planting some annuals.You’d be surprised how impactful this can be to potential buyers.
- Perform a deep cleaning. Consider hiring professional cleaners to tackle everything from the ceiling fans to the baseboards, including cleaning inside and behind kitchen appliances, the dryer vent, and inside cabinets and drawers.
- Put on a fresh coat of paint. At least touch up scuff marks, but if your home is painted in bold or dark colors, consider repainting to neutral shades.
- Check for smells. We become immune to smells we are around every day. Consider having someone come in to check for odors from pets, mildew, mold or smoke.
- Have a WDO (Wood Destroying Organism) inspection performed. This is usually a part of the buyer’s inspection process, but if you can identify any past or present termite activity and have it corrected ahead of time, you can breathe easier come inspection time.
- Ditto for mold testing. If you have any reason to believe there may be mold or water damage lurking behind walls, under flooring or in the attic, go ahead and address it now.
- Consider staging. If you have rooms that are sparsely furnished or were used for a purpose other than what they were built for, consider refurnishing or staging to show how furniture lays out in the room.
- Contact me! For more information on selling your home, please request my Home Seller’s Guide. I would love the opportunity to talk with you about your plans.