September 27, 2013

Rental Market Hot

Apartments are in high demand, as many renters are unable to get home loans. The national vacancy rate of 4.3% is the lowest it's been in over 10 years. In downtown Columbus, the vacancy rate is a minimal 2.4 percent. Nationwide, over 140,000 new apartments are being built this year, 13,000 of which are underway in Central Ohio, but this still doesn't meet demand. What does this mean for renters? Central Ohio rates will increase by 3.6% this year.

September 23, 2013

August Home Sales Record High

Central Ohio home sales for summer 2013 stand at their highest point on record. Chris Pedon, Columbus board of REALTORS president, states that "home sales over the summer were off the charts." He notes that only one summer (2005--the height of the housing boom) even came close to seeing the same volume of home sales. Homes sold from January-August of this year exceed those that sold during the same time in 2012 by 23%, and also surpass those of any prior year. The 2,729 home sales in August of this year marks another record high, exceeding August 2012 home sales by 11%. School systems are noticing this trend, indicated by increased student enrollment in many major school systems such as Dublin, Olentangy, Hilliard and Westerville. While inventory is slowly increasing and home sales are slightly declining from earlier summer months such as July, demand still outnumbers supply. Pedon advises homeowners who have considered moving to move now, before demand further declines. Read the full housing report here.

Looking for an agent? Contact me to see what I can do for you.

September 18, 2013

How to Identify Common House Problems

Houses show wear and tear over the years. Older homes especially can be concerning. First of all, many problems are caused by moisture that's gotten into your home. But how can you tell, and what can you do to fix the issue? Below find signs of common problems homeowners experience.

1. Dark spots on the walls, ceiling or carpet.

  • Problem: Too much moisture inside, forming mold and/or mildew. You may have a leak. 
  • Solution: Call a home repair specialist to help determine if and where there is a leak; call a roofer or general contractor to replace damaged materials such as wood. 
  • Notes: Bubbling, cracking, or flaking paint is evidence of too much moisture in the walls, as are black lines opening up on the bottom of an exterior wooden door and black streaks or circles around nails on hardwood floors. 

2. Flickering lights.

  • Problem: A bad socket, which creates a fire hazard. 
  • Solution: Call an electrician. 
  • Notes: Make sure light bulbs are screwed in tightly, and don't be put off by a subtle flickering while using electronics such as a hair dryer--that's normal. 

3. Insect wings on windowsills.

  • Problem: You may have termites nearby. Look for signs of moisture (discussed above)--termites are attracted to moist areas. 
  • Solution: Call a termite professional
  • Notes: Check for any mud tubes coming out of the walls or pieces of wood. That's an indicator that you do, in fact, have a termite issue. 

4. Foggy window(s).

  • Problem: A broken window seal
  • Solution: Call a window repair specialist or general contractor: you probably need to replace your window(s).
  • Notes: This typically occurs in older, duel-pane windows with argon gas in between. 
How to get rid of mold.

September 16, 2013

Decorating Don'ts

HGTV spoke with interior designers and came up with a list of 25 decorating errors, including...

  • Improper lighting. Decorators recommend dimmers, which they like for their affordability, versatility, and easy installation process. 
  • Matching rooms. Don't make everything in your room match--it doesn't have to be symmetrical as long as it's balanced and furniture is an appropriate size (tip: measure the space). Instead of making your room look like a showroom from a magazine, make it eclectic. On the other hand, you don't want to use too many color patterns, nor do you want an excessively themed room. Both can make a room look busy, crowded, and distracting. 
  • Visible clutter. This makes the room look chaotic and disorganized. Store items in an armoire, storage basket set, or bookshelf. Similarly, avoid displaying too many pillows, knickknacks and photographs. Photo albums are great for storing photos, but homes look neater with just a few framed photos on display. 
  • Floating rugs--that is, rugs with nothing on top of them or touching them. Place the front feet of all furniture on the rug, to ground the seating area. On that note, bring furniture away from the walls and toward the center of the room to create a focal point. 
  • Ignoring color and windows. Painting windows and adding window treatments are the easiest and least expensive ways to change the look of a room. Consider painting one wall if you are unsure about the color (this is an accent wall). If you don't like it--paint over it! Hang window curtains two inches above the frame of the window, or all the way to the ceiling to make the room look larger. 

For the full list, click here.

September 9, 2013

Housing Market Cooling Off

This year has seen a hot housing market, featuring low inventory, multiple bids, and same day offers. While the market is still recovering, it's starting to even out. In much of 2012 and earlier this year, home prices were increasing faster than they are now, and inventory was near record lows, which supported a competitive atmosphere and high asking prices. In July, asking prices declined by 1/3 of a percent--the first monthly drop since November. In July, home showings dropped by 3.5 percent, and signed contract offers were down 11 percent when compared with June. For a brief, current update on the housing market, watch "This Month in Real Estate," below.

September 6, 2013

What is Title Insurance?

Title insurance (a one-time fee that insures the policyholder forever) is a contact that protects your ownership of real estate by making good losses from defects in title as a result of liens and encumbrances. Whereas most forms of insurance (i.e. car insurance) cover people for future events, title insurance protects you from past events.  Multiple people can have different types of claims on a piece of property, such as mortgages and leasehold rights (ex: liens due to unpaid taxes). Those who have claims on the property own a portion of that property; however, the property can be sold without their consultation. Because the lien stays with the property until it is released or satisfied, the new owner may have no knowledge about the claims on the property he/she is purchasing. Title insurance aims to ensure you have a clear title and full rights of ownership. Still, some claims, such as easements, will continue to remain with the land.

Title insurance companies check pubic records for anything that may affect your ownership. They may uncover judgments against previous owners and unpaid taxes and mortgages. The company reports these defects so they can be corrected. Because the title company insures your property, it’s in the company’s best interest to clear all possible liens or encumbrances to the property before closing.

In addition to clearing risks prior to closing, title insurance companies seek to resolve “hidden risks”—claims which may arise after you have purchased your home, for example a forged will or deed. To protect you against these damages, title insurance 1) defends your title, in court if necessary, at no personal cost, and 2) bears the cost of settling the claim if it proves valid, thus perfecting your title.

Finally, title insurance helps you to sell your home. The seller must present evidence that he/she holds valid title to the property, which can be satisfied by providing a title insurance policy covering the interests of the seller. 

Click on the video below for a brief, visual explanation of title insurance. 

September 4, 2013

How to Make the Most of Small Spaces

Fundamentals. If you're building a small home, or get a say in its design, there's a few tricks that can help you get the most out of your space. Diagonal flooring makes rooms appear wider, while compact spiral staircases save floor space. Bay windows provide for additional light and square footage.

Function. Furniture should have storagge. Getting (and keeping) things off the floor is key to keeping a room from looking cluttered. Make sure that you use all the space you have. If you have a kitchen table but always eat at the island, remove the table. If you need one room to serve multiple purposes, separate the room by using rugs, bookcases, and so forth to define a specific space. "Hidden" features are also nice. Instead of having a DVD player and cable box sit on top of a piece of furniture, try to build it in so that it is not constantly on display. Try to buy multipurpose furniture. For example, a coffee table with tops that hinge upward can create an informal dining area in your family room while allowing you to store things in the table's hallow core. The staircase on the right contains dresser drawers.

Light. Extend curtain rods beyond window frames, collecting as much natural light as possible. Alternatively, you could forgo draperies in favor of shades. In a family or living room, consider buying tall floor lamps to make the ceilings look higher and to maximize floor space by eliminating the need for end tables.

Furniture. Round tables are most practical for small spaces because the hard corners of square and rectangular tables take up much needed space. Furniture should be tall so as to draw the eye upward. For example, cabinets and built-ins should extend all the way to the ceiling.  Finally, buy furniture that fits your space. a narrow family room may look great with an L-shaped sectional that backs up against two walls and thus makes the most of your corner space.

Paint. Generally, lighter colors make rooms feel bigger. Acentuate light, bright rooms by contrasting them with darker entryways and door and window trim. This will make rooms "pop." Paint crown molding the same color as the ceiling to make it appear more expansive.

Decor. Use mirrors, especially when opposite one another. Mirrors help gather light and make a space appear larger. Use big art, as scaled to your furniture. The length of a painting ought to reflect the length of your sofa. Small clusters of art can make a room look crowded and cluttered. Art placed higher on the walls can help make a ceiling look higher.

To watch one family's process of maximizing the space in their New York City apparent, click here.