May 28, 2014

How to Sell Your Home: Part 1


Before you list your home for sale, you should prepare your home so that it shows well to potential buyers. This includes improving your home in ways that do not involve capital investments (which you are unlikely to recover). Cosmetic improvements (painting your home, landscaping, etc) are a good place to start. You'll also want to de-clutter your home, which involves cleaning your home and putting away things that sit out and make a space look busier. If you have kitchen items that you store on top of the counter, for example, you can put them in cabinets or drawers instead. This will make the countertop appear larger and neater. It's okay to leave out a few pictures here and there, but it's best to put photos away too. Aside from taking up space, pictures inhibit buyers from imagining your home as their own.


Next, you should hire a REALTOR, which is a real estate agent who belongs to the National Association of Relators (N.A.R.). REALTORS abide by a code of ethics, have access to a broad range of learning and certification opportunities, and serve as community experts. Feel free to meet with multiple REALTORS to see who you feel most comfortable listing with. Ask important questions, such as "what services do you offer? What experience do you have with the area I live in? How will you price and market my home? What is your fee?" If you are selling a home in Central Ohio, contact me to set up an initial meeting! I have experience in many communities, including but not limited to Dublin, Hilliard, Powell, Upper Arlington, Westerville and Worthington. You can also find a REALTOR on Realtor.com Once you've chosen a REALTOR, she or he will work with you to set the list price. Naturally, sellers want to get the most money they can for their home. However, an overpriced home is the number one reason that home doesn't sell. The listing price should reflect many factors, including location, competitiveness of the housing market, economic conditions, and owner needs (do you need to sell your house in a month because you are moving, or can you afford to wait a bit longer until a more attractive offer comes in?). 

Your RELATOR may suggest further improvements or repairs that will help your home sell faster. Your REALTOR will then market your home, which entails listing it on the MLS, hosting open houses, sending out direct mailings, reaching out to other real estate agents who have potential buyers, taking photos and videos, etc. Ask your REALTOR to show you his or her marketing plan upon an initial meeting. How can you help? Provide your REALTOR with community information (amenities or sports leagues, for example) so he or she can better know the area. Keeping your home clean and tidy at all times is very important, since showings can occur last minute. Finally, leave the home during showings and open houses. Potential buyers stay longer in homes when the current owners are not present. 

Read "How to Sell Your Home: Part 2" next week to find out how to evaluate offers and make it to the closing table! Click on the video below for more details on how to prepare your home to sell.






May 21, 2014

To Buy or Sell First?


If you already own a home and are looking for a new one, you’re faced with a challenging question: should you sell your current home before you buy your new one, or vice-versa? To help make this decision, consider the following three factors:

1) Market conditions. You may have heard terms such as "seller's" or "buyer's" market. However, when you sell and buy homes, you must consider the housing market for your given neighborhood, house style, and price. Work with a professional Realtor to get an idea of how long your home should sit on the market, and about how long it should take you to find what exactly you are looking for. Use online resources such as Realtor.com to see how common homes are that meet your criteria. 

2) Finances. Many people need the equity from selling their current home to put towards the down payment on their new home. So what do you do while transitioning? You could stay with friends or family, or temporarily move into a rental unit (this may require you to rent a storage unit, as well). Alternatively, you can rent your home from your buyers in order to give you more time. The rent-back term is only valid for a maximum of 60 days, as a longer lease would categorize the home as income property. Lenders may be able to help you by granting you a bridge loan. The drawback to selling your home before you buy another is that you may feel rushed if you are unable to find a home you like in a reasonable amount of time.

3) Risk Aversion. Would you rather be stuck with nowhere to live, or with two mortgages? Regardless, Realtor.com advises homeowners to have a backup plan—for example, an alternative source of income or a place to stay should you sell your home sooner than expected. 


May 17, 2014

Zoombezi Bay Now Open for the Summer!



There's no better way to dive into the summer than by spending a day at Zoombezi Bay! Located in Powell, Ohio, and owned by the Columbus Zoo and Aquarium, Zoombezi Bay is a popular outdoor water park for Central Ohio residents and visitors. It borders the Columbus Zoo as well as Jungle Jack's Landing, an amusement park opened alongside Zoombezi Bay in 2008.

Zoombezi Bay has something for everyone. Attractions include a lazy river, a wave pool, Baboon Lagoon Children's Play Area, and multiple water slides. Guests can also rent cabanas and spend the day relaxing under the sun. Additionally, the park hosts special events, such as Education Days and Dive-in movies.

What you need to know to plan your visit:

Admission: For Columbus Zoo members, general admission is $23 (children under 2 are free). For non-members, the price ranges from $22-$29, plus $8 parking. ZoomPasses cost an additional $10-$20, depending on zoo membership and type of ZoomPass. The water park also offers discounted 2-day tickets, as well as season passes that range from $85-110.

Hours: The park is typically open from 10:30am to 7pm, although there are exceptions. Be sure to check online or call ahead to inquire about a specific day.

Location: Zoombezi Bay is located near the intersection of W. Powell Road and Riverside Drive, as shown below:



Want additional information? Check out Zoombezibay.com !


May 14, 2014

Memorial Golf Tournament Fast Approaching!


Once again the Memorial Tournament (an annual PGA Tour golf tournament) is right around the corner! The competition runs from May 26th-June 1st and, as always, takes place at Muirfield Village Golf Club. The course, which sits on 220 acres, was designed by Jack Nicklaus (right)--the founder of the Memorial Tournament and often regarded as the most accomplished professional golfer of all time. The 18 holes range from 184 yards (Hole 12, par 3) to 567 yards (Hole 11, par 5). The tournament has run from 1976; recent winners include Matt Kuchar (2013), Tiger Woods (1999, 2000, 2001, 2009, 2012), Steve Stricker (2011), Justin Rose (2010), and Kenny Perry (1991, 2003, 2008). Click here to see this year's competitors.


Patron Village, located between Hole No. 10 fairway and No. 14 green, is new this year. It features upgraded dining and beverage options, additional merchandise, a large video screen, a social media hub, and a patio. Best of all, it's open to the public! Guests seeking a more exclusive experience can join the Golden Bear Club, located in Patron Village. Membership includes your choice of menu for purchase catered by Cameron Mitchell Premier Events, cash bar, TV viewing, private restrooms, scoring terminals, and open seating. $250 buys general admission, as well as admission into the Golden Bear Club, from Monday-Sunday. Tickets of all types can be purchased here, while the tournament app (for iPhone and Android), can be downloaded here. The app provides not only comprehensive tournament information, but also real-time scoring and an interactive course map.

Want additional information? Visit the Memorial Tournament's website. The "Patron Info" tab includes parking instructions, a course map, and the 2014 schedule of events. See you there!


May 8, 2014

Guidelines for First Time Homebuyers


Home ownership is a big investment in time, money, and lifestyle. To get the most for your money, follow these four guidelines.


1. Boost your credit score. How? Request your free credit report at the start of the year. Dispute issues and pay off debt. Refrain from opening new credit lines and avoid buying big ticket items such as cars and furniture, as this will cause your score to temporarily drop.  Your credit score influences your mortgage approval and rates.


2. Save for a down payment. Also to get the best mortgage rates, plan for a 20-30 percent down payment. Cut optional expenses and save that money for either a down payment or private mortgage insurance.


3. Do your research. Determine what type of loan you want (conventional or unconventional), what you can afford, and what you qualify for. An online mortgage term comparison calculator will help you get an idea of the cost. To see current rates and get quotes from local lenders, click here.


4. Find the best Realtor. In an age dominated by technology, a Realtor remains irreplaceable. Buying a house is stressful—let a professional guide you through the process, negotiate on your behalf, and handle paperwork. Realtor.com suggests looking at various Realtor’s client testimonials—read mine here. I work with both buyers and sellers in the Central Ohio area. If I can help you or someone you know, please contact me. 


May 2, 2014

What You Need to Know About Home Loans and Credit Scores


Lenders consider a variety of factors when issuing mortgage loans, including job history, debt-to-income ratio, income & assets, and the amount your down payment will be. However, their primary concern is credit score. It's important to check your credit report for errors and areas of improvement.


Your credit score may influence the type of loan you seek. FHA-insured loans generally have lower credit score requirements than conventional loans. It's often easier for a person to qualify who 1) lost a home in a short sale or foreclosure to get a new mortgage faster, and 2) has damaged credit. However, with an FHA-insured loan, you must pay mortgage insurance on the loan--which is often for the life of the loan, and higher than private mortgage insurance if you make a down payment of less than 20 percent.

Conventional lenders look more exclusively at credit score when issuing loans. Private mortgage insurance is automatically cancelled when your loan-to-value ratio reaches 78 percent.

The simplest way to boost credit score is to pay all your bills on time. Take these additional steps to boost your credit score over time:
  • Pay off collections or judgments against you ASAP
  • Update your over-the-limit and post-due accounts
  • Reduce your credit card debt to no more than 25%  of your credit line on each card
  • Don't open new lines of credit
  • Don't close your credit card accounts (you'll be using more of your overall credit limit if you do)
  • Use a credit card you haven't used for a long time, then pay the bill in full. This demonstrates your ability to responsibly handle credit.