June 30, 2014

Columbus, OH Ranked 5th Best City for 2014 College Graduates!

Apartments.com annually generates  a list of the top 10 cities for recent college graduates to live in based on a series of criteria including employment opportunities, salaries, affordability (including rental rates), and demographics (including age and martial status, favoring young, single populations).

The results:

  1. Denver, Colorado. 
  2. Charlotte, North Carolina
  3. Phoenix, Arizona
  4. Austin, Texas
  5. Columbus, Ohio
  6. Cincinnati, Ohio
  7. Fort Worth, Texas
  8. Indianapolis, Indiana
  9. Las Vegas, Nevada
  10. Dallas, Texas

Columbus, Ohio is noted for its singles' scene as indicated by the high percentage of male-only and female-only households. It is also praised for its affordable rents and diverse economy, which includes education, government, insurance, fashion, energy, and medial research. Similarly, Cincinnati stands out in terms of affordability and job opportunities. It has the lowest average monthly rent (at $707) and is home to many major companies such as Procter & Gamble and Macy's.

Curious about the other cities on the list? Read the full article here.

June 26, 2014

Is your House Camera-Ready?

According to the National Association of Realtors, 90% of homebuyers rely on the Internet as their main search tool. The photos they view online determine whether or not they visit the house. Below are some tips to make your house more appealing, both on screen and in person, accompanied by original photographs taken of professionally-staged rooms in the 2013 BIA Parade of Homes:

Declutter, Depersonalize. These points cannot be overemphasized. Clutter makes rooms look smaller than they are, while personal memorabilia such as family photos make it hard for other people to envision your home as their own. Clean and tidy rooms, and remove extra furniture so people focus on the room, not your things. Put away little trinkets, and leave only 1-3 items on any given surface (such as a fireplace mantel).

Paint and Decorate it. Avoid wall colors that are too bland or too bold. Owner of Columbus Home Staging Suzanne Byrd states that sellers should aim for something "between a crayon box and a tan box." Go ahead and use a variety of color--potential buyers may remember colorful rooms and houses more easily. As far as art on the walls, look for rich art that is modern and tasteful that does not look cluttered.

Size it. Make sure your furniture is appropriately sized for the space you have. Oversized furniture may lead buyers to believe your home is too small. Furniture that is too small may suggest to buyers that it would be difficult to furnish your home.

Clean and Fix it up. Do a deep cleaning of your home--clean even your cupboards and the grout between tiles. Bathrooms and kitchens need extra attention to detail. Go through your home and inventory what needs to be done. Fix tilted cabinets, and replace missing light bulbs and cabinet pulls. You want buyers to see that you cared for the home.

Curb Appeal. Cut your grass and trim your hedges and bushes: the first impression someone has of your home is based how it looks outside. Put away toys and organize the garage so that it looks spacious. Apply fresh mulch to your landscaping. Make sure your front door creates a welcoming entrance. Please reference my previous blog post on how to spruce up your front porch for under $100.

Seek Additional Help. As a real estate agent, I help homeowners prepare their homes for photographs and showings at no additional cost to you. Contact me for more information. Professional stagers are also available, but can be expensive. You can expect to pay $150-$250 for an initial consultation, during which they will walk through your house and give your their advice on window treatments, furniture, floor coverings, etc. A stager can then be hired to fix the problems, or you can tackle them yourself.

June 23, 2014

Downsizing in 5 Steps

Downsizing can be an overwhelming process, especially if you've lived in the same home for many years. Following these five steps will help minimize the hassle of downsizing.

Step 1: Assess your needs. Differentiate between what you have and what you need (those items that play an active part in your daily lifestyle). When is the last time you used your treadmill? Would a pair of running shoes be more useful and easier to store? Get rid of things you have not used, or have seldom used, in the past year. This ensures you are giving weight to things you already use---not things you might use some day in the future. If you are torn between keeping an item or giving it away, compromise: if you don't use it within the next six months, toss it. Go through your belongings in storage as well. Discard those boxes that have not been touched since being placed in storage. You can donate items to friends and family, join a free cycle group, or sell items online. The amount of things you get rid of should correspond to the amount of storage space in your new home. On that note, be sure to note storage space in your new home before you move.

Step 2: Clear shelves, cabinets, and closets. Decluttering is an important step in downsizing. One good method to see what odds and ends you actually need  is to empty a cabinet or drawer, and only put back what you use over a period of time--perhaps two-four weeks. This can be used for clothing as well. Hang all of your clothes in one direction. When you wear something, hang it up in the other direction. This will help you identify what you do and do not wear, thus making it easy to determine what to keep and what to give away.

Step 3: Measure your furniture. Will your current furniture fit in your new home? Take measurements of your current furniture, and get a floor plan (or at least room dimensions) of your new home. Consider door, closet and window placement when determining how to arrange your furniture in advance. Better Homes and Gardens's free Arange-A-Room online software can help you generate a floor plan.

Step 4: Organize. When packing, label boxes by room. If you know something will end up in storage, go ahead and pack it in a decorative storage box than can simply be moved from one storage area to the next. This will keep your home from getting too cluttered by boxes.

Step 5: Move. Move large items first. This takes the most energy, and will help you determine where smaller items go.  Unpack bathroom and kitchen items next, since these items are likely to be needed soonest. Finally, organize space while unpacking, placing each moving box in its labeled room.

Questions about downsizing? Contact me. 

June 18, 2014

Sellers: Turn a "Looker" into a "Buyer"

The best incentive you (as a seller) can offer buyers is a fairly-priced home in great condition. However, there are more creative incentives that may make your listing stick out. Buyers need to be able to picture themselves living in the home you are selling. If you are selling a home or condo on the water, consider including a kayak, jet ski, or fishing equipment in the home's asking price. If your home in on or near a golf course, include a golf cart. These "bonuses" will help stimulate excitement among buyers.

If you are selling a home as a vacation home, consider leaving it furnished or providing a gift card for furniture. A buyer may not have enough furniture to fill a second home. Stocking your home with fresh linens, towels, and kitchenware is also a plus.

If your buyers are concerned about affordability, you can coax them into buying your home in a number of ways. Offer to pay some of their closing costs. If your home requires you to pay HOA fees, offer to pay the first year's worth of HOA fees for your buyer(s). The same goes for homes that are near community country clubs. You can offer to pay initial membership fees, and also monthly fees as you see fit. This will help buyers picture themselves living in your home, because it links them to their new community from the start. You can also offer to pay a year of property taxes and/or mortgage payments. Some sellers allocate money for buyers to use on repairs and rennovation, which helps when buyers are concerned about the condition of the home. 

It comes down to understanding your buyers--what are they looking for most? Some sellers leave behind appliances, televisions, and even cars!  No matter what you end up including in your final offer, be sure to communicate with your real estate agent about prospective buyer feedback, which can help you strategically list and market your home.

Need an agent? Contact me! I work with both buyers and sellers in Central Ohio. Read what my previous clients have to say, here.

June 11, 2014

Red, White & BOOM! Coming to You.

The annual fireworks show, Red, White & BOOM! is returning to downtown Columbus, Ohio this year. But the event is more than just a fireworks display. Festivities start at noon on July 3rd with Columbia Gas' Children's Park. The Park advertises COSI on Wheels, carnival games, inflatables, face painters, and balloon twisters. The Arena District's Taste of BOOM! kicks off at 3pm, allowing people to walk Front St. to Neil Ave. while sampling food from top resturants and enjoying live entertainment. Central Ohio's largest independence day parade begins at 6pm on the Main St. Bridge. With over 70 entries, the parade offers excellent entertainment for the whole family. The fireworks start at 10pm, during which time you can witness live broadcasts from NBC4 (5-11pm) and WNCI (10-11pm). The party doesn't end there, though. The official after-party takes place at The Three Legged Mare, a locally-owned irish pub in the Arena District!

To view the entertainment schedule for each stage, click here. The event website also has information on directions, transportation, and parking.

View more Franklin County firework shows here. 

June 4, 2014

How to Sell Your Home: Part 2

So, you've received an offer on your home. What now? Your REALTOR can help you evaluate any offers you have. One concern is the buyer's ability to financially fulfill the contract terms. Your RELATOR can check for the pre-approval letter that should accompany an offer. Also consider the following points:
  • How does it compare to asking price?
  • Will your home appraise for the contract price?
  • How large is the earnest money deposit?
  • Have the buyers asked for assistance with closing costs or for you to make repairs or provide home improvement credit?
  • Is the requested settlement date appropriate?
If you're not satisfied, you can reject the offer or draft a counteroffer than lists different terms. Be prepared to compromise to some extent. Keep in mind that buyers will likely conduct home inspections,  and be prepared to addess any resulting concerns. Before you close, you'll also want to get your home appraised, if you have not done so already. The buyer and seller must agree on a settlement day. Sellers can enter into a "rent-back"agreement with the buyer if they wish to continue to live in the home after the settlement date by paying rent to the buyer. Finally, title to the home is transferred at closing. Payment is closely examined and distributed by the closing agent and the buyer provides funds to buy the home. For more information on what the seller must pay upon closing, click here

Now you can go home, open a bottle of champaign, and cheers to the next page in your life. Oh, and you should probably get packing!!