How to Hang Christmas Lights

With Halloween and then Thanksgiving right around the corner, it’s seems almost too early to talk about Christmas and especially Christmas lights. XUGYoL2drvEstfKL

But now is the perfect time to think about those magical lights that can transform any dark home into a winter wonderland. While the weather is still pleasant and the cold still weeks away, now is the perfect time to dust off the ladder, get out your hooks and start hanging those colorful lights.

If you’ve never hung lights before check out this helpful list and video from Lowe’s. In this article Hang Christmas Lights they give you a step-by-step guide and a material list.

Here are the steps they suggest you take:

  1. Plan your design: before you start throwing them up, plan your overall design. Where they will go and how many you will need. You don’t want to be left running to the store for more.
  2. Prepare your lights: choose between incandescent or LED. How many per strand and how you will attach them to your home surfaces.
  3. Start the project: you may need a partner to help you as you work. Always work safely.
  4. Test your lights: before you string the first light, check that they’re all working.
  5. Attach the lights: gutters, roof, trees, and rails. You can find all kinds of things to attach lights to. Using the proper clips will keep your house from getting too many holes and ruining woodwork.
  6. Set a timer: don’t get caught with unexpected energy costs. Setting a timer for the whole display will make sure you never forget to turn them off at night.
  7. Flip the switch: now bring the family out, pass around the hot cocoa and be amazed at your awesome work!

Did you know you can order your Christmas lights online with all the supplies? Check out Christmas Lights Etc. and get started with your project.

I’d love to know, do you plan on hanging outdoor lights this year?

Winterizing Tips for Your Home

Last week we had to take a short hiatus, but this week we are back at it with some great tips to winterize your home.

If you haven’t noticed already (weird), but it’s starting to feel colder and more leaves are falling. You snow_driftmay not even think about it, but winter can be a hard time on your home and on your energy costs.

Before the frosty air of winter sets in try some of these great ideas from the Kiplinger finance website. The slideshow article is called 15 Ways to Prepare your Home for Winter.

In the article, the writer introduces a whole list of great tips to protect you and your home from the cold and possibly save extra money on heating. Some of my favorite tips are:

  • Reverse the ceiling fan: changing the fan to run in the proper direction creates an updraft and will bring that risen warm air to the floor.
  • Scan the roof: check for damaged shingles or loose flashing where water can seep in and freeze.
  • Turn of exterior hoses and drain faucets: any water sitting in exposed hoses can freeze and burst. Especially damaging to irrigation systems.
  • Test your sump: if the autumn has been dry then add a couple of gallons to the sump pump and see if it kicks on. As snow slowly melts, you don’t want it creeping into your basement.

Check out the article for more great tips. Which one do find most helpful for your home?

5 Home Staging Musts

Every real estate agent will agree that staging your home to sell is very important. As buyers are looking around for their new home, they want to picture a clean spacious home that is move-in ready.decor_curb-appeal

But what does staging your home actually mean? Does it mean that you have to hire a staging designer?

Check out this list of 5 great staging ideas. Your buyers may thank you and you are more likely to get more for your property.

1 Create more space: unless they’re downsizing, generally speaking most people are looking to buy a new home because they want more space. This makes creating more space in your home so important. Reduce the amount of clutter in every room. Make sure each bedroom has a bed, dresser, and nightstand and that’s it. Try removing 2/3 of the books from the shelves and downsizing furniture if necessary. Open space is the key.

2. Get rid of smells: bad smells will turn anyone away from a beautiful house. If you have pets or places with strong odors consider having a cleaning service scrub walls and floors. Replace carpets if necessary because buyers will notice odors immediately.

3. Colors: colors are polarizing. While many people like colorful rooms, when they’re looking at homes the goal is to create the perfect atmosphere. All major living spaces should flow in a neutral pallet. Bright paints not only are strong personal preferences but can be time consuming to cover with paint and many buyers don’t want to spend time and resources to do that.

4. Take care of small details: things like squeaky doors and grinding drawers. If one or two cabinets squeak buyers may think there are other small things that need fixing. Walk through the entire house with your realtor and try ever door, window, or floor. Dusty ceiling fans and air vents could also use some cleaning.

5. Curb appeal: with all the inside things to take care of don’t forget the outside. It will be the first thing buyers see when they pull up to your home. This could be in updating fixtures like mailbox, lights, and knobs. Refreshing the front door, mowing, and fresh flowers in planters near the door give buyers a sense of care to the property.

The first impression should impress.

So which of these do you think is the most important or which would turn you off from a sell the most?

Stunning Indoor Pools

Summer has officially come to a close and that means the swimming season has ended. Or has it?

You can swim all year around in a beautiful indoor pool! Sure adding a large room on the back of most homes would look strange, but it doesn’t hurt to dream. Check out some of these pool ideas, close your eyes, and imagine yourself gliding through the water as the snow falls outside your window.

indoor_poolpreviewitem0.rendition.slideshowHorizontal.01_indoor_poolsNo-Chlorine-Indoor-Swimming-Pool-without-Chlorinepiscina9piscina26????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????Which one is your favorite?

Cincinnati Area Market Update

Sometimes it’s good to know how things are progressing in your area. I thought I’d take this opportunity to share market research for the Cincinnati area for the month of August so that you can know how solid of a market we are in.

Home sales for August 2014 were 2,110. For August 2013 they were 2,463. That’s just a very small margin of difference and a really nice sign that things are steady in the market. Home sales YTD from this period last year are only down by 2.6% and that’s really good to see.

Even with those very subtle declines from 2014, the average home price rose 11.3% from this time last year to $190,000. That shows that clients have more money to buy and they are buying smarter which is a great sign for the economy and the housing industry.

Lastly I wanted to point out that the average local mortgage rate for August was 4.0% for a 30 year loan. Last year they averaged 4.54%. What great news for buyers!

Now what does this mean for you? It means that if you plan on selling, you could expect to receive more price for your property. And buyers still have great mortgage rates.

If you have any questions about these numbers or want to learn more feel free to contact me. I’d love to discuss this in detail!

School District Report Cards

The new report cards are out, and I don’t mean the ones your student brings home every quarter. I’m talking about the reports for Ohio local school districts.

Just last week the Ohio Department of Education released their list of the top schools, and it was ilrc-topbanner-logo-smallnice to see that 3 Cincinnati schools made the top 10.

Are you thinking about moving or want to know where you’re school district falls on the list? You can check out the website yourself and do a school district search here at the Ohio Report Card page.

Now, if you don’t have children why is knowing how well the local schools are performing so important? That’s simple. Good schools with a high graduation and test score rate keep students in the community. What neighborhood doesn’t want bright students working and growing in their area?

This is so important for the local environment. As grades and school culture improve, then the community as a whole will thrive.

If you’re planning on buying this could be one of the most important things you research.

House Hunting Mistakes You Can’t Afford to Make

Buying a home will probably be the largest purchase most people will ever make. Because it’s so important to do it right, a real estate agent is almost a necessity.bainbridge-roofs-120513

With that being said, there are some mistakes that you’ll want to avoid whether you have a professional at the helm, or you’re battling the housing high seas on your own.

Investopedia.com has a great article on the Top 8 House-Hunting Mistakes. In this article, they list some obvious and not so obvious mistakes that anyone can make when it comes to searching for that perfect home. Here is a quick rundown of the list:

  1. Falling in Love: know your boundaries before falling for a house. If you can’t make it work, then move on to the next one. Don’t get your heart broken.
  2. Being Inflexible: be prepared to give and take on amenities. You’ll find that as you search something that was important starting out may not end up to be that important.
  3. Getting Desperate: take your time and don’t settle.
  4. Ignore Flaws: potentially costly defects may mean big bucks to repair.
  5. Playing Handyman: if you’re not a real handyman, then don’t forget to add repair costs to something you can’t fix.
  6. Making a Premature Offer: sometimes it’s best to sleep on the decision rather than sign and regret.
  7. Waiting Too Long: but don’t wait too long or the house may not be there.
  8. Offering Too Much: even in a hot market, listen to your agent. You don’t want to go it offering too much when less would be best.

Have you experienced any of these house-hunting mistakes?

Does Your Home Have Sellable Quality

We have all heard people say The most important thing in real estate is

LOCATION, LOCATION, LOCATION!06 SelectingProperty

And it’s true. That is the #1 thing that drives the cost of a property. Where it’s located, what’s around it? But after LOCATION, what comes next?

This question is different for everyone. For some, it will be amenities; for others it will be school district. And yet others will like walkability.

Realtor.com says that after location, more than 60% of buyers think school district is the most important aspect of their new purchase.

Check out this article from Forbes.com entitled 10 Things That Make A Home A Good Home. In it they list some of the most popular buying points for properties. If you’re thinking of buying a property and plan on selling it in the future, these are great things to keep in mind.

No matter what is important to you, remember that your new home’s most important characteristic is the family that lives inside. If you ever need help navigating the other aspects of homebuying then a real estate professional can help you with that.

So I’d like to know, which one on Forbes’ list is the most important to you?

Discussion #2: I’m Selling. Why Do I Need a Lender?

If you’re in the market for a new home and you plan on gaining financing, then chances are you have already talked with a lender. Maybe even before you’ve contacted a real estate professional you have obtained a handy little note saying you are approved for financing. And in the event that you find a new home can immediately put down an offer.

Sounds great. For buying the process couldn’t be more simple, but what if you’re on the selling endcottage of the transaction. Should you talk with a lender before putting out that FOR SALE sign?

Here is the situation. Almost 70% of Americans have a mortgage. You plan on selling your home, whether to downsize, upsize, job transfer, whatever the reason. Your goal could be to buy a new home while closing proceedings are happening with your old home.

Sounds pretty straight forward. You’re really just transferring one loan for another. It should be no big deal.

Or that’s what you think.

The reality is that it is a very big deal and every seller with a current mortgage should consult a lender. The reasoning is that you can pay on your current monthly mortgage but still have bad credit, or still be swamped with bills or have employment problems.

When the time comes to close on your old home, the last thing you want is to find out that you don’t qualify for a new loan. That dream home you were hoping to get could turn into a rental where you have to stay until your situation improves.

This is a sad situation, but it happens to a lot of people. Don’t let it happen to you!

So the big question is: when should you talk with a lender? You can do it one of two times:

1. Before you talk with a real estate agent. That way you know before you get the selling-ball rolling. If it takes credit repair or more down payment you can start working on those things before moving the process forward.

2. After an introductory meeting with a real estate professional. They can give you an estimate on what the market value of your home is worth or for how much it’s likely to sell. That could be very useful information for lender.

The important thing is to be prepared. Don’t wait until the last minute to talk with a mortgage company. Even if you are selling and planning on buying, it is one of the first steps you need to take.