6 Ways to Save Money for Your First Home

savings jar filled with coinsFor many first-time home buyers, the idea of a 20% down payment is terrifying. It’s one of the biggest obstacles to homeownership. Maybe you want to own a home someday, but the thought of saving up thousands of dollars for a home purchase has deterred you from seriously considering it.

Believe it or not, it is possible to save enough money for a down payment and make your dreams of homeownership a reality. Here are just a few of the ways that you can start saving.

1. Track How Much You Spend Now

When saving for your first home, you’ll need to stick to a budget. Awareness of how much you spend can help you figure out where you can cut your costs. Consumer.gov outlines a few tips for creating a budget here.

2. Determine What You Can Afford

home buyer tracking financesEven if you don’t plan to buy a home for a few years, figuring out how much you can afford for your home will make your savings goal more concrete. Don’t forget to include taxes, insurance, utilities, and maintenance in your monthly payment calculations.

3. Start Small

Start saving for your down payment and other homeownership costs as soon as you can. The earlier you start, the less you will have to cut your spending and the more time you’ll have to reach your goal.

4. Shop Around for Other Loans

If you find that a 20% down payment is unrealistic, you can opt for a mortgage that offers lower down payment options. FHA loans, for instance, offer 3.5% down, and VA loans offer no money down.

Make sure to do your research. If you put less than 20% down on a home, you will have to purchase private mortgage insurance. We can talk more in depth about home financing options available to you.

home buyer looking at bank account5. Make Your Savings Automatic

Many people find it’s easier to save money if it’s automatically transferred into a savings account every month. Check to see if your bank offers automatic funds transfer services, or ask if your employer can direct a portion of your paycheck into your savings account.

6. Create a Separate Savings Account

Establishing a savings account specifically for your down payment and homeownership costs is another great way to set aside money for a home. If you decide to automatically transfer money to savings, creating a separate account may make it even easier.

We Can Make Your First Home Buying Experience Easier

first-time home buyers moving inWhen you’ve saved up enough money and are ready to buy a home, we have all the resources you need to make your homeownership dreams a reality. Have a question about owning a home? Call us.

Downsizing Tips – Ways to Make the Transition Easier

People choose to downsize or “right-size” their home for a number of reasons – simplify lifestyle, reduce housing costs, relocate to a new climate, the list goes on. Whatever your reason for wanting to make the transition to “smaller living,” considering the following tips to help make the lifestyle shift more manageable and less overwhelming.

downsizing-your-home2-1

Reimagine Where (and How) You Want to Live – If you have not finalized your next step yet, take some time to really think about what you want that next chapter to look like. Having a clear vision of where you are going will remove much of the uncertainty and allow you to focus on what needs to happen next.

Downsize Your “Stuff” – If you are moving to a smaller home, then you will not need as many things to fill it. And a clutter-free home definitely appeals more to buyers and sells faster. Before putting your home on the market, take some time to go through your personal and household items (even furniture) and be very selective about what you take with you. You may even decide that you want to have a whole new style in your new home!

Make Necessary Home Repairs and Improvements – Buyers do not like to work hard to envision themselves in your home. A home that is move-in ready and upgraded properly will always sell faster and for more money than one that requires a lot of work.

Don’t Go It Alone – Hire the Experts – The process of downsizing can feel a bit overwhelming. Take advantage of the amazing local resources available to help walk you through each step:

  • Realtor
  • Professional Organizer
  • Home Stager
  • Estate Sale Professional
  • Financial Consultant
  • Lender/Banker
  • Attorney
  • Mover

Want to learn more about the ins and outs of downsizing? We will cover these topics and more in detail at our free Downsize New Albany seminar on Oct. 19, 2016, at the Heit Center in New Albany. You’ll hear from a panel of local experts and have the opportunity to ask questions and pick up information about housing options and other services available in the area. Reservations are required. RSVP to info@newalbanyohio.com.

Can’t make it to the seminar, but still want to learn more? We would be happy to help! Contact us at 614-939-8944 or tonyt@newalbanyrealty.com, or visit us online at www.NewAlbanyOhio.com.

5 Things Only Home Sellers Understand

Whether this will be your first time selling a home or your tenth, the home selling process can be a challenge. You want to sell quickly and for the most money, so you will be doing absolutely everything you can to spruce up your home and make it as inviting as possible. But not every experience during the home sale is a struggle. Here are the moments home sellers know too well.

packing-for-a-move1. The Nostalgia You Feel While Packing

While you’re going through closets and pulling your personal photos off the walls, you may experience some nostalgia. You can vividly remember the day you bought the house. You remember all the guests that have visited. You even remember the stains that you’ve spent time scrubbing out of the carpet.

You have made memories in this home. But don’t forget about all of the new memories you will make in your new home. Whether you’re relocating, upsizing, or downsizing, you will have the opportunity to start fresh.

2. Having to Rush Out the Door for Showings

One of the hardest parts about selling your home is being prepared to leave at any time for showings: during dinner, early in the morning, on weekends… Sometimes, you have just 5 minutes to drop what you’re doing and dart out the door. But when you hear that the buyer has made an offer, you know that all of your scrambling was worth it.

a child with her head in her hands3. The Home Buyer Who Nitpicks Everything

It takes time to clean and declutter the home that you’ve lived in for a while. You remember the dust and dirt you found when you first moved furniture and packed up your closets. You even remember the hours it took to paint your rooms a neutral color. Your home looks brand new and ready for showings, so you can’t help but roll your eyes over the buyer who complains about that one thumbtack hole or the Windex streaks on the window.

4. The Awkwardness of Living in a Partially Empty Home

Everything echoes. It’s impeccably clean. Even the dust bunnies have moved on. With the pictures off the walls, the furniture put in storage, and the walls painted a neutral color, your home looks less like your own and more like a model.

people in front of a house5. Feeling Bittersweet About Leaving Your Home

After all the home sale preparation, last-minute showings, and negotiations, it’s time to say goodbye to your old home and hello to the new one. Yes, there may be things that you will miss about your old home. But there will be also things you can’t wait to have in your new home.

Your Home Sale Doesn’t Have to Be Stressful

We can help make your home sale a pleasant (and profitable) experience. As real estate experts, we offer a variety of helpful home selling resources, from a free home evaluation to low-cost home improvement ideas. When you’re ready to sell your home, call us.

7 Easy Ways to Declutter Your Home

Whether you are preparing to sell, simplifying your life or just doing an annual fall clean-out, decluttering is often one of the most challenging tasks of home ownership. While it may seem tempting to sort through the entire home at once, trying to tackle such a large project in such a short time will leave any homeowner frustrated. Following these essential decluttering tips will make your job much easier.

  1. declutterAllow plenty of time – start decluttering a few months in advance of a potential move, if possible.
  2. Make a list of items you cannot live without.
  3. Choose storage containers that are attractive and make the most use of space.
  4. Donate any furniture that you don’t need or want anymore.
  5. Donate or discard anything you haven’t used in the past year.
  6. Ask a friend or family member for objective advice.
  7. Keep furniture that serves more than one purpose.

Need Additional Tips about Downsizing?

If you are planning to downsize and move within the New Albany and Greater Columbus area, we are more than happy to assist you. We can provide you with additional downsizing secrets, home selling tips, and anything else you need. Call us at 614.939.1234.

These Small Home Improvements Can Pay Off Big When Selling

First impressions matter when selling a home. But the first thing buyers see isn’t always your staged living room or upgraded kitchen. The price is the first impression buyers have of your home. The price also determines whether buyers skip over your home or go inside for a better look.

using a laptop at homeHome buyers are attuned to the market. When they are searching online for properties and browsing through listing photos, they can easily spot a home that is not worth the price tag attached to it.

The Simplest Ways to Add Value to Your Home

There are many ways to add value to your home, but don’t waste your time and money with major home improvements that won’t pay off. Instead, focus on these small, often overlooked tasks. Even the smallest fixes can significantly increase your home’s market value.

Replace Doorknobs and Other Hardware

Is the front doorknob worn or tarnished? Are your light fixtures outdated? Replacing the hardware in your home, even though it’s just a cosmetic fix, can make a world of difference when you sell your home.

a homeowner painting the wallsPaint the Walls a Neutral Color

A fresh coat of paint can leave your home looking like new. Choosing neutral colors, such as beige or grey, for your walls allows buyers to easily picture their belongings in your home. Lighter tones also create the illusion of more space.

Declutter Your Home

Buyers want to see a home that is organized and well-kept, both in person at showings and online in listing photos. Donate, discard, or store any furniture or household items that are not absolutely necessary in each room. Decluttering your home is the best way to add value, maximize space, and make a great first impression.

Price Your Home Right from the Start

When you’re ready to put your home on the market, create the best first impression with the right price. If you want to sell your home quickly and for the most money possible, we can help you determine the market value of your home. Call us today for a free home evaluation.

What You Haven’t Considered About Owning a Vacation Home

tropical-vacationWouldn’t it be great to own a place at the beach, in the mountains, or by the lake? If you are seriously considering buying a vacation home, you have probably weighed many of the pros and cons already.

But you should carefully consider everything before you buy. Have you taken these additional costs and benefits into account?

The Overlooked Costs of Homeownership

As any experienced home buyer knows, there are additional annual costs that come with owning a home, such as property taxes, home insurance, and any association fees.

Make sure you consider maintenance costs, as well. If you decide to rent out your property, you might want to invest in housekeeping or property management services. MarketWatch outlines a few additional costs you may face.

Additional Fun: Resort-Style Amenities

golf course at sunriseIn popular vacation destinations, you can purchase a second home in a resort community. This gives you access to a range of amenities that can include a golf course, spa services, swimming pool, and dozens of events.

Just remember, you may have to pay additional fees for these amenities.

It’s a Good Investment, But Not a Guaranteed Money Maker

Many vacation homeowners rent their property out to other vacation-goers as a way to earn extra money.

But, as US News & World Report points out, you may not always make money with your vacation home.

Location is Crucial

picking a locationWhen buying any property, whether it’s a primary or second home, location is one of the most important factors in your decision. When choosing a vacation home, consider how much time it will take to get to your home, whether you will need to drive or fly, and if you will be able to visit as often as you want.

You should choose a home that is close to your favorite vacation features (such as a ski resort or private beach) and close to the grocery store, major roads or an airport, and fun things to do.

We Can Help You Weigh Your Options

Investing in a vacation home can be a great decision, but it should not be taken lightly. We can answer any questions you have about finding, buying, or renting out a vacation home. Call us and let’s talk.

Safety Tips for Your Home

The Franklin County Sheriff’s Office recently shared the following tips to help protect your home and keep your family safe.Keep Your Home Safe

  • Lock door and windows whether you are home or not. Make it a nightly routine to check the locks.
  • Hang a bell on the door. Anyone entering your home will trigger this simple, unobtrusive alarm.
  • Keep your house well lit at night to discourage criminals. Motion detecting flood lights are a great option.
  • Use highly visible and easy to read house numbers so law enforcement can effortlessly identify your home.
  • Under door mats, flower pots or fake rocks are the first place a criminal will look. Instead, give a key to a trusted neighbor.
  • Have a family safety plan. The best defense against home invasion is planning and communication.
  • Invest in an alarm system to protect you, your home, and your belongings.
  • Join a Neighborhood Watch program. These programs build cohesive neighborhoods that help reduce crime. Call the Franklin County Sheriff’s Office Community Relations for more information at 614.525.4507.

Enjoy Peace of Mind Living in New Albany, Ohio

Residents of New Albany look after each other, which is one reason why this community is a top place to live. As New Albany real estate experts, we are committed to helping buyers, sellers, and homeowners enjoy this cohesive community and peace of mind about all aspects of the real estate process.

Let us help you achieve your buying and selling goals. Call us today at 614.939.1234.

a Realtor showing a buyer a home

5 Crucial Questions to Ask Before Hiring a Buyer’s Agent

You wouldn’t buy a home without carefully researching the neighborhood, school district, or property values. A home is a major financial investment!

One of the biggest mistakes home buyers make is neglecting to do the same amount of research when choosing their buyer’s agent. Would you entrust your largest investment to a real estate agent with little experience?

You can avoid making this common home buying mistake by asking these important questions.

1. What Can You Tell Me About My Favorite Neighborhood?

homes in New Albany, Ohio's Lansdowne communityYour buyer’s agent should be the local expert. He or she can tell you how the neighborhood has changed over the years, where you can run errands near your home, and whether the local schools are excellent.

We have a wealth of knowledge about New Albany’s communities and the public school district. We even have a local directory of health clubs, childcare, parks, and fun things to do near your desired neighborhood.

2. Tell Me About Your Expertise with the Type of Home I Want.

There are important differences between buying an estate home and buying a patio home. Your buyer’s agent should not only be familiar with the type of home you want, but can also show you similar homes that fit your price and size range.

3. What is Your Negotiation Experience?

two professionals shaking handsNegotiations can be tricky. In such a stressful situation, having an experienced buyer’s agent on your side can bring you peace of mind and an agreeable compromise. The agents at Thomas & Company have unparalleled experience and success negotiating contracts.

4. How Have You Helped People in My Situation?

Whether you are relocating to New Albany or buying a larger home in your neighborhood, the right buyer’s agent has helped people like you through the transition. It’s also important to find a buyer’s agent who listens to your unique needs.

5. What is Your Current Relationship with Past Clients?

a realtor holding a house keyReviews from past clients are helpful when choosing the right buyer’s agent. But the best buyer’s agent keeps in contact with past clients long after closing and move-in day. Ask the Realtor about how he or she keeps in contact with former home buyers.

 Choose Thomas & Company for the Best Home Buying Experience

We are THE New Albany Experts. Our dedicated and experienced buyer’s agents will not only help you find the best home in New Albany, but also enjoy peace of mind about the entire process.

We are more than happy to answer these questions for you. Call us at 614.939.1234 and let’s talk.

3 Surprising Ways Public Schools Affect Your House Hunt

It’s back-to-school season. School supplies are front and center in the stores, back-to-school sales are everywhere, and school buses are becoming part of the morning commute.NA_High_School_5

Even if the public school district is not an important factor in your home search, the location of public schools can still have a significant impact on your home buying decision.

If you are looking for a home near a school, you may want to take these factors into consideration.

1. School Speed Zones

Pay attention to the speed limit around schools and times that the school zone speed is enforced. You may want to consider a home that has convenient alternate routes around the school zone.

the stop sign on the side of a bus2. School Bus Stops

Whether there is a bus route through your neighborhood or on a major thoroughfare, it can affect traffic around your home. Call the school district and ask if there is a bus that stops near your home to pick up students.

3. Morning and Afternoon Traffic

Traffic congestion near public schools may be an issue during the weekdays. Crowded carpool lanes and frequent bus stops can turn a short trip to the grocery store into a frustrating ordeal.

When you are searching for your home, visit the area during peak morning and afternoon hours. Again, you may want to consider a home that is farther from the school or has convenient alternate routes.

We Are Your Guide to Area Schools

Realtor showing a buyer a homeA school’s location and overall rating can affect your decision to buy a home, especially if you are new to the area. But we are your local expert, giving you everything you need to know about the New Albany schools and other area school districts and private schools. For more information about New Albany schools, click here.

We can help you find the best home in the best location. Call us and let’s talk about your home search.

Ways to Beat the Heat at Home

Keeping Cool Tip #1: Close Blinds and Curtains

beat the heat

Inexpensive mini blinds or curtains can work wonders for reducing the sunlight and heat streaming in through your windows! At my house, installing inexpensive blinds on the south-facing windows completely changed the temperature in that part of the house.

Make sure blinds or curtains are white on the side facing the outside. Solar sun screens and window film are other options that can greatly reduce the heat coming through windows.

Keeping Cool Tip #2: Install Cool Lighting

Incandescent light bulbs can significantly heat up a room. Replace standard bulbs with high-efficiency, low-heat CFL (compact fluorescent lights) or LED (light emitting diodes) bulbs, and turn off lights when not needed.

Keeping Cool Tip #3: Cook Wisely

Eat cold meals, cook outside on the grill, or use the microwave for cooking when possible to minimize heat indoors.
When you do cook indoors:
• Cover pots to minimize indoor humidity.
• Use range hood or microwave vent fan to vent hot air outside.
• Turn oven off a few minutes before food is cooked to reduce oven heat.
• Check the oven by turning on the light and looking through the glass, rather than opening the oven door.

Keeping Cool Tip #4: Turn Off Electronics

Computers, TVs, and other electronics generate quite a bit of heat when sitting idle or even when turned off, so unplug devices when not in use. An easy way to do this is to plug electronics into a surge protector which has an on/off switch, then turn the switch off when the devices are not in use.

Keeping Cool Tip #5: Repair Windows and Doors

Windows and doors are a major source of heat gain in the house, so keep windows closed and locked and doors tightly closed to prevent cool air from escaping. Older single pane windows and doors without proper weather stripping are the worst culprits.
If you can’t replace your windows and doors with more energy efficient models, repair any gaps in or replace weather stripping around and under windows and doors. Also, don’t open windows at night unless the temperature drops to the mid-70s F or lower.

Keeping Cool Tip #6: Use Fans for Cooling

A paddle ceiling fan or portable fan uses much less energy than an air conditioner, but they’re only effective when you’re in the room to feel the cooling, so turn them off when you leave.
Run ceiling fans in a counterclockwise direction (when looking up) when you’re in the room to help keep you cool through evaporation. This will allow you to set the thermostat on your air conditioner higher and save energy.

Keeping Cool Tip #7: Clean Air Conditioner Filters

While your AC system is cranking away, the filter is getting more use than usual. By changing the AC air filter every month or so during the highest use months allows air to flow easily through your HVAC system, making it run more efficiently and saving energy.

Keeping Cool Tip #8: Put Off Chores

You heard me! Don’t run the dishwasher, clothes washer/dryer, or other appliances during the heat of the day, since these machines generate heat and humidity that will be hard to overcome. Put these chores off until evening when possible.
When cleaning clothes:
• Wash clothes in cold water.
• Run the washer or dryer only if you have a full load.
• Choose the shortest wash cycle that gets the job done.
• Clean dryer vent pipe and lint screen regularly to lower drying time.
• Dry clothes outside on a clothesline when possible.

Keeping Cool Tip #9: Use Less Hot Water

Turn your hot water heater down to a lower temperature setting so it will run less and produce less heat.
Hot showers create a lot of excess heat and humidity in the house, so:
• Take shorter showers to reduce humidity and heat.
• Take cool – rather than hot – showers.
• Run the bathroom exhaust fan when showering or bathing, and keep it running for 20 minutes afterward, to remove excess heat and humidity.

Keeping Cool Tip #10: Plan Ahead

Long term strategies to keep your house cooler include:
• Plant shade trees on the south and west sides of the house.
• Install insulated glass windows with low-E coating or storm windows.
• Add awnings over sunny windows.
• Install additional attic insulation
• Replace existing roof with cool shingles or light-colored roofing

These are only a few of the many strategies for keeping your house cool in the summer. Put some of these home improvements to your to-do list for relief in years to come.

These tips are courtesy of www.todayshomeowner.com.