How 2016 Technology Has Changed Your Home Search Forever

scrolling through mobile phoneWhen was the last time you hopped in your car to start your home search? Most home buyers today just pick up their phones to instantly view properties all around the country — no car required.

Each year, new tech changes the way that we interact with the world. Here are just a few of the ways 2016 technology has changed the way buyers find real estate.

You Can Access Anything On the Go

Your home search doesn’t stop while you’re out and about. Today’s technology has made it easier to access information when you need it. While you’re waiting in line at the store or idly scrolling through your phone, you can find articles about the home buying process on social media, see listings on a mobile search app, or check commute times from homes you’re considering.

Video Tours Have Evolved

Listing photos are incredibly helpful for home buyers who are looking online for properties. But now, video tours make deciding on homes even easier. Instagram, Facebook Live, and even Snapchat are just a few of the many platforms that you can use to find video tours.

“Smart” Home Features are Becoming a Priority

Remember earlier this year when the Pokémon Go mobile app was released? Proximity to a “Pokéstop” — a point of interest where players could collect items for the game — was listed as a feature in property descriptions, at least for a little while. The Pokémon Go craze is just one of many instances where technology is becoming a priority in and near homes that buyers are considering.

home with smart featuresToday’s home buyers can purchase smart home security cameras, install programmable thermostats, and invest in the security systems of tomorrow. Green homes, energy-efficient appliances, and home energy monitoring systems help homeowners save money. With the right mobile apps, your smartphone can control just about anything in your home, from lights to locks.

One Thing That Will Never Change…

The Internet is saturated with information, both good and bad. But one thing you can’t glean from technology is the ability to navigate the complex real estate process. Even with all the innovations in technology, you’ll still need an experienced real estate agent to help you buy a home.

Are you searching for a home in our area? We’ll help you find just what you’re looking for and handle every detail of your transaction. Contact us and let’s get started.

6 Simple Holiday Decorating Ideas for Your Home

What really makes your home warm and merry this holiday season is the people you welcome into it. Sometimes we get so consumed with the details – cleaning, decorating, shopping, cooking – that we forget to stop and take the time to enjoy the best part of the holidays – spending time and making memories with our loved ones. So here are some super simple holiday decorating ideas to help make your home more festive and leave you plenty of time and energy left to enjoy what matters most.

  1. Fill a glass vase (or other unique container) with colorful glass balls. This adds color and cheer to any room, and allows you to showcase your crystal vase or glass bowl that rarely come out of storage and make use of those “extra” ornaments.
  2. Fill a fireplace (that you are not planning to use, of course) with several poinsettia plants. This can really brighten up a room and add a cheery focal point. Finish the look by draping some garland over the mantel for a framing effect.
  3. Highlight a large light fixture with a little garland and/or a sprig of mistletoe. This is a great way to add some decorations to a room without taking up any table or floor space, which can be limited, especially if you are entertaining.
  4. Cover empty boxes in various sizes with shiny, colorful holiday wrapping paper. You can arrange tiny boxes on a serving platter and use as a centerpiece, and fill empty corners or display shelves with larger boxes.
  5. Hang a single, small to mid-size wreath in a feature window.
  6. Tie a swag or two on your mailbox. Add some ribbon for an added pop of color.

We Can Assist With Your Holiday Real Estate Needs

Are you buying your next home or selling your current home during the holidays? We are here to help with anything you need. Call us at 614.939.8944.

Downsizing Your Home? Use These Tips to Plan Your Move

kitchen and dining roomMaybe the thought of moving to a smaller, low-maintenance home has only briefly crossed your mind, or maybe you’re seriously considering downsizing. But before you trade your too-large house in for, say, a cozy condo downtown, there are a few things to consider.

Downsizing requires quite a bit of planning: You may need to figure out what to keep and what to discard, choose between the love seat and the sofa for your new living room, and determine which furniture pieces can serve multiple functions.

Here are a few downsizing tips to help you prepare to sell your current home.

Start Reducing Your Possessions Now

The sooner you are able to get rid of furniture, household items, and knickknacks you no longer use or need, the better off you’ll be. When you do decide to sell your home, you will thank yourself for spending a few hours a week decluttering now rather than waiting to do everything all at once.

If You Can, Sell Instead of Discard

Many homeowners choose to downsize to spend less money on a mortgage and more money on fun experiences. If you are able to start decluttering weeks in advance, you will have the time to sell unwanted possessions and save the money for future vacations. Consider hosting a yard sale, posting items for sale online, or having high-end items appraised.

Have a Plan

notepad with wadded paperTo avoid getting overwhelmed by all the work involved in downsizing, form a plan to keep your stress at bay. Consider these planning tips:

  • Make a checklist of possessions you cannot live without in your new home.
  • Create a checklist of wants and needs for your new home.
  • Determine which items you can pack now and which items you need to keep handy.
  • Start packing your nonessential belongings.

Get Started by Working with a Real Estate Expert

One of the biggest mistakes home sellers make, whether or not they’re downsizing, is not hiring a real estate professional to make the most of their investment. An agent’s experience and knowledge will help you sell your home for the most money possible, allowing you to use the proceeds to purchase a smaller home.

Are you thinking about downsizing? Start the process by requesting a market analysis for your property. Contact us to learn more.

safety tips infographic

12 Tips for a Safer Holiday Home

Our world is full of risk at every turn—from perilous jobs to dangerous driving conditions. That’s why we all love to get back to our homes and not worry about everyday safety hazards. It’s great to feel comfortable and safe at home, but is it as safe as it can be?

Your home should be your haven: the place where you will be protected from harm. It should be a top priority, and yet every year 12,000 people or more visit the emergency room during the holiday months due to accidents and unintended injuries sustained from hidden dangers around the home.

With a sharp eye and preventive action you can reduce the chances of lurking safety dangers for everyone who visits your home.

1. Good Lighting

Adequate lighting reduces the risk of tripping and falling both inside and outside your home. This is especially important in winters when days are shorter. Critical areas that need to be illuminated are the stairs, outdoors, and foyers. Make sure your street number is well lit and visible from the street to aid first responders find your home. The fix: Make sure adequate wattage is utilized and long-life bulbs and motion detectors are in place.

electrician working on outlet2. Electrical Problems?

Electrical issues, like a flickering light or a dead outlet, can be mild annoyances that actually signal serious dangers. If not addressed promptly, a faulty electrical system can result in house fires and shocks. The fix: If you’re experiencing any problems with your electricity, contact a professional right away. In your daily life, make sure electrical cords are not frayed or pierced and extension cords are securely connected. Do not run too many cords to a single outlet. Unplug small appliances, space heaters, and power tools when not in use.

3. Do Routine Cleaning

Not maintaining your appliances leads to a greater chance of accidental home fires. The fix: Do simple tasks regularly like cleaning grease off your stovetop, emptying the lint trap on your dryer, and keeping your chimney clean and clear.

4. Smoke and Gas Detectors

Every home needs functional warning devices that detect smoke and gasses. The fix: When purchasing smoke alarms, make sure they also detect carbon monoxide, a deadly gas that is especially dangerous because it is colorless and odorless. Replace the batteries every six months—or whenever you change your clocks. Create an emergency evacuation plan, build a preparedness kit, and practice regular safety drills with your family to ensure awareness of procedures.

… Curious to Learn the Other 8 Safety Tips?

Prepare for the season and DOWNLOAD your Holiday safety guide now!

We Can Refer You to Trusted Service Professionals

With the upcoming holidays at hand, now is the perfect time to survey your home and address potential safety hazards to yourselves, your family, and your friends. It doesn’t take long, most fixes are very inexpensive and simple to do, and your efforts will pay dividends in peace of mind for years to come.

If you would like our advice on how to make your New Albany home safer and need a list of trusted sources for home repairs, please contact us today. It’s our business to ensure that your home is safe and secure for your family.

What’s Happening in and around New Albany This Month?

The community fun continues this month in New Albany, Ohio! We want to make sure you know all of the details. Mark your calendars for these upcoming November events.

Saturday, 11/12: NAWN’s Annual Charity Fashion Show

brunch at a country clubTime: 11:00 AM – 2:00 PM
Location: Jefferson Country Club in Blacklick, Ohio
Fees/Admission: $50/ticket; $450/table of ten

New Albany Women’s Network is hosting their Annual Charity Brunch & Bubbly Fashion Show benefiting CASA (Court Appointed Special Advocate), a program that enables volunteers to advocate for the best interests of abused and neglected children. At the Charity Fashion Show, there will be a silent auction, a tasty brunch and a fashion showcase from local boutiques.

11/17-11/19: The Addams Family — A New Musical Comedy

Presented by the New Albany High School Drama Department
Times: November 17, 18, 19 – 7:30 PM, November 19 – 2:30 p.m.
Location: McCoy Community Center for the Arts in New Albany, Ohio
Tickets: $9-$15

The Addams Family: A New Musical Comedy is based upon Charles Addams’ wildly popular single-panel cartoon series, which also inspired several live action and animated films and television shows, most notably the iconic series from 1964 – 1966 starring John Astin, Carolyn Jones, and Jackie Coogan and the movies from 1991 and 1993 with Raul Julia, Angelica Huston, and Christopher Lloyd. The Addams Family: A New Musical Comedy is not only full of catchy new songs like “When You’re An Addams” and “Full Disclosure” but also will have you rolling in the aisles with laughter. It’s an experience you won’t want to miss!

Thursday, 11/24: Thanks For Giving 4 Miler Walk/Run

sneakers at a raceTimes: Kids’ Run Starts at 8:00 AM, 4K Walk/Run Starts at 8:30 AM
Location: Market Square in New Albany, Ohio
Fees/Admission: Donations are accepted, but not required.

The Thanks For Giving 4 Miler Walk/Run is all about family, giving back, and having fun. There is no official race fee. You can give as much or as little as you want. The goal is to feed as many families in Central Ohio as we can – and you can help. 100% of the net proceeds will be donated to three local non-profit organizations: LifeCare Alliance, the Mid-Ohio Foodbank and The New Albany Thanksgiving Day fund at the New Albany Community Foundation.

We Can Assist with All of Your Real Estate Needs

If you are relocating to New Albany, moving to a larger home, downsizing or selling your current home, we can help you with anything you need. Call us at 614.939.8944 to discuss your real estate goals.

The Essentials for Entertaining Big in a Small Home

homeowner setting dining tableWith the holiday season approaching, many homeowners are starting to plan get-togethers with friends or family. While entertaining can be more of a challenge in a smaller home, it’s not impossible to host a memorable dinner party with your loved ones if you’re working with limited space.

Here are a few tips for throwing a large dinner party in a small area.

Before Guests Arrive, Clean and Clear Your Home

You don’t have to put as much effort into cleaning and decluttering as if you were selling a home; the basics will do.

Put away any unnecessary furniture, home décor, and kitchen appliances before the dinner party. Clean and dust the rooms that guests will visit: bathrooms, the kitchen, and the dining area. If you have pets, don’t forget to vacuum upholstery and stash toys or the litter box out of sight.

Get Creative with Guest Seating

You likely don’t keep a dozen matching chairs in storage just for dinner parties. Show off your creativity by relocating chairs, stools, benches, or ottomans currently in your home around the dinner table.

appetizers on raised food standsMaximize Your Table Space

Invest in a tiered platter for dinner parties. Raising the serving plates gives the appearance of more space on your counters and tables and keeps your serving stations from looking cramped.

To further free up space on your dining room table, keep the centerpiece decorations to a minimum. Instead, hang decorations from your walls or ceiling to maximize your space.

Trying to Make the Most of Your Space?

If you’re downsizing but still want to entertain friends and family in your new home, there are many ways to make the most of your space while still enjoying memorable occasions with your loved ones. As real estate experts, we can share downsizing tips and help you find a home that’s just the right size. Contact us to learn more.

What Is Home Equity?

Home equity seems to be a very simple calculation — the total amount of mortgages owed subtracted from the current market value of a home. Here is a simple example:

  • A New Albany home with equityCurrent Home Market Value: $325,000
  • Existing Mortgage: $225,000
  • Homeowner Equity: $100,000

One side of the equation is well defined, and it is found on the monthly mortgage statement, the loan balance. The other side is less obvious — the current market value of the property.

As a homeowner, your down payment purchases your initial equity, and your monthly (or additional) principal payments increase your equity. In strong real estate markets and in-demand locations, equity can increase quite rapidly as the property value increases, but the inverse can also happen — too much available inventory and market down-cycles can lead to falling home values and a reduction in homeowner equity.

It can be difficult to put an accurate value on something that you have emotional and monetary vesting in. It is safe to say that most people think their home is worth more than it is.

Homeowners can make savvy assessments about their home’s current market value by following the sales of similar properties in the neighborhood, but should stay away from websites such as Zillow and Trulia, which provide inaccurate and outdated estimates. The most accurate measurement requires a comparative market analysis from a real estate professional or having the home professionally appraised. But, the bottom line — your home is worth as much as someone is willing to pay for it.

Creating Value is in Your Hands

Maintaining the condition of a home is vitally important to retaining and increasing value. Homes are judged against their peers: how they compare to similar homes in the neighborhood. Another way to retain value is to not over upgrade, since it is rare to ever recoup the money spent if you exceed neighborhood value. Keep up the landscaping and do the little things to add curb appeal.

Putting Home Equity to Work

Discussion with a real estate agent at the officeHome equity represents the largest single asset of millions of people, and because it represents so much of an individual’s net worth, it must be treated with respect. Home equity is not a liquid asset until a property is sold, or it is borrowed against.

There are two types of loans that tap into homeowner equity as collateral.

Home Equity Loans

Many home equity plans set a fixed period during which the person can borrow money, such as 10 years. At the end of this “draw period,” the person may be allowed to renew the credit line. If the plan does not allow renewals, the homeowner will not be able to borrow additional money once the period has ended. Some plans may call for payment in full of any outstanding balance at the end of the period. Others may allow repayment over a fixed period, for example, of 10 years.

A home equity loan, sometimes called a second mortgage, usually has a fixed rate and a set time to pay it back, generally with equal monthly payments.

Home Equity Line of Credit

A home equity line of credit is similar to a credit card. The lender sets a maximum amount you can borrow, and you can draw money as you need it, though many home equity lines of credit require an initial draw. The interest rate varies daily, and is usually prime plus a set number, but the required payment is usually interest only. Once the loan has been paid down, the payment is reduced, and it can be paid off and initiated as many times as a homeowner requires.

How Much Equity can be Accessed?

Since the financial institution is lending money and using a home as collateral, they will not lend 100% of the home’s equity. The bank does not want to take the risk that if the house price drops, they would be carrying a loan for more than its market value. Therefore, most banks will allow a qualified homeowner to borrow approximately 80% of their equity.

It’s Important to Use Your Home Equity Wisely

contractor making improvements to a homeBecause it is likely the biggest asset most people have, losing your home equity is hard to overcome. It must be used in prudent ways, and the payments against the loan must be affordable. Using equity money to make the loan payment is only acceptable for a short-term solution.

There are number of good reasons to use money from a home equity loan… and some really bad ones. First, let’s cover smart uses.

1. Invest in Your Home

The best way to use the money is create more equity in the home. Among the very best returns on your investment (ROI) include kitchen and bathroom remodels, adding square footage or an extra bath, enhancing curb appeal and repairing/keeping the existing structure sound. Making prudent investments in your home is a wonderful win-win: you enjoy the upgrades and the repairs can add value to the home.

2. Invest in your Children’s Education

Using your home equity to finance a child’s higher education may be the greatest payoff of all. Not only is the rate much lower than a student loan, it is an investment in the child’s future.

3. Supplement Retirement Needs

Older homeowners spent their working lives paying down their mortgage. At retirement, when monthly income is reduced, a home equity loan could pay for a dream vacation or an unexpected major expense.

4. Augment the Impending Sale of a Home

If you’re planning to sell soon, a home equity line of credit may be the best way to finance improvements, and you can pay it off entirely when you sell. Investing wisely on upgrades and repairs may even reap a profit on your investment.

Here are some examples of some not very wise choices.

  • Adding luxury amenities like a swimming pool, a hot spa, lavish landscaping, expensive appliances and exotic counter tops and flooring rarely pay off.
  • Purchasing a car or boat or most any personal luxury items is a poor use of the funds, since these items quickly depreciate in value.
  • Also stay away from using money on risk-heavy investments. Financing stock purchases, start-up businesses and paying routine bills is not financially smart. If you cannot afford to purchase those items with available funds, using equity from your home means they should not be in your budget.

You should treat a home equity loan as an investment and not as extra cash when making financial decisions. If your intended use of the money doesn’t pay you back in some way, it’s not the best use of your valuable equity.

We Are Happy to Assist You

If you would like an assessment of the market value of your home and the current equity you can access, give us a call for a comparative market analysis.

How Color Can Help Sell Your Home

Yes! Just like curb appeal matters, the colors of your home can and will influence buyers. With that in mind, we explore which colors tend to appeal to the masses.how-to-choose-paint-color

The color scheme of your home, from the outside in, sets the tone. It’s like going to see a theatre play and seeing an intricately crafted and appropriately painted set for the production. It can immediately intrigue you–before the play has begun and even if you know few details about the play.

When it comes to color, be sure to consider the location. A peach-pink home in a retirement community might be okay, but that same color in an upscale, urban city may be unappealing to younger city dwellers.

The outside of your home is one of the largest areas potential buyers will see. So make your decision carefully and be sure to have a professional paint job done. If you choose white for the exterior, your home is likely to appeal to the masses, according to one study that indicated upwards of 40 percent of people liked white homes.

The great thing about a white home is you have plenty of options to make the home stand out by using an accent color for the trim. The downside is that white gets dirty very fast and shows it more than other colors. So before you list your home, make sure that you have a fresh coat of paint applied or pressure wash the exterior to bring back that newly painted look.

Also take into consideration the color of other homes on the block. Typically, white will not look out of place. However, if you had a purple home on a block where the homes are mostly beige and neutral colors, you’ll get noticed but won’t likely get the kind of attention you want.

Beige with neutral-colored trim is another popular color scheme. Both beige and white are safe exterior colors. They don’t turn buyers off.

There’s also been a trend to paint just the front door a deep, rich color like red. This may not be appealing to all. However, buyers would tend to overlook it because it’s a simple change as well as one that can easily and cheaply be changed to the new buyer’s choice. As long as the colors look good together, this wouldn’t necessarily turn buyers away.

The paint inside your home is equally important. In fact, one good tip for sellers is that if they can do nothing else, they should get some fresh paint up on the walls. The new paint helps showcase the home and gives it a new-home feel.

There are a wide variety of interior colors. Don’t feel like you have to go with only beige. You can be a little more daring, using bold accent colors. Just make sure the paint colors you choose don’t give a dark, closed-in feeling. Aim to create comfort, a sense of calmness, relaxation, and a place where family can unwind. Earth-tone colors convey this very well.

For a more chic and sophisticated look, interior designers often choose from the grey palette. A dark grey color can create a bold statement and attract the eye to a particular area.

Whatever colors you choose, remember that your aim is to appeal to the masses. Test the colors out first. Get opinions from the experts.

Your real estate agent has likely been in hundreds of homes and can offer you some very good guidance.

(Article courtesy of RealtyTimes.)

5 Home Staging Mistakes That Frighten Buyers Away

house with dark staircaseHalloween is just around the corner. For many homeowners, that means carving pumpkins, hanging up Halloween decorations, and stocking up on fun-sized candy. But if you’re a homeowner who is thinking about selling this fall season, you might be preparing your home for buyers instead of trick-or-treaters.

Home staging is a crucial part of home selling preparation. According to the National Association of REALTORS® 2015 Profile of Home Staging, 32% of buyers’ agents and 37% of sellers’ agents believe that a staged home increases the amount buyers are willing to pay up to 5%. On a $200,000 property, that’s $10,000!

But is your home effectively staged to sell? If you are preparing your home yourself, beware of these staging mistakes that scare away home buyers — and potentially thousands of dollars.

1. A Dark and Spooky Entryway

Your front entry is one of the first things buyers notice about your home. Peeling paint, deep shadows, and uninviting colors don’t create the best first impression. Turn your front entryway into a focal point by painting your door a bright color that complements your home.

cobwebs on dusty night stand2. Cobwebs in the Corners

At a showing, buyers are going to inspect virtually everything: light fixtures, closets, ceilings, you name it. Thoroughly clean your home from top to bottom (or hire a professional) to make it look like new. You can always ask a friend or neighbor to take an objective look at your home.

3. Startling Colors on Your Walls

The goal of home staging, besides selling your home for top dollar, is to help buyers visualize themselves living in your home. If you have bold, bright colors on your walls, switch to more neutral colors to appeal to all potential buyers.

4. Menacing Halloween Decorations

Staging your home for Halloween is fine in moderation. But remember, not all buyers will think the fake spiderwebs or rubber arms are festive. Unless the headless horseman himself is buying your home, it’s best to keep him out of your front yard.

standing in a long dark hallway5. Hovering Like a Ghost During Showings

How you present your home when it’s on the market goes hand-in-hand with home staging. Make your home available and make yourself scarce during showings. Potential buyers might find it creepy if the current homeowner is lurking somewhere in the shadows.

Thinking of Selling Your Home This Fall?

Selling your home doesn’t have to be scary. We have a wealth of home staging tips and home selling resources that will help you sell quickly and for top dollar. Contact us to learn more.

Don’t Miss These Fun Events Happening in New Albany This Month!

There are some great events happening this month in New Albany, and we wanted to make sure you know the details!

Wednesday, 10/19: Downsize New Albany Seminar

New Albany homeowners downsizingTime: 6:30 – 8:00 PM

Location: Heit Center

Cost: FREE

(Hosted by Kate & Tony Thomas, New Albany Realty)

Learn the ins and outs of downsizing from a panel of local experts at our second downsizing seminar. Our first was so popular, we are bringing it back! Topics will include real estate market and strategies, home improvements and staging, selling personal and household items, and more! Refreshments and appetizers will be served. RSVP to info@newalbanyohio.com.

Learn more at www.DownsizeNewAlbany.com.

Thursday, 10/20: Haunted Hike and Happy Hike

Time: 7:00 PM – 10:00 PM

Location: Rocky Fork Metro Park

Cost: $5-$20 per person

(Hosted by Handshake America)

The Haunted Hike is a very scary 1 mile hike through the woods. You will not be touched or chased, but you will be scared! The Happy Hike is for kids 10 and younger who don’t like being scared. There will be a series of Halloween themed activities for kids. Wear your costumes!

Learn more at http://handshakehauntedhike.eventbrite.com.

Saturday, 10/22: New Albany Craft & Vendor Fair

ceramics at arts & crafts fairTime: 9:00 AM – 4:00 PM

Location: New Albany 2-8 Gymnasium

Cost: Adults – $2, Children Under 12 FREE

(Hosted by Girl Scout Troop 307)

Several Unique Vendors, Free Parking, Lunch available. Raffle held every Hour.

E-mail Stefanie Hatfield at hatf02@gmail.com for questions or more information.

Sunday, 10/30: Night Moves Concert

Time: 3:30 – 5:00 PM

Location: McCoy Center for the Arts

Cost: $10 Donation at the Door

Annual community concert featuring Songs of the Season and tunes that go bump in the night! Featured groups performing will be New Albany Winds, New Albany Chorus, Center Stage Singers, NAHS A Cappella Choir, Broadway Beginners cast members, and youth pianists Kelley, Danna & Abbie Long.

Learn more at http://www.newalbanyarts.org

candy in a bowlMonday, 10/31: Halloween – Beggars Night

Time: 6:00 – 8:00 PM

Trick or treaters will fill the neighborhoods for New Albany’s annual “Beggars Night.” Stay safe!

Buying or Selling a Home in New Albany?

Whether you’re relocating to New Albany, downsizing, or moving to a new neighborhood, we can help you with anything you need. Contact us at 614.939.1234 to learn more.