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.

The Final Word on the Best Time to Sell a Home

There are countless home selling articles online that seem to contradict each other.

In this Huffington Post article, the month of May is the best time to sell. But in this Washington Post article, any time between December and March is the optimal time. And in this NerdWallet article, the right time to sell is between May and August.

Is there a right answer? And if you are interested in selling your home soon, should you start preparing your home now or wait until the weather gets colder?

Why Home Sellers Choose to List in the Summer

Every season has its benefits for home sellers.

Spring has traditionally been the time that homeowners put their homes on the market, since the weather is ideal for showings and curb appeal. However, online home searching makes it even easier for today’s buyers to explore available listings (and high-quality photos) at any time.

Let’s say you wanted to sell your home right now. You may be able to sell quickly and for more money because:

  • Home buyers want to move before the new school year starts.
  • Home buyers have fewer properties to choose from than in the springtime.
  • Home buyers can schedule showings during the longer days.

What About the Other Seasons?

an agent showing a buyer a homeThere are equally good reasons that home sellers are able to reap the rewards during any other season.

In the spring, there is a chance that potential buyers will start a bidding war.

In the fall, the cooler autumn weather is ideal for home showings.

And in the winter, especially during the holidays, there are often more motivated buyers eager to settle down before the new year.

The Truth About Selling in the Summer

Is timing the secret to selling a home? Yes, but the optimal time depends on when you need to sell. You shouldn’t wait any longer than necessary.

The key to selling your home quickly and for more money is choosing the right real estate agent.

Have you considered selling your home this summer? We can give you more information about ways to increase your home’s value. Call us today and let’s talk about the next steps.

5 Easy Summer Decorating Ideas to Brighten Your Home

Summer is the perfect season for spending warm evenings outside, hosting get-togethers with friends, and enjoying the longer days. What better way to take advantage of the long days and abundant natural light than in your own home?

Here are 5 simple summer home décor tips that can instantly brighten and transform your living spaces.

a neutral kitchen with fruit on the center island1. Add Splashes of Bright Colors

Make a neutral room visually interesting by adding small, colorful details.

Try placing a bright flower arrangement on the coffee table, putting eye-catching throw pillows on the couch, or setting a bowl of oranges and bananas on the kitchen counter.

2. Swap Out Dark Furniture for White

Brown or black couches, tables, and other furnishings can make a room seem darker — and smaller. Open up your living spaces by adding white furniture. If you have curtains on your windows, consider replacing them with lighter sheer coverings to let in more natural light.

a dining room table with blue placemats3. Create a Stunning Table Settings

If you’re hosting a get-together at your home this summer, impress your guests with bright, summery place settings.

Consider placing brightly colored plates or napkins on the table, then adding a matching vase filled with fresh flowers or votives filled with unscented candles.

4. Bring Summer Blossoms Indoors

There’s no better way to welcome summer into your home than by bringing in freshly picked flowers. Place vibrant bouquets throughout your home, including end tables in the bedrooms or in the middle of a shelf, for a fresh look and pleasant smell.

a new welcome mat and open front door5. Set Out a New Welcome Mat

Setting a new doormat, or one that has a bright, summery theme, outside your front door is the perfect way to welcome guests into your home.

Helpful tip for home sellers: A new, clean welcome mat also creates a great first impression for potential home buyers.

Thinking of Selling Your Home? We Have You Covered

The goal of preparing your home for sale is to focus on the décor that will brighten your home and make the best use of space. These summer home decorating ideas are a great place to start.

If you are planning to sell your home this summer, we have even more tips that can help you get your home ready, as well as home selling resources that can allow you to sell for more money and as quickly as possible. Call us and let’s take the next steps.

Stage Your Home (Room by Room) to Sell

Great Room 5

Living Room and Family Room

For the duration of your home sale, it’s important that you channel your inner minimalist. Remove your family photos, and other personal knickknacks that clutter up the shelves and mantle. If the room is full of furniture, try to get rid of a piece or two — you don’t want to give the impression that the room is too small.
Keep the decor scheme simple, too. If you have a boldly decorated room, consider covering the plaid couch with a neutral cover and add pops of color with throw pillows and blankets instead. And of course, be sure that the room is dusted, free of cobwebs, and that the floor is swept or vacuumed.

Kitchen

This may be the most difficult room, because buyers spend a lot of time looking at kitchens. Make sure every appliance is spotless on the inside and out, including the stove, range and hood, microwave and dishwasher. Polish all stainless steel, and wipe down light fixtures and cabinet hardware. Clean and deodorize your refrigerator, garbage disposal and trash to be sure that the kitchen smells fresh. If you use your kitchen as the “communication center,” be sure to get rid of the paperwork and bills that tend to accumulate on counter tops.

Dining Room

Before a showing, set the dining room table as if you’re about to sit down for a family dinner. Go only as far as the place settings, including linen napkins, dish-ware, water and wine glasses, and some seasonal centerpieces. Buyers love to picture sitting down for a meal after a long day at work. (Hint: If you choose to keep the table set for the whole selling process, and don’t use your dining room each day, consider covering the setup with a sheet until the showing to keep dust from accumulating on the table.)

Bedrooms

Follow the same rules you did for your living room, by removing clutter and family photos so that buyers can easily picture the rooms with their own belongings. Be sure that the closets and any other built-in storage are clean and well-organized. If you can’t finish your laundry before the showing, put any dirty clothes into a closed hamper out of the way.

Bathrooms

Focus first on cleaning your bathroom from top to bottom, including the fixtures, faucets and mirrors. Fix any displaced tile with grout, and caulk the tub or sink if needed. When it comes to the vanity and your bathroom storage, try to create displays in your storage when possible. Color coordinate your towels, and fold them all the same way. Buy small storage containers and label them for “Hair Products,” “First Aid,” etc. You may not live in a model home, but you can fake it to sell your home faster to eager buyers.

Attic and Basement

As you’ve removed family photos, collectibles and general clutter from your home, it’s normal to put it all into the attic or basement. Unfortunately, it can’t stay there. It’s really important that buyers see your home as spacious, so your storage cannot be packed to the brim during the selling process. Consider paying for a storage unit during the selling process, and also take time to go through boxes that have been in storage for years, and donate what you can.

A Guide to Choosing the Right Patio Furniture

Patio Furniture

Adding patio furniture to your outdoor area is the perfect way to extend your livable space. With warm weather upon us, we put together a breakdown of the most popular outdoor furniture materials and the benefits of each.

Wicker: You might think of wicker as a material, but the term wicker actually refers to the weaving method used to make this furniture. Wicker can be made from a few different materials such as bamboo, straw, or rattan, but it is common to see wicker furniture made from synthetic plastic as well.

Organic materials like rattan are susceptible to breaking down and unraveling if exposed to harsh elements, and as a result, natural wicker furniture is not the best choice for outdoor furniture. On the other hand, synthetic wicker furniture is typically made of PVC, nylon or polyethylene materials, creating a durable material that can handle all of the seasons and one that is lightweight and easy to clean.

Synthetic wicker is UV resistant which means that you will not have to worry about your patio furniture cracking or fading out in the sun. Polyethylene also has great heat resistance and is able to withstand 230 degrees Fahrenheit continuously.

Teak: Teak is a natural wood found in Asian countries like Thailand, Sri Lanka, Indonesia and Myanmar. What separates Teak from other types of wood are the natural oils that remain in the wood after it is cut down. These natural oils protect and strengthen the wood, and as a result, teak furniture can last for many years and require little to no maintenance. The natural durability of teak makes it a great choice for high quality outdoor furniture that will last through every season.

Yellow Pine: Southern Yellow Pine originates in the Southeastern portion of the United States. This wood has some of the highest density properties of any pines, making it a sturdy choice for outdoor benches and seats. The abundance of yellow pine throughout the Southeastern United States makes this a cost-effective choice for wood patio furniture.

Another benefit of yellow pine is its high weight density, making it a strong and impact resistant. With a density between 50-55 lbs. /cubic foot when treated, this wood will be able to hold up to any demanding activities on your patio.

Recycled Plastic: If environmental protection is a priority, then recycled plastic might be your top choice for patio furniture. Recycled plastic furniture options include tables, chairs and benches, and the recycled plastic “lumber” used to make this furniture is designed to have the look and feel of real wood. This furniture is versatile in design and can fit any aesthetic that you are looking for, whether you want a wood grain look or a bright pink chair.

One type of this recycled material is Marine Grade Polymer, or MGP. This polymer is a plastic that is manufactured to last on boats, docks, and other environments where direct sunlight is constantly a factor, and as a result it is designed to not warp, rot, swell, or splinter when exposed to sunlight, humidity, or water.
Cast Aluminum: The sturdiness and longevity of cast aluminum make it a great fit for outdoor patio furniture. Cast aluminum is not prone to rust so it can be a great option for those who live in areas with high humidity or exposure to salt water. The construction of cast aluminum makes the material solid to the core, resulting in an extremely durable and long lasting product.

Additionally, aluminum and cast aluminum furniture can often have a powder coated finish, which helps protect against corrosion and color fading in adverse climates.

Steel: Steel is the heaviest of all the metals, so if you are one to constantly rearrange your furniture, it may not be for you, though the weight of steel furniture makes it extremely durable. Steel and other metal furniture (besides aluminum) can be at risk for developing rust, so some annual maintenance may be necessary, but few can argue that a nice steel furniture set can really create a beautiful outdoor space.

Worth noting is that steel, aluminum, and other metals can become very hot when exposed to direct sunlight, so they may not be the best choice in very sunny environments.

It is important to choose the furniture material that best reflects your style and your environment. Different materials have different benefits, but ultimately choosing furniture with a higher quality construction will result in longer lasting enjoyment.
This information was provided by Chris Dietrich, a furniture specialist with Patio Living. For more information on outdoor furniture and patio designs, visit patioliving.com.

Don’t Touch the A/C! 7 Tips to Stay Cool and Save Money

sunglasses laying in a grass fieldIt’s easy to just crank up the air conditioning during the hottest months of summer. Sure, the energy bill may be higher, but it’s worth the extra expense to keep your home cool — right? Or are there any sure-fire ways to save money and stay cool indoors?

Before you reach for the thermostat, try these DIY energy-saving tips to keep your home comfortable and keep you from breaking the bank.

1. Raise the A/C Temperature — Yes, Really

It’s better to keep the air conditioning down, but if you want to keep it on, raise the thermostat to a comfortable temperature. When you’re at home (or have buyers viewing your home), set the thermostat to 78 degrees Fahrenheit (25 Celsius). When you’re away, set the thermostat to 85 Fahrenheit (29 Celsius).

The trick is to find the temperature that’s comfortable, not too cold or too hot. This is crucial if you’re selling your during the summer. No buyer wants to step inside and still be sweating during a showing!

2. Wash Dishes and Do Laundry at Night

You’ll want to avoid using as many heat-generating appliances or lights as you can during the summer. Use your dishwasher, dryer, or oven only during the coolest parts of the day, either in the early morning or evening. You can even air-dry your dishes and use the stove or microwave instead of the oven.

3. Unplug Electronics When You’re Not Using Them

Did you know your appliances still use power when plugged in, even if they’re turned off? One way to reduce your energy bill during the summer is by unplugging anything that you’re not using.

4. Close the Blinds During the Day

living room with couch and sheer curtainsA little bit of sun can make a huge difference in your home’s indoor temperature. Cut down on the sunlight streaming in through your windows (east- and west-facing windows in particular) by closing the blinds and curtains and replacing heavier curtains with sheer ones.

During summer home showings, however, you still want to let in a little natural light to brighten up your home. Make it count.

5. Turn the Fans On

If your home has ceiling fans, use them. According to the US Department of Energy, using a ceiling fan will let you raise the thermostat by 4 degrees Fahrenheit without changing how comfortable your home feels indoors.

6. Replace Your Incandescent Light Bulbs

Incandescent bulbs give off a lot of heat compared with compact fluorescent lights and LED bulbs. A small but effective way to keep your home comfortable (and save some money in the process) is to replace any incandescent bulbs with more energy-efficient ones.

7. Find the Gaps and Close Them

How well is your home insulated? Is any heat getting in from a leaky door or window? Seal any cracks with caulk or weatherstripping to keep the cool air inside.

“Summerize” Your Home for Showings

staged and decluttered living roomWhen you’re selling your home during the summer, remember that home showings are all about brightening your home and making it look and feel comfortable. You don’t have to crank up the A/C for home buyers during a showing. You can use these energy-saving tips to make it cooler indoors without having to pay those higher energy bills.

We have plenty of other tips to help you sell your home. Call us and let’s talk.