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Date Archives: September 2015

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September
21

 

From mid-century ranchers and ramblers to 21st century Mediterranean villas and works of abstract architecture, in the half a century plus which has elapsed since the '50's, home floor plans have changed. They've grown in size, number and use of rooms, and even lighting has evolved to be more 'natural' . . . skylights and picture windows favored by many for the outside hues they let in.

Let's take a look at the main rooms that have transformed over the years.

 

The Kitchen

Then: Appliances like refrigerators and dishwashers were a novelty in the 1950s. Not everyone had them, and those that did, wanted them displayed. As a result, over time walls have been removed to open up floorplans, leading into today's open kitchens with islands that are often the central gathering place of a home.

Now: The more decked out, open, and inviting the kitchen space, the more appealing the house is overall to potential buyers.

 

The Dining Room

Then: Hosting dining parties where everyone gathered in a separate dining room was a way to show status and station in life. A well-liked hostess was one who could ooh and ahh her guests—and making her husband proud, Mrs. Cleaver-style—with each dish she brought out from the kitchen.

Now: Meals are no longer the formal affair they were, gatherings are reserved for holidays and special occasions, and so most designated dining areas tend to be used as offices or play spaces for younger children.

 

The Living Room

Then: The living room was considered the family room and was often placed toward the back of the house, away from the front entertainment areas, for privacy. In the '70s, designers began incorporating conversation pits or sunken living rooms, and gradually, these rooms were brought more to the forefront of the floor plans.

Now: A shared space, the living room is a space that tends to open into other rooms, making the house inviting and welcoming to guests. Not only are the spaces larger, design trends have gone taller … vaulted ceilings, floor-to-ceiling windows, and open lofts are all quite common.

 

The Bathroom

Then: Bathrooms were purely functional—get in, do your business, get out. One to a household sufficed on most occasions, and was often "shared" by household members. While little Johnny brushed his teeth, baby Davey was getting his bath . . . that kind of thing.

Now: Floorplans now account for at least a 2:1 ratio of bedrooms:bathrooms, but it's not uncommon for the ratio to be higher, so that nearly every occupant in the house gets their "own" bathroom.  Master bathrooms can be turned into private retreats, racking up the expense with specialty tubs, showers, vanities, and flooring materials.  

 

The Master Bedroom Suite

Then: Bedrooms weren't a place to hang out or relax. Closets were small, as were wardrobes, and available floor space was compact.

Now: Following the mindset for the master bathroom, the master bedroom has typically been given more square footage than any other room in the house, next to the living room and kitchen, in today's floor plans. It's not uncommon for master "suites" to have sitting areas, walk in closets, and of course, the attached spa-like bathrooms.

September
21

 

It's a well-known fact that with homeownership comes home repairs. It doesn't matter if the house is new or if it's a property that has been in the family for generations, Life happens and things break. Professionals can always be called in to do the repairs, at a cost to your monthly budget, so it's best to save them for the really big break downs, like busted water heaters, roof replacements, or new HVAC systems. The common things that crop up can be handled on your own with a standard toolbox and maybe a run . . . or two, to your nearest home improvement store.

 

1. Leaky faucets, running toilets

Per the EPA, ten percent of US homes have leaks which are wasting more than 10,000 gallons of water annually due to worn out gaskets, flappers, drippy faucets, and leaky valves. Here are some ways to confirm whether you have a leak:

  • Take a reading on your water meter before and after a two-hour water period of no water use on the property. If you get any differences in your findings, a leak is likely.

  • Test toilet tanks by by placing a drop of food coloring in the tank and waiting about fifteen minutes. If water in the bowl takes on any coloring, then you have a leak. Flush to avoid staining the tank.

  • If a visual inspection of pipes, faucet gaskets, and pipe fittings reveals any water on their exteriors, then you probably have a leak.

Once a leak is confirmed, if you're unsure how to proceed you can start by talking to the experts at your local home-improvement hangout, or you can always Google for tips. Remember, if the project gets too big for you to handle, go ahead and call in the professionals rather than risk a house flood!

 

2. Cracked paint or siding

Besides looking nice, it's important to maintain the exterior of your home in order to protect it from the elements and critters. Cracked, peeling, or dusty paint (or caulk, vinyl, stucco, brick, etc.) is a sure sign that the structural integrity of your abode could be at jeopardy. If you catch it in the early stages, you should be able to handle the task yourself. Bringing in hired painters will land you a bill for a few thousand dollars at least, depending on the size of the house.

 

3. Garbage disposal jam

WARNING: Always make sure the disposal switch is OFF before you stick your hand or any other object down the drain.

Garbage disposals have an average life of about ten years. If you use it a lot, or abuse what you put down it, it's going to die much sooner. With the aid of the owner's manual, and that wonderful "RESET" button, disposals can be an easy fix. Should full replacement become necessary, you can spend a couple hundred and probably a handful of cuss words as you work or you can spend twice as much to pay a plumber to do it.

 

4. Nail pops

Most foundations will have some degree of shifting over their lifetime. Heat and cold, wet and dry weather, and even wind strengths tax the structure. Oftentimes nail pops are the result of this. Minor ones from initial settling can be fixed by driving the nails deeper, refinishing, and touching up with paint. However, if they are excessive or are suddenly appearing after years, you probably need to bring in contractors to look at the bigger picture. Home warranties and insurance will help you incur the cost of foundation repairs.

 

5. Cracks in the concrete

Your driveway, patio, and sidewalks are constantly exposed to the elements. Extreme weather, improper mixing, shrinkage during curing, pressure from vehicle loads and even old tree roots can contribute to these places beginning to crack and breakdown. Much like the house exterior, water and pests can get into these cracks which will only aggravate the problem the longer it's left untended. If you've had experience with concrete mixing and laying, by all means take on the repairs yourself, but for most homeowners, this IS going to be one for the trained professionals.

 

Tensions can run high when things start to fall apart around you, so if you share a home with somebody, do you and your partner a favor . . . don't let your relationship get added to the "honey-do" list. It's so much easier to get things done with teamwork.

 

September
21

 

You've found the house of your dreams in Bellefontaine, Indian Lake, or any of the beautiful neighborhoods of Logan County and greater Central Ohio (or at the very least, the house for the current phase of your life), you've gone through the offer game between you and the seller, and now it's time to close, to make that house yours. Unfortunately delays do crop up, some out of left field, but most are avoidable if you're prepared.

Once your closing date has been agreed upon—don't commit to one if you have any doubt of being able to meet it—here are four tips for how to keep the closing process moving forward and staying on the right track to getting those keys in your hand:

 

1. A real estate agent worth their salt will be keeping tabs once the property is under contract. Your agent should be checking in with all involved parties at least twice weekly. The sooner a problem is discovered, the sooner it can be addressed. Any agreed upon terms with regards to inspections, repairs, or replacements need to be honored in a timely fashion.

 

2. Keep your mortgage lenders in the loop with how the contract proceedings are going. Lots of paperwork is required for home loans, and it often needs to be revalidated every 30 days. If you are asked for additional documentation, or to re-submit updated documentation, DO NOT DELAY. A single missing signature can hold up a closing. Mortgage rates also ride on closing dates; you don't want to miss locking in a great one or having to start the whole process over because you the estimated rate you were working with for preliminary numbers changes.

 

3. Last-minute surprises can crop up from your seller, such as, they aren't ready to move out on time or they failed to get those negotiated fixes and changes done. It's a good idea to add a deadline in those negotiations which states IN WRITING that the repairs will be done at least a week prior to the scheduled closing. This gives you a little bit of breathing room if the time comes, and they aren't done. Or they aren't done to your satisfaction.

 

4. It is crucial that you keep your finances level while going through the home-buying process. Do not settle on a closing date and then run out to start accruing debt. You'll have plenty of time to go shopping for that new bedroom suite or living room ensemble after the keys are in your hand. A lender can, and will, pull your funding if your debt to income ration gets off. By the same token, if you take on a car payment or change jobs, this will basically nullify your loan application and you will have to start over.

 

September
7

 

You've scoured the house listings for weeks and walked lots of miles with your realtor checking every property that piqued your interest. It hasn't been in vain. Congratulations on choosing your new Logan County home! Now it's time to prepare for the move to get you there. Once upon a time this was an extremely daunting task, but with the advent of technology, guess what? There's an app for that!

 

Home Inventory Photo App

This one is great for many reasons. If you're feeling anxious to get started, then this will let you begin organizing your belongings. Not only can you document how you have everything laid out (in case you don't want to create a new arrangement in the new space), but by snapping away, you'll have a full inventory at your fingertips should you need it following the move. Accidents do happen.

Several FREE apps can be found on Google Play for Android (this is the currently top ranked:Encircle). Apple users can try this FREE one:Home Inventory Photo Remote.

 

My Move

This app is great if you really need to stick to a budget with your move. It will let you calculate potential prices, estimate household weight, check reviews for moving companies, and more.

Available FREE forandroid users and forApple users.

 

Moving Checklist

A good checklist will give you the flexibility to create your own lists, but will also give you suggestions for things you might not have thought about. Take advantage of these apps to make your transition that much smoother with reminders to look into schools, arrange for utilities on both ends of the move (shutting down and turning on), getting estimates for or setting up paper, pest, and lawn services, etc.

For android users:Moving Planner Checklist ($0.99).

For Apple users:Moving Checklist Pro ($0.99).

 

Gogobot

Once you've closed out the old house and gotten on the road toward your new destination, Gogobot is a great app to help you plan your road trip with recommendations for food and lodging, and even places to have some fun if you want to stop and stretch your legs.

FREE forandroid users andApple users.

September
7

Making the decision to buy a home in Central Ohio doesn't have to be daunting or intimidating. With a little understanding of how the mortgage process works, you'll be a proud bellefontaine homeowner in no time.

A pre-check of your finances is highly suggested to give you a starting point. Knowing what you can realistically afford, even in the case of a financial emergency, can save you heartache down the road. You don't want to bite off a mortgage that is bigger than you can chew. Knowing your limits will also narrow your property searches down and help you stay on target. Online calculators are available to help you determine affordability:

 

Affordability Calculator

(estimates an affordable purchase price based on your income and available down payment)

 

Payment Calculator

(estimates monthly mortgage payment based on purchase price, insurance, and tax rates)

 

Now that you have an idea of what you can afford, it's time to start the mortgage process by speaking with a lender. Getting your home loan underway will result in you having qualifying documentation when you reach out to a realtor and start looking at actual homes—and should you find "the one," it'll be great to have no delays in closing the deal because of bank issues.

 

Information you will be asked to provide to the lender (with documentation):

 

  • Personal — Date of birth, marital status, number of children and their ages, and social security number (to pull your credit report).

  • Last Two Years (minimum) of Residential History — Rental or mortgage, insurance, and tax figures.

  • Proof of Employment and Income — Wages, bonuses, or commissions and employment history for at least two years back. Be prepared to show completed tax returns. Mortgage lenders will average variable and self-employed income over two years.

  • Assets — Even if your down payment comes from one account, ALL checking, savings, investments, and retirement accounts will have to be recorded and verified. Keep in mind that if you're fortunate enough to have funds being gifted to you, there are special rules which apply. Speak to your lender.

  • Debts — Full disclosure of payments and balances owed on all credit cards, student loans, auto loans, existing mortgages, and any alimony or child support requirements.

  • Identify your preferred loan type and available down payment.

 

With this information your lender will be able to create a personal profile and recommend loans commensurate with your individual budget. Everyone is different and therefore multiple loan and rate tiers exist. Your lender will be like your personal guidance counselor as you go through this process. Your existence is at their disposal, on paper at least, and so they can use their expertise to suggest what will likely be the best path for you to follow. Whether it be a short term investment property with plans to turn around and sell, or settling in with a 30 year mortgage on a family home.

 

Our Choice Properites Real Estate agents are knowledgeable and willing to meet with you and your lender so that the fun part can start . . . home shopping! In the crazy days that will come in the whirlwind process of home buying you can expect the following to happen:

  1. Upon finding "the one," your agent will write up an offer of what you're willing to pay for the property and present it to the seller; if accepted, then your loan process will move to the final approval phase.

  2. Your lender will lock the interest rate on your loan (this can't be done without an acceptance as it is determinate upon buyer/seller price agreement).

  3. Depending how much time has elapsed since financials were initially gathered and verified, your lender may request updated documentation from you; your lender will also order an appraisal on the property and review the property title report at this stage.

 

When all I's are dotted and T's are crossed, the final loan documents will be drawn up and your closing will be scheduled. Once the papers are signed and the loan is funded, the keys will be placed in your hand.

 

Congratulations and enjoy your new Logan County home!

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