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Articles Tagged "Homeowners"

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February
26

 

 

Home warranties are an interesting thing, considering they can bring peace of mind but also affordable fixes for a home with older appliances. A seller may offer one in closing to sweeten the pot, which makes it a reasonable consideration for potential buyers. Even though a home warranty may sound like good financial protection, it is good to know more about them and whether this investment is worth making.

 

How a Home Warranty Works

A home warranty is a contract between a homeowner and a home warranty company. Costly repairs on appliances in a new home purchase can be difficult to swallow, especially after spending so much to move into the home. Home warranties typically cover repairs of a furnace, air conditioning unit, plumbing, and electrical systems. Major appliances like washers, dryers, and refrigerators are often also included. Most plans offer the basic coverage, but some additional components can provide a better umbrella for any repairs that are needed which exceed the basics.

 

Know the Costs

Even though a home warranty is only a few hundred dollars upfront for a year, the cost depends on what property is purchased. If the family owns a condo or townhouse, the warranty may cover more or less than a single-family home and costs will shift accordingly. The home's square footage does not impact the price unless the property is more than 5,000 square feet. Garages should be covered by the basic policy, also. Some other considerations:

  • Home warranties charge a service call fee of between $75 to $125 every time the request is made to examine an issue
  • If more than one contractor is needed, there may be costs for each of them to visit the property
  • Some problems are not covered by the warranty or will be denied coverage

 

Peace of Mind

A home warranty truly provides peace of mind to homeowners looking to pay the premium 'in the event something happens.' Much like any other insurance, those premiums get paid out in case something were to go wrong or something major breaks. For sellers of the home, a one-year home warranty with purchase can provide protection against buyer complaints later if defects arise. This does not exempt a seller from the legal requirement to disclose problems with the home upfront.

 

Potential Drawbacks

One gray area homeowners may not be aware of once they move is the 'proper maintenance' clause. This clause is the source of many disagreements between home warranty companies and warranty holders. Companies may use this clause to exclude or deny claims. The homeowner and contract who make the house call may disagree on what constitutes proper maintenance. If the furnace was not maintained by previous owners, for example, they may limit how much they payout or the company can deny payment of the claim. Another area that is not always discussed is the fact the premium may get paid yearly but that money could be put into a fund for emergency repairs that won't cost a premium upfront. Just because a premium is paid, and a contractor paid to visit the home, does not mean repairs will be made and the homeowner is out a few hundred dollars or more.

 

Although a home warranty is not a guarantee, it is protection against potentially expensive repairs. Prior to purchase, discuss it with the realtor. Find out the options and check around. Be sure to know your options before you buy one and make sure it is the right choice for you and your family. 

 

Choice Properties works with families to ensure they make the best decisions possible when buying a home. We help you navigate the process of buying a home from the start of your search until closing. Our experts work hard to ensure you are satisfied with the process of looking for your family's next home. Call us if you are ready to find that perfect property to suit your needs. 

January
16

Tips on Maximizing Space in Your New Home

Regardless of how big your new home is, we all crave the need of maximizing space to make our homes feel spacious and welcoming. If you have been wondering how to make your bathroom more organized or tips on making use of your spare bedroom, stay tuned! The experts at Choice Properties are sharing our tips on maximizing space in your new home, allowing you to truly enjoy your recent purchase.

Open Up Your Entryway

The entryway is the first area of your home that guests welcomes guests. This space should be functional, allowing space for maneuvering quickly and easily. Take full advantage of the space by adding a bench or sitting area for guests to remove shoes. A coat rack also makes it easy for kids to grab backpacks when rushing to the school bus! Mounted wall hooks are easy to install and don't take up much space.

Organize Your Kitchen

The kitchen is the busiest room in any home. This means the space should be enjoyable, comfortable to cook in, and functional to entertain guests. Maximizing space by adding vertical storage shelving in your pantry is a great way to hide food and making use of other cabinets. Using drawers for kitchen utensils and cabinets for plates gives items a designated spot.

Tidy Up Living Rooms

Have you noticed how your living room may become cluttered without even trying? This is a high traffic area and can easily become tight. Whether it's family movie night or Saturday football, consider rearranging the space for better enjoyment! Multifunctional furniture, such as ottomans, are perfect for tucking away video game accessories. If you're looking for a coffee table, consider one that offer drawers and open shelving to store TV remotes.

Don't Hide Junk in the Garage

Although the garage is the perfect place to store items, be sure to do so properly rather than hiding boxes of junk. If your garage became piled with miscellaneous items during the move, it's time to go through and purge the unnecessary. Take this time to donate unused furniture that is in storage or discard broken appliances you never got around to fixing. Installing an overhead ceiling rack for luggage, recreation equipment, and seasonal decorations allows you to park your cars where they deserve!

Make the Most of Your Bedroom   

Every bedroom in your home should be a place of comfort, giving you a space to escape from the daily stresses of the world. It can be easy for nightstands to become cluttered or drawers to be overflowing. Maximize the space by ensuring drawers are cleaned of outdated or unused items. Adding storage to your closets is a great way to organize jeans, work pants, and shoes without taking up space.





Choice Properties provides the best in service when it comes to finding your dream home. Our excellent team of realtors will support you in finding the right home at the right place, right now.

Give us a call today!

September
12

Advice for Single Women Home Buyers

At Choice Properties, our agents are prepared to assist every type of homebuyer. Whether you're single or newly married, we believe it's important to have a trusted real estate agent with you every step of the way. No challenge is big enough to stop you from accomplishing your goals and starting the journey of homeownership. Our real estate agents want to help you start achieving those goals, so we have listed advice for single women home buyers to get the process started.

Getting the Home Buying Process Started

To get started on turning your dream into a reality, it's important to take a look at your credit score and history. This will give you an estimate on how much you can afford for a mortgage. Don't let this early step overwhelm you! Getting a loan estimate is easy and will prepare you when meeting with a loan provider. Consider creating a savings account for a down payment and closing costs, along with taxes, home insurance, and any repairs needed.  

Long-Term Investment

It's important to remember buying a home is a long-term investment, and even though you want to love the home you purchase there may be things you will have to update. Although homebuyers go into the process focusing on the present, keep in mind the chance of selling the home in the future. The return of investment is definitely worth the effort. Researching the market you are considering buying in will show you who is also buying in the area, allowing you to plan accordingly.

Avoid Buying Mistakes

The Choice Properties real estate agents are here to help you avoid buying mistakes, where most of them are not obvious until after you try and sell. Location and market is extremely important as this could drastically impact your chance to sell. Also keep in mind the opportunity of growth, renovations, and room add-ons. Purchasing a home with a flexible layout allows you or a future buyer to accomplish any renovations or room add-ons without a headache.  

 

 

Choice Properties understands your needs and desires when it comes to the home search. We are here to help you define what you want, seek the best property and move forward feeling educated and able to make good decisions throughout the process. You can trust us to help you navigate it with the best real estate agents working for you. Call us to get started on your dream home search today.

August
29

10 Waterfront Home Buying Tips from our Agents

From searching for the perfect location to getting pre-approved, purchasing a waterfront home can feel like an overwhelming process. At Choice Properties, our expert lake house agents understand the ins-and-outs of buying a waterfront home, eliminating the stress and worries that tag along. These 10 waterfront home buying tips from our agents will give you awareness on what to expect when purchasing a home by the water.

 

   1.Find a trusted real estate agent who is familiar with the waterfront area.

An average real estate agent will not have the detailed knowledge of waterfront properties in Ohio to help you find the best deal for your budget. Although you may think you found a great deal, it's important to make note of features and amenities the home lacks that makes it a great deal. Having a trusted real estate agent will ensure you are getting the most out of your budge.  

  1. Consider the property rather than the house structure.

Often times with waterfront properties, many buyers will fall in love with a house and not realize the mucky water or lack of privacy. Keeping an open mind and buying a property you love rather than a house you love will drastically change the outcome. It's important to remember a house can always be updated, but can not be relocated.

  1. Purchase a property that truly suits your lifestyle.

You may find a property you love, but it could be 30 minutes from the lake or your desired location. If you enjoy going on the boat or watching the sunset by the lake, that drive will change the amount of times you truly get to take advantage of those activities.

  1. Research loan options early.

Since most waterfront properties are more expensive than residential homes, loans often fall into the higher end of a mortgage payment with a lake house. Because of this, lenders only consider buyers who are extremely qualified knowing they can afford the second home. It's better to look into loan options early on in the process to prepare your house hunt.

  1. Make sure the home structure is able to withstand water.

Unlike average homes, waterfront properties are more exposed to harsh elements, meaning extra measures should be taken to protect the home. Taking the appropriate action to take care of the home will ensure years worth of use.

  1. Insurance can be more expensive and complicated.

Along with the loan options, getting home insurance for a lake home can be more expensive and take quite a while. Each state holds different regulations for the type of insurance needed, so being aware of these and deciding which insurance is best for you will relieve stress in the long run.

  1. Research potential projects you can do with the property.

If you are interested to making changes to your waterfront property, such as adding a deck or boat dock, we suggest starting these projects early to ensure the projects are doable. Also researching activities that are allowed on the lake will prepare you to what to expect, such as jet ski restrictions or other rules.

  1. Chat with local neighbors.

Stop by the local community and neighbors to see how they enjoy living in the space or if they have any issues. Discussing these will allow you to get insider-information, and they may even offer tips to landing the waterfront property of your dreams.

  1. Look into the expense of utilities.

Those who are looking to buy waterfront may not have considered the expense of utilities. Bringing services such as cable, wifi, clean water, septic systems, or electricity can be expensive and should be planned out in advance.

  1. Understand the responsibilities that come with being a waterfront homeowner.

Understanding the responsibilities of your property will come with a smooth transition and happy neighbors. If your waterfront property is part of an HOA, be sure you are familiar with the rules and agree to follow.



Choice Properties understands your needs and desires when it comes to the home search. We are here to help you define what you want, seek the best property and move forward feeling educated and able to make good decisions throughout the process. You can trust us to help you navigate it with the best real estate agents working for you. Call us to get started on your dream home search today.

July
10

Adapt Your Home to its Selling Season for Best Results

There is a home-selling myth that spring is the best season to sell a home. Although spring is the busiest time for real estate, people are looking to buy homes everyday of the year. When making the decision to sell your home in the off peak season, consider adapting your home to its selling season for best results. Emphasizing seasonal amenities will gain the attention buyers who are looking to enjoy every feature a home has to offer. At Choice Properties, we look forward to helping you sell your home during any season, focusing on the home's features and amenities.

Decide Your Selling Season

The real estate market starts to heat up as early as February, since most families are looking to move in the spring or summer. Moving before a new school year and summer vacations is a goal commonly shared, making spring a popular season to buy or sell. Although these are peak dates to sell, not everyone's situation will be the same. Deciding how quickly you need to move will determine the urgency of needing to sell. If your moving dates are flexible, you may consider holding off until early spring for a higher sale price.

Location

The location of your home also plays an important role on when to sell. Early spring and summer are ideal times to sell a beach or lake house, while a ski cabin is more likely to sell in the winter. Playing off the features your house offers will attract the interested buyer.

Staging Tips for Selling a Home

Stage the Outside

With selling a home comes with staging the space, offering a chance for potential buyers to envision their future. Playing off the season will make the home feel welcoming and inviting, such as hanging beautiful door wreaths in the winter or planting colorful flowers in the summer.

Lawn Maintenance

Ensuring your lawn is maintained and weeds are pulled will give buyers a clean perspective on the house. If selling in the winter, consider sprinkling salt after shoveling the driveway and walkways to create a safe entryway. The outside of your house is the first impression buyers will see, so it is important to present a well-cut landscape.

Tidy Up the Inside

When entering your house, guests should walk into a space that is clean, well organized, and comfortable. Be sure to take all factors into consideration, such as welcoming smells, comfortable temperatures, and simple staging. Giving individuals inspiration with how you stage your space helps them envision their own design.






Choice Properties understands your needs and desires when it comes to the home search. We are here to help you define what you want, seek the best property and move forward feeling educated and able to make good decisions throughout the process. You can trust us to help you navigate it with the best real estate agents working for you. Call us to get started on your dream home search today.

November
22

lake cabins for sale in Ohio

Sorting through the Lake Cabins for Sale in Ohio

Ohio has some truly beautiful lakes, both natural and man made, that people come from miles away to view and enjoy. One of the must-see lakeside areas is Indian Lake right here in beautiful Logan County. If you've ever dreamed of living by the water, there are plenty of lake cabins for sale in Ohio. There are a lot of benefits to living on waterfront property, from the never-ending vacation to the gorgeous view. Learn how you can find the best lake cabins for sale in Ohio and move into your dream home!

When you look at lake cabins for sale in Ohio, you will see how much privacy they afford you. And there's a ton of water activities that you can do like boating, kayaking and fishing. Lake cabins aren't easy to come by, and they are in short supply. So when you do find a few options, how do you sort through them?

It goes without saying that you should carefully and comprehensively inspect the lake front property that you're considering. Water is great to live next to, but not great if it gets into your home. An expert inspection can help you understand whether you might have water intruding into the basement, or mildew and mold issues due to high moisture levels in the air.

Lake cabins for sale in Ohio are great, but not all waterfront property is the same. As you tour the available lake cabins along the coastline of Indian Lake with one of our award-winning Ohio real estate agents, consider the kind of privacy and lakefront experience your family wants. Many lake cabins for sale around Indian Lake offer lake access and proximity to fishing and swimming areas. Consider the proximity of neighbors if you're concerned about privacy.

Waterfront property in Logan County doesn't stay on the market long so speak with one of our agents about getting notified when desirable new properties become available. This allows you to keep an eye on the market to get the best lake cabins and waterfront homes in the area before others scoop them up.

Finally, it is always a good idea to check insurance requirements. A waterfront property will likely have an increased risk of flood damage. Regular insurance doesn't cover flood, and you will have to buy it separately, and the cost could be prohibitive for some homeowners. Knowing the costs of extras up front will help you decide whether you really want the property to begin with. Let's be honest though, who wouldn't want to live along Indian Lake, especially during the summer months when so many people flock to the are for boating, fishing, and lakeside parties. 

For many home buyers, owning a house by the lake is a dream come true. It is achievable for you and your family with help from expert realtors in the Indian Lake area who know where to find the best lakeside cabins and homes. With some careful planning you will be able to find the right lake side property and get moved into your dream home!



Choice Properties Real Estate Agents know more about lake cabins for sale in Ohio than anyone in the region.

Call us today to find out what exciting new properties are available for you and your family!

August
31

 

A jam-packed garage filled to the gills with boxes, unused items or storage can leave a person feeling defeated before the process even begins. Break down the mountainous task into little pieces to get a better focus with some storage tips for transforming a chaotic space into one that is functional, organized and easy to use.

 

Set Realistic Expectations

Cleaning out the garage can feel like an onerous task but it will take more than one sweep to get rid of the clutter. Take the pressure off by assuming it will all get done in one fell swoop. Start by tossing perfection out the window before starting and break down the task into manageable chunks. Eventually a clean garage will appear (with small victories along the way).

 

Reconnaissance Mission

Go in with a focused mind. Worrying about sorting or removing items may ramp up anxiety about cleaning. Have a look around and note what is present. Do what needs to happen to feel organized in control. The following tips may also help:

  • Note big, bulky pieces

  • Research where to take the items

  • Take photos and create a Craigslist ad or other resource in the area

 

Use Local Resources

Compile a local resource list by looking over notes or photos made during the reconnaissance mission. Once a list is made, it is easier to figure out where to put it all. The following ideas are just a few ways to help get ideas started:

  • Consider renting a refuse container for trash

  • Find consignment shops to drop off clothes (or other charitable organization)

  • Chart details in advance to make process feel more smooth

 

Storage

Investment in proper storage is never a waste of money. Storage cabinets and wall-mounted storage can make a huge difference in accessibility of stored items and help protect items over time. Plastic bins also work well for hard items. Three main types of storage to consider include:

  • Overhead. If space is tight and there is alot to store, use overhead space to stow away least-frequently used items (holiday decor, seasonal items) in lidded bins. Overhead storage racks need secure mounting for safety so call a pro if needed.

  • Wall-mounted. Keep gear and bins off floor to prevent moisture damage and save floor space.

  • Locked cabinets. Essential for safely storing hazardous materials (antifreeze, motor oil, etc) keep them away from children and pets.

 

Some other tips to experience a successful garage clean out include moving frequently used gear near the entrance. Bikes and ball games or frequently used items should be easily accessible. Have storage handy to keep things in a proper place. Bike hooks for bikes, wire mesh baskets for balls and shelves for gardening supplies help keep things organized long-term. Maintain the clean state of the garage by continuing to purge items no longer used and creating storage for new items for a better overall feel in the home.

 


 

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August
24

 

Remodeling a home can be stressful whether it includes a room or a full addition. Five distinct stages exist which a homeowner experiences while remodeling: planning, budgeting, demolition, construction and cleanup. If a homeowner stays focused on the goals of a remodel, it is possible to feel less anxious and more excited as each step progresses closer to the end goal.

 

Planning

The main goal when starting out is to stay organized. Remodeling projects and home additions are challenging depending on the size and budget of a project. Start by listing 'must-haves' and stick to the product list to stay on budget and schedule. A minor change can cause delays.

 

Budgeting

Receive written estimates from licensed contractors, architects and designers. Resist the temptation of going with the first referral. Ask friends, family and others to provide names of people who assisted with similar remodels or additions and what the people paid for the work. Unless cash is set aside, an individual may be looking to pull financing from the home in the form of a home equity loan or refinancing opportunity. Depending on current equity in the home and interest rates, refinancing may be a better option. The project may increase the value of the home by more than its cost.

 

Demolition

Remove walls, wiring, carpet and flooring to get started in the demo phase. This remodeling phase is tough, dirty and gritty work but if people do it without help it can save alot of money to go back into the project for other amenities. It may be the shortest phase of the remodeling process but can wreak havoc on the home if a person is ill prepared.

 

Construction

Large projects such as a kitchen remodel or new addition might require a family to move out of the home to complete. Sometimes electricity, heat or water must be turned off to complete projects for a few days. If this does not work, find family, friends or a hotel to stay at while things are completed.

 

Cleanup

Cleaning up the mess from remodeling can be labor-intensive but doing it without outside help can offset costs. If time is a factor, it may be more beneficial to hire outside contractors for clean up. Once all the dust and debris is removed, decoration can begin on the newly renovated and remodeled home.

 

Design Tips

It may make sense to consider energy-efficient and eco-friendly products during the remodeling process. Many products such as appliances, windows, HVAC, front entry and garage doors offer tax rebates and savings on utility bills. A wide range of high-quality and affordable products are available. Check efficiency ratings of appliances and light fixtures to see what can be done and consider it a long-term investment into the home.




 


Looking for that Dream Home?  Let Choice Properties help you find what you're looking for!

July
6

People are visual when looking at homes. Curb appeal begins with most homes by looking at garage doors and spaces. If a garage door is in poor shape or is not well maintained, a home's appeal can go up rather quickly with a few adjustments and updates to suit any budget and style.

 

Timing

Replace garage doors during warm, dry weather. Hire a pro to help get the job done within a few hours.

 

Hiring

A garage door professional will have the most experience and expertise to fit and install the garage door and do the work needed to make it look nice.

 

Permits

A reputable pro will be able to say whether a permit is needed or not for the work. Contact the city or county government agency in the home's area to find out regulations and requirements before starting work.

 

Materials

The following are some materials which will be needed to get the job done:

  • Wood offers the widest range of options for design and works well in all climates. Cost is higher for wood than other materials.

  • Steel is less expensive than wood but can also rust and is not recommended in coastal areas.

  • Aluminum costs more than steel but does not rust. Coastal homes often benefit from the use of this material.

  • Tempered glass in an aluminum or wood frame can be well suited to modern and contemporary homes.

  • Fiberglass and vinyl are budget-friendly options which do not rust but may offer limited design options. Materials may also crack in colder weather.

 

Door Types

Several types of doors exist to fit any style or budget:

  • Sectional doors are the most common type. The doors typically roll up and down on tracks

  • Sliding doors are also known as barn-style doors that require a wider garage wall to accommodate the door once open

  • Swing-out doors are double doors that swing out when open. This style is not a good fit for cold climates with snow drifts that may block the doors from closing.

 

Expect doors to run anywhere from $300-$10,000 depending on the type of material and installation costs associated with having a professional remove, dispose of and install the new doors.

 

Design

Match the style of the new doors with the home, keeping in mind architectural features, materials and colors. Some tips to follow include:

  • Update Spanish colonial with a wooden garage door with iron hinges

  • Add rustic barn-style door to the farmhouse

  • Add a wooden garage door with rectilinear windows and trim to a Craftsman home

  • Match a modern home with a glass-paneled garage door

 

Getting Started

Follow these tips to get started on revamping the garage:

  • Browse photos online for ideas

  • Ask for recommendations from friends, neighbors and professionals

  • Have a professional measurement done, especially if custom doors may be needed

 

Get more advice on all the creative ways that you can revamp your garage.

Contact one of our agents today.

June
7

The entryway is a high traffic area in most any home. Coats, backpacks, shoes and accessories tend to be dumped as soon as people enter the door which leads to an accumulation of stuff which makes it difficult to wade through. Learn some practical tips and ideas to help manage a high traffic hallway with minimal effort.

 

Display accessories. Outdoor clothing is usually stored near the exit but does not have to be hidden from view. Find attractive hooks to hang coats, hats and scarves to avoid a messy pile up. Swap out the winter accessories for sun hats, beach bags and blankets in the summer.

 

Add furniture. Create more surfaces to place items such as an upholstered bench, basket and coat rack for the hallway to provide spots for outerwear. The space will also look more cozy and welcoming with a personal touch.

 

See through a child's eyes. Kids need dedicated pegs to hang coats and hats easily without throwing items in a heap on the floor. Let kids choose a hook and give lessons on how to install safely for a fun learning opportunity which can motivate kids to use the hooks.

 

Repurpose dishes. A small dish or plate on a table can create order with minimal effort. Creating a small space to drop items quicklysuch as keys or loose change keep things orderly.

 

Use ledges or shelving to elevate items. Install a small shelf or ledge to place bags or purses on the wall. Not only will this save space but makes it easier on the body by not lifting heavy objects off the floor.

 

Opt for open. Rather than hiding the family's items from sight, create a system of open storage that makes it easy to grab and go. Separate pieces can add character to the hallway.

 

Line up baskets. Crates, baskets and salvaged drawers are an affordable yet visibly appealing way to create extra storage. Make the most of a series of containers against the hallway wall.

 

Make a feature. Get creative by making a beautiful backdrop for coats and bags and other bobbles which accumulate around the hallway. Frame the space with antiques such as a dressmaker's mannequin to hold coats or hats and similar pieces which add a bit of fun and flair to any space.

 

Stay hidden. Large pegs and shoe racks help keep items hidden with minimal fuss behind doors. Install shelves and hooks where needed and work out where the family will place individual shoes, gloves, helmets and other items to keep the space clutter free.


Upgrade the umbrella stand. The messiest item in the house (aside from muddy boots, children coming in from outside and pets) is a dripping wet umbrella. Leave it by the door in a fancy stand which keeps water from the floor, avoiding a potential slipping hazard.

 

Get more advice on unique ways to keep your hallways tidy!

Contact one of our agents today.

May
31

Indian Lake Properties For Sale

A veggie box on stilts can make it easier to plant and harvest crops and is portable to move as needed around the yard for prime growing conditions. Learn how to start a veggie box in the garden with seeds and a small container to grow the plants.

 

Getting Started

The first step to getting started with a veggie box is the seed tray. Tomatoes, peppers and greens are best planted in seed trays or small plastic pots. Fill each pot or tray with soil, tamp down and lightly water. Make an indentation to put seedlings in. Cover up the hole with a little bit of soil and pat gently into place. Label each tray with the plant name and date. Label by row if planting many kinds of plants. Use a tray to place the seedling containers into for a better way of keeping soil moist.

 

Transplanting

When leaves first emerge are actually cotyledons, which provide food for seedlings. True leaves have a different appearance than cotyledons. Once the actual leaves come in, it is fine to transfer plants to temporary 4-inch pots, directly to a planting box or container.

 

Making the Box

Lettuces, greens, radishes, beets, strawberries and herbs are best suited to a 16-by-24 inch planting box. Beginners should work with an experienced woodworker the first few times to ensure safety while using equipment such as saws and drills. The following will be needed to get started:

  • 1-by-4-inch redwood, cedar or other untreated wood planks cut into various sizes

  • Six planks 16 inches long (to make short sides of the box)

  • Six planks 24 inches long (to make long sides of the box)

  • Five planks 23 inches long (to make base of the box)

  • 2-by-2-inch redwood, cedar, other untreated wood cut into various sizes

  • Four pieces 24 inches long (for the legs)

  • Two pieces 12 inches long (to reinforce base of the box)

 

Tools

Having some tools of the trade will help in construction of the boxes. It may be helpful to work with a friend who already has the tools to save money and have fun making the boxes together.

  • Tape measure

  • Carpenter's Square

  • Pencil

  • Saw

  • Power drill

  • ⅛ inch drill bit

  • Screwdriver

  • 1 ⅝ inch outdoor deck screws (24-30)

  • Work gloves and eye safety goggles

  • Clamps, power screwdriver, jigsaw and chop saw are optional

 

Constructing the box can take some skill and practice but once it is done, the box will be a great way to get the veggie garden started.

 

Planting

Buy six-packs of seedlings or grow at home. Either way, the best way to begin is filling the box with potting soil. Water until damp, then lift baby plant from seed tray using a fork or spoon. Hold the plant carefully by the root ball and avoid mishandling the leaves or stem. Place plants in a new container, press soil firmly around. Watch the veggies grow before harvesting!

 

Get more advice on veggie planting this summer!

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March
15

Retirement is a time to kick back, relax and enjoy life. What better way to enjoy this time of life than to retire on the water. Many people choose to retire near water for the serenity, peace and quiet of a lifestyle which moves at a slower pace and is more low key. The natural beauty of water is that it affords many opportunities to do activities like boating, skiing, fishing, beaches and more.

Paradise

There are fewer things more enjoyable than sitting on a deck listening to the water as it gently rolls into shore. Water is not only pleasing to the ear but the eyes as well. Birds and other wildlife flock to water for its natural resources which also provide hours of beauty in nature to enjoy. Taking advantage of opportunities to be in nature is one of the great features which compel people to retire on the water.

 

View

People who look to retire on the water do so for the amazing views of the water. Whether it is an ocean or a lake, waterfront homes provide an endless array of beautiful scenery to take in from the comfort of one's own home. There are also opportunities to walk on the beach, through a nearby park or take a stroll and find new vistas which can't be seen from one's own porch. A great water view is also relaxing which is a great reason to retire on the water.

 

Family

Nothing is better than being able to entertain family and loved ones in a home by the water. Some people prefer the company of only a handful of people when retired or, because they are quite busy in retirement, enjoy lots of people coming in and out of a home and sharing the beautiful views. When searching for waterfront retirement homes, notice what type of home, what size and location speak to you. Seek out properties which allow for space to do activities with loved ones but also provide a respite from the busyness of life.

 

Amenities

A person who looks to retire on the water has many options from which to choose. Living in an area where it is quiet can be peaceful but having access to entertainment, waterfront dining, boating and additional opportunities can also be exciting. Some want to live in the midst of the action and others choose a home on a quieter plot of land away from people. Fishing, kayaking, sailing and swimming are just some of the activities available to people who own property by the water.

It is easy to work with Choice Properties real estate agents to find the perfect retirement home on the water.                                 Call us today at 937-842-2244 for more information and to get started on your home search.

 

Get more advice on finding that perfect home for your retirement.

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March
10

One of the reasons people search for investment property in Ohio is to gain financial freedom. Financial independence is possible with an investment property if a person knows how to go about finding the right home and the ins and outs of putting money into an additional place. There are many benefits to purchasing such an investment in Ohio, especially Indian Lake, as prices are low and demand is going up for homes by the water. To increase cash flow, an investment property can be leased or rented out and eventually sold for profit. The appeal of injecting cash into a property which can build equity and profit later is possible. Follow these steps to   get started.

 

Establish a Limited Liability Corporation (LLC)

An LLC is a private limited company which is a designated business structure. This is ideal for smaller businesses because it limits and shield's an entrepreneur's personal liability risk by the enterprise's liabilities. Any individual who uses an LLC does so to protect their rights as business owner against legal issues.

 

Find a Good, Reputable Real Estate Agent

A good real estate agent can find out immediately if a property will be a worthwhile investment. They will know the area and market values to help make the best choice. When a property is selected, cash will need to be available on hand for a 20% deposit. A good lender is key to help process the loans in a timely fashion. Choice Properties has excellent trained, qualified real estate agents available to help in the selection of an investment property in Indian Lake, Ohio and beyond.

 

Property Rehab

Homes are prone to wear and tear and investment properties are no exception. As years go by, a property will need upkeep as it may not be well taken care of by tenants. Damage is an inevitable part of owning a home so keeping a fund available for leaky roofs, new heating units and more is a consideration.

 

Contracts

Be selective when choosing renters for a property. Rent arrangements need to be covered in a contract. Failure to outline this in a written agreement may result in difficulties later if the need to evict a tenant arises or if other issues come up.

 

Patience

Patience is important when searching for investment property in Ohio. Indian Lake is an area with lots to offer but it will take time to locate the best property. It is time consuming to search for contractors and good renters. Taking time now will save a headache later so be patient, take time and do it right from the start.

 

Business First

Do not let renters get away with anything. After all, an investment is part of one's financial portfolio which can affect the quality of life. It is better to kick out a poor tenant for non payment or other issues than let the issue linger and risk losing money.

 

Choice Properties has agents ready to speak with you about investment properties in Indian Lake, Ohio.                                      Don't wait, call today at 937-842-2244 to discuss the options and get started!

 

Get more advice on steps it takes to own an investment property.

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January
27

Find Incredible Properties All Over the Indian Lake Ohio Map

Indian Lake boasts 5,800 acres of lakes and 800 acres of parks featuring year-round recreation. Camping, boating, swimming, fishing, hiking and more are on offer including many unique restaurants and dining opportunities. Antique stores, marinas, golf courses and other amenities make this area the jewel of Ohio. Whatever a person is looking for, incredible properties exist all over the Indian Lake Ohio map.

 

Logan County

Logan County is located in western Ohio. Rich with natural beauty, it is also steeped in history as American Indians called Logan County home. What started with small villages throughout the county, areas began to grow such as Bellefontaine which became the county seat. Campbell's Hill is the highest point in Ohio with the first concrete street in America, built in 1891. Several natural caves dot the landscape including two open to the public: Ohio Caverns and Zane Caverns. Two castles are open for tours, owned by the Piatt family located in the Mad River Valley near West Liberty, Ohio.

 

Neighborhoods

 

Russells Point

Russells Point is situated with an amazing view of Indian Lake. Waterfront views are an enticing feature of living in this neighborhood. Along with local restaurants, bars and other amenities, properties in the area include waterfront locations with a boat dock as well as spectacular water views of the Indian Lake area. Many available properties take advantage of the lake view with beautiful windows overlooking the water and decks for entertaining guests. The neighborhood is friendly, inviting and caters to a wide range of people who enjoy the water.

 

Lakeview

Lakeview is one of the most spectacular areas to live within the Indian Lake Ohio region. Many homes boast waterfront and lake views as well as personal boat docks. Great schools, neighbors and amenities surround this neighborhood. Fishing and other water activities can be enjoyed from the vicinity of home. Sprawling properties with acreage are available as well as smaller homes. It all depends on the individual's needs and desires.

 

Finding the right property in the Indian Lake Ohio map is a challenge with so many beautiful locations from which to choose. From newer developments to rustic, historic villages the area boasts many opportunities to select a home with features that best fit an individual's budget and desires. The region is historically significant but also hosts many tourists and visitors who enhance economic development and build on the tradition of Indian Lake as a destination for all people. When searching for property in the Indian Lake area, the options are truly endless. Enjoy the waterfront dining options, golf courses, camping, hiking and biking or take a day out on the lake. The choice is yours to make when you choose Indian Lake as the place to reside and call home.

 

Get more advice on finding the best property for you.

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January
6

The Key to Buying Waterfront Property

Purchasing a home is a complicated process from pre-approval to the last signature. Buying 'waterfront' property throws another layer of complexity into the process. Real estate agents who work with waterfront properties on a regular basis understand the process backwards and forwards. Finding an experienced agent can really make the process take less time when they know what an individual is looking for and will tailor the search to those specific properties. These tips will give an idea of what to expect when doing research on buying waterfront property.

 

Tips

Find a real estate agent who specializes in waterfront properties. A general agent will not have detailed knowledge of waterfront properties in the area to find the best deals on available properties.

 

Property over structure. People may fall in love with a house only to realize the view is not great, the water is murky, it is difficult to get to the water or the place has less privacy than desired.

 

Consider property to fit lifestyle. A beautiful property half an hour away from the water may not suit everyone. If being close to water is desirable, start the process with this in mind before entering negotiation.

 

Check for structural issues due to weather. Waterfront homes are more susceptible to the elements than an average home. Investment in weatherproofing can help avoid some of these concerns.

 

Research insurance requirements. Review this early to be sure what is necessary before buying. Waterfront homes may require several policies.

 

Find out what changes can be made. If a new dock or other change is desired, research local government policies. Some may be more strict than others. Before committing, understand the financial and legal ramifications might be. Also look into what activities are allowed on the water as some may have restrictions on motorized watercraft including jet skis and speedboats.

 

Meet the neighbors. Speak with people who live nearby and knew the previous owners. Seek insider information about living in the community, any issues with the property or waterfront-related concerns.

 

Get to know responsibilities as an owner. When buying waterfront property, find out what upkeep and maintenance of the property is required by any homeowners associations (if applicable). Review conditions, covenants, restrictions or CC&Rs in addition to speaking with the HOA management company.

 

Getting Started

With helpful tips in hand, it is time to start the process of buying waterfront property. An agent who specializes in waterfront homes should be able to provide useful insights into the home and location but it is up to the individual buyer to learn as much as possible prior to contacting an agent for assistance. A real estate agent may not know all the ins and outs (as the neighbors might) or may not include information helpful to a particular homeowner's search. Making a list of what is important will be helpful when seeking that next property to buy on the water and will make for a more satisfied customer come time to sign the papers.

 

Get more advice on buying waterfront properties.

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November
27

Here are some tips for smooth lining the selling process when listing a property that you no longer live in, for whatever reason.

For a major tax break, be sure you've lived in the house as a primary residence at least two of the last five years. If you haven't, then you'll be looking at a tax gain on the sale of an investment property. If you have lived in the home, then the US federal government allows for single homeowners to sell their home without paying taxes on the first $250,000 in gain. For married couples, it's $500,000.

The next most important thing for you to do is to early on get a good, trustworthy agent on board. A local agent is a local resource for you, the seller. If you're renting, these agents can field renter's issues such as leaky faucets or broken garage doors. If you're selling, these agents are going to be priceless for knowing the local market and making sure the property is kept open house ready. Potential buyers are also more open to working with a real person as opposed to internet deals.

Even with a local real estate agent, it won't hurt you to stay on top of what the market is doing in the area where you're selling. Keeping yourself knowledgeable will let you react quickly when an offer to buy does come in. Knowing if what they're offering is high or low is good business. It's the sign of a smart homeowner.

So is taking care of your tenants if you are renting the property. If they've been loyal tenants, you may want to offer them the first opportunity to buy the property when you decide it's time to sell. At the very least you'll want to give them a good lead team to know they'll need to be moving if they aren't interested in purchasing. Keeping them happy should translate to them continuing to take care of your property while they reside there.

 If you're looking to sell a house long distance, contact the award-winning real estate agents at Choice Properties for advice on plannign the best possible sale.

 

 

Get more advice on listing and selling your home from long distance.

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November
24

When staging your home to sell, there are a couple of key points you want to keep in mind. First, is that first impressions really do mean everything. Second, less is more. A potential buyer wants to walk into an aesthetically pleasing space which they can easily imagine themselves living in, not some place that is cluttered or decorated with bold bright colors or other personal touches.

Any professional stager will tell you it's all about selecting great décor pieces which utilize the existing space. The ultimate goal is a positive impact on potential buyers.

 

Here are five staging suggestion tips to turn a home listing into a sold home;

Spend some time with your realtor and get to know your potential audience. Remember, you aren't selling to yourself but to a broad market. Trust your realtor to help you stage to the buyer demographic most likely to be viewing your home.  

 

We can't stress enough that you want to remove your personal touches when putting your home on the market. First thing you should do is pack up the family photos. Empty walls are much easier for a potential buyer to see as a canvas of possibilities should they decide to purchase the house.

 

Design trends do tend to have a short lifespan; however, a well-staged and marketed home should have a short list time as well. Taking a gamble on a current fad, like airy aqua or bright Mediterranean blue accents, could give you the leg up with a 'fresh' feel to the property, so don't be afraid of trends.

 

While you want a space to overall be neutral—a blank space for the buyer to visualize with—adding a splash of color can go a long way to making a property memorable. Think subtle, but striking. A room with the main walls painted a beige tone with an accent wall in teal can then be finished with teal and cream accent items throughout the room. The result will be a chic, trendy space where the buyer has room to add their own personal touches, but can see the potential the space has because of the decorating start.

 

Continuing the idea of showing the buyer a space's potential, you'll want to stage a space with as many functional pieces as possible. Avoid overcrowding. Simple, practical, and functional furniture pieces will demonstrate how livable the space is.

 

For more tips on how to stage your home with the buyer in mind.

Contact one of our agents for special advice.

 

November
13

Part of settling into a new house so that it feels like 'home' is getting to know the neighbors. Having that community connection helps establish a feeling of permanence and belonging. Here are some ideas for breaking the ice when you're the new kid on the block.

 

1. The direct approach … sort of

If you're an extrovert, then walking up to a neighbor's home to say hello will be easy. If you're on the shyer end of the scale, you can build up to it. Wave when driving by or checking the mail; a friendly "Hi" as you walk by with the dog or taking the kiddos to school lets you interact without being committed to stick around. When you're ready, you can hang out for a chat. Word of caution, avoid dinner hours when heading over to knock on the door.  

 

2. Old school … with pen and paper

With the advent of the technological age, old fashioned hand written notes have gone by the wayside, and as such, are a welcome surprise when received. A small personalized note left in the mailbox or on the front door can make a big impression—and lay the groundwork to meet for coffee, or something similar.

 

3. Meet at the bus stop

Go with your kids to the bus stop the first few days (or weeks). It'll give you a chance to meet the neighborhood kids your child is likely to end up playing with in the future, and get you on a level playing field with the parents. When you have kids 'in common,' conversation easily flows from there.

 

4. Trust your dog

Animals are often good judges of character, and great conversation starters. Go for a walk, find the local dog park, just get out with Fido and before you know it, the opportunities to meet the local folks will come to you! Just remember to carry supplies to clean up any accidents along the way. Nobody likes a party pooper.

 

5. Groups and clubs are all the rage

Knitting, cooking, reading . . . there are all kinds of reasons that people join clubs. At the heart of them all is the socialization that comes from them. These are a great way for you to meet your neighbors and slowly acclimate. You can start off as a quiet observer if need be, then involve yourself more as you get comfortable. Before you know it, you'll be taking a turn at hosting the group! Tea party, anybody?

 

Get more advice on more ways to meet your neighbors.

Contact one of our agents today.

November
10

Want to give your home a face lift but don't have a magically refilling wallet? With a budget of about $5,000 and a solid game plan, you can get a fresh new feel for your home this winter!

Home Improvements on a Budget

When working with limited funds, it's best to focus on the kitchen and bathrooms. These are the areas which are used the most, and if there's a chance you'll be selling your home anytime in the future, these are also the areas that buyers will show the most scrutiny over. With some finesse, you can even look at adding living space by enhancing your available outdoor areas.

Kitchens

A functional kitchen is a beautiful kitchen so start by assessing your cabinet situation. How practical are they? Could you use deeper cupboards? Taller? Wine-racks and spice storage might be beneficial, as well as a walk-in pantry to not only make better use of the space, but give you better control over your food supplies. Knowing what you have on hand will ultimately help out your grocery bill!

If you're happy with the cabinetry, other areas you can consider upgrading/updating are lighting and plumbing fixtures. Again, look for replacements that are not only 'pretty' but have 'green' benefits. These will eventually pay you back in utility bill savings, not to mention you can claim eco upgrades on your taxes. Win-win: help the environment AND put money in your pocket.

Bathrooms

Carry the green theme into your bathrooms. Update lighting and plumbing. While you're at it, consider giving the outdated tub/shower a facelift. Nothing says luxury like a tiled shower area, complete with a bench and a shelf area to house your assorted soaps and shampoos.

Outdoor Improvements

Create an outdoor living area to give your usable living space a boost. Actually building on new rooms can get quite costly, but a few dollars can go a long way toward turning a bland patio into an oasis. Things you'll want to keep in mind when creating your outdoor escape:

  • granite, pavers, or flagstone for the 'floor'

  • mulch landscape beds for visual appeal (if you don't have landscaping, consider a few potted plants)

  • provide shade by building a pergola or installing a retractable awning

  • if in a hot climate, consider installing outdoor fans and/or a misting system

  • water features will help with temperature as well, and can provide an audible escape


If you're looking to bring some life and energy to your home, a $5,000 budget can add quite a bit of flair and improvement to your house. Homes in Logan County are always beautiful but the upgrades keep them fresh. If you've recently updated your home, let us know!  Send us a picture and we'll feature it on our blog!

 

For more tips on how to upgrade your home with the buyer in mind.

Contact one of our agents for special advice.

 

October
27

A home is a place that belongs to the entire family and the entire family belongs to the home. In an effort to build familial relationships, joining forces to care for and maintain your house can be an excellent source of inspiration and bonding. Whether you like the cliche or not, "clean up and do your share" can go a long way toward turning family chore day into something more akin to bonding time than a war zone. You just have to get everyone on the same page and set realistic expectations. Determine what your general goal for the day is, set everyone their tasks, and then dive in.

Doing Household Chores as a Family

First and foremost, don't expect perfection. As long as everyone's chipping in you can consider it a win. Allow for breaks, don't criticize, and be willing to offer praise and encouragement . . . especially if you have younger kids trying their best.

Do expect some whining. Nobody likes getting sweaty and dirty, so it's normal that there will be the passing comments of, "This isn't fun," or "I hate yardwork." Laugh it off, agree that it can suck, but keep going. Keeping your resolve to get the job done will reap rewards and satisfaction at the end of the day.

Don't omit anyone in the family. Everyone who is physically capable should have a job to do—you'd be surprised how much fun youngsters will have gathering leaves and bagging them (after a few rolls in the piles, of course!). Something as simple as bringing glasses of water to the older folk can make them feel useful and included. By the way, did you take advantage of the photo op when your kiddos were frolicking and laughing?

Bring the Family Together

If you know the day is going to be spent clearing the chaos and clutter, plan on something special as a reward at the end, like dinner. Order pizza in, or maybe head out to your favorite restaurant. Mom and Dad deserve a break, too; especially after a day of backbreaking labor and fielding potential emotional breakdowns amongst the children. Another option is to set aside the day after as a 'lazy day' … board games, movies in the living room, anything that brings you all together without expectation to work, just have fun.

October
7

Before you take on any kind of major redecorating, you're going to want to take some preliminary steps. Like determining what your working budget for the project is, and taking a good long look at not only your likes and dislikes, but those of the other people living in the space with you, especially your significant other. If you aren't both on board, one of you could end up miserable in your home—the place that is supposed to be a sanctuary.  Discuss these home decorating tips with your family and see what ways you can spruce up your living environment.

 

"Spend an hour or two on the computer and look at some things together and talk about them. Ask your partner: 'What do you like about it? What don't you like about it?'"~Alana Homesley, interior designer (Woodland Hills, CA)

 

Having a plan in place before you begin will help make the process smooth and painless. 

That being said, there is no reason not to go after your 'dream space'. Have fun collecting pictures and ideas of what you would do if money and time were no object; create a wish list of sorts. Investing time—months, if necessary—in this step will give you a jumping point and allow you to really figure out what appeals to you, and what doesn't. This can also be an insightful tool in the event that you hire a professional home decorator.

 

"If you don't have that master list, it's hard to prioritize." ~Amy Luff, interior designer (Viva Luxe Studios in Bristol, VA)

 

Good questions to ask yourself when creating your vision:

  • What colors are comforting, welcoming, and relaxing?

  • Do you have pets that need to be accommodated?

  • What building materials 'speak' to you? Sterile and clean (marble, travertine, silk), warm and inviting (wood, bamboo, cotton and linen), et cetera.

  • What era, or style, are you most at home in? Victorian, French Country, Museum Chic . . . the choices are endless.

 

With the ideas flowing, now you need to start narrowing down your home decor ideas in order to achieve a realistic budget. Review what you have in terms of furniture and large décor pieces, and decide what can stay and what absolutely has to go. A whole new room can be created around existing pieces. Maybe you adore the design of your sectional couch, but the upholstery doesn't fit the new color palette you're considering . . . it may be cheaper to have that couch re-covered than it would be to go buy a brand new one. Love the frame on your mantle artwork, but the image itself isn't going to work with your new theme? Reuse the frame by replacing the print.

Think outside the box and be open to reduce, reuse, and recycle.

Your pocketbook will appreciate it, as will mother Earth.

 

If you need an experts advice on decorating tips,

Contact one of our agents today.

October
7

Fall is in the air and the days are getting cooler. Time to pack up summer, then pull out the winter gear. This is also the perfect time to give your closets a good tidying. Here are some suggestions from professional organizers for organizing your closet space.

 

Sort 

The chief design officer for California Closets, Ginny Snook Scott, suggests the first step you need to take on is pulling everything out of your closets and then sorting the stuff into four distinct piles.

  • Now Pile—often used and worn

  • Someday Pile—special occasion clothes that still fit

  • Never Pile—face it, you're never going to put these items on again (Geralin Thomas, who is the president of Metropolitan Organizing in Raleigh, North Carolina, recommends that any "trophy garments," those that do not fit or you're keeping only because you paid a small fortune for it but are honestly never going to wear again, need to go. The money isn't coming back and all these items are doing are cluttering your space.)

  • Seasonal Pile—self-explanatory

Ms. Scott recommends going through your Someday Pile once again, see how much you can move to the Never Pile.

 

Sort Again

The first step is always the easiest, but now comes the hard part. Eliminating. For real.

Most people find that their Never Pile is often much larger than they anticipated it would be—up to 40% or more of the closet content. With this discovery usually comes motivation to keep going, to do more. Use this mindset to revisit the Now Pile; see just how much of it you can shift to the Someday and Never Piles.

 

Keep Up Your Resolve

Get that Never Pile boxed and bagged, ready for repurposing by either donating them to a goodwill store, passing them on to friends or family who can and will use them, or setting aside for a garage sale. DO NOT STORE these bags where you will be tempted to sift through or have 'one last peek'.

 

Organize the Seasonal Pile

  • Wash (or have dry cleaned) anything that is getting packed up. You don't want any lingering toiletry products on the clothes as this will draw insects. **Make sure all items are completely dry before they get stored. Unpacking your clothes to discover them threaded with mildew is nobody's idea of fun.

  • Use air tight, clear plastic containers which have been clearly labeled with what is inside.

  • Store the bins out of sight, but in an easily accessible place.

 

"Never store clothes in plastic bags like those from dry cleaners. Store them in cotton zip-up bags. No mothballs. No exceptions."  ~ Geralin Thomas

 

You're Almost Done!

 

Take advantage of the fact that the closets are empty by getting in there with the vacuum. You want to suck up all those lingering dust mites which destroy fabric and play havoc with people's allergies.

This is also a good time to evaluate your hangers. Wire hangers should go back to the dry cleaners or get recycled; these are meant for temporary use, using them long-term will stretch and ruin the shape of your clothes.

As you return the Now Pile items to your freshly cleaned closet, professional organizers suggest you "group" like items, i.e. shirts, dresses, pants, et cetera. If you want to go all out, you can do each group by color or style.

 

Enjoy the fruits of your labor. It's okay to go treat yourself to one or two new items, just don't go too crazy.

 

Get more advice on organization in any space.

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October
7

A flash of yellow darts around the garden, feeding on flowering seed heads or stopping at bird feeders. What could it be? Meet the American Goldfinch (Spinus tristis), one of the only vegetarian songbirds. Because they don't feed their young insects, they're able to hold off their nesting habits until later in the year, June or July, when seeds are abundant.

 

Here are some tips for making your garden inviting to these yellow birds:

Some common plant favorites of the American Goldfinch to feed on are thistle, sunflowers, asters, and milkweed. Looking to the trees will find these birds enjoying alder, birch, and western red cedar. They will work bits and pieces of these plants into their tightly-woven nests for both warmth and as a food source.

Goldfinches want and need an ideal habitat for seed-hunting, like shrubby fields or forest edges.

These birds prefer to build their nests in shrubs or young trees, but several feet off the ground. To maximize your chances of attracting mating pairs, be sure to incorporate larger shrub species.

Keep any feeders you have full, and clean. American goldfinches are at risk of getting mycoplasmal conjunctivitis—house finch eye disease—from birdfeeders. If you do notice that your winged guests have crusty eyes, take down the feeders and disinfect them with a 10 percent bleach solution then leave them down for about a week so the birds can heal rather than continue to spread the disease.

American goldfinches are one of the U.S.'s national treasures. Thanks to their assorted adaptations, they are often the object of fascination and admiration for everyday backyard gardeners and ornithologists alike.  If you attract the American Goldfinch to your backyard, let us know and snap a picture if you can!

 

Plant late summer to be ready for your guests to arrive in the fall!

 

Get more advice on attracting the animals you want visiting your home.

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October
7

Getting back to nature is a wonderful thing. However, looking out your front window to see the local wildlife destroying your landscaping and foraging off your heirloom varietals isn't. 

You can do something extreme—like put up a ten foot fence to keep them out. This might work, maybe . . . but you'd be surprised how resourceful and agile animals can be. You could go to your local outdoor store and procure bottles of assorted wild animal urine to spray around as a deterrent. Again, it works for a short time, but is not a long-term solution (and who really wants to mess around with feral urine?). Another, more viable, option is to revisit your landscaping choices. Use nature to outwit natural animal tendencies.

Ground covers are practical, versatile, and affordable. While there are hundreds of ground cover options, only a handful can stand up to deer. Most deer-resistant covers are highly invasive, so you want to plant responsibly; i.e., if you don't have a lot of deer or other foragers, you may want to forgo these or risk having your property overrun.  These plants can help keep deer out of your garden this season.

 

1. Eastern Teaberry (Gaultheria procumbens)

  • Also known as wintergreen

  • Native to cold-weather climates of the eastern U.S.

  • Has small urn-shaped flowers in the Spring, followed by red berries; in the Fall, its evergreen foliage is bronze-tinged

  • Needs rich, acidic soil and is a good choice for growing around azaleas, hydrangeas and rhododendrons.

 

2. Kinnikinnick (Arctostaphylos uva-ursi)

  • Also known as bearberry

  • Sun-loving option as majority of deer-resistant, non invasive groundcovers prefer shade

  • A type of wild manzanita that grows as a low, spreading mat on the West Coast. East Coasters: look for cultivars taken from the eastern subspecies, such as 'Massachusetts'

  • Has the same evergreen foliage and smooth reddish bark manzanitas are known for

 

3. Dwarf Plumbago (Ceratostigma plumbaginoides)

  • Also known as leadwort

  • Sun tolerant

  • Tough, well-behaved, easy-to-grow ground cover from China

  • Foliage with sky-blue flowers which appear sporadically from midsummer through fall.

  • With the first frost of fall, the foliage becomes tinged with a burgundy color

  • Can aggressively spread with rich soil and lots of moisture

WARNING: Wear gloves when pruning or handling the plant as contact may cause dermatitis.

 

4. Barrenwort (Epimedium spp.)

  • Also known as horny goat weed

  • Tough ground cover which thrives in shady areas under large trees

  • Spreads at a moderate rate but not considered aggressive or invasive

  • Has heart-shaped leaves and hat-like flowers

  • For resisiting deer, look for varieties such as 'Sulphureum' or red barrenwort

 

5. Pachysandra  (Pachysandra spp.)

  • Most common form used is also known as Japanese spurge

  • High degree of shade tolerance

  • One of the cold-hardiest evergreen ground covers

  • Can be aggressive with growth under ideal conditions

WARNING: Pachysandra is poisonous and should not be used where there is a concern that children, pets, or livestock may consume it.

 

6. Sweet Woodruff (Galium odoratum)

  • Also known as wild baby's breath

  • Native to Europe but used in the Northeast US as deer avoid eating it despite the sweet fragrance it emits.  

 

Get more advice on keeping deer and other citters out of your garden.

Contact one of our agents today.

October
5

 

Plants are essential to the human way of life. We produce carbon dioxide, a poisonous gas which the plants take and convert into the oxygen that we need to breathe. Pretty important.  And they're beautiful, so why not decorate your Logan County home with a splash of life.

 

Strategically Place Plants to Maximize their Aesthetic Functionality

Kitchen. Herb gardens are functional while cooking, as well as pleasing to the eye—and perfect for apartment living where space is limited and major decorating may not be allowed. Also consider low-maintenance plants which are vine-like or create long tails as beautiful additions to upper alcoves (if you're willing to climb up and water them once a week).

Use tall, open-styled bookshelves as plant stands—they are decorative and practical. Avoid bookcases for clustering as any plants you put toward the back will not get the light and ventilation they need.

Create an oxygen-rich lush atmosphere in your dining room with a few well-placed large potted plants. If you like the 'jungle' look, you can also cluster smaller pots on windowsills or side-credenzas. Consider hanging one or two from the ceiling with macramé plant holders for a bohemian feel.

If continually changing out floral arrangements isn't your thing, consider a planted centerpiece. Wheatgrass, cat grass, and herbs are good options for the dining table, though any small, low-lying potted plant will work (you want to see the person across the table from you). Protect the table from drips with saucers underneath the plants to collect water.

Are you fortunate enough to a sun room or greenhouse? Load that bad boy up, and even have a go at something exotic or tropical. These rooms are often humid and full of direct sunlight.

Fresh greenery in your bedroom will help clean the air, refreshing the atmosphere while you sleep.

 

Not Everyone Has a Green Thumb (and even those who do, don't have it all the time)

At one time or another we've all killed a plant, it happens. Don't get discouraged. Go ahead and give it another try with these growing tips:

  • Look for healthy plants at a reputable nursery (knowledgeable staff will help you choose the right plant for your situation)

  • If you're bad about watering, use the alarm feature on your smart phone to set TIME TO WATER reminders

  • Fussy plants (like ferns) love to take a bath … or at least be in the warm "tropical" atmosphere created by steamy bathrooms.

  • If you don't trust yourself to spread the plants out, cluster them up. You'll have one place to stop and water, plus this allows the plants to create their own little ecosystem and micro-climate (good for preventing water loss).

October
6

 

Whether you are looking to buy or sell a home in Central Ohio, you'll need to know your market, i.e. your 'comps'. Comps are the homes in the area where you are transacting business that are comparable, meaning they are in the same neighborhood, are similar in size, layout, and condition, and have similar features or extras (like pools, fireplaces, or even neighborhood playgrounds).

These comps are used when determining pricing. From the buyer's standpoint, knowing the market gives them a place to start with a fair offer, while from the seller's viewpoint, comps help them to figure the best price point for the property. A good real estate agent stays on top of their local market, making sure to understand the ins and outs of what makes a property comparable.

 

Location, location, location . . .

When pricing or valuing a home, the first thing you want to do is look at what's nearby. Stay within the neighborhood to ensure things like the age of the homes and the community features are similar. School zones make good measures of parameters.

 

No time like the present . . .

Keep your eye on the pending sales. The initial bargaining has taken place between the buyer and seller, so these are, in effect, a plethora of current data for the market—including the latest 'dollar per square foot' average. A good rule of thumb is to look at sales within the last three months, but not more than six months old, as trends could've changed drastically in that time.

 

Show me the extras . . .

With the where and when pinned down, now you can look at the fun stuff, the property features. The main thing to compare here are the number of bedrooms/bathrooms and the lot size. Narrow those down, and then you can get into the smaller extras. Views, updated appliances, flooring materials, pools, garages, fireplaces . . . the list can get rather long, but these are the creature comforts that are going to help you turn your purchase into an Indian Lake Home (or sell your property to the highest bidder).

 

Don't overanalyze or stress . . .

While it is a good idea to have some knowledge of how the market works, there are professionals available to help you navigate the world of home buying and selling. Choice Properties has trustworthy agents to assist with the petty details of each comparable Logan County home. We make it our job to know the market so that you can make Indian Lake, Bellefontaine, or the surrounding areas your home.

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
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!

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.

August
19

All good things must come to an end—at least for a short time. The summer holidays have been just what Indian Lake area residents needed to recharge their batteries, but now it's time to pack up summer and look toward the oncoming Fall. School and work routines await, but they don't have to be stressful. With a few end-of-summer DOs, you won't have to deal with beginning-of-fall DON'Ts.

 

August is a popular time for getting in those last minute travel opportunities, and burglars know this. If you're going to take advantage of a week away, be sure to take extra security measures so that you don't return home to the logistics nightmare of dealing with a break-in. (SEE our earlier post: Keeping Your Home Safe While You're Away on Vacation)

 

Organize the Closets. Before you start any back to school shopping, sort through your closets. Put together a donation bag of any items that are too small or you no longer wear. This will allow you to take stock of what you need and what you have room for. Now is a great time to also begin pulling out the winter wardrobe for assessment.

 

Time to Test Smoke and Carbon Monoxide Detectors. These detectors should be located outside the kitchen along with outside each bedroom of the house (multi-story houses should have detectors on EVERY floor). Make it a habit to annually test them, and replace batteries as needed throughout the year.

 

Clean the Bathroom Fan. Nobody wants mold or mildew in their bathroom. Unfortunately the extra humidity which summer brings means bathroom fans have to work even harder than usual to clear the air. It's recommended that you leave them on for a full 30 minutes after each shower to prevent mildew from forming. Cleaning is simple: remove the cover and use a vacuum attachment to suck up dust and dirt.

 

Prep Meals NOW for Rushed Nights LATER. Fall is busy with back to school, fiscal year ends, meetings, and the Holidays. Prepare for those nights that you'll be doing three things at once by making up meals ahead and freezing them. This is also a good time to go ahead and clean out your cupboards and pantry, eliminating old spices and stale cereals and crackers.

TIP: When you do your shopping, go ahead and put the extra effort in when putting your groceries away to wash, chop, and package. Finger-friendly fruits and veggies WILL get snacked on by kids, and are great for throwing lunches together. Prepare hamburger patties (season and form them), then freeze. Cube meat and veggies and freeze for an easy crock-pot meal. The options are limited only by your imagination.

 

Makeover the Mudroom. Get the kids excited about Back to School by freshening up the mudroom. Do a wall with chalk paint for a 'family communication board', add a few baskets or wall hooks for organization and storage. Giving kids their "own" designated spaces for backpacks and coats makes them feel special.

 

There's Never a Wrong Time to Prepare for an Emergency. Keep emergency kits up to date at all times with food, water, clothes, flashlights, first aid supplies, an emergency radio, prescription medications, and any other necessities you might need to survive.  

 

Inspect and Clean Gutters. The wet, cold months are coming. Clean and check gutters for any damage, and get them repaired before the weather moves in.

 

And last, but not least . . .

Give the Summer Toys a Damage Check and Cleaning. You know the saying about putting a horse away wet? You don't want to store your summer gear in less than good condition otherwise you'll have to deal with repairs, or worse, replacement, when you pull it all out next year. Not a fun way to start your summer.

TIP: This is the time of year for end of summer sales. If you've lost anything, like beach gear, keep an eye out for some deals that your wallet will appreciate! Remember, if you have to get these things at the START of next summer, the prices will be exorbitant.

August
10

 

Moving is one of the most stressful experiences a person can go through. So many variables are up in the air and the days seem to disappear, leaving you with too much to do and not enough time to do it. At least it feels that way. Slowing down just a bit, and opening yourself up to having some fun with the move, can help reduce stress and alleviate tension for everyone involved. You, the kids, the pets . . . you want everyone happy where you end up, not miserable and drained from the whole experience.

 

Say Goodbye to the Old Home

Take photos before everything gets packed up. Document each room so you can revisit it later—either for the walk down memory lane or as a reference to help you recreate the space at your new house.  Be sure to grab shots of your kids or pets, if you have them, because these will help preserve the emotional record of your soon to be previous home.

Don't forget the messy photos, too! In the name of preserving that emotional record, take pictures of your home on an average day, when it's not clean, tidy, and perfect. This will help create lasting, meaningful memories. Some days you may find yourself looking at these when you wonder if moving was the right thing to do.

Leave your mark. Go for the classic time capsule, hidden in the attic or basement. Perhaps you could write a letter to the new owners, welcoming them to the house and sharing some of what made it a home for you. You could even go so far as to sign your name somewhere (linen closets or cupboards are great places) and date it.

Host a goodbye party. We always have housewarming parties, so why not have one to say good bye as well? This is a great chance to get all your neighborhood friends together for a final hoorah, as it were. You can pass out party favors with your new address. Maybe make the goodbye party a packing party? Be creative, have fun.

 

Getting Settled In Your New Home

Clean up. Start by cleaning surfaces, floors, and inside cupboards with a familiar, fresh-scented product to help make the place feel like yours.

Get fresh. Air out and freshen the house on moving day … fling open the windows. In the evening, light a few scented candles.

Reward yourself. When facing days of unpacking and putting away, having a few special goodies will help quell the chaos and encourage you to keep going. Fresh flowers, quality hand soaps, or maybe some new towels can add vibrancy and something special.

 

Moving is hard for pets, too!

To help the family kitty acclimate, keep the cat in a closed room for the first few days with water, a litter box, and its bed (if s/he uses one). Feel free to let your cat out for monitored exploration, but keep those contained to a few rooms at a time so that your four-legged friend doesn't get overwhelmed. If your cat is an outside animal, it's best to keep them in for at least a week to discourage them trying to return to the old house out of instinct and habit.

Now for man's best friend. Introduce your dog to the new house while on a leash. Take Fido around the key rooms, one at a time, allowing him to sniff and explore under your supervision. Point out where the doggy bed and food dishes will be kept. Consider keeping Fido to the first floor in the early days if you have a multi-story house, opening up the rest of the house as he adjusts to the new digs. Use this same approach out in the neighborhood as well. Daily walks will let your friend learn all the new scents and sounds, and get to know your neighbors while 'establishing' its new territory.

 

Personalize the place.

Full decorating may take months to get finalized but that doesn't mean the personal touches have to wait. Paint an accent wall, hang photos, or buy some new blinds.

Host a housewarming. You can start small and intimate with close friends and family, just a little get together to let them see the new place. Or you can go BIG … invite the whole neighborhood and make it a party! TIP: Don't place expectations on your guests to bring housewarming gifts. It'll be nice if they do, but just having them there to celebrate your new beginning should be plenty.

 

August
10

 

Everybody loves the lazy days of summer in Ohio; sunshine, sleeping in, picnics, adventures. The one thing that makes summer a little unbearable at times is the HEAT. Let's face it, scorching temps lead to sweltering if you don't have access to air conditioning. Here are some budget-friendly tips and tricks for staying cool and keeping the utility bill from skyrocketing August to September.

 

Regardless of which brand, make, and model HVAC system you have, the ultimate savings on your energy bill will come from how you adjust your thermostat(s). To start, set the thermostat as high as you can while still being comfortable, but where the difference between the indoor and outdoor readings are as small as possible.

 

If you've been away, don't crank the thermostat down as soon as you get home to try and speed up the process. This will only strain your machine, making it work harder and expend more energy. It will not cool your house down any faster. Even better would be to take advantage of the Energy Saver programmable modemost thermostats come with for multi-room systems.  

 

How is the ventilation in your Logan County home? Proper ventilation can aid your cool-down efforts by improving indoor air quality, removing moisture and odors, and allowing refreshing outside breezes to transfer with stuffy indoor air. Evenings are a great time to open the doors and windows. Encourage airflow by installing fans throughout the house to help push the stuffy hot air out and pull the cooler evening air in.

  • ceiling fans should be set to run in a counterclockwise direction during summer months (draws cooler air up from the floor)

  • attic exhaust fans will pull hot air into the attic where vents can dissipate the heat

  • position portable fans near windows or basement door at night to pull cooler air from these areas into the home

 

If you're fortunate enough to be in the roughly 90% of US homeowners who have a/c, then you should cherish this appliance … take care of it, appreciate it, and keep the maintenance current. The last thing you want when it hits triple digits outside is to discover your unit isn't cooling.

  • Ensure you have adequate insulation in the walls and ceilings to keep hot air out and cool air in.

  • Caulk leaking windows and doors, and/or use draft stops (sometimes called 'snakes') to cover the gaps at the bottom of these entry points.

  • Aluminum blinds, insulated curtains, or window tint film can block sunlight from entering your home and heating up the place during the day.

  • CHANGE YOUR FILTERS REGULARLY. Easy and quick, this reduces the workload on your air conditioner and improves indoor air quality. Check filters once a month and clean out any dust particles which may clog.

  • Clean the coils. Outside units should be kept unobstructed and cleaned regularly. Use a soft-bristle nylon brush to gently remove any debris, and hose off any leaves or caked-on dirt. Clean the inside coils using the soft brush attachment on your vacuum cleaner, or wipe down with a soft, damp cloth.

  • Call in a pro. It is still important to call in a reputable HVAC contractor to regularly look at your system. An annual tune-up will help guarantee you have an efficiently working air conditioning system and keep any warranties you have on the system active.
August
17

 

 

Purchasing a home will be one of the most important investments of your life, and can be slightly overwhelming and even a bit scary at times throughout the process.  Here are some helpful tips to ensure that your first home purchase will run smoothly and be an exciting time of your life:

 

Save Up For a Down Payment

 

A majority of mortgage lenders will require a down payment of 5%-20% of the home sale price. First-time home buyers today may find it difficult to come up with such a large amount of cash, especially those who have recently graduated college with excessive amounts of student loan debt.

Luckily for young adults, home affordability and down payment assistance programs are offered by a majority of mortgage lenders.  

 

Find the Mortgage That Fits Your Needs

 

It's important to find a lender that is willing to communicate with you on an ongoing basis. The first step in your home buying process should be to find a  The First-Time Home Buyer Pulse revealed that saving for a down payment is a barrier to homeownership for many first-time buyers. That's why it's important to find a lender that helps buyers understand what they can afford and share what financing options are available. Today, mortgages are not one size fits all—to find the option that best fits their needs, buyers should discuss their financial situation with a lender they trust.

 

Factor Renovation Costs & Monthly Expenses

 

With today's low inventory of affordable homes for first-time buyers, many buyers will find themselves settling on a home that requires renovations or upgrades. These costs should be factored in at the start of the financing process so buyers are comfortable with their down payment and monthly payment and will have money available to make improvements. For buyers who have not lived on their own or for those who previously rented, the added costs of running a household can be a shock. Monthly costs for utilities, homeowner's association fees, cable, and Internet, can add up quickly. Factoring these expenses in at the beginning of the mortgage financing process can help borrowers better assess their overall budget and a realistic monthly mortgage payment.

 

Educate Yourself

 

Perhaps the single most important aspect of purchasing a home is to fully understand the mortgage and the overall home-financing process. Take advantage of educational courses offered by local financial institutions and government programs. In fact, TD Bank offers a First Time Home Buyer Seminar series that addresses all aspects of a home loan—starting with helping buyers decide if they're truly ready to own a home. Following that, the seminars share information on the criteria lenders use to evaluate a borrower, the documentation buyers will need to provide, what each portion of a mortgage payment goes toward, and the mortgage team that processes and approves the loan. These seminars are useful tools and provide valuable background for borrowers who are daunted or overwhelmed by the process.

 

 

While buying a home may feel overwhelming for first-time buyers, finding a lender you can trust will guide you in the right direction and help you prepare for the mortgage process.