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Mortgage interest rates have increased for the seventh consecutive week, according to Freddie Mac’s latest Primary Mortgage Market Survey. The 30-year fixed mortgage rate reached 4.40 percent — the highest since April of 2014.

According to the survey:

  • The average rate for a 30-year fixed-rate mortgage was 4.40 percent, up from 4.38 percent the previous week. A year ago at this time, this rate averaged 4.16 percent.
  • The average rate for a 15-year fixed-rate mortgage was 3.85 percent, up from 3.84 percent the week prior. This rate averaged 3.37 percent at the same time last year.
  • The average rate for a five-year Treasury-indexed hybrid adjustable-rate mortgage was 3.65 percent, up from 3.63 percent. A year ago, this rate averaged 3.16 percent.

Freddie Mac deputy chief economist Len Kiefer says the steady increases in mortgage interest rates is expected to continue as the Federal Reserve increases short-term rates.

“Mortgage rates have followed U.S. Treasurys higher in anticipation of higher rates of inflation and further monetary tightening by the Federal Reserve,” Kiefer said in a press release. “Following the close of our survey, the release of the FOMC minutes for February 21, 2018 sent the 10-year Treasury above 2.9 percent.”

“If those increases stick, we will likely see mortgage rates continue to trend higher,” he added.

The Allied Works Architecture-designed National Veterans Memorial & Museum(NVMM) is rapidly rising on the shore of the Scioto River in downtown Columbus, Ohio, and is on track to open in July 2018.

Allied Works’s design for the two-story, 53,000-square-foot memorial museum, a circular building with a glass curtain wall ensconced in a spiraling concrete superstructure, is the result of a closed 2013 design competition that included David Chipperfield and Diller Scofidio + Renfro. The winning scheme includes a ramp that wraps around the edge of the building and up to a rooftop “sanctuary” plaza, while large concrete arches crisscrosses the museum’s exterior to symbolically elevate the sanctuary. The sanctuary will be exclusively for ceremonies, events, and reflection, and from renderings, it looks like the rooftop plaza will include amphitheater seating and look out into museum’s exhibition space.

Inside, the museum’s programming will similarly follow the building’s curves, with exhibition galleries arranged in a ring. A double-height great hall will greet visitors at the entrance, while two floors of permanent exhibition space will be arranged in a central ring and provide access to the sanctuary from inside. “Thematic alcoves” will be scattered throughout the museum, each meant to evoke a specific emotion and relay the challenges faced by veterans.

Landscape architect OLIN will be handling the surrounding greenery and have designed a memorial grove in the middle of a circular path near the museum. The grove will also contain a stone wall with a reflecting pool at the base.

The museum’s development, design, and construction were led by the Columbus Downtown Development Corporation (CDDC). The group is also managing the exhibition curation, as well as raising approximately $80 million for the project.  The NVMM, which claims to be the first national veterans museum, has set its sights on being part museum and part memorial, with veteran narratives being placed front and center. With only 1 percent of the population currently serving in the military, the museum’s mission is to expose guests, who may not personally know a veteran, to the stories of servicemen and women, while also stimulating conversations around what it means to serve. While originally planned as the Ohio Veteran’s Museum, the scope was drastically expanded to include the stories of veterans from across the country, and from every branch and conflict. In November 2017, the House passed a bill officially designating the museum a national site, capping a years-long push by the NVMM for federal recognition.

In 2017, the top picks ranged from grand mountain chateaus to modest suburban homes – and even a spooky listing that went viral. Whether they earned 283 favorites in South Dakota or 7,290 favorites in California, these homes all have their selling points.

So what’s the most favorited home in your state? Scroll down to find out!

Alabama

598 favorites
6605 Cedarwood Ct, Mobile, AL
Our favorite features: old-growth trees, a newly remodeled kitchen

Photo from Zillow listing.

Alaska

572 favorites
L53A Whiskey Lake, AK
Why we adore this home: remote location, rustic wood interior

Photo from Zillow listing.

Arizona

2,736 favorites
976 S Wanda Dr, Gilbert, AZ

Simple pleasures: a large backyard with no neighbors in sight

Photo from Zillow listing.

Arkansas

717 favorites
16240 Kostner Dr, Rogers, AR

Reason to adore this home: movie theater with built-in projector

Photo from Zillow listing.

California

7,290 favorites
924 Bel Air Rd, Los Angeles, CA

The wow factor: private helipad, two fully-stocked wine cellars

Photo from Zillow listing.

Colorado

2,507 favorites
600 Chateau V, Evergreen, CO

Fun fact: modeled after the famous Biltmore Mansion in North Carolina

Photo from Zillow listing.

Connecticut

1,058 favorites
163 Creamery Rd, Durham, CT

Selling points: expansive windows, surrounded by nature

Photo from Zillow listing.

Delaware

604 favorites
24908 Crooked Stick Way #4333, Long Neck, DE

Selling points: dog park within walking distance, solar panels on the roof

Photo from Zillow listing.

Florida

2,038 favorites
11112 Ancient Futures Dr, Tampa, FL
Reasons to call it home: arched doorways, high ceilings, hardwood floors

Photo from Zillow listing.

Georgia

3,056 favorites
1055 Ada Ave NW, Atlanta, GA

What we love about it: bright hardwood floors

Photo from Zillow listing.

Hawaii

1,546 favorites
72 S Kalaheo Ave, Kailua, HI

Where we’d rather be: this home’s poolside bar or cabana

Photo from Zillow listing.

Idaho

728 favorites
8602 W High Ridge Ln, Eagle, ID
Eye-catching feature: a bright red front door

Photo from Zillow listing.

Illinois

1,897 favorites
1932 N Burling St, Chicago, IL
Windy City wow: 25,000 square feet in the heart of downtown

Photo from Zillow listing.

Indiana

1,383 favorites
New Edition Floor Plan, Harrison Lakes, Fort Wayne, IN

What’s warming our hearts: the fire pit and covered patio

Photo from Zillow listing.

Iowa

603 favorites
2209 E 9th St, Des Moines, IA

Things to ogle: historic character, leaded glass windows

Photo from Zillow listing.

Kansas

652 favorites
11613 Barton St, Overland Park, KS

Things we love: vaulted ceilings, covered deck

Photo from Zillow listing.

Kentucky

832 favorites
324 Wilson Downing Rd, Lexington, KY

Why we love it: newly remodeled with hardwood floors throughout

Photo from Zillow listing.

Louisiana

672 favorites
1448 4th St, New Orleans, LA
Fun fact: film location for a few movies

Photo from Zillow listing.

Maine

933 favorites
35 Seafarer Cv, Whiting, ME

Standout features: private dock, fireplace

Photo from Zillow listing.

Maryland

2,751 favorites
Lincoln Dr LOT 1, Jessup, MD

Why we’re mad about this MD home: 5 large bedrooms on a large lot

Photo from Zillow listing.

Massachusetts

1,235 favorites
22 Old Colony Avenue, Pembroke, MA

Selling points: historic home with modern upgrades, access to a nearby pond

Photo from Zillow listing.

Michigan

1,045 favorites
20 Peppers Trl, Montague, MI

This listing had us at: “tree house on the shores of Lake Michigan”

Photo by Roger Wade Studio.

Minnesota

1,827 favorites
Haverhill Apartments, 32 Spruce Pl, Minneapolis, MN

The draw: restored brownstone walking distance to downtown

Photo from Zillow listing.

Mississippi

543 favorites
706 W Pine St, Hattiesburg, MS

Why we love it: old-world charm, modern upgrades, a small backyard pond

Photo from Zillow listing.

Missouri

1,067 favorites
597 Harper Ave, Saint Louis, MO

Reasons we fell in love: 100+ years old, located by a park and golf course

Photo by Jason Fry.

Montana

1,191 favorites
Montana’s Shelter Is, Rollins, MT
The obvious reason we love it: private-island castle

Photo from Zillow listing.

Nebraska

634 favorites
2114 S 46th St, Omaha, NE

Reason to ‘heart’ this Heartland home: 19th-century charm

Photo from Zillow listing.

Nevada

3,611 favorites
1033 Tabor Hill Ave, Henderson, NV

Favorite feature: private backyard pool for hot desert days

Photo from Zillow listing.

New Hampshire

956 favorites
3 S Main St, Newton, NH

Why we adore it: fully remodeled in 2012

Photo from Zillow listing.

New Jersey

1,298 favorites
18 Frick Dr, Alpine, NJ

Selling point: less than 10 miles from New York City

Photo from Zillow listing.

New Mexico

562 favorites
5724 Fairfax Dr NW, Albuquerque, NM

Reason we love it: upgraded kitchen with a subway-tile backsplash

Photo from Zillow listing.

New York

1,769 favorites
635 W 42nd St #45th Floor, New York, NY

Why we love this Big Apple beauty: breathtaking river views

Photo from Zillow listing.

North Carolina

1,620 favorites
196 Bayview Dr, Stumpy Point, NC

Why we love it: historic home in a wildlife refuge

Photo from Zillow listing.

North Dakota

339 favorites
5039 Elm Tree Rd, Kindred, ND

Things to ogle: not one but two sunrooms

Photo from Zillow listing.

Ohio

1,001 favorites
3903 Saint Lawrence Ave, Cincinnati, OH

What we love: historic Victorian with six fireplaces

Photo from Zillow listing.

Oklahoma

971 favorites
707 Martin Cir, Sand Springs, OK

Why this OK home is more than okay: views of Tulsa from every floor – even the basement

Photo from Zillow listing.

Oregon

1,529 favorites
1135 SW Coast Ave, Lincoln City, OR

Why we adore this home in a word: oceanfront

Photo from Zillow listing.

Pennsylvania

1,227 favorites
122 Squirrel Rd, Buck Hill Falls, PA

Reasons to ‘heart’ this home: historic log and stone structure, beautiful views

Photo from Zillow listing.

Rhode Island

611 favorites
252 Thatcher St, Rumford, RI

Fun fact: overlooks a country club

Photo from Zillow listing.

South Carolina

1,259 favorites
709 Michaelmas Ave, Cayce, SC
Why we’ve seen this home before: viral status

Photo from Zillow listing.

South Dakota

283 favorites
2613 S Van Eps Ave, Sioux Falls, SD

Fun feature: wood-paneled accent wall

Photo from Zillow listing.

Tennessee

1,436 favorites
2325 Golf Club Ln, Nashville, TN

Reason to sing about this Music City home: private recording studio

Photo from Zillow listing.

Texas

4,459 favorites
10711 Strait Ln, Dallas, TX

Proof everything is bigger in Texas: 10 bedrooms, a bowling alley inside

Photo from Zillow listing.

Utah

796 favorites
1886 S Geneva Rd, Orem, UT

Luxury feature: motocross course

Photo from Zillow listing.

Vermont

706 favorites
1796 Cheney Rd, Lowell, VT

Reason to break out the maple syrup: classic log cabin on 20 wooded acres

Photo from Zillow listing.

Virginia

1,912 favorites
2975 Desert Rd, Suffolk, VA

Why we love it: giant front yard for recreation, private sauna for relaxation

Photo from Zillow listing.

Washington

2,651 favorites
935 Deerbrush Dr SE, Olympia, WA

Our favorite feature: yellow front door

Photo from Zillow listing.

Washington, D.C.

1,184 favorites
3030 Chain Bridge Rd NW, Washington, DC

Why it caught our attention: timeless exterior, modern interior

Photo from Zillow listing.

West Virginia

755 favorites
1103 Juliana St, Parkersburg, WV

Why we love it: century-old columns

Photo from Zillow listing.

Wisconsin

887 favorites
743 N 25th St, Milwaukee, WI

What we love: classic Queen Anne-style with a cupola

Photo from Zillow listing.

Wyoming

391 favorites
2005 S Crescent H Rd, Wilson, WY

Why we keep staring: floor-to-ceiling glass walls you can slide open

Photo by Josh Franer.

Top featured image by Roger Wade Studio.

The 12 Hottest Restaurants in Columbus

Where to find everything from Nashville-style hot chicken to traditional Tibetan momo

Hot Chicken Takeover
 Facebook

The people of Columbus are loving homey Filipino cooking (Bonifacio), traditional Tibetan momo (Momo Ghar), and refined Mexican cuisine (Cosecha Cocina). For drinks, they’re flocking to a Wes Anderson-inspired speakeasy, the first American outpost of a Scotland-based brewery (Brew Dog Dog Tap), and a bar that doubles as an “adult playground” (Pins Mechanical Company).

1 The Light of Seven Matchsticks

Discreetly tucked away in the basement of Worthington coal-fired pizza and live-music joint Natalie’s is boxcar-sized speakeasy the Light of Seven Matchsticks. It’s got all the whimsy of the Wes Anderson film from which it takes its name (the title of a fictional book in Moonrise Kingdom): dim lighting, green velvet booths, 1920s music, and secret cocktail menus hidden (always on page 166) in leather-bound library books. If seats are scarce, write your order on a book checkout card, slip your drink order into the mail slot next to the bar, knock twice, and wait for your drink to arrive.

5601 N High St
Worthington, OH 43085
(614) 436-2625

2 Momo Ghar

Even though Momo Ghar recently hit the one-year mark, it would be wrong not to include it. This no-frills food stand inside Saraga International Grocery on the Northeast Side (where some of the city’s best Asian eateries can be found) remains one of the most talked-about restaurants in town — a destination for from-scratch Nepali and Tibetan homestyle food. Diners cram into its five counter seats with a view of the open kitchen for traditional Nepalese momos, like jhol, doughy steamed dumplings filled with ground chicken and cilantro in a gently spiced broth.

1265 Morse Rd
Columbus, OH 43229
(614) 749-2901

3 Hot Chicken Takeover

Hot Chicken Takeover came from humble beginnings. It started as a takeout window on the near East Side with a single picnic table and a convivial owner, Joe DeLoss, who wanted two things: to make great Nashville-style fried chicken and to create a social enterprise that would give workers seen as unemployable by others a second chance. Now a food truck and a food stand inside the North Market, Hot Chicken Takeover has its first standalone restaurant in Clintonville, where diners can enjoy all the free sweet tea they can drink alongside fiery Nashville-style fried chicken, mac and cheese, and banana pudding.

4203 N High St
Columbus, OH 43214
(614) 754-1151

4 Flowers & Bread

Popular Clintonville cooking school Seasoned Farmhouse now has its own restaurant with an educational bent. Picture-perfect pastries, freshly baked breads, and espresso attract a morning rush. A rotating selection of soups, sandwiches, and salads sate loyal regulars at lunchtime. And those who want to learn a few tricks of the trade can sign up for regular bread-baking and floral-arranging classes.

3870 N High St
Columbus, OH 43214
(614) 262-5400

5 Trism

From local restaurant group A&R Creative comes a spinoff of their popular juice and acai bowl eatery, Alchemy. Inspired by an open-air courtyard, the 6,500-square-foot Trism is billed as a transformative space on High Street at the heart of Ohio State’s campus. By day, it’s a fast-casual eatery with healthy and hearty fare created by Alchemy’s nutritionist, Alexis Joseph, including bowls, superfood pop-tarts, and vegan doughnuts. At night, there’s a full bar with cold-pressed juice cocktails.

1636 N High St
Columbus, OH 43201

6 Watershed Kitchen & Bar

Longtime Columbus restaurant critic G.A. Benton touted Watershed Distillery’s Grandview restaurant as one of the best to open in the city in years. He’s not the only one enamored of the refined-rustic cooking of executive chef Jack Moore (formerly of the Greenhouse Tavern and Black Pig in Cleveland). Reservations are highly encouraged at this American eatery built off the front of the distillery in an industrial park. Ignore its humble surroundings. Inside, Watershed Kitchen & Bar is cavernously cool, with black walls, a copper-shelved bar, and the stainless steel stills of the distillery gleaming through a wall of windows.

1145 Chesapeake Ave
Columbus, OH 43212
(614) 357-1936

7 Bonifacio

Pinoy food has finally arrived in Columbus. Located in a former Tim Hortons in Grandview, Bonifacio offers the bright flavors of the Philippines with the soul of a home-cooked meal. The recipes come from restaurant owner Krizzia Yanga’s mom, a native of Mindanao, who spent years cooking in the northern and southern regions of the Philippines. Traditional communal-style dinners, known as kamayan, are a local favorite.

1577 King Ave
Columbus, OH 43212
(614) 914-8115

8 Standard Hall

A former Short North dive bar is now a buzzy, brick-walled tavern that pleases all the hip crowds, including patiogoers who want to quaff a cold one on outdoor beer hall-style tables, the sports crowd looking to catch the MLS game, and brunchers who want to start their day with a 32-ounce mimosa. Standard Hall’s menu offers slightly innovative bar-food favorites, like tacos, poutine, and hot chicken.

1100 N High St
Columbus, OH 43201
(614) 381-1112

9 Cosecha Cocina

Owned by Chris Crader, one of the city’s top restaurateurs (Harvest Pizzeria, the Sycamore), Cosecha Cocina looks to fill the refined Mexican void in Italian Village. From inside an airy, rehabbed brick barn, hearty stews like pozole made with heritage pork, fresh salsas served with Shagbark chips, and tacos on corn tortillas made from scratch in the kitchen star on the menu. A no-reservations policy can mean long wait times in the evenings. Bide your time with a mezcal cocktail (or two) at the bar.

987 N 4th St
Columbus, OH 43201
(614) 369-1129

10 Pins Mechanical Company

Located off of Fourth Street in downtown Columbus, Pins Mechanical Company is corner bar meets adult playground. It’s got an industrial vibe with old-school locker room flair and packs in imbibers for cold craft beers, cocktail pitchers, rotating food trucks (typically one on each of its two patios), and entertainment, including ping-pong, duckpin bowling, pinball, and four-square tournaments.

141 N 4th St
Columbus, OH 43215
(614) 464-2255

11 Rockmill Tavern

Prohibition left the Brewery District neighborhood brewery-less until Rockmill Tavern, the sister restaurant to a Lancaster-based Belgian brewery with the same name, came along last year. Named best new restaurant in 2016 by Columbus Monthly magazine, Rockmill Tavern is sophisticated and rustic (three barns’ worth of wood covers nearly every inch of the two-story space). And its elevated American fare, painstakingly crafted by lauded chef Andrew Smith, is prepared with ingredients from nearby farms. Food and drink get equal billing on the modest menu — every item comes with an optional beer pairing.

503 S Front St
Columbus, OH 43215
(614) 732-4364

12 BrewDog DogTap

It was big news when Scotland-based BrewDog chose Columbus suburb Canal Winchester as the home of its American brewery operations. The sprawling 100,000-square-foot brewery also houses a 300-seat bar and restaurant, DogTap, which draws beer lovers for its signature Punk IPAs, standard bar fare, and a dog-friendly atmosphere.

96 Gender Rd
Canal Winchester, OH 43110
(614) 908-3051

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5 Reasons Your First Home Should Be A Duplex

You can live in one side of a duplex and use the other side as a rental property, an office, or a guesthouse.

When most people think about buying their first home, three options typically come to mind: single-family home, townhouse, or condo. But there’s a fourth option to consider: a duplex home. Owning a duplex in Columbus, OH has certain perks, like getting you into homeownership with some mortgage and tax advantages. Plus, if you rent out one side, renters can help pay that mortgage. Here’s five reasons why duplexes may be the hot new home type.

  1. 1. You get tax benefits

    You might already know that you get a tax write-off when you buy a home — you can deduct the mortgage interest you pay. If you buy a duplex and live in one side, you can write off only that side. But if you rent out the other side, there are additional write-offs. “You can write off all of the costs that take place on your Schedule E form,” says David Hryck, a New York, NY, tax lawyer and personal finance expert. “These could be fees accrued to rent the place out or even manage the property. All are completely tax-deductible.” But wait … there’s more. “The same would apply to any type of repair made to the rented half of the duplex as well as the unit’s utility bill,” Hryck says. “If you share expenses such as internet with your tenant, you can also write those off.”

  2. 2. There are mortgage advantages

    Mortgage lenders typically classify properties into owner occupied and non-owner occupied, and they tend to give more favorable interest rates to people buying a property they will live in. With a duplex, “A mortgage company considers the two units as one property,” says Lucas Hall, head of industry relations for Cozy.co and founder of Landlordology. “And you can qualify for a lower interest rate if you occupy one of the units.” If you plan to rent out the other side, you might also qualify for a larger mortgage. “Many lenders will allow you to include part of the potential rent into your income when qualifying for a mortgage,” says Eric Bowlin, a Massachusetts real estate investor. “This may allow you to qualify for more than you otherwise may have received.”

  3. 3. You learn the landlord business

    Being a landlord is a great side business and can provide a way to earn passive income. But there’s a lot to learn, such as how landlord-tenant laws work in your state, how to customize a lease, how to make sure you actually collect rent, and how to screen potential tenants. An excellent way to get started is by buying a duplex, living on one side, and renting out the other. Why? You live close to your rental property. “You will see the place every day and see any repairs that need to be made,” says Joe Polyak, a Northern California agent. “You can keep a close watch on your tenants to make sure they aren’t doing anything illegal or destroying your home — without invading their privacy. If anything goes wrong, you are just next door.”

    Before you wade into the duplex and landlord business, however, there are some numbers to consider, such as researching what rents are going for in your area. Jimmy Moncrief, a real estate investor and founder of Real Estate Finance, gives this advice: “Make sure that when buying a duplex, if only one side is rented, the rent will be able to cover the principal and interest payments as well as the insurance and taxes.” And if it seems financially doable, there’s the undeniable advantage of OPM — other people’s money.

  4. 4. It has great potential as an Airbnb

    You can potentially earn more money renting the other side of your duplex through Airbnb or other vacation rental sites than you could by renting it on a traditional one-year lease. Why? Vacation rentalsare for short-term stays, so you can charge more. Vacation renters will also pay more for a full apartment than they would when renting a single room in your home. And with a duplex, you can offer the best of both worlds for renters: They get a full apartment with you available when needed, just as you would be when renting out a room in your home. But you need to make sure you can use your prospective duplex. “Airbnb is case by case,” says Scott Trench, vice president of operations at BiggerPockets.com. “Some areas, like San Francisco, have a very strict set of rules, and some areas are more relaxed. You’ll need to get familiar with your local laws.”

  5. 5. A duplex gives you more options

    If you don’t need to go into the office every day, a duplex could serve as the perfect work space … and you would beat all your friends when comparing commute times. You also could use the other side as a guesthouse when family or friends come to visit, which is a dream arrangement if you aren’t exactly the entertaining type. The other side of a duplex could also make a convenient place to house elderly parents who need someone checking on them daily — the parents get to remain independent, and everyone gets some privacy.

Columbus Restaurants open on Thanksgiving

Not everyone wants to/needs to/can spend 2 days preparing a Thanksgiving Feast.  If you’re looking to dine out (or carry out) your Thanksgiving meal, the following restaurants will be open on Thanksgiving Day around Columbus.  There are also many options for catered or carry-out Thanksgiving dinners towards the bottom.  Reservations are strongly recommended.  Please let me know if you are aware of any others!

Restaurants open on Thanksgiving in Columbus

The Berwick
3250 Refugee Rd.
614-235-7100 – reservations recommended
HOURS: 11 a.m. to 4:30p.m.
MEAL:  Buffet – See menu options here.
COST:  $27.50 for adults, $14 for ages 4 to 12, free for age 3 and younger)
TO GOCarry-Out Orders also available for Pick-Up on Thanksgiving Day, from full turkey dinner for 2-25 people, to sides, main dishes, and more in a variety of sizes

The Boat House Restaurant
679 W Spring St
Columbus, OH 43215
(614) 469-0000
HOURS: 10:30 a.m. – 4 p.m.
MENU: Champagne Buffet with Breakfast Items, Roasted Turkey, Yankee Pot Roast, Sliced Ham and more all day! Plus, a Specialty Bloody Mary Bar.  See menu.
COST: Adult: $48.95/Child: $22.95
EXTRAS: Enjoy our Specialty Bloody Mary Bar all day, $4 Brunch Cocktails, and live entertainment.

Bob Evans
various locations
HOURS:  8 a.m. – 8 p.m. for dine in and carry out
MENU: Limited menu available after 11 a.m.
TO GO:  Farmhouse Feasts can be ordered online or by calling your local restaurant.

Boston Market
various locations
HOURS: varies, contact local store
MENU: Regular menu, plus Dine in/out Thanksgiving meal $10.99
TO GO: Holiday Meals – A la Carte options, Heat and Serve ($6-$18/person). You can even have fully-cooked, full Thanksgiving dinner or main dishes shipped to you frozen to just heat and serve.

Buca di Beppo
Reservations strongly recommended!
HOURS: 11am – 8pm
MEAL: Traditional Turkey Dinner – Sliced White Meat Turkey or Hickory-Smoked Ham • Homestyle Gravy • Roasted Garlic Mashed Potatoes • Spicy Italian Sausage Stuffing • Green Beans • Cranberry Sauce • Pumpkin Pie.  Traditional Italian dishes are available as well.
COST: Individual $20, Buca Small® $60, Buca Large® $120 Buca Small® feeds up to 3 • Buca Large® feeds up to 6
TO GO: Party Pans to Go, Thanksgiving to Go, and Catering are also available.

Champps Sports Bar
1827 Olentangy River Rd
Columbus, OH 43212-1496
HOURS:  11 a.m. – 1 a.m.
MENU: Standard menu
COST: menu pricing

China Dynasty
(At The Shops on Lane Avenue)
1689 West Lane Avenue
Upper Arlington, OH 43221
Phone No: (614) 486-7126
HOURS:  12 p.m. – 6 p.m.
MENU: Thanksgiving Day Special Buffet – details not available for 2017.
COST: Adult: $26.99/Child: $12.99 (6-12yrs old) and free (5 and under) (pricing is from 2016)

Claddagh Irish Pub
585 S. Front St.
Columbus, OH 43215
Phone: (614) 224-1560
HOURS:  11 a.m. – 6 p.m.
MENU:  Thanksgiving turkey & ham dinner special for $19.99, $3.99 for dessert
COST: $19.99

Columbus Fish Market
1245 Olentangy River Road
Columbus, Ohio 43212
HOURS: 11 a.m. – 9 p.m.
MENU: 3 Course Traditional Thanksgiving Meal; regular dinner menu available
COST: $28 for adults, $9 for children, or menu pricing
TO-GO: Full holiday meal available from $129-$249. Orders picked up on Nov 23 from 9-11 am.

Coopers Hawk Winery
4230 The Strand
Columbus, OH  43219
614.428.6999
HOURS:  Call for details
MENU: Traditional Thanksgiving Meal (see meal), plus regular menu.
COST: $27.99 for adults, $12.99 for children 12 and under

Cracker Barrel
(All locations)
HOURS:  11 a.m. – 10 p.m. (regular breakfast menu available from 6 a.m.)
MENU:  Regular menu, plus Thanksgiving Platter
COST: $11.99 Adult or $6.99 Child for platter (pricing from 2017)
TO GO: Hams and pies available for pickup, plus heat-n-serve and hot and ready meals for pick up

de Novo
150 S High St
Columbus, OH 43215
HOURS:  10 am – 3 pm for brunch, 5-9 pm for dinner
MENU:  Brunch buffet or dinner menu
COST: $39 Adult or $19 Child 5-12 for buffet.  Menu pricing for dinner

Golden Corral
HOURS: Varies per store
MENU: Endless Thanksgiving buffet.  Carved turkey or ham, sliced turkey, fried chicken, roast beef, meatloaf, and even steak and shrimp are featured, as well as more than a dozen side dishes
COST: varies per store

Granville Inn
314 E. Broadway
Granville OH 43023
740-587-3333 for reservations
HOURS: 11:30 am – 3 pm
MENU: Buffet including chilled foods, hot foods, and dessert
COST: $37.95 adults, $17.95 kids 5-12 (pricing from 2016, call for details)

Inn at Cedar Falls in Hocking Hills
21190 State Route 374
Logan, OH 43138
Ph. 800-653-2557
[email protected]
HOURS: Call for hours/reservations
MENU: 3 Course Thanksgiving Dinner – see menu
COST: $42/adults, $23/kids 12 and under

J Gilbert’s
1 E. Campus View Blvd
Columbus, Ohio 43235
Call 614.840.9090 for reservations
HOURS: Open 11 a.m. – 8 p.m.
MEAL: Regular menu and Thanksgiving Day Three Course Menu
COST: $38 for adults, $19 for kids 12 and under

J. Liu Restaurant and Bar
6880 N. High St., Worthington (614-888-1818)
50 W. Bridge St., Dublin (614-718-1818)
HOURS: Open 10 a.m. – 5 p.m.
MEAL: Thanksgiving Buffet
COST: Adults- $29.99, Kids ages 5 to 11- $18.99, Kids under 5- $5.00

Lindey’s
169 East Beck Street
Columbus, Ohio 43206
(614) 228-4343
HOURS: Open 11 a.m. – 6 p.m.
MEAL: special Thanksgiving Menu (see menu)
COST: varies per menu

Matt the Millers
Dublin: 6725 Avery-Muirfield Dr., Dublin, Ohio 43016
614-799-9100
Grandview: 1400 Grandview Avenue, Columbus Ohio 43212
614-754-1026
Polaris: 1436 Gemini Place  Columbus, Ohio 43240
(614) 841-4430
HOURS: Open 11 a.m. – 5 p.m.
MEAL: Traditional Thanksgiving Buffet
COST: $31.95 adults, $11.95 kids ages 5-10, free for 3 and under per one paying adult (pricing from 2016)

McCormick & Schmick’s Seafood 
3965 New Bond Street
Columbus, OH 43219
(614) 476-3663
HOURS: 10 a.m. – 10 p.m.
MENU: Roasted Turkey Dinner; dinner menu also available
COST: Contact location for pricing

Mimi’s Cafe
1428 Polaris Parkway
Columbus, OH 43240
(614) 433-0441
HOURS: 7 a.m. – 8 p.m.
MENU: Standard menu, plus traditional Thanksgiving Dine-In Meal beginning at 11 am on Thanksgiving Day. The quintessential three-course dinner
COST: Standard menu pricing; $18.99 for adults and $8.99 for kids for the Thanksgiving meal
TO-GO: Take Home heat and serve Turkey Dinner serves 8-10 for $99

Mitchell’s Steakhouse (2 locations)
1408 Polaris Parkway
Columbus, OH 43240
(614) 888-2467
45 North Third Street
Columbus, OH 43215
(614) 621-2333
HOURS: Polaris, 12 – 8 p.m., Downtown, 2 – 8 p.m.
MENU: 4 Course Thanksgiving Meal, 3 Course Meal for Kids, or regular menu
COST: $42/adults, $20/kids

Nicola Restaurant and Bar
4740 Reed Rd.
Columbus, OH 43220
(614) 459-7000 – reservations required
HOURS: 12 p.m. to 5 p.m.
MENU: Special Thanksgiving menu
COST: menu pricing

Paul’s Fifth Avenue
1565 West Fifth Ave
Columbus Ohio
614.481.8848
DETAILS: A reader told me that they are open and also have carry-out meals, but I don’t have details at this time.

Smith & Wollensky
4145 The Strand West
Columbus, OH 43219
614-416-2400
HOURS: 12 pm to 8 pm
MENU: Traditional Thanksgiving Prix Fix Menu; regular menu available
COST: $55/person, $25/children under 12.  Regular menu will also be available.

Spagio
1295 Grandview Ave
Columbus, OH 43212
(614) 486-1114 ext. 1
HOURS: 1 p.m. – 5 p.m.
MENUSpecial Thanksgiving menu
COST: varies per menu

Ted’s Montana Grill
6195 Sawmill Road
Dublin, OH 43017
Phone: 614-760-7753
Easton Gateway
4169 Worth Avenue
Columbus, OH 43219
Phone: 614-337-1457
HOURS: 11 a.m. – 8 p.m.
MENU: Regular Menu plus Turkey Feast. See Available Menu.
COST: varies for menu, or $29 for Turkey Feast

Texas de Brazil
4040 Easton Station
Suite E 105
ColumbusOhio 43219
HOURS: 11 a.m. – 10 p.m.
MENU: Regular Menu

The Guild House
624 North High Street
Columbus, Ohio 43215
614.280.9780
HOURS: Open from 6:30 am through dinner
MENU: Breakfast, lunch, and dinner, plus a prix fixe holiday menu
COST: Menu pricing; prix fixe menu $49 per person, $79 with wine pairings

Tucci’s
35 N. High Street
Dublin, OH 43017
(614) 792-3466
HOURS: Open from 11 a.m. – 5 p.m.
MENU: 3-course prix fixe menu featuring traditional favorites and Chef’s selections to choose from. Also offering a kids’ menu.
COST: $45 per person

Worthington Inn
649 High Street
Worthington, OH 43085
Phone: 614-885-2600 reservations required
HOURS: 11 a.m. – 5 p.m.
MENUThanksgiving Feast Buffet
COST: $41.95 adults, $19.95 for kids 4-12, free for 3 and under

 

CCAD Building New State of the Art Animation Center

The Columbus College of Art & Design is giving a big boost to its animation program. Representatives from the college unveiled plans today to construct a new $1.5 million facility inside the Design Studios on Broad building on the Downtown campus. The facility will be formally known as the Cloyd Family Animation Center, and will house both analog and digital drawing studios, a virtual reality drawing lab, a stop-motion classroom, and additional gallery, classroom and flex space.

“Animation is a growing industry here in Columbus and around the world,” stated Charlotte Belland, Chair of CCAD’s Animation program. “At the end of the day, animation is all about storytelling. But animators also need to know the latest industry-standard software.”

CLICK HERE to learn more about the future of CCAD in our new interview with President Melanie Corn.

Construction is expected to begin in March 2018, with the new center ready to open in Fall 2018. The center is getting its name from CCAD Board of Trustees member Gil Cloyd, who has made already pledged $300,000 to the project. Cloyd is a former CTO of Procter & Gamble, as well as the founder and CEO of the Ohio Film Group.

Animation has been a major at CCAD since 2008, with classes that date back to 1988. Currently, it is the second most popular major at the school.

Via Columbus Underground

Mortgage Rates are at a 4-Week Low

Mortgage Rates are at a 4-Week Low

Rates for home loans slid as the promise of sweeping tax reform increasingly came into question.

The 30-year fixed-rate mortgage averaged 3.90% during the November 9 week, down from 3.94%, mortgage financier Freddie Mac said Thursday. The 15-year fixed-rate mortgage averaged 3.24%, down three basis points. The 5-year Treasury-indexed hybrid adjustable-rate mortgage averaged 3.22%, down from 3.23% during the week.

Mortgage rate trendsmarketwatch.com

Bond prices have rebounded, nudging yields down, as Republicans’ promises to enact comprehensive tax reforms has met with stiff pushback from special interests. Mortgage rates track the U.S. 10-year Treasury note.

Investors also worry that the kind of sweeping tax overhaul Republicans have envisioned would spur inflation, making bonds that have already been issued worth less. The plan proposed by the House of Representatives would widen the deficit by $1.7 trillion over a decade, the Congressional Budget Office said Wednesday.

The benchmark 30-year fixed-rate mortgage has averaged 4% so far throughout 2017, defying expectations for a breakout from long-time lows.

 

From Iceland’s volcanic heat harvesting to a Norwegian couple’s use of a giant glass dome for solar gain, colder climes seem to inspire new ways of warming up homes. And now, a pair of Russian entrepreneurs are experimenting with a futuristic way of not only heating homes, but making sweet cash in the process: bitcoin mining.

Bitcoin mining entails using a computer—or hundreds of computers—to validate transactions made with the cryptocurrency. All that computing generates a surprising amount of heat. While there’s been talk of harvesting the heat from large data centers, builders Ilya Frolov and Dmitry Tolmachyov wondered if they could use the same principle to heat private homes.

The pair built a simple 215-square-foot house in the Siberian town of Irkutsk and installed two bitcoin miners. The heat from these small computers warms up a liquid that’s then pumped through a sub-floor heating system. The cabin is essentially heated at a profit of $430 a month from processing transactions.

“People who mine cryptocurrencies use big miners. And they just heat the atmosphere,” said Dmitry Tolmachyov in a Quartz video, embedded below. “And we say, ‘No, the environment! We shouldn’t heat the atmosphere. We have a nine-month long heating season. We should heat our homes. The miners should not be concentrated in one place. They should be in various places, in private homes. The technology allows it nowadays.”

ViaQuartz

For anyone who missed their chance to experience magic that was the Ohio Chinese Lantern Festival last fall, good news! The festival will be returning to the Natural Resources Park at the Ohio Expo Center and Fairgrounds, beginning November 17th. The festival will be in town through January 7, 2018.

“We’re returning to Columbus because of the warm reception we received, as well as the city’s eagerness to experience other cultures,” says Allison Newell, Marketing Manager for Tianyu Arts & Culture, Inc. The festival has returned to other cities in the past, and the company was impressed by Columbus’ arts and culture scene.

Newell shared that there will be several new lanterns on display, and they plan to add more food options and performers. Favorite lanterns will make a reappearance.

The Ohio Chinese Lantern Festival saw attendance numbers of about 70,000. Tianyu Arts & Culture and Columbus Underground worked together last year to send all of the students of Hubbard Mastery School to the festival, providing an immersive cultural experience and add to the students’ Mandarin curriculum.

Take a look at what awaits and plan to go this fall!

Credit-ColumbusUnderground

 

Spot the good, bad, and expensive before making an offer

The first walkthrough of a home is when potential owners get that gut feeling and come with their buying wishlist in tow.

And while you’ll know if a potential home meets your basic requirements—from the number of bedrooms to the availability of outdoor space, you won’t know every detail of a home the first time you view it.

One of the most important factors to consider is how much work it’ll require. Is it move-in ready, will it need a few upgrades to accommodate your needs, or is it a full-on gut?

Curbed spoke with a home inspector and architects who specialize in home renovation on what you should look out for before you pull together a down payment and take the plunge on a new home.

Sunny Eckerle

Meet the homeowner

Don’t just view the house, come equipped with questions. Michael Ingui, of the firm Baxt Ingui Architects suggests asking the selling agent how long the home was under its prior ownership. A quickly flipped house, he says, has higher potential for oversights. “There may be new tile or fixtures, but there won’t be any new piping behind them.”

A long-term homeowner will be able to give you a more comprehensive oversight in changes to the property over the years. “Whenever you don’t get to meet the seller, you’re not getting as much history,” says Nick Gromicko, founder of the International Association of Certified Home Inspectors. If you’ve got the seller at hand, “You’ll want to ask them about the history of repairs, who the repairs are made by, and any warranties,” Briggs says. Plus, be sure any warranties extend with the house, and not just the homeowner.

Check the floors

One way to the tell that the plumbing might not be up to par? Look for floors with unusual sagging or dipping near the bathroom. “It’s a sign that plumbers may have done some interesting plumbing underneath the floor,” Ingui says. Sagging floors in other portions of the home mean the structure may need some work. Be sure to ask the age-old question of if the home has good bones.

…And cracks in the wall

Spotting a crack in the wall is, unsurprisingly, not good. “A crack in a brick wall means there’s movement,” Briggs says, which is the sign of serious structural problems.

Don’t always trust fresh paint

A bad paint job—or 15 layers of paint—is nothing to worry about. But do take note if it looks like the home hasn’t been renovated in a while, and you spot fresh paint or sheetrock in the cellar or basement ceiling. “That likely means that before they put the house on the market, they fixed something. Or, they’re covering something up,” Ingui says. Location is crucial, he notes, because it’s the most likely location for termite or carpenter ant damage. If you notice any unusual cover-ups, ask why the work was done.

Look for water in the basement

While you’re in the basement, keep an eye out for water. If it’s recently been rainy, and the basement looks dry, it’s good news. If it’s been dry, and the basement appears damp, you should look for a deeper issue and figure out where the water is coming from.

Check the windows

“Open and close the windows,” Ingui recommends. “Do they lock properly? Take into account that people usually replace windows with cheaper, lower-quality windows.” This shouldn’t be a huge deal breaker, and won’t be the biggest headache in improving a home. Still, the cost can add up if you need to replace them down the line. Cheap or faulty windows are also likely to drive up heating costs if they’re not replaced.

Don’t forget the roof…

First thing’s first: ask when the roof was installed and ask to see the warranty to back it up. Older homes may have several layers of roofing, some of which could have asbestos. “At some point, someone will have to remove all those layers of roofing,” says Ingui, “And the possibilities of them finding something they have to repair will be high.” It’ll be hard for a non-expert to know everything about the roof just by looking at it, so don’t be afraid to ask questions or follow-up with an expert opinion.

…or the trees outside

“Trees are often overlooked by buyers and even the home inspector, because they don’t think it’s part of the inspection,” Gromicko says. However, trees near a home pose all sorts of risks, like trees catching fire or falling during a storm. Smaller risks include the gutter filling with leaves, roots getting into the basement, or an infestation of bugs.

The tough stuff: electrical and piping

Electrical and plumbing issues will be hard to decipher with the naked eye. Ingui says he likes to check how the electrical boxes are sorted. Is there a lot of exposed wiring? Does it look like it was installed correctly? Take a look at the electrical panel and ask the homeowner if they experience regular electricity shorts, and be very wary if the system hasn’t been replaced in a few decades.

For both electrical and plumbing matters, it’s a good idea to bring an expert along for a second walk-through. You can also follow up and test the pipes using a water kit, which you can secure cheaply, or in some places free through the state. “It’s a way to check how much lead, or anything else, is in your water,” Briggs says.

Follow-up on building violations and permits

If you’re feeling good after the walk-through, get to work investigating any open violations or permit issues the home may be saddled with. Check the local building department, fire department, and historic agencies to make sure the building comes out clear. “It’s very important the home has a clean bill of health with local government agencies,” says Briggs. He also recommends checking if a neighbor has filed complaints with the home—and follow up with the neighbor, if so. Numerous complaints may signal that there are problems with the property, or that the home will come with a sensitive neighbor.

Make sure, too, all work that’s been done in the house was filed with the local buildings department. “Sometimes you’ve got home extensions that the town never knew about,” Ingui says. Prior owners may have added a fourth bedroom to the house, but permits were never filed and it’s getting taxed as a three bedroom. Or an addition, like a deck, was added without the proper approvals. Be sure to ask the sellers if all the permitting is in order; if you’re suspicious about shoddy work, a title company should follow up with due diligence.

In some cases, find an architect

Some buyers start searching for houses with the assumption that a renovation will soon follow. In that case: consider house hunting with an architect in tow. “If you know there’s [a firm] you want to work with, an architect can take a look at things and say that will be hard to do, there’s something in the way there, there might be a leak over there,” says David Briggs, founder of the New York firm Loci Architecture. An expert’s opinion should be crucial in finding the right property for your renovation plans, and will help you avoid renovations that become money pits.

Credit- Curbed

1.  Craftsman Bungalow:   Triangular low pitched roofs and mixed materials of brick, wood, and stone make this style of home one of the most popular in the country.  Craftsman bungalows have recessed covered porches with tapered square columns, overhanging eaves, decorative brackets, and exposed rafters.

craftsman style home

craftsman home

 

2.  Spanish   Pale stucco, arched entries and window, and tile roofs with no overhanging eaves define this appealing architecture seen mostly in the western states. You’ll often find terra cotta tile underfoot and many Spanish style homes have courtyards in front or back with lush gardening.

spanish style house

catalina spanish style design sponge

 

3.  Tuscan    Similar to the Spanish style, Tuscan homes are most often stucco as well, but typically have more stone and their exteriors are shades of brown, terra cotta, or other vibrant warm colors like the many homes in the idyllic Italian region.

tuscan home

tuscan style home

images: marin magazineinterior design blog

4.  Colonial   Several different periods fall under this category but when we think of a classic colonial that usually includes a symmetrical facade with flared hip roofs, small recessed entries, and dormers.  Colonials are often trimmed in keystones and/or shutters flanking the windows.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

white colonial home emily jenkins followill

images: about.comemily jenkins followill

 

5. Victorian    These homes from the Victorian era feature steeply pitched roofs in irregular shapes, full front porches, patterned shingles, and round turrets.  Many times the gingerbread details are enhanced with a multicolored palette of paint colors.

classic victorian

queen anne victorian home

images: flickrvictorian houses now

 

6.  Tudor   Multiple gables and steeply pitched roofs are iconic traits of a classic Tudor.  They also include arched entries, brick chimneys, and the common half timbering design on the second story.  They vary in size from the smaller cottage to the larger estate.

tudor style home 2

tudor style home

images: rhino shieldhooked on houses;

 

7.  Shingle  Popular in coastal regions especially the northeast, shingle homes have rough hewn cedar siding that can be painted, stained, or weathered.  This relaxed style typically has irregular rooflines and eaves, but it’s the siding more than the architecture that defines this home.

image

gray shingle style home

images: reckless blissexceptional properties

 

8.  Farmhouse   This style is found in the country and suburban communities all across the fruited plains and includes clapboard siding and those charming wrap around covered porches supported by square or round columns.

yellow farmhouse wrap around porch

farmhouse home

images: marty’s placecountry living

 

9.  Ranch   Ranch style homes are usually story houses with a low roofline, simple open floorplans, small porches, and attached garages.  They often reflect the materials of their region, including brick or wood siding.

ranch style home

yellow ranch style home

images: express homesthe plan collection

 

10.  Contemporary   Famous for their stark geometric lines and varied rectangular elements, contemporary homes are always a true reflection of the architect.  Exposed concrete, singular glass panes, and horizontal wood siding are common elements that define this modern style.

contemporary home

gray contemporary home dwell

 

 

Why Tax Abatements are Good for Home Buyers

Homeowners across the United States are familiar with the fluctuating nature of property taxes. In years when home values are low, these taxes are typically on the low side. However, when values suddenly climb, the amount of annual property tax homeowners pay can skyrocket. This can become a real problem when an owner decides to put his or her home on the market. A high property tax bill can actually hurt the property’s resale value, scaring off potential buyers. This is one area where property tax abatements may be of benefit. These provisions make it possible for homeowners to lower their tax bills, easing their annual costs and increasing the likelihood of a successful home sale.

What is Property Tax Abatement?

Property tax abatement is an extended period when property taxes are either figured on a small percentage of the home’s value or eliminated completely. In most cases, tax abatements are only valid for a period of up to 10 years, after which time the tax bill returns to its normal level. These abatements are often offered by local county assessing boards in an attempt to draw homebuyers into certain neighborhoods or to encourage businesses to develop properties in the city limits. If a homeowner’s abatement is based on a lower percentage of the property value, he or she may only be required to pay tax on as little as five or 10 percent of the assessed value, giving them an annual property tax break of up to 95 percent.

There are several types of property tax abatements. Specific requirements vary by the area and the incentive. For example, some cities offer extended abatements to homebuyers who agree to purchase properties in neglected districts. Others may offer abatements for homebuilders who commit themselves to using environmentally-friendly materials and techniques. Cities that have experienced a long-running housing market slump may offer abatement programs for those who meet limited income standards.

Potential Concerns

While tax abatement may sound like a good idea, there are a few areas of concern. If a homebuyer receives tax abatement and then fails to pay the taxes, the board of assessors may revoke the abatement, causing the annual tax bill to increase dramatically. Those who attempt to get tax abatement for their existing homes may have to endure lengthy approval procedures and complete several documents in order to receive their tax break. In some areas, buyers may have to select a property in a less than ideal part of the city to qualify for lower property taxes.

If a homebuyer is able to qualify for tax abatement, he or she can save a considerable amount in property tax costs. The process of getting an abatement request approved may well be worth the savings.

Owning your own home is part of the American dream. But yet there are so many people that are confused on why they should buy over renting. Here are 9 great reasons to buy your own house, rather than pay your landlord’s mortgage payment by renting!

9 Reasons to Buy vs Rent

  • See owning as an investment.  – You are investing in you and your family’s future.  You are leaving your family an asset.

 

  • Chance to build equity and credit. – You have a safety net in case of emergencies.  Build your credit for more financial stability and better rates on the things you want.

 

  • Smarter/cheaper than paying rent.  – In most situations, paying rent is way more expensive than buying.  In essence you are paying your landlords mortgage and building his equity and credit.

 

  • Nobody can tell you no! – Some rentals come with a hefty list of do’s and do nots..  For instance, if you have an unexpected addition to the family.. You could easily convert/build a nursery.  You don’t have to ask permission to paint or put a nail in the wall.  Most rentals don’t allow pets. Some allow small animals, but if you have a large family dog.. you can forget it.

 

  • Ramp up energy efficiency – Save money and get tax breaks just for making your home more energy efficient.  Buying those new windows for your home may be written off at the end of the year.

 

  • No Landlord can kick you out! – Suppose your landlord decides to up and sell the house you are living in.  You may have no choice but to leave, putting you in a unexpected financial burden you could have avoided by owning.

 

  • Force Savings– Owning a home not only is cheaper then renting, it forces you to save money at the same time.  Your monthly payments are going towards equity that you can tap into for retirement, college expenses, etc. whereas rent just flies out the window.

 

  • Steady payments that won’t go up. – Unlike rent where the landlord can increase prices on a whim, with a fixed mortgage payment, you know exactly what to expect each month, and each year.

 

  • It’ll be yoursYou can have the kitchen and bathrooms you want. You can move the walls, build an extension–zoning permitted–or paint everything bright orange. Few landlords are so indulgent; for renters, these types of changes are often impossible. You’ll feel better about your own place if you own it than if you rent.

 

  • It’s risk capital– No, your home isn’t the stock market and you shouldn’t view it as the way to get rich. But if the economy does surprise us all and start booming, sooner or later real estate prices will head up again, too. One lesson from the last few years is that stocks are incredibly hard for most normal people to own in large quantities–for practical as well as psychological reasons. Equity in a home is another way of linking part of your portfolio to the long-term growth of the economy–if it happens–and still managing to sleep at night.

9 Reasons to Buy vs Rent

When you buy a house, it takes time, energy and focus to get through the process. Getting your loan pre-approval completed, finding a house, structuring a strong offer, and executing a sales contract can be exhausting. Once you have a signed sales contract in hand, it may feel as though your work is done; unfortunately, this is not the case. There’s still more work to do to get your transaction closed. See below a checklist for buying a home. The most common question that I hear once my buyers offer has been accepted is: “What happen’s next?”

 

MUST DO A.S.A.P!


Earnest MoneyEarnest Money

There needs to be some cash involved in the beginning of a transaction to protect the sellers interests while they take their house off the market. Earnest money is your proof as a buyer that you “earnestly” want to purchase their home.

Some REALTORS® will collect earnest money from you before they submit your offer. Others will coordinate the earnest money drop off after an offer is accepted. Whatever your scenario is, make sure that your earnest money is delivered on time and in the proper payment form. This information is usually documented in your sales contract.


Property InspectionsProperty Inspections

Once you have an executed sales contract in hand, the clock starts on your inspection period. Make sure you know how long your inspection period is, and complete your inspections in a timely manner. There are multiple types of inspectors that you may need to schedule. A standard home inspector is the most common, but radon, pest, septic, structural, HVAC, and mold inspections may also be relevant to your buying situation. Discuss your options with your REALTOR®. Make sure that you have resolved any inspection issues within the time allowed in your sales contract.

Bill GassettCheck out this article by Bill Gassett, a top Massachusetts REALTOR titled “Home Inspection Problems The Inspector May Not Find“. It addresses many home inspection issues that you should be aware of.


Lender DocumentsLender Documents

As soon as you have an executed sales contract, you will need to communicate with your mortgage lender so that they will start the mortgage process. Be prepared to provide lots of documentation throughout this transaction. Make sure that you get the requested documentation to them ASAP to limit any problems with their timeline. Some lenders are not as thorough with regards to checking in with you to keep you updated on their progress. Make sure that you are checking in with them to verify that they are on track. Your REALTOR® should help you with this as well. If a lender does not complete the loan process in a timely manner, it can cause you to be in breach of contract by not closing on time. If you stall on any requested lender docs, you can be sure that the finger will be pointed at you if they are not ready. Make sure that you are not put in this situation by promptly providing any documentation to your mortgage lender in a timely manner.

 

WHAT’S NEXT?


Title CommitmentTitle Commitment

This step is handled by the Title Company. They will issue a title commitment that reviews the title history of the property and discloses any liens against the property that need to be resolved before closing. Be sure to review your title commitment and ask an attorney for advice if you see anything in it that looks concerning. Most title commitments are straight forward and require no additional work on your part. Just be sure to review it thoroughly before moving on to the next step.


AppraisalAppraisal

Once you have cleared the Inspection process, let your lender know. They will then order a home appraisal to verify that the value of the home your purchasing is worth the loan amount that you are asking for. In Colorado, appraisers have 10 business days to complete the appraisal, starting from the day it was ordered. For this reason, it is important to make sure that your lender orders your appraisal as soon as possible. It’s likely that you will be paying for the appraisal, so it’s best to wait until after you have completed the inspection process.

Anita ClarkCheck out this article by Anita Clark, a top Warner Robins, GA REALTOR titled “A Guide to Home Appraisals“. This article breaks down the appraisal process and explains how it affects your home purchase.


Home Owners Insurance & WarrantiesHome Owners Insurance & Warranties

Your lender will require you to have a Home Owner’s Insurance Policy on the property that you are purchasing. You will want to shop around and choose the home owners insurance provider and policy that works best for you. Once you have the policy in place, let you lender, REALTOR®, and/or title company know.

Also, some seller’s will provide an allowance for you to purchase a home warranty. If you are purchasing a home warranty, you’ll want to shop around and find the home warranty company that best suites your needs. Once you have found the right home warranty provider, be sure that the title company knows who you plan to use.

 

FINAL STEPS:


Schedule UtilitiesTurn On Utilities

Now that you are past all of the major steps required to purchase your home, you will want to get your utilities turned on, or transferred into your name. In Colorado, the sellers often provide all of the relevant utility contact info in the Seller’s Disclosure.


Schedule Closing Date & TimeSchedule Closing Date & Time

Your sales contract will have an agreed upon closing date. Make sure that you and/or your REALTOR® have contacted the title company in advance to make sure they have a time slot open that is convenient for your schedule. Some sellers like to close at the same time as the buyers, so your REALTOR® may need to coordinate this with the listing agent as well. This is usually an easy step – just make sure that it doesn’t get put off until the last minute so that the title company can accommodate your request.


Final WalkthroughFinal Walkthrough

It is wise to do a final walkthrough before the closing. The purpose is to verify that any repairs have been completed, that all of the seller’s personal belongings have been moved out, and/or to make sure that the home is ready to move into. This is not a time to renegotiate any items on the sales contract. It’s simply a safeguard to make sure that no major issues arise that could cause the closing to terminate; which would likely be followed by legal proceedings to mitigate the issues.

Kyle HiscockCheck out this article by Kyle Hiscock, a top Rochester, NY REALTOR titled “Final Walk Through – What It Is and Why It’s Important“. It lays out the importance of a final walk through in an easy to follow format.


Close The TransactionClose The Transaction

One the day of closing, you will need to have your driver’s license (or other approved photo ID) and certified funds (cashier’s check or wire transfer) for any monetary amount required from you at closing. You will meet at the title company to sign all of the required documentation. A typical closing usually takes less than an hour. Once the documentation has been signed and your lender has funded the transaction, you will be given the keys and the house it yours!


5 Reasons Why its the Best Time To Buy a House

1. Rates are still offsetting higher prices

Even with home prices inching up from last year, they don’t wash away the huge cost savings lower mortgage rates offer. In fact, according to Zillow’s report, for households putting down 20%, with plans to stay at least seven years, buying is on average 37.7% cheaper than renting. This is only a 0.5% increase from 2016. Rates would need to increase well over 100% to wipe out the cost savings of buying. Such an aggressive rate hike is highly unlikely.

2. Buying trumps renting in more than 100 metro areas

If you think buying is cheaper only in smaller, less densely populated cities and towns, reality says otherwise. In fact, it’s cheaper to buy than rent in more than 100 U.S. metros. Topping the list are cities including Columbus, Ohio,  Miami, FL, Houston, TX, and Charleston, SC. These areas all offer a cost savings of more than 52% in comparison to renting. While the margins are slimmer, buyers can still see cost savings in areas like San Francisco, CA, and San Jose, CA, where the differences are 25.9% and 18.6%, respectively.

3. There’s no guarantee of stable rental rates

Nationwide, rents have increased 3.5%, which is a slower pace than real estate prices, but it’s not insignificant — and the amount can vary drastically depending on a variety of factors, making rising rental prices an unpredictable part of your financial picture. On the other hand, once rates are locked and paperwork is signed, you can expect to pay the same amount over the course of your mortgage. The only changes could be due to property taxes, insurance rates, or if you opt for an adjustable-rate mortgage over a fixed-rate mortgage.

4. You can build equity over time

This tried-and-true reason to choose homeownership doesn’t depend on market conditions. One of the biggest benefits to buying a home is the ability to build equity over time — equity that can be tapped into later. While home equity shouldn’t be considered a replacement for other forms of saving, it can act as forced savings for those who have trouble putting money away. A monthly rent payment will disappear into the hands of a landlord, but a mortgage payment builds equity that can be used to purchase another home later or provide additional funds in retirement.

5. Tax breaks favor homeowners

Another financial benefit extended to homeowners comes in the form of tax deductions. The early years of paying a mortgage consist in large part of paying down interest, but this expense is tax-deductible. Property tax is also deductible, as are as mortgage points and private mortgage insurance (PMI). Another big tax benefit occurs upon the sale of a home. If you profit on the sale of other types of investments, you are required to pay a 15% capital gains tax. But if you lived in your home two of the last five years before selling, the amount you earn on the sale isn’t taxable.

 

6 Reasons Why I Love My Job

There are so many people in this world that wake up every morning and hate what they do as a career. It seems like happiness and work dont usually clash but I can honestly say that I LOVE my job. There are endless possibilities with Real Estate and here are the top 6 reasons why I love my job:

1. I LOVE looking at houses (Who Doesnt?)

I do love houses. Old houses and new houses, dated houses and rehabbed houses, big houses and small houses. I do love houses. You literally get to show/look at thousands of houses every year. This means you see different styles, different character, different lifestyles, different cultures, and much more. Most people shop around on Zillow or even watch HGTV just to look at houses. I physically get to see them and its GREAT.

2. People and their stories

Everyone has a story, and each one fascinates me. It’s the people I meet, that I would otherwise not have known, and the life stories they share with me that I love, love, love the most about my job.

3. Each day it’s something new

Sure, there are regular tasks, but every day brings a different combination of things. New people, new properties, new obstacles to get past … no two days are ever the same. I can promise you that!

4. You never stop learning

While it can be intimidating to not have an answer for everything, as someone that loves learning, Real Estate provides a smorgasbord of things to learn. Market trends, new technologies, social media and the things that just pop up in every deal means there’s always something to learn.

 

5. You get to solve mysteries

The husband likes newer construction, the wife is drawn to older/classic homes … What house will we find that they both will agree on? It starts as a mystery, but you get to help solve it … and always do! Solving mysteries is one of the more fun things I do.

6. Create the American Dream

Part of the American Dream is to have a place called home and Real Estate gives me an opportunity to help people create those memories. I see myself as the gateway to so many future memories and its fun.

 

 

 

This is the historic Uptown Westerville

Its located in the Northeast corner of Central Ohio and it features Cobblestone Streets, Unique Shopping/Dining Choices, and it is minutes from Otterbein University and Hoover Reservoir Park. Looking to explore this beautiful area? Starting April 24th, every 4th Friday, come stroll down the streets of Uptown Westerville and enjoy street vendors, live entertainment, children’s activities and more.

THIRSTY THURSDAYS Episode 3!! This week Hillary Rust and Sam Miller, Real Estate Experts in Columbus/Central Ohio, have an awesome guest. Rob Livingston from The Wheelhouse Team discusses great programs for First Time Home Buyers, Grants for Grads and even Loan Programs for Physicians/Doctors. Want to learn more about buying homes, market trends, first time home buyer info, and MUCH more?? Join us every Thursday for a drink of Real Estate Knowledge (and Corny Jokes).

Didnt watch the first two episodes?? Head over the Youtube Channel (Link Below)

 

5 Tips to Flip Your First House}

If you’re reading this, you probably know that house prices are rising and there aren’t as many people selling as you’d like there to be. Actually, I’m writing this because as of 12/17/15, the Feds hiked up the interest rate and this affects you, me, well…everything. So with all of these things combined, real estate investing and house flipping gets tougher to do.

With reality television shows out today like Rehab Addict, Property Brothers, and Flip or Flop(my favorite), it’s also more competitive today than it’s ever been. Basically, everyone and their mother wants to get into house-flipping. See below 5 tips that will definitely help you for your first flip!

1. Stick to Your Numbers – Always:

You have to, have to, have to know what ARV means. ARV stands for the “After Repair Value” of the property you’re potentially going to flip. It’s the amount that the house or property will sell for AFTER it’s rehabbed, repaired, and has a white picket fence.

You never want to be “in the deal’ (meaning your total investment for buying the house and rehabbing it) for more than 70% of its ARV. Remember that. Live by it.

That means, you buy and rehab the house for 70% or less of what the final selling price will be. If you go over this number and disregard the formula, you’re screwing yourself and your investors and will see little to zero profit. The magic number for real estate investing and house flipping is always 70%. Remember that.

The Perfect Deal

If you know that you can sell a property for $200k after it’s fixed up (because you have a good realtor who knows how to price comparable sales in the area, and a good contractor who knows how to bid a project) you never want to spend more than $140k on it for the purchase, repair, and rehab. Don’t do it.

If you know that the ARV is $200k, and can buy the house for $100k (or less), and put $40k (or less) into the rehab, that’s the perfect scenario. The 30% profit you make after the sale will go toward the real estate commissions and money costs, and other stuff (which would be about $30k on this deal) which means on that example deal, after you pay everyone, you could put about $30k in your pocket.

Not bad eh?

No imagine doing that 3-5 times a month, and you’ll know what it’s like to live in my world. And trust me, if I can do it, anyone can.

2. Know Your Local Market:

It doesn’t matter what the Property Brothers are doing on TV, what matters is what’s happening in your own town, city, area, etc. This is your niche.You have to know what’s going on in your area, in your niche (you need a niche, for me in my area, I do a lot of acreage/rural stuff) and always stay on top of it.

  • Are you in an area with rising prices?
  • Is the property you want to buy in a transitional neighborhood or an established one?
  • How about the schools?
  • What about the demographics?

You have to know this stuff because when you do, it’ll help you choose (and dominate) your niche and figure out your profit margin. Do your homework on recent sales, comps, and what the average amount of days properties like yours will sit on market. This will help you figure out good deals and spot bad ones. This will help you negotiate prices (as a buyer and seller), buy low, and sell high. It’ll also help you determine what type of house flip you want to pursue.

When you know your market, it can mean the difference between buying and holding a property (maybe you want to rent it for awhile until the neighborhood takes off) for a few months or years, or doing a “Fix N Flip” which means you buy, rehab, and move it off your roster quickly.

3. Know Your Buyers & Rehab With Them in Mind:

Once you know your numbers and market, you better make sure you know what types of buyers are in the area too. If you buy acreages in rural areas, your buyer is likely a horse guy, or older family. If you flip a property next to an elementary school, you’re rehabbing for young families with kids. You have to rehab the house with the types of people who will be living there in mind It doesn’t matter WHAT YOU LIKE, it matters what THEY LIKE.

Most older homes don’t have the open kitchen/family room plans that young families like. So you have to create these spaces, or market and sell to older couples. Every house and flip is different. If you have a property in a nice, younger subdivision, spend your money making the family room open and inviting.

Make sure there are enough bathrooms.

Make sure there’s a master bathroom.

I could go on forever here…but all this is to say one thing: make it something a young family with kids would want to buy.

Maybe a playhouse in the backyard would help. Maybe a bonus room upstairs for the kids (or adults) would be nice.

Whatever you do, remember this: there’s no magic bullet or a proven formula that works every time here. House flipping and rehabbing requires common sense and wisdom, so use them.

4. Show Off Your Rehab:

You put in the work, so make a list of what you did and let the buyers, agents, inspectors, and appraisers see it.

Show them every system that was replaced or added on (e.g. HVAC, electrical, structural problems you fixed, appliances, hot water heater, etc.).

If you replaced the roof or all the windows in the house (I’ve done this several times), let people know. They need to see it, because it creates peace of mind for the buyer. A

re there warranties on your rehabs or repairs? Let the buyer know.

Did you put a new garage door opener in, and new sprinkler systems? Don’t leave those off of your list.

When you create value, make a note of it and when the property goes up for sale, put it all in a binder and leave it on the table.

You want EVERYONE who walks into your house to know everything you did to it to make it better. That’s how you sell a house.

5. Don’t Get Greedy:

Do not, do not, do not overprice your property. If you do it won’t sell and you’ll end up holding onto it (and paying for it) for longer than you wanted to (ask me how I know this).

It’s tempting to overvalue the home. After all, you bought it, fixed it up, and put a ton of time into it so you want your value out of it right? It’s understandable, but don’t do it. Stick you the ARV (remember that from step one above?) and it’ll sell at the right price. You have to keep in mind that the buyer probably didn’t see the house before you started fixing it up.

They don’t know that it needed a new well, had a flooded basement, and the roof needed replacing. They have no idea how much time you put it, and how much stress it may have caused you. The buyer sees the finished house you’re selling. That’s it. They’ve been shopping comparable homes, and when they walk into yours they’re not thinking about how you fixed it up – they’re just thinking about what it’s worth and if they want to live there.

Every neighborhood has a general price point, and you need to stay within it. Underpricing slightly could result in multiple competing offers, which is awesome, but not all the time.

So price appropriately. Don’t undervalue or price high. Sell it for what it’s worth and you’ll do great as a house flipper. Trust me, I’ve been doing it for almost a decade.

The Bottom Line:

No matter what you do, let wisdom, common sense, diligence, and honesty be your guides. If you approach real estate investing the right way, armed with the right tools, and have a mentor or coach in your corner- you will not fail. You just won’t.

House flipping is a lucrative industry and if you take the time to do it right you’re going to build an awesome life for yourself. So re-read this article, bookmark it, and educate yourself. You’ll be glad you did. 5 Tips to Flip Your First House

Top 10 Home Improvements That Boost Your Home Value

The 2017 Cost vs. Value report by Remodeling magazine documents the national and regional costs and ROI (return on investment) for 29 popular home improvement projects. Top 10 Home Improvements That Boost Your Home Value.

Overall, these 29 improvements paid back 64.3 cents on the dollar in resale value.

What that says to the homeowner is that spending money to sell a home requires research.

The goal of improvements from a seller’s standpoint is to attract buyers and achieve top dollar on a listing. But finding the balance between updates and return isn’t that simple.

In a seller’s market, spending (significant amounts of) money on improvements for resale may not translate to added value. As the tide turns to a buyer’s market in the next year or so, agents will need to carefully track ROI numbers to advise sellers.

Those surveyed about the return on remodeling projects were licensed agents, so Remodeling Editor-in-Chief Craig Webb says the report is a reflection of confidence in the industry:

“I think that this year’s Cost vs. Value report actually reflects the general optimism that both remodelers and Realtors have about the state of the housing economy. We are building more and more homes, slowly in this country, but that’s rising. Remodeling activity is as active as it’s ever been in history. And so, consequently, the prospects are good for everyone involved in the process: the consumer, the remodeler, the Realtor.”Top 10 Home Improvements That Boost Your Home Value

Top 10 Home Improvements That Boost Your Home Value

One of my Favorite Spots in Upper Arlington

One of my Favorite Spots in Upper Arlington

I wish this area had a name because it’s One of my Favorite Spots in Upper Arlington. Minutes from Ohio State University and the Scioto River on Lane avenue is Hudson 29 Kitchen+Drink, The Lane, Whole Foods Market, and The Shops On Lane Ave: a wide array of restaurants and retail including Rusty Bucket, The Wine Bistro, Bruegger’s Bagels and more.

Millennials Are Now the Largest Generation in the Housing Market;

New research from TD Bank® reveals that millennials are more conservative with their money than their youth would suggest. In fact, nearly two-thirds are saving cash in order to buy their first home. Millennials Are Now the Largest Generation in the Housing Market.

Nearly three-quarters of millennials (74 percent) say that saving for a down payment still represents the most significant hurdle to achieving the American dream, according to TD Bank’s second annual First-Time Home Buyer Pulse, which polled more than 1,000 Americans looking to purchase a first home within the next five years.

“It’s encouraging to see millennials thoughtfully prepare to enter the housing market,” said Scott Haymore, Head of Pricing and Secondary Markets at TD Bank.  “With today’s affordability programs, owning a home doesn’t have to be a dream, it can be a reality.”

Millennials have their Home Buying Priorities Straight

  • The top three priorities for millennials before purchasing a home include saving for a down payment, paying off debt and having a steady job
  • One-fifth of millennials (19 percent) plan to supplement their savings for a home with financial assistance from friends and family, and 65 percent plan to have a spouse or partner as a co-signer
  • Millennials want to pay off their mortgages quickly, with one-third (33 percent) planning to pay off their loan over a 15-year period
  • Move-in ready homes continue to be the most popular choice for busy millennial home buyers (78 percent)
  • The top three features millennials seek in a home include attractive design, a nice backyard or pool and proximity to schools or childcare

Low Mortgages Rates Triumph over Monthly Budgets

  • Among all respondents polled, 77 percent cited mortgage rates as the most important factor when purchasing a home
  • Seventeen percent of first-time buyers have not set aside money for unexpected repairs and costs, which is probably why nearly half (44 percent) of millennials incurred up to $5,000 in unexpected costs during the mortgage process (according to TD’s recent Mortgage Service Index Survey).

“The costs of running a household can be a shock to new home owners,” Haymore said. “Monthly expenses for utilities, homeowner’s association fees, cable and internet, can add up quickly. Factoring these in at the beginning of the mortgage process can help borrowers assess their overall budget and determine a realistic monthly mortgage payment.”

Clearing the Down Payment Hurdle

  • Sixty-five percent of all consumers indicated that saving for a down payment is delaying their first home purchase
  • More Americans (one-third) are putting less than 20 percent down on a home; the percent was even higher among millennials (35 percent)
  • Thirty-seven percent of first-time buyers will take advantage of mortgage affordability programs

“For many consumers, a 20 percent down payment is a major barrier to homeownership,” Haymore said. “It’s often difficult to save this much cash, especially for young adults saddled with substantial student loan debt. First-time buyers are shopping for low-down payment mortgage programs, which allow buyers to put as little as 3 percent down.”

Additional highlights from TD Bank’s second annual First-Time Homebuyer Pulse are available at https://mediaroom.tdbank.com/homebuyerpulse2016. ..

FHA to Cut Premium Mortgage Insurance (PMI) Starting This Year

 

Low- to moderate-income homebuyers will get a boost in 2017, with the FHA to Cut Premium Mortgage Insurance (PMI) Starting This Year.

The move “will mean a whole lot more responsible borrowers are suddenly eligible to purchase a home through FHA,” said National Association of Realtors President William E. Brown in a statement.

Annual premiums going down

The FHA will reduce the annual mortgage insurance premium most FHA borrowers pay by a quarter of a percentage point starting January 27. Annual premiums will drop to 0.6 percent from 0.85 percent, according to NAR.

“Every time we cut the cost of mortgage insurance it means more borrowers meet the debt-to-income ratio required to purchase a home,” said Brown, explaining why the move should lead more aspiring homebuyers to pull the trigger.

The rate cut means new borrowers who take out mortgages insured by the FHA will save an average of $500 this year, according to HUD.

The action “comes at the right time for consumers who are facing higher credit costs as mortgage interest rates are increasing,” according to Julián Castro, the U.S. Housing and Urban Development (HUD) Secretary, which oversees the FHA.

Why this is good news

The FHA makes it possible for banks to lend to borrowers who might not qualify for conventional mortgages, serving as a wellspring of credit for those buyers.

FHA borrowers pay both an insurance premium to the FHA and higher interest rates in return for a mortgage that requires as little as a 3.5 percent down payment.

“FHA mortgage products exist to serve an important mission: providing homeownership opportunities to creditworthy borrowers who are overlooked by conventional lenders,” said NAR President William E. Brown in a statement.

“The high cost of mortgage insurance has unfortunately put those opportunities out of reach for many young, first-time- and lower-income borrowers. Now, we have a real opportunity to get back on track.”

“After four straight years of growth and with sufficient reserves on hand to meet future claims, it’s time for FHA to pass along some modest savings to working families,” Castro said in a statement. FFHA to Cut Premium Mortgage Insurance (PMI) Starting This YearHA to Cut Premium Mortgage Insurance (PMI) Starting This Year

“This is a fiscally responsible measure to price our mortgage insurance in a way that protects our insurance fund while preserving the dream of homeownership for credit-qualified borrowers.”

According to Guy Cecala, CEO and publisher of Inside Mortgage Finance, FHA’s share of the home purchase market in first three quarters of 2016 was 16.6 percent.

“That was way down from the 33.8 percent market share seen as recently as 2010, but up from the 13.5 percent share seen right before FHA first lowered its annual MIP in early 2015,” Cecala told Inman via email. FHA to Cut Premium Mortgage Insurance (PMI) Starting This Year

The WheelHouse Team of MCS Mortgage Bankers, Inc. teamed up with local Columbus area Realtors to organize a Toys for Tots Columbus, Ohio Toy Drive Contest. With the help of local realtors, the WheelHouse Team donated over 100 toys for children and families in need this holiday season.

“We’re extremely proud to organize a toy drive contest and we’re grateful for the huge turnout in this year’s participation from the Central Ohio Realtors. As industry professionals, we love every opportunity to give back to our community,” said Robert Livingston, Sales Manager at MCS Mortgage Bankers, Inc.

This year, Real Estate Technology Partners (RETP), Opland Group of Better Homes & Garden Big Hill, REllis Group at Key Realty, and the WheelHouse team came together to increase toy donation and awareness through the toy drive contest.

Altogether, over one hundred toys were dropped off at Mikey’s Late Night Slice (see complete list of Toys for Tots Drop Off locations here) on December 15, 2016 (Watch the video: https://goo.gl/L7eLej). Out of all the Realtors who participated, the winner of the 2016 Toy Drive Contest for Toys for Tots was Sam Miller of the Opland Group of Better Homes & Garden Big Hill, who donated over 50 new, unwrapped toys.

Sam Miller, Realtor with the Opland Group of Better Homes & Garden Big Hill stated, “As a reservist for the U.S. Army, this organization hits home for me. It’s very important for me to give back to the local community every chance I get, and I was thrilled to participate in the Toy Drive Contest. I reached out to all of my friends, family, and co-workers to help donate as many toys as possible!”

The team is hopeful that next year’s participation will be even greater and has a goal to break this year’s record of 112 toys.

To watch the Toys for Tots Toy Drive Contest video below or, click here.

About Toys for Tots 

U.S. Marine Corps Reserve Toys for Tots Program provides new, unwrapped toys as Christmas presents to children who are less fortunate in the community. The organization aims to bring joy of Christmas and a message of hope to kids that will assist them in becoming responsible, productive, patriotic citizens. For more information, visit www.toysfortots.org.

Columbus Underground just posted the following article below: It is the Top 10 Fashion & Apparel Stores in Columbus for 2016.

Since 2011, Tigertree has topped our annual list of the best local fashion and apparel shops until they were dethroned by HOMAGE last year. In 2016, our readers and editors voted to return the title to Tigertree, picking the Short North boutique for the top spot in our annual Best of listing.

In addition to men’s and women’s fashion and apparel, Tigertree sells a wide assortment of accessories, home decor items and gifts for any occasion. Owners Josh and Niki Quinn launched a separate shop for children called Cubshrub at the tail end of 2015, bringing more options to customers who are looking for unique items for little ones as well.

Top 10 Fashion & Apparel Stores in Columbus of 2016:

  1. Tigertree
  2. Vernacular
  3. Pursuit
  4. Homage
  5. Rowe Boutique
  6. Thread
  7. Bend Active
  8. Samson Men’s Emporium
  9. Ladybird
  10. Royal Factory Atelier

References: Columbus Underground

Gazing into a crystal ball requires a leap of faith, but if you’re willing to take a look, you might find a few insightful nuggets that could help you and your clients make more informed decisions. Zillow’s predictions for 2017 include a change in course for the housing market as it continues to reflect the nation’s economic recovery. These are 5 Real Estate Trends to Expect for 2017.

Cities will get cozier

Smaller homes will crowd each other in new, denser developments, and they will be closer to public transit and urban centers. Knowing that square footage is off the table, your buyer clients might ask you to focus more on finding homes with upscale features or green technology.

Millennials will move out of the nest

No surprise here if you’ve read the Zillow Group Report on Consumer Housing Trends. In 2017, millennials will continue to drive up the homeownership rate by finally buying homes of their own. As millennials are the most racially diverse cohort, it also means more people of color will become homeowners. Your marketing efforts might include updated strategies to attract this new generation of buyers.

New construction buyers will pony up

Labor shortages in the construction industry — possibly compounded by the President-elect’s proposed immigration policy crackdown — have resulted in rising construction wages, which will be passed on to buyers who choose new construction homes. It will be vital to let buyers know they can negotiate for upgrade credits, floor plan options or reduced closing costs to recoup some value when they choose a new construction home.

Commuters will get comfortable

In their cars, that is. As homeowners move deeper into the suburbs — and farther away from viable public transportation — in search of affordable housing, the percentage of people who drive to work will increase. Although inventory remains low, farming local suburban homeowners might help you drum up some listings.

Current homeowners will continue to prosper

National home values rose 4.8 percent between December 2015 and 2016, and the trend is likely to continue past the New Year’s celebrations. In 2017, Zillow predicts home values will grow 3.6 percent. It’s an opportunity to check in with homeowners who might have been waiting for a better list price.

A Timeline for Building a New Home

Breaking ground on a new home is more than exciting. It’s a chance for you to make every last cabinet, closet, and paint color speak to you. It’s also something that might make you feel in over your head if you’re not aware of the timelines or building stages. A Timeline for Building a New Home

Depending on square footage, weather conditions, the availability of workers and supplies, and more, construction of a new home can take anywhere from three months to over a year. You’ll need to be prepared to make important decisions along the way and to experience setbacks. The truth is, whether you’re building a simple starter home or the ultimate abode, most homeowners find the home construction process a bit overwhelming.

That’s where we come in. We’ve put together an easy to understand home building timeline that demystifies the home building process. From shopping for a lot to move-in day, read on to learn about the major steps you’ll encounter while building a home.

Designing Your Home

Prior to build

Before you do anything, you’ll need to find a pre-designed plan or architect to design your home. This is where you’ll see how far your dollars will go and what it will take to make your dreams come true.

In this stage, figure out answers to questions like, “How many square feet do we want/need?”, “Should the master bedroom face east or west?”, and, “Do we want all bedrooms on the second floor?” Hammer out all of these details in this phase to set yourself up for satisfaction in your new home.

Now is also the time to talk to an interior designer if you don’t plan on doing the decorating yourself. They’ll be able to tell you about prints, textures, finishes, and more that will make your home come together.

Not sure where to start? Angie’s List specializes in providing users with real reviews, background checks, and more about companies. Whether you’re looking for a contractor, designer, or architect, you can count on Angie’s List to find you a reliable person.

Purchasing a Lot

Prior to build

No matter if you’re going for a lot that’s in a housing development or a piece of property secluded on 100 acres, you’ll need to purchase land before you can build. This can happen during the home design process or before. It’s just important that you allocate part of your budget to your land purchase.

In order to budget wisely, shop around for lots. See what the going rate is per acre and by neighborhood. Make sure the house design you’re working on will fit properly and is zoned to fit on a certain sized property.

These are all great conversations to have with your architect. They’ll know the zoning laws and building height restrictions of nearby areas and can point you in the right direction.

To start shopping, check out real estate websites like Zillow, Realtor.com, and Trulia. You can search by very specific requirements—including lots of land—so it’ll be an easy place to start.

Site Preparation

Week 1

Once this stage starts, you can pass the torch to the experts. Everything will be set in stone as far as the look and construction of your home and that barren plot of land you’ve purchased will be prepped and ready to become the site of your new home.

Expect a lot of back hoes and heavy equipment to come with this stage. Workers will be busy clearing, excavating, and leveling the lot according to your architect’s plan. Then, they’ll outline the footprint of your home with stakes. It’ll be the first time that you’ll be able to see the rough shape of your home on your property and can be exhilarating.

The “Three Fs”

Weeks 2-5

The “three Fs” stand for footings, foundation, and framing. You’ll hear your contractor talk about “pouring the footers” and that entails pouring concrete to support your home’s foundation. Once footers are in place and have passed inspection, the workers will pour the concrete slab of your foundation. Then, your home will have a stable structure for framing.

As the name implies, the floors, walls, and roof will be “framed” out with wood. You can think of this as the skeleton of your home. Once framing is complete, an inspector will come out again to verify that everything has been done to code. After that, exterior finishes like plywood and house wrap will be applied to seal off the inside from the outside.

This stage requires major structural work. Keep in mind that delays might happen if the weather is too wet for concrete to set or failed inspections lead to longer construction time.

The Guts

Weeks 6-8

Now that your home has its basic structure, workers can begin filling it with the things that make it function and look like a home. Experts will install important mechanicals like heating and cooling units, plumbing lines, and electrical systems. Once that work is done, walls will begin to close up too with insulation and drywall. The next time you walk into your home, it’ll look much cleaner. In most cases, the drywall will be sanded and primed, but it might also be painted.

If you’re interested in a home security system, solar panels, or other special infrastructure, this is the time to incorporate them. Many builders can prewire your home for a security system for an additional cost. You won’t have to choose a provider when they do so. Opting for this service will simply provide you with the wiring you’ll need to install a home security system down the line.

Flooring and Paint

Weeks 9-11

Up until this point, all you’ll see on your home building site is a lot of concrete, wood, insulation, drywall, and wires. This is the phase where your home will start to look more like one. Flooring will be going in, cabinets will be hung, and the pretty stuff like trim and mouldings will be installed during this period. Most homeowners will smile at this stage since the site will finally look like the drawings your architect showed you months ago.

Choosing flooring is one of the bigger decisions you’ll make for this stage. Determining your lifestyle, style, and budget will help guide you. For instance, genuine hardwood floors are gorgeous, but are prone to scratching, staining, and come with a large price tag. If you like the look, but need better durability, then engineered hardwood or tile might be a better bet. There are also funky solutions like dyed concrete that add an artistic and industrial flare to homes. This is all up to you, but consider all flooring materials before you pick one. It’ll be much harder to change your mind once everything is moved in!

Fixtures and Appliances

Week 12

Delivery trucks will make frequent stops at your home during this end stage. That’s because now is the time when sub-contractors (sometimes referred to as “trades”) install faucets, countertops, light fixtures, plugs, and appliances. The front of your yard will also be undergoing massive transformative if you’ve purchased landscaping services.

You will have been asked to choose these finishings long before they are delivered. Don’t delay the move-in date by changing your mind last-minute or waiting too long to commit. There are so many tools out there to help you with the overall design of your home. If you’re doing it yourself instead of hiring a designer, check out HGTV.com or Young House Lovefor some great ideas.

Here are some other design resources to help you decide what to do with your home’s interior and exterior.

  • Pinterest has a whole section dedicated to DIY and Home Décor
  • Apartment Therapy has a lot of user-generated and expert advice about how to transform your home
  • Better Homes and Gardens covers all kinds of design projects from plotting out an epic backyard garden to setting up a cozy living room.
  • Houzz is a one-stop-shop for all your design needs. It connects you with designers and other home professionals. Houzz provides you with advice about home decorating. The website even shows you where to shop to find certain items.

Final Countdown

Weeks 13-14

The last few weeks of your home building timeline will be a whirlwind of emotion and small details. You’ll be excited, but probably will want to know if it will all come together in time for closing.

Although you’ll be anxious to occupy your home, be absolutely sure all of your questions and concerns have been addressed before you head to settlement. That way, loose ends will be tied up, the small details of your home will be completed, and your home will be cleaned in anticipation of your arrival.

Closing

The moment you’ve been waiting for, closing, will be the best. There are just a couple things you’ll need to do before you formally close and move in.

After your home is complete, do a “walk through” of the home. In addition to inspecting it and making a “punch list” of things you want the builder to correct, take note of its features and learn how to work add-ons like the home security network. This is also a time when you can think about how to integrate more safety into your home. Walk the property and view the home through the lens of a burglar, meet your neighbors, and determine where you need better lighting. Once you’re done with all of this, you can close, get the keys to your new home, and enjoy every last detail.

Now that you’ve gotten a better idea of the home building process, is it still something you want to do? If you’re open to a flexible schedule and unforeseen incidents, it’s a great option to get a home that is 100% you.
We’ll leave you with one piece of advice: One of the best ways to stay on track with your home building timeline is to communicate your needs and wants clearly from the start. Before you build, consider if you’d like your home wired for a security system or want to have one installed post-construction. A Timeline for Building a New Home

Do Buyers or Sellers Pay the Buyer's Real Estate Agent?

Do Buyers or Sellers Pay the Buyer’s Real Estate Agent?

This has caused a great deal of confusion in the real estate industry and with consumers. Generally, a listing agreement between the seller and the seller’s listing agent specifies how much the listing brokerage will pay the selling brokerage for bringing a buyer.

Yes, you read that correctly. The seller, in effect, pays your buyer’s agent to negotiate on behalf of the buyer, not the seller. C. A.R. buyer broker representation agreements state that if anybody other than the buyer pays the commission, then the buyer is relieved of the obligation to pay it.

There are instances where a buyer may pay a brokerage directly such as when there is no commission offered because the property is a for sale by owner. But typically the commission is paid by the seller to the listing brokerage. The listing brokerage divides the commission in some fashion with the broker of the agent who brings an offer.

Buyer’s Agents Usually Do Not Work for Free

When you ask a buyer’s agent to show you property, you are implying that you will eventually write an offer through that buyer’s agent.

 If you have no intention of ever writing an offer with that buyer’s agent, you are taking advantage of that agent.

Procuring cause is a complex process that determines which buyer’s agent is entitled to a real estate commission when a buyer works with more than one agent. Generally, the agent who writes the offer gets paid.

Therefore, if you ask an agent to spend weekends driving you around, sharing knowledge and helping you to select a home, it is only fair to be loyal to that agent.

The 203k Loan Process

What You Should Know – The 203k Loan Process:

In simple terms, the 203k loan is a type of home improvement loan program insured through the FHA that works by allowing homebuyers the ability to finance the purchase and costs of upgrades through one single mortgage. The 203k loan can also work as a refinance option for homeowners who want to add basic cosmetic or structural improvements to their home. The 203k Loan Process

It is important to remember that neither the FHA or HUD do not actually lend the money to a borrower. Instead, the FHA “Insures” a loan that is provided by an FHA approved lender.

While the borrower eligibility requirements for a 203k loan follow standard FHA lending guidelines, there are a few extra steps involving a contractor, inspector and HUD consultant to ensure the property meets FHA’s insurance standards.

The Renovation and Loan Process

We have highlighted the primary steps of how the 203k loan process works below to serve as a general reference guide, so please don’t worry about a test at the end of this chapter.

Step 1 – Meet With A 203k Mortgage Lender

Many home buyers may rush out to look at properties before speaking with a qualified Renovation Loan Specialist, which obviously may present some future challenges after a purchase contract has been accepted by a seller.

Our initial conversation with a borrower starts with the basic loan qualifying questions, such as budgeted down payment, total loan amount, employment, income and credit history.

Once we get a picture of the borrower’s lending scenario, we start drilling down on the property and home improvement requirements to determine which loan program best matches short and long-term financing goals.

Our best advice would be to please have your real estate agent contact us first to ensure you fall in love with a property that qualifies for this program. With a little insight, your agent may even be able to help you find a better deal on a home that can be renovated to your specific needs and wants.

Step 2 – Preliminary Market Analysis

With your loan pre-qualification letter prepared stating the terms and a maximum loan amount that fits your budget, it is time to start searching for properties.

Once you’ve found a potential property, a Preliminary Market Analysis can be completed by your real estate agent and with the help of a contractor and 203k Consultant to help get an estimate of what the property’s projected value might be after the renovation is complete. This should be performed prior to signing the sales contract and before you commit funds for an appraisal.

The market analysis should include:

  • The extent of the rehabilitation work required (Contact a 203K Consultant)
  • The rough cost estimate of the work (Contact a 203K Consultant or/and Contractor)
  • The expected market value of the property after completion of the work (Contact a Real Estate Agent)

Step 3 – Writing The Sales Contract

A provision should be included in the sales contract that the buyer has applied for FHA 203k financing, and that the contract is contingent upon loan approval and the buyer’s acceptance of additional required improvements as determined by HUD, the Appraiser and/or the Rehab Lender.

Step 4 – Work Write-up, Cost Estimate and HUD Case #

With the Consultant’s help, a feasibility study and preliminary cost estimate is used to produce the SOR – Specification of Repairs. After having refined and determined the specification of repairs, the Contractor submits the bid for repairs.

At this point the lender will request the HUD Case number and the project will now move quickly to the appraisal stage.

Note: HUD does not require a Consultant on a Streamlined 203k loan (a rehab with minor repairs that total less then $35,000 and/or that does not include structural repairs). However, the experience and value of the consultant’s advice can often save more than the fees charged for the service.

Step 5 – Lender Prepares/Issues Firm Commitment Application

After the appraisal and the contractor’s bid have been accepted, the lender will issue a Conditional Commitment and Statement of Appraised Value to establish the maximum insurable mortgage amount for the property. The 203k Loan Process

Step 6 – Mortgage Loan Closing

Note To Real Estate Agents – This is a typical closing where the buyers would sign final loan documents and the close of escrow date is met, which is also when the real estate agents are paid and technically done with the transaction. To meet the COE deadline with as little anxiety as possible, we ask our agents to let us drive the bus from steps 4-6.

Note To Buyers – The mortgage closing is where the lender prepares the Rehab Loan Agreement and other pre-closing documents required for the mortgage closing. The Agreement is executed by both borrower and lender, and establishes conditions under which the lender will release funds from the Rehab Escrow Account.

A few of these conditions include the construction draw schedule, fees schedule, work item change orders and identity of interest statement.

Step 7 – Construction Begins

At closing, mortgage proceeds are disbursed and the Rehab Escrow Account is established. Construction may begin immediately, and must begin with 30 days of closing.

Step 8 – Funds are Released from Rehab Escrow Account

Funds are disbursed to the various contractors according to the Rehab Lon Agreement. Changes to the work write-up are made through written change orders and are typically inspected by the Consultant or Lender’s Fee Inspector. A final release of the funds confirms the substantial competition of the rehab.The 203k Loan Process

Halloween Decorations to Avoid If You Want To Sell Your House

As Halloween nears, strange things start creeping up in neighborhoods across the country. Zombies hang from trees, inflatable pumpkins pop up on lawns, and freakier-looking clowns start appearing in schoolyards and supermarkets (oh wait, that last part actually began way beforeHalloween). It’s unquestionably a fun holiday to decorate for. But what if you’re trying to sell your house? Just how far can you go with Halloween decorations if you don’t want to truly scare off buyers? See below on what Halloween decorations to avoid if You want to sell your house

 

Blood and gore

Sorry, “Walking Dead” fans.

“Gruesome scenes of death and zombies are definite no-nos,” says Paul Sian, a Realtor® with Cincinnati and Northern Kentucky Real Estate. “People with young kids will be very unappreciative of decorations that depict murder, gore, and more.” At least we hope they will be.

Halloween Decorations to Avoid If You Want To Sell Your House
A not-so-pretty sight at a home showing

Shopko.com

Dead children

And speaking of kids: Anything that depicts dead ones, even if they’re kinda creepy cute, probably isn’t going to go over too well with parents, either. You knew that, right?

A blood-spattered front door

We’ve already said blood is a no-no, but just in case we weren’t clear, writing scary messages in gory-looking red paint—even something as chipper as “Happy Halloween”—is a bad idea, too. It’s fine and dandy if you’re just trying to give trick-or-treaters a fright, but to prospective home buyers, this graffiti-style treatment just looks messy, and screams “go away.”

Halloween Decorations to Avoid If You Want To Sell Your House

Pumpkins whose time has come—and gone

If you’re going to use real flowers, pumpkins, and other perishable decorations, make sure to keep them looking fresh. No one wants to see (or smell) produce that’s well past its prime.

Political statements parading as Halloween decor

It might seem obvious, but politically themed decorations are a definite don’t. This election is plenty scary enough already.

Clowns

While no Realtor we interviewed mentioned this season’s scourge, terrifying clowns, we’re going to go out on a limb and say it: No creepy clowns—even if your house isn’t on the market. Talk about the stuff of nightmares…

Halloween Decorations to Avoid If You Want To Sell Your House
Clowns? Not cute. Ever.

halloweenexpress.com

Too many decorations, period

It’s easy to get carried away with decorations as you get caught up in the festivities, but don’t. You’re not trying to impress buyers with your decorating skills; you’re trying to impress them with your house, which can get buried if you’re not careful.

Halloween Decorations to Avoid If You Want To Sell Your House

The 10 Best Secrets for Selling your Home

The 10 Best Secrets for Selling your Home

Selling Secret #10: Pricing it right
Find out what your home is worth, then shave 15 to 20 percent off the price. You’ll be stampeded by buyers with multiple bids — even in the worst markets — and they’ll bid up the price over what it’s worth. It takes real courage and most sellers just don’t want to risk it, but it’s the single best strategy to sell a home in today’s market.

Selling Secret #9: Half-empty closets
Storage is something every buyer is looking for and can never have enough of. Take half the stuff out of your closets then neatly organize what’s left in there. Buyers will snoop, so be sure to keep all your closets and cabinets clean and tidy.
Selling Secret #8: Light it up
Maximize the light in your home. After location, good light is the one thing that every buyer cites that they want in a home. Take down the drapes, clean the windows, change the lampshades, increase the wattage of your light bulbs and cut the bushes outside to let in sunshine. Do what you have to do make your house bright and cheery – it will make it more sellable.
Selling Secret #7: Play the agent field
A secret sale killer is hiring the wrong broker. Make sure you have a broker who is totally informed. They must constantly monitor the multiple listing service (MLS), know what properties are going on the market and know the comps in your neighborhood. Find a broker who embraces technology – a tech-savvy one has many tools to get your house sold.
Selling Secret #6: Conceal the critters
You might think a cuddly dog would warm the hearts of potential buyers, but you’d be wrong. Not everybody is a dog- or cat-lover. Buyers don’t want to walk in your home and see a bowl full of dog food, smell the kitty litter box or have tufts of pet hair stuck to their clothes. It will give buyers the impression that your house is not clean. If you’re planning an open house, send the critters to a pet hotel for the day.
Selling Secret #5: Don’t over-upgrade
Quick fixes before selling always pay off. Mammoth makeovers, not so much. You probably won’t get your money back if you do a huge improvement project before you put your house on the market. Instead, do updates that will pay off and get you top dollar. Get a new fresh coat of paint on the walls. Clean the curtains or go buy some inexpensive new ones. Replace door handles, cabinet hardware, make sure closet doors are on track, fix leaky faucets and clean the grout.
Selling Secret #4: Take the home out of your house
One of the most important things to do when selling your house is to de-personalize it. The more personal stuff in your house, the less potential buyers can imagine themselves living there. Get rid of a third of your stuff – put it in storage. This includes family photos, memorabilia collections and personal keepsakes. Consider hiring a home stager to maximize the full potential of your home. Staging simply means arranging your furniture to best showcase the floor plan and maximize the use of space.
Selling Secret #3: The kitchen comes first
You’re not actually selling your house, you’re selling your kitchen – that’s how important it is. The benefits of remodeling your kitchen are endless, and the best part of it is that you’ll probably get 85% of your money back. It may be a few thousand dollars to replace countertops where a buyer may knock $10,000 off the asking price if your kitchen looks dated. The fastest, most inexpensive kitchen updates include painting and new cabinet hardware. Use a neutral-color paint so you can present buyers with a blank canvas where they can start envisioning their own style. If you have a little money to spend, buy one fancy stainless steel appliance. Why one? Because when people see one high-end appliance they think all the rest are expensive too and it updates the kitchen.
Selling Secret #2: Always be ready to show
Your house needs to be “show-ready” at all times – you never know when your buyer is going to walk through the door. You have to be available whenever they want to come see the place and it has to be in tip-top shape. Don’t leave dishes in the sink, keep the dishwasher cleaned out, the bathrooms sparkling and make sure there are no dust bunnies in the corners. It’s a little inconvenient, but it will get your house sold.
Selling Secret #1: The first impression is the only impression
No matter how good the interior of your home looks, buyers have already judged your home before they walk through the door. You never have a second chance to make a first impression. It’s important to make people feel warm, welcome and safe as they approach the house. Spruce up your home’s exterior with inexpensive shrubs and brightly colored flowers. You can typically get a 100-percent return on the money you put into your home’s curb appeal. Entryways are also important. You use it as a utility space for your coat and keys. But, when you’re selling, make it welcoming by putting in a small bench, a vase of fresh-cut flowers or even some cookies.

The 10 Best Secrets for Selling your Home

Ohio State's New North Residential District

Ohio State’s New North Residential District

Students moved into the first new buildings in OSU’s North Residential District in the fall of 2015. Construction of the remaining buildings – all located west of High Street, between Lane and Woodruff avenues – continued until right before move-in this past August. This semester, the first in which sophomores are required to live on campus, marks the first time that the new district is being used to its full capacity. Ohio State’s New North Residential District is definitely starting to look amazing!

OSU Associate Vice President of Student Life Molly Calhoun recently gave Columbus Underground a tour of the new district, including the new dorms, the new North Recreation Center, a multitude of event and study spaces, and the two-story cafeteria, which seats 920 and is larger than any restaurant in Central Ohio.

Calhoun emphasized the importance of outdoor space to the project, including the long brick pathway leading from High Street west through the heart of the district, following the route of what used to be West Frambes Avenue.

Ohio State's New North Residential District

[CLICK HERE FOR MORE PHOTOS]

The path ends at what has been dubbed Town Square, a large open space framed by the new, three-story recreation center and the new buildings Noskar House, Scott House and Blackburn House.

“Early on in the planning process, we said, ‘think about the spaces between the buildings as much as you’re thinking about the spaces in the buildings,’” said Calhoun. “We’ve historically done a really good job relative to indoor programming space, but we wanted to emphasize the programmatic aspects spilling out into the green spaces.”

Space was created for the many large plazas, courtyards and greens by tearing down a number of low-rise buildings. Twenty of 22 large trees identified as “heritage trees” on the site were able to be saved, and 225 new trees were planted.

A rotating cast of student volunteers provided input from the very beginning of the planning process, which started in earnest in 2010.

“I tell the incoming students, when you guys were in the fifth grade we were thinking about where you would be living when you came to school,” said Calhoun.

Other highlights of the new district:

  • Each residential building contains common areas accessible to all students living in the dorms, complete with billiard and ping pong tables, video game stations, and party/event rooms.
  • Dining options include a made-to-order breakfast station (open all day), gluten-free options, a Mongolian grill, and booths designed for large groups of students.
  • The basketball courts located on Lane Avenue outside of the new recreation center are now only accessible to students. They’ve also been designed so that they can be covered at some point in the future, with outdoor courts placed on top of the new building (that’s in anticipation of Jessie Owens North, which currently contains indoor courts, eventually being replaced with an academic building).
  • The new trees planted in the district all have a trunk diameter of six inches or more, “so that they are substantial, and it wouldn’t be 60 years until you had a tree canopy,” according to Calhoun.
  • In response to student input, all laundry rooms are designed to be open, well-lit spaces. They are located on the first floor of each residential building.
  • The new dorm buildings all feature a similar layout, with two, 40-person communities on each floor (and one Resident Advisor for every 40 students). The rooms are mostly two-person suites with quarter-baths, but larger suites at the end of each hall – with full bathrooms and private living areas – are available for second-, third-, and fourth-year students.

Ohio State’s New North Residential District

10 Things You Must Know About VA Loans

Here’s 10 things you must know about VA Loans:

1. They’re reusable. You can use your full VA entitlement over and over again as long as you pay off the loan each time. But you may be able to obtain another VA loan even if you’velost one to foreclosure or currently have one.

2. They’re only for certain types of homes. If you’re planning to buy a working farm, a downtown deli or a fixer-upper, the VA loan may not be for you. It’s mainly designed forproperties in “move-in ready” condition, including single-family homes, condos, modular housing, some multi-unit properties and more.

3. They’re for primary residences only. Don’t bother trying to use your VA loan benefits to buy an investment property or a vacation home in the Poconos. VA loans are for primary residences, with few exceptions.

4. They’re not issued by the VA. The VA isn’t in the business of issuing home loans. Instead, the agency provides a guaranty on each qualified mortgage loan.

5. But they’re guaranteed by the government. If you have a VA entitlement, the agency typically guarantees up to a quarter of the loan amount. The guaranty gives lenders confidence and helps service members secure great terms and rates.

6. They’re available despite foreclosure or bankruptcy. Service members with a history of bankruptcy or foreclosure can secure a VA loan. Even borrowers who have had a VA loan foreclosed on can still utilize their VA loan benefit.

7. They don’t have mortgage insurance.Mortgage insurance is a monthly fee you pay with other programs when you’re not putting at least 20 percent down. The VA’s guaranty eliminates the need for any mortgage insurance or mortgage insurance premium, helping borrowers save even more money each month.

8. They come with a mandatory fee. There’s no mortgage insurance with VA loans, but there is the VA Funding Fee. This fee (usually about 2 percent of the loan amount) helps the VA keep the program going and is required on both purchase and refinance loans. It can be rolled into the loan amount and waived entirely for those with service-connected disabilities.

9. They have limits on co-borrowers. Some loan programs let you get a loan with just about anybody. That’s not the VA loan program. Having a co-borrower who isn’t your spouse or another veteran with VA loan entitlement who will live in the home with you will require a down payment. Not every VA lender offers these types of joint loans (Veterans United does).

10. They don’t have a prepayment penalty. You can make extra payments any time you want, saving you a boatload in interest over the life of your loan. You can even structure your payments to automatically deduct a little extra every month. Just an extra $100 per month can shave years and tens of thousands of dollars from the balance.

 

10 Things You Must Know About VA Loans

How to Buy Your First HomeBuying your first home is one of the biggest financial steps that you will ever make. It is important to take this decision seriously. You need to take the time prepare yourself in every aspect in order to make your home a blessing, and not a negative experience. Here are the basic steps that you should know on how to buy your first home.

Determine If You Are Ready to Buy a Home

You should determine if you are ready to buy a home. Home ownership is a lot more expensive than renting. You are responsible for paying for all the repairs. You may also have added utility costs, such as garbage and water. In addition to that you will need to pay for taxes and insurance related to your home. These costs add up quickly, and if you are not financially prepared, you may end up in a very negative position. You should take the time to get out of debt and save up an emergency fund, before you purchase your first home. You should definitely get rid of all of your credit card debt first.

Start Shopping for a Loan
Take the time to shop for a loan. You need to get pre-approved before you shop for a home. This will help you to look within your price range. You should contact at least three people before you decide which loan to take. A mortgage broker will look at several different loan companies to find you the best rates. However, your small local bank or your credit union may have options that will save you money as well.

Once you find a loan with the correct terms you can begin shopping.

Find the Best Payment Options and Loan Types
When it comes to your mortgage you may be surprised at the different loan types and payment options available to you. It can be baffling when you think about ARMS and PMI. Usually a fixed rate 15 or 20 Year loan is the best option.
This can help you lock in a low rate. You may be considering creative financing to cover the down payment, but you should be careful when you make these choices. You want to build wealth with your home purchase. If you make the wrong choice then you may end up hurting yourself financially.

Be Honest About What You Can Afford
You also need to determine how much home you can really afford. A good rule of thumb is to keep your mortgage along with your taxes and insurance between 25%-30% of your income. Other experts advise that your home cost be limited to two and half times your annual salary. It can be crippling if you are house poor. If you spend too much on your mortgage you may not be able to meet your daily obligations let alone save for retirement. A smaller house is worth the peace of mind.

Find a Good Realtor
Once you have determined how much you can really spend and are pre-approved you should find a good realtor. Your realtor should listen to your wants and needs carefully.
She may make recommendations or explain the market to help you find a home that suits your needs and that you can afford. She should offer several different options. Once you make an offer your realtor should work to negotiate terms that you are happy with. A good way to find a realtor is through the recommendations of friends and colleagues.

Request a Home Inspection
Another important step is a thorough home inspection. This is different from an appraisal. You should pay for the home inspection. The home inspector will look for hidden problems with the home. Through the home inspection you can learn about any issues that may prevent you from buying the home. This may include mold problems, termites, foundation problems and a bad roof. The inspection can save you thousands in repairs later on. Additionally you may be able to negotiate a lower price if you know the home needs a new roof.

Be Patient
Once you have bid on your home and the offer is accepted you will go into escrow. The escrow holder will work to make sure that all the documents, money and other necessary information is together before you close. Escrow is set up to protect the buyer, the seller and the lender. It can take time to complete escrow, although the time really depends on circumstances around your purchase. Once everything is completed for escrow you will sign the closing papers. You may or may not sign your mortgage papers at escrow. If you do, you can request that the bank send a representative to help you fully understand your loan.

Close and Move In
Once you have closed on your home, it is time to move in. You can paint, unpack and enjoy your new home. Be sure that you change your address with your bank, and other accounts. You can set up your utilities and cancel your old ones as well. This will save you time and money, because you will avoid late fees. Some companies will waive installation fees if you transfer your old account to your new address.

3 Steps to Overcome the Fear of Purchasing Your First Investment Property

3 Steps to Overcome the Fear of Purchasing Your First Investment Property

Establish a more powerful “why.”

If you have not come across the concept of having a strong “why,” this simply refers to the reason why you invest. This “why” must be so strong that when you think about it, tears come to your eyes. Anything less than that will be no match for fear.

As an example, my personal “why” is that I want to be able to control my time, and I want the one tool that, when large enough, has the potential to solve any problem (money).

I never want to have to explain to my future wife and children that I have sacrifice time with them to go to a job. I never want to be in a position where I am forced to explain that I am not able to give them every opportunity available for success or the tools to simply enjoy life. My “why” is tied to those that will be closest to me.

Increase your real estate IQ.

Lacking confidence in your education will keep you from closing on that first deal. The bright side is, you are in control! Get out and hit every real estate club meeting in your area, then narrow it down to the individual groups that bring the most value. Network with the individuals at these meetings. Some will even let you tag along when they inspect, appraise, remodel, or perform other tasks associated with their deals. This will give you an on-the-ground education.

Next, get on Amazon and have a stack of books hitting your mailbox every week. Some of the best books I have read I bought for one cent plus shipping. Vary your reading — not everything should be on real estate. If you want to become more sophisticated, you have to improve knowledge in every area of your life. I have broken my life down into health, wealth, love, and happiness. A large portfolio of properties giving you huge amounts of cash flow will be worthless if your health and relationships are in the toilet.

Increasing your knowledge will bring confidence to close the deal like a pro even when you may be a novice.

Destroy perceived obstacles.

The most difficult roadblock that we can ever encounter is a perceived obstacle. Why? Because it’s all in our minds. A fight against your own mind will almost always end with you losing. Some of the most common perceived obstacles that I see are the illusion of what a “good” credit score is and the amount of a down payment needed for the purchase of a home. Your credit does not have to be perfect, and with all the programs available from our local and federal government, these perceived obstacles to home ownership are an illusion.

What are some of the other perceived obstacles that stop us from taking the next step to our dreams?

I have found it helpful to make a list of the things I see as obstacles and then pass this list to another set of eyes that are independent of my situation to get feedback to help me identify any perceived obstacles that may be blocking me.

To sum it all up, there is nothing that should keep you in fear of purchasing that first property. There is so much money, knowledge, and professional help out there just waiting for you to grab it. You just have to take that first step to make it happen. 

3 Steps to Overcome the Fear of Purchasing Your First Investment Property

Central Ohio Home Sales Remain Strong Headed Into Fall

There were 3,116 central Ohio homes and condos sold during the month of August, a 4.8 percent increase over the previous year and a 1.5 percent increase over July. This was the highest number of closed sales for the month of August ever recorded and the second highest month for 2016, according to the Columbus REALTORS® Multiple Listing Service.

“Central Ohio home buyers are still being very aggressive in their decisions to purchase homes” said 2016 Columbus REALTORS® President John Royer. “Since demand for homes continues to be so high, potential sellers are encouraged to get their home on the market – they don’t have anything to lose”!

The average sales price of a home in central Ohio during the month of August was $204,629, a 3.3 percent increase over August 2015. The median price of a home sold in August was $174,000, up 5.5 percent from one year ago. Year to date (January through August), both the average and median sale prices are up 5.1 percent and 5.6 percent, respectively, from last year.

The average sales price is the total volume divided by the number of homes sold. The median is the midpoint — half the homes sell for less, while half sell for more.

The number of homes for sale in central Ohio during the month of August was 6,270, a 2.1 percent decrease from the previous month and a 21 percent decrease from August 2015.
There were 3,389 central Ohio homes and condos added to the market during August, a 2.6 percent drop from the same month one year ago and a 12.3 percent decrease from July.

“Inventory and new listings are beginning to taper, but this is to be expected as we head into the fall selling season” Royer said. “However it’s still a terrific time to list your home as buyers remain eager for inventory and home values remain high!”

During the month of August, central Ohio homes and condos spent an average of 34 days on the market, which is 29.2 percent (14 days) shorter than last year and just 1 day longer than July.

“Homes are continuing to fly off the market, even as inventory begins to dwindle,” Royer said.”

According to the latest Housing Market Confidence Index by the Ohio Association of REALTORS®, 98 percent of central Ohio REALTORS® would describe the current housing market as moderate to strong.

When asked what the single most important factor that they believed limited their buyers from purchasing a property so far this year, 92 percent said difficulty finding the right property (low inventory), four percent said ability to sell existing their home, two percent said low consumer confidence and 2 percent said no factor limited buyers.

Central Ohio Home Sales Remain Strong Headed Into Fall

Fed Leaves Rates Unchanged

Fed Leaves Rates Unchanged

Federal Reserve officials lowered their expectations for rate hikes in the years ahead Wednesday but teed up a likely move before the end of 2016.

 In a statement from the Federal Open Market Committee after this week’s meeting, the central bank expressed confidence in economic growth, but not enough to make a move this month.

“The committee judges that the case for an increase in the federal funds rate has strengthened but decided, for the time being, to wait for further evidence of continued progress toward its objectives,” the statement said.

Stock prices initially extended their gains after the Fed announcement but then lost some ground.

The tipoff for what could be a December move came at what appeared to be a remarkably divisive FOMC meeting, judging by the statement and an accompanying summary of economic projections.

Three members from the hawkish Fed bloc — Esther George, Loretta Mester and Eric Rosengren — dissented from the statement, an unusual split considering Chair Janet Yellen‘s adeptness at keeping the committee united. It was the most “no” votes since the December 2014 meeting.

Indeed, the so-called dot plot that shows individual members’ expectations indicated notably wider dispersion than the June meeting. While most Fed officials foresee a gradual increase of rates, one member expected the rate to be little changed from the 0.65 percent level all the way through 2019. Another member, meanwhile, put the rate expectation at 3.75 percent by 2019, more than a percentage point above the consensus.

Three members also indicated they do not want any hikes this year.

“The solid coalition is still going to be there with Yellen, (William) Dudley, (Stanley) Fischer and a handful of others. I think they’re still all in agreement,” said Kathy Jones, chief fixed income strategist at Charles Schwab. “I can only surmise there’s a division between those who think that we are in this secular stagnation world — slow growth for a longer time — vs. those who think it’s a cyclical issue that’s taking a very long time to play out.”

The increase likely would come at the Dec. 13 and 14 meeting, considering the Nov. 1 and 2 session comes just ahead of the presidential election and there is no post-meeting news conference scheduled.

“Most people were expecting some version of this, the idea that they weren’t actually going to hike rates but they didn’t want the notion that the Fed is never going to hike,” said Lewis Alexander, the chief U.S. economist at Nomura. “This pretty much met those expectations.” Fed Leaves Rates Unchanged.

Buying Your First Home Tips…..

Buying Your First Home Tips

Buying your first home can be an exhilarating experience.  But for many firsttime homebuyers, the process can also feel overwhelming, unless you have the right agent in your corner.

Check out our new reality video series, Home, First Home to learn all about what really goes on during the home buying process and some great tips.  Follow the experience of Tiffani Rios–a firsttime homebuyer and young mother–as she works to pursue the dream she shared with her late husband, Gustavo, to buy the perfect home for their young family.

Click here to watch the first video in the series and learn about the role of the buyer’s agent, and how they can help their clients make the most of the experience.  You can access more educational videos at youtube.com/bhgrealestate.

 

It’s well known that homes in good school districts sell for a premium—and are a good investment for buyers with or without children. But just how much can you expect to top up that listing price or bid? And what are the top school districts where people  are rushing to buy homes—regardless of the cost?

The economic research team at realtor.com® took up the challenge and dived into the data. The team compared homes in school districts rated 9 or 10, the highest score, by GreatSchools.org with homes in nearby districts rated 6 or less.

“It’s common knowledge that buyers are often willing to pay a premium for a home in a strong school district,” says Javier Vivas, research analyst for realtor.com. “Our analysis quantifies just how good it is to be a seller in these areas.”

It turns out, homes in the higher-rated public school districts are, on average, 49% more expensive—at $400,000—than the national median of $269,000, and 77% more expensive than schools located in lower-ranked districts in their own area, with a median of $225,000.

Plus, homes in higher-rated school districts sell an average of eight days faster than homes in below-average school districts, and four days faster than the national average.

People are more interested in homes in good school districts, too—they’re viewed 26% more, on average, than the average home on realtor.com, and 42% more than homes in areas with below-average schools.

Let’s check out the schools where you’ll shell out the most extra (or profit the most) for a quality public school education.

Top 10 school districts with the highest premium

1. Beverly Hills Unified School District, Los Angeles County, CA

Sixteen years after the hit teen show “Beverly Hills 90210” went off the air, the coveted ZIP code still has cachet. Homes in the top-rated Beverly Hills Unified School District (GreatSchools rating: 9) sell for an average 689% more (that’s $3.8 million) than other homes in Los Angeles County (a far more reasonable $550,000). BHUSD homes beat out those in nearby Santa Monica–Malibu Unified School District, which is rated 9 and has a median list price of $2.5 million, and more recently hip Culver City Unified School District, with a rating of 8 and a median list price of $975,000.

Beverly Hills High School, home of the BHHS Normans.
Beverly Hills High School, home of the BHHS Normans

Michael Tran/FilmMagic

2. Highland Park Independent School District, Dallas County, TX

Homes in the Dallas-area Highland Park Independent School District (rated 10) carry an average 632% premium, at $1.8 million, over the median-price home in Dallas County (a mere $277,000). Buyers would get a relative bargain in the neighboring Coppell Independent School District, which has a rating of 9 and a median home price of $470,000.

3. Kenilworth School District No. 38, Cook County, IL

The Chicago area’s Kenilworth School District No. 38 ranked third in the nation with a home price premium of 606% compared with greater Cook County. Homes in the district alongside Lake Michigan (rating: 10) go for a median list price of $1.6 million. But just a bit southwest, Wilmette Public Schools District 39 has a rating of 10 and homes that go for $780,000.

Rounding out the top 10 school districts with the highest price premiums are:

4. Indian Hill Exempted Village School District, Hamilton County, OH

5. Winnetka School District 36, Cook County, IL

6. Manhattan Beach Unified School District, Los Angeles County, CA

7. Scarsdale Union Free School District, Westchester County, NY

8. Saddle River School District, Bergen County, NJ

9. San Marino Unified School District, Los Angeles County, CA

10. Mariemont City School District, Hamilton County, OH


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