How to Build Neighborhood Connections

If you’ve recently relocated to a new neighborhood, you may find yourself struggling to break the ice with your neighbors. It can be a little daunting to just knock on doors unannounced, and in today’s day of texting and “connections at a distance” could be considered outright rude.

Still, neighborhoods are only as good as their neighbors. In a world where so many people recognize neighborhood cars over the faces of people who live around us, there’s a lot to be said for making an effort to connect with the people who live up and down the block. So how do you make those first few casual connections which lead to meaningful bonds?

Here are some tips for forming new connections with your neighbors:

  1. Throw a “move in” garage sale. Yes, most people have garage sales before they move out of their old house in order to reduce the amount of clutter they have to pack, but garage sales draw lots of local foot traffic and present super opportunities to get to know who lives nearby. If you didn’t have a garage sale before you moved, or you think you might still have some stuff to unload, why not throw a garage sale in your new ‘hood? Bonus tip: Have some free refreshments on hand.
  1. Stroll the streets. Want to get to know and be known? Get out there on foot. A routine morning or evening walk is a perfect way to say howdy and stop for a chat. Don’t wear headphones. Be open to conversations. Observe who’s out and about and use compliments and open ended questions to spark a little small talk.
  1. Be of service. If you have a skill you can share, offer it up to those nearby. This may be something small, like knife sharpening, or it may be a group project like power washing houses. Good deeds and shared labor build bonds.
  1. Start a group activity. Posting flyers for a book group, running club, or even routine cocktail hour or monthly potluck is a perfect opportunity to bring people together through a shared activity.

Step back from social media and make those neighborhood connections “IRL” (In Real Life). They can make all the difference when it comes to establishing yourself in the community.

Looking for a great new neighborhood? I’d be happy to help you sell your old home or find a new one: Teresa Butler, Worthington Realty, 614-565-8161, Teresa@TeresaButler.com

What You Need to Know about HOAs

If you’re a first-time buyer and are confused about what a Home Owners Association is (or does), you should definitely ask the right questions before you consider buying. Basically, an HOA is an organization which is designed to protect the quality of life and property values for owners within a neighborhood or shared building. How they do so, though, can vary widely. Typically when you purchase a residence subject to an HOA, you’ll be required to pay monthly dues which often contribute to major repairs or maintenance or the upkeep of common/shared resources.

But HOAs can also have a significant impact on what you can and can’t do with your own home. The HOA’s rules are detailed in what’s called covenants, conditions and restrictions (CC&Rs). To understand how strict an HOA is (or isn’t) you’ll want to understand the details of its CC&Rs before you consider buying. These might have reasonable restrictions, such as keeping junk cars out of the front lawn, or they might extend all the way to what color you can paint your garage door.

HOAs are typically of greater concern to condo buyers than single-family home buyers, but they cannot be overlooked when searching for your next residence. Here are some questions you’ll want to ask yourself and the HOA before you make an offer:

  1. How comfortable am I sharing decision making about my own home? Yes, you own your property, but if you agree to abide by the CC&Rs of an HOA, you’ll need to be willing to abide by its rules.
  1. How much are the HOA fees, and how much have they increased over time? Your budget can be seriously impacted not only by current HOA fees, but anticipated increases. Sometimes HOAs can even require residents to chip in for major repairs or upgrades beyond HOA fees.
  1. What are all of the CC&Rs? Get a copy of the CC&Rs and make sure you understand all of the rules. Furthermore, see if you can sit on on an HOA board meeting or obtain notes from past meetings. This will help you understand the temperament of the HOA as well as the type of past conflicts residents have had with the board.
  1. Is the home (or unit) you’re considering in compliance with the HOA’s CC&Rs? If you’re considering an offer on a problematic property, understand a real hassle may follow.

If you like the idea of a group of neighbors who set community or building standards, a residence with an HOA may be for you. But if not, don’t worry! There are lots of other homes out there. Get in touch today:

 

Teresa Butler, Worthington Realty, 614-565-8161, Teresa@TeresaButler.com

Don’t Move It, Sell It!

Want to know the secret to an easy move? Move less stuff.

It’s obvious, but it’s true. You can save time, money, and the anxiety of finding the right place for extra stuff if you simply take the time before your big day to declutter. While you may have stuff that’s destined for the dump, the odds are you have a lot more stuff which could find a better home with someone else. So how do you quickly and easily declutter your home before the move?

  1. Start with a garage sale. You never know who will want the odds and ends that don’t seem worth moving, or who might pay top dollar for that snow ski equipment you won’t need in Florida. The garage sale is a reliable way to offload your junk. (And if you don’t have a garage sale before you move, consider having a “moving in” garage sale when you arrive. That won’t help with the ski equipment, though.)
  1. Sell your stuff online. Facebook Marketplace, Craigslist, eBay, and Nextdoor are all perfectly good venues for finding buyers. While some are more hassle than others, there’s no faster way to make sure a large number of people see what you have to sell. Just keep in mind that safety is a priority when meeting strangers to sell your stuff. Beware of scammers and never invite strangers into your home if you can help it.
  1. App it up! There are multiple competing apps for selling stuff privately, including OfferUp (offerup.com), Gone (thegoneapp.com), and LetGo (letgo.com). Best of all, these work directly from your smartphone, making it easy to snap pics and post ads in a hurry.
  1. Trade in, don’t truck it. Many retail chain outlets will provide you with a way to trade-in items for credit, especially if the items are consumer electronics, games, or mobile devices. Even if the trade-in amount is low, it beats sending the stuff to the landfill.
  1. Donate it! Just because you don’t want to use it anymore doesn’t mean that someone out there can’t benefit from it. Get a tax deduction and do a good deed by dropping off unwanted possessions with Goodwill Industries or the Salvation Army. It’s good for the community, the planet, and your sense of well-being.

Don’t let extra clutter drag down your move. Set aside time before the big day to send your stuff into the world (and maybe even put a few bucks back in your pocket)! It might just buy pizza on your first night in your new place.

Contact Teresa

Sell it faster with buyer feedback

A second pair of eyes on an important document often helps spot mistakes or awkward phrasing we might miss on our own. Therapists help guide countless people through difficult situations with an outsider’s viewpoint. The same is true with selling a home: Buyers can see what’s holding your house back.

Naturally, some buyers believe complaints will help them lower the price when negotiation time comes around, but more often than not buyer feedback offers valuable insight. As the owner, you are frequently too familiar with your home to see it (and smell it!) with a buyer’s point of view.

Common buyer complaints include:

  • Foul or off-putting odors from animals, cigarette smoke, mildew, or a “closed up”
  • Poor lighting or a “dark” feel to the rooms
  • Worn flooring, dirty walls, or nasty wallpaper

Almost all of these complaints are easy fixes and involve cleaning, paint, or some floor replacement. Though a buyer could easily undertake these projects after buying the home, the initial negative impression is enough to put them off the house for good.

If you’re not living in your home while it’s on the market, you might also discover unexpected reasons why buyers were dissuaded from making an offer. If you have renters who make access to the home difficult or refuse to remove their aggressive pets from the premises, you won’t know without some feedback from buyers. “Stagnant house syndrome” is another potential problem, so it’s good to know if buyers feel like a home is airless and gloomy.

Finally, buyer feedback can alert you if there have been any vandals or pest infestations.

I always automatically send you feed back from the buyers to find out what they thought of the house… good and bad. It’s crucial to get this feedback. If, for instance, buyers consistently complain about things which can’t be changed (such as major floor plan issues or proximity to a busy road), it may be necessary to adjust the listing price on the house. On the other hand, if they are relatively simple cosmetic fixes, it’s possible to consider inexpensive upgrades.

It helps to think of your relationship to buyers as a collaborative one. They like your home enough to consider buying it, and you can learn from why they passed.

Perfect pricing and preparation are key to a quick sale. Let me help you with both: Teresa Butler, Worthington Realty, 614-565-8161, Teresa@TeresaButler.com

What you need to know before you buy a home

Okay, first-time buyers… it’s time to turn the dream into the dirt you can stand on. Your very own home. I’m sure you have questions. In fact, I’m sure your questions are like most first-time buyers. Which is why I’ve put together this down-and-dirty answer guide for the most common questions home buyers have.

  1. What kind of credit score do I need to have?

Generally, 630 or above is what you’ll want to have. The better your score, the better the terms will be on your loan. Some lenders may give you wiggle room on this, but it all depends on the circumstances. A loan professional can help you navigate this as you go.

  1. How much of a down payment is required?

There are loans which will let you in for as low as 3% – 5% of the value of the home, but I would consider 5% to be the floor. More is better, especially if your credit isn’t as optimal as you’d like it to be. Working with a loan officer will help.

  1. What’s the first step to home buying?

Getting pre-approval for a mortgage. Don’t shop for a home until you know what you can afford. There’s no use in falling in love with a $300,000 home in your dream neighborhood if the banks will only write you a loan of $150,000.

  1. How much do I have to pay my real estate agent?

As a buyer, you don’t have to pay your real estate agent. The seller is responsible for listing fees and a portion of those fees will be paid to your agent for helping with the transaction.

  1. Why should I use a real estate agent?

Like a lawyer, doctor, or other professional hired to represent your interests, the agent will not only advise you about the transaction, but protect and facilitate the process.

  1. How long does it take to buy a house?

After you find the home you want to buy, it takes between 30 and 45 days, generally. The home search can take longer, however, so have a clear idea what you’re looking for and able to afford. (Your agent can help you with this. Another reason to have one on your side!)

Naturally, there’s more to buying a home, but this covers the basic introduction to the process. As your agent, I will walk you through the rest, guiding you along the way. When you’re ready to make the move, reach out to me: Teresa Butler, Worthington Realty, 614-565-8161, Teresa@TeresaButler.com

Don’t Get Caught Underwater: Flood Insurance

It’s a nightmare situation, and we’ve all seen it on the news before: Water lapping at people’s roofs, furniture floating in inundated living rooms, and entire livelihoods swept away by floods. Almost any waterway can become a flood threat if the conditions are right. What would you do if you found your home facing a rising water line?

Most people don’t realize that basic homeowners’ insurance policies don’t cover flood damage. Think snow damage or hurricanes are covered by your policy? Check again. Many companies will not pay out for repairs from water events such as these.

Some facts you should know about flood insurance:

  • Premiums for flood insurance will vary based on home construction, year, and estimated risk.
  • There’s a 30-day waiting period before coverage goes into effect. (Don’t get caught shopping for a last-minute policy because you see a big storm coming!)
  • If you buy flood insurance while you’re engaged in the mortgage process, you may waive the 30-day waiting period.
  • The U.S. government will not provide flood assistance unless the area is declared a disaster zone.
  • If you’re selling a home in a flood plain, recognize that the flood insurance requirement may be viewed as a major negative in buyers’ eyes.
  • Flood maps can change, so it’s a good idea to check net for information.
  • Flood insurance doesn’t necessarily cover everything in your home, so be aware of the terms of the policy.

While the decision to purchase flood insurance is ultimately up to you, provided you’re not required by your lender to have it, you should ask yourself if the savings is worth the risk.

Be prepared for floods by reading up on them at the ready.gov website here:

http://www.ready.gov/floods

You can also learn more about flood insurance at FEMA here:

http://www.fema.gov/national-flood-insurance-program

Curious who offers flood insurance in your area? Get in touch and I’ll refer you to someone I know and trust: Teresa Butler, Worthington Realty, 614-565-8161, Teresa@TeresaButler.com

 

5 tips to predict home values in any neighborhood

How do you predict the value of a neighborhood? While no one can say for sure how home values in a neighborhood will rise or decline over time, there are big-picture economic factors that you can look for to help get handle on where they may be going.

  1. Major regional employers. If a community depends upon one or two large companies for a high percentage of local employment, you can bet that as the company fares, so will the neighborhoods. While “company towns” are hardly the norm these days, don’t overlook the possibility.
  1. Number of properties currently for sale. Sometimes there’s nothing wrong with a neighborhood just because the inventory (i.e. number of homes on the market) is high. Other times, something may be amiss. If you’re seeing street-after-street of “FOR SALE” signs, ask questions.
  1. Major construction. Is that a new school they’re building, or is it a supermax prison? Did they clear that land for a new shopping center, or is it a new loop for the interstate? Certain types of construction can improve home values while others can hurt. Getting in touch with the local planning commission as well as the local newspaper’s business section (or website) can help illuminate what’s behind those bulldozers and cement mixers.
  1. Rental density. People who own the homes they live in tend to take better care of them. Also, it’s preferable to have long-term neighbors versus high-turnover tenants. Absentee landlords or seasonally rented properties can also be a drag on a neighborhood. Get a feel for the rental density and the direction it’s heading. Rental density matters.
  1. Environmental conditions. One industrial accident that poisons a water supply is enough to annihilate home values. How susceptible is the region to extreme weather? Don’t rule out environmental liabilities or benefits.

Nobody’s crystal ball is perfect, but to ignore major macroeconomic factors is dangerous. Even if you’re only planning on staying in a location for 5 – 7 years, do yourself a favor and try to position yourself to make, not lose money, on your home with these tips in mind.

Have questions about a neighborhood in Central Ohio? I’m happy to help. Get in touch today:Teresa Butler, 614-565-8161, Teresa@TeresaButler.com

 

What it Means to Sell a House “As Is”

Sometimes people inherit a home they simply need to unload and other times they don’t want to make the effort to make repairs or tune up the home’s curb appeal. For these home owners looking for a quick sale, they often think selling a home “as is” is the way to go. If you’re like most folks, you might think the “as is” sale means “take it or leave it” and “what you see is what you get.”

But an “as is” sale isn’t necessarily a cakewalk. It doesn’t mean you’re completely exonerated from taking some responsibility for the home’s condition. While advertising a home “as is” lets buyers know they’re likely to have to do some work, it also broadcasts that the home is probably going to be a relatively good deal, provided they’re willing to take on repairs.

“As is” doesn’t relieve you from disclosing problems with the home. What you know about, you must disclose by law. Failure to do so could get you into hot water. If you know about a problem but hope it slips by the buyer’s inspector, you’re at risk.

And that’s another thing: “As is” homes still go through the inspection process. While your “as is” sale may indicate your unwillingness to make repairs, it doesn’t mean the buyer won’t ask you for compensation based on condition issues. You may not come out of pocket, but it could come right off the top of your listing price, so keep this in mind. What’s more, once these conditions come to light you generally must disclose them to future prospective buyers if the current one bails.

With any luck, your “as is” buyer will be a cash buyer, but if not, prepare for the appraisal. Banks don’t want to loan money unless they deem the value of the home is acceptable. If the appraisal comes in low, your buyer may find themselves without the funds necessary to meet your price.

Building a new home in Central Ohio?

 

Thinking  of building a new home? Not sure how to start? Put my new home experti

 

se to work for you by allowing me to guide you through the process. I have had vast experience with new home building throughout my 34 years in real estate. Whether custom or production, I can help make the journey easier.

 

Browse communities, floorplans and builders in the Central Ohio area on my new home site. Find out prices, availability, home sites and special deals. Save your favorites. This is your one stop shop for new homes in Central Ohio: http://showingnew.com/teresabutler

How to Buy a Home with Bad Credit

Do you believe your negative credit history disqualifies you from buying a home? That might not be the case. And even if you’re not in the position to buy today, there are some simple, effective actions you can take to boost your future prospects.

If you’re like most people, buying a home means securing a mortgage. To secure that mortgage, you need to convince banks you’re a good bet. Here’s how to start on the path to making your dream home a real home:

 

  1. Work towards a 10% down payment: Down payment assistance is very difficult to get without a credit score north of 640. So if you’re below the line, you’re going to help your odds of pre-approval by proving you have 10% down to put on your home. That 10% is especially helpful if your credit score is sub-550. Above 550 you might be able to land an FHA loan with only 3.5% in equity.

 

  1. Make moves to rebuild your credit: You don’t have to be perfect to improve your access to better mortgage terms. Here’s how to put points back on top: 1) Pay down your highest credit card balances first. 2) Get your credit report and look for errors you can correct or dispute. 3) Identify any outstanding debts or collections which you can manage to get cleared either through full payment or negotiated settlement. If you can push your rating above 620 you’ll not only get closer to better terms, but generally you’ll experience less scrutiny during the approval process.

 

  1. Get a realistic picture of your debt-to-income ratio. Focus on doing what you can to bring your debt-to-income ratio below 45%. Mortgages do exist for people with higher ratios, but generally credit scores are well above 600 for this to become a reality.

 

  1. Understand your “seasoning period.” If you’ve experienced a bankruptcy, foreclosure, or short sale scenario, it may not be possible for you to secure a mortgage for at least three years (and sometimes two, depending on the situation). Use this time to work on the three tips above!

 

If you’d like to begin hunting for your next home, I am happy to help guide you. Or, if you need a referral to a reputable mortgage professional, get in touch! I have a network of trusted folks I work with every year: Teresa Butler, Worthington Realty, 614-565-8161 or Teresa@TeresaButler.com

1 2 3 4 28