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So many lenders to choose from when trying to finance a home!

by The Cincinnati Team

A headache is sure to follow as soon as you sit down to assess how or if you can buy a new home.   Where will you find the funds to do so and who will you ask to help lend you money?  Hopefully, you can gain some insight on lenders from the following article from the website of Home Builders of Greater Cincinnati and this process may feel less daunting!

http://www.cincybuilders.com/financing.html

Please feel free to call us with any questions and visit our lenders page where other clients have gone for financing assistance! 

10 Things to Ask Your Contractor Before You Start Your Project

by The Cincinnati Team

Ask these questions before signing with a contractor for better communication and fewer surprises along the way!

Remodeling or building a new home is a big financial and emotional investment. It can also be a big investment of your time if you want to be closely involved in the decision-making. Knowing what to expect before the project gets started will help you better prepare for the process. Here are 10 questions you should always ask your contractor before starting a home remodeling project.

 

1. What is our schedule? A schedule is more than just a start and end date. Having a schedule that outlines tasks and timing will give you a big-picture view of sequencing and deadlines for things such as tile and countertops. It will also give you a benchmark so that you know if things are slipping by a day or two. 
 

With small projects such as kitchens and baths, schedule is everything. The cabinet lead time determines the start date and sub-trades need to be scheduled in quick succession, for instance. Don’t start without a schedule that tells you what days and times workers will be on site.

2. Who will be here every day? Depending on the size and structure of the company you hire, the answer could vary widely. Many remodelers use a lead carpenter system, where a staff member (sometimes called a superintendent) is responsible for day-to-day work on site, and often swings a hammer as well. Ask your contractor direct questions about who will be responsible for opening and locking up, who will supervise subcontractors on site and who to call on a daily basis with any questions.

3. How will you protect my property? This is a conversation best had before demolition, not after you come home and find dust all over the house. There are a number of dust-containment measures that can be taken, and talking about it ahead of time will provide you will a clear idea of how the construction area will be cordoned off from the rest of your home and how you'll be able to move through your house. 

There’s also the issue of stuff — all the books, furniture, drapes, delicate vases and paintings on the wall. It’s helpful to remove them all from the construction zone. This includes anything hung on walls or sitting on shelves in adjacent rooms, since they can shake loose from persistent hammering. If you leave them as-is, it will cost to have them moved and moved again to keep them out of the way, and you risk damage in the process. It's better to move it all at once and know it’s safe and sound.

4. How will you communicate with me? With every mode of electronic communication at your fingertips, you may have some ideas about how you would like to receive information about your project. Your contractor likely has specific ways he or she likes to communicate, too — daily emails, cloud-based schedules or maybe just phone calls.  Make sure you understand how you will be contacted and receive information. If the contractor's format doesn't give you what you think you'll need, agree on a method and format so that you’re not in remodeling limbo on a daily basis. Weekly meetings at a specific time are an effective way to make sure you see your contractor in person to get your questions answered.

5. What part of my project concerns you? There’s always something unknown about a project, or an area that is most likely to trigger an immediate change order. Odds are, your contractor already knows what that is. Talking about it upfront and running some worst-case-scenario numbers or doing some early, selective demolition to get more information could be the best way to get a handle on what may be ahead. 

6. What will happen if there is a change order? Change orders can be easily handled in your construction contract. A common way to document change orders is in writing, where the change in scope of work and the price are noted and signed by the client and contractor. Some contracts also note the change in schedule, if applicable. Make sure you have a plan in place to document the unexpected and expected changes that happen along the way.

7. How will you let me know I need to make a decision? There are many ways to organize a list of decisions — from spreadsheets, to lists, to notes on a calendar. But all of these methods focus on the same outcome: giving you clear direction about what and when you need to make a decision on something. Asking for a list and deadlines will help you keep organized and ensure you are able to shop for materials and make decisions in time to meet your contractor’s schedule.

8. How do I reach you after hours? Knowing how to reach your contractor on an emergency basis is just as important as your contractor being able to reach you. Exchange all your numbers — work, cell and landline — so that contacting each other won’t be a crisis in itself.

9. When do I need to be available to meet? Even if you set up a regular weekly meeting, there may still be necessary additional meetings. We usually schedule an electrical walk-through on the day the electrician sets boxes and can lights so that everyone can review their placement and function before wires are run. Another key day is when the tile-setter works on layout. There are a number of ways to set tile, and having an on-site meeting is the best way to make these decisions. It’s also possible to have your architect or designer attend those meetings in your place.

10. What kind of documentation will I receive when the project is done? Contracts frequently call out end-of-project paperwork — lien releases, marked-up plans with as-builts on plumbing and other utilities, copies of inspection reports, etc. But there may be additional items you will find valuable: a full set of mechanical photos before insulation is installed, the operating manuals for installed equipment (and a personal lesson in their operation if you don’t know the basics), a list of subcontractors and contact info, care for things such as countertops and tile and a well-marked electrical panel. Confirming that you will receive these things before you get started will help ensure that you finish the project with all the information you need.

(From Houzz Jan. 2015)

Check out these monthly tips on maintenance for October!

by The Cincinnati Team

Here is what I read recently about younger home owners:

"Generally speaking, millennials are not known to be obsessive home DIYers. In fact, as a group, they tend to shy away from serious home maintenance," says Ed Padilla, the founder of the Association of Certified Handyman Professionals.

So maybe this idea of a monthly maintenance calendar would help you not have to spend so much money? Here is a link to Realtor.com for activities to do in the month of October.  https://www.realtor.com/advice/home-improvement/home-maintenance-checklist-october/​

GOOD LUCK! It is important to maintain your home! Call us if you need any service providers in the Greater Cincinnati area for the tough jobs! We have a list of who past clients used and liked. Thanks, Saralou 513-646-4819 or Mary 513-310-4448

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Up and Coming Kitchen Trends

by The Cincinnati Team

Want to see what is trending in renovating kitchens?


http://www.trendinghomenews.com/2017/08/coming-kitchen-trends/?token=B95BF000-F998-42E7-8F21-57A23E07C0D0&final=1

Enjoy this article and email us any thoughts you may have!  Saralou@CincinnatiTeam.com 

Tomorrow is World Read Aloud Day!

by The Cincinnati Team

Hope you can find someone, young or older to read aloud to. This year on February 16th is "World Read Aloud Day." Please visit the website below and try some activities!

 http://www.litworld.org/wrad

 

 

Dining out in your hometown - Cincinnati

by The Cincinnati Team

Saving Your Hard Earned $$$

14 Ways to Save When Dining Out

  1. Slash your everyday expenses. Think one less specialty coffee, soft drink and candy bar a week.
  2. Keep your eyes open for new restaurants in town. They typically offer grand opening specials.
  3. Check your local newspapers for advertisements of lunch and dinner specials, early bird specials; look for coupons, too.
  4. Take advantage of the chambers of commerce and visitors centers—even in your own town. You’ll find great restaurant discount coupons.
  5. Limit eating lunch out, and try brown bag lunches.
  6. Dine out during the week rather than on the weekends. Often the menu prices climb over the weekend.
  7. Do lunch instead of dinner. Lunch menus usually offer the same entrees as dinner,  just smaller portions and a smaller check.
  8. Go vegetarian. Vegetarian entrees are usually less expensive than ones made with meat.
  9. Go ethnic. Some ethnic foods are better bargains than others. You can get a lot of food for the money in Chinese, Mexican, Italian, Indian and Thai restaurants.
  10. Dine early. Many restaurants offer specials before 6 pm It’s perfect for making a show on time or for parents who need to make an early night of it.
  11. Share an entrée or stick with the appetizer menu. Many restaurants serve portions that are too large for one person to finish.
  12. The markup on alcoholic beverages in restaurants is high. Instead of having a drink with dinner, have a glass of wine or some brandy after you get home.
  13. Have a candlelight dinner at home and then go out for coffee and dessert.
  14. Instead of eating in a restaurant, order out! It’s customary to tip a few dollars to the delivery person, but not as much as at a restaurant, where the usual tip is 20 percent.

Homeowner’s Net Worth is 45x Greater Than a Renter’s

by The Cincinnati Team

Homeowner’s Net Worth is 45x Greater Than a Renter’s

Every three years the Federal Reserve conducts a Survey of Consumer Finances in which they collect data across all economic and social groups. The latest survey, which includes data from 2010-2013, reports that a homeowner’s net worth is 36 times greater than that of a renter ($194,500 vs. $5,400).

In a Forbes article the National Association of Realtors’ (NAR) Chief Economist Lawrence Yun predicts that in 2016 the net worth gap will widen even further to 45 times greater.

The graph below demonstrates the results of the last two Federal Reserve studies and Yun’s prediction:

Comparison of net worth for renters and home owners

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Put Your Housing Cost to Work For You

Simply put, homeownership is a form of ‘forced savings’. Every time you pay your mortgage you are contributing to your net worth. Every time you pay your rent, you are contributing to your landlord’s net worth.

The latest National Housing Pulse Survey from NAR reveals that 85% of consumers believe that purchasing a home is a good financial decision. Yun comments:

“Though there will always be discussion about whether to buy or rent, or whether the stock market offers a bigger return than real estate, the reality is that homeowners steadily build wealth. The simplest math shouldn’t be overlooked.”

If you are thinking of Selling, NOW is the Time!

by The Cincinnati Team

If you are thinking of Selling, NOW is the Time!

Seasonality in Real Estate: How Weather and the Time of Year Affect Housing!

Weather and the time of year have a big impact housing activity, and in every housing market there are times of the year when fewer homes sell. For most, that time of year coincides with the winter months, and in much of the U.S., that’s the case right now.

But no matter where you live, it’s important to know how seasonality affects the housing market. So let’s look at the current housing numbers, how seasonality affects them, and what it means for you if you’re looking to buy or sell.

With few homes available, sellers are in pole position

Last year, limited inventory dominated the headlines for the real estate industry, and that trend looks to continue this year. According to the National Association of Realtors (NAR), inventory dropped 12.3 percent from November to December, falling to 3.8 percent lower than December 2014. That equated to just a 3.9-month supply of homes.

Generally speaking, a 6-month supply of homes (meaning it would take six months at the current sales pace to sell all the homes on the market) represents a balanced market, one in which there are enough homes to meet demand. For much of 2015, inventory remained well below a 6-month supply, and will likely remain so for 2016.

Why is inventory so constrained? Part of the sharp drop in December is due to the seasonal slow down in many states. Cold weather and holidays keep many buyers out of the market and many sellers waiting for demand to pick back up. Additionally, new home construction came to a standstill when the housing market crashed, so there are fewer new homes available. Existing home inventory is low as well. A combination of factors, such as locked-in low interest rates and a sense that home prices will continue to increase, are keeping current homeowners from listing their homes.

If you’re thinking of selling, this market is very much a seller’s market. When inventory is scarce, buyers are forced to compete over the few homes for sale. Homes are selling faster, and in many markets bidding wars drive home prices up well above asking. At the very least, you’ll be in a strong negotiating position.

Economic Conditions and Home Affordability Continue to Sideline Buyers

For buyers, the market is tough, and the low number of first-time buyers illustrates just how tough it is. In a separate study conducted by NAR, first-time homebuyers in 2015 made up the lowest share of the market in nearly three decades.

Many factors are keeping first-time home buyers sidelined. Despite a strengthening economy and job growth, wages have remained relatively stagnant. At the same time, rent prices have skyrocketed and continue to rise. Combined, these factors are preventing millennials from saving enough for a significant down payment.

At the same time, home affordability continues to suffer. Home prices have risen quickly over the last three and half years, again outpacing wage and job growth. Prices are expected to rise more modestly this year, somewhere around 4 to 5 percent.

These factors combined with limited inventory are making it difficult for buyers to find the home they want at a price they can afford. However, if you’re thinking of buying, it is important to start looking sooner rather than later…

Mortgage Rates& Increasing Finance Accessibility

In February, mortgage rates remain near record lows. According to Freddie Mac’s Mortgage Survey, the average mortgage rate for a 30-yr FRM was just 3.65%. Despite tough market conditions, these rates present an excellent opportunity if you’re thinking of buying.

In a piece of good news for buyers, it should be easier to get financing in 2016. Fannie Mae's fourth quarter 2015 Mortgage Lender Sentiment Survey™ shows that lenders expect to ease mortgage credit standards for GSE-eligible loans and government loans over the next three months, opening the door for more buyers to get financing.

If You’re Thinking of Buying, Act Sooner Rather Than Later

If you’re thinking of buying a home, it’s important to act sooner rather than later. As the year goes on, affordability will continue to suffer. With home prices expected to increased around 4 to 5 percent this year and mortgage rates expected to rise to around 4.5 percent, the longer you wait to buy, the less home you’ll be able to afford. Even small increases in mortgage rates and home prices can have a large impact on your future monthly mortgage payment!

Clean your washing machine

by The Cincinnati Team

Maybe you never considered that something that exists to clean would need to be cleaned regularly. Giving your machine a periodic clean-out using bleach and vinegar (in separate cycles!) helps to eliminate residue left behind by soaps, and improves the ability for your machine to clean your clothing thoroughly. A must-do if you’re sitting at home with a few hours to kill!

Getting your laundry back on track starts with just two items*:
• 1 quart of bleach (many tutorials went without the bleach step, if you’re concerned about using harsh agents in your laundry)
• 1 quart of white vinegar

* Some of you might be thinking: But wait, isn’t it dangerous to mix bleach and vinegar? The answer is yes, but we will not be mixing the two here. Read on …

Alternate option: Vinegar with baking soda will do a very good job of cleaning the inside of your washer and leave it smelling fresh, but I would suggest a couple of cups vinegar, rather than a whole quart.

Fill the empty washer with hot water, as if you’re doing a large load of laundry. Add the quart of bleach, and let the full machine run for one minute to mix up the bleach with the water. Open the top of the machine and let it sit, all bleach-y and full, for an hour. At the end of the hour, shut the cover and let the machine run a complete cycle. (The water will drain out all the bleach, so it won’t have a chance to mix with the vinegar.)

When it’s done, start again. This time, when you fill the washer with hot water, add the quart of white vinegar to the water and down the bleach channel and let the machine run for a minute to agitate the water and vinegar. After that minute, open the top of the machine and again, let the hot water sit in the basin for an hour before you let the cycle complete.

- See more at: http://blog.diynetwork.com/maderemade/2013/04/30/get-your-laundry-back-on-track/#sthash.hixqu3S6.dpuf

Thinking of remodeling a bathroom?

by The Cincinnati Team

 

 

Displaying blog entries 1-10 of 471

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Photo of The Cincinnati Team - Saralou & Mary Real Estate
The Cincinnati Team - Saralou & Mary
RE/MAX Preferred Group
3522 Erie Avenue
Cincinnati OH 45208
Saralou: 513-646-4819/Mary: 513-310-4448
Fax: 513-842-7892

                Preferred Group                                                Last modified: 8/28/17