Questions to ask at an Open House or Showing

By Maddie Ogden

Open houses and house showings can be overwhelming, especially for first-time buyers. It is the first opportunity for you to see your potential new home. While these events are exciting, it is also the perfect time for you to ask important questions about the house.

You may be wondering, what sort of questions should I be asking? That is exactly what we are here for! Here are some questions you should ask both before and during an open house.

Questions to ask before the Open House or Showing

  1. How long has the house been on the market?
  2. Have there been any price reductions?
  3. Is it vacant? If so, how long has it been vacant?

Go over the following questions with your chosen real estate agent since they can be indicators of how desirable the property is.

  1. Why are the owners selling?
  2. Have there been any offers?
  3. When does the seller want to move?

Questions about the sellers expectations are also important to go over with your chosen real estate agent before an open house or showing. The answers to these questions hint at what the negotiation process will be like and how quickly the seller wants to close.

Questions to Ask During the Open House or Showing

  1. What are the house’s biggest problems?
  2. Has the house been tested for mold, radon, lead, and/or asbestos?
  3. When was the last time the roof was replaced?
  4. Is the house in a flood zone?
  5. How much do the utilities cost?

If you are seriously interested in purchasing the property, here is additional information about the community you may want to know. The answers to these questions will help finalize your decision to make an offer.

  1. What is the neighborhood like?
  2. What’s within walking and driving distance?
  3. Is there a Homeowner’s Association?
  4. What is the crime rate in the neighborhood?
  5. Where can I get information on the local schools?

Knowing information about the neighborhood is just as important as knowing information about the house.  If you don’t like the neighborhood the house is in, then chances are you will not be satisfied with the house.

Questions to Ask Yourself Before Making Your Offer

  1. Will my furniture fit here?
  2. What’s the cell signal like?
  3. What updates would I make, if any?
  4. Can I picture this house becoming my home?

Open houses and showings are an excellent way to gather information about a particular home that has caught your interest. Ultimately, you are the only one who can decide whether a house is right for you, or not.  We are here to help you find a home that is a perfect match for you!

3 Local Blue Ribbon School Winners Announced

National Blue Ribbon Schools Seal

We’d like to recognize and congratulate three schools in our area who recently received The Blue Ribbon Award:

  • St Paul School (private – Catholic)
  • Tyler Run (public – Olentangy)
  • Buckeye Woods (public – South-Western City)

The Blue Ribbon Award is given to schools who excel in certain areas. The program was developed in 1982 to recognize and encourage academic excellence or progress in closing gaps among student subgroups. The award is given by the U.S. Department of Education. The coveted Blue Ribbon Award highlights the hard work of teachers, students and families who are willing to challenge themselves to accomplish more.

The National Blue Ribbon School Flag is given to those schools who win so that they can fly it proudly at the entrance to the building, letting everyone know that the teachers and students at the school are determined to master the learning process.

Both public and private schools are eligible to win the award. This important achievement is about more than just educational excellence. It also rewards and recognizes those schools that have closed the gap between student subgroups. For instance, in schools where students are from minorities or low-income homes, teachers work harder to help those students receive a quality education they can be proud of.

Let’s Look at the Schools More Closely

St Paul School – Westerville, OH (private – Catholic)

Formed in 1961, St Paul School has provided a strong educational foundation for multiple generations of families living in Westerville, OH. As a parish school they continue the tradition of an excellent Catholic education while incorporating contemporary pedagogy and modern technology. They strive to keep pace with current educational practices, but their core value of instilling the importance of a life of service is paramount. They challenge students to use God’s gifts to identify means by which they can become productive adults who recognize that service to others, especially the poor and needy, is a principal goal in life.

Tyler Run – Powell, OH (public – Olentangy)

Tyler Run Elementary School (TRES) is successful due to the sense of community among students, staff, parents, and the community. Tyler Run facilitates maximum learning for all students through engaging in many activities to build leadership skills and celebrate diversity.

The heart of their leadership is the Tyler Run Tiger’s “Paw”sitive Promise. In their community, the focus is on Teamwork, Respect, Effort, Spread Kindness (T.R.E.S). Students and staff are reminded daily of the promise through a catchy chant with hand motions. These four behaviors are taught and expected as TRES builds a positive community. Students, staff, and the community gather together to celebrate the efforts of students in a quarterly town hall meeting by recognizing students who have consistently demonstrated these behaviors.

Buckeye Woods –Grove City, OH (public – South-Western City)

Buckeye Wood Elementary is the largest elementary school in the South-Western City School District (SWCSD). As such, they face a variety of unique challenges. One of their most pressing challenges has been making certain that each and every student’s unique social-emotional and academic needs are met. The SWCSD provides high quality curriculum resources and professional development. Buckeye Woods teachers use these resources and training, along with knowledge of their students’ strengths and needs, to make skillful instructional decisions. Formative assessments enable teachers to use data-driven decision making to the fullest advantage. Teachers customize and target instruction for all students and utilize an excellent support staff to provide interventions, as needed, to supplement and enrich classroom instruction.

We Support our Schools!

The Columbus Team supports efforts like this in our community because we know it makes our world a better place to live when children can get a great education. We understand that homeowners want to choose their school districts and we can direct them to the information they need.

If you aren’t sure which district is best for your family, you can review the “School Report Cards” produced by the State of Ohio. You can compare all school districts including Gahanna, Dublin, Worthington, Olentangy, and others to find the one that fits your needs.

The Columbus Team has compiled information on the parochial, private, alternative, and public schools in the Columbus area as well, and we would be happy to pass that on to you!

Information on Columbus colleges and universities is also available. We’re here to help home buyers and home sellers in any way we can.

Why Relocate to Columbus?

Why Relocate to Columbus?

Why Relocate to Columbus? The Columbus area is thriving in all major life sectors!

Continued Growth

A recent article by Forbes Media shared some news: the PGA TOUR Superstore chain will soon open a new location in Columbus, adding to the over 40 stores is has in 16 states. Recreation opportunities abound in central Ohio, and golf is one of our favorite pastimes. With Dublin being home to the annual Memorial Tournament it’s a surprise it took them so long!

Job Opportunities

For professionals hoping to relocate here and build a new career, the outlook keeps getting better…

A recent search on LinkedIn showed over 37,000 current jobs in the Columbus Metropolitan Area. Of those, almost 33,000 were full-time positions. The industries ranged from healthcare to logistics, to marketing, and many more. Columbus’ economy is healthy!

Living Conditions

ABC 6 News ran a story on the results of a U.S. News survey on the 125 Best Places to Live in the USA. The survey looked at populous metro areas. The criteria included value, desirability, job market, and quality of life. Columbus not only made the list but did very well. We were named the 36th best place to live in the United States. Columbus was praised for many reasons, including: 

  • A prosperous economy
  • A young and energetic atmosphere
  • Sports teams and nightlife

The city was also lauded for one of the best metropolitan areas to retire in!

Smart City

Here’s something to brag about, and a great reason to relocate to Columbus: The Intelligent Communities Forum announced that Columbus “is one of the seventh smartest cities in the world and the most intelligent in the U.S.” In fact, it was the only city in the U.S. on the list. Columbus won the Smart City Challenge in 2016 and received millions in funding to improve people’s quality of life, drive growth in the economy, provide better access to jobs and ladders of opportunity, become a world-class logistics leader, and foster sustainability. You can read more about the efforts on the Smart City website.

Recreation & Culture

In terms of lifestyle and culture, Columbus pretty much as a lot of everything! It’s what the moving comparison site Unpakt called a “foodie hub,” and one of the popular areas for food is the North Market. And the Short North.  And downtown.  We have to mention the food trucks too! Honestly, it doesn’t matter where you go in Columbus, we love good restaurants with delicious food, and it shows in the quantity and quality of choices available here.

There are so many reasons to love Columbus.  There’s the renowned Columbus Zoo, rated one of the best in the country, a thriving and abundant art, and music community, and the fact that it’s a very family-friendly city with many activity options. There are always multiple events to choose from happening all across our city every day.  It also has a relatively low cost of living!

Cost of Living

Speaking of the cost of living, Sperling’s Best Places gives Columbus an overall rating of 85.5 out of 100. Anything below 100 means the cost of living is less expensive than the U.S. average. Perhaps the best news is that the cost of living for Housing is ranked 68.2/100. The Median Home Cost in this survey was $157,700, compared to a national average of $231,200. Housing is the most significant factor in the cost of living difference for Columbus.

As you can see, there are many great reasons to relocate and live in Columbus! Are you thinking of relocating here? Do you need a partner to help you plan your path? The Columbus Team is here for you! Find out how we can help. Call (614) 888-6100. Or text one of our REALTORS on their direct line.

How to Buy your First Investment Property

How to Buy your First Investment Property

Want to invest in real estate in Columbus, Ohio? If you’re not sure where to begin or what you should be considering, read these tips to start your successful real estate investment portfolio.

The Columbus Team’s Top 10 Tips for buying your first investment property:

  1. Ensure your financial house is in order
    Eliminate all debt if possible. School loans, credit cards, medical bills, and any other areas you may owe money. Not having all these bills allows you to save down payments for your investments faster. It also removes the financial pressure to help you make better, less emotional decisions throughout the process of the purchase.
  2. Save the down payment
    Save a minimum of 20% down. If this is an investment property, a minimum of 20% is required down before you can get a mortgage. If you can pay the entire cost in cash, you have a better chance of winning the contract in tight markets with limited inventory. Sellers will often take an all-cash deal that is less than one that requires lenders be involved. The more you save and pay upfront, the better your cash flow will be while you own it.  
  3. Start small.
    Consider investing in an affordable single-family home or duplex first. Keep your investment small so you can net returns faster from the rental income or sale, then take those profits and invest in your next property. Operating expenses and repairs are the most reasonable in this type of real estate. Purchasing multi-family units, commercial real estate, or apartment buildings require a more substantial investment and monthly operating expenditures.
  4. Establish your parameters.
    Know exactly the type of property you’re looking for. Choose the neighborhood, school district, and price point of the property you are targeting.
  5. Amass your professionals.
    To keep your profits in your pocket, it’s best if you have some repair skills yourself. You can save a lot of money by being able to replace a leaky faucet or repair drywall and paint. If you don’t possess these skills, you’ll have to source some affordable local laborers who can do the work for you. Keep in mind this will impact your operating budget. Drywallers, plumbers, electricians.  Forging relationships with these people and knowing what the charges are ahead of time will make your investment life easier. Add an excellent REALTOR who will be looking for potential investment properties that meet your criteria. S/he can also connect you with reputable service professionals when needed.
  6. Secure a loan, if required.
    Take advantage of any period of low-interest rates to use a mortgage when purchasing. A lower interest mortgage will keep your operating costs at a minimum and your profits at a maximum. Interest rates are slightly higher on loans for investment properties, so be sure to account for that in your budgeting.
  7. Plan for Expenses and Profits.
    Determine your financial break-even point and how much income needs to be produced to cover your expenses and turn a profit for further real estate investments in Columbus. Also, consider whether the property will need renovations before you can rent or re-sell it. With your first investment, you may not yet have the professionals you can count on in your contact list. You may best purchase a home that does not need immediate repairs or even consider a turn-key home with reliable renters already living there.  In a turn-key scenario, you will not immediately need to interview and vet new renters.
  8. Consider a partner.
    An investment partner may be an idea for cost-sharing and profit-sharing and may allow you to start investing earlier. Keep in mind that, like a marriage, a partnership’s success or failure depends on the commitment and shared goals of the people involved. Who you choose may simplify or complicate the process and outcome.
  9. Keep your emotions in check.
    From finding the right property to dealing with adversity in an income-producing home, you must learn to keep your emotions in check. From the purchase to negotiating with tenants and partners can be sidelined by emotions. You’ll need a cool head and a laser-like focus on your plan to keep your new business profitable.
  10. Evaluate Risk & Reward.
    Any investment has risk and potential for reward. If you follow your plan and don’t make decisions based on emotion, you will reduce your risk and increase your chances for financial reward.

Follow these tips, and before you know it, you’ll have purchased your first investment property and be looking for your second!

Tips for Buying a Condo

Are you in the market for a condo? Buying a condo, or condominium, opens the door to a flexible lifestyle. It’s a great option for households wanting to downsize, professionals on the go, or aging individuals that don’t want the upkeep of a single-family home. 

The following are tips for buying a condo… 

  1. Determine if buying a condo is the right type of home for you. Condo living isn’t for everyone and there are different types of condos to consider as well. Research the condos in your area. Just as if you were purchasing a single-family home, take into consideration the location, proximity to your place of work, etc.
  2. Hire a real estate agent that specializes in condos. Your realtor can help you through every step of the process. Since condos can have different financing and procedures associated with the purchase, a realtor will ensure you’re doing every by the book and getting the best price when buying a condo.
  3. Find out if the condo is FHA (Federal Housing Administration) approved. An FHA loan may allow you to have a lower down payment. This can be a huge saving no matter your circumstances, but in particular for first-time home buyers. 
  4. Know what’s included with the condo. Condos typically have an association fee. These can fluctuate depending on the square footage if your building has elevators, or the amount of lawn care that is required, amenities included, etc. Find out how much the fee is and if it will increase over time. Before buying a condo, ensure the fees and any exclusions that apply are in writing. 

    In addition, determine if things like a parking spot, garbage pickup, or storage space are included in the purchase. Get these items in writing as well and know if they’ll be available upon closing. We also recommend learning who the maintenance company or garbage vendors are so you don’t have any surprises. Ask your realtor to help you ensure nothing is being missed.
  5. Review the condo association’s rules. Just as important as knowing what’s included with the condo, is learning what the association’s rules are. If you have a dog, for example, make sure the condo is pet-friendly. Condo living means being in close proximity to your neighbor, therefore setting rules are important for the association but be sure they are rules you can live with before buying a condo.

Our team is happy to help you with any questions you have about buying a condo. Contact us to meet with one of our condo specialists and learn more about your options for condos in Columbus & central Ohio.