While the Federal Reserve is working hard to bring down inflation, the latest data shows the inflation rate is still going up.

You no doubt are feeling the pinch on your wallet at the gas pump or the grocery store, but that news may also leave you wondering: should I still buy a home right now?

Greg McBride, Chief Financial Analyst at Bankrate, explains how inflation is affecting the housing market:

Inflation will have a strong influence on where mortgage rates go in the months ahead. . . . Whenever inflation finally starts to ease, so will mortgage rates — but even then, home prices are still subject to demand and very tight supply.”

No one knows how long it’ll take to bring down inflation, and that means the future trajectory of mortgage rates is also unclear. While that uncertainty isn’t comfortable, here’s why both inflation and mortgage rates are important for you and your homeownership plans.

When you buy a home, the mortgage rate and the price of the home matter. Higher mortgage rates impact how much you’ll pay for your monthly mortgage payment – and that directly affects how much you can comfortably afford. And while there’s no denying it’s more expensive to buy and finance a home this year than it was last year, it doesn’t mean you should pause your search. Here’s why.

Homeownership Is Historically a Great Hedge Against Inflation

In an inflationary economy, prices rise across the board. Historically, homeownership is a great hedge against those rising costs because you can lock in what’s likely your largest monthly payment (your mortgage) for the duration of your loan. That helps stabilize some of your monthly expenses. Not to mention, as home prices continue to appreciate, your home’s value will too. That’s why Mark Cussen, Financial Writer at Investopedia, says: 

Real estate is one of the time-honored inflation hedges. It’s a tangible asset, and those tend to hold their value when inflation reigns, unlike paper assets. More specifically, as prices rise, so do property values.”

Also, no one is calling for homes to lose value. As Selma Hepp, Deputy Chief Economist at CoreLogic, says:

“The current home price growth rate is unsustainable, and higher mortgage rates coupled with more inventory will lead to slower home price growth but unlikely declines in home prices.”

In a nutshell, your home search doesn’t have to go on hold because of rising inflation or higher mortgage rates. There’s more to consider when it comes to why you want to buy a home. In addition to shielding yourself from the impact of inflation and growing your wealth through ongoing price appreciation, there are other reasons to buy a home right now like addressing your changing needs and so much more.

Bottom Line

Homeownership is one of the best decisions you can make in an inflationary economy. You get the benefit of the added security of owning your home in a time when experts are forecasting prices to continue to rise.

Read more at Keeping Current Matters.

While most tourists stop at the German Village, Columbus Museum of Art, Huntington Park, and the Columbus Metropolitan Library, there’s much more to this city in Ohio than just tried-and-true, popular attractions. There are also unique eateries, eclectic museums, and breathtaking parks that may change your perception of nature. After booking your Columbus vacation rental, put these hidden gems on your must-see list and wander off the beaten path.

1. Early Television Museum

Located in northwestern Columbus, the early Television Museum will blow your kids’ minds — and maybe even your own. This quirky little museum contains a collection of rare, vintage television sets that date back to before World War II. You’ll sea the big, boxy American-made Andrea 1-F-5 with a 5-inch screen and General Electric’s 12-inch screen with attached speaker manufactured in 1939. The museum also has a collection of pre-war British television sets, as well as early mechanical TVs of the 1920s and 30s, postwar TVs, and early color TVs. Explore the gradual growth and development of one of America’s most popular pieces of technology.

2. Topiary Park

Despite the Topiary Park’s location in the heart of Columbus, it’s a low-key, quiet green space missed by most in favor of the more popular Goodale Park. Other than a quiet atmosphere, the park boasts bushes trimmed to reproduce the people and animals of the well-known Seurat painting. Stroll along the paths and admire the artistry, or join the people-shaped bushes in lounging by the pond. The park is just down the block from both the Columbus Museum of Art and the Kelton House Museum and Garden, so you can explore all three in one afternoon.

3. Battelle Darby Creek Metro Park

Because of its location on the western outskirts of the city, the Battelle Darby Creek Metro Park is definitely not usually a top attraction. However, if you get a vacation rental out in the suburbs, you can easily explore this 7,000-acre space at your leisure without crowds jockeying for space. Plus, the park has miles of trails through forests, fields, and rivers, regular family-friendly events, and bison. Take the easy 2-mile Ancient trail along Darby Creek to where For Ancient once stood, or opt for the scenic lake trail. The park also has nature centers, play areas, and picnicking areas along with tons of activities. Go kayaking along the river or do some fishing in the lake. If you visit during the winter, there’s cross country skiing and ice skating available.

4. Rambling House Soda

Rambling House Soda is a like a brewery, but with homemade soda instead of beer. While it serves good old favorites such as sarsaparilla, ginger beer, and lemon lime, it also has the new flavor of the week and an entire line of Columbus Cola. Think Cinnamon or kola nut flavors. Once there, enjoy the easy, laid back live music scene; bluegrass musicians add ambiance to the Rambling House experience, soothing all your tense muscle. The shop has a local following, but its low-key atmosphere puts it out of the way of most tourists. Afterwards, pick up some Ohio State Pizza across the street for dinner.

5. Book Loft

The Book Loft, a hidden gem, is located in the German Village, one of the most popular areas in Columbus. Not only does this store boast 32 rooms filled with books, but the buildings that houses the enormous collection are all historic, dating to before the Civil War. Peruse the stacks while enjoying the old architecture. Get some eats at Mo Joe Lounge next door, a great place to take a lunch break during your book-shopping extravaganza.

6. The Old Mohawk

The Old Mohawk is another German Village establishment known and loved by the locals. Once upon a time, it was a speakeasy, an underground watering hold during the prohibition. Now it’s a tavern catering to all types of people whether they be families or individuals who want a cold drink after work. While The Old Mohawk serves up your favorite drinks, it also has an extensive menu for both adults and children ranging from quesadillas and sandwiches to homemade meatloaf and season specials.

7. Billy Ireland Cartoon Library and Museum

Kids and kids-at-heart are sure to love this museum dedicated to cartoons of all types throughout the ages. There are political cartoons from the 1800s, old comic strips (Peanuts, anyone?), and even manga, appealing to the younger generations. You can even view cartoons from other countries. The museum hosts regular events and workshops. The museum is located on the Ohio State University campus, so you can follow it up with a visit to the Wexner Center for the Arts and a stroll through The Oval.

8. Cornhenge

If you want to add a unique destination to your Columbus trip, make your way to Cornhenge, a field filled with giant sculptures of corncobs. The 109 6-foot tall cobs were built in honor of Sam Frantz in the very field where he created hybrid corn. However, the monument isn’t just about corn, it’s about the history of the land back to the Native Americans. Cornhenge is located in the northwestern metro era, a nice breath of fresh air from the urban hubbub of downtown Columbus. Plus, the nearby Kiwanis Riverway Park makes this a great area to get a vacation home in for the duration of your stay.

9. Eddie Rickenbacker Childhood Home

Appreciate local history and heroes by visiting the Eddie Rickenbacker Childhood Home, located in east Columbus. In order to support his family, Eddie quit school to work full time in the 6th grade, eventually moving into race car driving before being swept up in the war. He was just as good, if not better, in an airplane. He shot down 26 enemy aircraft in a year and was awarded the Medal of Honor. This National Historic Landmark is one of the few areas dedicated to the war hero.

Read more Tripping.com

If there is a home that you would like more information about, if you are considering selling a property, or if you have questions about the housing market in your neighborhood, please reach out. We’re here to help.

It’s easy to get carried away when designing the backyard of your dreams.

A pool? Yes! Sunroom? Of course! A new fence? Why not?? But the truth is that not all of these backyard features will be a selling point once it’s time to sell your home. 

We’ll explore the backyard features that offer the best return on investment, the nuances of a deck vs a patio, and how to stretch your money for the best backyard – on a budget.  

Do Decks Add Value To A Home? 

Short answer – yes. Long answer: decks are a practical way to add livability (i.e. square footage) to your home in a cost-effective way. Research shows that homeowners recoup at least 76% of their investment which is one the highest returns of any home improvement project. On average, the cost of a wooden deck is about $13,000 with a resale value of about $11,000. So it’s a safe bet for increasing your home value! 

Not only does it add monetary value, but if you enjoy the outdoors – it adds enormous value to your quality of life. Outdoor spaces that are conducive to cooking, eating together, hanging out, or watching the stars will create opportunities for family memories that you didn’t have before.  

Decks vs. Patios 

After you’ve decided to move forward with a deck (great choice BTW) it’s time to get into the details. Do you want to build a deck – and if so, made of which material? Or is a patio a better choice for you? 

Wooden decks are the best choice because they’re affordable to build and desirable to buyers. Composite decking is pricier and doesn’t provide the same resale value – but it does offer higher durability than wood decks.  

Now to patios: typically, patios are built on a concrete slab. They’re commonly set with flagship stone, or a sand and pebble base. They are also built on ground-level, whereas decks are built above-ground. Patios are a great choice if you have a level area off your home and you’re interested in a small space for seating or a patio table. Decks are a better choice if you have a large space you’d like to convert and you don’t have a level backyard. 

Note the amount of direct sun your backyard gets as well. While building, this is a great time to decide on whether or not a covered area is right for your deck or patio. If you have brutal summers or not enough tree coverage, opt for at least partial shade. If you live somewhere temperate or with great foliage, you can probably leave the coverage out. 

Backyard Features That Add Value 

In addition to your deck, there are other profit-driving (and quality-of-life enhancing) outdoor features you can add to your dream backyard. Our 5 favorite backyard features that add value to your home include: 

Privacy Features 

Bushes, fences, and bamboo add depth and detail to the lines of your backyard – but they also serve an important function. Depending on your proximity to other neighbors, you might have total visibility into your backyard which is less than ideal. Instead of sharing your memories with the nosy family next door, consider bush installations that add both beauty and privacy. 

Shade Features 

On the same note, and a great suggestion to consider if your backyard lacks mature trees, is the concept of shade features. Pergolas, fruit trees, vines, and other larger growth is a great way to add vibrancy and life to your backyard, while also granting you some necessary relief. These are inexpensive options that continue to grow in both size and value over time – the larger they are, the more shade they provide. 

A Swimming Pool 

Swimming pools are a polarizing feature. For some, they’re a must-have. For others, they’re high-maintenance and high-overhead. Think through the potential buyer of your home: do many people in the area want/have pools? Then it’s likely a good choice for your area. If you install an expensive pool though, don’t expect a high return. In-ground pools can cost between $30,000 and $100,000 to install, and recouping that investment depends greatly on who is buying. However, if it’s not about resale value, and it’s just about enjoyment – there’s nothing better than floating in your personal pool on a hot summer day. 

A Fire Pit 

Fire pits vary greatly in size, scope, and materials. Some people want them purely for function: a place to warm up and toast marshmallows on cool nights. Others create architectural statements that are luxurious and stylish. These obviously come with heftier installation costs. Think through your use of a fire pit and your objectives for your home value. Heavier investments will yield higher returns, but it’s not worth it if you don’t see the opportunity for consistent use. 

An Outdoor Kitchen 

Outdoor kitchens are a luxury, but they’re quickly becoming a backyard status symbol in certain climates. If outdoor livability is high in your area, an outdoor kitchen will pay for itself in a matter of months. Although they can cost anywhere from $15,000 to upwards of $100,000 – it’s best to keep it simple. NAR reports state that an inset grill, stainless steel drawers, a sink and 60 square feet of counter space is plenty for an adequate and functional cooking space. Plus, it makes sense financially! For a simpler install, homeowners can expect about a 71% return on investment. Who’s ready for dining al fresco? 

Knowing which outdoor features offer the best returns and drive the most value is an important step in designing your dream backyard. Even if a home sale isn’t in your immediate future, it’s best to make updates with your home’s worth in mind. If you’re thinking about selling – but don’t want to undergo the hassle and cost of updating your outdoor space, call Curbio! You don’t pay a dollar until your home sells, and with homeowners pocketing an average of $50,000 more in profit, every dollar counts.

Read more Curbio

If there is a home that you would like more information about, if you are considering selling a property, or if you have questions about the housing market in your neighborhood, please reach out. We’re here to help.

Between April 1 and September 1, 80 percent of Americans move into a new space—from recent grads swapping dorms for their first apartment to those looking to make the most of the reliable weather. If you’ve previously had to grapple with fitting all of your belongings into a handful of boxes, coliving company Common is here to help by partnering with professional organizer Caroline Solomon. Follow her dos and don’ts, and packing (and unpacking) all your necessities will be as pain-free as possible—even when that means narrowing down your mug collection. 

Do: Declutter First, Pack Later

While going full Marie Kondo prior to a big move may feel like common sense, Solomon says decluttering in preparation for packing needs to go deeper than weeding out the items that don’t spark joy. “Put aside the part of your brain that holds onto those ‘just in case’ items, and focus on what you reach for on a daily, even monthly basis,” she explains. 

So while the immersion blender you bought for one soup recipe may seem to have a future of usefulness, if you haven’t pulled it out in three months, it may be time to part ways. “We can all stand to lose a few mugs along the way,” Solomon says, laughing.  

Don’t: Stuff It All In

It may be tempting to overload every box full to the brim, saving the amount of stuff you actually have to transport, but Solomon insists that technique is a recipe for disaster. “Limiting the categories will make unpacking that much easier,” she says. “It just means to not throw in extra books with the bath towels.”

For fragile items and kitchenware, use any extra space to add more protective padding. Solomon cuts down on waste by wrapping glassware and padding small appliances with hand towels and that day’s newspaper. 

Do: Set Aside a Priorities Box

Solomon suggests setting aside a box or two of things you’ll need right away—think: bedsheets, coffee maker, bath towels, and silverware. No one wants to finally chill out at the end of a long moving day only to realize that their beloved bathrobe is somewhere at the bottom of a pile of wardrobe boxes. 

To keep all of that cardboard organized, Solomon recommends color-coding each box’s label by room. “Our brain gets overloaded when writing down more than four categories,” she explains. “And then we just get kind of lazy; color allows for immediate recognition.” 

Don’t: Start Too Early

Whether it’s due to anxiety or excitement, a common gut reaction to signing a new lease or closing on your dream home is to start preparing right away. However, in order to maintain a high morale until the very end of this stressful time, Solomon recommends not starting to pack or organize until a maximum of three weeks out. “You have to be aware that you’re still living in your old place,” she says. “Even if your mind has moved on.” No one wants to live in a warehouse-like living room for months on end. The most difficult part of moving season should be parting ways with your college alumni coffee mug, not keeping up your routine while looking forward to your new digs. 

Read more…

If there is a home that you would like more information about, if you are considering selling a property, or if you have questions about the housing market in your neighborhood, please reach out. We’re here to help.

April marks sixth consecutive month of declines for contract signings.

Pending home sales continued spiraling downward in April, a 3.9% decrease from a month prior, resulting in an index reading of 99.3, according to data released Thursday by the National Association of Realtors.

In March the index’s reading was 103.7. An index of 100 is equal to the level of contract activity in 2001.

The decline marked the sixth consecutive month of decreases and the 11th consecutive month of year-over-year drops for the Pending Home Sales Index. According to NAR chief economist Lawrence Yun, it’s the slowest pace of contract signings in nearly a decade.

“The escalating mortgage rates have bumped up the cost of purchasing a home by more than 25% from a year ago, while steeper home prices are adding another 15% to that figure,” Yun said.

Yun expects existing home sales to fall by 9% in 2022 with home price appreciation leveling off to 5% by the end of the year.

“If mortgage rates stabilize roughly at the current level of 5.3% and job gains continue, home sales could also stabilize in the coming months,” Yun said. “Home sales in 2022 are expected to be down about 9%, and if mortgage rates climb to 6%, then the sales activity could fall by 15%. Home prices in the meantime appear in no danger of any meaningful decline. There is an ongoing housing shortage, and properly listed homes are still selling swiftly – generally seeing a contract signed within a month.”

All four major U.S. regions recorded year-over-year decreases in contract signings. The Northeast saw the largest drop at 14.3% to a reading of 74.8. Month over month, the South (119.0), the West (85.9) and the Northeast (74.8) saw decreases of 4.7%, 4.3% and 16.2%, respectively. The Midwest was the only region to record a monthly increase (6.6%), bringing its index to 100.7.

Read more Real Trends.