You want to put your best foot forward when you’re getting ready to list your house. A fresh coat of paint, shiny new appliances, spa-like bathrooms — the list of home staging renovations goes on and on. It’s tempting to want to try every one in the hopes of driving the list price up. But there’s a ceiling on pre-listing renovation ROI. And not everything is going to pay off on closing day, especially if the potential buyer is eyeing your lovingly updated home as a design issue that needs to be fixed.

Four real estate agents shared the changes they advise you to skip — and how they’d update to demonstrate potential, not show off design prowess, to get the most out of your listing.

Polish — Don’t Replace — the Flooring

“Have your hardwood floors shined and polished before the first open house or staging,” suggests Theresa Raymond, principal broker and owner with Tennessee Smoky Mountain Realty.

Don’t go the extra mile of pulling up perfectly good flooring just to mimic what you’ve seen on Insta-worthy open houses. “Your next owner may just tear it up and set something trendy like vinyl flooring or decorative flooring instead of hardwood,” says Raymond.

Present the Kitchen With Potential, But Don’t Redo It

If you have a kitchen that hasn’t been touched since 1940, you may need to make some updates. But if you’re looking at a kitchen that’s dated but functional, just make sure it’s clean and clutter-free. Raymond explains, “Eight out of 10 buyers prefer customizing their kitchen. No matter how you stage it or make a renovation, current homebuyers will prefer to arrange the kitchen room in their way.” She suggests presenting it as a space with potential that could be easily customized to the buyer’s preferences, rather than throwing a dart at the wall with a total redo.

Don’t Knock Down Walls Just Yet

It’s easier to take walls out than add walls back in. Let the buyer envision how they might open the space up without doing it for them. “Buyers prefer more of a customizable space or room,” says Martin Carreon, broker and owner with Soco Wine Country Properties. You can’t anticipate whether a buyer will want to carve out a home office or create a separate dining area, so let them put their own stamp on it.

Leave the Kitchen Cabinets As Is

Painting kitchen cabinets can cost a pretty penny, and it’s at the top of the list for many buyers as soon as they get into their new home. But that doesn’t mean you should spend your own money painting them before you list. 

Kurtis Forster, a real estate agent with Nu-Vista Premiere Realty, explains, “People are painting cabinets red, blue, green, and more. I like this trend, but everyone has a different style so doing this right before selling isn’t always the best idea.”

You may think that new sage green is going to grab a buyer’s attention when they’re scrolling through Zillow, but they may see it as another $5,000 they’re going to have to spend painting them blue, or white, or whatever their heart desires. Leave them as is and you’ll spare the cabinets another layer of paint.

A Fresh Coat of Paint Is All You Need

“If you want to give the interior of your home a fresh coat of paint before selling, I’d recommend keeping things neutral,” Foster says. You don’t want to spend significant money on bold paint choices that you think look great… right before you sell (so you won’t even get to enjoy it!). A buyer may look at it and see it as another renovation they need to make, whereas a neutral is an expected blank canvas.

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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.

A little optimism can help propel you when things get difficult in the homebuying market. But if you’re feeling too good about your chances of buying this year — good in ways simply not justified given the current economic conditions — you could find yourself disappointed, at best, and unsuccessful or overextended, at worst. 

About 28 million Americans plan on buying a home in the next 12 months, according to NerdWallet’s recent annual Home Buyer Report. Typically, they’re hoping to spend $200,000. This will be extremely difficult when the national median sales price of all homes, including condos, is $342,000, according to the latest data from Zillow. 

Home prices have skyrocketed over the past two years. The housing market was overrun with buyers competing for too few available homes; pair that with low mortgage rates, and prices were driven skyward. They’ve come down a bit since their peak of $363,000 in June 2022, according to the Zillow data, but are unlikely to sink significantly in a broad-based fashion in 2023.

So, where will buyers find homes selling for $200,000? Not likely in the markets they’re hoping; high-demand markets command higher prices, and that’s always the case. And this analysis of recent sales prices and a generous forecast of where prices could fall in the coming year find buyers will be hard up for that kind of bargain in most areas across the nation.

Buying at current prices

Even if home prices stop growing this year, a $200,000 budget won’t go far in most markets. In fact, median sales prices haven’t been that low since early 2016. Of the 614 areas with available October 2022 Zillow pricing data, just 204 have median sales prices of $200,000 or lower. Most are smaller towns, as the dataset includes metropolitan and other areas with populations as low as 10,000 people. The largest of the metro areas with a sub-$200,000 sale price is Dayton, Ohio, with a population of 807,000. 

Among the 50 largest metro areas, the average, typical price for this past October (the most recent data available) was $419,000, according to the Zillow data. Buyers who hope to purchase in these more populated areas should brace themselves for sales prices far above $200,000. These geographic areas are not only city centers, but generally include surrounding neighborhoods and even suburbs, so don’t assume a commute will knock six figures off the prices you see.

Even if prices fall, they won’t likely fall far

But just for fun, what if prices do fall in a measurable way? Growth in sales prices was fast and painful for buyers over the past few years, and those high prices aren’t sustainable in some markets. The most likely scenario in 2023 is that prices will come down slightly in some areas but stabilize in others. They’re unlikely to plummet in a broad-based fashion. 

Even if prices gave up half of their recent growth, few would be within that median buyers’ budget of $200,000. 

From 2020 through October 2022, the most recent month for which data is available, sales prices grew 30% across the nation and as much as 50% or more in some metropolitan areas. In Austin, Texas, for example, sales prices rose 51%, from $347,000 in 2020, on average, to $525,000 in 2022. In Phoenix, AZ, they rose 48% during that period, from $312,000 to $462,000. 

But what if all markets nationally gave up half of their steep 2020-22 growth? Still, fewer than half would have homes priced below the $200,000 threshold. Among the 50 most populous markets, just 6% would fall below $200,000. And the typical national sales price would still be $294,000.

Click here to view a table with current median sales prices and 2020-2022 growth rates in more than 600 areas across the country. 

Glimmers of hope for 2023 buyers 

This isn’t all to dash dreams of buying in the next year. If the history of buying and selling homes in the United States has taught us anything, it’s that millions will be successful, even in tough economic times. But hopefuls should be more realistic than optimistic. Knowing what headwinds you might face can help anchor your expectations and drive the kind of planning that ensures you won’t get in over your head. 

Consult with a local real estate agent to learn a realistic budget for the area where you hope to buy. Also, use a home affordability calculator to understand better how a mortgage payment will fit in with your other financial obligations.  

Some good news for 2023: Sellers no longer have sole control; the market is more balanced than it has been, mainly because demand has come down due to higher mortgage rates. This means there’s more room for negotiations on things such as price, closing date, inspections and so on. But buyers will need to remain flexible, especially if their budget is at the lower end. A few hundred thousand may not go far enough in the hottest markets, but careful hunting in other areas and a willingness to forgo some “must haves” on your wishlist can make homeownership more likely a reality than a dream. 

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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.

As a general rule, I tend to worry way too much about seemingly small things—and buying my first house was no different. As my closing date drew near, the title company began sending me instructions about how to wire over my down payment, which was tens of thousands of dollars.

Included in their instructions? Big, bold warnings about wire fraud. I was seriously freaked out. When it came time for me to transfer my down payment, I called the title company a half-dozen times to verify their account information, double-check the wiring instructions, and, finally, to confirm that they received my payment. 

When all was said and done, my money made it to the right people at the right time—and I was able to buy my house (and take a deep breath of relief!). But things don’t always go so smoothly. There’s a reason why your title company, lender, and real estate agent will make sure you’re hyper-aware of the potential risks of wiring huge sums of money: Wire fraud.

What is wire fraud? This cybercrime is not just limited to real estate—it can occur anytime someone is “wiring” money, aka transferring it electronically to another person or entity. In real estate, it can occur when a fraudster poses as your real estate agent, lawyer, or title company representative, then convinces you to wire your down payment to their account, never to be seen again.

It’s a scary thing to think about, and it’s very real. In 2019, the FBI received 23,775 complaints for business email compromise, which includes wire fraud, with losses topping $1.7 billion.

So, what can you do to make sure you don’t fall victim to this scam? For starters, read everything your real estate agent or lender sends you about wire fraud. Read it twice. Know that this scam exists and keep it top of mind.

The title company should send over specific wiring instructions for your down payment via some form of secure, encrypted communication platform. If you get an unsolicited email or phone call about wiring instructions, be skeptical. Never give out your financial information over email or to someone who contacted you—if they’re already involved in the transaction, they should have this information already.

Once you get the wiring instructions and have read through them thoroughly, look up your title company’s phone number online, call the public number directly, and ask them to go over the instructions with you over the phone. Do not assume that a phone number you received via email is accurate—remember, it could be a scammer posing as your title company. 

“I always instruct my clients to call and verify before sending any funds via wire,” says David Dye, a real estate agent and mortgage broker in Los Angeles. 

Even better? Stop by the title company’s office in person—they should be able to independently tell you the account number, transfer amount, date, and other relevant details.

Before you get anywhere close to wiring money, learn as much as you can about your specific closing process, including a detailed timeline. Scammers often call or email you with an urgent request or a sudden change of plans—this is a surefire sign that you’re being defrauded. If you understand the timeline and due dates ahead of time, you won’t be so easily fooled if someone tries to make an unexpected change to the plan.

“Most phishing emails will say that there have been some last-minute changes about closing, and they’ll ask you to send money to a different account, which belongs to the scammer,” says Andrina Valdes, chief operating officer of Cornerstone Home Lending. “Do not do this under any circumstance. If anything seems strange or ‘phishy,’ call your lender or realtor directly.”

Unfortunately, if you become the victim of one of these scams, it’s difficult to get your money back, as wire transfers can’t be refunded or reversed. Even so, you should reach out to the FBI’s Internet Crime Complaint Center ASAP, as well as report the fraud to your bank and file a police report. The main thing to keep in mind? Taking precautions ahead of time is the best way to avoid wire fraud.

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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.

67% of Americans say a housing market crash is imminent in the next three years.

With all the talk in the media lately about shifts in the housing market, it makes sense why so many people feel this way. But there’s good news. Current data shows today’s market is nothing like it was before the housing crash in 2008.

Back Then, Mortgage Standards Were Less Strict

During the lead-up to the housing crisis, it was much easier to get a home loan than it is today. Banks were creating artificial demand by lowering lending standards and making it easy for just about anyone to qualify for a home loan or refinance an existing one.

As a result, lending institutions took on much greater risk in both the person and the mortgage products offered. That led to mass defaults, foreclosures, and falling prices. Today, things are different, and purchasers face much higher standards from mortgage companies.

The graph below uses data from the Mortgage Bankers Association (MBA) to help tell this story. In this index, the higher the number, the easier it is to get a mortgage. The lower the number, the harder it is.

This graph also shows just how different things are today compared to the spike in credit availability leading up to the crash. Tighter lending standards have helped prevent a situation that could lead to a wave of foreclosures like the last time.

Foreclosure Volume Has Declined a Lot Since the Crash

Another difference is the number of homeowners that were facing foreclosure when the housing bubble burst. Foreclosure activity has been lower since the crash, largely because buyers today are more qualified and less likely to default on their loans. The graph below uses data from ATTOM to show the difference between last time and now:

So even as foreclosures tick up, the total number is still very low. And on top of that, most experts don’t expect foreclosures to go up drastically like they did following the crash in 2008. Bill McBride, Founder of Calculated Risk, explains the impact a large increase in foreclosures had on home prices back then – and how that’s unlikely this time.

“The bottom line is there will be an increase in foreclosures over the next year (from record level lows), but there will not be a huge wave of distressed sales as happened following the housing bubble. The distressed sales during the housing bust led to cascading price declines, and that will not happen this time.”

The Supply of Homes for Sale Today Is More Limited

For historical context, there were too many homes for sale during the housing crisis (many of which were short sales and foreclosures), and that caused prices to fall dramatically. Supply has increased since the start of this year, but there’s still a shortage of inventory available overall, primarily due to years of underbuilding homes.

The graph below uses data from the National Association of Realtors (NAR) to show how the months’ supply of homes available now compares to the crash. Today, unsold inventory sits at just 2.7-months’ supply at the current sales pace, which is significantly lower than the last time. There just isn’t enough inventory on the market for home prices to come crashing down like they did last time, even though some overheated markets may experience slight declines.

Bottom Line

If recent headlines have you worried we’re headed for another housing crash, the data above should help ease those fears. Expert insights and the most current data clearly show that today’s market is nothing like it was last time.

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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.

Many hopeful homeowners today are experiencing an affordability issue when it comes to financing a new home. Due to recent rate hikes from the Federal Reserve, interest rates have simply become too high for some buyers to be able to qualify for mortgages on properties they could have easily afforded in the past. And that’s not all they’re up against. Rising rates, declining property values, and inflation have ‌all‌ contributed to this unfolding crisis.

Fortunately, there’s a creative solution that some borrowers can take advantage of when it comes to getting a lower interest rate: a buydown. All you need is a little know-how and a few extra dollars in your bank account. Read on to learn everything you need to know about an interest rate buydown, including how to get one and whether it’s the right choice for your financial situation.

What Is a Buydown?

When lenders talk about a buydown, they’re referencing the act of paying money in exchange for a lower interest rate. “Traditionally, this is achieved by buying points or a fraction thereof,” explains Justin Brilman, mortgage loan officer at U.S. Bank. “For simplification, it is approximately one point in cost in exchange for a quarter percent lower interest rate,” he continues. “One point is 1 percent of the loan, so on a $1,000,000 loan that is $10,000.”

Fortunately, for most borrowers, those numbers are quite a bit lower. For example, if you have a $200,000 mortgage, it will only cost you $2,000 to lower your interest rate by .25 percent. A traditional buydown will reduce your interest rate on the life of the loan.

Are There Benefits to a Buydown?

Buying down your interest rate can get a bit expensive, especially for homebuyers who may be looking to cut costs wherever they can. This means it may not always be beneficial to do it — especially if you’re struggling to come up with the funds you need for a down payment or if you’re dipping into your emergency fund or other savings accounts.

“It is always important to calculate the monthly savings compared to the cost and how long it will take to realize the difference,” explains Sarah Alvarez, vice president of mortgage banking at William Raveis Mortgage. “A temporary buydown, which has become very popular again, is a concession that temporarily reduces a buyer’s rate on a conforming loan for either one or two years.”

Alvarez says this can help keep the monthly mortgage payments low while you wait for the next cycle of lower rates and the opportunity to refinance. “If you’re struggling to afford a monthly mortgage payment based on the current interest rates offered to you by your lender, you can ask about a buydown,” she continues. “[If] the borrower chooses to buy down their rate, it is normally confirmed when locking the rate, and the cost is paid at closing.”

What Is a Temporary Buydown?

With a temporary buydown, the seller must pay the cost, which is typically two points or 2 percent of the loan amount. “Using 7 percent as the example of the current mortgage rate, with a two to one, buydown would be 5 percent the first year and 6 percent the second year before returning to 7 percent for the remainder of the loan term,” Alvarez says. “Using $750,000 as the purchase price and $600,000 as the loan amount, it is a savings of $18,000 for the borrower over the course of the two years: $12,000 the first year and $6,000 the second year.”

Unlike a temporary buydown, a regular buydown will lower your interest rate for the life of your loan.

Should You Buy Down Your Interest Rate?

The break-even point between the lower monthly payment and the upfront fee is generally four years, according to Brilman. “When rates are nearing all-time lows, buying points on a loan you believe you will hold for a significant time period would be a good strategy,” he says. “In market cycles where rates have been rising and expect to plateau and potentially come down in subsequent years (like we are now), we see much less of this activity due to those break-even periods.” In short, a seller-paid temporary buydown may be your best bet, according to Brilman.

Alvarez says she is seeing a lot of sellers using the temporary buydown as a tool to attract buyers in this shifting market. It is more appealing than having to drop the sales price, and it feels like a win-win for everyone. It is also becoming more common for new developments to offer their own temporary buydown program, which can be designed to fit the needs of each building.

This concession allows for a significantly reduced payment your first two years. Brilman tells Hunker, “Since this is a seller-paid concession, the funds paid by the seller to allow for the buydown are placed in an escrow account and used to make up the difference from the temporary payment and the final payment. The reason this is relevant is if a borrower had the opportunity to refinance before year three, the savings benefit left in the initial two years is applied to pay down the loan balance, so the buyer never loses anything!”

Other Strategies to Make Buying a Home More Affordable

There are a few different ways to make buying a new home more affordable; it’s not limited to purchasing a lower interest rate from your lender. “In a higher-rate market, it might make sense to look at paying off existing debts or making a larger deposit if you are capable, as the general understanding is that when the next lower rate cycle comes around, you can refinance and lock in a lower rate long term,” Alvarez says. “In this case, an adjustable-rate mortgage with no points, which has a lower starting rate, might be a good fit.”

Just remember that adjustable-rate mortgages can increase over time. If rates don’t drop or if home values dip significantly, borrowers locked into adjustable-rate mortgages may find themselves faced with a higher monthly mortgage payment and little chance of relief if the market takes a negative turn.

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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.

Extra stuff isn’t just messy. It could be holding you back from living your best life. Here’s what you need to know

Envious of those neat, tidy spaces and empty shelves that fill home decor blogs and websites? Blank space can be beautiful, and popular books promise strategies to shed extra stuff. But is minimalism livable? Some research suggests that de-cluttering can have as much of an effect on your well-being as it does on your physical space.

It’s not just in your head: Extra stuff is stressful

If the constant stream of things to pick up around your home leaves you feeling anxious, you’re not alone. Objects have the power to do just that. In fact, when working couples gave tours of their homes, women who used more words describing clutter and disorganization also tended to show levels of the stress hormone cortisol, suggesting chronic stress. On the flip side, those who described their homes as being restful or talked about their beautiful outdoor spaces were less stressed and reported less sad feelings as the day went on.

What you can do: Set aside 10 to 15 minutes at the end of each day to put stray items away.

Distracted much? Clutter makes it hard to focus

Got a lot of stuff on your desk? It may make it harder to do your job. That’s because a cluttered environment can make your brain less effective at processing information — and more prone to frustration.

In other words, taking a timeout to organize your space may actually save you time by allowing you to work more efficiently.

What you can do: Clear your computer desktop — and your physical one — at the end of each day.

More stuff doesn’t equal more fun

As much as advertisers may work to convince you otherwise, having more things doesn’t necessarily make you happier. Case in point: In one experiment, when toddlers were given just four toys to play with, they played twice as long as when they had 16 toys to choose from.

Flitting from toy to toy doesn’t just mean more picking up for caregivers either. It means lost opportunities to develop longer attention spans during free play that can translate to better focus and attention later in life as well.

What you can do: Box up extra items and put them out of sight, out of mind. Ready for a change? Swap boxes for a fresh mix of toys. Don’t miss them? Sell or donate the extras. (No kids? Try the same technique with your clothes.)

A tendency toward hoarding can keep you up at night

Sleep problems keep as many as a third of adults up at night. And while experts have long recognized a link between insomnia and mental health conditions like depression and anxiety, another link is emerging in research: hoarding.

Hoarding disorder, which affects just 2 to 6 percent of the population, goes far beyond disorganization or a garden-variety tendency to accumulate stuff. It is diagnosed when clutter becomes so debilitating that space becomes unusable and even unsafe. One possible reason for a connection between hoarding and sleep: Lack of sleep inhibits decision-making, namely decisions about acquiring (or getting rid of) stuff.

For the other 98 percent of people who don’t have hoarding disorder, but simply struggle with “too much stuff” syndrome, consider this: Having fewer things means making fewer choices throughout the day. And that may add up to less willpower spent trying to make the right ones.

What you can do: Brush up on your healthy sleep routine. Try winding down with a cup of herbal tea and a good (paper) book, rather than TV or social media.

When you think of taking care of yourself, think of your health, plan fun events with your loved ones, but also have a peaceful and organized living space.

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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.

There’s no doubt today’s housing market is very different than the frenzied one from the past couple of years. In the second half of 2022, there was a dramatic shift in real estate, and it caused many people to make comparisons to the 2008 housing crisis. While there may be a few similarities, when looking at key variables now compared to the last housing cycle, there are significant differences.

In the latest Real Estate Forecast Summit, Lawrence Yun, Chief Economist at the National Association of Realtors (NAR), drew the comparisons below between today’s housing market and the previous cycle:

Today’s Housing Market Is Nothing Like 15 Years Ago | Simplifying The Market

Looking at the facts, it’s clear: today is very different than the housing market of 15 years ago.

There’s Opportunity in Real Estate Today

And in today’s market, with inventory rising and less competition from other buyers, there’s opportunity right now. According to David Stevens, former Assistant Secretary of Housing:

“So be advised…this may be the one and only window for the next few years to get into a buyer’s market. And remember…as the Federal Reserve data shows…home prices only go up and always recover from recessions no matter how mild or severe. Long term homeowners should view this market…right now…as a unique buying opportunity.”

Bottom Line

Today’s housing market is nothing like the real estate market 15 years ago. If you’re a buyer right now, this may be the chance you’ve been waiting for.

Working with your team of expert real estate advisors is the best way to learn about the current market and what it means for you. Connect with us today to determine the best plan to achieve your homebuying goals.

Spring is usually the busiest season in the housing market. Many buyers wait until then to make their move, believing it’s the best time to find a home. However, that isn’t always the case when you factor in the competition you could face with other buyers at that time of year. If you’re ready to buy a home, here’s why it makes sense to move before the spring market picks up.

Spring Should Bring a Wave of Buyers to the Market

In most years, the housing market goes through predictable seasonal trends in activity. Winter is typically a quiet point in the year, while spring sees a surge of buyers begin their search. And experts project that this year will be no exception.

Right now, buyer demand is low due to a combination of normal seasonal trends and a reaction to last year’s rise in mortgage rates. But rates have started to come down since last November, which has more and more potential buyers planning to jump into the market. That means right now is a sweet spot if you’re in a good position to buy, before more buyers reappear. Affordability is beginning to improve, but demand is still low — for now. Lawrence Yun, Chief Economist at the National Association of Realtors (NAR), shares:

“. . . expect sales to pick up again soon since mortgage rates have markedly declined after peaking late last year.”

If you’re ready to buy a home, right now is the best time to do so before your competition grows and more buyers enter the market.

Today’s Sellers Are Motivated

Low demand from buyers often means sellers are more motivated to work with you, and that can set you up to buy a home on your terms. In fact, sellers have been more willing to negotiate this winter because there are fewer buyers in the market. According to a recent article from Forbes:

“. . . sellers gave concessions to buyers in 41.9% of home sales in the fourth quarter of last year.”

But keep in mind, the advantages buyers have this winter won’t last forever. The competition you face could be greater if you wait until spring to make a move, and increased buyer demand means sellers will have less motivation to negotiate with you. Be sure to work with a trusted real estate professional to learn what you can expect in your local market right now.

Bottom Line

If you’re in a position to buy a home, it may make sense to move before spring. Working with your team of expert real estate advisors is the best way to learn about the current market and what it means for you. Connect with a professional today to determine the best plan to achieve your homebuying goals.

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Snow fall doesn’t have to mean hibernation when you’re in Ohio. Tackle the slopes by skiing or snowboarding, reach ultimate speeds while sledding or hike through beautiful winter wonderlands – all on an outdoor adventure in Ohio. The snow is sure to bring endless fun this winter season! 

Hit the Slopes

Nothing beats the thrill of carving out your path while skiing in Ohio. Whether you’re an expert or a beginner, there are plenty of opportunities to hit the slopes by skis or snowboard this season.

Check out the Meadow Trail at Alpine Valley in Chesterland or challenge yourself on the Alpine Trail at Snow Trails near Mansfield for a glimpse of a snow-covered wonderland. 

Skate Away

It’s a picturesque scene – a glittering frozen pond surrounded by a blanket of bright, pristine snow. Check out ice skating options, especially as the temps get older and more parks and lakes open for the season. 

You can also glide across the ice (or try your best to) at Ottawa Park’s ice rink in Toledo or head to Cincinnati for Fifty West Brewing‘s ice skating rink. For even more rink time, make your way to Dublin for which has several rinks open – like the outdoor rink at Riverside Crossing Park with its amazing view of the Dublin Link Pedestrian Bridge. 

Hike to New Heights

Snow days are some of the best times to get out and explore Ohio’s 75 state parks. Explore winter wonderlands with help from ODNR. There are several great hiking trails to try in winter, and it’s especially fun to hike and explore hidden gems in your area.

Try popular spots like Hocking Hills State Park in Logan. This Inviting Region has several trails that take you right along winter wonderlands and frozen waterfalls. Hike to Cedar Falls and see the most famous frozen waterfall, or venture towards Upper Falls at Old Man’s Cave to see the waterfall cascading down the terrain. 

Sled Downhill

Nothing says winter in Ohio more than tackling the highest sledding hills around! Feel the cold winter wind breeze through your hair as you rush down the snow-laden hill at Westlake Recreation Center Park or Fairfield’s Harbin Park. Feeling adventurous? Catch the varying heights of three different sledding hills at Battelle Darby Creek Metro Park in Galloway.

A New Pair of (Snowy) Kicks

Watch your surroundings sparkle as you snowshoe throughout beautiful winter scenery at Milan Towpath Metro Park. Once an early canal and railway, this park is the perfect spot for both outdoor adventurers and history buffs alike.

Or head to Cuyahoga Valley National Park in Summit County where you can rent your own snowshoes. Don’t forget to check out other Ohio spots perfect for snowshoeing

Reel in a Catch

When the ice is solid, head to lakes around the state and try your luck at ice fishing. Ohio offers plenty of ice fishing spots, including Atwood Lake in Mineral City, Deer Creek Lake in Mount Sterling, Indian Lake in Lakeview and Lake Erie.

Before you head out, be sure to check the conditions and have a valid fishing license. Learn more about ice fishing and ODNR’s safety tips before you head out this season. 

Chute for the Stars

Hold on tight as you speed down-hill on the icy, 700-foot toboggan chutes in Strongsville. Cleveland Metroparks’ The Chalet in Mill Stream Run Reservation is the perfect place for your next snowy adventure. While no snow is technically required to enjoy this thrill, a little dusting can make for a gorgeous ride. 

Tire Yourself Out

Who said biking was only a warm weather activity? Fat bikes, also called snow bikes, are the monster trucks of the bicycle world. They’re just like regular bikes, but with huge tires that provide traction and float over deep powder.

Rent your own fat bike at places like Century Cycles Bicycle Shop. And then hit the trails for a ride down the Ohio & Erie Canal Towpath Trail in nearby Cleveland.

Tis the Ski-son 

Little Miami State Park in Southwest Ohio has a trail corridor that offers lots of recreational pursuits, like cross-country skiing along the entire 50-mile-long length of the park. During a trek through this winter wonderland, skiers can enjoy the beautiful vistas of Fort Ancient (the largest Native American earthworks in the state).

During the winter, Hueston Woods State Park (just northwest of Cincinnati) also transforms into a wonderland of activity. Or you head up for some great ‘lake effect’ snow in Cleveland. The Cleveland Lakefront Bikeway is a 17-mile trail that goes from Lake Erie’s shoreline and the city’s eastern border with Euclid, to its western border with Lakewood.  

Wingin’ It 

Not every feathered friend flies off to warmer weather during the winter. Snowbirds like eagles, hawks, and owls visit Ohio. And it’s not uncommon to spot a northern harrier (hawk) at Caesar Creek State Park in Warren County in the colder months. Check ODNR’s Winter Birding page to learn more about where – and which – birds you can spot this season. 

There’s so much to do when Ohio is blanketed in shimmery snow! 


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.

Christmas has arrived early for America’s homebuyers! And it’s not just one gift, but two that should make them giddy.

Gift No. 1: lower mortgage rates, which have been falling for the past four weeks.

“Housing data in the week that followed the Thanksgiving holiday showed that the recent dip in mortgage rates may already be having an impact,” explains® Chief Economist Danielle Hale in her weekly analysis.

Gift No. 2: Home price growth “slowed notably” for the week ending Dec. 3, according to Hale.

We unwrap the latest real estate statistics and what they mean for homebuyers and sellers in our weekly column “How’s the Housing Market This Week?

Mortgage rates dipped again

Not too long ago, it had been a grim picture: Mortgage rates had more than doubled over the past year and reached a 20-year high of 7.08% for a 30-year fixed-rate loan in late October.

Yet since then, for the past month, rates have been in a free fall, hitting 6.33% for the week ending Dec. 8, down from the previous week’s 6.49%, according to Freddie Mac.

Even this singular one-week decline comes with major savings on a typical house, amounting to $185 saved per month.

Yet with rates in flux, there may be little time for home shoppers to waste.

“With far more consumers still generally expecting higher rates rather than lower rates, those hoping to make a purchase may have some urgency to capitalize on what may be a temporary dip,” warns Hale.

Home price growth is tapering off

In November, the median price of a house hovered at $416,000. Yes, that’s high, but nowhere near the record high of $449,000 in June.

Furthermore, although the cost of a home has grown by double digits year over year for the past 49 weeks straight, the good news for homebuyers is that this growth is steadily ratcheting down.

For the week ending Dec. 3, the median listing price grew by 10.3% compared with the same week last year. So prices are still higher than a year earlier, but this was a steep decrease from the prior week’s growth rate of 12.2%.

And if the slowing continues, home price growth could move back into single-digit territory before the end of the year, giving buyers even more purchasing power.

Where are all the new homes?

While homebuyers might be thrilled by these sudden good tidings on the mortgage and home price front, the downside is that they’ll have fewer fresh listings to shop.

For 22 consecutive weeks, the number of new home sellers willing to list has dwindled, dropping for the week ending Dec. 3 by 8% compared with this same week last year.

Yet the silver lining is that this is the smallest decline since July.

“Looking ahead, we expect midsized markets that offer affordability and are home to a mix of domestic manufacturing, government, health care, and education employers to have some of the top housing markets of 2023,” says Hale.


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.