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! 

Read more on Ohio.org

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 Realtor.com® 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.

Read more on Realtor.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.

Who doesn’t dream of an updated bathroom? From lack of storage to a bathtub you’re hesitant to step into without sandals, renovations that bring bathrooms into the 21st century are high on the list of homeowner wants.

If you’re curious what the most popular bathroom renovations were in the last year, the 2022 Houzz Bathroom Trends Study was just released, and it’s an interesting look at both the trends and the rising price points that took over American bathrooms in 2022.

Sure, everything old is new again. But when it comes to bathrooms, homeowners are looking to ditch features that are outdated. In a survey of more than 2,500 respondents, Houzz determined that outdated style was the top trigger for bathroom renovations in 2022, with 48 percent of those surveyed saying it was their main motivation. More than three-quarters of homeowners (76 percent) upgraded their vanity cabinets during primary bathroom renovations. While 30 percent favored wood for their vanity, 14 percent went with a pop of gray, 7 percent chose blue, and 5 percent went with black.

Shower updates were also consistently popular, up two percentage points over the previous year with 84 percent. The survey determined that when removing a bathtub, nearly four in five homeowners enlarge the shower. And of course, the toilet is often a big focus. One interesting (but not so surprising) fact? High-tech toilets proved to be quite the draw for homeowners. Nearly two in five homeowners add high-tech features to their toilets, choosing bidets, self-cleaning elements, heated seats and built-in night lights.
“Bathrooms have always been a top room to renovate and we’re seeing that homeowners driven both by aesthetic desires and functional necessities, are doubling down on their investment in these private sanctuaries,” said Marine Sargsyan, Houzz staff economist. “While the cost of products and materials has increased due to inflation and supply chain disruptions, renovation activity remains strong, propped up by high home equity and homeowners’ desire to stay put given limited housing supply.”

As you’ve likely discovered while plotting out your home improvements, bathroom renovations are pricey. From buying the materials to finding the necessary labor to complete the work, it can be quite the expensive pursuit. The survey determined that the national median spend for primary bathroom projects increased nearly 13 percent to $9,000. For higher-budget projects, the average spend saw a 19 percent jump to $35,000. People doing “major” bathroom renovations (think full-on shower upgrades) spent a whopping three times more on their renovations than those undergoing minor renovations.

Another interesting point is the rising popularity of adding greenery to bathrooms. 88 percent of respondents said adding greenery “adds to the aesthetics of the room,” while 64 percent said it creates a more calming environment. 34 percent attributed the increase to plants’ air purification powers, while 7 percent like their odor-fighting ability. Another 7 percent went with antibacterial attributes.

Keep reading on Apartment Therapy.

When we book a hotel, we make our decision based on how many amenities it has, both inside and outside the room. There’s just something about the little luxuries that can make or break the stay.

Even in a combo office / guest bedroom space, we all like our guests to feel as comfortable + welcomed as possible. From toiletries for the taking to a hydration station, here are a few ideas we can borrow from hotels to make our guest bedrooms feel a little more lux.

Here are five things I added to make their stay feel like a fun hotel experience and, thanks to the professional organizer in me, keep their things a little tidier.

Toiletries for the Taking

It’s inevitable to forget something while packing, but I try to reduce the risk of anyone having to make a run to CVS. Taking an inexpensive glass jar with a lid, I threw in things such as mini bars of soap, travel-size dry shampoos and toothpaste tubes, tampons, individual packs of makeup wipes, new razors, and shower caps (that I admittedly collected from past hotel stays). This was also not an entirely altruistic act as it gave me a place to store my overflow toiletries. And I most definitely pick through the jar before I travel anywhere. 

It sits on the guest bathroom counter for the taking with a custom-made label letting visitors know not to be shy. As a bonus, I placed a couple of my favorite ceramic toothbrush holders next to the jar so they can keep theirs upright and sanitary.

Very Own Closet Space

I refer to the closet in my guest bedroom using another sitcom reference: the Monica Geller closet from “Friends.” It’s stuffed with, well, a lot of stuff and a future organization project. In the meantime, I wanted guests to have their own space to hang their clothes, so I found a slim garment rack that fits easily in the corner of the room and includes a handful of wooden hangers. There’s even a bottom shelf for shoes and, for folded items like pajamas and underwear, I left the nightstands empty to double as dressers. This way they can unpack and organize their outfits as soon as they arrive.

A WiFi Welcome

I dread asking anyone what their WiFi is when I’m at their place. The look of panic on their face feels familiar as they scramble to remember or find it. I wanted to avoid this annoying interaction in my own house so I found this adorable sign, wrote in the WiFi info with a dry-erase marker, and popped it onto one of the nightstands so guests can instantly connect.

Hydration Station

Even if I don’t take a sip, I still need a glass of water on my bedside table every night. So I wanted my visitors to have their own source of hydration without needing to trek into the kitchen. I found this carafe with the cup serving as the lid when not in use and placed it on one of the nightstands. If you want to level up the luxe look (and taste!), add a few slices of lemon and lime to the carafe.

Keep Them Charged

Sometimes, I’d rather not take my charger out of my bag when I arrive anywhere because it simply increases the chance of me forgetting it (thanks to my ADHD). So I plugged in an extra iPhone charger behind the bed and kept it accessible by using a small cable clip attached to the side of a nightstand. If you want to accommodate all types of phones, try a charging pad that’s compatible with different brands.

Get more tips from Apartment Therapy.

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.

Let’s be honest: Christmas comes with a lot of expenses each year. Luckily Columbus is full of budget-friendly activities for the holidays! Save money this holiday season and check out these affordable and free Christmas activities!

Daily Free Christmas Activities

Huntington Holiday Train at the Main Library: The beloved Huntington Holiday Train will be back on display at the Main Library this year. Check the library website for operating hours. It will be on display November 21, 2022 until January 8, 2023.

State Auto’s Christmas Corner: A life-sized Nativity scene can be found at State Auto Headquarters. The display is lighted daily from December 7, 2022 through January 3, 2023. On weekends through December 16, 2022, local choirs will offer free performances on Friday and Saturday evenings. Also a special performance on December 24, 2022.

Santa Mailboxes: Write a letter to Santa and drop it off at one of Santa’s mailboxes around town.

12 Elves of Dublin Scavenger Hunt: Pick up a scavenger card at one of the 12 participating businesses in Historic Dublin and search for the hidden elf.  At each location, you will receive a small treat for finding the elf. Begins December 1, 2022 until December 24, 2022.

Easton Photos with Santa: The first 5 x 7 is only $5. Reserve your spot in the line by checking in with one of Santa’s Helpers. Click here to see a list of Photos with Santa locations in Columbus.

WildLights is free with a Columbus Zoo Membership. Click here to see a full list of Holiday Light Displays.

Christmas Light Finder: Type your zip code into this website and it will show you the houses with amazing displays near you. It’s fun to grab some hot chocolate, bundle into the car and cruise around looking at lights.

Columbus Commons Lights: Enjoy the festive lights at Columbus Commons from November 18, 2022 through January 2, 2022 from dusk until 11 pm. To sweeten the deal, Fridays in December will be a little extra festive, with free hot chocolate and carousel rides. Plus, you’ll hear the music of the season with musicians roaming around the park. You can find that extra bit of holiday cheer on these dates: Friday, December 2; Friday, December 9; Friday, December 16, and December 23, 2022.

Scioto Mile Lights/Bicentennial Park: Beginning November 18, 2022 The Scioto Mile will also be decked out for the holidays. Take in the stunning view of the Scioto River sparkling with more than 250,000 lights. From Bicentennial Park in the south all the way up to Broad Street, our riverfront will be heralding the holiday season.

Reoccurring Weekday Events

Ohio Statehouse Holiday Choir Performances: Enjoy lunchtime concerts from 12:00-1:00 pm on weekdays from December 7-22, 2022 at the Museum Gallery in the Ohio Statehouse.

Weekend Events

Oakland Nurseries: Each location has different events on Saturdays and Sundays from November 25, 2022- December 16, 2022. Come to see Santa too!

Calendar of Daily Events

December 1, 2022

Dublin Christmas Tree Lighting Ceremony: 5:00 p.m. – 7:00 p.m. | The City of Dublin will mark the official start of the 2022 holiday season by hosting its annual Tree Lighting Thursday, Dec. 1. This free event will be held in Riverside Crossing Park, located at 6635 Riverside Dr. FREE.

Capital University Christmas Festival: See website for times | December 1 through 4, the Capital University Conservatory of Music will present its annual Christmas Festival, featuring the Chapel Choir, Choral Union, Women’s Chorus, The Chordsmen, Philomel and a variety of instrumentalists. This long-standing holiday tradition enjoyed by the university, its friends from far and wide and the greater Columbus community.

Ohio Statehouse Holiday Festival and Tree Lighting: 5:30 p.m. – 7:30 p.m. | Visit with Santa and other historical characters and modern dignitaries at the annual holiday Statehouse event. You’ll also find model trains, carolers and refreshments- FREE.

December 2, 2022

Olde Pickerington Village Holiday: 5:00 p.m.-8:00 p.m. | Typically free family-friendly event featuring lighting the City tree at the Gazebo at 7:00pm. Horse-drawn wagon rides, circulating hop-on/hop-off trolley, ice carving demonstrations, children’s games and activities, cookie decorating for kids, strolling carolers, live reindeer, complimentary popcorn and hot chocolate, shopping, live nativity, and more. 2022 info coming soon!

Upper Arlington Tree Lighting and Winter Festival: 6:00 p.m. – 8:30 p.m. | Activities include the lighting of the Holiday tree, holiday music and caroling by the high school choir, live reindeer, carriage rides, bonfire with s’mores, giveaways, and coffee and hot chocolate – FREE.

Westerville Tree Lighting: 5:00 p.m. – 9:00 p.m. in Uptown Westerville | Visit the holiday tree at Westerville City Hall (21 S. State St.) and expect to encounter carolers, costumed characters, live music, a performance by the talented dancers at Generations Performing Arts Center, special lighting displays and more throughout the night.

Delaware Tree Lighting and Santa House: 7:00 p.m. | Horse-drawn carriage ride, Santa House, carolers and tree lighting ceremony at 7:00 p.m. – FREE. Events continue on additional December dates!

Grove City Christmas Celebration:7:00 p.m. | The Grove City community is invited to celebrate Christmas in Grove City. The Grove City Christmas Parade is at 7 p.m., Friday, Dec. 3 and the tree lighting follows promptly after the parade. Visit the Heart of Grove City website to register to participate in the parade.

December 3, 2022

Grove City Christmas Celebration: 9:00 a.m. – 7:00 p.m. | Don’t miss a day filled to the brim with holiday spirit during the Grove City Shop the Heart of Grove City Mistletoe Market 5 to 9 p.m., Friday, Dec. 2, and 9 a.m. to 7 p.m., Saturday, Dec. 3 in Town Center Park, 3359 Park St. Find unique, creative, one-of-a-kind gift items, decorations, artwork and delicious treats to enjoy or share with others while strolling through the festive market.

Deck the Stalls: 11:00 a.m. – 3:00 p.m. at Stockhands for Healing | Must register for time slot-Face painting, Christmas bulb decorating, photos with Santa ($5 donation and free for military families), pony rides ($3 donation or 2 for $5), refreshments and more. Stockhands Horses For Healing- (3788 Olentangy River Rd, Delaware, Ohio 43015)

Delaware visit with Santa: Main Street Delaware’s annual Holiday Open House features specials and free community events for all! Come downtown and enjoy their local shops, see Santa (register) and much more. Stores will be open their regular business hours all day. There is also a Dash for Dancer event from 11-1 to look for Santa’s reindeer! December 2-4. FREE.

Downtown Lancaster Winterfest: 12:00 p.m. – 4:30 p.m. | Free carriage rides, photos with Santa at the Santa House, kids crafts in the businesses, elf scavenger hunt, holiday music, and much more! 

Granville Candlelight Walking Tour: 1:00 p.m.- 9:00 p.m. | The day will feature numerous holiday activities, events, and performances to enjoy.

Holidays in Powell: 12:00 p.m. – 5:30 p.m. | Families will be required to register to participate during a 30-minute window. Registration begins Monday, Nov. 7. City residents will receive priority registration through Sunday, Nov. 21. If spots are still available, registration will be open to non-residents through Friday, Dec. 3. One family member (parent/guardian) should register and then list the total number of participants for their family. Not each family member needs to be registered individually.

Sunbury Christmas on the Square: 4:00 p.m. – 8:00 p.m. | Watch a lighted parade at 5:30 p.m., participate in festivities such as craft making, visit with Mr. and Mrs. Claus and much more! – FREE.

Holiday Hop: 4:00 p.m. – 10:00 p.m. | Stroll the streets in the Short North and look at the decorated window displays, watch street performers, shop at the businesses that stay open later- FREE.

December 4, 2022

Holiday Hop in Hilliard and Tree Lighting: 4:00 p.m. – 6:30 p.m. | Musical selections will be performed by children, visit from Santa, ice sculpting demonstrations, balloon artist, reindeer, wagon rides and hot chocolate. Tree Lighting will be at 6:15 p.m – FREE.

German Village Lights: 5:00 p.m. – 9:00 p.m. | Follow luminaries from shops, restaurants and businesses that have stayed open late with discounts and holiday treats. There are surprises on each corner including live music, carolers and carriage rides – FREE.

December 6, 2022

Grandview Holiday Tree Lighting: 3:00 p.m. – 8:00 p.m. | Enjoy carol singing by the Grandview Heights High School singers and refreshments and annual tree lighting. Many festivities begin at 3:00 such as iceless ice skating. – FREE.

Cookies and Claus: 5:00 p.m.- 6:30 p.m. at Polaris Fashion Place | While visiting Santa on Tuesday, December 6th from 5-6:30 pm, we invite you to decorate cookies with us! Pick a cookie and create your own holiday design with icing, sprinkles and more! Then, enjoy your tasty treat!

December 7, 2022

Worthington Illuminating Shopping: 6:00 p.m. – 9:00 p.m. | Stroll the streets of historic Old Worthington and experience live music, luminaries lining the streets and special sales from the retailers that stay open late – FREE.

December 9, 2022

Worthington Holiday Party: 6:30 p.m. – 8:30 p.m. at The Worthington Community Center | Visit the Community Center for games, crafts,music, and ice carving demonstration, reindeer, and the big guy from the North Pole. Bring your camera for pictures! For more information, see the last page of activity brochure!

December 10, 2022

Jingle Mingle: 12:00 p.m. – 2:00 p.m. at The Shops on Lane Avenue | This free event includes: Festive Music, Santa & Singing Elves, Hot Chocolate Bar, Craft Station, Story Time with the Upper Arlington Library at 12:30PM, Cookie Decorating, Lightbulb Scavenger Hunt, Giant Snow Globe, and Plenty of Shopping! Books for children and adults are being collected for the Ronald McDonald House.

December 11, 2022

Holiday Wonderland Market: 11:00 a.m. – 5:00 p.m. upstairs at Understory | Find 40+ local makers and artists, carolers and a drag Santa. A mobile bar will be setup to order drinks while you shop.

Santa in the Caboose: 2:00 p.m. – 5:00 p.m. | Enter the red caboose to interact and take photos with Santa in his suit from the 1800s. The Historical Village will also be open with live music, art projects, refreshments and more. Location: Hilliard Ohio Historical Society – FREE.

December 17, 2022

Holiday Market + Santa in the Park: 9:00 a.m. – 3:00 p.m. | From 9:00 a.m. – 1:00 p.m. a Holiday Market will be taking place in Bridge Park at North Market. There will be a dj to set the holiday mood and 30+ vendors. At Keystone Park, Santa will be available from 12:00 – 3:00 p.m. to take a free picture and drop off a letter to him.

There are many other Breakfast with Santa options that are affordable as well!

Read more here

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.

Not only are drafty windows inconvenient, but they can have a big impact on your heating bills during the winter. The U.S. Department of Energy estimates that heat loss through windows is responsible for 25 to 30 percent of residential heating energy use, which means that fixing drafty windows can help lower your monthly utility costs. The good news, however, is that there are several ways you can stop cold air from seeping into your home, many of which are easy and affordable to implement before winter arrives.

What Causes Window Drafts?

A draft is simply a current of cool air that’s able to sneak in through a window or door—if you stand in front of a closed window and feel a breeze blowing, that’s a draft. You can also use a lit candle or stick of incense to find drafts. Hold it a few inches in front of the window, and if there’s a draft, the flame or smoke will flicker when the air blows over it.

There are several reasons your windows might be drafty, the most common being age. Over time, window frames can crack or warp, and their seals can deteriorate or wear down. If your windows are 20 years old, like mine were, you may start having problems with drafts and/or heat loss. However, there are other causes of drafty windows, too. Improper installation, extreme temperature fluctuations, and cheap windows can all result in air leaking into your home, thus causing your energy bill to spike in the winter.

5 Ways To Fix Drafty Windows

The good news is that you have several options to stop drafts—and no, you don’t necessarily have to replace your windows. The solutions vary in price and installation complexity, which means you can choose the one that best fits your budget and DIY prowess.

1. Install Weatherstripping

If drafts are coming in because your window doesn’t close tightly, one of the easiest ways to solve the problem is with weatherstripping. Foam insulation tape is inexpensive and has a self-adhesive design. When applied along the top and bottom rails of each window, it will create a tighter seal to keep cold air out. Weatherstripping is quick and easy to install, but it will need to be replaced every few years, as the foam will likely break down over time.

Even if you’ve installed weatherstripping, it’s important to keep your windows locked during the winter, as well. Otherwise, the window may slowly creep open, letting in cold air.

2. Use Window Insulation Kits

Window insulation kits are another budget-friendly solution for the wintertime. These kits typically include double-sided tape that you place around the window frame and sill. Once the tape is in place, use it to secure clear shrink film over the window. You can use a hair dryer to shrink the material, eliminating any wrinkles, and the plastic serves as an additional barrier to keep cold air out.

The downsides, however, are that it’s not the most aesthetically pleasing option and you’ll need to remove the window covering in the spring when you want to open your windows again.

3. Put Up Thick Curtains

If you only have a small draft, you can likely get away with putting up some thick curtains or other window treatments to block the breeze. The Department of Energy notes that tight-fitting cellular shades can reduce heat loss through windows by 40 percent or more, but this type of window treatment can be quite pricey.

Conventional curtains can help, too, reducing heat loss from a warm room up to 10 percent. There are even thermal-insulated curtains that have a special lining to keep cold air out—not to mention that they’ll make your home feel more cozy! For maximum effectiveness, hang the curtains as close to the window as possible, and select a size that will hang all the way down to touch the windowsill or floor.

4. Fill In Gaps Around The Window

Drafts can sometimes creep in around the edges of windows, especially if they weren’t properly installed. If you can see gaps around the edges of the window frame, try pressing rope caulk into the cracks. The product is extremely budget-friendly, and it’s also easy to install and remove, making it a simple task for any DIYer.

5. Invest In Storm Windows

For old, single-pane windows, it’s worthwhile to consider replacing them with double-pane windows, which are much more energy efficient. However, if that’s not in the budget, storm windows are an effective alternative. The Department of Energy estimates that storm windows can save 10 to 30 percent on heating and cooling costs, and they’re usually only 1/3 the price of replacement windows.

There are two types of storm windows available: interior and exterior. Interior storm windows are also called window inserts, and they’re typically made from a sheet of glass or acrylic. The window insert is installed inside the window frame to prevent drafts, and they’re easy to install and remove each year.

Exterior storm windows, on the other hand, are essentially secondary windows that are mounted outside your existing windows. They provide an added level of protection against wind, precipitation, and storms, and they also help block drafts. However, exterior storm windows are more complex to install, and they are permanent fixtures on your home.

Don’t Forget Your Doors!

Once you’ve gone through all the work to improve your windows’ insulation, it’s a good idea to weatherproof your doors, too, as drafts can frequently come in underneath them.

If there’s a sizable gap at the bottom of your exterior door, a door sweep can stop air from coming through, while still allowing you to open and shut it easily. Door sweeps are typically screwed into the door, but if you’re in a rental, you can use a draft stopper, which can easily be removed. You can also install weatherstripping tape along the edges of the door to create a nice, tight seal that keeps cold air out.

Can my dog eat pumpkin pie? Can my cat eat turkey?

Thanksgiving is here, which means delicious treats, a few days off work and cozy food coma time with family and friends. But for pet owners, it also means many health questions regarding what food is safe while celebrating with their fur babies.

With all the hustle and bustle surrounding Turkey Day, it poses even more stress and health hazards for cats and dogs. To ensure your pet stays safe, happy and healthy this Thanksgiving, we answered some of the most pressing concerns about this time of year, including what table scraps are toxic, and sometimes even deadly, to your pet.

Read on to learn what foods your animal can enjoy with you and what common Thanksgiving items could cause serious health problems for your pet. That way, both you and your furry friend can fully enjoy Thanksgiving without any emergency vet visits.

Can my pet eat turkey?

Yes, pets can eat turkey under certain conditions. You can offer your pet a small amount of unseasoned turkey without the skin, but only if you know turkey agrees with your pet’s digestive system. It is important not to give your pet turkey from the Thanksgiving table because the fatty skin of the bird and the seasonings can lead to your pet having gastrointestinal trouble. Make sure any turkey you offer your pet has the bones removed. Bones can lead to choking, and, if swallowed, bones can cause obstructions in your pet’s GI tract, which could require surgery.

Can my pet eat stuffing?

No. Pets can’t eat Thanksgiving stuffing. While bread isn’t especially harmful to pets, other stuffing ingredients can cause serious problems. Onions, grapes and raisins are toxic to pets, especially dogs. Additionally, the rich flavors and ingredients in stuffing may disagree with your pet’s system.

Can my pet eat pumpkin pie?

No, your pet can’t eat pumpkin pie — but your pet can still enjoy pumpkin with you. If your dog or cat seems especially interested in pumpkin, try feeding them plain, canned pumpkin. Not only is this a delicious treat, but it also aids in digestion.

Can my pet eat sweet potatoes?

Like turkey, your dog or cat can enjoy sweet potatoes cooked and prepared plain. The sweet potatoes covered in marshmallows and spice should be saved for humans only because the ingredients could easily upset your pet’s stomach.

What other dangerous and toxic foods should I be aware of for pets?

Chocolate, as many know, is toxic to dogs. Keep all baking chocolate and any sweets with chocolate well out of your pet’s reach. Xylitol, an artificial sweetener sometimes used in baking, is also toxic to pets. Try to avoid using this sweetener in your Thanksgiving cooking.

Are there any other Thanksgiving hazards I should know about?

Make sure all your decorations are pet-proof. This is especially important regarding flowers. Lilies are extremely toxic to cats, causing kidney failure, and should be removed from any arrangements. Avoid decorations with ribbons or other small parts that could be easily swallowed. While these adornments may look pretty, they can cause serious obstructions if your pet chooses to eat them.

What is an easy way to protect my pet on Thanksgiving?

Create a safe and quiet space for your pet. The sights, sounds and new faces of Thanksgiving can be fun, but they can also be overwhelming. Having an area where your pet can be at peace, surrounded by their favorite toys and treats, will keep everyone happy. Also, inform your guests before their arrival not to feed your pet any table scraps. While it can be hard to say no to puppy eyes, it’s in your pet’s best interest if the Thanksgiving feast stays on the table.

Read more here

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.

In a perfect world, every room in your house would be bathed in warm, natural light. However, oftentimes this isn’t the case. Rooms that don’t get a lot of natural light are often referred to as low-light spaces, but they’re not doomed to look gloomy. With the right shade of paint, they can be every bit as beautiful as bright rooms.

Jennifer Verruto, founder and CEO of Blythe Interiors, explains that there are two ways to go about choosing paint colors for rooms with little to no natural lighting. The first is creating a “dark and dramatic space,” she says. The other is going in the complete opposite direction by embracing a light, bright, and airy color palette. “White reflects, so using a bright white will help create a brighter room,” Verruto explains.

How to Select Paint Colors for Rooms With Little Natural Light

When choosing paint color for low-light rooms, keep in mind that any shade will look different on your walls than it does in the store or on a screen. “Rooms with little natural light don’t have reflections or absorptions, so they will appear different from what you see in a well-lit room, especially because you’ll almost always need artificial lighting,” Verruto points out.

Prior to choosing a paint, consider what kind of mood you want to create. Are you looking for drama? Relaxation? An energizing atmosphere?

Also, take into consideration the room’s other design elements. “Decor and accessories like mirrors and art help create balance,” Verruto says. Whatever point along the spectrum you choose — from dark and moody to light and bright — ensure there is an element of contrast, in order to create visual depth. For example, if you are using dark paint, add bright tones, like brushed brass finishes or textured mirrors.

You might also want to consider color theory when using paint to help define the mood. “Deciding if you want a monochromatic palette or color variations will help narrow options down,” says Verruto.

While you can get color swatches for free at most paint stores, Verruto recommends buying a small sample of each paint color you are considering and painting a 12″ x 12″ test swatch. This way, you can observe the paint color with any artificial lighting in the room at different times of the day. “The tone of a light bulb can drastically affect a paint color’s appearance,” cautions Verruto.

A dark room with little natural light may present a challenge, but the right paint colors (along with thoughtful lighting design) can go a long way toward making it look its best. As Verruto says, there are two basic paths you can take: go light, with a shade like bright white or light blue, or steer toward dark colors for a moody, dramatic feel.

Here are some of the best colors to make darker rooms feel like they have just enough light:

  • Seafoam green
  • Gray
  • Teal
  • Greige
  • Navy blue
  • Black
  • Purple
  • True white
  • Off-white
  • Pale pink

Read the full post on Hunker

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.

Buying real estate is risky. Building real estate, on the other hand, can be even riskier, especially when you’re creating what you believe to be someone else’s idea of a dream home. This is exactly what spec house builders are in the business of doing. 

If you’ve never heard of a spec house, or are wondering how one compares to a model home or a custom home, keep reading.

What is a spec house?

A spec home is short for “speculative home.” Actually, they’re usually mansions or some other type of luxury property, so think amazing locations, jaw-dropping amenities, and the highest of high-end features and finishes. 

There are real estate developers with massive budgets who set out to build these stately homes with the hopes of finding a deep-pocketed buyer to take it off their hands once it’s completed. Sometimes the home is snapped up by an eager buyer before it’s even finished, and others sit, expensive and empty, waiting for an offer.

Spec homes are a risky business.

If you’re thinking that much of the risk of a spec home falls with a builder, you’d be right. The process from land acquisition to project completion is about two years, says Manny Angelo Varas, an award-winning builder who is the founder and CEO of MV Group USA, a full-service luxury construction company. 

Add rising interest rates (which affect buyer demand), material and labor costs, and shortages or delays in said materials and labors can all increase the risk for spec builders. Aside from all that, changing design trends could also reduce buyer demand. 

Still, there is great reward to be had when that spec home is sold; Varas says the typical return is about 30 percent for spec home builders.

You might assume that wealthy buyers like celebrities and titans of industry might love to add another spectacular home to their real estate portfolio. That might be true, but not every spec home finds a buyer. In fact, even experienced spec developers run into major problems. Notably, the famous spec mansion developer Mohamed Hadid declared Chapter 11 on a $250 million mansion he built in Los Angeles. Not only is it the most expensive listing LA County has ever had, it’s also the largest. Right now, there’s 77,000 square feet of mansion sitting on a 37-acre lot — the largest residential site ever permitted in the county, reports The Real Deal

It should be noted that the $250 million dollar price tag is if you purchase the house completed. But for $92 million — a relative steal! — you can take over the construction at this point and customize it just the way you like it.

What is the difference between a spec home and a model home?

In areas of rapid housing development, it’s not uncommon to see entire blocks of new homes pop up. These aren’t spec homes; rather, these are model homes that are built with similar or even identical layouts and features that are likely to be a good fit for house hunters.

“When you think of a model home, you’re really looking at a community,” says Sarah Williams, founder of Societe Real Estate, a residential brokerage based in New York. While model homes are, like spec homes, built in anticipation of buyers, the level of risk is lower.

“[The model home builder] is not taking a major risk; he’s just building something and replicating something he knows works already,” Williams explains, noting that big developers might even have institutional backing, which helps mitigate some of the financial risk.

Note that the term “model home” could also refer to one of the in-construction homes that is kept empty — or it might be staged — so that potential buyers can see in person what will eventually be built. That model home is used for touring purposes while the others are being built, and then when the others are completed and sold, the original model home will likely also be put on the market.

Is buying a spec house a good idea?

It can be if you’re buying one from a reputable builder, says Williams, who also has experience selling spec homes in Florida. Here’s what she encourages her clients who are in the market to do when purchasing a spec house:

  • Vet the reputation of the builder, which includes seeing other homes they have built and sold.
  • Confirm that the home is well insured.
  • Hire an inspector, engineer, and any other professional who will ensure that the home was constructed correctly and is safe for inhabiting.

Williams notes that not every spec developer is a career home builder. There are some well-funded individuals for whom real estate development is more of a passion project — which is why Williams says vetting real estate developers is very important. 

While the initial risk with a spec home is taken on by the builder, the risk does pass on to the buyer, like it does in all real estate transactions. 

Varas says buyers should know that spec home builders might attempt to control costs by going all-in on visible features — like high-end kitchen finishes and appliances — while cutting back on hidden features, like HVAC systems and even closets. 

“Look for the brand and efficiency of the home’s air conditioning or heating system and the voltage on lights and audio visual equipment,” Varas says. “I always recommend our clients have their audio visual vendor do a site visit prior to closing so that they can plan the necessary upgrades to the basic pre-wiring many spec homes include.”

Spec homes vs. custom homes

With all this discussion about how spec homes can be super expensive, it’s important to note that a custom home can be even more expensive. Varas says with a custom home, the buyer is on the hook for everything, from purchasing the land itself to hiring the architect to covering all construction costs. Still, many people find that the end result is worth it and they have, indeed, built the home of their dreams. 

A spec home, on the other hand, saves both time and money in that someone else has shouldered the burden of making all those decisions and initially footing the bill. Varas says that when a buyer purchases a spec house still under construction, they are usually able to choose their custom features so that the home is eventually completed the way they prefer. 

“Every buyer’s personal budget will determine the level and caliber of customization possible,” he explains. “Consulting with a professional designer is a smart investment for buyers to understand how realistic the look they envision is.”

Read the full post at Apartment Therapy

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.