I remember the glory days before I bought my house, when the bathroom situation at my apartment didn’t bother me. There was one no-frills bathroom, and it was just fine. I lived alone, so it wasn’t an issue.

But then I started looking for houses. I quickly learned the bathroom situation is a Very Big Deal to me. I was moving in with someone else, so not only did we need two bathrooms (what if we were both sick at the same time?!), but they both needed an integrated fan (because nobody wants to hear anyone’s business)

How your opinions change when you buy your first house — and when you buy future homes — can have a huge influence on what you eventually end up purchasing. I took an informal poll of The Apartment Therapist, a Facebook group run by Apartment Therapy, and asked: What home features did you not expect to have super strong feelings about? Here’s what the group reported.

Garages

Particularly if you live in a climate with weather extremes, not having a garage can be a dealbreaker for buyers. An attached one is best, but separate will do. Some would even prefer a carport if nothing else.

Stoves

There are two camps in the cooking world: pro-electric stove, and pro-gas stove. Until you try the one you hate, you won’t know for sure which one you are. Thankfully, apartment living before buying can supply you with a range of stove options to help form your decision.

Basements

I personally won’t live in a home without a basement. I grew up in a tornado-heavy area, and if I don’t have somewhere to hide when the sirens start going off, that’s a dealbreaker for me. Others, of course, prefer it for storage, while another group doesn’t want one — it’s too much cleanup and flood risk.

Well Water

Whether the house has well water or city water — and which you prefer — can largely depend on how you grew up. Some who had well water as a child will never go back to it, while others like the flexibility it gives you in maintaining your own water supply.

The View

For some people, this means an expansive view over the surrounding area. For others, it’s as simple as not staring right into a neighbor’s window or a brick wall. A view can make or break the quality of the home, not just for aesthetic appeal, but also because what’s in the way of the windows changes how much natural light comes in.

Porches

Once you have a taste of that porch sittin’ life, it’s hard to go back. Unless, of course, you’re in the camp that doesn’t want to deal with porch maintenance and seasonal cleanup.

Having a Yard

For people with kids or dogs, a yard is an important play space. For people with neither, a yard is built-in upkeep. The general consensus from the Apartment Therapist group is that this preference changes based on your life stage and family progression.

Bathtubs

Have you ever tried to wash a dog or toddler in a home with just a shower? It’s not worth the frustration.

Flooring

It’s the never-ending debate: hardwood versus carpet. (Or even tile!) Which you choose depends on your personality, personal style, desire to clean, and ambient temperature of your feet on the floor in the morning.

Read more at Apartment Therapy

Greens may dominate paint firms’ lists of the hottest color of the year, but neutral colors still reign for the largest buyer pool. Eighty-one percent of interior design experts recently surveyed say whites and creams are the best colors to use when selling a house in 2022, according to the Paint & Color Trends 2022 Report conducted by Fixr, a home improvement resource.

“Whites and creams make a neutral, clean, fresh backdrop for many rooms,” according to the report. “You can still include color in your textiles if you want to add personality to the space, but it can make it easier for prospective buyers to see their own furnishings in a space when looking at a white or light-colored wall.”

A group of six images of living rooms painted and decorated in neutral colors.

On the exterior of homes for sale, white is the most frequently recommended color for the second consecutive year, according to Fixr. White received 58% of the vote from designers this year. Off-white also has increased in popularity, nabbing 41% in this year’s survey.

“White and off-white can both make a home look fresh, clean, and new regardless of age,” the study says. “These colors have nearly universal appeal, helping improve the curb appeal of a home and making it more likely to sell in a timely way.”

A group of six images of home exteriors showing the most popular colors for the outside of a house.

Although everything in your home is essential, there are certain things that the appraiser will be looking for that don’t include the home’s position, square footage and the number of rooms in the house.

We will look at other factors involved in the house appraisal or valuation, and many of these are dictated by the market, so it will be worth trying to meet the criteria for buying a house!

The Floor Plan is Dark and Does Not Flow

Older-style houses were traditionally closed-off with lots of rooms, so it may be worth knocking down a few walls and opening your home up if you are doing a renovation. Homebuyers now favor an open layout for easy living. This is especially true if you have the perfect aspect of a South-facing back garden. Letting in the light could prove financially beneficial during the appraisal process.

When you knock down walls, it can be a fantastic transformation in an older home. In many cases, you move what real estate appraisers refer to as functional obsolescence. For example, walking through a dining room to get to a bedroom is not ideal.
By removing walls, you can often change the lighting patterns and the home’s flow, creating a much more desirable floor plan today’s buyers will appreciate.

If your home doesn’t need a floor plan change, there are other ways to create the illusion of light, including:

– Painting your walls a bright color or even a bright white
– Using strategic mirrors to reflect the light
– Erecting some large seascapes or other artwork reflective of light
– Arranging furniture to create an excellent open flow

When you sell your property, the REALTOR® will probably advise you to send substantial furniture to a self-storage unit, making the house look much more spacious. By doing so, you can open up the flow, which you can’t do with clutter.

Doing these things can make the home look that much more appealing to not only homebuyers but also an appraiser.

The Condition of Your Driveway

Before getting the appraiser in, you may have to give your driveway a quick makeover. The driveway is the first thing visitors to your home will see, so if it is asphalt, even it out to get rid of cracks. Getting a driveway seal coat can go a long way toward improving the appearance.

Any Strange Odors Coming From Inside

There may be a cracked sewage pipe under your house—and if there is, fix it. Get a plumber in to have a look. Mold can also smell terrible, so check for it.

If you must deodorize under the floor in your house, start with a few bags of garden lime to neutralize the odor. Throw open the windows and burn incense (sandalwood) when no one is there.

Outdoor Shed and Outbuildings

If your outdoor shed looks ramshackle and unpainted, get it repaired and painted before the appraiser comes over. A wooden shed will look nice painted cream with green trim and a green roof. The main thing is that it is made to look neat and clean.

You don’t want the shed to impact negatively on your property sale. Plant a small garden bed along the side of it, with a few seasonal flowers.

Unsightly Neighbors

When appraisal time comes, no one wants a bad neighbor. If your neighbor never mows the lawn, get the contractor in to do your yard and offer them a free mow at the same time. It will be worth it to ensure the appraiser doesn’t downgrade your property.
Get any overhanging branches cut back and generally tidy up the yard. Make sure that their rubbish bin has been taken inside.

Final Thoughts on Factors That Impact Your Appraisal

Chat to your real estate agent about what else you should do to get more ideas on what impacts a house appraisal.

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.

Mortgage rates are rushing higher, and last week that caused a major divergence in mortgage demand. Refinancing continued to dry up, but homebuyers appear to be rushing into the market. As a result, total mortgage application volume rose 2.3% compared with the previous week, according to the Mortgage Bankers Association’s seasonally adjusted index.

The average contract interest rate for 30-year fixed-rate mortgages with conforming loan balances ($647,200 or less) increased to 3.64% from 3.52%, with points remaining unchanged at 0.45 (including the origination fee) for loans with a 20% down payment. That rate was 72 basis points higher than the same week one year ago and has increased more than 30 basis points in just the last two weeks.

As a result, applications to refinance a home loan, which are most sensitive to weekly rate moves, fell 3% for the week and were 49% lower than the same week one year ago. The refinance share of mortgage activity decreased to 60.3% of total applications from 64.1% the previous week

“Mortgage rates hit their highest levels since March 2020, leading to the slowest pace of refinance activity in over two years. FHA and VA refinance declines drove most of the refinance slowdown,” said Joel Kan, MBA’s associate vice president of economic and industry forecasting.

Mortgage applications from homebuyers, however, jumped 8% for the week, although they were still 13% lower than the same week one year ago. The activity appears to be on the higher end of the market, where there is more supply. The average loan size for a purchase application set a record at $418,500.

“The slower growth in government purchase activity is also contributing to the larger loan balances and suggests that prospective first-time buyers are struggling to find homes to buy in their price range,” added Kan.

Demand for housing continues to be strong, as supply did not increase as it normally does in December. Some buyers may be getting a jump on the usually busy spring market, concerned that rates will be even higher in a few months.

Paul Legere, a buyer’s agent with The Joel Nelson Group in Washington, D.C. calls the activity, “unprecedented.”

“Some lenders I work with say they have had more first-time homebuyer applications in the last couple of weeks than they’ve seen in 20 years,” said Legere, adding that he just wrote an offer on a $1.3 million home with an escalation clause up to $1.625 million … and lost.

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.

You could spend a lifetime hiking in Ohio—in all four seasons—and still have many miles of trail left to see.

The Buckeye State is home to 75 state parks, one national park, plus a national historic trail and a national scenic trail. Dayton, one of Ohio’s largest cities, was recognized by National Geographic as one of the top 10 cities in the country for recreational green spaces. Hikes in the Buckeye State range from short and sweet to ultra-challenging; there’s truly something for everyone.

The fun doesn’t stop when the snow starts to fly. Ohio’s relatively temperate climate means you’ll still get plenty of reasonably warm hiking days during the coldest months of the year. Even in January, average lows are in the twenties—you’ll want to bundle up, but you typically won’t have to contend with below-zero temps.

Once you’re geared up with the cold-weather equipment you need (including, hopefully, a thermos of tea or hot cocoa), it’s time to get out and enjoy the wintry weather. Here are six of the best hikes in the Buckeye State to check out when the snow starts to fly.

HORSESHOE FALLS TRAIL

It’s always fun to hike to a waterfall, but winter adds a bonus: Frozen waterfalls are somehow even more spectacular. Caesar Creek State Park, less than 40 minutes south of Dayton, delivers on that front. From the park’s Nature Center it’s just under two miles round trip to Horseshoe Falls and back. The low falls are shaped like a tiny Niagara, and when they freeze over, it’s a winter wonderland.

BRANDYWINE GORGE AND FALLS TRAILS
Brandywine Gorge and waterfall in Cuyahoga Valley National Park in Ohio

Brandywine Gorge and its namesake waterfall are both the crown jewels of beautiful Cuyahoga Valley National Park all times of the year, and they’re even more spectacular when the park is blanketed in snow. At just under a mile and a half, the loop is fairly moderate with very little elevation gain or loss. There’s a bridge across the creek crossing, so there’s no need to be worried about falling through the ice.

NELSON-KENNEDY LEDGES STATE PARK

Less than an hour east of Cleveland, Nelson-Kennedy Ledges State Park is open year-round and boasts four hiking trails. Its stunning sandstone cliffs and beech-maple forest make for spectacular winter views as you hike through the jumbled rocks. The White Trail makes for an easy one-mile loop, and you can combine it with the moderate Blue and Yellow Trails (each clocking in at a half-mile) to add mileage.

OLD MAN’S CAVE LOOP
Lower Falls at Old Man's Cave Loop in Hocking Hills State Park in Ohio

Hocking Hills State Park is chock-full of trails to explore all year, but winter visits offer a bonus: a better chance of seeing the park’s owls. An hour southeast of Columbus, Hocking Hills is made up of bridges, waterfalls, and fascinating rock formations—particularly Old Man’s Cave. This loop hike is about a mile long and takes hikers past a number of other features, including the Devil’s Bathtub. Park naturalists also offer interpretive programs to some of Hocking Hills’ best spots throughout the winter.

TOWPATH TRAIL

For a nice long winter hike, look no further than the Towpath Trail in Cuyahoga Valley National Park. The mostly-flat 19.5-mile trail follows the historic route of the Ohio & Erie Canal. It’s made of crushed limestone, so even when it’s been snowy or rainy, the trail is much less icy than its rocky neighbors—and when there’s lots of snow on the ground, you can cross-country ski it. There are 10 access points throughout the park, so you can choose your own adventure.

BLACKLICK WOODS
Blacklick Woods in Reynoldsburg Ohio is part of the Blacklick Creek Greenway

Ohio’s Metro Park system is a shining example of urban green spaces, and 643-acre Blacklick Woods is one of its best specimens. The 16-mile Blacklick Creek Greenway connects three local Metro Parks, as well as several other smaller parks. The park’s other trails are named, aptly, Beech, Maple, and Buttonbush; hikers can combine them for a snowy walk in the woods ranging from two to four miles. Blacklick Woods also offers interpretive programs for hikers and families throughout the winter months.

The beauty of winter with its frozen waterfalls, snow-covered forests, and icicles can completely alter a hike’s landscape and add a level of peaceful quiet not found in the summer. The accessibility of trails across Ohio makes it easy to get out and enjoy the snow and fresh air. Layer up, grab your pack, and hit the snowy forest trails.

Read the full story on Osprey

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.

While buyers are still seeking homes that offer safe, enjoyable shelter, new wish list items are emerging that give houses better design and function.

Home design trends that are expected to loom large in 2022 are an evolution of what started during the pandemic when life was disrupted and more homeowners started reevaluating their surroundings. Cases in point: the rise of the home office and backyard pools.

Some hot trends started years earlier, including energy efficiency, conservation of natural resources (especially in fire- and hurricane-ravaged areas), and affordable housing.

In addition, each cohort has its own wish list—baby boomers want lower maintenance and millennials want strong broadband connectivity.

One caveat: Know that there’s no universal agreement about what’s in and what’s out, even among our pundits who offered these ideas.

High-Speed Internet and Broadband

A home office or workspace remains essential for many home buyers, but if a house doesn’t have a good digital infrastructure, work-from-home buyers may not be interested, says associate broker Lori Hoffman with the Usha Subramaniam Team at Compass in Chappaqua, a suburb of New York. “Young buyers coming from urban areas expect it, yet it’s not always available,” she says. Her advice is to make sure high speed is available for your buyers, and if it’s not, find an alternative before they invest.

Quality, Quality, Quality

 Location may still be king, but buyers want quality in building materials, systems, and appliances since they know how hard it is to secure materials due to supply chain disruptions and find a contractor who’s available and can get the work done right. “They don’t want inexpensive gray and white vanities with a composition top. They prefer something like a dark navy or sleek modern dark wood with a thick porcelain top, something that echoes Mid-Century style,” Hoffman says. They also want personalized items that suggest quality, such as a kitchen island that resembles a piece of furniture, says J.T. Norman, business development, product, and design innovation specialist at Kitchen Magic in Nazareth, Pa. Buyers also prefer that original brick is left unpainted but given trim that’s accented with a dark color, says architect Eddie Maestri, founder of Maestri Studio in Dallas.

An Encore for Home Theaters, and a Welcoming to Yoga Studios and Sophisticated Lounges

 After losing appeal because they took up too much space, home theaters are popular again as homeowners seek more at-home entertainment. Most are constructed on the first floor or lower level, says designer Joe Fava, CEO of Fava Design Group in Miami. A newcomer to the trends list is a yoga studio as homeowners look for ways to unwind and stay fit at home, he says. Maestri also has received more requests for an intimate living space—what he terms a lounge or parlor—that includes club chairs and a bar, but no TV.

Purple is the New Gray (or Black)

Once considered the color of royalty, purple has become one of the “reigning” requests in the increasingly colorful world of home design, says Scottsdale, Ariz.–based designer Julia Buckingham of Julia Buckingham Interiors. “It’s a jewel tone that is both rich and neutral as a base for bright or more earthy hues.”

In one project, she mixed it with a lively red and a natural stone chandelier. “It plays well with both vintage and modern, which makes my ‘Modernique’ heart very happy,” she says.

Norman says an earthy khaki green is also a current favorite choice. Color expert Amy Wax of Your Color Source predicts the popular colors in 2022 will relate to nature. She anticipates softer greens, earthy taupes, warm browns, and off-whites. We may also see a nod to happier times and a carefree lifestyle in the form of brighter teals, Kelly greens, peaches, and oranges.

More Outdoor Changes

Having a yard or balcony gained ground during the pandemic and remains a big draw for buyers. As homeowners spent more time outdoors, their wish list for that space evolved. Hoffman finds that buyers want a flat yard that’s more usable than a hilly one. More people want a pool, so much so that many installers are booked into next year. Huntsville, Utah–based landscape architect Laurie Van Zandt of The Ardent Gardener says she usually designs one or two a year, but in 2021 she designed eight. A fire pit is also still high on wish lists, but an elaborate outdoor kitchen with a pizza oven and beer tap has waned in popularity—many found they rarely use these bells and whistles. What’s needed is a good 42-inch grill and cabinetry, says Chicago kitchen designer Mick De Giulio of de Giulio Kitchen Design.

When it comes to furnishings, Van Zandt says several clients have asked for nostalgic items that remind them of their grandparents, such as a porch swing, or have wanted to reflect their heritage through plant choices, colors, or design items. They also favored less-manicured gardens and yards with native grass seed blends.

Greenwich, Conn.–based landscape architect Janice Parker says she has started incorporating lighting that looks like it comes from a natural source, such as candles. In climates where bugs are prevalent or homeowners want to extend their outdoor enjoyment, there’s greater interest in screened porches, says home staging expert Kristie Barnett of Nashville-based The Decorologist. To connect outdoor or quasi-outdoor spaces to indoors, more homeowners are replacing windows with movable glass walls, says Norman.

Mid-Century Modern + Contemporary Chic

Design styles vary, but there’s agreement that a house with Mid-Century Modern architectural details and home furnishings stay a favorite, followed closely by contemporary, so long as the latter is warm and inviting rather than cold and spare, says Fava.

First-Floor Bedroom: Yes or No? 

Some experts say a house without a first-level bedroom is challenged. Not so, says Hoffman, who says it depends on who’s sleeping there. “It’s more important to boomers. My younger buyers considering a two-story home want all the bedrooms to be together on the upper level,” she says.

Open Plan Living? Yes, But … 

While there’s no single plan that appeals universally, Hoffman finds that most of her buyers still want an open concept plan. “A choppy plan with rooms broken up takes longer to sell, and the kitchen has to open to some sort of family room. However, the dining room can be its own room,” she says. When there’s a separate traditional living room, she finds her buyers ask, “What do I do with this room?” Others say the openness between rooms is closing a bit. “Homeowners still want sight lines from a kitchen to family room, but they no longer need rooms in a row and prefer some separation, maybe, with pocket doors or an island,” says Maestri.

Maximalism

The minimalism of the last few years is fading, while maximalism is soaring. What that means is rooms are being filled with comfortable furnishings, rugs, art, and collections with character, according to Laurel Vernazza, home design expert at The Plan Collection, a company that sells house plan designs. The fresh look doesn’t mean crowded, overstuffed spaces. One way to achieve the look is by mixing materials, like stones, metals (lots of bronze and less polished chrome and brushed nickel of recent years), fabrics with a nubby feel, different woods, and trendy matte black hues. “It’s a way to add richness,” says Fava, who finds clients want cocktail tables with several metal finishes or sofas with a metallic base. Another way to inject the look is to use curved elements instead of straight lines, such as arched openings, barrel-vaulted ceilings, and curvy furniture and walkways, says Vernazza. There’s also more architectural detail like fluting, Maestri says.

Spotlight on Ceilings

Periodically, the fifth wall of a room gains prominence. Now is one of those moments. The ceiling is being designed to stand out and be more attractive. Dated ceilings, such as those with the popcorn look, textured Styrofoam, or bumpy stucco are being targeted by homeowners for remodeling. Ted Speers, president of The Patch Boys, a national drywall, ceiling, and plaster repair franchise, suggests owners first test for asbestos, then scrape off the texture, repair the ceiling with drywall compound, and sand.

In upper-level rooms, designers like Buckingham make lighting fixtures the focal point of a ceiling or stairwell to create a modern art display that adds height, volume, and a light play when lit. But the caveat, she says, is that it can be a “beast to navigate the correct proportions and heights.” That’s where an interior designer can help. What’s out, she says, are small, mass-produced, lantern fixtures in an industrial or farmhouse style. Maestri likes to use high-gloss paint for reflectivity or wallpaper.

Smaller, But Not Tiny

 Ever since author and architect Sarah Susanka published her first book on smaller homes in 1998, The Not So Big House, there’s been interest in how smaller homes can offer comfortable, functional living. Author Sherri Koones’ book, Bigger than Tiny, Smaller than Average, also explores the subject. Smaller houses—2,000 square feet or less—are in high demand but short supply. The reasons for their popularity, Koones says, are that people are getting married later and having fewer children, while boomers are opting for smaller homes. Certain features help spaces look larger and function better, such as integrated outdoor areas, high ceilings, light-colored walls, open floor plans, well-placed windows, and niches and hallways that serve as workspaces.

All-Electric Homes

More homeowners understand the importance of “decarbonizing” everything from products to transportation, and especially their homes, says Chicago- and Boulder, Colo.-based architect Nate Kipnis of Kipnis Architecture + Planning. “The way we can best do this is by eliminating all fossil fuels use from houses and including induction cooktops rather than gas for cooking, which offers safer, faster, and more even cooking,” he says. Kipnis recommends using either an air-source heat pump (mini-split) for the HVAC system or a ground source system (geothermal). The big payoff, he says, is that renewable energy has become the cheapest form of electricity generation.

Multifamily Breakout Spaces

The pandemic taught developers and managers of multifamily buildings the importance of flexible shared spaces for socializing and work, termed breakout rooms by some. All the buildings that Keith Gillan’s Maryland-based firm Murn Management runs include such spaces for shared use, plus smaller conference rooms on each residential level. Another change in his company’s buildings is bigger residential units to facilitate working from home. “It’s not that much more expensive to do so at the beginning of the design process and be sure every apartment has a den,” Gillan says.

Read more at Realtor Magazine

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.

When I was preparing to put an offer in on my first home, my mom, over the phone, was nudging me to come in under the list price.

My real estate agent — who I knew was tenacious because she told me from the onset her favorite color was leopard — was blunt: That would be a horrible strategy and I’d likely lose the bid. Plus, it wasn’t worth haggling over the $5,000 to $10,000 that would be spread out over a 30-year mortgage, especially since my heart was set on the home.

In this case, mom — who is very financially savvy but last bought real estate before dial-up internet was around — didn’t know best. 

As it turns out, the well-intentioned real estate advice parents relay is sometimes outdated or misinformed. Here, real estate experts share some of the worst (and most persistent) pieces of advice that family members share regarding homebuying.

The Bad Advice: Don’t pay the full price in your initial offer.

In a buyer’s market, you may be able to gamble and come in under the list price. But, in general, underbidding (as my own mom advised me to do) is an outdated strategy, especially in this ultra-competitive market. 

“Paying the full price in your initial offer can help you score the home of your dreams, so don’t be afraid to go all in,” says. Beatrice de Jong, Opendoor broker associate and consumer trends expert. In fact, if there are multiple offers on a home and properties are flying off the market quickly, you may need to go a smidge over the asking price, typically 1 to 3 percent, according to The Mortgage Reports.

The Bad Advice: When checking out a property, don’t let the Realtors see that you like it.

Your family members may tell you to wear your best poker face to a showing or open house. The idea is if you show neutrality or disinterest, you’ll be able to negotiate a better price, de Jong says.

“However, in today’s hot housing market, this tactic may deter folks who would rather sell to someone who is clearly passionate about that particular home,” she says. “After all, sellers want certainty that a buyer is motivated to close on the home.” She suggests being honest about how you feel about the space. “Acknowledge what you love about it while being forthright about its shortcomings,” de Jong says.

The Bad Advice: Buy something you can see yourself living in for years.

Your first home doesn’t have to be your forever home, says Liz Coughlin, who co-owns HD Properties LA in Palm Springs and Los Angeles. In fact, in many markets where homes are expensive, this isn’t realistic advice, she says. But if you’re in an area where homes tend to appreciate over time, it’s a good idea to start small in a starter home that you can comfortably afford, she says. “Update over time, gather equity, then move up to your next property that suits your next life stage,” she says.

The Bad Advice: You need a 20 percent down payment or else you won’t be able to afford a home.

Larger down payments have some advantages. They can help you avoid paying private mortgage insurance (or PMI) and they can translate to lower monthly mortgage payments. But did you know that, according to the National Association of Realtors, the overall average down payment is 12 percent, and that the average first-time buyer puts down 6 percent? 

If you can’t wait to get into the home of your dreams, but don’t yet have 20 percent down, consider looking into an FHA (Federal Housing Administration) loan, which is backed by the government, suggests Andy Taylor, GM of Credit Karma Home. FHA loans allow borrowers with down payments as low as 3.5 percent to qualify for home loans, if their credit scores are 580 or higher. Borrowers with scores between 500 and 579 will be on the hook for a minimum 10 percent down payment, he says. 

The Bad Advice: “You should use the same lender we used.”

Mortgages aren’t one size fits all, so it’s always smart to shop around for your mortgage, Taylor says. “Anyone shopping for a mortgage should compare rates and terms from different lenders,” he says. Spending the extra time shopping around could save you tens of thousands of dollars over the course of a loan. Taylor suggests getting quotes from a handful of lenders before you commit to a new loan.  

If you’re worried about multiple requests or inquiries dinging your credit score, understand that any impact to your score will be small, and you can minimize any negative impact by shopping in a short period of time, Taylor says. 

“Complete your mortgage shopping in 14 days, and when multiple lenders request your credit score within that time, it will only count as a single inquiry,” he says. That window could be as much as 45 days but the rules can vary depending on what scoring model lenders use, so 14 days is the recommended safe bet, according to Taylor. 

Read the full story on 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.

Buyers will have a better chance to find a home in 2022, but will face a competitive seller’s market as first-time buyer demand outmatches the inventory recovery.

Here’s what we already know: Since the COVID-19 pandemic began, the real estate market has been on a wild ride of unprecedented highs and lows—record-high home prices on one side, record-low mortgage rates and available homes for sale on the other. It’s been a time of overwhelming stress for many, gigantic profits for some, and great disorientation for most of us.

Now the housing experts say the market is “normalizing.” But what does that mean? Will home prices and rents finally come down? Will more homes go up for sale? And what does the year ahead have in store for the real estate market?

The Realtor.com® 2022 housing forecast anticipates the market will continue slowing down from the frenzy seen in the spring when prices shot up to new heights. However, prices will stay high, inventory will remain tight, and mortgage rates will rise.

The bottom line: Even as the market calms down further, it’s still expected to be challenging for buyers, especially those purchasing their first homes.

“The 2022 housing market will continue to be a seller’s market with fast-moving homes and rising prices,” says Realtor.com Chief Economist Danielle Hale. “But the competition should be a bit less intense than we’ve seen recently.”

Home prices will stay high, but price growth will continue slowing

Home prices aren’t expected to keep zooming up into the stratosphere in 2022 the way they did this year. So buyers can breathe at least a shallow sigh of relief. Instead, Realtor.com economists anticipate they’ll increase at a much slower rate of just 2.9% over this year compared with an anticipated 12% rise in 2021.

This means the double-digit price growth that confounded buyers earlier this year is expected to taper off.

However, prices aren’t anticipated to come down from the highs they reached this year due to the continuing shortage of properties for sale and hordes of buyers continuing to enter the market. They just won’t go up so much as quickly.

“Price growth is expected to move back toward a normal range, but this is on top of recent high prices,” says Hale. “So prices will [still] hit new highs.”

While that’s not great news for buyers, homes aren’t expected to cost much more than they did just a few months ago.

“The pace of price growth is going to slow notably, bringing it more in line with buyers’ incomes,” says Hale. “With prices high and mortgage rates beginning to tick up, people won’t be able to be as aggressive in what they’re willing to pay.”

Not many more homes are expected to go up for sale

Unfortunately, for frustrated buyers who have had trouble finding the right homes in the right locations at the right price, there isn’t expected to be a rush of homes hitting the market.

Realtor.com economists predict the number of homes for sale, which is hovering around record lows, will tick up only 0.3%. That’s partly due to builders having a tough time ramping up construction as they contend with shortages in workers and materials, compounded by the global supply chain backups. (Single-family housing starts, which is when builders start construction, is expected to rise only 5% next year.)

There are plenty of investors snapping up single-family homes and turning them into rentals. And there is no tidal wave of foreclosures expected to hit now that the government moratoriums are expiring.

There are also more homebuyers today than there are abodes for sale.

Millennials are a massive generation—next year, there will be more than 45 million millennials between the ages of 26 and 35, which are prime homebuying years. So there would need to be substantially more homes built to keep up with the needed housing—except builders stopped building during the Great Recession and there are fewer homes going up today.

“The shortage of homes for sale, that has been more than a decade in the making, will keep home prices high,” says Hale.

Sales will also continue to climb, hitting a 16-year high as they go up by 6.6%, Realtor.com economists anticipate. That’s partly because technology has sped up the homebuying process. Plus, buyers are jumping on whatever comes up for sale in record time before the property is snapped up by another eager buyer.

Attractively priced homes in good shape are expected to continue going under contract quickly.

“Homes are selling so much faster than they have in any previous [years],” says Hale.

That speed supports increased housing turnover as more abodes change hands as folks move into their first homes or relocate, trade up into larger residences, and downsize.

The popularity of the suburbs is also likely to endure. They emerged as the places to be during the pandemic as buyers could score more square footage and bigger yards for less money than in the bigger cities.

“For years, we heard about the dying suburbs because millennials didn’t want to live there, but as they age, guess where they’re heading?” asks Hale.

Some were even moving to the burbs before the pandemic.

“This budding trend was accelerated by the needs of aging millennials, often with families, trying to grapple head-on with the realities of doing more than ever before from home,” says Hale.

Remote work will also likely be a factor. With more workers telecommuting or going into the office only a few times a week, they don’t have to contend with grueling commutes five days a week. Many are more comfortable moving farther outside of the cities where they can get larger abodes with room for a home office at an attractive price.

That’s likely to keep prices high in desirable communities.

“Shoppers were looking for affordable homes with space that could be used flexibly to accommodate working, schooling, exercising, cooking, and all of the other living and relaxing we used to take for granted,” says Hale.

It won’t be easy for first-time homebuyers

First-time buyers are likely to continue struggling to compete with the offers over the asking price and win the bidding wars.

The ace in their pocket is the work-from-home phenomenon that has allowed many white-collar professionals to work from anywhere they have a strong Wi-Fi connection. So they may be able to relocate to cheaper destinations that make up for what they lack in Michelin star restaurants with more affordable home prices.

“Maybe they’re not buying a home in or near a major city where prices are high and the market is still competitive,” says Hale. “But they can move farther away from the city to the suburbs or to an entirely new city where it’s more affordable.”

The savings many who held on to their jobs were able to amass early on in the pandemic—when the stimulus checks went out and many folks cut back on dining out and traveling—may help them with the down payments. Some buyers temporarily moved back home with families or doubled up with friends to save on housing costs as well.

“I know a lot of people are expecting housing prices and sales to peak and then decline. Instead, I think there’s enough momentum from these younger buyers who want to get into the housing market to keep sales moving forward,” says Hale. “They are going to succeed because that drive to buy a home and make it happen when you’re ready is really strong.”

Mortgage rates will continue ticking up

Mortgage rates have been the wild card to the housing market during the pandemic. Low rates at the start of COVID-19 helped fuel dizzying price jumps as buyers could afford to spend more on homes. That’s because they were paying less interest each month so they could absorb the higher home prices.

However, as the economy has improved and inflation has risen, making everything from a dozen eggs to a gallon of gas more expensive, rates are also expected to go up. That could help curb the runaway price growth that was seen in the spring. Buyers can stretch their budgets only so far.

Realtor.com anticipates mortgage rates will rise to an average 3.3%, hitting around 3.6% by the end of 2022. That’s up from a low of 2.65% in the first week of January for 30-year fixed-rate loans, according to Freddie Mac data.

While that doesn’t sound like much of a hike, it adds up.

The difference of roughly a percentage point to 3.6% would result in about $157 extra tacked on to the monthly payment of a median-priced home of $380,000. That can total more than $56,500 over the life of a 30-year loan. (This assumes the buyers put down 20% and does not include property taxes, insurance costs, or homeowners association fees.)

It’s also likely to result in homebuying becoming even more expensive. With home prices continuing to tick up a little and rates increasing, those purchasing a home with a mortgage will wind up shelling out more each month.

Rents will keep shooting up higher than home prices

It isn’t just homebuying that’s gotten more expensive. Rental prices have been soaring, and tenants aren’t expected to get any relief. Prices have surged and are expected to continue rising by 7.1% in 2022.

At the beginning of the pandemic, as home sale prices spiraled, rents in many of the big cities dropped precipitously. Many tenants moved to larger, nicer apartments with more amenities at deeply discounted rents. Then this year, they were hit with steep increases even in smaller, more traditionally affordable cities and suburbs.

The culprit behind the price hikes: There simply aren’t enough homes to go around—for rent or sale. Many aspiring homebuyers who keep losing bidding wars or can’t afford high homes prices are stuck renting. Plus, there are plenty of folks who moved in with family and roommates or split up with their partners during the pandemic who are looking for their own rentals.

“With apartment vacancies still near historic lows and landlords making up for lost rent increases during the pandemic, rents are expected to continue to grow,” says Hale.

Read more at 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.

Ohio’s winter wonderland is ready to explore! From outdoor hikes with frozen waterfalls to magnificent castles covered in snow, you’ll find fun all winter long.

Oak Openings

Located between Whitehouse and Swanton, Oak Openings Preserve is one of Ohio’s most unusual natural areas. With hiking, mountain biking and horse trails; the nearby Maumee River Water Trail; and a new treehouse village, the preserve is a destination for outdoor adventure.

STAY: CANNALEY TREEHOUSE VILLAGE

VISIT: Hiking

Cleveland Metroparks Toboggan Chutes

No Snow Required! Experience the icy thrill of tobogganing at The Chalet in Mill Stream Run Reservation. The twin, 700-foot refrigerated ice chutes operate with or without snow through early March, weather permitting.

STAY: EMERALD NECKLACE INN

EAT: LockKeepers

VISIT: Cleveland Museum of Contemporary Art

Punderson Manor Lodge & Conference Center

Situated in the heart of Ohio’s “snow belt,” Punderson provides many great winter activities, under the proper conditions like six multi-use trails, three snow mobile trails, two cross-country ski trails, one dog sled trail and a lighted sledding hill with tow rope.

STAY: PUNDERSON MANOR LODGE & CONFERENCE CENTER

EAT: Cherry Dining Room

VISIT: Cross-country Skiing

Ma & Pa’s

Every winter, all winter long, Ma and Pa hitch up the sleighs and take you out through the woods and out in the field and then back to the cabin for a warm fire, Ma’s cookies, hot chocolate and maple coffee.

STAY: THE AVALON GARDENS INN

EAT: Sirna’s Farm Fresh Kitchen

VISIT: Hike Kennedy Ledges

Boston Mills Brandywine Ski Resort

Boston Mills and Brandywine Ski Resorts are a pair of partner ski resorts, between Cleveland, Canton and Akron. Between both resorts there are 18 trails of various skill levels, a tubing park, four terrain parks, and two beginner areas. Brandywine offers midnight skiing on weekends and holiday Sundays.

STAY: THE INN AT BRANDYWINE FALLS

EAT: Melt Bar & Grilled

VISIT: The Side Quest

Snow Trails

Snow Trails in the Mansfield area is gearing up for ski season by implementing health and safety precautions during the pandemic.

You’ll find Snow Trails is only a short drive from Cleveland or Columbus, located near Mansfield. Serenely nestled in the Possum Run Valley, with a massive snowmaking system to keep snow on the slopes and in the tubing park, December into March. Learn to ski and snowboard in a user-friendly Beginners Area, with helpful instructors who teach group and private lessons. Snow tubing and Glow Tubing is fun for all ages too, with no experience necessary!

STAY: WISHMAKER HOUSE BED & BREAKFAST

EAT: Cypress Hill Winery

VISIT: Ohio State Reformatory

Mad River Mountain

Ohio’s largest ski resort featuring the Midwest’s #1 Terrain Park – Capital Park, and The Avalanche Tubing Park – Ohio’s largest tubing facility. Located just 45 minutes outside of Columbus and Dayton along Route 33.

STAY: COMFORT SUITES MARYSVILLE

EAT: Brewfontaine

VISIT: Tubing

Five Rivers Metro Parks

Snowshoeing is a great way to enjoy winter in Ohio. The paved trails and flatter hiking trails throughout Fiver Rivers Metroparks are perfect for this winter activity. 
And since Dayton is home to the nation’s largest paved trail network, with more than 340 miles of connected trails, outdoor enthusiasts can enjoy the snow all season long. 

STAY: FAIRFIELD INN BY MARRIOT DAYTON

EAT: Meadowlark Restaurant

VISIT: Ice Skating

Cantwell Cliffs

Cantwell Cliffs is located in the northern reaches of Hocking Hills – 17 miles from Old Man’s Cave. Its remote location discourages visitation, but those who travel the extra distance will not be disappointed. Many visitors proclaim the Cantwell area as the most picturesque in Hocking County.

STAY: HOCKING HILLS TREEHOUSE CABINS

EAT: Brewery23

VISIT: Hiking

Ash Cave

In the southernmost reaches of Hocking Hills is Ash Cave – beyond doubt the most spectacular feature of the entire park. Ash Cave is the largest, most impressive recess cave in the state. Catch the cave after a fresh snowfall and witness a larger-than-life ice tower in place of the regular waterfall.

STAY: HOCKING HILLS CHALETS

EAT: Millstone BBQ

VISIT: Hiking

The top US housing markets for 2022 are mostly affordable tech hubs with outdoor recreational opportunities that have become attractive alternatives to pricier coastal markets of late.

Experts have said that the real estate market is finally showing signs of slowing after a year of surging home prices and intense buyer competition. But desirable markets across the Mountain West and Midwest are primed for a big year in 2022, according to realtor.com’s latest analysis of 2022’s top housing markets, and buyers planning a move to these locations in the new year may want to do so sooner rather than later to avoid upcoming competition and rising prices.

The top housing markets for 2022 in the U.S. are mostly affordable tech hubs with outdoor recreational opportunities that have become attractive alternatives to pricier coastal markets, especially in the wake of the work-from-home movement that’s swept the country over the course of the pandemic. Cities that made the list have low unemployment, strong local economies and significant job growth.

“Our top housing markets are attracting remote-minded workers, possibly interested in snagging a big-city salary while still enjoying the quality of life that these generally smaller areas afford,” Danielle Hale, realtor.com chief economist, said in the report.

Although these cities are affordable in comparison to some of the nation’s priciest markets, the average listing price for these 10 markets is actually higher than the national median home price.

As of November, the average listing price for these hot markets was $431,000, compared to the national median of $379,000. That overall higher price point is just another incentive for buyers to get moving before the competition gets heated.

For this forecast, realtor.com analyzed data on the anticipated growth of home sales and home prices in 2022 compared to 2021 in the top 100 largest metro areas.

Read on for the nation’s hottest markets coming up in the year ahead.

1. Salt Lake City, Utah

Thomas Konings/ Unsplash

Median home price: $564,062

Anticipated price growth: 8.5 percent

Anticipated sales growth: 15.2 percent

Salt Lake City has become an emerging tech hub in recent years, drawing younger populations and helping it gain the nickname of “the Silicon Slopes.” Adobe, Facebook and Electronic Arts all now have hubs in the city, helping create new opportunities for aspiring techies.

In addition to the job opportunities the metro provides, it’s also a haven for natural beauty and outdoor recreation. But the allure for people coming in from pricier markets elsewhere has contributed to a significant spike in home prices and local agents expect competition to ramp up again after the holidays and come spring.

“You can expect that competition is only going to go up,” Jennifer Langford, a Realtor with UVO Century 21, told realtor.com.

2. Boise, Idaho

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Median home price: $503,959

Anticipated price growth: 7.9 percent

Anticipated sales growth: 12.9 percent

Boise has been on buyers’ radars for few years now as a hot market to watch. Like Salt Lake City, the metro area is an up-and-coming tech hub, hosting companies like HP Inc. and Micron Technology.

Boise’s outdoor recreational opportunities are also quite robust with options for snow sports, whitewater rafting and hiking. The city also has a vibrant food and arts scene and is becoming a more popular option for retirees relocating from more expensive coastal markets.

3. Spokane, Washington

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Median home price: $419,803

Anticipated price growth: 7.7 percent

Anticipated sales growth: 12.8 percent

Spokane is another outdoor lovers’ delight that made the top of realtor.com’s list this year. The area has easy access to hiking, cycling options, lakes and ski resorts. In addition, Gonzaga University helps bring the life of a college town to the metro area.

In particular, Spokane has become a draw for retirees and others looking to leave Washington’s pricier Seattle for an affordable inland alternative that still offers access to bodies of water with its lakes.

4. Indianapolis, Indiana

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Median home price: $272,401

Anticipated price growth: 5.5 percent

Anticipated sales growth: 14.8 percent

Another emerging tech hub to make this year’s list, Indianapolis is home to big employers like Salesforce, drug manufacturer Eli Lilly and the Indiana University School of Medicine.

Since the cost of living is so low, homeownership is more achievable than in other parts of the country, particularly for first-time buyer millennials who might struggle to break into other markets.

Indianapolis is also very accessible from neighboring suburbs that offer a bit more space, like Fishers, which was named the best place to live in America in a 2017 study conducted by Money Magazine and realtor.com.

5. Columbus, Ohio

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Median home price: $298,523

Anticipated price growth: 6.3 percent

Anticipated sales growth: 13.7 percent

Columbus is another affordable slice of America that has a lot to offer residents, including a strong job market, interesting restaurants and small businesses, and affordable housing options. Some of the city’s biggest employers include Nationwide Mutual Insurance, JPMorgan Chase and L Brands (parent company to Victoria’s Secret and Bath & Body Works).

6. Providence, Rhode Island

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Median home price: $419,813

Anticipated price growth: 9.6 percent

Anticipated sales growth: 8.1 percent

Providence is starting to become a more popular outpost for individuals relocating from Boston and looking for a more affordable place nearby. The college town has a lively music and arts scene and still plenty of big city amenities for a smaller price tag.

Home prices have shot up in the last year, realtor.com noted, but there are still some deals to be found, especially on the east side of town where new construction is in progress.

7. Greenville, South Carolina

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Median home price: $305,078

Anticipated price growth: 5.7 percent

Anticipated sales growth: 11.4 percent

Northeastern and Midwestern retirees ready for a dose of warmer weather and low taxes have been giving Greenville a boost of late. The metro area has all the city amenities one could hope for, including plenty of restaurants, galleries and shops, but at an affordable price.

A number of big employers have also opened up in the area in the last few decades as well, like BMW, Michelin and General Electric, bring even more job opportunities to the city. More housing options are becoming available too, with a construction boom that’s expanding the city’s reach and providing more affordable housing stock a bit removed from downtown.

8. Seattle, Washington

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Median home price: $666,754

Anticipated price growth: 7.5 percent

Anticipated sales growth: 9.6 percent

Even while Seattle transplants are migrating to Spokane, realtor.com noted that residents of some of California’s priciest markets are actually moving into Seattle for a price break, relative to places like the San Francisco Bay Area.

Like other cities that made realtor.com’s list, Seattle is a hub for major employers like Microsoft, Amazon, Starbucks and Costco, which is a huge draw.

The city’s abundance of outdoor recreational activities are also a major attraction, but the natural geography is actually a limitation on constructing new housing stock, with the city being largely surrounded by water.

9. Worcester, Massachusetts

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Median home price: $397,188

Anticipated price growth: 8.2 percent

Anticipated sales growth: 8.4 percent

Like Providence, Worcester is a popular haven for Bostonians seeking a cheaper way of life. With its commuter train to Boston, it’s still easy to get to the city, but Worcester has a lot to offer on its own.

The city is home to more than 10 universities, and has a vibrant downtown with plenty of dining and shopping options. It’s also a major hub for biotech and medical employers like AbbVie and UMass Medical School.

10. Tampa, Florida

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Median home price: $335,814

Anticipated price growth: 6.8 percent

Anticipated sales growth: 9.6 percent

With its winning combo of affordability and desirable weather, Tampa has also become a draw for retirees and remote workers of late. According to realtor.com, roughly two-thirds of home shoppers with their eye on the city are from somewhere else, with a good chunk of those buyers located in pricey markets like New York and Miami.

Even with a recent boom in development in the city in recent years, available inventory can’t catch up to demand, which has caused prices across both the rental and for-sale markets to creep upward. “[Developers] have all the buyers, but they can’t build them fast enough,” Mike Grizzell, a Realtor with Compass, told realtor.com.

Read more at Inman.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.