Learn strategies for saving a down payment, applying for a mortgage, shopping for a house and more.

Like any big project, a successful homebuying experience is all about getting the details right from start to finish. These tips for first-time home buyers will help you navigate the process, save money and close the deal. We organized them into four categories:

  • Preparing to buy tips.
  • Mortgage selection tips.
  • Home shopping tips.
  • Home purchasing tips.

Preparing to buy tips

Start saving early

Here are the main costs to consider when saving for a home:

  • Down payment: Your down payment requirement will depend on the type of mortgage you choose and the lender. Some conventional loans aimed at first-time home buyers with excellent credit allow as little as 3% down. But even a small down payment can be challenging to save. For example, a 3% down payment on a $300,000 home is $9,000. Use a down payment calculator to decide a goal, and then set up automatic transfers from checking to savings to get started.
  • Closing costs: These are the fees and expenses you pay to finalize your mortgage, and they typically range from 2% to 5% of the loan amount. You can ask the seller to pay a portion of your closing costs, and you can save on some expenses, such as home inspections, by shopping around.
  • Move-in expenses: You’ll need some cash after the home purchase. Set some money aside for immediate home repairs, upgrades and furnishings.
Decide how much home you can afford

Figure out how much you can safely spend on a house before starting to shop. NerdWallet’s home affordability calculator can help with setting a price range based on your income, debt, down payment, credit score and where you plan to live.

Check and strengthen your credit

Your credit score will determine whether you qualify for a mortgage and affect the interest rate lenders will offer. Take these steps to strengthen your credit score to buy a house:

  • Get free copies of your credit reports from each of the three credit bureaus — Experian, Equifax and TransUnion — and dispute any errors that could hurt your score.
  • Pay all your bills on time, and keep credit card balances as low as possible.
  • Keep current credit cards open. Closing a card will increase the portion of available credit you use, which can lower your score.
  • Track your credit score. NerdWallet offers a free credit score that updates weekly.

Mortgage selection tips

Explore mortgage options

A variety of mortgages are available with varying down payment and eligibility requirements. Here are the main categories:

  • Conventional mortgages are not guaranteed by the government. Some conventional loans targeted at first-time buyers require as little as 3% down.
  • FHA loans are insured by the Federal Housing Administration and allow down payments as low as 3.5%.
  • USDA loans are guaranteed by the U.S. Department of Agriculture. They are for rural home buyers and usually require no down payment.
  • VA loans are guaranteed by the Department of Veterans Affairs. They are for current and veteran military service members and usually require no down payment.

You also have options when it comes to the mortgage term. Most home buyers opt for a 30-year fixed-rate mortgage, which is paid off in 30 years and has an interest rate that stays the same. A 15-year loan typically has a lower interest rate than a 30-year mortgage, but the monthly payments are larger.

Research first-time home buyer assistance programs

Many states and some cities and counties offer first-time home buyer programs, which often combine low-interest-rate mortgages with down payment assistance and closing cost assistance. Tax credits are also available through some first-time home buyer programs.

Compare mortgage rates and fees

The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau recommends requesting loan estimates for the same type of mortgage from multiple lenders to compare the costs, including interest rates and possible origination fees.

Lenders may offer the opportunity to buy discount points, which are fees the borrower pays upfront to lower the interest rate. Buying points can make sense if you have the money on hand and plan to stay in the home for a long time. Use a discount points calculator to decide.

Get a pre-approval letter

A mortgage preapproval is a lender’s offer to loan you a certain amount under specific terms. Having a preapproval letter shows home sellers and real estate agents that you’re a serious buyer, and can give you an edge over home shoppers who haven’t taken this step yet.

Apply for preapproval when you’re ready to start home shopping. A lender will pull your credit and review documents to verify your income, assets and debt. Applying for preapproval from more than one lender to shop rates shouldn’t hurt your credit score as long as you apply for them within a limited time frame, such as 30 days.

Home shopping tips

Choose a real estate agent carefully

A good real estate agent will scour the market for homes that meet your needs and guide you through the negotiation and closing process. Get agent referrals from other recent home buyers. Interview at least a few agents, and request references. When speaking with potential agents, ask about their experience helping first-time home buyers in your market and how they plan to help you find a home.

Pick the right type of house and neighborhood

Weigh the pros and cons of different types of homes, given your lifestyle and budget. A condominium or townhome may be more affordable than a single-family home, but shared walls with neighbors will mean less privacy. Don’t forget to budget for homeowners association fees when shopping for condos and townhomes, or houses in planned or gated communities.

Another option to consider is buying a fixer-upper — a single-family home in need of updates or repairs. Fixer-uppers usually sell for less per square foot than move-in ready homes. However, you may need to budget extra for repairs and remodeling. Renovation mortgages finance both the home price and the cost of improvements in one loan.

Think about your long-term needs and whether a starter home or forever home will meet them best. If you plan to start or expand your family, it may make sense to buy a home with extra room to grow.

Check out potential neighborhoods thoroughly. Choose one with amenities that are important to you, and test out the commute to work during rush hour.

Stick to your budget

A lender may offer to loan you more than what is comfortably affordable, or you may feel pressure to spend outside your comfort zone to beat another buyer’s offer. To avoid financial stress down the road, set a price range based on your budget, and then stick to it.

Look at properties below your price limit to give some wiggle room for bidding in a competitive market.

Make the most of open houses

Online 3D home tours have become more popular amid the COVID-19 pandemic. These tours let shoppers virtually walk through a home at any hour and observe details that regular photos don’t catch. They don’t supply all the information in-person visits do — like how the carpets smell — but they can help you narrow the list of properties to visit.

Open your senses when touring homes in person. Listen for noise, pay attention to any odors and look at the overall condition of the home inside and out. Ask about the type and age of the electrical and plumbing systems and the roof.

Home purchasing tips

Pay for a home inspection

A home inspection is a thorough assessment of the structure and mechanical systems. Professional inspectors look for potential problems, so you can make an informed decision about buying the property. Here are some things to keep in mind:

  • Standard inspections don’t test for things like radon, mold or pests. Understand what’s included in the inspection and what other inspections you might need.
  • Make sure the inspector can get to every part of the house, such as the roof and any crawl spaces.
  • Traditionally the buyer attends the inspection. By following the inspector around you can get a better understanding of the home and ask questions on the spot. If you can’t attend the inspection, review the inspector’s report carefully and ask about anything that’s unclear.
Negotiate with the seller

You may be able to save money by asking the seller to pay for repairs in advance or lower the price to cover the cost of repairs you’ll have to make later. You may also ask the seller to pay some of the closing costs. But keep in mind that lenders may limit the portion of closing costs the seller can pay.

Your negotiating power will depend on the local market. It’s tougher to drive a hard bargain when there are more buyers than homes for sale. Work with your real estate agent to understand the local market and strategize accordingly.

Buy adequate home insurance

Your lender will require you to buy homeowners insurance before closing the deal. Home insurance covers the cost to repair or replace your home and belongings if they’re damaged by an incident covered in the policy. It also provides liability insurance if you’re held responsible for an injury or accident. Buy enough home insurance to cover the cost of rebuilding the home if it’s destroyed.

Read more at Nerd Wallet

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.

Looking for the perfect pumpkin patch near you to visit this weekend in Ohio? We’ve got you covered with the best pumpkin patches in Ohio!

Fall brings along so many fun activities! Apple picking, bonfires, beautiful fall colored trees and pumpkins! Pumpkin Patches offer so much more than pumpkins! We have to say that we have found all the best pumpkin patches in Ohio!


Pigeon Roost Farm – 4413 National Rd SW, Hebron, OH 43025 – Large variety of activities, food available on weekends. Lots of photo locations and decor to purchase. Phone: (740) 928-4925 Website

Lynd Fruit Farm – 9399 Morse Road SW, Pataskala, OH 43062 – This farm is quite large and has various locations when it comes to apple picking. Pumpkin Fields typically sell out by mid October. Lots of activities for families. Phone: 740.927.8559 Website

Hidden Creek Farms – 581 S Galena Rd, Sunbury, OH 43074 – This farm grows all sizes, shapes and colors of pumpkins. They have a market available and activities as well. Phone: (740)-815-9371 Website

Circle S Farms – 9015 London Groveport Rd. Grove City, OH 43123 – Has open hours 7 days a week in the fall. “Fun Fall Days” typically kick off the first of October. Phone: (614)-878-7980 Website

Freeman’s Farm – 6142 Lewis Center Road, Galena, Ohio 43021 – Pumpkins, hay rides, kettle corn, campfire concessions. Phone: (740)-548-7866 Website

Lehner Pumpkins – 2920 State Route 203, Radnor, OH 43066 – Offers a 15 acre pick your own pumpkin patch. They also offer food and activities. Website Facebook Email Phone: 740.595.3207

Hendren Farm Market – 14595 Johnstown Utica Rd, Johnstown, OH 43031 – 15 acre pumpkin patch, playground, mums and lots of decor. Facebook Website Phone: 740-325-7224

Leeds Farm – 8738 Marysville Rd, Ostrander OH 43061 – Leeds Farm offers LOTS of activities, animals, pumpkins and more. They offer a special Witches Night for ladies 21+ older. Website Facebook Phone: 740-666-2020

Van Buren Acres – 5066 Keller Road, Hebron, OH 43025 – Pumpkins, corn maze and sunflowers. Website Phone: 740-404-8656 Facebook

Lohstroh Family Farms – 15632 SR 56 SE | Mt. Sterling OH, 43143 – This farm offers pumpkins, corn maze, tractor train, food and more! Website Phone: 740-869-4208 Facebook

Orchard and Company – 7255 US HWY 42 | Plain City, OH 43064 – This farm offers up apple picking, pumpkin picking, farm yard activities and food. Website Phone: (614) 873-0510

More pumpkin patches in Ohio:

green wheel barrow with orange pumpkins inside


Leaders Farms – 0064 Co Rd 16, Napoleon, OH 43545 – The farm says to enter in the lattitude and longtitude to get there correctly. Specifics can be found on their site. They offer pumpkins, hayrides, zombie hunter, gem mining and lots lots more. Website Phone: +1 419-599-1570 Facebook

Lincoln Ridge Farms – 6588 Pollock Rd, Convoy, OH 45832 – Pick your own pumpkins and apples. Explore the corn maze, zip line and much more! Website Phone: +1 419-749-4224

Johnston Fruit Farms – 2790 US-20 ALT, Swanton, Ohio  43558 -You pick pumpkins and apples. They also have a petting zoo. Website Phone: +1 419-826-1453 Facebook

Conine’s Country Market – 20400 COUNTY ROAD 226, FOSTORIA, OH 44830 -You pick pumpkins, hayrides, fresh apple cider and baked Amish goods. Website Facebook Phone: +1 419-435-9616

The Old West Pumpkin Fest – 19066 East River Road ST. RT. 252
Columbia Station, OH 44028 – Website

orange pumpkins on straw bayles


Derthicks Farm – 5182 S. R. 82 Mantua, OH 44255 – Very large corn maze, pumpkin selling stand available. Website Facebook Phone: +1 330-569-8661

Maize Valley Farm – 6193 Edison St. NE (St. Rt. 619), Hartville, OH 44632 – Not only can you get some pumpkins here but this is also a winery and brewery. Facebook Phone: +1 330-877-8344

Nickajack Farms – 2955 Manchester Ave. NW, North Lawrence, OH 44666 – Farm fun for all including: barnyard animals, hayrides, barn activities, playground, horse barn and more. Website Facebook Phone: +1 330-323-9714

Red Wagon Farm – 16081 East River Road, Columbia Station, Ohio, 44028 -Pumpkin patch, mini pumpkins and gourds. They also offer an all you can carry for $10. Come and see if you can break the record for the most carried pumpkins for $10. Website Facebook Phone: +1 440-236-3007

Hillcrest Orchards – 50336 TELEGRAPH RD, AMHERST, OH 44001- You pick for apples, pumpkins and sunflowers. Barrel Train, corn box, hay ride, hay tunnel, corn maze, pedal karts, sandbox, playground and more! Website Facebook Phone: +1 706-273-3838

Honey Haven Farm – 1327 County Road 1475, Ashland, OH 44805-9365 -Corn cannons, pumpkin slingshots, you pick pumpkins, horse drawn wagon ride and much more! Website Facebook Phone: +1 419-289-3384

Diamond Hill Farm – 10468 Martinsburg Rd., Utica, Oh 43080 -Farm animals, corn maze, hay mountain, pumpkins, burlap sack slide, and more! Website Facebook Phone: +1 740-404-9200

Ramseyer Farms – 4000 Ramseyer Lane, Wooster, OH 44691 -This farm offers a lot of fun! Play, eat, shop and you pick pumpkins! Website Phone: (330) 264-0264

Brasee’s Corn Maze & Pumpkin Patch – 18421 State Route 58, Wellington, Ohio 44090 – Corn maze and pumpkin patch. Lots of fun to be had! Website Facebook Phone: +1 440-647-6749

Heritage Farms Pumpkin Pandemonium – 6050 Riverview Road, Peninsula, Ohio 44264 – Pumpkins, hay ride, maze and lots of activities. Website Facebook Phone: +1 330-524-9566

Dupler’s Pumpkin Land – 5766 Jacksontown Rd. Newark, OH 43056  – Wagon rides, corn maze, giant slides, pumpkins and more! Website Facebook Phone: +1 740-323-2514

Kingsway Pumpkin Farm – 1555 Andrews Street Northeast, Hartville, Ohio 44632-9018 – Corn maze, pumpkins and lots of fun. Website Facebook Phone: +1 330-877-6241

Luther’s Farm Fall Fest – 5150 Alger Road, Richfield, OH  44286 – Pumpkins, pumpkin cannon and lots of fun! Website Facebook Phone: +1 330-659-2526

Rufener Hilltop Farms – 1022 St. Rt. 43, Mogadore OH -Hay ride, train ride, you pick pumpkin, corn pool, pumpkin cannon and more! Website Facebook Phone: 330-628-1082

view of lots of orange pumpkins for sale


 McMonigle Farms – 5490 South Dixie Highway, Franklin, OH 45005 – Closed for 2021, will be back in 2022. Website Facebook Phone: 937-672-8248

Blooms & Berries Farm Market – 9699 S. Rt. 48, Loveland, Ohio 45140 – Corn maze, hay rides, pumpkins and more! Website Facebook Phone: 513-697-9173

Iron’s Fruit Farm – 1640 Stubbs Mill Road, Lebanon, OH 45036 – You pick apples, apple cider, pumpkins and more. Website Facebook Phone: 513-932-2853

Shaw Farms Market – 1737 Ohio 131, Milford, OH 45150 -15 acre corn maze, hayrides, 2 playgrounds, pumpkins and more! Website Facebook Instagram Phone: 513-575-2022

Young’s Jersey Dairy  – 6880 Springfield-Xenia Rd, Yellow Springs, OH 45387 – Pick your own pumpkins, haunted wagon rides and more. Website Facebook Instagram Phone: 937-325-0629

Brown’s Family Farm Market 11620 Hamilton – Cleves Road, Hamilton, Ohio 45013 – hayrides, barrel train, food trucks, pumpkins and more. Website Facebook Phone: 513-738-0404

Hidden Valley Orchards 5474 North State Route 48, Lebanon, Ohio 45036 – Pumpkins and fall tasty treats. Website Facebook Instagram Phone: 513-932-1869

Burwinkel Farms – 4359 Hamilton Cleves Road, Ross, OH 45013 – Corn maze, scavenger hunt, crawl through tunnels, pumpkins and more. Website Facebook Phone: 513-738-1145

Burger Farm & Garden Center – 7849 Main Street (ST. RT. 32), Newtown, OH 45244 – hayride, pumpkin land, puppet show, zip lines, trike track, and much much more. Website Instagram Phone: (513) 561-8634


Libby’s Pumpkin Patch – 41251 State Farm Road, Albany, OH 45710 – Corn maze, giant slides, corn bin, pumpkin, hiking, game area and more. Website Facebook Email

Niederman Family Farm – 5110 Lesourdsville West Chester Rd., Liberty Township, Ohio 45011 – Pumpkins, bonfire area rentals, lots of fall themed foods and a maze. Website Facebook Phone: 513-779-3228

Sweetapple Farm – 149 Sweetapple Rd, Vincent, OH 45784 – corn maze, animal areas, hay maze, pumpkins and more. Facebook Phone: 740-678-7447

Schacht Farm Market  – 5950 Shannon Rd, Canal Winchester, OH 43110 – You pick pumpkins and decor. Facebook Phone: 614-837-4663

Walker Farm – 28800 Chieftain Drive, Logan Ohio 43138 – Pumpkin farm in Hocking Hills! Facebook Phone: 740-385-6758

Sharp Farms Market – 7129 Old Logan Rd SE Sugar Grove, OH 43155 – Closed for 2021 season. Website Email Phone: (740)215-1284

Way Farms – 403 East Emmitt Avenue, Waverly, OH 45690. Pumpkins, Fall Decorations, Group Tours and more! Website Facebook

Porter’s Pumpkin Patch – 34517 State Route 7, Pomeroy, OH 45769. Pumpkins, Corn Maze, Indian corn, straw and more! Facebook Phone: 740-416-8844

Read the full post on Visit Ohio Today

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.

New listing data has fallen for 7 straight weeks.

On Tuesday, the S&P CoreLogic Case Shiller Index reported that national home prices grew 18% year over year. While the growth rate is cooling monthly, we are still in a savagely unhhealthy housing market trying to get national inventory levels back to pre-COVID-19 levels.

From the index:

I know it seems strange, but existing home sales are falling, and the monthly supply of new homes is at 10.9 months even if the last existing home sales report showed home price growth of near 11% year over year. 

There is a simple explanation for this, but you’re going to have to believe that supply and demand economics still work and that the credit profiles of homeowners matter more than people think. This means all those men and women since 2012 who have been saying its housing 2008 all over again on their YouTube, Twitter, Facebook and other social media outlets simply don’t have the proper training to talk about housing economics. I have documented the history of these housing price crash addicts for a decade now.

Housing inventory issue with no booming demand

My observation post-2020 is that many people have never read the total housing inventory data because we still have people who say active listings aren’t low or that it’s fake news. I understand why anti-Central Bank people say this because they want to blame everything on the Federal Reserve and say it’s just been booming demand.

However, we haven’t had a credit sales boom like the one we saw from 2002-2005. Nor can we ever have a credit sales boom again with lending standards back to normal. Case in point, purchase application data is already below 2008 levels today. 

Total Inventory had been growing from 2001-2005; total listings data in 2005 was at the higher historical range of 2.5 million listings. We broke to all-time lows post-2020, continuing the trend of lower inventory. Today, we stand at 1,310,000 active listings.

If we cut the timeline to the last time inventory grew, which was 2014, you can see this downtrend in inventory, unlike 2001-2005, when inventory grew from 2 million to 2.5 million. Inventory has been falling for years but people ignored the trend because some were always talking about the housing bubble 2.0 crash, especially from 2012-2019.

Then we can see a vicious break to all-time lows in 2020 when we didn’t have a seasonal push in inventory, and even today, with the weakness in home sales, we aren’t back to the range I believe would be ok, between 1.52-1.93 million. I don’t need to see total active listing get back to the historical range of 2-2.5 million to take the savagely unhealthy theme off, but I do need us to get into a range between 1.52-1.93 million, like I have talked about for some time now.

New listings are declining now

One of the issues with existing home inventory has been that, for the most part, a traditional seller is usually a buyer of a home. I am not talking about investors; I am talking about primary resident homeowners. Some sell to rent, of course. However, traditionally speaking, they buy a home.

One of the points of concern this year has been that when rates got toward 6%, this could potentially have new listings decline faster than normal because buying a home after selling might not be the best financial decision. Inventory is always seasonal, but the decline in new listings this year was not what I wanted to see. The decrease also happened when rates fell 1.25% from the recent highs of 6.25% back down to 5%. This is not encouraging news at all, in my view.

Read the full post on Housing Wire

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

There’s a meme going around that says something like, “I unsubscribed from Netflix and have been packing my own lunch; should be able to afford a house any day now!” This is exactly the type of zinger that resonates with today’s generation of homebuyers. Home prices are at record highs, and factors like student loan debt, salaries not keeping pace with inflation, and high rent prices all make saving for a down payment really difficult.

To put it another way? It’s passé (and laughable, really) to tell anyone that skipping an iced coffee run here and there will magically translate to a down payment fund in this unprecedented market. But if you are looking to put some money aside for a down payment, here are 31 smart strategies that can help — one for each day of the month — and none of which are a cliché attack on avocado toast.

1. Save your tax return (and other windfalls).

If you’re getting a tax return back, stash it away in savings or use it to pay down any high-interest debt (which can be the archnemesis of savings!), recommends Nathan Grant, a senior credit industry analyst with Money Tips, a personal finance site. You can also plan to put away any other money that comes your way, like one-time performance bonuses at work.

2. Spend your credit card rewards.

If you have cash-back rewards, sign-up bonuses, or any other credit rewards sitting on your card, consider cashing them in as statement credits to pay off your balance and free up money for savings, Grant says. Or, cash them out and transfer them to savings directly, he recommends.

3. Round up your purchases.

“There are more apps than ever before that can give you more control over your finances,” Grant says. Set up automatic deposits, he suggests, or use a banking app that allows you to round up your purchase to the nearest dollar. Bank of America has a “Keep the Change” savings program that rounds up to the nearest dollar when you make a purchase, transferring the change to your savings account. Or, an app like Acorns will invest your spare change.

4. Crowdfund.

When your birthday or the holidays roll around, family and friends can contribute to your down payment fund on sites like HomeFundIt. Some couples are asking for down payment contributions instead of gifts at their weddings.

5. Consider savings bonds

For example, the Series 1 Savings Bond is currently offering 7 percent interest, which is much higher than any other savings account on the market, says Danetha Doe, Clever Real Estate’s economist and spokesperson, as well as the creator of personal finance site Money & Mimosas

6. Limit your spending to one day a week

Choose one day per week that you will do your grocery shopping, and any other shopping, Doe suggests. “This will help you practice money mindfulness and eliminate impulse spending,” she says.

7. Name your savings account

Some banks will let you name certain accounts, which can be motivating to see money piling up in your “first home fund.” 

8. Find a money buddy

Find a friend who is also working on a savings goal, and hold one another accountable, Doe suggests. “Financial goals, like fitness goals, are easier to achieve if you have someone in your corner rooting for you.”

9. Flip furniture

If you own a van or truck, there is a good chance you can make some extra money to save by finding used furniture, cleaning it up, and reselling it, says Adam Sanders, director and business coach at The Relaunch Pad, an organization that helps hard-to-employ individuals find financial success. There is a constant stream of used furniture being sold on Facebook Marketplace, Craigslist, and other local classified services. 

“Spending a little time every day going through the listings can be a great way to find great deals that you can clean up,” he says. “With a little elbow grease and knowledge, you can take scruffy furniture and resell it for hundreds more than you bought it for.”

10. Continue “paying off” your debt

Say you recently paid off your credit card, car loan, student loans, or other type of debt. Figure out what you were paying toward that debt each month, and automatically transfer it to your savings, suggests Rick Albert, a real estate agent with LAMERICA Real Estate in Los Angeles. It’s a trick he’s used in the past, explaining “if I lived without that money before, I can continue to live without it.”

11. Consider changing up your cell phone plan

A recent study found that 90 percent of mobile users waste money on unnecessary unlimited data plans and use much less than what their plans allow for, points out personal finance and money-saving expert Andrea Woroch. You could consider switching to a lower-tiered data plan or go with an online carrier like Mint Mobile, which offers plans for as little as $15 a month, she points out. 

12. Hack your insurance bill

When was the last time you checked the price of your auto insurance policy? Chances are, you shopped around for the best price when you first purchased your car, Woroch points out. You can use sites like The Zebra to find cheaper insurance options and potentially lower your bills, freeing up money for savings, Woroch suggests.

13. Rent out your car

There are some surprising things you can rent out, such as your car that sits idly in your driveway (especially if you work from home) via sites like GetAround.com, Woroch suggests. This can be especially lucrative because rental car demand has been so high and people are looking for alternatives. Another idea if you live in a major metro, rent out your parking spot via SpotHero, she suggests.

14. Or, turn your car into a billboard

If you commute to work, you can have your car transformed into a billboard with companies like Carvertise. Wraparounds pay the most, but if you want something more subtle, some companies also offer back window advertising. 

15. Refinance your debt

Once you have a mortgage, you’ll probably be keeping tabs on interest rates to see if you should refinance. But did you know you can also refinance other debts, like your auto loan or student loans, especially if you have good or excellent credit? Any money you save on interest can be re-routed into your down payment fund.

16. Get cash back on purchases

“Think about how you can turn your everyday essential needs into extra home down payment savings,” Woroch says. For instance, you can earn cash back on groceries and take out orders by using sites like CouponCabin and funnel those savings into your down payment account. 

17. Use one streaming service at a time

Just about every network and niche has a streaming service these days. So, if years ago, you cut your cable bill thinking you’d be saving money, you might want to take a second look at how many services you’re subscribing to now. In addition to the big names like Netflix, Hulu, and Disney+, there’s also Shudder for horror films and BritBox for British shows. If you’re the type who likes to binge watch a show, it might make more sense to switch streaming services by the month to sync up with the shows you want to watch. 

18. Open a CD

The benefit of a certificate of deposit (or CD) is that it typically offers a slightly higher rate than savings accounts or money markets. But, you’ll want to make sure you’re able to access your cash within the period that you’ll need it for your down payment, as the money you put in these accounts is generally inaccessible for the term (which varies, but can be a year or more) unless you pay a penalty

19. Create purchase hurdles

A survey from Slick Deals found that Americans spent $183 on impulse purchases per month in 2020. You can curb shopping temptations by implementing a few purchase hurdles, like deleting payment and shipping details that are stored in retail apps and accounts, shopping with a set amount of cash, and unsubscribing from store email lists, Woroch says.

20. Get a side gig

“The fastest way to save more is to earn more,” Woroch says. These days there are plenty of flexible side hustles that you can do in your spare time, she says. For example you can pet sit via Rover, run deliveries for Postmates, or offer virtual tutoring via Varsity Tutors

21. Research first-time buyer programs

Set aside some time to look into local and state first-time home buyer programs, which often offer down payment assistance, recommends Kate Wood, home and mortgage expert at NerdWallet. “You may have to meet income or geographic requirements, but getting a grant, forgivable loan, or a low-interest loan can go a long way to building your down payment funds,” Wood says. Also, it doesn’t necessarily have to be your first time buying a home — these programs tend to define “first-time home buyer” as someone who hasn’t had ownership in a home in the past three years, she points out.

22. Boomerang

If you have family that are willing to help support you by letting you live with them, go for it, Wood says. “It’s not for everyone, but saving even one year’s worth of rent money will pump up your down payment fund much more rapidly than cutting smaller expenses,” she says.

23. Pause or lessen your retirement contributions

If you’re putting a large chunk of your salary into retirement savings, you can consider temporarily shifting that money to home savings for a few months, says Carl Jensen, founder of Money Mow. First-time homebuyers can also withdraw up to $10,000 from an IRA without penalty for a down payment. Consult a tax specialist before withdrawing retirement assets, he says. You may also want to work with a financial advisor to come up with a risk-appropriate strategy that aligns with your home-buying strategy and timeline.

24. Take on a roommate

If you live in a city where rent prices are already super expensive (looking at you, New York and San Fran), you may already have a roommate or multiple roommates. But for those who don’t have roommates, the perks include not only splitting rent, but other household bills. If you end up finding you like the roommate lifestyle, you can consider house hacking once you purchase your home — which is essentially renting out a room, half of a duplex, or basement to help cover (or in some cases, entirely cover) your mortgage. 

25. Sell items you don’t use

These days, you don’t have to have a garage sale to unload things you no longer want. You can put household items, furniture, clothes, or electronics up on sites like Facebook Marketplace, OfferUp, Poshmark, and other sites, suggests Ryan Fitzgerald, a real estate agent and owner of UpHomes. As a bonus, when your moving day comes around, you’ll have a lightened load.

26. Ask for a raise

If you haven’t received a raise recently and feel confident about your performance, go for it, suggests Fitzgerald. The good news: Companies are setting aside about 4 percent of their payroll budgets for raises in 2022, which is a record high not seen in a decade, according to think tank the Conference Board. Any extra money you get, you can automate into your savings. Here’s exactly how to ask for a raise, according to a career coach. 

27. Use your FSA account

If you’ve got a Flexible Spending Account — and you don’t want to risk losing money set aside in it for healthcare — you definitely should know about all of the items that you can spend it on and stock up. I’m talking sunscreen, First Aid care, motion sickness aids, lip balm, eyedrops, condoms, contact lenses, and more. Because you may need to tap into your FSA account during the year, it’s a good idea to wait until the end of the year to make extra purchases. Walgreens has a comprehensive list on what’s FSA eligible with and without a prescription.

28. Boost your credit score

The higher your credit, the less it costs to borrow money. Not only does that mean you’ll get a lower interest rate on a mortgage, but it may also give you the bargaining power you need to lower the APR on your existing credit cards or save money on your car insurance. Here are some small, easy ways to build your credit.

29. Try “no-spend” months or periods

You may not want to give up, say, dining out, the entire time that you’re saving for a down payment. But you could identify certain categories of spending and freeze your spending on delivery meals for a month, or vacation for a year. 

30. Audit your subscriptions

People pay on average $237.33 a month for their subscriptions, according to consumer research, which is nearly 200 percent more than they estimate spending when they’re asked on the spot. You may have some recurring charges hitting your bank account every month for services you’re no longer using. Here’s a five-step guide to auditing your subscriptions (and possibly getting a rebate on the fees that have been flying under the radar). 

 31. Get a library card

Not only are libraries stocked with books, but many also have items you can borrow like tools and kitchen gadgets — as well as discounted museum and theme park passes — that will help you curb big-ticket purchases. 

Read more 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.

Eating in Columbus is like experiencing a microcosm of the U.S., a mid-size land of milk, honey, and Buckeyes. The city is home to immigrant traditions and rich culinary history, from the fine dining legend holding court among the cobblestone streets and red brick buildings in German Village, to the food truck parked on hustling, bustling High Street meting out birria tacos, to the hidden gem tucked away inside a strip mall serving Ghanaian classics to neighborhood aunties and uncles.

Many of these businesses take advantage of the city’s impressive, historic architecture, but plenty more restaurants have withstood the test of time in less auspicious homes. Take a look through the windows of a once rusty hundred-year-old gas station to see crowds Instagramming pancake balls powdered with sugar and served with an assortment of sweet sauces. Or seek out the small brick building off the highway, a post-Prohibition relic that’s become a go-to dive for regulars, newbies, and anyone getting off work in need of revival. Then check beneath the neon sign around the corner for a bedrock of Buckeye culture where alumni and new kids on the block meet over fresh, old-school doughnuts.

If Columbus is a microcosm of the nation, it has also experienced the difficulties of the COVID-19 pandemic that impacted all American food communities. Many of the city’s most notable restaurants, standby watering holes, and beloved businesses have closed their doors. The places that populate this list are not the only deserving ones, but you can see the trails of hard work and determination that allowed them to adapt to the new realities of pandemic dining.

You’ll sample a bit of history and a lot of global flavors as you eat your way around the city’s essential restaurants, but every meal is quintessentially Columbus. So come take a seat, grab a menu (or load it up from a QR code), and gear up for a feast. And as always, tip generously, mask up when asked, and indulge.

Speck Italian Eatery

Take the 40-minute trip north to the city of Delaware to visit Speck, where chef Josh Dalton serves playful twists on Italian dishes that are joyfully nontraditional (think: confit chicken wings and balsamic glazed Ibérico ribs). Start the meal off with sfincione (Sicilian pizza) with rich olive oil and flaky sea salt, or the humboldt fog toast layered with browned butter, radicchio, and sage. Then feast on octopus and grilled branzino, and end with the budino featuring amaretto and macadamia.

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A decorative oval plate of meat sauced pappardelle

Asterisk Supper Club

With all the dark wood, ornate chandeliers, and floor-to-ceiling bookshelves piled high with literary classics, stepping inside the Asterisk Supper Club is like being transported back in time. Succumb to the sultry yet sweet atmosphere and cozy up to one of the marble tables. Eclectic with a flair for sophistication, Asterisk stays true to its name as a supper club centered around a social dining experience, including a menu for high tea featuring tea sandwiches and sweet delicacies. Come back during supper time to try the pork chops and scallops.

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A teapot pouring tea into a decorative mug, alongside a platter of colorful sandwiches and sweets, on a marble dining table surrounded by a banquette
Tea time menu

Kuya Ian’s Bistro

Located next to the Filipino grocery store Chuchay’s Supermarket, family-owned Kuya Ian’s serves flavorful renditions of Filipino classics like crispy yet tender whole fried bangsilog, beautifully butterflied longsilog, stir-fried pancit bihon redolent with soy sauce, and artfully topped halo-halo for dessert. After your meal, stop by next door to pick up some snacks (like ube pandesal, crispy chicharon, and dried mangoes), drinks (Mogu Mogu lychee or kalamansi juice), and more for your ride home.

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A slice of custard pie with bright yellow interior and caramelized top, served on a banana leaf
Dessert at Kuya

Wycliff’s Kitchen

Located in a strip mall, chef Wycliff Nduati’s restaurant offers a gateway to the sights, sounds, and aromas of Kenya. The karanga ng’ombe embodies the essence of beef stew, nyama choma is an ode to street food in the form of grilled goat, and the stewy karanga mbuzi is rich in flavor and tradition. If you don’t know what to order, just ask Nduati himself.

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Drelyse African Restaurant

Lisa Bannerman has served exciting Ghanaian food for more than 10 years, introducing plenty of locals to the colorful traditions and flavors of her home country. Dining in Drelyse feels like a big family reunion. Laughter fills the restaurant, mingling with the voices of aunties and uncles reminiscing and sharing news, as savory aromas waft from the kitchen in comforting clouds. Then your order hits the table: peanut butter goat soup with rice balls, fried fish and banku (made with a fermented mix of corn and cassava dough), waakye (rice and beans) with goat stew, and jollof rice (spiced long-grain rice made with tomatoes and onions) with turkey tail. For the full experience, get your hands dirty and forego the utensils. You’ll be licking your fingers and slurping from the bowl anyway.

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A top-down view of dishes, including soup, full roasted fish, meats, and stewed greens
A full meal at Drelyse

SGD Dubu

Taking its name from the Korean neighborhood of Sogong-Dong in Seoul, SGD makes classic, traditional Korean cuisine at locations across the Northeast and Midwest. Try the richly spiced soondubu jjigae that comes with tofu and your choice of protein; japchae marinated in a house-made sauce and tossed with vegetables and beef; and bibimbap served on a hot stone and paired with seasoned vegetables.

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A platter of beef ribs beside small bowls of banchan on a wooden table
Beef short ribs

Meshikou Ramen/Chikin

Strip mall hotspot Meshikou Ramen keeps customers coming back for creative appetizers and steaming hot bowls of slurpable noodles. Start with the K.F.C. wings in sweet garlic soy sauce and the Meshikou karaage dipped in spicy citrus sauce. Then explore the brothless mazemen and soup ramen sections, especially the fireball paitan ramen amped up with spicy garlic paste and the Meshikou black ramen slicked with black garlic oil. The restaurant’s fried chicken proved so popular they opened a spinoff next door, Meshikou Chikin, where the chicken is infused with mouth-watering flavors like Pacific dry rub, peppercorn teriyaki, and Indo-sambal. Come back again and again to try the whole menu.

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A paper-lined metal basket overflowing with a pile of fried chicken
The fan-fave chicken

Huong Vietnamese Restaurant

Originally opened under the name Phuong Hoang (“phoenix”), this family-owned restaurant has served traditional Vietnamese cuisine in Columbus since 2005. Casual, welcoming, and homey, Huong feels more like a family gathering than a formal restaurant. The extensive menu includes bún bò huế with spicy and savory lemongrass soup; bánh bôt loc filled with pork, shrimp, and fried onions; and bánh xèo dò bién flavored with coconut milk and paired with fish sauce on the side. Since the start of COVID, Huong has gone above and beyond to customize carryout meals for different dining situations, packing meals to be reheated in the microwave or consumed immediately, and providing extensive directions on rehe

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A bowl of pho with bright pink slices of steak, sprouts, greens, and pickles
Pho tai

Belle’s Bread

Tucked away in the Japanese marketplace located on Kenny Centre Mall, Belle’s Bread is a family-owned and -operated, French-inspired Japanese bakery. Takashi Takenaka opened the business after immigrating from Japan in 1972, and he pays homage to childhood treats with his red bean roll, frank roll, and curry and boiled egg doughnuts. The bear-shaped strawberry cream bun is all over social media, but the best-kept secret is the Mont Blanc roll with its layers of delicate, airy sweet cream and chestnuts.

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A diamond-shaped danish filled with bright yellow slices of peach, the edges dusted with sugar, on a decorative plate beside an ornate mug of tea
Peach danish

Xi Xia Western Chinese Cuisine

Xi Xia serves vibrant dishes from the hearths of the Hui people, a predominantly Muslim minority in the Ningxia region of Western China. Look out for dishes such as da pan ji stirred noodles fragrant with hot peppers, potatoes, and cilantro; dry pork intestines stir-fried with spices, chile, and hot sauce and served with warm rice; braised beef belly with yuba; and hong shao rou, soy-sauce braised pork belly paired with fried tofu and egg.

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From above, a shallow ceramic dish of white rice slicked with red sauce, beside a pile of bright head-on shrimp, pickled vegetables, and small meatballs
Shrimp, meatballs, and vegetables with rice

Los Agavez Taqueria

Parked on a corner of High Street, Los Agavez Taqueria offers a range of Mexican street food. There are a bunch of different tacos, tortas, and huaraches, but most people come by the food truck for Columbus’s take on the social media birria sensation. The birria tacos at Los Agavez have crispy stew-battered tortillas, stuffed with sweet, tangy beef stew and thick with cheese.

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Tacos stacked in a plastic takeout container, with sliced radishes and lime wedges for garnish, beside a paper cup of deep red broth
Tacos from Los Agavez Taqueria

The Crest

Chef Jon Gruseck and pastry chef Aaron Clouse continue to impress with their interpretation of modern Appalachian cuisine at this farm-to-table, chef-driven restaurant in the Clintonville neighborhood. The kitchen focuses on local, seasonal Ohio flavors and classy twists on comfort foods, with dishes like goat cheese balls; walleye fish fry with tartar and cured lemon; duck served on a bed of beet puree, dill, and parsley; and brown beans served with roasted Freedom Ranger and gritbread. Finish off your meal with the fruits of the forest dessert: spiced sponge cake topped with fig leaf syrup and candied ginger. If you feel like ordering pizza instead, visit the Crust, the quirky pizza kitchen operating out of the Crest, and try the pesto or traditional pepperoni pies.

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A bowl of greens topped with pickled onion, radish, and chickpeas, on an outdoor table beside a colorful cocktail
Salad at the Crest

Buckeye Donuts

A cornerstone of Ohio State Buckeye culture, 24-hour Buckeye Donuts has catered to students around the clock since 1969. Menu classics include vanilla and chocolate Long Johns, apple fritters, and cake doughnuts — though it’s worth considering the red velvet cake doughnut with cream cheese and the Buckeye doughnut, covered in rich chocolate and stuffed with peanut butter. The gyros deserve an honorable mention as well. Whether you stop in after an early morning run or for a late night snack, Buckeye Donuts will be there for your carbohydrate needs.

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A shop exterior, with a large hanging sign for donuts, another for coffee, lettering indicating the name of the shop on the facade, and an illustrated sign of an anthropomorphized animal boy in a chef’s toque pushing a giant donut
Outside Buckeye Donuts

Si Señor Peruvian Sandwiches

Located in the heart of Grandview, Si Señor turns out Peruvian sandwiches like tender chicharron peruano paired with pickled red onions and sweet potato mayo, fried criollo fish topped with rocoto mayo, and pasta salad tossed with red peppers and onions in cilantro cream. Due to COVID, Si Señor is only open during lunch hours, but the fan-favorite sandwich menu remains, and you can end your midday meal with a slice of the satisfyingly moist tres leches cake.

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Hands hold up two halves of a meaty sandwich dotted with purple cabbage
Meaty sandwich from Si Senor

Mazah Mediterranean Eatery

Operating as a family business since 2009, Mazah remains a Grandview staple for eats and sweets of the Mediterranean. Chef and owner Maggie Ailabouni impresses with her baba ghanoush served with fresh pita and extra virgin olive oil; creamy tzatziki mixed with garlic and mint; shish tawook soaked in a garlic lemon marinade and served with a side of garlic sauce; and char-grilled kefta kebaba topped with tomatoes. For dessert, get the kenafi, syrupy sweet and layered with cheese, or the baklava, which is flaky, crispy, and flavored with honey in all the right ways.

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A server in gloved hands lays a slice of knafi from a tray onto a plate with a metal spatula


CRMD challenges Columbus with wild, unconventional, and unapologetic takes on ice cream. The menu is packed with nostalgic flavor combinations like Fruity Pebbles and cereal milk, plus twists on classics such as cookies and CRMD (cookies and cream — but purple). Pro tip: Order your scoops in an egg waffle cone, aka a puffle cone.

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A worker pours caramel from a squeeze bottle onto an ice cream cone in a puffy waffle
Applying the finishing touch to a puffle cone


Katalina’s is housed in a 100-year-old gas station in the middle of the Harrison West neighborhood. The restaurant is known to many as the home of the Pancake Balls (bite-sized pieces of fluffy pancakes stuffed with your choice of Nutella, dulce de leche, or pumpkin-apple butter) and the Sweet ‘N’ Spicy Bacon (thick cut and bursting with savory-sweet flavor). The rest of the menu includes a Breakfast Chick ’Wich featuring Southern-fried chicken coated with corn chips; okonomiyaki topped with eggs, bacon, piri-piri, and citrus aioli; and a Mazatlan slow-roasted pork and egg sandwich made with thick old-world bread and Katalina’s secret sauce (licking your fingers won’t help you figure out the secret behind the sauce, but you should do it anyway).

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An old-school scale piled high with sugar-dusted pastry balls
Pancake Balls at Katalina’s

The Alibi Bourbon & Cocktail Lounge

Located in the Short North Arts District, Alibi is a self-described Prohibition-style bar, but the drinks are anything but staid and the decorations anything but dreary. The bar prides itself on its ability to concoct cocktails catered to every visitor, and the menu is organized visually to direct patrons to the perfect drink based on alcohol level and flavor. If you prefer something approachable and sweet, go for the Cuffing Season, with its combination of coffee liqueur and cinnamon-infused sugar. But if your tastes lean toward spirited and bitter, try the Mile High Club with Angel’s Envy whiskey and Amaro Montenegro.

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A person delivers a creamy cocktail served in an ornate tea cup, on a small rainbow platter with a cookie
The Foggy London Town cocktail

Tasi Cafe

If you blink too fast you’ll miss the charming Tasi Cafe. Hidden on a small corner between two side streets in the Short North Arts District neighborhood, the quaint cafe serves fun twists on breakfast, lunch, elevenses, snack time, and supper. Check out the challah French toast topped with sweet caramelized bananas, the open-faced smoked salmon sandwich with capers and cream cheese on focaccia, or the steak skillet paired with tomatoes, runny egg, and freshly toasted bread that is designed for dipping. Must-trys on the drink menu include the caipirinha, Irish coffee, hot chocolate toddy, or cold brew.

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People sit at a communal wooden picnic table enjoying plates of daytime fare, including roast chicken and eggs benedict
Brunch at Tasi Cafe

Momo Ghar

Momo Ghar is a casual spot to enjoy the tastes of Nepal and Tibet. Originally tucked inside international grocery store Saraga, during the pandemic the restaurant found a new home among the bustling sights and sounds of the historic North Market. Diners squeeze in for juicy, well-stuffed momos served with a house-made savory spiced red sauce. Chef and owner Phuntso Lama has also earned a massive following for her Kathmandu-style jhol momo served in a bath of spicy broth, juicy pan-fried kothey, and Newari Kathmandu-style chicken choila served with roasted beaten rice.

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A bowl of momos in pale orange sauce topped with a sprig of cilantro
Jhol momo

Wolf’s Ridge Brewing

At Wolf’s Ridge Brewing, fine dining meets craft brewing. Located in downtown Columbus, the microbrewery and restaurant serves items like baked Bankston paired with candied pecan and pomegranate gastrique; smoked mussels served with smoked butter, bratwurst, and grilled baguette; and duck pot pie stuffed with root vegetables and fingerling potatoes. The drinks menu is equally ambitious, with coffee coconut stouts and smoked wheat ales with names like Taco Ninja and Dire Wolf Coffee Joy. Be sure to also check out Understory, the team’s winter 2022 expansion, which is housed in the historic Open Air School building in Clintonville.

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A can of beer with a competition medal leaning beside it, beside a tall glass of light beer
Coffee vanilla cream ale

Ray Ray’s Hog Pit

Originating as a humble food truck located in Franklinton, Ray Ray’s has made a name for itself as one of Columbus’s top destinations for soulful, old-fashioned barbecue. The team has expanded into a brick and mortar location in Granville where they offer meat-and-three-style meals, and also has several additional trucks around the city. But head for the original location and order the meat sampler — which includes smoked brisket, pulled pork, jerk chicken, dry rubbed ribs, and hot links — to see everything Ray Ray’s has to offer. Get ready for the meat sweats.

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From above, a large tray of slices of various  barbecued meats, separated by variety, along with dipping sauces
Meats and more meats from Ray Ray’s

Mikey’s Late Night Slice

Mikey’s maintains an iron grip on Columbus’s late night pizza scene with slices as big as your head and unique pies in flavors like the Spicy-Ass Pepperoni seasoned with Sriracha and chile flakes. Look out for pizza-of-the-week flavors, like the collaboration with Hot Chicken Takeover featuring Nashville hot chicken and pickles. Dip your slice into their (secret recipe) Unicorn Sauce and admire the decorations featuring the shop’s wild mascot, Pizzaface. If you visit the High Street location, be on the lookout for the speakeasy hidden inside the restaurant.

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A slice of mac and cheese topped pizza being lifted from the rest of the pie, with strings of cheese hanging down
Mac & Cheezus pizza

El Lugar

Small, quaint, and cozy, this Spanish bar serves up tapas and pinchos inspired by the streets of Barcelona. The go-to is the jamon Ibérico, sliced thin and draped over crispy potato chips, which pairs beautifully with a tall glass of red wine. Don’t sleep on El Lugar’s wide selection of Espinaler canned seafood either. If the light bites don’t fill you up, walk on over to El Lugar’s sister restaurant, Alpine, and try the raclette fladen (cheese-stuffed bread) and traditional käsespätzle (an overflowing pot of egg noodles, onions, and cheese).

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A branded package of canned seafood on a plate with chunks of bread and slices of lemon, beside a glass of red wine
Seafood with bread and lemon

Pistacia Vera

The sweetheart of German Village, Pistacia Vera is home to a vast selection of pastries, sweets, and drinks reminiscent of a French-leaning European cafe. The delicate macarons, croissants, and pan au chocolat are fan favorites, but the real treat is the chocolate bombe: rich, smooth, and covered in chocolate. Order up a warm Valrhona mocha or pistachio latte to go with your treats, and grab a seat by the window to enjoy the moment.

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From above, a paper box of macarons in various shades, alongside a large bottle of red wine
Macarons and wine


A walk down the historic cobblestoned streets of German Village leads you to the front doors of Lindey’s, a classy piece of culinary history. Envisioned by Sue Doody back in 1981, Lindey’s has remained a Columbus landmark for 40 years by serving up elegance on a platter. Classic dishes include the Georges Bank cod layered with sweet corn puree paired with marbled potatoes, brined duroc pork topped with caramelized pear and apple chutney, and tournedos of beef dressed in bearnaise. Whether you’re visiting for a first date, your 50th anniversary, or a quiet dinner out, you’ll leave Lindey’s telling friends and colleagues about the restaurant in hushed, reverent tones.

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A large pork chop propped up on a pile of colorful chopped vegetables, set in front of a sunny outdoor backdrop
Pork chops at Lindey’s

Plank’s Cafe & Pizzeria

Plank’s Cafe and Pizzeria is a down-to-earth watering hole, which has been serving locals (and curious visitors) since 1939. Throughout the years, the restaurant has built an integral place for itself in the community. Venture in during the wee hours of the morning and you’ll find yourself surrounded by local health care workers getting off their shifts, but visit mid-afternoon and you’ll find a more lively crowd of regulars and sports fans cheering for the next goal, homerun, or touchdown. The pizzas arrive on slightly sweetened crusts, covered in generous layers of sweet tomato sauce.

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Plank’s Cafe on Parson’s

Kolache Republic

Bringing a bit of the Czech Republic to the hearts and stomachs of Ohioans, Kolache Republic is a neighborhood staple in German Village for sweet dough pastries. Somewhere between a classic yeast doughnut and a Danish, the kolaches are filled with ingredients like blueberry cheese, sweet cheese, and sausage with egg and cheese, among others. Visit in November for their popular Thanksgiving kolache filled with juicy roasted turkey and house-made stuffing, served with a side of cranberry sauce and gravy.

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A kolache topped with lots of drizzled icing, jam, and toppings, on a white plate
A well-decorated kolache

Read more at Eater

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.

Innovation in construction materials means there are a number of flooring alternatives that can give your home the hardwood look without the high price tag. Laminate and engineered wood are two popular choices that offer the beauty of hardwood at a fraction of the cost. Let’s take a look at some of the alternatives that will fit into a tight budget.


Laminate is a synthetic product made to look like wood. It is composed of several layers of pressed wood that are fused together with a synthetic resin. The top layer is a photograph of wood grain that is protected by a wear-resistant clear coating. Laminate is much less expensive than hardwood and can be installed over almost any type of subflooring. Installation of laminate can be a do-it-yourself project that will save you even more money, but if you choose, a professional installer can do the job quickly and reasonably.

Engineered Wood

Engineered wood is a product made from real wood that has been shredded and reconstituted with a binding agent. The top layer is a hardwood veneer that can be stained and finished to look like almost any type of wood. Engineered wood is more expensive than laminate, and comes in a variety of colors and grain patterns, such as engineered oak flooring. Engineered wood is more expensive than laminate but less expensive than hardwood. Installation is similar to laminate and can be done by a do-it-yourselfer or professional installer.


Vinyl has come a long way in recent years and can now be made to look like almost any type of flooring, including hardwood. Vinyl is made from PVC plastic and is waterproof, making it a good choice for areas that are prone to moisture, such as kitchens and bathrooms. Vinyl is less expensive than engineered wood and can be installed by the do-it-yourselfer or professional installer.


Bamboo is grass that is harvested and made into flooring. Bamboo is a sustainable and renewable resource that is becoming more popular as a flooring alternative. Bamboo is harder than oak and can be stained or finished to look like almost any type of wood. Bamboo is more expensive than laminate but less expensive than hardwood and is a favorite option among those who are seeking to build a green home due to its sustainability.

These are just a few of the many flooring alternatives that can give your home the hardwood look without the high price tag. With so many choices available, you are sure to find one that fits both your budget and your style.

Read more at Rismedia.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.

Mortgage rates are much higher today than they were at the beginning of the year, and that’s had a clear impact on the housing market. As a result, the market is seeing a shift back toward the range of pre-pandemic levels for buyer demand and home sales.

But the transition back toward pre-pandemic levels isn’t a bad thing. In fact, the years leading up to the pandemic were some of the best the housing market has seen. That’s why, as the market undergoes this shift, it’s important to compare today not to the abnormal pandemic years, but to the most recent normal years to show how the current housing market is still strong.

Higher Mortgage Rates Are Moderating the Housing Market 

The ShowingTime Showing Index tracks the traffic of home showings according to agents and brokers. It’s also a good indication of buyer demand over time. Here’s a look at their data going back to 2017 (see graph below):

A Window of Opportunity for Homebuyers | Keeping Current Matters

Here’s a breakdown of the story this data tells:

  • The 2017 through early 2020 numbers (shown in gray) give a good baseline of pre-pandemic demand. The steady up and down trends seen in each of these years show typical seasonality in the market.
  • The blue on the graph represents the pandemic years. The height of those blue bars indicates home showings skyrocketed during the pandemic.
  • The most recent data (shown in green), indicates buyer demand is moderating back toward more pre-pandemic levels.

This shows that buyer demand is coming down from levels seen over the past two years, and the frenzy in real estate is easing because of higher mortgage rates. For you, that means buying your next home should be less challenging than it would’ve been during the pandemic because there is more inventory available.

Higher Mortgage Rates Slow the Once Frenzied Pace of Home Sales

As mortgage rates started to rise this year, other shifts began to occur too. One additional example is the slowing pace of home sales. Using data from the National Association of Realtors (NAR), here’s a look at existing home sales going all the way back to 2017. Much like the previous graph, a similar trend emerges (see graph below):

A Window of Opportunity for Homebuyers | Keeping Current Matters

Again, the data paints a picture of the shift:

  • The pre-pandemic years (shown in gray) establish a baseline of the number of existing home sales in more typical years.
  • The pandemic years (shown in blue) exceeded the level of sales seen in previous years. That’s largely because low mortgage rates during that time spurred buyer demand and home sales to new heights.
  • This year (shown in green), the market is feeling the impact of higher mortgage rates and that’s moderating buyer demand (and by extension home sales). That’s why the expectation for home sales this year is closer to what the market saw in 2018-2019.
Why Is All of This Good News for You?

Both of those factors have opened up a window of opportunity for homeowners looking to move and for buyers looking to purchase a home. As demand moderates and the pace of home sales slows, housing inventory is able to grow – and that gives you more options for your home search.

So don’t let the headlines about the market cooling or moderating scare you. The housing market is still strong; it’s just easing off from the unsustainable frenzy it saw during the height of the pandemic – and that’s a good thing. It opens up new opportunities for you to find a home that meets your needs.

Bottom Line

The housing market is undergoing a shift because of higher mortgage rates, but the market is still strong. If you’ve been looking to buy a home over the last couple of years and it felt impossible to do, now may be your opportunity. Buying a home right now isn’t easy, but there is more opportunity for those who are looking.

Learn more on Keeping Current Matters.

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

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

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

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

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

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

Homeownership Is Historically a Great Hedge Against Inflation

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

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

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

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

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

Bottom Line

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

Read more at Keeping Current Matters.

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

1. Early Television Museum

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

2. Topiary Park

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

3. Battelle Darby Creek Metro Park

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

4. Rambling House Soda

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

5. Book Loft

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

6. The Old Mohawk

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

7. Billy Ireland Cartoon Library and Museum

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

8. Cornhenge

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

9. Eddie Rickenbacker Childhood Home

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

Read more Tripping.com

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

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

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

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

Do Decks Add Value To A Home? 

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

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

Decks vs. Patios 

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

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

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

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

Backyard Features That Add Value 

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

Privacy Features 

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

Shade Features 

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

A Swimming Pool 

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

A Fire Pit 

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

An Outdoor Kitchen 

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

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

Read more Curbio

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