June is National Homeowner Month. Here’s An Interesting Take On It

Are you aware that June is National Homeownership month?

Probably not. Because you’re too busy working to afford the home you live in, whether you rent it or own it.

Why should you care?

If you poke around and read anything you can find about it, you’re being urged to recognize and celebrate the benefits of homeownership.

That seems kind of a weird thing to ask you to do. Do you really have the time or care? What’re you supposed to do, throw a party? Sit alone and contemplate it? Invite some friends out for coffee and chat about it?

You’ve got to figure that the people who actively promote it probably have their reasons and motives for pushing it. (You know, like real estate agents, mortgage lenders, and the government.)

It makes you wonder…

Why do they push it, other than to make money?

Is it really the “American Dream”? Or is it just a packaged ploy?

Is it all it’s cracked up to be? What about all the people who were recently hurt by the housing market and getting in over their heads?

What about the economy and jobs? What about making enough money to even afford a house?

And, what about all the headaches and worries that come with homeownership?

Are you being sold on something unachievable, or not even all that desirable?

Maybe you shouldn’t own a home

OK, first off…

Homeownership is not for everyone.

There always seems to be this push to increase the percentage of homeowners. It gets wrapped in reasons why it’s good for you, your community, the country as a whole…maybe even the whole universe.

Pushing to increase the percentage of homeownership for the sake of statistics and percentages is wrong.

Lots of people shouldn’t own a home. Maybe some people shouldn’t even be allowed to own a home even if they qualify financially. That’s what leads to problems, because it’s a responsibility not everyone can handle.

Besides, if everyone owned property it wouldn’t be as special. As coveted. As much of a dream.

So, if you do question whether homeownership is “worth it”, maybe it isn’t the worst thing. Maybe you shouldn’t own a home.

It’s easy enough to let the people who really want to own property, and believe in the value of it, own all of the real estate.

Just don’t buy any…

Let them enjoy the “pride”

One of the catch phrases you’ve probably heard is, “There’s pride in homeownership.”

That’s kind of the cover-all reason given as to why more and more people should own their own homes.

You can’t entirely diminish the fact that there is pride and value in owning real estate. There is.

Nor can you entirely diminish the actual benefits of ownership, like building wealth, tax incentives, and not throwing money out the window and building someone else’s wealth.

But there’s certainly an inability for some people to buy real estate. Some people will never achieve homeownership.

And there’s certainly risk and worry involved. Not everyone can handle that.

It’s certainly understandable that lots of people shy away from buying real estate so soon after the real estate bubble burst, and the slow recovery. Some people are still recovering financially. Some people watched their parents struggle and worry, only to lose their home.

But for those who can and do own real estate, there is pride. And there’s appreciation.

Because while not everyone should own real estate…at least now everyone can.

You get to choose, not be chosen to own land

It used to be only a select few who could own land.

Now almost everyone has the right to own property…if they want to and have the ability.

This isn’t the feudal system where there are only a handful of Lords who’ve been granted a piece of land to look after by a King. (Side note: Do you think any Lords ever questioned the value of owning land?)

You can choose to be the lord of some land. You just have to want to, and be financially qualified to.

While you don’t have to be “chosen”…nobody’s giving it to you either.

So, if you can financially afford to, there should be some pride and appreciation in owning a little (or large) piece of this planet, with a “castle” to call your own.

So, when you do decide to buy some real estate, you should enjoy the pride, appreciation, and respect for the right and privilege to do so. You are essentially choosing to be your own land Lord.

There are places in this world you still can’t. So, imagine that. Imagine not having the choice.

Is it worth you recognizing and celebrating?

With all that in mind, is National Homeownership Month more meaningful to you?

Does it put homeownership in an objective light? Is it appealing to you? Does it make you want to own real estate? Does it make you want to own more real estate if you already own some?

Don’t get swept up in the hype of homeownership month, or anyone just trying to persuade you of the benefits of homeownership, no matter what month it is.

The best way to figure out if you should be a homeowner is to speak with a serious, objective real estate agent. One who takes counseling clients more seriously than pushing the pride of homeownership, just so they can make a sale.

Give me a ring if you’re looking for some good, objective counsel. I’d love to be part of that round table.

These Trendy “Stock Tank” Pools are Popping Up In Back Yards Everywhere

How would you like a soaking pool that is big enough to comfortably fit the family, easy to maintain, and costs around $440 to get started?

Whether you live in a place like this…

Or this, you can’t beat a deal like that

Stock tank pools are a new trend quickly rising in popularity. You might be thinking, “I don’t know how I’d feel swimming in a cow trough.” But these pools aren’t just inexpensive. They are highly versatile.

For instance, this “cow trough” has a salt water filter, a waterfall, and quite the setup for day or night soaking

Tractor Company Supply has commented, “More and more, we see our customers turning to this innovative solution as a way to enjoy many of the benefits of a pool without the high cost.”

Keepin' it cool 😎 #farmlife #stocktankpool #tractorsupply #diy

A post shared by Hampton Family (@charlottesfarm) on

Setting one of these pools up is easy too. All you need is a flat surface large enough for the stock tank, and the pump. Then set up the tank, seal it, put the pump on and fill it up.

You can use gravel or sand to help create a flat area

You can also simply sink them into the ground for added insulation and style

Pool is open for business 😉 #stocktank #stocktankpool #coolingpool #cocktailtime

A post shared by justAmom❤ (@justamom5) on

Annie McCreary, the owner of a stock pool, wrote on Instagram wrote, “We use an above ground pool pump/filter.” She also stated, “We do add chlorine as needed, just like a regular pool/spa. I test it daily with the pool strips, [and], I shock it once a week—so easy! If it gets too funky, it’s easy to drain and re-fill.”

You can style your pools any way you like, and not have to spend tens of thousands for it

Or you can decorate using the most versatile DIY material ever, the wood pallet

“Sounds pretty simple, but is it really? How do I make one of these?”

Stacey Maaser, author of Embracing Motherhood put together this detailed stock tank pool DIY to show you how to create one suitable for the whole family.

Bottom line, it’s inexpensive, easy to do, can be turned into any sort of soaking tub paradise you can imagine, and it can fit nearly anywhere. What’s the drawback?

My guess is, never wanting to get out

7 Mistakes to Avoid When Remodeling Your Home

Spring is coming soon, and with it comes the opportunity to begin remodeling projects! Because there are many things that could go wrong with any remodeling project, it pays to have some help from the pros who have already done what you want to do. This way, you’ll save time, money, and a boatload of frustration at possibly having to redo a project.

Here are seven of the most common mistakes people make when they begin a remodeling project. Once you’re aware of them, you can work to avoid making the same mistakes on your own projects.

Avoid impatience

Don’t rush into any remodeling project. Think it through, decide what your priorities will be for the project, and come up with a good plan that you can follow. Revise this plan until it seems rock solid, and all your goals for the project will be met. Price out the work, and then try like crazy to stick to your plan, and your pricing. Of course, you should always expect the unexpected, but if you have a solid, realistic plan, hopefully that’ll keep the unexpected at a minimum.

Avoid choosing just any contractor

Don’t rush to choose a contractor, or choose the first one you talk to in order to get the work underway. Hey, we understand you’re excited at the prospect of beginning your remodeling project, but you could be making a costly mistake in both time and money if you don’t do your research first when it comes to a contractor. Talk to several contractors, and check each reference. Talk to people in the town you live in that have had remodeling done in the past year or so. Ask for referrals. Check with your local Better Business Bureau to see if the contractors have complaints (and take these complaints with a grain of salt). Be absolutely certain that the contractor you choose has insurance in place. Choose a contractor that you like as a person, and that you feel comfortable communicating with. And of course, get everything in writing.

Avoid undershooting your budget

Be realistic about the budget you create for the project. Leave yourself quite a bit of wiggle room when it comes to dollar amounts allocated for specific parts of the project. Whatever budget you already have in mind – you should increase by 20% in order to give yourself the necessary cushion if something doesn’t go as planned and goes over budget. There are things you just can’t foresee, and those are the things that will break the bank if you don’t anticipate them ahead of time. The last thing you need is to have to skimp on important parts of your remodeling project because something happened that used up funds.

Avoid being too cheap

You are not going to “save” money in a remodeling project, so get it right out of your head. This isn’t the time to nickel and dime your way around spending money. Consider the future appeal of the work to be done and how it might affect the selling price of your home. Consider the enjoyment with which you’ll enjoy the remodel if it’s done properly without trying to penny-pinch. This also comes into play for do-it-yourselfers who think that they can save money by doing the remodeling themselves. If it’s something you are capable of and skilled enough to do correctly, then go for it! But if it’s not, you’ll spend more money fixing it than you would have by simply hiring a professional in the first place.

Avoid breaking the bank on materials

Over-spending on materials is a no-no. Again, this happens largely because of lack of planning, and the homeowner feeling rushed to get the job done. So plan ahead – look for sales at home improvement stores, and definitely keep your eyes peeled at garage sales, moving sales, flea markets, and estate sales for materials you may need. Also look for salvage stores, and call around to different materials companies who may offer you “seconds” that they can’t use or sell at a deep discount. Note that this isn’t the same as the penny-pinching we mentioned in tip number 4. This is simply smart buying of materials that are going to work exactly the same as “brand new” materials would, but at a fraction of the cost.

Avoid being too different

Creating a home that doesn’t harmonize with your neighborhood is always a huge mistake. It’s one thing to be unique, but it’s another thing altogether to lower the neighborhood’s value because you want to be different. Your home’s resale value will be less, as will the resale value of the homes around yours, if your home sticks out like a sore thumb.

Avoid losing sight of your plan

Once you have created your realistic remodeling project plan, stick with that plan. If you begin changing your mind about things, that’s when the price tag starts to go higher and higher. Listen to suggestions from your remodeling team, but always keep your goals for the remodeling project at the forefront of your mind.

I’m sorry, but I just cannot answer that question

I have only been licensed for a few months now and fortunately I have started out with a good number of friends and family wishing to purchase a house or list their current home. Being such a new agent has it’s ups and downs as I have to call and ask my mentor tons of questions all the time. Being around real estate since I was 18 though definitely helps.

As an agent, I want to be as helpful as possible to you and your family so before we look at a house, I generally do a ton of research on it so I can answer your questions before, during and after a showing. I do the same thing for a listing so that it gets listed for the best price and I can accurately market the house to sell it for you.

All of this being said, there are just some questions that I get asked and I simply cannot answer. Below are a couple of examples I have been asked in my short time as a licensee.

“Is this area safe? Would my family and I be safe in this neighborhood?”
I am from Lancaster and Fairfield County. I was born and raised here. I probably have an answer for you but the fact remains that I simply cannot answer this question for you. I can provide you with plenty of resources for doing this research on your own though! There are so many websites that cater to this type of knowledge which is awesome however you much do the research on your own.

So why can I not answer this question? There are a number of reasons but the biggest one is that talking about a neighborhood could be seen as redlining or steering. Both are against the law and prohibited for Fair Housing Law. Steering or redlining is basically where I try and limit you to certain neighborhoods or steer you away from other locations for one reason or another.

“Who lives around here? Are there many “insert some kind of demographic here” around here?”
If you ask a friend or family member who is familiar with the area you are looking at houses in, you may get a very different answer from what I will give you.

So why can I not answer this question? By me answering those types of questions, I could be violating Fair Housing Laws. Simple as that. There are plenty of resources online where you can research the makeup of neighborhoods, areas and entire cities or counties! I would be more than happy to proceed those resources for you.

“Why is the owner selling? Who are they? Do they have kids? Are they old? Are they getting a divorce? I just knew they were getting a divorce!”

When buying a home, I think it is good to do as much research as a buyer as you can. And I will do as much as I can for you as well so you are as informed as you can be. However, I likely will not and cannot answer these questions for you as I simply do not know. And it is very likely that even asking the listing agent for this information ahead of time will not yield much good information simply because the listing agent will not disclose the information without explicit permission from the seller. I would leave this information out of your home buying decision making.

“Is something wrong with the house? I heard “insert rumor here” from the neighbor or a friend that this thing is wrong with the house.”

As your agent, it is my duty to inform you of everything I can. That being said, I am not a home inspector, termite inspector, septic inspector, water inspector, electrician, well inspector, structural engineer, or a contractor. HOWEVER – I will provide you a list of people our brokerage has worked with in the past and you may choose to have any inspection done on the home you would like and I would encourage it!

“How are the schools around here? Please find us a home in the best school district in the area.”

Again, steering you toward particular school districts or schools in a neighborhood is against Fair Housing Law and I cannot do it. I can, again, provide you with resources to do research on area schools. Once you have told me where you would like to be, I can help find a house in that area – no problem at all.

I think that is all for today. Just remember that as your agent, I try to answer all of your questions as we progress through this journey that is finding the next place for you to call home. If I do not know an answer or cannot give you an answer to a question, just know that I will find or help you find an answer!

Fire Prevention Week

This week, October 9-15, 2016, is National Fire Prevention Week. House fires occur more often in the upcoming months than in any other months. This is generally due to the holidays and having more cooking going on and having decorations plugged in.

Now is a good time to check your fire extinguishers and make sure they are still good to go. Most newer fire extinguishers will have a pressure gauge on them. If the needle is in the green area, the extinguisher is still okay to use. If it is not in the green area, consider having the extinguisher replaced or serviced by a professional.

Speaking of fire extinguishers, the best place to have one is obviously in your kitchen. Experts recommend that the extinguisher be in clear and plain view and accessible in the event of a fire. This means, please do not put it in a cabinet or on top of the fridge behind a bunch of stuff. Experts also say the best place to put it is not near the stove. In the event of a fire, you may have to reach through the flames to grab the extinguisher if it is too close to the stove. Everyone in your household should also know where the extinguisher is, when to use it, and how to use it. This should be part of your household Emergency Action Plan.
smokealarmplacementThis is also a good time to check your smoke detectors. Before we do that though, let’s talk placement of smoke detectors. There should be at least one on every level of your home. And from there, one in each bedroom. I would not recommend putting on in the kitchen simply because cooking in there may set the smoke detector off. If it is constantly going off, that tends to lead to people disconnecting them or pulling the battery which is a huge safety risk. For the same reason, I would not recommend putting a smoke detector close to a heating or cooling vent.

test-smoke-alarmI generally, at least once per month, check that the smoke detector is still functioning by holding down the test button on it and wait for it to make that obnoxious noise that it makes. In terms of changing the battery in a smoke alarm, every six months is usually the recommendation. The easiest way for me to remember it is when daylight savings time starts and ends. I know, I know, you just put new batteries in them and they are supposed to be good for 5-10 years. I would recommend reading the guidelines about your smoke detector to see what the manufacturer recommends. One thing to remember though is if that smoke detector starts chirping, it is definitely time to change the battery in it. It is trying to warn you!

My last Fire Prevention Week reminder is that smoke detectors do not last forever. In general, alarms should be replaced every 10 years. But when did they get installed? I know. I installed new smoke detectors in 2013 when I bought my house so the inside of the battery compartment says “replace 2023.”

A Treasure Lost

2016 will mark my 29th Fairfield County Fair. I love the fair. Lancaster and Fairfield County are near and dear to my heart but the Fairfield County Fair is something. I’ve never been to another county fair so I guess I’m biased but the Fairfield County Fair is the last and the best fair in Ohio. I have heard people say it is better than the Ohio State Fair which I would honestly believe.

cropped-1935530_1692578277665708_1370884275172885302_n.jpg

I love the fair not just for the food and the shows but because I get to see people who I do not see very often. I get to see the pride people take in their hard work over the last year in raising animals, preparing for livestock shows and even growing the county’s tallest sunflower. It is a week long celebration of the heritage and pride we all hold for Fairfield County and Lancaster.

fg-churchI have seen many county fairgrounds before but never have a I seen a grounds that takes pride in preserving our history. The Fairfield County Fairgrounds is lined with historical buildings that once stood proud in various towns and villages throughout the county and then were moved to the fairgrounds to ensure that time will not forget them. There is the Mt. Zion United Brethren Church, the train station, general store, the round cattle barn, and of course the Rolley School House Covered Bridge that was lost in the Spring of 2016.

106285_141950-meThe Fairgounds is not just a staple of Lancaster and Fairfield County history though. It has roots in United States history as well. In the 1860’s during the Civil War, the Fairfield County Fairgrounds were temporarily renamed Camp Anderson and tents and training areas were setup for soldiers.

old-grandstand-1915In 2009, the Fairfield County Agricultural Society and the Fairfield County Commissioners made a decision to demolish a piece of history – the ladies’ grandstand. The ladies’ grandstand was a three story tall structure that originally stood next to the gentlemen’s grandstand on the south side of the horse track. old-grandstandIt was built in 1908 and remained in it’s location until sometime in the 1920’s. In the 1920’s, it was moved to it’s current location on the northeast side of the track.

The grandstand was badly damaged by a wind storm in 2009 and was not structurally safe. Honestly, I do not remember a time when it was safe to occupy except when I was small I remember sitting up there with mom and Nana one year during the fair. Anyway, when the grandstand was slated for demolition in 2009, a group of preservationists got together and were able to raise $100,000 to preserve the structure and make some repairs so that it would not be demolished. The group persevered and the ladies’ grandstand stood for another seven years.

14369891_10202284984721965_8214656706078318051_nIn the early fall of 2016 – September 24 to be exact – a fire was reported at the fairgrounds in the very early hours of that Saturday. When the Lancaster Fire Department arrived, the ladies’ grandstand was fully engulfed in flames. The structure was a total loss and so far the fire seems suspicious.

A piece of Fairfield County’s history; lost forever because of a senseless act.

With the 2016 fair only a couple of weeks away, I imagine that there will be a sense of sadness hanging in the atmosphere this year. For many of us, it feels as if we have lost a dear, old friend. For me, it’ll be sad to walk the outer rim of the fairgrounds and not pass by the ladies’ grandstand and be reminded of an earlier time.

Small Details – Leaded and Stained Glass

As a new agent, I have been given the opportunity to do open houses for other agents in my office. Twice now, I have held an open house at a home on Forest Rose Avenue in Lancaster for my friend, Jackie.

I love this house. It’s so out of place where it sits but then again, it isn’t. If you have ever taken a look at the architecture in Lancaster, you will see that it changes sometimes by block or even from house to house, depending on who built it and in which part of which decade.

The small details in this home are what make it unique. From the white and burgundy tiled floor in the half bath to the almost flawless woodwork – my favorite are the leaded glass windows in the front entry way and the front windows in the living room. Can you imagine the painstaking attention to detail the artist had to have to complete these windows in the house? Or the sheer cost of having those produced custom for the owner at the time?

The home has been upgraded to newer windows everywhere except for several panes of stained glass as well as these leaded glass windows in the front of the house. It’s these small things that makes my heart happy that in modernizing the house, the owners did not erase those windows from the home but instead kept them and added storm windows to insulate and protect the house and those windows.

This home is truly a hidden gem on a side street in Lancaster. If you are in the market for a historic home that is ready to move into, look this one up!

Open House Tips

An open house sounds pretty simple doesn’t it? There are a lot of things to think of though before you open your home up to potential buyers!

Open Houses are potentially one of the best marketing devices we are Real Estate Agents have in our arsenal. It gives prospective buyers the opportunity to come in, look around, ask questions, and not feel pressured. It also open up the possibility of having people come in and look at your home who may not be working with a Real Estate Agent and therefore would not have ever called and scheduled a showing to see your home.

To make sure each and every open house brings the most potential buyers, try and follow these simple steps.

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Review – Cherry Street Pub

Growing up, the building on the corner of Cherry Street and Angle Street in Lancaster, there has literally always been a restaurant there. The first one I remember is Snead’s and then Bib’s and then nothing. It was strange to see this building sitting empty since I can always remember something with delicious food being in there.

One time, upon driving passed the Snead’s building, I noticed activity going on in the building. The rumor was that the owners of Billy Crickets, which had closed earlier, were opening a new restaurant in the 100 year old building. Thus the Cherry Street Pub was born.

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“Why do you want to be in real estate?”

Since starting real estate classes, I’ve been asked several times why I want to be a Realtor. In several classes, we have been asked for the instructor to go around the room, say our names and why we want to be in real estate. My answer is usually the same as the others – money – but only because the real reasons are too long to state in a class of 50 other people. 

My real answer is two part – hobby and personal need. 

Continue reading ““Why do you want to be in real estate?””