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This Fall May be the Best Time to Sell

It has been a strange summer to say the least. Between the threat of the coronavirus, a wobbly economy, and layoffs happening all over; it’s no surprise that many who may have hoped to sell their home this year have waited and may still be wondering if they should continue to put their plans on hold.

Such hesitancy is understandable. Yet, the irony is that the current housing market conditions show this may be best time to sell a home in years! The data indicates that buyers outnumber sellers in the housing market making it better to be a seller than a buyer.

There was already an insufficient supply of houses last year, and the pandemic has just intensified this shortage. Making the Fall real estate market abnormally hot this year as mortgage rates remain at near historic lows.

The coronavirus pandemic has rewrote the way we do a lot of things this year, and homebuying is no exception. Typically, the real estate market tends to hit the brakes in the fall, as kids return to school and families juggle work, extracurriculars and the upcoming holidays. But that’s not what is happening this Fall. Homes are getting snapped up faster as home values rise and mortgage rates to continue to remain low fueling demand.

As the number of homes for sale continues to shrink, new listings are being snapped up quickly.

Home prices have been climbing and, in some cases, bidding wars and multiple offers are not uncommon. Homes at entry-level prices ($75,000 to $150,000) – often purchased by first-time homebuyers – are seeing a lot of activity and will probably remain hot as long as interest rates stay low.

With unusually high buyer interest this late in the year, buyers are moving faster to beat out competition and lock in low mortgage rates. This means homes are sitting on the market for much less time, despite higher price tags.

Whether this buying trend will continue is up in the air. Currently, supply is lagging behind demand. The only thing holding back homebuyers right now is the low level of inventory and stiff competition for homes that do come on the market.

If you’re considering selling this year or next, it may be better to sell now in an environment that’s favoring sellers, rather than wait for time to pass and circumstances to change. Without a crystal ball, there is no way to accurately predict what the housing market will be like next year.

By Bonnie Marlow, Broker/Owner, Cisco Realty

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Tasks to Tackle this Fall

Cool weather is coming – so put down that pumpkin spiced beverage and tackle these tasks while it’s still nice outside.

The scent of pumpkin spice has begun to fill the air, sweaters are moving toward the front of the closet, leaves are changing from their summer green to the vibrant hues of fall.

But before you cozy up with a fleece blanket and a cup of tea, take the time to tackle a few home maintenance projects.

Whether you are a new homeowner and need some guidance on maintenance items that should be tackled or a long time home owner who may need a refresher on the important tasks to tackle this fall; seasonal maintenance is important. It can help keep your home looking and functioning properly, and save you money in the long run, since you will catch problems before they get out of hand. Additionally, keeping up on maintenance items can help you when you decide to put your home up for sale, since it will already be in good condition.

  1. Start raking. Few things are more beautiful than a yard speckled with crimson, gold and tangerine-colored leaves. But failing to dispose of them can kill your grass and inhibit growth in the spring months. Grab your rake and enjoy the crisp temperatures of the season. You can always treat yourself to a pumpkin treat when the raking is done.
  2. Clean the gutters. Speaking of leaves, when they clog your gutters, rainwater can’t flow through and will eventually spill over. So what, right? This overflow can damage your home’s siding, roof, and foundation. While you’re up on the ladder, visually inspect your roof for damaged shingles, flashing or vents. It’s better to remove the leaves from your gutters than to chance the buildup turning into a costly problem. Gutter guards or screens can help prevent leaves from building up in your gutter, making this task much simpler and easier.
  3. Drain outdoor faucets and sprinkler systems and cover them to protect them from the freezing weather to come. This will help prevent pipes from freezing, bursting, and flooding your home.
  4. Store summer staples. Patio furniture is susceptible to damage from winter weather. Since you probably won’t spend as much time outside – except for roasting marshmallows over the fire pit – move outdoor furniture, trampolines and other summer staples into storage.

Interior Prep

  1. Keep the warm air inside and the cold air outside. Inspect your windows and doors for cracks and gaps. Make sure there aren’t any spaces allowing air to escape. If there are, seal them.
  2. Prepare your furnace and/or fireplace for winter. If it’s been a year or longer, consider getting your furnace professionally serviced before the cold weather hits. At a minimum, visually inspect your furnace and replace the furnace filter. If you have a fireplace, inspect the flue, and ensure doors and shields are sound. Have the chimney professional swept if needed. Now’s the time to stock up on firewood!
  3. Take time to clean that vent! Dryer vent, that is. Cooler weather means more static electricity, which means lint buildup in your dryer can ignite more easily. Clean your dryer vent to help prevent this problem and keep it working more efficiently.
  4. Testing … 1, 2, 3. Test safety devices, such as smoke alarms and carbon monoxide detectors, and check the expiration date on your fire extinguisher. In case a fire ignites, it’s important to know that you and your family will be alerted and able to get out of the house quickly and safely. This is also a great time to review or create a family fire escape plan, and put together an emergency preparedness kit so you’re ready for any winter power outages.

Once you finish with your autumn home checklist, you can enjoy the season in your warm, comfortable home.

By Bonnie Marlow, Broker/Owner, Cisco Realty

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10 Reasons to Hire a Buyer’s Agent

Ready to house hunt? It’s a jungle out there: Prepare for a flurry of paperwork, stampedes of buyers competing for the same home, and other challenges, before you get your hands on the keys.

The process can be complex and stressful. If you think the home buying process entails looking at a couple of homes and making a decision, think again. There is negotiating, inspections, legal contracts, appraisals and much more. A Buyer’s agent by your side can make all the difference.

Unfortunately, a lot of buyers make the mistake of calling the listing agent to show them homes that they are interested in. Here is why buyers should use their own agent:

  1. They are free! You do not have to pay a dime to hire a buyer’s agent 99% of the time. One exception to this rule may be if you buy a for by sale owner home, and the seller refuses to pay the agent’s commission. Just for that reason alone, why wouldn’t you use one? In most home buying scenarios, the seller pays the full commission which the listing agent and buyer’s agent split. So the service of a buyer’s agent is free to the buyer.
  2. They are representing YOU and YOUR best interests. A seller’s agent is hired by the seller to list their home, promote their best interests, and to protect the seller’s confidences. So, why wouldn’t you want someone to do the exact same things for you? When you use your own agent, you get the expertise and experience of an agent who will have your best interests in mind. They are there for you every step of the way. Look at it this way; if someone was suing you, would use the same attorney to represent you that is representing the person suing you? Most likely, you would want your own attorney, who is looking out for your best interests. The same thing is true in a real estate transaction. Have your own agent.
  3. Access to the MLS. Using a buyer’s agent will get you access to the most up-to-date and accurate information on houses for sale. Public websites are great for browsing houses, but can sometimes have inaccurate information and aren’t always updated up to the minute. Your agent has access to the MLS, the Multiple Listing Service, which is the site real estate agents use to promote their listings to other real estate agents. In this current market, where there are more buyers than sellers, sometimes homes are under contract the same day or within days of listing. It’s important to have immediate access to new listing information to have a shot at seeing the house and putting in an offer, before it’s snatched up by someone else.
  4. Someone to plan and schedule your showings. How convenient would it be to have someone else plan and schedule a showing for every house that you want to see? This is what a buyer’s agent does. If there are 5 homes that you are interested in, you only make one phone call to your agent, who sets everything up. Versus, you calling 5 different listing agents to arrange a time to see each of those homes. Additionally, through multiple showings; the buyer’s agent gets to know you and your preferences and can help guide you towards new listings on the market that might fit your needs and wants.
  5. Someone to explain the entire buying process. Buying a home is the largest purchase most people will make in their lifetime. There are many steps involved between getting a mortgage pre-approval and signing the closing papers. The process is much more complicated than people often think. It is extremely important to find someone who will take the time to sit down with you before you begin your home search and outline the entire process from start to finish.
  6. Write offers and negotiate on your behalf. Once you’ve located your ideal property, a buyer’s agent can help you determine a fair offer, write the offer and negotiate for you. The buyer’s agent will help ensure that you are purchasing the home for the best deal possible for your market.
  7. Have the tough talks with the seller or seller’s agent. Not only will your buyer’s agent negotiate the price on your behalf, but they will also have those hard conversations with the seller about improvements you want made before finalizing the transaction. The home inspection can sometimes uncover a number of surprises that worry you. A good agent will guide you the process of post inspection requests to make sure any issues are handled to your satisfaction.
  8. Guide you through the paperwork. Buying or selling a home requires an almost endless amount of paperwork. There are preapproval letters, disclosure statements, offers, inspection reports, post inspection agreements, purchase agreements, deeds and so forth. Your buyer’s agent can help make certain that important documents are not overlooked and can walk you through each one to make clarifications on any details, as well as give you the information to complete them properly.
  9. Connect you with other professionals. Your buyer’s agent is just one in the cast of characters that you need for a smooth real estate transaction. You’re also likely to need a mortgage lender, home inspector, contractor, and more. A buyer’s agent can supply you with a list of professionals in your area who perform these services.
  10. They can work for you long-term. The best thing about finding a buyer’s agent you trust is that you can use them again and again. Even after you’ve found a home that checks the boxes for you and your family, it can be wise to stay in touch with your real estate agent beyond the closing in case you decide to move again in the future. By forming an extended relationship with your buyer’s agent, they’ll be able to develop a stronger sense of your ideal house and direct you towards listings that reflect your needs and wants.

An excellent buyer’s agent will have your back at all times. They are looking out for you. Once it’s over, you’ll be glad that you decided to ask for the help of a buyer’s agent instead of going through the buying process on your own!

By Bonnie Marlow, Broker/Owner, Cisco Realty

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What the Heck is a Home Sale Contingency?

When families outgrow their current dream home and find a new one, many times they are faced with a problem; how to buy that new dream home without getting stuck with two mortgages!

Your Real Estate Agent can help you put your home on the market and navigate the tricky waters of how to buy your new dream contingent on selling your current home.

Contingent signifies something being conditional, not locked down. It can be a scary word, but when negotiated correctly; it can save you from going into major financial stress when moving from one home to the next.

When you buy a house contingent on selling yours, it means that you buy the home only when and if your current home sells. These contingencies typically have a time frame. Meaning you only have 30, 60 or 90 days to find a new home to purchase or the purchase contract is terminated. The exact amount of time depends on how many days are written into the contingency in the purchase offer. However, the home seller may be willing to offer an extension at the end of that period if you need more time.

Additionally, home sale contingencies typically have a kick-out clause. The kick-out clause allows the seller to continue to market their home. If they find another buyer with an acceptable offer, while you are still trying to sell your house; you typically have 24, 48 or 72 hours to continue with the purchase immediately or the contract is terminated, and the seller can accept the new offer. This kick-out clause is to protect the seller from missing out on a sale. The 24, 48 or 72 hours written into the kick-out clause allows you time to talk to your lender to see if there is any way to proceed without selling your home such as with a bridge loan. A bridge loan is a short-term loan buyers can take out against their current home to help finance the new home prior to selling their own property. If you have had a lot of activity on your home and expect it will sell soon, this may be a good option to keep moving forward without losing your new dream home before having an accepted purchase offer on your current home.

Home sale contingencies are not unusual. In 2019, 48% of all buyers and 71% of repeat buyers owned their previous residences, according to the National Association of Realtors. Nearly half of all buyers are moving from one home they own to another, so buying a house contingent on selling yours is an everyday obstacle for buyers and sellers.

Even if your existing home is under contract to sell, it can be important to still have a settlement contingency in your purchase contract of your new dream home. This protects you if the sale of your existing home falls through for any reason. If your existing home sale closes, then your purchase of your dream home continues. If your sale falls through before going to the closing table due to the home inspection, appraisal, financing issues or other reason; then your purchase contract is terminated.

Keep in mind, although a home sale contingency may protect you from owning two homes, you may still be out some money if the purchase falls through. You may still spend money on home inspections, bank fees, and appraisals fees. These expenses are not refunded even if the sales contract is terminated.

Home sale contingencies can help you in your home search when you need to sell your existing home before purchasing a new dream home. The exact details of any contingency must be specified in the purchase offer. Make sure to go over them with your Real Estate Agent and make sure that you understand the terms of your home sale contingency. Signed purchase offers are legally binding contracts.

By Bonnie Marlow, Broker/Owner, Cisco Realty

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Selling Your Home: To Do List

Maybe you have to move for work.

Maybe your financial situation changed, and you can’t afford your mortgage.

Maybe you want to take advantage of the low mortgage rates and move up to bigger, nicer home.

Maybe you want to go off the grid, throw your cell phone into a river, and move to the wilderness. (And who could blame you considering the way 2020 has been going!)

Whatever your situation, one thing might be clear to you: You’re wanting to sell your home.

The process can be confusing though – that’s why I’ve prepared a To Do List.

  1. Choose a Listing Agent: This is the most important step. The listing agent represents you and has a fiduciary responsibility to look out for your best interest. The agent will also guide you through the remaining steps on your To Do List.
  2. Price Your Home: Your listing agent will assess your home and look at comparable sales in your neighborhood to suggest a listing price. A seller’s greatest mistake is overpricing their home. Listen to your agent’s advice for the quickest sale at the highest dollar.
  3. Repair Broken Items: Your listing agent will point out any items that may need to be repaired or replaced before listing your home. Leaky faucets, broken cabinet hinges, loose outlet switch plates, etc. are items your agent may point out to be fixed. These are small items, but noticeable to a buyer. If a buyer sees small items that have been neglected, they may wonder what other major items that aren’t as easily seen have been neglected.
  4. Clean and Declutter: Ask your listing agent which rooms have too much furniture or clutter for a good showing. Buyers need to be able to see your home. They aren’t buying your stuff, so make sure they can see the house. But leave enough furniture and items so buyers can see the functionality of the room and have a reference to gauge the size of the room. Buyers often have trouble visualizing how an empty room will look with furniture, and empty rooms can actually seem smaller than they are. Bonus: by packing up unneeded and excess items; you will already be partially packed and ready to go when your house sells.
  5. Market Your Home: Your listing agent will take photos and write a listing description for your home. You should check the online listing for accuracies and contact your agent regarding any corrections or concerns. Share any online postings from your listing agent on your social media.
  6. Prepare for Showings: Your listing agent will coordinate showings with you. Try to be as flexible as possible. Buyers will want to see the home when they are available which could be evenings and weekends. Make sure your house is clean and neat. Arrange to take pets with you, if possible, or place in a kennel.
  7. Receive Purchase Offers and Negotiate: Your listing agent will present any and all offers received and advise you on counter offers. Currently, there is a shortage of listings. With an abundance of buyers, if your house is priced correctly, you may receive multiple offers on your home very quickly.
  8. Cooperate with the Home Inspection: Your listing agent will help coordinate the scheduling of the home inspection with you. Plan on at least 2 hours for the inspection.
  9. Negotiate Requests for Repairs: Your listing agent will present and help negotiate any post-inspection requests from the buyer for repairs or a reduced selling price based on the inspection findings. Once you have an agreement, perform any agreed upon requests.
  10. Closing: Your listing agent will make sure all the paperwork is in order and coordinate with the title company to schedule your closing. Once all documents are signed and filed at the courthouse, and you have the check in hand; congratulations, you have sold your house!

By Bonnie Marlow, Broker/Owner, Cisco Realty

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Thinking about Buying a Home? Here are 10 Steps to Help You Get Ready!

Buying a home is not an impulse purchase. You can’t just waltz in and declare, “I’ll take it!”

Long before you get to making that offer (on paper, through your real estate agent) – and even before going to your first open house – there a many things to do to prepare. Here are 10 items that will help you get ready for your home purchase.

  1. Check your Credit Score: This is the number that mortgage lenders will look at to determine whether or not you’re eligible for a mortgage. It will also dictate the rate that you will be charged by the bank. The higher your credit score, the lower your interest rate and vice versa.
  2. Clean up any Credit Blemishes You Can: Any surprises on that report? Credit errors are more common than you think. Contact the credit bureau to correct any incorrect information. Have credit that is less than stellar? Contact a professional such as a local mortgage lender for information on how to improve your credit score.
  3. Save for a Down Payment: It is possible in some circumstances to get a mortgage without any down payment; however, you will still have other expenses such as closing costs, appraisal, home inspection and more. Most home buyers will need to put down a minimum of 3% to 5% when purchasing a home. To get the best rates, you’ll need to make at least a 20% down payment which can be a large chunk of change. The more you have saved up for these expenses and you’re down payment, the better off you will be when you go to purchase your home.
  4. Figure Out How Much Home You Can Afford: Talk to a mortgage lender to see how much you qualify to borrow. Then get some estimates on your monthly payment to see if you are comfortable with the amount. You can get estimates from your mortgage lender or using online calculators. Just because you qualify for an amount, doesn’t mean you should spend that much. Depending on your lifestyle and the amount of discretionary spending you typically make, you may not want to purchase a home below the max amount the lender will allow you to borrow.
  5. Get Your Preapproval: When talking to your lender, make sure to go through the steps to get preapproved for your mortgage. With your preapproval letter in hand, you will be able to show Real Estate Agents and sellers that you are a serious buyer and you are willing and able to purchase a home. Most sellers will not consider offers from buyers who are not preapproved.
  6. Don’t Make any Major Changes in your Life, Especially with Your Finances: Do not switch jobs. Do not buy a new car. Do not buy furniture on credit or apply for a new credit card. Just a credit pull from a car dealership or a furniture store may be enough to affect your credit score and could cause you to loose your dream home. Wait until after closing to find furniture for your new home!
  7. Find a Real Estate Agent! Having a Real Estate Agent helps make the process go smoother. Right now, there is a shortage of homes on the market, so a Real Estate Agent can help you find homes as they are coming onto the market so you don’t miss out on the opportunity to see the home and put in an offer before another buyer swoops in and gets the house. Best of all, you won’t even have to pay for your own agent. The buyer’s agent will receive a portion of the commission that the seller is paying.
  8. Make a Wish List: Be realistic about what elements of a home are “wants” and what elements you have to have – such as the number of bedrooms, specific school district or geographical distance from work, size of the home, etc. Sometimes it’s helpful to divide your list into three categories: those nonnegotiable elements, the nice to haves (ex: a bonus room or basement) and your dream features (ex: inground swimming pool). Know that you are not likely to get everything on your wish list, but this will help you decide which are items are necessary. Remember, cosmetic items like paint, wall paper, carpet are easier to change than size of the home, layout and structural issues.
  9. Browse online listings and visit open houses: These are great places to start to get an idea of what your budget can afford in your area. Seeing the listings in person can sometimes give you a different perspective versus pictures online. Open houses are a great way to visit several homes in one day and allow you to see the neighborhoods.
  10. Put in Your Offer: After your Real Estate Agent has helped you find your dream home, you will want to put in an offer. Your Real Estate Agent will guide you in putting in a competitive offer which will hopefully be accepted. Then your Agent will help you through the rest of the process all the way until closing day and when you receive keys in hand.

If you have any questions about preparing to buy a home, give us a call. We are more than happy to talk to you about how to get started on your home buying journey.

 

By Bonnie Marlow, Broker/Owner, Cisco Realty

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Why You Should Sell Your Home Now

Surprisingly, 2020 might be a great time to put your house on the market!

The home selling season was unexpectedly hampered by Covid-19 this spring. But what was the spring’s loss, might be the summer’s gain. Despite the Pandemic affecting the economy and our lives, experts are predicting the housing market to be increasingly healthy – meaning home prices will continue to rise at a moderate rate. If you’re on the fence about selling now, here are a few things to consider. Currently, new buyers are still entering the market. Interest rates are still low and are expected to remain low in the near future. Additionally, you may have high equity giving you a large chunk of money for your next down payment, and there’s no telling what the future may bring in 2021.

Prices have remained steady and have continued to climb moderately during the Pandemic. Pre-Covid 19, our area was already experiencing a housing shortage with more buyers than sellers. The Pandemic has exacerbated the problem as sellers pulled their homes from the market and other potential sellers decided to wait to list, resulting in a large unbalance. Some buyers are even becoming frustrated from the lack of choice available.

If your house is at the higher end of the price range for our market, you may see less buyer interest. Entry-level and midlevel price ranges are moving very quickly, if priced correctly. There are still many new first-time home buyers looking for homes in our area.

Although the economy is opening back up and restrictions have loosened, you may still feel uneasy about having a large number of potential buyers walking through your home. Rest assured that Realtors will respect any requests you have such as wearing masks. Realtors are also disinfecting surfaces touched by potential buyers and limiting the number of people in each party. Additionally, many Realtors are doing increased screening and virtual tours to find just those select buyers who are qualified and very interested in your particular home.

If you’re still on the fence on whether to list or not, call a Realtor! We can talk to you about the pros and cons of listing in the current market. We can discuss any concerns you may have about potential buyers in your home and meetings with inspectors and closing agents; and how we can utilize technology to minimize in-person meetings and limit your risk. Additionally, we can give you a home analysis and estimated selling price – All for free!

And considering the lack of inventory for you finding your next home, we can discuss strategies that will make sure you don’t become homeless or cause you to make a rush decision; such as putting in an offer with a contingency on selling your home.

So if you’re on the fence on whether or not to sell your home, talk to us; and you may find now is the perfect time to get off the fence and put that For Sale sign in your yard.

By Bonnie Marlow, Broker/Owner, Cisco Realty

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How to Make your Home Buying Journey go Smoothly

Buying a home is exciting and full of complexities. It can be easy to get lost and confused during the home buying process. Proper planning is paramount to making your journey to home ownership go smoothly. Here are a few tips to help you own the dream.

  1. Budget for Everything. Yes, that sounds obvious, but many people are unaware of or forget some of the costs of buying a home. Talk to your Realtor and your lender to make sure you know what expenses to expect such as costs for inspections and appraisals, down payments, closing costs, home insurance premium, not to mention new furniture, appliances, moving fees, utility deposits, etc.
  2. Get Preapproved. If you see a house you love; you don’t have any time to wait in today’s market. There are more buyers than sellers and many homes are going very quickly. Which means you need to be able to put in an offer fast, before it’s snatched away by another buyer. Make an appointment with a lender to find out how much you qualify for before you start shopping. Then you will be ready to act when you find your dream home.
  3. Work with a Realtor. The sellers have an agent looking out for their interests and advising them, but do you? You should be working with your own Realtor. You wouldn’t go to court and use the same lawyer as the other party your battling against, would you? There are decisions that could have major consequences down the road, that is why it’s important to have someone on your side. Best of all, you won’t even have to pay for their services. Your Realtor will earn a portion of the commission paid by the seller for the sale of his home.
  4. Never Trust Verbal Agreements. A home seller can verbally accept your bid and still turn around and sell it to someone else if a higher bid comes along. So, before you celebrate your new home make sure everyone has signed all of the paperwork.
  5. Have a Home Inspection. There could be issues with the house that the seller isn’t even aware of, which is why it’s critical to have a home inspection. An inspector will examine the overall foundation and structural features of a house. Their job is to find areas of concern, so you won’t be surprised later on with a costly repair bill. Just remember, a home inspector can’t always find all the issues in a home, they can only see what is visible. They don’t cut into walls or destroy property to conduct the inspection.
  6. Look at the Structure, Layout, and Location of the Home, not the décor! Don’t like the color of the house or the wallpaper inside? Don’t sweat the small things! They can be changed easily. Focus instead on the things that are harder to change such as the location, overall structure, layout, and size. Once you move in you can decorate and turn your new house into your home.
  7. Don’t Make any Other Large Purchases Until the Deal is Closed! Prior to closing, do not celebrate the new house with another large purchase such as an expensive sofa, car or anything that requires a loan or even diminishes your cash reserves greatly. The reason? Lenders will be pulling and assessing your credit reports right before closing. Even if you’re preapproved, a change in your credit or cash reserves can make you ineligible for the loan, and you could lose the house just days before closing!

If you abide by these tips and work closely with a good Realtor, you will find your dream home that you can enjoy for years to come!

By Bonnie Marlow, Broker/Owner, Cisco Realty

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Can I Still Sell my Home During the Covid-19 Pandemic?

Here in Ohio, we are practicing social distancing and have had some businesses closed or scaled back due to Covid-19 guidelines from our Governor. However, real estate has been deemed an essential business. But how does the real estate industry work with these restrictions and can you actually sell a home now?

The answer is yes, you can sell a home now. Real estate agents have adapted many new practices and utilized technology to make the process of buying and selling a home safer for all involved. In fact, there are many buyers still looking and very few houses on the market. Meaning your house may sell quicker than you anticipate considering the pandemic.

Agents have gotten creative in adopting tools and technology that allow prospective buyers to take video tours with their agents, decreasing traffic in homes on the market. Additionally, most agents utilize technology to hold virtual meetings with clients and to allow you to sign paperwork electronically from the safety of your own home.

Court house closures may have slowed up some title searches and filings, but they have continued to go on throughout the stay-at-home order. Now, many courthouses and other entities are starting to open back up reducing roadblocks in the sale of your home. Most appraisers, home inspectors and closing companies have remained hard at work.

During the first quarter of the year, home sales in Auglaize, Mercer, Shelby, Logan, Champaign, Miami and Clark counties were up 5.4% over the same period last year. The average sale price of home increased from $142,777 to $151,135; a 5.9% increase for the same period.

Looking at the housing inventory, in Celina there were 66 active listings in March this year compared to 78 active listings in March of 2019. As of the beginning of May, there were only 64 active listings in Celina. St. Marys had only 13 new listings in April and 13 new listings in March, compared to 22 new listings in March of 2019.  Moving to Wapakoneta, they had only 21 active listings as of the beginning of May, only 7 of which were new in April; and there were 10 new listings in March. This compares to 31 active listings and 16 new listings in March of 2019 for Wapakoneta.

Despite the low levels of inventory and Covid-19 regulations, buyers are still looking. There may have been some swings in the interest rate, but overall they still remain relatively low which is enticing buyers to keep looking.

So if you need or want to sell your home; now may actually be good time to list. Call your favorite real estate agent for more information about the current housing market, and to find out what tools and technology they are using to make the home selling process safer for you.

By Bonnie Marlow, Broker/Owner, Cisco Realty

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How to Maximize a Small Space

Whether you’re an empty nester downsizing to a smaller space, or you’re not quite ready financially or emotionally to make the move to a larger home; sometimes our homes can feel crowded or too small. That is when it’s time to get creative!

Here are a few simple tips to help you maximize your small space and make it feel more spacious!

  1. Keep it Tidy! With minimal space, you need to make sure everything has its place, and everything goes back into its place after you use it, every single time! This includes making the bed every day, drying and putting away the dishes immediately, and hanging up your coat as soon as you come home. A tidy home can also reduce your stress levels. In a little house, tidying up every day will make your home feel more spacious.
  2. Declutter Often. In your little castle, sorting and thinning out your possession must be a part of your regular routine. If you find an item that never seems to have a home when you’re tidying up, consider putting it in the Goodwill box. Let go of the hobby materials you never used and the skinny jeans you’ve been saving for the past 10 years for when you get those 10 pounds off.
  3. Divide the spaces you have into zones. When you have a limited number of rooms, they need to have dual functions. Use freestanding bookshelves to section off an area or create rooms inside of rooms with furniture arrangement. By dividing the space, it’s possible to use a bedroom as a bedroom and an office or a living room as a living room and a dining room.
  4. Give items dual functions. Bookcase as a headboard. Drop leaf dining table that shrinks into a console table. Wall mounted fold down table for eating and working. You may need to get creative, but there are ways to get dual function out of your rooms and/or your furniture. Loft beds with desks or sofas underneath. Murphy beds. Drawers in stairs.
  5. Get your priorities straight. Do you really need to two closets full of shoes? (Maybe). Is your guest room wasted space, having never hosted a guest? Is owning two sets of dinnerware necessary? Give yourself permission to turn your guest room into a space you really need like a workspace or nursery. Remind yourself you can only eat off one set of dishes at a time. Empty a closet and use it as a little home office.

If you’ve really outgrown your home, these ideas will only serve as a stop gap measure until you are ready and able to purchase a new home. But at least you’ll be a bit more comfortable in your small space – and you’ll have less to move when the time comes!

By Bonnie Marlow, Broker/Owner, Cisco Realty