Shanna’s Blog

Shanna Lafontaine is a Realtor with RE/MAX Affiliates who works Metro Columbus, Dublin, Hilliard, Powell, Worthington, Westerville, Delaware and surrounding Central Ohio areas helping both Buyers and Sellers.

6 Tips for Creating Curb Appeal with Landscaping

Posted by on Jan 13, 2014 in Home Improvement, Real Estate Tips, Selling Real Estate | 0 comments

6 Tips for Creating Curb Appeal with Landscaping

landscaping curb appeal

Sure, you’ve heard about curb appeal on your favorite DIY or home improvement show, but how can you make your home more appealing and inviting without the help of a TV show host to do everything for you?  Curb appeal refers to the overall appeal of your home’s exterior, including paint, siding, and landscaping.

All of these are important, but today we are going to focus on landscaping.

Most of the time, potential buyers or renters will make a judgment on a house within 30 seconds of seeing the exterior.  Having excellent curb appeal is a necessity!

 

1.       Make Sure Your Lawn is Maintained

This may go without saying, but your lawn says a lot about how you care for the rest of your house. Mow your lawn regularly and defeat those weeds!  Make sure that all of the edges are trimmed neatly to give your lawn a manicured look.

2.       Tend To Your Garden Beds

Freshening up your garden beds is a surefire way to add some curb appeal to your yard.  Make sure you get rid of any unsightly weeds before adding new mulch.  Try using a colored mulch to add some more pop to those beds.

3.       Trim Shrubs

Overgrown shrubs can mask your home’s beauty and make it feel uninviting.  Simply trimming shrubs can drastically alter your home’s appearance. Well-groomed shrubs will make the walkway and entrance to your house feel more inviting to visitors.

4.       Add Potted Plants To Your Front Porch

Potted plants are an inexpensive way to add contrast and color to an uninviting front porch.  Use an assortment of flowering plants and small evergreens to draw the eye to the front door.  Play around with different container sizes and colors to increase the variety.

5.       Replace Walkways

An old, dirty concrete walkway can easily be replaced with tile, pavers, or stone.  Upgraded walkways present a relaxed and charming journey to get to the front door.  Make sure to choose materials that pair well with your home’s design.

6.       Install Outdoor Lighting

Outdoor lighting provides a lot of bang for your buck.  Any home improvement store will have a wide variety of lighting styles to place the perfect finishing touch to your new, upgraded front yard.  Place some lights in flowerbeds, and add a line of lights along the border of your walkway to finish the look.

landscaping curb appeal

Regardless of your lot size and your home’s location, implementing all or some of these steps in your lawn care plan will provide your home with a landscaping facelift therefore increasing your curb appeal.

 

This article is written exclusively for Shanna Lafontaine at http://buysellcolumbushomes.com by EXOVATIONS of Central Ohio, a contractor specializing in updating curb appeal through home exterior renovations.

Shanna Lafontaine is a Realtor with RE/MAX Affiliates who works Metro Columbus, Dublin, Hilliard, Powell, Worthington, Westerville, Delaware and surrounding Central Ohio areas helping both Buyers and Sellers.

To Decorate for the Holidays or Not

Posted by on Dec 5, 2013 in Real Estate Tips, Selling Real Estate | 0 comments

To Decorate for the Holidays or Not

decorate or not decorate for holidaysYour house is on the market and it is time for the holiday season.  Do you decorate?

Realtors have different opinions, but I feel like a festive home shows better.  The short answer: decorate but with limits.

If your Christmas tree going up makes your living room feel small, try to remove some furniture to keep the room feeling open and not cramped.  Store what you aren’t using in the room.

Stay with more classic decorations that appeal to the mainstream crowd and stay away from going over the top, or too much clutter.  Depending on how much you enjoy decorating, I’d suggest maybe half of what you would usually use as a good number.

Outside, again stay with more classic decorations and something understated.  Buyers have already judged your house when walking up to the front door. Get them in love with your home with some beautiful decorations but not too much.

Overall, decorations during the holidays can help your home show better helping create a happy feeling while viewing your home, but only if you are careful not to over do the decorating and keep clutter to a minimum.

 Shanna Lafontaine is a Realtor with RE/MAX Affiliates who works Metro Columbus, Dublin, Hilliard, Powell, Worthington, Westerville, Delaware and surrounding Central Ohio areas helping both Buyers and Sellers.

Columbus Real Estate Market News September 2013

Posted by on Oct 30, 2013 in Blog, Market Trends | 0 comments

Columbus Real Estate Market News September 2013

 

Housing demand remains high in central Ohio!

September home sales were 13.1 percent higher than last year demonstrating that housing demand in the Columbus region continues to remain strong. Sales for residential homes and condos through the third quarter rose 22.4 percent from last year and stand as the second highest on record for the first nine months of the year according to Columbus REALTORS®.

Condo sales were up 8.3 percent in September and are up 26.5 percent for the year. Existing home sales jumped 14 percent in September and are 21.7 ahead of last year.

“The demand is there,” says Chris Pedon, 2013 president of Columbus REALTORS®. “Kids are back in school, fall is here, and the holidays are around the corner. But we still have a lot of folks who are looking to buy a home.”

The number of homes on the market last month remained higher than much of 2013, but is still 5.9 percent lower than inventory levels one year ago.

Prices maintain their climb as demand continues to exceed supply. The average sale price of a home sold in September was $174,735, up 4.2 percent from September of 2012. The average price of homes sold January through September is $174,853, up 3.5 percent from the first nine months of last year.

According to the latest Housing Market Confidence Index (by the Ohio Association of REALTORS®), 100 percent of central Ohio REALTORS® describe the current housing market as moderate to strong, but only 95 percent expect the housing market to be moderate to strong over the next six months. As for home prices, 91 percent expect home prices to remain the same or rise over the next year.

“Although there is a good selection of homes and condos on the market in all price ranges right now, REALTORS® are still seeking more sellers to meet the elevated demand,” adds Pedon. “If you’re a homeowner who has considered moving up or downsizing, you don’t need to wait. Today’s market offers solid advantages.”

View the current Central Ohio Market Update.
View the current Housing Market Report by Area.
Shanna Lafontaine is a Realtor with RE/MAX Affiliates who works Metro Columbus, Dublin, Hilliard, Powell, Worthington, Westerville, Delaware and surrounding Central Ohio areas helping both Buyers and Sellers.

Why HGTV Isn’t Reality

Posted by on Oct 28, 2013 in Blog, Buying Real Estate, Home Improvement, Selling Real Estate | 0 comments

Why HGTV Isn’t Reality

HGTV may be considered reality television, but I can tell you right now, HGTV isn’t reality.

HGTV shows aren't real

HGTV can be great for gathering remodeling tips, design and style ideas, but please don’t watch their shows and imagine that real estate in Columbus, Ohio is like real estate on HGTV.

First off, real estate is local. We do real estate in Central Ohio, different than real estate in Indiana, California or even Cleveland, Ohio. A lot of the shows on

HGTV are set in Canada. I don’t know much about Canada real estate but I guarantee there are a lot of difference. There are real estate practices on HGTV of negotiating or contracts that I’ve never in 12 years of business seen done in our market.

These shows are also set on a ridiculous timeline. I don’t know if it is true, but I’ve heard the home selling shows are actually filmed AFTER the homeowners have found the house their buying, or even after they’ve purchased the home. Of course, they aren’t going to act the same walking through homes for purchase, after they’ve already found their new house. Or, be angry at their Realtor for showing them a house $100,000 more than they can afford as one of their three choices. What Realtor does that???? (If your Realtor does this, find a new one)

Why HGTV isn't Reality

Another thing that drives me nuts, is the home remodel shows or the shows set to help someone to sell their house by updating the home. When the updates cost literally 1/3 of what it would really cost to update or upgrade your house, I can’t help but feel frustrated. I feel that these shows give people unrealistic expectations of what they can do with their money and what it should cost to update a home.

The bottom line is that HGTV isn’t reality. It is entertainment, just like watching a football game, or Duck Dynasty, or even The Learning Channel. Take what you can from it, but don’t plan your home buying or home selling and mimic the TV show.Shanna Lafontaine is a Realtor with RE/MAX Affiliates who works Metro Columbus, Dublin, Hilliard, Powell, Worthington, Westerville, Delaware and surrounding Central Ohio areas helping both Buyers and Sellers.

Curb Appeal, Small Changes = Big Appeal

Posted by on Oct 25, 2013 in Blog, Home Improvement, Real Estate Tips, Selling Real Estate | 0 comments

Curb Appeal, Small Changes = Big Appeal

Curb appeal has become a common conversation among home owners and real estate agents over the last several years. Increasing your curb appeal is all about creating a home that naturally invites people to come inside. Any home owner or investor can achieve curb appeal by making small changes around the home. With that being said, here are a few tips to help you achieve big results with curb appeal by implementing only a few affordable changes to your home’s exterior.

Scrub, Scrub, Scrub

A little elbow grease can go a long way! In this case we’re really talking about pressure washing. Most homes lacking curb appeal should start with a good pressure washing session. And this goes for more than just your house, your concrete areas and wood surfaces need it, too. This includes your driveway, walkway, deck, patio, front steps, porch, trellis and fencing.

Paint It

A new coat of paint is a great way to freshen up the look of a home and incorporate a warm, inviting color palette. Painting your home’s exterior and trim can really bring out the character of your home. When picking a color palette for exterior paint and stain products, be sure to consult a professional at your local paint store. They will be able to help you pick colors that you will love and that will create an inviting look for your home.

Cut Back

Prune your shrubs, trees and plants or remove them from the areas closest to your home’s walkway and front door. Many times homeowners miss this step and it can sabotage your ability to achieve excellent curb appeal. Keeping your plants in check keeps the path to your front door open, creating an inviting feel to your home. It is important that shrubs and bushes close to your home do not cover up any windows. Plants are a great way to enhance your home’s curb appeal, but they must be selected carefully and placed in a way that will do so.

Finishing Touches

Once you have cleaned the home’s exterior, have a fresh coat of paint and stain, and have maintained your plants and shrubs it is time to add some finishing touches. A big focal point for most is the front door, so focus on this area with a few quick updates regarding the following:

  • Lighting- Be sure that your light fixtures on your porch or at your front door area are in good working condition and repaint or replace if necessary.
  • Door Accessories-It is always a nice touch for your front door handles to look new and to contrast with the color of your front door. If you have a black front door you may want to purchase new handles that are silver so that it will enhance the features of the front door.
  • Flowering Container Plants-A great way to bring colors of the seasons is to include one or two flowering containers near your front door or on your front porch area. Limiting the number and size of the containers makes this project easy to manage and change with seasons. This also keeps the look of your home fresh and relevant.

Creating curb appeal will look a little different for you than it does for your neighbor because no two properties are the same. However, following these tips can help every owner create a home that has exceptional curb appeal. See below how a few simple changes can make a big impact on how a home looks.

exo-nickerson-front-facelift-before exo-nickerson-front-facelift-after

This article is written exclusively for buysellcolumbushomes.com by Exovations of Central Ohio, a home remodeling contractor specializing in renovations for home exteriors.Shanna Lafontaine is a Realtor with RE/MAX Affiliates who works Metro Columbus, Dublin, Hilliard, Powell, Worthington, Westerville, Delaware and surrounding Central Ohio areas helping both Buyers and Sellers.

Columbus Real Estate Market News August 2013

Posted by on Sep 25, 2013 in Blog, Market Trends | 0 comments

Columbus Real Estate Market News August 2013

 

Columbus region home sales highest – ever!

Central Ohio home sales hit a new apex this summer and now stand at their highest point on record. The 18,834 homes sold as of Aug. 31 were 22.9 percent higher than the number of homes sold January through August of 2012 and further exceed any previous year. Homes sold during the month of August alone were 2,729, 11.1 percent higher than last year and another record high for sales during the month of August according to Columbus REALTORS®.

“Although we’ve seen positive gains all year, home sales over the summer were off the charts,” said Chris Pedon, 2013 president of Columbus REALTORS®. “There was only one summer – back in 2005 at the height of the housing boom – when we came close to seeing the volume of homes sold this year.”

School systems noticed the sales bump as enrollment increased for many. In addition to the City of Columbus, other school systems with high sales numbers in August included South-Western, Olentangy, Hilliard, Westerville, Dublin and Worthington. Although not necessarily in the top ten for numbers of sales, Washington Court House, Granville, West Jefferson, Northridge, London and Gahanna Jefferson school districts saw notable sales gains compared to August of 2012.

Having passed the peak of the summer sales season, pending home sales have started to decelerate. The 3,253 homes in contract as of Aug. 31 were 7.5 percent lower than July, but were still 9.2 percent higher than pending sales in August 2012.

The number of homes for sale in the Columbus area rose from 10,544 in July to 10,629 in August. This compares to 11,571 homes on the market last year.

View the current Central Ohio Local Market Update.
View the current Housing market report by area.
Shanna Lafontaine is a Realtor with RE/MAX Affiliates who works Metro Columbus, Dublin, Hilliard, Powell, Worthington, Westerville, Delaware and surrounding Central Ohio areas helping both Buyers and Sellers.

Why Buying a House Now, May Make More Sense

Posted by on Sep 9, 2013 in Buying Real Estate, Commons Questions, Market Trends | 0 comments

Why Buying a House Now, May Make More Sense

Why Buying a House Now, May Make More Sense

When should a buy a house?

You have nine months left on your lease, and a year on your car loan so you’ve decided to wait six months to start looking for a home until Spring of next year. Sound familiar?

You have about 5% towards your down payment, but you want to have at least 10% saved before you buy so you are aggressively saving until you hit 10%. Is this you?

If either of these sounds like you, listen up. Rates are going up, they have already gone up a good percent in the last two months. I expect they will continue to rise as the Federal Reserve Rate goes up. Rates going up means money out of your pocket. Kiss saving two month’s rent to break your lease or your 5% extra down payment good bye.

An example, you were looking at buying a $200,000 house (assuming no down payment for simplicity), and rates went from 3% to 4% that is over $110 a month different on your payment, and over the life of a 30 year loan, almost $40,000 more you would pay in total interest. Are you expecting to save $40,000 by waiting?

This may seem extreme, and you may say, “but Shanna, I’m not planning on staying my first house for thirty years.” Realize that a lot of people’s lives don’t go as planned and even 10 years of payment is over $13,000 difference. Life happens and sometimes you just ride the wave instead of being in control.

And I’ll ask again, are you going to save $13,000 in the next six to twelve months?

If the answer is no, you should consider buying now. Rising rates almost always trump people saving for a down payment, or even having to break a lease a cough up a little bit of money to make the lease go away. If you have any specific questions regarding your own scenario, send me a message or give me a call.

For some FAQ about the process, download by FREE ebook, “Buying Guide, Your First Home.”Shanna Lafontaine is a Realtor with RE/MAX Affiliates who works Metro Columbus, Dublin, Hilliard, Powell, Worthington, Westerville, Delaware and surrounding Central Ohio areas helping both Buyers and Sellers.

Helping Kids Deal with a Move

Posted by on Jul 10, 2013 in Blog, Real Estate Tips | 0 comments

Helping Kids Deal with a Move

I read a really nice article today called, 5 Ways to Make Moving and Packing Fun For the Kids and it got me thinking to the emotional side of moving for everyone involved, but mostly the kids. The little people in our lives that don’t have a say in their moving.  While the article doesn’t actually address the emotional stresses that go with a move, I think it is important to realize that allowing young children and I even more so with the more difficult older children time to process and deal with their feelings is important.

I’ve seen parents who home search without even telling their kids, only telling them after they’ve bought the house and are about to move. While I’m no child psychologist, I think this is a bad idea. I know if my parents would have done that, I’d have been really stressed out and felt left out.  I think it is important to dialogue with our children, even the young ones, so they are semi prepared.  How would you like your boss at work to surprise you with a new job, or moving from one part of town to the other without more than a few days notice? I think the average person wouldn’t adjust well.  Even with notice, some might struggle.  I think kids are the same, they need time to adjust and more to terms with change.

moving with kids

Photo via carlaarena on Flickr

Maybe by using a few of the ideas that the author, Casey Haslem has in her article, might allow children to feel part of the process and a bit more in control.  Who doesn’t want to play a “game” versus working, or looking at it as having to get rid of all our stuff. Just today I made my young daughter, an active part in my cleaning up my office, by having her with her clipboard “write” everything I cleaned. I tried to include her in the process, versus making it a boring, negative thing we were forced to do. It made things go more smoothly and she left like she was having fun.

Change, that word people  associate to negativity can be turned into a non event for the children and young adults in our lives.

 Shanna Lafontaine is a Realtor with RE/MAX Affiliates who works Metro Columbus, Dublin, Hilliard, Powell, Worthington, Westerville, Delaware and surrounding Central Ohio areas helping both Buyers and Sellers.

Columbus Real Estate Market News March 2013

Posted by on May 7, 2013 in Blog, Buying Real Estate, Local News, Market Trends, Selling Real Estate | 0 comments

Columbus Real Estate Market News March 2013

Multiple offers, rising housing prices, sounds like the market has shifted and we are seeing a Sellers’ market. Inventory is low, if you are thinking about selling, now is the time to do it!

Housing activity strong in the 1st quarter

columbus real estate market news

Central Ohio home sale activity showed healthy increases during the first quarter of 2013. Residential home sales (4,844) were up 17.6 percent over the previous year (4,119) and the number of

“Thus far, 2013 has been a flurry of activity from the get go,” said Chris Pedon, President of the Columbus Board of REALTORS®. “The rather mild winter weather offered eager buyers an opportunity to get a jump on finding their first – or next home – early in the year.”
pending sales (3,245) was up 19.3 percent from the first three months of 2013 according to the Columbus Board of REALTORS®.

The median sales price of a home sold in central Ohio in March 2013 was $135,000, up 4.9 percent compared to last year ($128,650). The average sale price of $160,233 during March was also up 4.9 percent from one year ago.

There were 3,484 new homes put on the market last month, up slightly from the 3,458 listings added to the inventory last year during March. There are now almost 9,000 homes for sale in the central Ohio area, up slightly (0.5 percent) from last year, but still the lowest level of inventory since 2002.

“We’re getting a lot of interest from current homeowners who’ve been paying attention to what’s been happening with housing recently,” added Pedon. “Low interest rates, strong demand and improved sale prices make a compelling argument for selling a home right now. Whether homeowners want to move up or out, they should seriously consider the benefits of the current housing market.”

According to the latest Housing Market Confidence Index (by the Ohio Association of REALTORS®), 96 percent of central Ohio REALTORS® describe the current housing market as moderate to strong and 100 percent expect the housing market to be moderate to strong over the next six months. As for home prices, 94 percent expect home prices to remain the same or rise in the next year and 96 percent are seeing residential appraisals in central Ohio about the same or somewhat higher.

View the current Central Ohio Local Market Update.
View the current Housing market report by area.Shanna Lafontaine is a Realtor with RE/MAX Affiliates who works Metro Columbus, Dublin, Hilliard, Powell, Worthington, Westerville, Delaware and surrounding Central Ohio areas helping both Buyers and Sellers.

5 Tips to Make Your House Smell Good for a Showing

Posted by on May 6, 2013 in Blog, Real Estate Tips, Selling Real Estate | 0 comments

5 Tips to Make Your House Smell Good for a Showing

Sellers take these 5 tips to make your house smell good for a showing and I promise that smell will NOT be the reason people don’t buy your house.  Nothing beats walking into a house that smells horrible. I’ve had clients walk right out the door after smelling odd, even noxious smells like pet odor, mildew, even artificial candles or plug-ins that just overpower the room.  On the other hand, I’ve seen folks feel invited and welcome into a home that smells amazing.  Each person has their ideas on what smells good but I think with these 5 ideas you are sure to win over the majority of buyers!

house showing tips

via iMaffo on Flickr

1. Freshly Baked Chocolate Chip Cookies.

Now don’t go spending a lot of time, just go buy the Pillsbury type in the refrigerated section of the grocery store, and for an even better tip, leave them out of the Buyers with a couple bottles of water!  I assure you they will like you, and maybe even your house.

2. Fresh Flowers.

 Buy a couple bouquets of  a fresh, fragrant flower and sprinkle them in vases throughout the house. This works double duty because it looks nice too!

3. Use Your Oven.

Throw together some cinnamon, cloves, an apple sliced up, and put in on high for an hour on a low heat. You will have the smell of apple pie throughout your house.

4. Orange Peels.

Have you ever had a stinky smell you couldn’t get rid of down your kitchen drain? Throw some cut up orange peels with hot water, and turn on your garbage disposal for the smell of clean in your kitchen.

5. Essential Oils.

Using essential oil sparingly around the house is another great option. Find oils that aren’t too strong like lavender, eucalyptus  or grapefruit and put a few drops on cotton balls and hide in places like an open trashcan, bathroom drawer or other hidden places.  Just be careful not to use too much, otherwise the smell will be over powering and turn people off.

Good Rule to Follow

With any of these suggestions to making your house smell good, please be careful not to overwhelm Buyers with smells. A lot of people hate fragrance, I’ve even had clients allergic to smells like vanilla.  It needs to be subtle, not overpowering, otherwise Buyers can be weary that the Sellers are trying to hide a bad smell.

 Shanna Lafontaine is a Realtor with RE/MAX Affiliates who works Metro Columbus, Dublin, Hilliard, Powell, Worthington, Westerville, Delaware and surrounding Central Ohio areas helping both Buyers and Sellers.

Shanna Lafontaine, LLC© 
RE/MAX Affiliates Inc. 7239 Sawmill Rd. Ste 210, Dublin, OH 43016

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