Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Summer Pool Safety Tips

by Carla Hill
Great summer memories are made in the backyard pool. Everyone, no matter their age, can enjoy cooling off and taking a dip.
Swimming is a great way to spend time together as a family and it's a perfect way to beat the heat. Precautions and care should be taken, however, to ensure all parties stay safe.

First, be sure your children (and any adults) know how to swim. Most community recreation centers and YMCA's offer swimming lessons. Parents who are proficient swimmers may even choose to become their children's swimming instructor at home. Making it a fun experience can take the pressure off the child. Everyone can learn how to swim, it just takes time and patience.
In the instance, though, that you have guests or children you can't swim, be sure they stay in the shallow end of the pool or that they wear a lifevest.
Remember, teaching children how to swim doesn't guarantee their safety. Children must be watched at all time when they are in a pool. Drownings and accidents can happen in a matter of minutes. Simply stepping inside to answer a phone call can be enough time for a child to slip into the pool and drown.

If an accident does occur, be sure that whoever is watching the children, be it a sitter or yourself, is trained in CPR. From the Red Cross to the American Heart Association, there are a number of organizations that offer certification classes.
For extra safety during any play-date or party, have an "on-duty" lifeguard at all times. That means at least one adult is in charge of watching the children at any given time. Consider taking shifts and sharing the responsibility with other parents at the gathering.

As a second line of safety, keep your pool area in tip-top shape. Toys should always be picked up, so as not to be a temptation for children. There are also numerous security features on the market. Many homeowners have security covers or fences installed to keep children and pets from entering the pool area. Fences should have gates that latch and are child proof. If you don't have pets that will trip them, alarms are a great way to keep track of who is in the pool area. Perimeter alarms can be set to sound when a subject is within a foot or so of the fence or pool. Motion detectors can be even more sensitive and will let you know when any child has made their way to the backyard.

Next, having a family discussion about pool safety is important. Talk about dangers of pools, what is off-limits and when, and what to do if someone is injured. You may even want to have practice drills. Children should always know how to call 9-1-1 if needed as well. There may come a time when it is the adult that needs help.

As the last stage of safety, be sure that you have the correct amounts of chemicals in your pool. Too much chlorine can injure your eyes and is hard on your body. Too few chemicals and you could have a breeding ground for bacteria. If you lack confidence in your own ability to maintain the pool, be sure to contract with a professional who can come weekly to clean the pool and adjust chemical levels.
The bottom line is accidents happen fast. Be sure to take all the necessary precautions that will make your summer fun ... and cool!

Wednesday, May 4, 2011

Choosing Your Dream Home

There's a lot to think about when it comes to buying your dream home. Every decision, small to large, is important! Let's look at a list of common issues that buyers face.

1. Neighborhood: Deciding on what neighborhood you desire is tricky. You must consider your wants and needs. They vary by person. Do you have children and need to live within the boundaries of a specific school district? You might want a short commute, a neighborhood with historic homes, or homes that are near night life and restaurants.

2. Square footage: What size of home fits your needs? The average home in the United States is 2,195 square feet. Thirty years ago the average size was just 1,645. The trend has been for larger and larger homes, with special purpose spaces, such as exercise rooms, offices, studies, and media rooms. This trend is now receding.

3. Floorplan: Architectural styles offer a wide range of choices! Open floor plans might appeal to you, with their great flow for entertaining. Or you may have a more traditional aesthetic, preferring cozy rooms. Think about how you live your life and what style best fits your needs.

4. Finishes: There are different grades of homes. Take your kitchen, for example. You can find a wide range of beautiful laminate counters, just as you can find a wide range of beautiful granite ones. These choices dramatically affect price. Think carefully about what you want in your dream home. Do you want stone floors or will ceramic suffice? Are you looking for green building materials, such as zero-voc paint, bamboo floors, and recycled counters?

5. Amenities: Our homes extend past the borders of our property. We live in the parks, shopping, and restaurants that surround us. Be sure to think outside the "box" of your house when you buy.

6. Landscaping: A large yard can mean lots of entertaining potential, but it can also mean a lot of work. Be sure to consider your needs now and down the road when it comes to yard maintenance. Many buyers prefer a townhouse or condo as their "dream home". These options afford buyers with much less responsibility when it comes to upkeep!

Be sure to discuss all of these topics with your real estate agent. They can help you decide on a happy compromise among the long list of choices. They'll also help you know what items on your wish list you can get in your price range. Good luck on your dream home search!

Written by Carla Hill

Wednesday, March 2, 2011


PERFECT HOUSE….You’ve been out looking at homes with your Real Estate Agent for several days. As you walk through the front door of the last house on your list, your mouth falls open.
Finally, you’ve found “The One.” You love the layout, the paint colors and the little half bath by the back door.
You make an offer and close the deal in a couple months. Its not until your all unpacked and things settle down that you discover that the roof leaks, the windows are old and drafty and there are several thousand dollars worth of repairs to be made.
Home buyers, especially first timers, often are caught up looking at the wrong things. They fall in love with the obvious and do not see the important clues that the house might have underlying issues that you do not see.
Six things to consider and do before buying that perfect home:
1. Get a home inspection, they will find things that you do not see.
2. Look at the house at least twice before deciding to purchase.
3. Make sure the HVAC equipment is in good working order
4. Make sure the electrical system is in good working order and no fire hazards.
5. Check for water damaged areas.
6. Have the foundation checked.
Shop around for a good inspector. Make sure he comes prepared for the inspection with all the tools he needs to do the job right. Feel free to be present at the inspection and ask question. A good home inspection can save you thousands in repairs later and could also give you a good bargaining tool.

Janie A Spires, Realtor
Clifford Realtors
6400 E Main St Suite 102
Reynoldsburg Ohio 43068
614-937-9803 cell
614-635-3473 fax

Tuesday, June 3, 2008

Foreclosure Purchase

If you have made any offer on any foreclosure, you already know they are very different than buying from a private owner. While they remain a really good buy they have several requirements.

On a HUD home most buyers do not know that HUD requires a $500.00 earnest money deposit on any home priced $50,000 and below. On a HUD home priced over $50,000 HUD requires a $1,000 earnest money deposit. This is due when the buyer writes the offer. They will however help with closing costs and down payment. Property usually purchased “AS IS” condition.

A short sale is very different from a foreclosure. This is usually a pre-foreclosure and the mortgage company considers bids that are less than the owners owe on their mortgage. On most short sales, if the mortgage company agrees, the difference on the owed amount and the sale amount is written off by the mortgage company. On a short sale you can’t be in any hurry to move. Short sales can and usually do take weeks if not months for the mortgage company to get back with your agent on the offer. If the bottom line is what the mortgage company will accept, they will consider closing costs and buyers down. Property purchased “AS IS” condition.

Freddie Mac owned properties are usually priced well below market and you usually get instant equity. They will pay for your closing costs, if the price is right, but they will not pay for buyers closing costs plus the down. Even if this is added on to the purchase price, they will only consider paying one of these charges. They require a $500.00 earnest money check when the offer is made also. They do reply to offers in a really short time, usually 24 hours. They will consider some repairs if the inspector or its mortgage required.

Each mortgage company has its own individual guidelines so check this out before writing your offer. Most do require an earnest money deposit and a pre-approval letter from the buyers’ mortgage company.

Most mortgage companies will not pay for any inspections, repairs and they require an earnest money deposit when you write your offer.

Mike Clifford
Clifford Realtors

Tuesday, April 1, 2008

Housing Market Improving

Finally some very encouraging news from the Board of Realtors about our real estate market. The numbers are in for February and it looks like the market has started to turn around. The number of contracts written for February topped the last three months as well as the same time last year in February. The housing activity started when the mortgage interest rates were dropped in January this year. The Columbus Board of Realtors and many Realtors felt many buyers were waiting for this drop. Many buyers were able to qualify for their first home with this drop in interest while some others jumped at the chance to move to a larger home. While contracts increased, actual sales decreased by 5.8% from last year same time and same months. This is probably a carry over from the lack of activity during the holiday season and the first of the year.
The average price of a home last year in 2007 was $164,397. Then average price last month was $154,497. The very important issue is that there was fewer homes listed for sale in February 2008 (3538) compared to January (3812) and February 2007 (3417). The total number of homes listed for sale is now lower than the inventory level one year ago.
As inventory levels have been roughly 30% higher than normal for the last year or so, any leveling off in new listing is a welcome sign for the market as a whole. Quoting Greg Hrabcak, President of the Columbus Board of Realtors,” the fact that the supply has been significantly greater than the demand has resulted in lower sale prices, lengthier sales listing periods and a general concern about housing.” But housing, like most economics sectors, is cyclical. This buyers market won’t last forever.” Looks like he was exactly right as I see this buyers market ending very soon.
So, to all you’ve read in the newspaper, television and on the internet, that’s always bad, I would like for you to read about all the positives that are happening right now. Real Estate is alive and well. But, if you still want to read about the doom and gloom, I’m sure our news media will be happy to report this. They are part of this problem as they feel we only want to hear BAD news. Well I think they are wrong, we want to hear the truth.

Dora Clifford
Clifford Realtors

Saturday, February 16, 2008

Columbus Real Estate Marketing Update

Greetings Columbus and Central Ohio. Real estate is still alive and well in our area. There have been some changes in our market as we are aware. A few months ago the market was a buyers market with about 10 homes on the market for every one buyer. A balanced market is about 7 homes on the market for every one buyer. With the interest rates so low, this is really good news for all buyers. However, according to the Columbus Board of Realtors there have been some changes in the last few weeks. A slowing in the number of listings added to the market is good news for sellers. While it is still a buyers market, my opinion is this will change in 2008 to a balanced market again. Right now it remains the perfect market for buyers.

For buyers 2007 was a memorable year in real estate. The low interest rates, prices and inventory, made 2007 a strong buyers market. Despite what you have heard and read, according to the CBR reports, the market was strong for central Ohio. I feel most of the doom and gloom in the media was including states with an extremely high foreclosure rates. While Ohio is facing a record number of foreclosures, Ohio is very low compared with other states. For Ohio buyers there are some extremely good buys in this forcloseure market if the buyer is careful about what they buy. Not all foreclosures are good buys. Some need an extreme amount of costly repairs. You can check out a list of forclosed Real Estate on Clifford Realtors web site. You should know what sold in that area at what price, in the last six months. Get estimates of the repairs and add that to the purchase price and don’t forget to add your time involved. Ask your Realtor for an estimate of your net before buying a foreclosure.

So, right now it is still a buyers market with lots of great buys out there. But, according to my research this may change soon and the market will be balanced again. When this happens, there will still be some great buys and the interest rates will still be good. I don’t think we will see this memorable buyers market again for years. So, congratulations to all you smart buyers that are taking advantage of this. Be sure and check out all homes for sale on Columbus Ohio MLS. There are many great buys with low interest rates.

Posted by: Dora Clifford, Broker Clifford Realtors