What’s Your #AugustAdventure

Summer holiday vacation accessories on beach sand summertime lifestyle objects in flat lay top view arrangement.

It has happened – August has snuck up on us and suddenly our children are heading back to school and Buckeye football is around the corner. In just a few short weeks Autumn will arrive and we’ll all be “back in the swing of things.” But, remember that these last days of summer are the perfect time to go on an impromptu adventure. Here are a few of our favorite ideas for a local, spontaneous #AugustAdventure.

Try A New Cuisine
Columbus is practically overflowing with unique and tasty dining experiences. From the authentic, flavor-packed tacos al pastor at Los Guachos Taqueria, to the tender, smoky spare ribs at Ray Ray’s Hog Pit (recently dubbed the “Best Damn Ribs In the Country” by Esquire Magazine!), to the contemporary Mediterranean fare offered at Brassica, there is always something new to try. So, get out of your culinary comfort zone and stumble upon something that might just become a new favorite.

Find A New Place To Experience Nature
It’s no secret to longtime residents, but those that are new to central Ohio might be surprised at the wealth of green-space in and around Columbus. From the beautiful scenery at the Highbanks Metro Park just north of Worthington, to the shocking variety of wildlife at Slate Run, near Circleville. And if you’re looking for somewhere to experience nature nearby Downtown Columbus be sure to visit the newly renovated Scioto Mile, with a 15,000 square-foot fountain, a free outdoor climbing wall, and 33 acres of parkland.

Spend The Day At A Festival
While July might be a popular month for festivals, Columbus has no shortage of August festivities. These include celebrations honoring historic neighborhoods, like Clintonville’s CrestFest, art festivals like Franklinton’s Urban Scrawl, and cultural experiences, such as the India Festival at the Ohio Expo Center.

For a full list of festivals in Columbus, take a look at ColumbusUnderground’s 2016 Festival Schedule.

The breathtaking Rock House at Hocking Hills after a rainstorm.

The breathtaking Rock House at Hocking Hills after a rainstorm.

Plan A Weekend Trip
With many Central Ohio districts not heading back to school until August 24, there’s still time for a weekend trip with your family. And even if your children are already back in school, we’ll give you credit for planning an adventure over Labor Day’s long weekend ;).

One thing is for sure, between the natural beauty of Hocking Hills, the charm of the Ohio Amish Country, the roller coaster capital of the world at Cedar Point, and the island breeze of Put-In Bay, there are many adventure options available for everyone in Ohio.

How Damaging Winds Affect Your Home

photo of fallen trees and downed powerlines after local tornado storm in westcheter county new york 2006

Severe weather is always a risk with the change in seasons. In many areas, high-powered winds can cause catastrophic damage to homes. Understanding your risk-levels can help you protect one of your largest investments: your home.

What are damaging winds?
Damaging winds, or “straight-line” winds are different from tornadoes. These aggressive winds are classified as those exceeding 50-60 mph.

How can damaging winds impact my home?
The structural frame of your home can be affected by high-speed winds and hurricanes in a variety of ways. Here are four ways your home can face costly damage during a high wind.

  • Racking, a horizontal pressure on the house that causes the structure to tilt or lean.
  • Sliding, horizontal pressure that forces the house to slide off the foundation.
  • Uplifting, when wind flows over the roof it creates a strong lifting effect, like the air flowing over an airplane wing. If the connection between the roof and walls is not strong enough, the entire roof may detach from the rest of the structure. 
  • Overturning, if a house is unable to rack or slide, the lateral forces from the wind may cause the house to completely rotate off its foundation. 
Beautiful tornado over a dusty field

High-powered winds are different from tornadoes, but can be just as dangerous.

To protect your home, consult with a builder or remodeler to determine the appropriate adjustments to make to create a continuous load path in your home.  Connecting and strengthening the structural frame of the house, along with the use of storm shutters and impact-resistant windows, will ensure your home is better equipped to handle high-speed windstorms in the future.

Visit our blog for more severe weather tips, including this infographic on preparing for extreme weather.

Emerging Trends in Real Estate

Estate Agent Showing Prospective Female Buyer Around Property

2015 was one of the strongest years for the real estate market in history. 2016 is shaping up to be as good and possibly even better. With unemployment steadily declining, consumers are starting to buy again, boosting the real estate market into a success.

With the market increasing, here are current trends to watch.

Inventory is on the rise

Single-family home sales are growing and homebuyers are seeing an increase in inventory of quality houses to choose from in their search for their new home. Understanding exactly what the homebuyer is looking for will alleviate time wasted touring homes that might not meet expectations.

Millennials are in charge

According to a recent study, more Millennials plan to buy homes between now and 2018. Just 65 percent of Millennial-aged borrowers (ages 18 to 34) wanted to own a home in 2011, but now that number has increased to 80 percent for 2015, up from 78 percent in 2014. And one-third of those will want to buy in the next two years. However, a digital presence is key as Millennials are always researching and shopping online before committing to a purchase.

Renting is more costly

Many are acting on the false assumption that renting is cheaper than buying.  This may be because the prospect of saving for a down payment on a home can be overwhelming. However, rental prices are increasing as vacancy rates dwindle and landlords are able to increase fees to amounts higher than mortgage payments.

For more information on why this is the year to buy a new home, read Four Reasons Why 2016 is The Year to Buy a Home.

Prevent Mosquitos From Ruining Your Outdoor Living Space

Mosquito sucking blood on human skin with nature background ** Note: Visible grain at 100%, best at smaller sizes

The warmer weather brings many exciting opportunities for homeowners, including an extension of the home into an outdoor living space. Unfortunately, mosquitos can quickly zap the luxury and joy out of spending evenings sipping cocktails on the patio or enjoying morning coffee on the front porch. Not only are the pesky insects annoying and itchy, they have become a cause of health concern due to an influx of mosquito-borne illnesses.

Depending on your situation, you may not be able to rid your yard entirely of mosquitos but there are still a number of options you have to minimize the population. Here are a few tips to implement for a mosquito- (mostly) free yard.

Dispose of potential water containers
Standing water is the breeding ground for mosquitos. Stop mosquito invasion in its tracks by removing any potential for standing water. Mosquitoes lay eggs on the surface of standing water. Even the smallest amount is enough for the pests to spawn, including standing rain water in your yard. Look for these typical culprits around the yard:

  • Bird baths
  • Ornamental fountains
  • Rain barrels without screened covers
  • Plant pots
  • Animal drinking bowls
  • The crevices of plastic toys
  • Garbage cans
  • Clogged gutters, obstructed down spouts, flat roofs, and yard debris.

Remove or turn containers upside down since the airborne bugs leave their eggs in dry containers. The eggs hatch once filled with rainwater.

Exchange your bulbs.
When the lights come on outside, little bugs start hovering around the fixtures. The light attracts the small bugs and the large bugs head over to find their evening meal. Consider replacing existing outdoor lighting with opaque yellow bug lights to reduce the influx of the flying pests in your yard.

Grow repelling plants
It is common practice in many other parts of the world to grow aromatic foliage to repel pests such as mosquitos. Some plants produce strong oils that, when the plant is touched or processed mask scents people emit which interferes with mosquitoes looking for prey. Other plants contain substances toxic to insects. Consider adding the following to your garden:

  • Basil
  • Lemongrass
  • Lavender
  • Mint
  • Alliums
  • Chrysanthemums
  • Marigolds

Mix up some oils
The benefits of essential oils are endless. Add mosquito repellant to that list. Like their plant counterparts, many essential oils’ aromas are repulsive to mosquitos and other pests. As coconut oil is also repellent, mix with the following oils to help repel mosquitos while calming your mind:

  • Lavender
  • Indian Lilac
  • Eucalyptus and Lemon
  • Holy Basil
  • Mint
  • Tea Tree

It is important to remember that while mosquitos are a nuisance and can carry potentially deadly diseases they are also important to our ecosystem. Using natural defenses against infestation can help you to enjoy your outdoor living space to its fullest potential.

For more tips on how to maintain your home in the summer months, read 5 Key Summer Maintenance Tips on our blog.

8 Items That Should Never Be Kept In The Garage

Residential garage full of junk and storage.

The garage is a great storage spot. However, many homeowners will turn the garage into an onsite storage unit as they continue to accumulate more things over the years. Prevent the garage from being a catchall for clutter and eliminate safety risks and hazards along the way.

Many of the items stored in a garage are no longer needed. Homeowners should first take inventory of what is being stored in their garage and consider donating items that will no longer be used. While downsizing your belongings, consider the following as a good rule of thumb:

  • Never store items that can be damaged by fluctuating temperatures.
  • Remove all items that can be ruined by moisture or humidity.
  • Don’t store hazardous materials or items that may damage the house.

With that in mind, here is a list of specific items that should never be stored in the garage.

1. Paint
Leftover color from the last time you changed your wall color won’t be available for touchups very long if subjected to high heat in summer (or falling temperatures in the winter). Plus, cans kept on cement floors will rust faster than those stored on a shelf. The cans should be stored cool spot, away from freezing temperatures. Storing them upside down will create a tight seal around the lid.

2. Propane
Extra propane tanks ensure you are well prepared for a summer of cookouts. However, keep propane tanks for your gas grill outside, in a well-ventilated area to prevent the risk of igniting the fumes when you start your car.

3. Open stacks of linens or paper goods
Mice and other pests love to make nests from a collection of fabric or paper (think of that pile of cardboard boxes from your recent move). Keep paper cups and plates in your pantry instead, store linens in plastic bins and discard your recyclables often.

4. Refrigerator
The fridge controls the temperature of your food, but when the heat rises, your fridge has to work harder to keep your food cool. If it’s in the garage, you’ll notice it on your energy bill.

5. Important Documents
Moisture can severely damage your passports, birth and marriage certificates, and other difficult-to-replace papers. Store these in a fireproof box in your home office or bedroom.

6. Photographs
Moisture and extreme temperatures can cause photos to stick together and grow mold. A closet inside your house (excluding the basement) is a better choice to protect these cherished memories.

7. Wooden Furniture
Fluctuating garage temperatures cause wood to expand and contract, which will damage wooden furniture. Throwing a cloth over the items will not protect it from this type of damage. Keep it in good condition in the house or in a climate-controlled storage unit.

8. Food
Bulk stores can be cost-effective for many homeowners; however, the garage is not the best place to store your staples. Food can invite rodents and other pests. Also, exposure to heat and moisture can cause your food to spoil. An unused closet or cupboard in the house is a better choice.

Keep your home and personal belongings safe by properly storing items in the correct place. For more tips on how to keep your property protected, be sure to read “Tips to Improve Your Home’s Security” on our blog.

Is This Home Smarter Than a Home Owner?

smart house device illustration with app icons. Man in the nature holding his smartphone with smart home app

Homebuyers are looking for the best value when it comes to purchasing their new home. Sellers are looking to maximize value and gain the upper hand against their competition when they list their home. The trendy word that appeases both buyer and seller is “smart.”

While it is true that 4 percent of American adults still use a modem to get online, the technology in homes today have advanced far beyond a porch light timer. Today’s homes include thermostats that “learn” your preferred temperature throughout the day and refrigerators that alert you when it is time to buy more milk. But how “smart” is your home? CNET and Coldwell Banker worked together to define the standards for an actual “smart” home to educate consumers and realtors alike. The following questions are used to define a “smart” home.

What type of products is a smart home equipped with?
A: A smart home contains connected network that has ability to control, automate and optimize functions such as temperature, lighting, security, safety or entertainment, either remotely by a phone, tablet, computer or a separate system within the home itself.

What features must a home contain in order to be considered “smart”?
A. A “smart” home must have a smart security feature or a smart temperature feature along with a reliable internet connection. It must also include at least two features from a list of smart options, including appliances, entertainment, lighting, outdoor sensors, and safety detectors.

As smart home devices and environmentally friendly features become more popular, buyers will seek them out as sellers use them as to make their home more attractive on a listing.

Realtor Care Day


REALTOR® Care Day is an annual event where central Ohio REALTORS®, affiliates, family and friends volunteer their time to give back to their communities. With careful planning, preparation and the dedication of many volunteers, it’s amazing how much can be accomplished in one day. Since its inception, REALTOR® Care Day has resulted in almost $331,000 invested into our local communities.

13417505_1015769718458731_5690660632350701328_nThe 12th annual REALTOR® Care Day was a great opportunity to kickoff National Homeownership Month. This year the main focus of REALTOR® Care Day was on the Reeb-Hosack neighborhood located on the South Side of Columbus. The project consisted of a package of improvements and general exterior beautification to homes located in the vicinity of the Reeb Avenue Center. In addition, 23 of the area realty associations also assisted in projects including smoke detector installation, yard work for the elderly, preparing and serving lunch to families in need, and maintenance on various clubs and community centers who provide assistance to members of our communities.

Enjoy the highlights of the Priority Mortgage team participating in REALTOR Care Day around Columbus. As you can see, we had a lot of fun while giving back and supporting our community.



How to Know When to Refinance – Q&A With Derek Harris, Mortgage Loan Originator

building, mortgage, real estate and property concept - close up of home model, house keys and notebook with pen

What is your name and title?
Derek Harris, Mortgage Loan Originator

How can a homeowner determine if they should refinance their home?
The first step is to determine the homeowner’s goals. One homeowner may be trying to reduce their monthly mortgage payment while another prefers to shorten the term of their mortgage. Another homeowner may want to pay off some credit card debt and make their monthly payments more manageable. In most cases, the homeowner will pay (or finance into the new loan) closing costs to refinance their mortgage, so it’s important to analyze their current mortgage situation with their new proposed one to ensure that refinancing makes sense for their situation.

What fees and expenses can a homeowner expect when refinancing?
While most refinance transactions involve closing costs, an appraisal fee is the only closing cost that typically needs to be paid out-of-pocket. As an example, the appraisal fee in the Columbus, Ohio market area for a single-family home is generally about $400. Many homeowners opt to “roll in” other closing costs such as lender, title company, and recording charges into their new loans so that they bring little or no funds to their closing.

What are some common hurdles you have to work through when refinancing a customer’s home?
The valuation of the home is a common hurdle. Some homeowners keep their finger on the pulse of their local market and have a good idea of what other similar homes in their area are selling for. Others do not. When discussing a possible refinance scenario with a homeowner, coming up with an estimated value as our basis is a common starting point. Interest rates available, loan programs, etc. will depend on the equity in the home (difference between amount borrowed on the loan and the appraiser’s opinion of market value). For most refinance applications, an appraisal report is required. In the event that the appraisers opinion of value is less than was estimated at the time of application, it may not be possible to refinance at the terms that were applied for if at all. We often have to rework the numbers in this case to make sure that the refinance is still an option that makes sense for the homeowner to proceed.

Are you able to refinance investment properties and/or second homes, and what should be considered when working through those transitions?
It is absolutely possible to refinance a mortgage that’s secured by either an investment property or second home. Keep in mind, however, that because you are not living in the home as your primary residence, lenders perceive lending on these types of properties as higher risk. Therefore, a greater equity requirement and/or higher interest rates may apply when dealing with these types of properties.

Derek HarrisDerek Harris is a Mortgage Loan Originator at Priority Mortgage Corp. He enjoys helping clients find the right mortgage product to fit their needs and has been successfully doing so in central Ohio since 1999.

The Columbus Mortgage Bankers Association hosts “Build-a-Bike”

Last month we had the privilege to sponsor the Columbus Mortgage Bankers Association’s “Build-A-Bike” event. It was truly an honor to attend and sponsor such a great cause. Take a look below at some of the highlights from the event

6 Quick Fixes to Boost Your Home’s Value

Real estate agent holding a small house desktop with tools wood swatches and computer on background top view

You made the decision to sell your home. Now it is time to decide which home improvements will maximize the value without emptying your bank account. Surprisingly, many home improvement projects don’t add significant value to your home. In fact, some improvements can even undermine the asking price when it is time to sell. Fortunately, some projects can add value to your home with very little cost.

1. Renew the walls
Scratches, dirt, outdated colors or wallpaper can have an immediate impact on buyers entering the home. Select a neutral color scheme that unites the home and makes the space look larger while appealing to a wide variety of potential buyers.

2. Replace Fixtures
Attractive metal switch plates and outlet covers cost very little but can add a whole lot of pizzazz to the room. The right can of spray paint can add elegance to light fixtures and decorative curtain rods. Again, it is important to choose items in colors and finishes that will appeal to a wide audience.

3. Dress the Windows
While the cheap vertical plastic blinds, paper shades, or horizontal aluminum blinds may have come with your house, they definitely won’t add any value to your home. Consider replacing them with plantation shutters, wooden blinds or some simple drapes. Simple, neutral drapes make the home look nice while it’s on the market and can help you get top dollar for your home.

4. Reveal and Refinish Hardwood Floors
Most older homes are likely to have hardwood floors hiding beneath the carpet. If you’re not sure, pull up your carpet in an unnoticeable corner and see what you find. If you do have wood floors, there’s a good chance you’ll have to refinish them to restore them to their original splendor, but that will be much less expensive than installing new flooring from scratch and look much more elegant than old, dingy carpet.

5. Update Cabinet Knobs and Drawer Handles
A seemly innocuous element like a cabinet doorknob can significantly date a home. Updating this hardware can give your kitchen a quick facelift regardless if you redo the cabinets or not.

6. Upgrade Landscaping or Clean Up Existing Landscaping
Plants and greenery along the front of your house and/or walkways will draw positive attention to your home. Improve curb appeal with a simple patch to any bald spots in the yard with fresh sod and trim existing trees and bushes to complete the yard’s new look.

There are a plethora of options to update your home prior to listing it on the market. The key is to focus on smaller projects that make your home more appealing to budget-conscious buyers.

For more tips on how to astound your potential buyer, read our article “10 Tips Sure to Impress.”