Mortgage Lending
When someone is ready to buy, they often hop in their car and start browsing the local housing stock for their new home. It can be an exciting venture, especially when you’ve found a few in your price range.

But what is your “price range,” really? Do you know what that corner dream house with the covered patio and finished basement will cost you each month? The truth is, the sticker price in the homebuyers guide is just a part of the total housing cost and doesn’t take into account all the other costs and criteria that a lender will be considering when you apply for a mortgage loan.

There are distinct questions a lender has to answer before they can determine what a mortgage payment is going to look like. We’ll discuss these elements over the next couple installments, but for now… we will start at the beginning.

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Latest population figures from the U.S. Census Bureau show certain communities may be leveling off when it comes to a decline in residents

The United States is growing at a historically slow rate. Between 2017 and 2018, the country grew 0.6 percent in population. The timeframe prior saw a 0.7 percent increase. That doesn’t sound like a whole lot of growth…And you would be correct. The U.S. is experiencing its slowest rate of annual growth since 1937, when the nation was in the midst of the Great Depression. Continue reading

Rental agreements theoretically should be a smooth process: the tenant pays the landlord in exchange for residency and both promise to keep the property in clean, working order for the duration of the agreement. In most cases, that is how everything unfolds and both parties are typically happy.

In other cases, however, things go south quickly and the outcomes are catastrophic. Take for example this 70-year-old rental property in northeast Ohio. The owner of the property had been living in Florida at the time, and came back to check on the home. What he found was completely unanticipated and left him in shock:

Kitchen Damage

Before the carnage, the kitchen, albeit quaint, was charming in its own right. With six Poplar cabinets, traditional design and newer appliances, it served as a useful space for a smaller family. Some natural light crept in through the small window above the sink, and the driveway was accessible from a doorway that split the small kitchen in half.

Upon entering the kitchen once the tenants had left, the landlord had found critical damage to nearly every part of the kitchen. The oven that had been purchased just two years prior was diminished to the point of serving no other purpose than a large paperweight. Inside the oven was roughly four inches of a tar-like substance that had since hardened, and the outside of it was covered in food splatter.

Each of the cabinets was covered in grease and had spoiled food throughout. Workers were instructed to wear gloves so as not to have any skin contact with them. The sink, like the countertops, was found to have dozens of gouges, through which it was discovered that the plumbing had rotted completely away, rendering it useless. Above the sink, the window had water from the sill all the way into the wall where it then swelled and rotted away the nearby wood.

Surrounding plaster walls had holes and residue, and you don’t even want to know what the fridge smelled like 😷.

Kitchen Renovation

Most, if not all of the kitchen had to be removed, trashed and replaced. Starting with the electrical outlets and wiring, and then installing all new plumbing, plaster walls, and a new Energy Star window.

The original layout of the kitchen was reimagined – removing the door that once split the already small kitchen in half, and replacing it with a wall and continuing the cabinets and counter further down. The old wood cabinets were replaced with modern-style, soft-close cabinets that have a striated, weathered look on the bottom and a high-gloss white up top, which light up the room and bring it into the 21st century. By removing the door, the new space allowed for more cabinets (now nine in total), and larger ones than previously – drastically increasing storage space.

White Corian with metallic fleck solid-surface countertops replaced the old, laminate countertops, which helped increase the brightness and overall new spacious feel of the room. The brand new black slate refrigerator and oven found new homes in the layout, taking advantage of the increased functional space and accentuate the white surroundings.

The sink was replaced with a brand new 32” wide by 18” deep farmhouse trough sink with a gooseneck all-in-one faucet.

The overall design maintains some aspects of traditional design with 3”x6” white subway tiles accenting the 12”x24” porcelain tile floor – a modern take on a classic architectural design.

Bathroom Damage

While the glass-block window, toilet, sink and floor area were kept mostly intact, the most significant damage was to the wall adjacent the bathtub. Broken with what appeared to have been a sledgehammer, the hole left in the wall led to a variety of new issues.

The hole in the wall was so deep that workers were able to reach their arms through and touch the outside siding. All of the insulation was a sopping wet glob and had grown foul in smell, and the framing around the bathtub was rotted away due to the dampness.

Bathroom Renovation

The first, and most obvious step, was to replace the rotted wood and insulation, meaning the existing tile and tub also had to be removed. Electrical wiring and outlets were also changed out. This gave the landlord the opportunity to refresh the design of the bathroom to better fit the modernity of the kitchen.

The old 3″x3″ laminate tile was exchanged for 12″ x 24″ ceramic tile placed in a subway pattern – offering the feeling of added space and a high-end look. An eco-friendly toilet was added as well.

A brand new vanity with dark wood, porcelain bowl and stainless steel fixtures helps to increase storage space with its built in shelving. The weathered wood look of the new flooring helps to accentuate the dark tones and draws on the natural light to brighten the room.

Basement Damage

It was made apparent immediately that the basement would need the most work. The walls were littered with profanities, vulgar images and drawings in a variety of different mediums: spray paint, permanent marker,  oil – you name it. Trash and food were left rotting on the floors, there was water damage to the carpets and also in some of the walls. It would need an overhaul.

Basement Renovation

Instead of wasting time trying to remove the graffiti from the walls, the owner used this as an opportunity to open the space in the basement to make it more functional. Some walls needed to be replaced, but the wall separating the smaller room from the larger space was removed altogether, giving the feel of a much larger basement. The entire basement was re-painted with a neutral color tone.

All of the carpets were replaced with water-resistant, blue-gray carpeting intended for high-traffic usage and comfort. New high-end leather furniture was added to give the space a luxurious look, and also turn it into a livable space that could be used for hosting or leisure.

Recessed lighting fixtures with LED bulbs were installed to give added brightness to the room overall, and ensure that the room maximized available space.

This home could’ve been a completely demolition job with the amount of damages and replacements needed, but with the imagination, creative mind, and financial planning of the owner, this home was transformed into something even better than before the damages were done. Many owners wouldn’t have had the finances to take on such a project, but this one leveraged his knowledge of renovation lending to help fund it.

If you’d like to learn about renovations or renovation lending, click here.





*Not intended as accounting or investment advice. Contact your financial representative for more information.

Renovation Loans
Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania (Pop. 302,407) – known for many things, including steel, yellow bridges, Andy Warhol and of course, you can’t mention this city without validating its football team in the same breath. But, what you may not know about ‘The Burgh’ is within its rolling hills lies some of the oldest homes to be found in the United States. Among the largest metros in the country, Pittsburgh is home to the oldest housing stock with 75 percent of homes built prior to 1960. For comparison, the housing market in Austin, Texas is entering its later teenage years with a quarter percentage of its homes built after the year 2000.

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Tradesmen Columbiana Ohio
When it comes to buying and selling real estate, it’s vital to have a great supporting team – not only for your clients, but also for you the Realtor®. You need to be able to rely on your team to get the job done efficiently and effectively, so that your clients have a smooth transaction and transition process. If they do, they are more likely to refer you in the future.

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Robo-calling and Realtors®

That Nostalgic Feeling

50+ million people from New York City to Cleveland, Ohio were left in the dark in the largest blackout in United States history. We fell in love with a clown fish on the big screen in Finding Nemo. And, oh yeah, Apple® launched a little thing called iTunes®.

This was 2003. The same year the federal government established the National Do Not Call Registry. It’s that list where you can register your phone number (you can register your number here), putting a stop to those pesky telemarketers and prerecorded voice messages from tying up your landline phone (the days before smartphones). The idea worked… for a little while. Continue reading

Using the FHA 203k Home Renovation Loan, this buyer in North Benton, Ohio was able to completely renovate the home’s basement, bathrooms, kitchen, garage, AND add in a new deck. They purchased the house for $115,000 and had a budget of $85,000 in renovations. The home recently appraised at $232,500 – giving the buyers $32,500 in equity!



*Not intended as real estate, accounting or investment advice. Contact your financial representative for more information.