Pros and Cons of Buying vs. Building a Home

If you’re ready to relocate, you might be torn between buying an existing house and building a new one. Each journey has its pros and cons. Understanding what each option entails will help you make a more informed decision based on your needs and preferences.

Pros of Buying a Home

First-time buyers tend to gravitate toward buying an existing house. If you’re not picky about your living space or you despise picking out tiles and paint colors, buying a home could be the right choice for you. More of the benefits include:

  • * Fast move-in time
  • * Established landscaping
  • * Potential to negotiate a lower sale price
  • * No need to purchase land, hire a builder, or make design choices
  • * Ability to make gradual upgrades as time and money allow

Cons of Buying a Home

Buying an existing home may be faster and sometimes cheaper than building a new one, but you most likely won’t get everything on your wish list. Competing with other buyers can also be stressful and disappointing if the seller doesn’t accept your bid. Here are some other cons of buying a home to consider:

  • * Potential compromises on features, home size, or location
  • * Competition with other buyers, especially in a seller’s market
  • * Older (and potentially problematic) appliances, plumbing, electrical wiring, roofing, foundation, and windows
  • * Potentially higher energy costs

Pros of Building a Home

Building a new home can be an adventure. Since you’re designing and building it from the ground up, you have the choice to customize any aspect you want, from room size and layout to materials and finishes. If you have unique features in mind that you can’t live without, you may want to consider building a home. Here are the benefits of choosing this route:

  • * Safe, updated, energy-efficient features and materials
  • * Pride in helping to create the home you live in
  • * All the accessibility features you want
  • * No immediate maintenance, repairs, or replacements to worry about
  • * No competition among other homebuyers
  • * Negotiable closing costs
  • * Builder warranty coverage

Cons of Building a Home

The biggest downside of building a home is that it will be months before you can move in. If you’re in a hurry to move, this simply may not be an option. Consider these additional disadvantages of building a home:

  • * Extended move-in timeline
  • * Potential for unexpected costs and price increases that could go over your budget
  • * The need to make endless decisions, depending on your level of involvement
  • * Under-established landscape

Whether you decide to buy or build, Vutech | Ruff has you covered. Our experienced real estate agents can help you find your dream home from among our listings of homes for sale in Columbus, OH. We also have a wide range of lots and new builds available, many of which are in spacious country settings or up-and-coming neighborhoods. For more information, please call us at 614-897-0618 or contact us online today.

6 Tips to Settle into Your New Home Build

Building a new house is one thing—making it your home is another thing entirely. Your goal is to move into your newly built home, unpack, and get settled as quickly as possible. Only then can your family thrive in this updated setting. Keep stress at bay during this transition period with these six tips to settle into your new home build.

Keep a Punch List for Follow-Up Meetings

With a new home build, you’ll probably meet with your builder before closing to resolve anything missing, broken, or not working as it should. Then, you can expect follow-up meetings to review anything that has cropped up since you moved in. Until these meetings take place, keep a list of any problems you find to ensure you don’t forget to mention them.

Unpack One Room at a Time—Starting with the Kitchen!

Your first instinct might be to unpack a little here and there in each room, but you can prevent getting overwhelmed by focusing on one room at a time. Since unpacking the kitchen allows you to cook and eat at home, this is where your efforts should begin. After all, nothing makes a house feel like a home more than eating a family meal in the new kitchen.

Hang Window Treatments Right Away

Curtains and blinds are more than just decorations—they allow you to control the light during the day and grant privacy after dark. All the other decorations can wait, but you’ll want to hang your window treatments the day you move in, if possible.

Help Your Kids & Pets Settle In

Moving can be unsettling for children and animals alike. To help make it a positive experience for your kids, let them pick the paint color for their bedroom and ask for their input on furniture placement. Then, help your pets adjust to the unfamiliar environment by sticking to their usual schedule, if possible. Also, put off washing pet toys and bedding for a few weeks to maintain their familiar smell.

Inspect the Electrical, Water & Gas Systems

Don’t wait until an emergency strikes to familiarize yourself with your new home’s utilities. To make sure you’re prepared, locate the breaker box, main water shut-off, and gas shut-off. You’ll be glad you did if you ever have a power outage, plumbing problem, or gas leak.

Introduce Yourself to the Neighbors

As you’re getting settled in, make a point of going outside when you need a break from unpacking. Introduce yourself to the neighbors and consider inviting them to a housewarming party. Being friendly and exchanging phone numbers with your neighbors comes in handy if you need a dog sitter when you go out of town.

Are you looking for a lot to build on in Columbus, Ohio? Turn to Vutech | Ruff! We have a wide range of lots and new builds available, many of which are in spacious country settings or up-and-coming neighborhoods. For more information, please call us at 614-897-0618 or contact us online today.

Must-Have Features for Today’s Homebuyers

The COVID-19 pandemic has had an undeniable impact on the real estate market in Columbus, Ohio and elsewhere across the country. A combination of recession-induced low mortgage rates, work-from-home situations, a wave of first-time millennial homebuyers, and years of under-building has resulted in record-high demand, record-low inventory, and incredible home value gains. This means now is a great time to sell your home!

According to the National Association of Home Builders, 25% of homebuyers have altered their housing preferences because of the pandemic. Make sure your property stands out in a post-pandemic world by upgrading it with these must-have features.

Laundry Room

The single most-wanted specialty area is a laundry room, with 87% of homebuyers putting it on their must-have list. If your home only has a laundry closet, consider upgrading to a full-fledged laundry room. The basement is usually the easiest and cheapest place to put one, but keep in mind that 63% of buyers prefer to have the washer and dryer on the ground floor.

Outdoor Features

Outdoor living has become an essential survival mechanism during the pandemic. As a result, 75% to 87% of homeowners are looking for these outdoor features:

  • Exterior lighting
  • – Backyard patio or deck
  • – Front porch

Energy-Efficient Features

More than half of all buyers are willing to pay extra for a home if they know it will lead to lower utility costs. The features they hope to find include:

  • Double- or triple-pane windows
  • – Efficient appliances
  • – Efficient lighting
  • – High efficiency rating for the whole house


The most in-demand technology is designed to improve either energy efficiency or home security. Appeal to today’s homebuyers by upgrading the following before you sell your home:

  • Programmable or Wi-Fi thermostat
  • – Security cameras
  • – Video doorbell
  • – Wireless home security system
  • – Zoned HVAC system

Kitchen Upgrades

More homeowners put their kitchens to work during the pandemic when eateries were closed for weeks at a time. As a result, 76% to 81% of homebuyers consider the following features essential or desirable:

  • – Double-basin kitchen sink
  • – Walk-in pantry
  • – Eat-in kitchen
  • – Kitchen island
  • – Tap water filtration system

Hardwood Floors

Hard-surface flooring is beautiful, less allergenic, and easier to maintain than wall-to-wall carpet. That’s why over 80% of buyers want it in the main living area of their next home.

Accessibility Features

As Baby Boomers continue to age, they want the peace of mind that comes from having a more accessible home. The features that top the list for 64% to 80% of homebuyers include:

  • Full bath on the main floor
  • – Three-foot-wide doorways
  • – Four-foot-wide hallways
  • – Non-slip floor surfaces
  • – Front entrance without steps

If you’re looking to sell your home in Columbus, Ohio, reach out to Vutech | Ruff. We have over 60 years of combined experience in the real estate industry and would be pleased to help you achieve your goals. Call us at 614-897-0618 or contact us online today to learn more.

What You Need to Know About Ohio Property Taxes

The Central Ohio real estate market continues to soar here at the end of 2021, setting up the region for its sixth straight year of growth. It’s safe to say that the market has fully rebounded from last decade’s Great Recession, and homeowners are once again seeing a return on investment in their property’s value. In fact, most counties across the state saw double-digit property value increases from 2017 to 2021.

Property Value and Taxes

Rising property values are generally good news, but they also result in increased property taxes. However, rest assured that property taxes do not increase dollar-for-dollar when values go up. For instance, in Columbus—where real estate values rose by about 16 percent in the past four years—property taxes increased by less than 3 percent. House Bill 920, which passed in 1976, protects homeowners against large property tax increases when this happens. It also protects taxing entities from losing money when values go down.

Home and business owners who feel their property values are too high can file a complaint and request a value reassessment. This has a direct impact on the taxes they end up owing.

Senate Bill 57 and its Affect on Ohio Property Taxes

Pandemic-related valuation cases and options for filing complaints were expanded earlier this year when Governor Mike DeWine signed Senate Bill 57 into law. This legislation was promoted by commercial and industrial property owners who have been negatively impacted by the pandemic. Here are the changes you need to know about.

  • Who can file complaints: Before the new law, only property owners could file complaints challenging their real estates’ tax valuation with the County Board of Revision (BOR). Now, certain commercial and industrial tenants can file BOR complaints in their own names.
  • When complaints can be filed: The old law limited property owners to filing complaints once per three-year valuation period. The new bill waives this restriction, permitting multiple filings for 2020, 2021, and 2022 tax years. As a result, property owners who have already filed a complaint in the current valuation period can still file a special complaint, provided they meet certain legal requirements.
  • When property valuations are determined: Property values are traditionally decided on January 1. The new legislation allows property owners to request their BOR to redo property tax valuations as of October 1, 2020, instead of January 1, 2020. Anyone filing a complaint must demonstrate that the pandemic caused a property value change between those dates.

SB 57 took effect on July 26, 2021. Property owners had 30 days to request a new valuation and prove that pandemic-related circumstances caused their property values to change.

If you are considering buying or selling a house in Columbus, Ohio, reach out to Vutech & Ruff. We have over 60 years of combined experience in the real estate industry and would be pleased to help you achieve your buying or selling goals. Call us at 614-897-0618 or contact us online today to learn more.

How Do Real Estate Agents Determine Property Prices?

Having the correct real estate pricing is vital, whether you’re a homeowner looking to sell or a homebuyer preparing to make an offer. While property values are estimated annually for tax purposes, a real estate company should determine the fair market value before a house goes up for sale. Here are the most important factors a real estate agent considers when determining fair market value.

  • Comparable property sale prices: To formulate the initial ballpark price, agents and appraisers assess what similar properties in the area have sold for recently. They also consider what the property in question has sold for in the past.
  • Current market conditions: Past trends can only tell real estate agents so much. The current market is even more influential, shaped daily by supply and demand, mortgage interest rates, the state of the economy, and other factors.
  • Neighborhood: A home’s location has a tremendous impact on its appeal. Factors such as neighborhood cleanliness, school districts, and crime rates are all significant considerations.
  • Nearby amenities: The home’s proximity to shopping, dining, and public transportation matters to potential buyers—and so does any nearby negative features, such as noisy highways, landfills, or power plants.
  • Size: Finally, it’s time to start looking at the actual property itself. Bigger houses tend to sell at higher prices, of course, but flexibility, an appealing layout, and the potential for upgrades are also critical factors.
  • Age and condition: Newer homes tend to cost more per square foot because they come with less maintenance. Still, well-maintained older homes may sell for just as much. The overall condition of the foundation, structure, plumbing, electrical, and HVAC systems is what matters most.
  • Home improvements: Homes built several decades ago may benefit from having their fixtures and finishes upgraded. Modernizing the kitchen and bathroom is often a smart move because these are the rooms homebuyers tend to care about the most. Other common upgrades include replacing the windows and doors, installing a deck, and putting in high-quality laminate floors. Well-planned and executed renovations can boost resale value by tens of thousands of dollars.
  • Yard and home exterior: The way your home looks on the outside is nearly as important as how it looks and functions on the inside. Factors such as the home’s architecture, exterior lighting, and landscaping combine to create the overall curb appeal. Sprucing up a home’s exterior can help it garner more attention and even increase its selling price.

These are just a few characteristics real estate agents look at when valuing a home. If you’re wondering how much you can get for your house, or you’re unsure if the home you want to buy is priced fairly, reach out to Vutech & Ruff. We have over 60 years of combined experience working in the Columbus, OH real estate market, and our team would be pleased to help you navigate the home buying or selling process. Call us at 614-897-0618 or contact us online to learn more.

Step-By-Step Guide to Finalizing a Home Purchase Agreement

When people talk about buying a house, they often discuss the steps leading up to making an offer. But that’s not where the process ends. Here’s a step-by-step guide for what happens between signing a home purchase agreement and officially becoming a homeowner.

  1. Open an escrow account: An escrow account is a third-party fund that protects both the buyer and the seller until the home sale is finalized. When you open the account, you make an earnest money deposit to tell the seller you’re truly committed to buying.
  2. Get approved for a mortgage: Even if you’ve already gotten preapproved for a home loan, you need to return to your lender to finalize that approval before the home buying process can continue.
  3. Obtain homeowner’s insurance: You’re not legally obligated to have homeowner’s insurance, but this coverage provides peace of mind. Plus, your mortgage lender may require it before agreeing to finance your home purchase.
  4. Conduct a title search: It’s important to hire a company to conduct a title search, which checks for any liens or other encumbrances that might jeopardize your homeownership in the future. You’ll also want to obtain title insurance to protect you in the rare case that a property ownership dispute comes up despite the title search.
  5. Schedule a home and pest inspection: Sellers are legally required to disclose any problems with the property, but an independent home inspection is highly recommended. You may also want to schedule a pest inspection to check for rodent or insect infestations. If anything comes up during these inspections, you have the right to renegotiate the offer—unless the purchase agreement states that the property is for sale “as is.”
  6. Pay your down payment and closing costs: If everything looks good, it’s time to deposit your down payment (minus the earnest money you already deposited) plus closing costs into the escrow account. Sometimes, the seller agrees to pay the buyer’s closing costs, in which case you only need to deposit the down payment.
  7. Conduct a final walkthrough: Your purchase agreement should give you the right to walk through the property 24 hours before closing. This ensures the home is vacant, move-in ready, and in the condition you and the seller agreed upon.
  8. Sign the paperwork: There’s a lot to sign on closing day, including the deed naming you as the new property owner. Once you’re done signing paperwork, you’ll receive the keys to the house. You are now free to move into your new home!

The best way to successfully finalize a home purchase agreement is to work with a knowledgeable real estate agent. The team at Vutech & Ruff has over 60 years of combined experience. We’ll help you navigate the home buying process while maintaining the highest level of professionalism. To get started, check out the homes for sale in Columbus, Ohio. Then, call us at 614-897-0618 or contact us online when you’re ready to get serious about buying a home!

7 Tips for First-Time Home Buyers

Buying a home is exhilarating, but it can also be overwhelming. After all, this is likely the largest investment you’ll ever make, and it greatly affects your quality of life and financial future. That’s a lot of pressure! Follow these seven tips to help you succeed as a first-time home buyer.

  1. Pay off your debt and create an emergency fund: Before you take on a mortgage, it’s wise to be debt-free and have an emergency fund to cover three to six months of expenses. This protects you from financial setbacks if any unexpected home repairs crop up.
  2. Know how much house you can afford: A good rule of thumb is never to spend more than 25 percent of your income on housing. This means if you earn $7,000 per month, your housing costs should be no higher than $1,750—including your mortgage payment, property taxes, homeowner’s insurance, HOA fee, and premium mortgage insurance (PMI), if applicable.
  3. Save up for a down payment: The traditional amount to put down is 20 percent. If that seems out of reach, strive to save up a down payment of at least 10 percent. Your lender will most likely require you to get PMI, but you can refinance your mortgage once you have 20 percent equity in the house to eliminate this extra payment. Set aside another 2 to 5 percent to cover closing costs.
  4. Only hunt for homes in your price range: To avoid falling in love with a beautiful house you can’t afford, only browse properties that land within your budget. Remember, you can find a starter home now and move again in a few years, using the equity you’ve built to afford a more expensive home.
  5. Get preapproved for a mortgage: Show your preapproval letter to a home seller, and you’ll prove that you’re a serious buyer with a lender all lined up. This makes you more competitive, an important characteristic to have in a hot real estate market.
  6. Don’t underestimate the importance of location: A good strategy is to buy the most affordable home in the best neighborhood you can find. After all, the local crime rate and distance from amenities are more important than wood floors and granite countertops. You can always add these upgrades later, but you can’t change the home’s location!
  7. Work closely with your real estate agent: A good agent will help you with everything from finding a home you love to making a competitive offer to navigating the closing process. Carefully select who you work with to ensure a successful first-time home buying experience.

Vutech & Ruff is here to make buying a home as simple and stress-free as possible. We’ll assist you with every aspect of your house hunt while maintaining the highest level of professionalism. Get started now by checking out the homes for sale in Columbus, Ohio. Then, call us at 614-897-0618 or contact us online when you’re ready to get serious about buying a home!

How to Find Your Home’s Value

If you’re asking, “How much is my house worth?” do you know how to find the answer? You can easily find your home’s value with a little bit of research and some helpful online tools. Once you know, you’ll have a better idea of how much equity you have in your home, giving you a good idea of what to expect if you’re looking to sell, refinance, or buy a new home.

  • Online tools can help you find your home’s market value. Home value estimators are easy to find online. Look for these helpful tools, called automated valuation models (AVM), on the websites of lenders or real estate sites like Zillow and Redfin. However, you’ll find a more accurate number if you get a real estate agent to use a professional AVM to determine your home’s value.
  • Another way to calculate property value is with a comparative market analysis (CMA). A real estate agent may provide this at little to no cost, in hopes of being hired as your selling agent. The agent will search for homes in your area that are comparable to yours and have recently sold to estimate how much someone would pay for your home.
  • The Federal Housing Agency has a house price index (HPI) calculator. This tool tracks a home’s fluctuating value based on information on mortgage transactions going back to the 1970s. It then provides an estimate based on how values are changing in your market. However, it isn’t adjusted seasonally or for inflation.
  • A professional appraiser can give you an accurate estimate. Before you can get approved for a mortgage, your lender will require a home appraisal. However, property owners can hire a professional appraiser at any time to determine their homes’ value. About one quarter of U.S. homeowners do this to find out how much their homes are worth. To determine value, appraisers evaluate the market, the property, and comparable properties nearby. The appraiser will compile this information, determine the value, and give you a written report.
  • You can look at comparable properties on your own. Just as appraisals and AVMs use “comps”, the recent sale value of comparable properties, you can look at similar properties to estimate your home’s value. However, it takes some discernment to do this accurately. Make sure the homes you’re looking at are actually comparable to your house. To look at comps, browse MLS listings to find recent sales in your area. Get at least three comps for an accurate picture of the market. When estimating your home’s value based on these comps, pay attention to things like square footage and the number of bedrooms, adding or subtracting value as necessary.  

Selling your home doesn’t have to be a stressful experience, especially when you partner with a company like  Vutech & Ruff. We provide outstanding service, assisting with just about every aspect of real estate while maintaining the highest level of professionalism. Our award-winning agents have years of experience selling homes Columbus, Ohio area. Call 614-706-0122 or contact us through our website so we can get to work for you!

Questions to Ask at an Open House

If you’re headed to an open house, don’t go unprepared. Before you go, write down a list of questions to ask the selling agent, so that you don’t forget the things you really want to know. Being prepared can help you gather the information you need before you make an offer. Here, we offer an open house checklist for buyers to use during a house showing.

  • Have any offers been made on this house? This is helpful to know before you open negotiations.
  • Why are the sellers moving? If there’s something wrong with the neighborhood or the neighbors, the agent may not be very forthcoming with the details. Asking the question, though, gives you the opportunity to read between the lines.
  • How long has the house been on the market? This is one of those questions for an open house that you really could find out elsewhere. However, the selling agent may be able to put the information in context.
  • Are there any issues with the house? This is one of the most important open house questions for home buyers, because it’s important to know exactly what you’ll be dealing with if you purchase this house. Sellers are required to disclose structural problems or code violations, and you can always ask for a copy of the disclosure statement, but you may be able to get additional information through an informal chat with a talkative agent.
  • What updates have been done? Some updates will be easy to spot, but things like wiring aren’t as obvious. Ask when the roof was replaced, and the age of the major components like the HVAC, water heater, and electrical system. It’s also smart to ask if the plumbing is on a septic or sewer system, and whether the sellers have had mold, radon, lead, or asbestos testing done.
  • Have any DIY repairs been made? Renovations should be done by a licensed contractor. If the homeowner has done the work, it may not be up to code.
  • What’s the cost of utilities? It’s important to know your cost of living before you make an offer. When inquiring about utilities, it’s also good to ask whether the house uses gas or electric power.
  • What stays with the house? Don’t assume that light fixtures, window treatments, and appliances will stay. It’s always better to ask.
  • What is the sellers’ timeline? The sellers may want to move quickly because of a new job or kids changing schools. This is helpful to know when you’re preparing your offer.
  • Is there an HOA? If the home you’re considering falls within the jurisdiction of a homeowners’ association, get a copy of their regulations so you’ll know whether you are willing to live with those rules.

House hunting doesn’t have to be a stressful experience, especially when you partner with a company like  Vutech & Ruff. We provide outstanding service, assisting with just about every aspect of real estate while maintaining the highest level of professionalism. Our award-winning agents have years of experience helping clients buy and sell homes in the Columbus, Ohio area. Call 614-706-0122 or contact us through our website so we can get to work for you!

What is an Earnest Money Deposit?

What is an Earnest Money Deposit?

Are you getting ready to buy a house? Once you find a property you love, you need the seller to know you’re serious. There’s one way to prove your commitment—make an earnest money deposit into an escrow account. Take a closer look at what earnest money is and when it’s refundable.

What is Earnest Money?

When you make an offer on a house, the purchase agreement might require an earnest money deposit, also known as a good faith deposit. Earnest money is placed in an escrow account, where neither party can touch it until the deal is closed. This protects both the buyer and the seller during the transaction. The purpose of earnest money is to decrease the likelihood that a buyer will place offers on multiple homes, then leave all but one seller high and dry.

How Much Earnest Money Should You Offer?

Typically, earnest money deposits equal 1 to 3 percent of the home sale price. The exact amount depends on the local real estate market. In a hot market where cash offers and bidding wars are common, you may need to offer more earnest money than you would in a languishing market. A professional real estate agent can recommend the amount of earnest money you should offer.

How Does the Escrow Process Work?

As soon as you and the seller agree upon a price and sign a purchase agreement, your real estate agent helps you open an escrow account and make your earnest money deposit. A neutral third party, such as a bank or another financial institution, serves as the escrow agent.

Once the money is in escrow, several things must happen before the sale is finalized. For instance, you need to get approved for a mortgage, have the home appraised and inspected, obtain homeowner’s insurance, and conduct a title search.

After these steps are complete, it’s time to close on the property. This involves signing lots of paperwork, including a new deed naming you as the property’s owner. When everything goes as planned, the earnest money is applied toward the down payment or closing costs. Your mortgage lender will also wire loan funds to escrow so the seller and the seller’s lender, if applicable, can be paid.

Is Earnest Money Refundable?

If any contingency in the purchase agreement isn’t met, the buyer can get their earnest money back. The most common earnest money refund contingencies include:

  • Home inspection contingency: If an inspection report reveals that the home needs repair, the buyer can back out and have their earnest money refunded—or they can work with the seller to either make the repairs or lower the sale price.
  • Appraisal contingency: If a third-party appraiser values the home at less than the sale price, the buyer can choose not to move forward and get their earnest money back—or they can negotiate a new price with the seller.
  • Financing contingency: If you can’t get approved for a mortgage after offering earnest money, you have the right to walk away and get your deposit back.
  • Home sale contingency: Some earnest money contracts have a contingency that lets you back out with your earnest money in hand if you can’t sell your current home before closing on the new one.

Remember, if the buyer backs out of the deal simply because they change their mind, the seller gets to keep the earnest money. That’s why you should only make an earnest money deposit if you’re serious about buying the house.

Are you ready to start house-hunting? Vutech & Ruff makes the process as easy and stress-free as possible. We’ll help you find your next home, overseeing the entire escrow process and ensuring you understand what needs to be done every step of the way. Get help shopping homes for sale in Columbus, Ohio—call us at 614-897-0618 or contact us online today!