Closing Costs Explained

When you’re buying a home, there’s a lot more to factor in beyond just the purchase price. One of the crucial considerations is closing costs. But what exactly are these costs, and why should you care?

What are closing costs?

Closing costs refer to the various fees and expenses you incur when finalizing the purchase of your new home. They typically range from 2% to 3% of the loan amount and cover essential services like loan origination fees, title insurance, attorney fees, and more. These costs matter because they can significantly impact your overall budget for buying a home. 

Understanding and preparing for closing costs is vital because they ensure the legal transfer of property ownership and protect both you and the lender. By budgeting for these expenses upfront, you can avoid last-minute financial surprises and smoothly navigate the home-buying process with confidence.

In Ohio, closing costs usually include the following:

  • Loan Origination Fees: These are charged by your lender for processing your loan. They typically cover document preparation, underwriting, and other administrative services.

  • Appraisal Fees: Before a lender approves your loan, they need to know the home’s value. An appraisal fee pays for a professional to assess the property’s worth.

  • Title Insurance: Ohio requires both an owner’s title insurance policy and a lender’s title insurance policy. This ensures that both parties are protected against potential claims against the property.

  • Attorney Fees: While it’s not mandatory to hire an attorney for closing in Ohio, it’s highly recommended. An attorney can help review the title work, handle any legal issues, and ensure that the closing documents are accurate.

  • Recording Fees: Local governments charge a fee to officially record the sale of the property, making the transfer of ownership public record.

  • Transfer Taxes: Ohio imposes a transfer tax on real estate transactions, which is typically $1 per $1,000 of the sale price. Some counties may have additional transfer fees.

  • Settlement Fees: Also known as closing or escrow fees, these are typically split between the buyer and the seller in Ohio. These fees cover the cost of the closing agent or title company managing the closing process.

  • Costs associated with property taxes, homeowners’ insurance, mortgage interest, and the home inspection are typically paid upfront rather than at closing.

Who Pays Closing Costs in Ohio?

In Ohio, who pays closing costs can vary and is often negotiable. Typically, the buyer pays for loan-related fees. Title fees, on the other hand, are sometimes split between the buyer and seller, but in Central Ohio, the seller often pays for it entirely. If the selling isn’t covering the costs at closing, you will be required to pay all costs in the form of “guaranteed funds” such as a cashier’s check or wire transfer. Your escrow office or mortgage lender will notify you of the exact amount.

Closing costs are an essential part of buying a home, and knowing what they are and planning for them can make your journey to homeownership much smoother and less stressful. Keep these tips in mind, and you’ll be ready to close on your new home with confidence.

At Vutech | Ruff, Cutler Real Estate, we’re here to make your home-buying or selling experience seamless and enjoyable. We recognize that every buying and selling situation is unique, and we tailor our approach to fit your specific needs and make the whole process as easy as possible for you.

Contact us to get started! 

What to Expect During a Home Inspection

Purchasing a home is incredibly exciting, but before you celebrate it’s important to do your due diligence to determine the overall condition of the home. A home inspection does just that.

Conducted by a licensed professional, a home inspection offers valuable insight into a home’s condition, identifying any “reasonably discoverable” problems with the home, such as a leaky roof or faulty plumbing. With this information, buyers can make informed decisions, negotiate repairs or price adjustments, and, if done proactively by the seller, can help them address issues before listing the property.

What to expect during a home inspection

A home inspection is a visual assessment of a house’s physical structure and mechanical systems, including the roof, ceilings, walls, floors, windows, and doors. Generally, the home inspector will check that major appliances are functional, examine the heating and air-conditioning system, assess plumbing and electrical systems, and poke around the attic and basement. 

During a home inspection, a professional examines the condition of the property, ensuring it is safe, structurally secure, and not a potential money pit with a long list of concealed, but necessary, repairs. To do this, the inspector will look at various aspects of the property, such as: 

  • Exterior:
  • Roof condition 
  • Siding, trim, and exterior paint 
  • Foundation and grading around the house 
  • Driveways, walkways, and steps 
  • Decks, porches, and balconies 

  • Interior: 
  • Walls, ceilings, and floors for damage or defects 
  • Doors and windows for proper operation and sealing 
  • Stairways and railings for safety

  • Structural Components:
  • Foundation integrity 
  • Basement and crawl spaces for moisture and damage 
  • Attic for insulation and ventilation

  • Systems and Appliances:
  • Electrical system, including outlets, switches, and circuit breakers 
  • Plumbing system, including pipes, fixtures, and water heater 
  • Heating, ventilation, and air conditioning (HVAC) systems 
  • Kitchen appliances for functionality

  • Safety Features:
  • Smoke and carbon monoxide detectors 
  • Fireplaces and chimneys 
  • Garage doors and automatic openers

What a home inspection does not include

Home inspections, while comprehensive, typically don’t cover certain areas and systems, such as:

  • Underground Storage Tanks: Inspectors usually do not assess these due to the difficulty of access and the need for specialized equipment. 

  • Lawn Irrigation Systems: These are often excluded because they require specialized knowledge and equipment to evaluate properly. 

  • Septic Systems: Evaluating septic systems requires a separate, specialized inspection. 

  • Swimming Pools and Spas: These may not be covered in a standard inspection and might need a separate evaluation.

  • Asbestos, Radon, and Lead Paint: Inspectors typically do not test for these hazardous materials; specialized testing is required.

  • Pest Infestations: While inspectors might note visible signs of pests, a thorough pest inspection usually requires a pest control specialist. 

  • Chimneys and Fireplaces: Inspectors may check for basic functionality but often do not conduct in-depth inspections of chimneys and flues. 

  • Cosmetic Issues: Minor aesthetic flaws, such as paint chips or small cracks, are generally not the focus of a home inspection unless they could point to a bigger problem, such as a ceiling water stain.

For these areas, buyers may need to arrange for additional specialized inspections to get a complete assessment of the property. 

When all is said and done, the home inspector will document their findings and provide a detailed report highlighting any issues or potential problems. This report can help you make informed decisions about the property, negotiate repairs, or plan for future maintenance. Any serious issues that arise should be brought to the attention of the seller, and your agent will help you negotiate who should take care of the problems.  

When you work with Vutech | Ruff, Cutler Real Estate, you can rest assured that you have a team behind you ready to help with any questions you might have throughout the buying or selling process, including the home inspection.

Downsizing for Retirement: Do or Don’t?

Retirement is a major life change that may lead you to reevaluate your priorities, and how they might impact where and how you live. If your kids are grown and you no longer need as much space and the upkeep is becoming too much (or just isn’t how you want to spend your time), you might be asking yourself: should I downsize?

The truth is there is no one-size-fits-all answer; choosing to downsize is a big decision that requires careful consideration. Here are a few things to keep in mind:

The Financial Advantage

On the one hand, downsizing can offer financial freedom and flexibility. By selling a larger home, you can reduce your mortgage or eliminate it, freeing up funds for travel, hobbies, or simply enjoying retirement to the fullest. And you’re not just shrinking your living space; you’re also downsizing the accompanying utility bills, property taxes, and maintenance costs. This can be especially beneficial for retirees on fixed incomes who need to carefully manage their expenses.

However, downsizing after retirement doesn’t always guarantee financial gains. While selling your home and moving to a smaller place can potentially free up equity and reduce living expenses, you still need to consider factors like…

  • The Real Estate Market: The value of your current home and the affordability of smaller properties in your desired location can fluctuate based on market conditions. Downsizing during a seller’s market might yield higher returns, while doing so in a buyer’s market could result in lower selling prices.  
  • Transaction Costs: Selling your home involves transaction costs such as real estate agent commissions, closing costs, and potential capital gains taxes. These expenses can eat into any potential financial gains from downsizing.  
  • Housing Costs: While downsizing can reduce certain housing-related expenses like mortgage payments, property taxes, and maintenance costs, it’s essential to consider other factors like HOA fees, insurance premiums, and utility costs in your new location.  
  • Quality of Life: Downsizing shouldn’t be solely about financial gains. Consider how the move will affect your lifestyle, proximity to family and friends, access to amenities, and overall happiness in your new home.  
  • Investment of Proceeds: If you’re planning to invest the proceeds from selling your larger home, consider the potential returns and risks associated with your investment strategy.  
  • Long-Term Goals: Evaluate how downsizing fits into your long-term financial goals, such as retirement savings, healthcare expenses, and legacy planning.

Practical Benefits

Downsizing also presents an opportunity to simplify life and declutter. After decades of accumulating possessions, many retirees find that downsizing forces them to evaluate what truly matters to them, let go of unnecessary belongings, and create a living space that is more manageable and easier to maintain.

Navigating the Downsizing Process

Ultimately, the choice to downsize depends on your individual preferences, priorities, and circumstances. It’s essential for retirees to carefully consider their financial situation and lifestyle goals to make a choice that aligns with their priorities for their golden years.  

If you do choose to downsize or are at least considering it, the team at Vutech|Ruff team is here to help. Our local real estate agents can help you set the right price for your current house when you sell, find the home that best fits your needs, and understand what you can afford at today’s mortgage rate. With our expert guidance, you can navigate the downsizing process seamlessly and transition to your new home with ease. 

Exploring Condos in Downtown Columbus

Considering a condo purchase in downtown Columbus, Ohio? You may be ready to embrace maintenance-free living or feel drawn to the vibrant atmosphere of downtown living.

Whatever the reason you are considering the purchase of a downtown Columbus condo, we are happy to tell you about a few of our favorites. Downtown Columbus offers a variety of diverse sub-neighborhoods each with a unique vibe that feeds into an overall energetic lifestyle and the same is true for the various condo communities available.


The Dakota

Located in the heart of the Short North Arts District at 845 N. High Street, The Dakota offers urban luxury condo living at its finest. Within walking distance to Goodale Park, restaurants, art galleries, boutique shops, it will be hard to find another condo with easier access to the entertainment, dining, and nightlife that downtown living has to offer.   

Sterling Lofts 

Located in the Brewery District at 544 S. Front Street, Sterling Lofts offers spectacular floor plans combined with low-maintenance urban living. Just a short walk from German Village, the restaurants, and entertainment venues in downtown Columbus, Sterling Lofts also offers easy access to parks and green space including Audobon Metro Park.  

Beck Place Condominiums 

Beck Place has been carefully designed for comfort, style, and convenience while honoring the rich history of German Village.  The townhome exteriors complement the traditional German Village facades familiar in the area while offering secured rear gated access. Beck Place Condos are located at 651 S. Grant Avenue and offer 20 unique floorplans with terraces that offer a piece of the outdoors. 

The Jackson on High 

The Jackson embraces the vibrant Short North lifestyle and stands on its own as a true work of art in the Arts District. Situated on the north side of the Shor North, The Jackson on High offers a sophisticated and luxurious living experience in one of the city’s most vibrant and dynamic areas. It is conveniently located near historical neighborhoods like Italian Village and Victorian Village and other major entertainment districts including Downtown Columbus, the Arena District, and The Ohio State University District.


The Condominiums at North Bank Park 

Built in 2007, The Condominiums at North Bank Park combines a spirit of old meets new. The tower features unobstructed views of the downtown area, with more modern finishes, while the industrial warehouse offers more traditional loft living. North Bank is a 20-story high-rise on the southeast end of the Arena District, located at 300 W Spring St.

Parks Edge  

Parks Edge condominiums feature 200 homes with breathtaking views of the downtown skyline and Scioto River. Residents enjoy a resort-style rooftop pool and hot tub, a fitness center, and more. 

The Buggyworks 

Located in the Arena District, The Buggyworks is a renovated historic warehouse originally developed by The Columbus Buggy Company in 1902. The 68 authentic urban loft condominiums are within walking distance of Nationwide Arena, Huntington Park, New Crew Stadium, The North Market, Goodale, and North Bank Parks. 


Miranova is a luxury, 27-story condominium tower located just south of downtown Columbus along the Scioto River. Towering 314 feet in the air, Miranova is one of the tallest residential buildings in Ohio. The unique design and rounded glass allow all of the main rooms of each home to have the best views of the city and skyline.

Waterford Tower 

One of the premier high-rise condominiums on the downtown Columbus riverfront, The Waterford faces a breathtaking view of the city’s riverfront skyline. It is steps away from the Scioto Mile, Arena District, and Theater District. 

Burnham Square 

Designed to look both suburban and metropolitan, Burnham Square offers some of the best amenities around. This lush yet urban community features everything from brick-paved boulevards and open plazas to world-class venues and downtown conveniences, which means you’ll never have to travel far for fun. 

Hartman Lofts 

The Hartman Lofts, at 150 E Main Street, is an urban oasis near the Arena District in the heart of downtown Columbus. The Hartman Lofts are residential condominiums in a historical building that was originally a hotel dating back to 1901. Evoking a modern feel with mahogany wood ceilings and exposed brick walls. This six-story building features high-end lofts which were converted from hotel rooms to condos in 2006. In addition, the location couldn’t be more convenient with ample amounts of shopping, nightlife, and major freeways minutes away. 

Neighborhood Launch 

Located at the corner of Fourth and Gay, this nine-block community features brand-new brownstones that come in a variety of floorplans. There is also ample green space and gathering areas, as well as secure parking. The goal of Neighborhood Launch is to offer more than just a cluster of homes—it’s to create a network of neighbors who live, work, and play together. 

At Vutech & Ruff, Cutler Real Estate, our commitment extends beyond merely finding you a property; we’re dedicated to making your home-buying journey a seamless and enjoyable experience. Discover the charm, convenience, and allure of condo living in Central Ohio through our blog, where expertise meets passion, and your dream home awaits.  

All About Down Payments

You might be eager to buy a new home, but the down payment has you questioning whether it is a realistic dream. The good news is that it may be more achievable than you think.  

While a 20 percent down payment has been the traditional standard for purchasing a home, the fact is that it is not mandatory and there are loan options that have a much lower minimum requirement. That means you could be closer to your homebuying dream than you realize. 

How Much Down Payment Do You Need to Buy a House? 

According to the National Association of Realtors (NAR), the median down payment hasn’t been over 20% since 2005. In fact, for all homebuyers today it’s only 15%; and just 8% for first-time homebuyers.   

Lenders and government programs have different down payment requirements, depending on the type of loan being used. While most home buyers purchase homes with conventional loans, other financing options are available.  

Types of Mortgage Loans 

  • Conventional loan: These loans don’t have backing from a governmental program and, therefore, have stricter standards for credit scores, debt-to-income ratio (DTI), and down payments. Specifically, first-time home buyers must provide a down payment of 3% or higher, and experienced home buyers must put down at least 5%. 
  • Federal Housing Administration (FHA) loan: Backed by the FHA, these loans require private lenders to follow government regulations when providing loans to borrowers with weaker credit and lower incomes. Because of the more flexible loan requirements, FHA loans require a 3.5% down payment for all buyers. 
  • Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) loan: VA loans are for veteran and active-duty military members and eligible surviving spouses. have minimal financial hurdles, and oftentimes do not require a down payment. 
  • U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) loan: USDA loans are for borrowers in qualifying rural areas with moderate financial requirements, and borrowers don’t have to have a down payment to qualify. 

Down Payment Assistance 

There also are a variety of resources available to help with a down payment. In fact, there are over 2,000 homebuyer assistance programs in the U.S., many intended to help with down payments. Your lender can help identify programs for which you may qualify. If you’re ready to become a homeowner, lean on your trusted advisors to find resources that can help you make your dreams a reality.  

At Vutech | Ruff, Cutler Real Estate, our team is ready to help. We pride ourselves on our in-depth knowledge of the Ohio real estate market and financing options available for our clients. 

Finding your dream home is one thing. Your dream experience is another. Contact us and let’s have a conversation.