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The Louisville Gaines Real Estate Blog

Buying a home

Consider Location, Location, Location Within The House You Buy

Every time the economy gets bad, the size of new homes goes down a bit. Once the economy improves, we seem to  creep upwards in our preferences again. According to the National Association of Home Builders, the average house built in 2013 was 2,679 square feet, an increase of 160 square feet from 2012. Trends about where people want the space distributed in a home have changed, however, even as the overall varies. Even for those looking to buy a an existing home instead of new construction want a home that is laid out to accommodate their own lifestyle and the size of their family. 

What Ikea Found Americans Want 

As a study by Swedish retailer IKEA pointed out, people want space where they spend time in the home. Having extra rooms for special uses is not as important as having room to enjoy activities and store their stuff where they spend time. They recently surveyed 4,000 male and female U.S. consumers between 25-54. Here are a few of their conclusions:

  • People feel cramped in the kitchen and long for kitchen storage, elbow room, and counterspace. 
  • In the kitchen, people love technology, but what they use is not high-tech cooking gadgets, but the TV, computer or music system. 
  • Bedrooms also lack enough storage space, so 54% of the survey respondents stored things under the bed. 
  • 65% of respondents felt the living room was the most popular spot in the house, especially when connected to the kitchen to make it open space.

Location, Location, Location 

The survey responses may not hit on what you feel is important in your home, but does serve as a reality...

What Should You Consider When Buying New Construction?

If none of the prebuilt homes in the Louisville housing market appeal to you, you might want to consider new construction or build a new custom home. Whether you are looking for a home in the development or you take your plans to a custom builder, what should you include in the home? 

What To Consider In Your Newly Built Home 

According to George Davis from Pro Built Homes in Mentor, Ohio here are a few things to consider. 

  • Go green. To keep your utility bills out of the stratosphere, consider and Energy Star rated home that will offer the best features for keeping your heating and cooling bills low and your energy usage socially responsible. Click here to find builders who are Energy Star partners in our area. 
  • Consider energy efficient options. If you are looking for a home in a development, look for one that is energy efficient and consider any upgrades the builder offers that might improve efficiency. Such upgrades might include water-saving showerheads, low-e glazing, Energy Star appliances, whole-house ventilation,  framing with engineered lumber more efficient air conditioning equipment, rigid insulation on exterior basement walls, 1 inch of closed-cell foam in exterior walls followed by blown-in fiberglass, and an upgrade from open-cell to the higher-performing closed-cell foam in the roof.
  • Right size your home. What you want to ensure the proper amount of living space for your family, don't over buy. Though some recent surveys indicate that home size is increasing a bit, keep in mind that extra space means more house to heat, more house to maintain, and more house to...

How Do Your Wants Match Up To Those Of The Average Homebuyer?

If you're looking for your first home in Louisville this spring, you are putting into action the dream of many Americans. According to a survey by the National Association of Home Builders (NAHB) and Better Homes & Gardens Magazine, most people value buying a home. Regardless of ethnicity or age, most buyers surveyed had many of the same things on their mind when they went home shopping. How do your dreams match up with what buyers want in the home? 

The Homeownership Dream 

The survey looked at a group of white, black, Hispanic, and Asian homebuyers between 18 and 64 and determined that between 79 and 82% saw buying a home as part of the American Dream. In the 18 to 34 group of Millennial buyers, there was a concern as to whether they can reach the goal. 

  • 35% said they had no down payment
  • 28% said that what they wanted to buy with out of reach
  • 21% said they could not qualify for financing due to credit problems or lending standards. 

What Buyers Want In A Home 

What were people looking for in a home? Across the board, desirable features included: 

  • A walk-in closet in the master bedroom
  • Laundry room
  • Great room
  • Energy star rated appliances
  • Programmable thermostat
  • 2.5 bath
  • Energy star rated windows with low E properties
  • Proximity to parks and walking and jogging trails

 What Buyers Don't Want

 What were they not looking for? 

  • Laminate countertops
  • An outdoor kitchen or outdoor fireplace
  • A two-story family room or a two-story foyer
  • A media room
  • A whirlpool in the...

Should You Consider A Moving Pod - Part Two

Using a pod or portable storage unit can revolutionize your remodeling or moving by offering space, convenience, and accessibility at a reasonable price. The beauty of using a portable storage unit for either of these undertakings is that you can load or unload at your leisure. When remodeling, you can bring back groups of furniture a room at a time. When moving you can take a time to bring in just what you need for particular area of your home. If there is a delay getting into your new house, you can keep the unit packed until you need to unload it and can even have it stored off-site. How much do they cost? Are there any disadvantages? 

Cost Considerations

How costly is it to use a portable storage unit? Prices vary, of course, but just to give you an idea, one Louisville company will deliver a 12 foot unit to your home for $225, a 16 foot for $250, or a 20 foot for $275. This price will cover a month of usage. A move to your new location might cost $50 more. If you need storage, add another $50 on to the cost. If you need the unit for more than 30 days, monthly rental rates are reasonable.

Using a pod can add a couple hundred dollars on to your moving or remodeling bill. Regardless of how long you use them, pods are rented by the month, which give you plenty of time to get your full value. Considering the cost of gas and aggravation involved in making many trips back and forth between locations or the possible damage to your furniture from moving it around in your house, the cost might be well worth it, even if you only need it for week or two. Convenience comes at a price that might well be worth it.

If you anticipate that your possessions will need to be in storage for a few months before you use them, you might be better off renting a storage unit and results served storage facility. The only disadvantage...

Seven New Year’s Resolutions For Buying A Louisville Home In 2014

Is buying a new home on your list of resolutions 
 for 2014? You might not want to face Louisville's bitter cold and snow right now, but it's a good time to think carefully about what is on your list of "must haves." Based on what we've  picked up  from watching The Property Brothers, Love It Or List It, and other TV home shows here are a few things to keep in mind.

 7 New Years’ Resolutions To Remember When Buying A Louisville Home

  1. Keep in mind that Louisville offers good housing values, but as the real estate market recovers, prices are increasing a bit. You want to get a deal, but the seller wants a fair price for their home too. Just as we counsel sellers to be realistic about their asking prices, as buyers, you need to offer a fair price as well. 
  2. Your perfect home may be out of your price range, but is often attainable if you're willing to do some renovations. By obtaining a 203 mortgage rehab loan, you can have much of the work done before you move in. The total amount for the property and the renovations cannot exceed what your lender will offer you. If you have a long list of renovations, choose the ones that will make the house functional and that will be more difficult to add later.
  3. Another way to get the home you want is to be flexible with where you live. While you want good schools, convenience, and amenities, you may be able to find a good mix of these assets in a neighborhood a few blocks away from your dream location.
  4. Compromise is usually a part of settling on a new home. In the process of compromising, however, be aware of what you need. If you or your spouse make most of the family income from home, you need a decent office that offers privacy and quiet. This means that you should not settle for a home that offers just a little office space in the master bedroom or in the midst of the family room or other noisy location. If you have five kids,...

Choosing The Best Fireplace For Your Louisville Home – Part I

Given the number of old Victorian homes in Louisville, there are many dwellings with functional wood-burning fireplaces
. Even in newer homes, the fireplace remains an important architectural detail, although it is a secondary heating source. The National Association of Home Builders claims that fireplaces are among the top three features that new homeowners love. Virtually all area homes are heated by gas, electric, hot water, or maybe even oil, so people light fires for ambience, for extra warmth, and for holidays, but do not rely on it as their primary heating source. 

Downsides Of A Raging Fire 

Despite the fragrant aroma and mesmerizing flames of a wood-burning fireplace, masonry units are out of favor with homeowners. The downside of the captivating fire is smoke that lingers in the air, gets in the people lungs, and dirties up the house. Few older fireplaces are energy efficient as 8 to 15% of their heat escapes up the chimney. A fireplace sucks in air from the room pushes it up the flu, and draws in air from the outside, which can create a “negative efficiency” effect. 

Fortunately, fireplace loving homeowners have several choices that enable them to get a great-looking, environmentally friendly fireplace that warms the room at a reasonable cost. There have been developments in wood-burning fire technology, as gas and electric fireplaces offer alternatives as well. 

New Trends In Wood-burning Fireplaces 

Many new wood-burning fireplaces are built in factories, set in the house opening and vetted to the outside. Many of these are rated by the EPA and qualifying for energy credits. Because they more effectively pull in the air from the outside, heat it, and recirculate it, they produce less than 5g of smoke per hour. Not only are these units 50% more efficient than older, built on site models, they even include a clean feature that keeps smoke and flames away...

Acquire A Home With Potential With An FHA 203K Rehab Loan

house, repair, blueprintRecently, I worked with someone who wants to use an FHA 203K Rehab loan to buy a Louisville property that needs a lot of work. This type of loan provides funds to both buy the home and make repairs, a great approach if you want to buy a foreclosure. I will keep you posted how this works out, but this is a good time to offer some information on a feasible way to acquire a home with potential. 

With foreclosures dotting the landscape, there are many homes in disrepair. Some were trashed by angry former owners, while some were vandalized after the fact. Even homes left vacant for a time may that need major systems replaced. Even properties sold at short sale might need more work than the owner can afford. By arranging financing that covers both the mortgage and repairs, you can bring the property up to code and make a nice home for your family.

There are specific requirements for the Federal Housing Administration's 203(k) program

  • The home will be your principal residence.
  • The amount you borrow must be no more than the loan amount you qualify for and be less than the maximum FHA limit for your area.
  • You must be prepared to put down at least 3.5%
  • Your mortgage will include mortgage insurance.
  • Your interest rate will be higher than prevailing rates to cover the lender's risk.

With a 203 loan, you do not get a bag of money for repairs at closing so you and Uncle Joe can work on the home every weekend for three years. Instead, you must have a plan outlined for the home repair,...

Low Mortgage Rates Give You More Buying Power In Louisville


buyersIf you are thinking of buying a home, you hear it a lot: "Buy now! Homes are affordable! You will pay less than if you rent!" For Louisville buyers, that line of thinking is true, but reasonable home prices is just one part of the story.

Mortgage rates are so low that you have more purchasing power these days. According to a recent article in The Mortgage Reports, the nationwide mortgage rate is as low as 3.66% for buyers willing to pay .7 discount points plus closing costs. Compared to a year ago, you can buy 9.9% more for the same mortgage payment; since 2007, you can buy 25% more.

The article gives an example with numbers that are out of sight for most homeowners, but are still interesting. Compared to 40 years ago, when the rates averaged 8.75%, a borrower who could spend $2.500 on their mortgage payment could buy a home priced at $397,000. Today, they could afford a $682,300 home 0 42% more. Even if you are buying a home closer in price to the median price, you can still buy much more house than in the past for the same payment.

Today, when you go to the bank to discuss a loan, you are given the amount of home you should look at and the corresponding payment, based on the assumption you will put a certain amount down and take out the mortgage for a particular term,  i.e,...

Find a Louisville Home Near a Quality School

When you move to a new community, the quality of the schools are a big consideration. If you have kids, you want the best for them. Even if you don't, you know that the future sales price will be affected by schools too.

Schools in Jefferson County
offer choices. The Greater Louisville Area includes award-winning schools, including public, religious, private, and private institutions with plenty of opportunities for parents to play active roles in their children’s education. Beyond high school, the Greater Louisville area offers community colleges, technical schools, and universities with award-winning programs and excellent sports teams.

The Jefferson County Public School System is versatile as it strives to meet the diverse needs of Louisville area children. With many optional and magnet programs available, children do not have to attend the school nearest to them - although that is always an option.

Most elementary and secondary schools operate from August through May or early June. You can select the best fit for your children, based on their talents, interests, transportation needs, and schedule.

If your child has a special talent or shows an interest in a particular career, JCPS magnet schools and magnet programs focus on a specific subject (such as environmental studies, computers, visual or performing arts), offer training in a specific career...

Live in Affordable, Liveable Louisville

When you think of the ideal place to live, you might you might consider the city that offered a mix of hometown friendliness and cosmopolitan amenities. That's a fancy way of saying you'd like some art and culture along with people who make you feel right at home. Louisville has that, but we have received two recent designations that really matter for an ideal city. According to the Council for Community and Economic Research (C2ER), the cost of living in Louisville is about 11% below the national average. Furthermore, the US Conference of Mayors (USCM) named Louisville the most livable large city.

In computing Louisville's cost-of-living, the C2ER based its findings on the cost of goods in 306 cities, which it compiles every three months. They found that Louisville offers especially good housing values, as housing is 22.5% cheaper here than nationally for the first three months of 2012. This figure is based on the price of a new 2400 square foot  home after factoring in mortgage rates an apartment rents what cost $251,247 nationally runs only 231,573 in Louisville.

The IndyStar illustrated how this worked out for a guy who move from Manhattan (expense capital of the US). He was so shocked that drinks cost 50% less in "Boubontown" then in New York City that he was tempted to buy a round for the bar. Even Ted Smith, director of the Louisville Metro Department of Economic Growth and Innovation, who relocated from the Washington DC area in 2011, found that the his 1600 square foot $750,000 home in McLean Virginia was going for $294,000 right in Louisville.

As noted by a handy info graphic posted in the article referenced...

Buying or Selling your Louisville Home: What's Love Got to Do With It?

Loving the Louisville house you own one or the one you want to buy makes the sacrifices you make to acquire it all worth it. You really have the house for yourself and your family, but paying for, maintaining, and improving takes time, effort, and money you could allocate elsewhere and still show you care for your family.
As in other areas of life, love can get you into trouble if you love too much or love unwisely. This is true in real estate. Whether you're a buyer or seller, romanticizing your home can lead you to make some costly mistakes.
When you're buyer, especially a first-time one, you may find a house with features you love early in your search. You may jump at the chance to buy it even if you haven't seen many other homes yet. You may either overpay or commit to a house that is really out of your price range. Your love for the dramatic master bedroom with the spa bath may blind you to the fact that the home is in an inferior school district or in a city where taxes are particularly high. Just as love can turn into hate in a relationship when the light of day sinks in. You may come to hate the huge yard or the dramatic two-story windows that demand attention.
When you're seller, even though you need to move away, your inordinate love of your home may lead you to overprice it on the market. You may have put in lots of extras that reflect your taste and expect that the price will reflect your upgrades. When your real estate agent suggests how do price your home based on the market and recent sales in your neighborhood, you resist and only give...

How Much Land Do You Want For Your Louisville Home?

If 2012 is the year when you will finally become a Louisville homeowner, one choice you have to make is how much land you want. Having a big yard is part of the mystique of homeownership for many people, but land values determine lot size as well as the types of homes constructed there. In Louisville, you have many choices within a few-mile radius of downtown, so it is up to you to decide what you want.

Having acreage of any size can be a dream come true or a nightmare for homeowners. In theory, living on a piece of land where there is distance between you and your neighbors represents having a calm place to get away from it all. You can forget the hustle and bustle of the city, see the stars at night, smell clean air, and be at peace, as you live the “Walton life,” perhaps with fewer children at hand. The downside? You have less interaction with your neighbors whether you just want to socialize or when there's an emergency. You are more dependent on a car. But there are other maintenance realities you must consider.

Do you enjoy yard work?

The more land you own, the more maintenance it needs. You may only plan to landscape the area around your home, but beautifying the yard, cutting the grass, removing weeds, and raking leaves is time-consuming and can be costly, whether...

Great Values in Historic Butchertown

 As a Realtor® in Northwest Louisville, Butchertown is one of my favorite neighborhoods. With a long history rooted in grist milling and the industry that named it - hog processing - Butchertown is currently a vibrant neighborhood where you can find a great housing value. The neighborhood is just east of downtown and bounded by the Ohio River to the north, Interstate 65 to the West, Main St. to the south. and Millwood Ave. and Beargrass Creek to the east.

Although Butchertown was established in 1796, when a grist mill was set up there, it became urbanized with the arrival of German settlers in 1827. Many became butchers, a trade relegated to the outside of town. The area, situated along a major Turnpike (present day Frankfurt and Story Avenues) and Beargrass Creek, was perfect for processing meat, dumping animal waste, and sending the meat off to other markets. The new settlers also worked in related industries such as tanneries, cooperages, soap making, agricultural supply, blacksmithing, and other needed services. In their off time, the new German residents celebrated their heritage by drinking beer and bowling at the Woodland Gardens.

Streets in Butchertown were set up on a grid by the early 1840’s, and named for figures in early-American history with names like Washington, Franklin, and Adams. Homes in the area are architecturally diverse, with most be brick or frame, in a style known as Victorian brick-a-brack. Because many businesses...

Seek and You May Find a Great Loan on Your Louisville Home


Last week in our blog, we started to talk about how to take advantage of the current low interest rates in Louisville. Getting preapproval for your loan is crucial. Experts recommend that you approach several lenders, including banks, savings and loans, credit unions, and mortgage brokers, to see where you can get the best deal.


Can You Take Advantage of Low Rates on Louisville Homes?

If you are planning to buy a home in Louisville in 2012, the combination of low prices and low interest rates are an irresistible combination to start the process. Both things assure that you can get plenty of house for your money and give you more freedom of choice.  Unfortunately, taking advantage of the low interest rates is not a slam dunk if your credit rating is low.  Many of the best interest rates are reserved for people with high scores above 750.  To estimate your chances of claiming a low rate mortgage, you must take certain steps prior to or at the early stages of your house hunting.

First, know what you're dealing with. Pull a copy of your credit report to see what your score is and to determine whether information is reported correctly on your report. If you find errors, take the time to correct them. If you have late payments or other blemishes like past bankruptcies, repossessions, or judgments, nothing but establishing good payment habits and the passage of time will make them go away.  The good news is, by improving your payment habits you can raise your score in a few months. Assuming that your finances are now on track, these blemishes will still impact your ability to get the best rate, but you may still be able to get a loan from some lender, even if your interest rate is somewhat higher.

One thing that creditors consider when determining your credit worthiness is your debt-to-credit ratio. They do not like nearly – maxed out credit cards and ideally want to see you using no...

Will You Get Serious About Your Louisville Move in 2012?

Happy New Year, Louisville. After a couple weeks of holiday celebrations, it is time to focus on your real estate agenda for 2012. Is this the year you will get serious about moving?
Over the past couple years, the housing market has been down, so sellers have hesitated to sell unless they absolutely needed to. Though most of us anticipate making a profit on our homes when we sell, it is still shocking to realize that serious price cutting may be the only way to get the type of buyer attention that results in a “sold” sign in the front yard.  For buyers, there is more choice in a down market – but when sellers hold back, the choice is less than it would have been. 

This state of affairs beckons anyone who anticipates house shopping in the new year to carefully consider what is important to them in a new home. Over the past decade, the first thing on most people’s list...

I Hate That Color!


house, purple trimAs a seasoned Realtor®, I can't tell you how many times I have heard that phrase. I have finally found you that perfect Louisville home...you know, the one that meets all of your requirements. I mean everything you asked for, even the fish pond in the backyard. Yet, you don't want to write a contract. Why? Because you hate the color of the house. I have to spend hours convincing you that this is purely a cosmetic issue.

Oh, yes, this happens all the time. Don't let something cosmetic keep you from purchasing your dream home. Have the home inspected. If the home passes the inspection, or the seller is willing to work with you on the costs of any repairs required by the inspection, buy the paint...or better yet, have it professionally painted! This logic not only applies to the color of the paint, but any other cosmetic issues that can be rectified fairly inexpensively. If it is something major, like replacing the kitchen counter tops with the granite counter tops that you just can't live without, include an allowance for this in your contract. It never hurts to try, especially in today's market.

Today's economy favors the home buyer. This is the perfect time to purchase your dream home. The real estate market...

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