Household hints, real estate news

Staff Reports

The Outdoor Power Equipment Institute (OPEI) is offering tips for safe and correct use of snow blowers.

“Your indispensable winter friend, the snow blower is ready to be powered up and it’s important to keep safety in mind,” says OPEI President and CEO Kris Kiser. “Be sure to prepare and consider the following tips before you use your equipment:


Review your owner’s manual and check your equipment. Check your owner’s manual for safe handling procedures from your manufacturer. If you forgot to drain the fuel last winter before storing your snow blower, drain the tank now. Adjust any cables. Check the auger (the snow blower should always be completely powered off when you are checking the equipment). Know how to operate the controls. You should be able to shut off your equipment quickly.

Prepare your fuel and handle it properly. It’s important to have the right fuel on hand for your snow blower – movement and fuel availability may be limited during a snowstorm. Be sure to use the correct fuel, as recommended by your equipment’s manufacturer (for more information on fueling properly see Fill up the fuel tank outside before you start the engine and while the engine is cold. Never add fuel to a running or hot engine.

Be sure to clean the area you intend to clear with your equipment. Snow can sometimes hide objects that if run over by a snow blower, may harm the machine or people. Doormats, hoses, balls, toys, boards, wires, and other debris should be removed from the areas you intend to clear.

Dress appropriately. Wear safety glasses and footwear that can handle slippery surfaces.


KEY SAFETY TIP: Never put your hands inside the auger or chute. Use a clean out tool (or stick) to unclog snow or debris from your snow blower. Your hands should never go inside the auger or chute. Make sure the snow blower is in the off position before addressing any clogs.

Turn OFF your snow blower if you need to clear a clog. If you need to remove debris or unclog snow, always turn off your snow blower. Wait for all moving parts to come to a complete stop before clearing any clogs or debris.

Only use your snow blower in visible conditions. Never operate the snow blower without good visibility or light.

Aim your snow blower with care. Never throw snow toward people or cars. Do not allow anyone to stand in front of your snow blower. Keep children or pets away from your snow blower when it is operating.

Use extreme caution on slopes and hills. Use caution when changing directions on slopes. Do not attempt to clear steep slopes.

Know where your cord is. If you have an electric powered snow blower, be aware of where the power cord is at all times. Avoid tripping. Do not run over the power cord.

More safety tips and information are available at

About OPEI

The Outdoor Power Equipment Institute (OPEI) is an international trade association representing more than 100 power equipment, engine and utility vehicle manufacturers and suppliers. OPEI is the advocacy voice of the industry, and a recognized Standards Development Organization for the American National Standards Institute (ANSI) and active internationally through the International Standards Organization (ISO) and the International Electrotechnical Commission (IEC) in the development of safety and performance standards. OPEI is managing partner of GIE+EXPO, the industry’s annual international trade show, and the creative force behind the environmental education program, OPEI-Canada represents members on a host of issues, including recycling, emissions and other regulatory developments across the Canadian provinces. For more information, visit

How Renters Can Improve Their Homes with Smart Technology

Tech expert explains how renters can benefit from ‘smart house’ technology

‘Smart house’ technology is rapidly becoming a sought-after feature for homebuyers, with 54 percent of house-hunters saying that they want to purchase a home with such capabilities. Renters might feel left out of the benefits of ‘smart house’ tech, but tech expert Karl Volkman says that there are many ways that renters can make the most of this latest technology.

Volkman, CTO of SRV Network, Inc., suggests these following options for renters:

August Smart Lock: “With August Lock, renters can upgrade their existing lock (without harming their door or causing issues with their landlord). It turns your smartphone into a smart key—and more. Lock and unlock your door, create virtual keys for guests, and keep track of who comes and goes, all from your iOS or Android smartphone,” says Volkman. “You can also choose to grant access for a few weeks, a few hours, a few minutes, or even specific dates and times. Delete guest access any time in an instant.”

Belkin WeMo Outlet: “Ever panicked that you let your iron on? Or maybe you forget to turn on your slow-cooker before leaving the house. Don’t worry, dinner won’t be ruined, if you have the WeMo outlet,” says Volkman. “It allows you to control your lights and small appliances from anywhere, and it works with smartphones, tablets, Nest and Amazon Alexa.”

Simplehuman Sensor Mirror: “The sensor mirror lights up automatically as your face approaches,” says Volkam, “And the mirror simulates natural sunlight, allowing you to see full color variation. Unlike traditional makeup vanity mirrors’ bulb lighting, the long-lasting LEDs won’t burn out or diminish even after many years.”

SimpliSafe: “If you want to upgrade your home security even further, SimpliSafe is an awesome bet for renters. It’s easy to install, and requires no phonelines and no yearly contracts. You’ll have access from your smartphone or laptop, and you can even set alerts for things like liquor cabinets or gun safes. If a burglar does try to break the SimpliSafe keypad, police will be alerted right away.”

Hiku: “You can make your kitchen smart, even if you are just renting,” says Volkman. “Hiku lives in your kitchen, scans barcodes and recognizes your voice. You can also use it to create a shared shopping list. With the Hiku shopping list app, your list is always with you. You can also connect Hiku to online stores to make online shopping a breeze.”

Waterpebble: “Your bathroom can be smart too!” says Volkman. “With this eco-friendly gadget, you can stay on top of you water usage, as it monitors the water flow and times your shower. The Waterpebble guides you with an easy to follow “traffic light” system. If you pay for your own water as a renter, this will be a huge benefit for you and the environment. For landlords, it can also be a smart investment. By providing one to each of your renters, you could reduce your water bill…and help Mother Earth at the same time.”

Columbus REALTORS® Foundation commits $300,000 to the South Side Renaissance

As leaders of responsible home ownership and affordable housing in central Ohio, the Columbus REALTORS® Foundation is proud to announce the largest grant in the organization’s history to fund the South Side Renaissance (SSR), a South Side housing development, owned by Community Development for All People (CD4AP).

“This $300,000 donation will be used to expand the affordable housing development activities of South Side Renaissance over the next three years through the acquisition and renovation of 45 vacant blighted homes and duplexes in the Southern Gateway community,” said Mic Gordon, 2017 President, Columbus REALTORS®. “These properties will then be offered as long term quality affordable rental homes.”

Additionally, a number of the homes are being used to house expectant women and families with infants in an effort to reduce infant mortality rates on the South Side.

“We are celebrating Columbus REALTORS making such a significant contribution to improving the South Side and our community as a whole,” said Rev. John Edgar, Executive Director of Community Development for All People.

“Columbus REALTORS® members are committed to serving and giving back to communities, so we really value that,” said Erin Synk, South Side Area Commissioner. “Today Columbus REALTORS® joins the ranks of so many of the dedicated partners that are really stepping up to this challenge of fighting blight and ensuring that our residents have access to safe decent and affordable housing and truly lifting up the community.”

In addition to this monetary gift, we are also pleased to announce that, for the second year in a row, our annual REALTOR® Care Day will take place in the South Side. This year, we’ll focus on improving several homes in the Hungarian Village area with help from a grant from the Joseph A. Jeffrey Endowment Fund at the Columbus Foundation.

“When we all come together as the county, the city, the land banks, the nonprofits, foundations, and civic associations,” said Franklin County Commissioner John O’Grady. “we can make a difference.”

The impact of this gift is enhanced through other dynamic investments by the United Way of Central Ohio, The County Land Bank, Nationwide Children’s Hospital, Care Source Foundation, the Affordable Housing Trust of Columbus and Franklin County, and the City of Columbus.

“This contribution is significant for many different reasons, those that we can see today and those that are yet to come” said Columbus Mayor Andrew Ginther. “And that’s what’s so special about this partnership – the ability for us to come together and invest and support a better future for families in this neighborhood which is so important to our future as a city.”

Through the generosity of our REALTOR® members and affiliates, The Columbus REALTORS® Foundation has a long history of making grants to support local organizations to help improve the lives of people throughout Central Ohio such as the Buckeye Ranch, the Furniture Bank of Central Ohio, the Homeless Families Foundation and the YWCA Family Shelter.

Boat Trailer Insurance Mysteries Revealed by BoatUS

If you get in an accident while trailering your boat, do you know which insurance policy will pay for repairs to the trailer?

If it’s a simple accident with damage to the trailer only, it’s likely to be the trailer insurance coverage that pays. But what happens when you back the trailer into a neighbor’s stone wall or a tree comes crashing down on your trailer in your backyard? Boat Owners Association of The United States (BoatUS) understands how the combination of homeowners, auto, boat and boat trailer insurance add up to protect trailer boaters and offers these tips:

Start with the basics. When shopping for insurance for your trailer boat, ensure to ask if the policy provides boat trailer coverage. Not all insurers provide it.

Know the trailer value. If you decide to add trailer coverage to your boat’s insurance policy, your insurer needs to know the cost of the boat and trailer separately. If you don’t separate each out, the insurer may have difficulty in fairly compensating you in the event of a claim.

How far can you trailer? Ask if there are geographic limits on where or how far you may trailer your boat.

Check your auto insurance. Ensure your tow vehicle’s insurance policy includes liability coverage for any damage to others’ property caused while trailering your boat, for example, backing into your neighbor’s stone wall. This liability coverage is not provided by your boat and trailer policy.

Check your homeowner’s insurance. Ask your homeowner’s insurance company if your trailer is covered while stored at home. And try not to park a boat trailer under a tree.

Read the fine print. If you store your boat trailer at your marina or other storage facility, read the fine print in your contract as it relates to insurance. Many include language that holds these facilities harmless. Review these clauses with your insurance company to make sure you’re not in danger of a breach of the insurance contract, which could result in no coverage.

Roadside assistance. For a nominal fee, many auto insurance policies offer roadside assistance. Boat trailers, however, aren’t likely to be included in the coverage and if there is a breakdown of the tow vehicle or the trailer, your boat could be left on the side of the road. Consider adding separate roadside assistance for your boat trailer. For BoatUS insurance policyholders, roadside assistance for both the tow vehicle and trailer (while towing) is included with the insured trailer. Or it may be added for $14 to any BoatUS membership. In either scenario, BoatUS Unlimited Trailer Assist will tow both a boat trailer and its disabled towing vehicle up to 100 miles.

For more information, go to or call 1-800-283-2883.

Columbus REALTORS Logo 4CPendings increase drops inventory further

(Feb. 22, 2017 – Columbus, OH) – Central Ohio saw 2,473 homes go into contract during the month of January, up 24.5 percent from the previous month, and 4.4 percent higher than a year ago.

There were 2,170 central Ohio homes and condos added to the market in January. Although this was 47.8 percent more than the previous month, it was 2.2 percent lower than January 2016, leaving the inventory at 4,329 according to the Columbus REALTORS Multiple Listing Service.

“Just when we thought inventory couldn’t get any lower, it did,” said 2017 Columbus REALTORS® President Mic Gordon. “The increase in new listings wasn’t enough to offset the high number of homes that went into contract bringing the number of homes left for sale to a new record low.”

There were 1,594 central Ohio homes and condos sold during the month of January, a 1.3 percent increase from January 2016, although down 29.2 percent from December.

The averages sale price of a home in January was $195,773, up 6.6 percent from one year ago. The median sales price was $160,800, a 5.1 percent increase over January 2016.

The average sales price is the total volume divided by the number of homes sold. The median is the midpoint — half the homes sell for less, while half sell for more.

“Month after month, we’re seeing new records set for the central Ohio housing market,” Gordon said. “As long as inventory remains at record lows and demand remains strong, prices will continue to rise.”

During the month of January, central Ohio homes and condos spent an average of 50 days on the market, which is the lowest on record for the month. This is 10 days less than a year ago, but five days more than the previous month.

According to the latest Housing Market Confidence Index by the Ohio Association of REALTORS®, 98 percent of central Ohio REALTORS® would describe the current housing market as moderate to strong and 96 percent expect home prices to increase over the next year.

When asked what change they are seeing in the level of interest renters are expressing toward buying a home compared to last year, 65 percent said a substantial to slight increase in interest, 31 percent said no change and 4 percent said a substantial to slight decrease in interest.

Columbus REALTORS® is comprised of over 7,700 real estate professionals engaged in residential sales and leasing, commercial sales and leasing, property management, appraisal, consultation, real estate syndication, land development and more.

The Columbus REALTORS® Multiple Listing Service (MLS) serves all of Franklin, Delaware, Fayette, Licking, Madison, Morrow, Pickaway and Union Counties and parts of Athens, Champaign, Clark, Clinton, Fairfield, Hocking, Knox, Logan, Marion, Muskingum, Perry and Ross Counties.

To view commercial properties for sale or lease in central Ohio, visit

To view residential properties for sale, visit

Real Estate News February 2017

Five Housing Markets on the Verge of a Tech Boom

The hottest housing markets have one determining factor in common: employment opportunities. Cities with jobs in growing fields draw incoming residents in droves—and none is more in-demand currently than technology.

A recent survey by Modis, an IT staffing services provider, identified the housing markets on set to be transformed by technology. The top 5:

1. Chicago

2. Houston

3. Boston

4. Denver

5. Philadelphia

Fifty-one percent of those surveyed ranked Chicago as the top tech hot spot of the future. The Windy City is likely to attract younger professionals who have worked in technology 5 years or less, according to the survey.

Houston and Boston ranked second and third, respectively, with 47 percent and 43 percent of the vote. Houston is likely to attract a range of professionals, from those who have not completed a college degree to those who have worked in technology for more than 10 years. Boston, like Chicago, is likely to attract younger professionals, aged 26-34.

Denver, which has seen home prices appreciate at an above-average rate since the recession, was ranked fourth at 36 percent. Philadelphia, at 31 percent, also made the top five.

Other up-and-coming technology-driven markets, according to the survey, include Dallas, Detroit and Omaha.

Moving? Make Sure the Kids are Alright

If there’s a relocation in your future, here are a few ways to help your kids adjust and embrace their new home:

Do your research. If you can’t visit your new community together in advance, do some research and find out what attractions may be particularly interesting to your child. Get your child excited about all the new places to explore.

Get to know families with same-age children. Invite them over or arrange for a play date at the park. This will help your child bridge the often difficult gap of making new friends.

Get them involved. The sooner your child gets involved in the local activity of their choosing the better.

Enlist a support group. New teachers, coaches, guidance counselors and clergy can all play a critical role in helping your child adjust, so get them on board right away.

Acknowledge their feelings. Most important of all, allow your child to mourn the loss of their former home, community and friends. Let him or her know these feelings are normal and that you, too, miss your old home sometimes.

Staff Reports