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Between COVID and low interest rates, more unwed couples are buying houses than ever. Our mortgage expert shares a few tips to keep in mind if buying before nuptials.

In previous generations, buying a home was a life milestone that often came after a couple married and combined households. But with interest rates at near-record lows, and COVID precautions delaying weddings, more couples are buying homes before marriage than ever. So, we tapped the expertise of Cincinnati-based Ron Erdmann at Guaranteed Rate for some advice when saying “I do” to a home first.

Erdmann says calling a mortgage professional is often the first step, but he suggests contacting a financial planner and real estate attorney too. “It just helps to take a look at your whole financial picture to plan things out,” he says, “and an attorney will help define all the details that are sometimes more inherent for married couples.”

Erdmann says these are the three main questions unmarried couples should consider when buying a house.

1. Who’s Applying for the Mortgage?

Buying a house together is a big commitment. So, even before searching for a home, Erdmann says you should contact an experienced mortgage professional to compare options and get pre-approved. “I always encourage both to apply together so we can determine if it’s best to buy in both of their names or just one of their names,” he says. “The more I know, the more I understand how to best set up the purchase.” 

2. What Type of Ownership is Best?

When you buy a house with your partner, you must decide how you will own the property, or “take title.” Erdmann says you should consult with an experienced real estate attorney to decide what’s best for you, but generally speaking, there are three basic choices:

• one person holds title as sole owner

• both of you hold title as “joint tenants,” or

• both of you hold title as “tenants in common.”

“The partner with the stronger financials and credit score may want to purchase the home to get better mortgage terms and interest rates,” Erdmann says. “But both names can be on the deed even if one didn’t sign the mortgage, provided the lender agrees. What’s on the deed doesn’t have to match what’s on the mortgage.”

3. Get a Cohabitation Property Agreement?

When couples live together, married or not, they will most likely accumulate equity. Unlike married couples, though, unmarried couples may not have the same property protections. So, they can create a cohabitation property agreement to outline who owns what, and what will happen in the event the couple chooses to separate or if a partner passes away. “It’s completely optional and not at all common,” Erdmann says, “but an attorney can look at your unique situation and tell you if they’d recommend it to be safe.”

While it’s far from romantic, Erdmann says, talking through these basics of home buying and gathering the appropriate paperwork for a mortgage application is a good starting point for examining whether or not a home purchase is right for your relationship, married or not.

To learn more about Ron Erdmann, NMLS 728342, Branch Manager and SVP of Mortgage Lending at Guaranteed Rate, visit https://www.rate.com/loan-expert/ronerdmann. You can also contact him via email at ron.erdmann@rate.com or call (513) 609-4484

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Latest figures from the Bureau of Labor reveal that Ohio’s private industry employers reported almost 92,000 workplace injuries and illnesses in 2019. More than half of these were considered serious, involving at least one day off from work. In addition to dealing with the stress and pain of recovering from injury, returning to work after an accident can be overwhelming. This is especially true if you are already juggling the needs of your family and other commitments. As well as making sure you are physically fit, knowing that you have adequate financial, legal and social support can help to ensure a smooth return to work.
 
Finalize a Compensation Claim
 
If your injuries were because of an accident that wasn’t your fault, you may have filed a claim for compensation while you were off work. Research has shown that a stressful settlement process can be detrimental to long-term recovery, and also increase the time it takes to return to work. Legal professionals at FVF Law understand that it can be intimidating to negotiate a fair settlement. However, with reliable legal support you will be in a better position to complete your claim promptly, receive an appropriate amount of financial compensation and get back to work sooner.
 
Take Adequate Sick Leave
 
A number of studies have shown that working when sick can prolong ill health and can increase the risk of having to take more time off over a year later.  While you might feel you need to get back to work as soon as possible, if you are not fully recovered your work and your health may suffer. Whether you are working from home or have returned to the office, it is important to take proper sick days when you are feeling unwell. 
 
Look for Social Support
 
Even once you have physically recovered from your injuries, there are several other factors that may influence how quickly you are able to settle back in at work once you return. If necessary start with a less pressurized role and if your injuries limit the type of work you can undertake, make sure your employers are aware.  Social support is important and sharing your feelings and concerns about returning to work with your family, colleagues and employer can be very beneficial in ensuring the process runs smoothly.
 
Recovery from an accident can be a long and overwhelming process. Even when you are feeling better, returning to work too quickly without plenty of support can be detrimental to your productivity and prolong your recovery to full health.

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A year after the pandemic hit, it’s clear COVID-19 forever changed the housing market. A local expert shares insight into the big shift and real estate’s new normal.

As we lap the one-year mark since the COVID-19 pandemic began, there’s still a lot of uncertainty, but one thing is for sure: the pandemic has re-ordered real estate markets across the board, at a record rate, on an unprecedented scale.
 
Property views on real estate sites such as Realtor and Zillow are up over 50% this year, inventory in the 100 top US metro markets has been shrinking, along with days on market and the gap between list-to-sale price. Then, the cherry on top: record-low interest rates. Now it’s clear, by every metric, Americans are moving faster now than they were before the pandemic. 
 
“More than ever, people are working remotely and realizing they have the ability to work from where ever they want to. They’re being more selective about where they choose to live because they can,” says Cincinnati-based Ron Erdmann at Guaranteed Rate. “Before, they’d select their geographic location based on where work is based, even if it’s away from family and friends. Now, they’re realizing they have the ability to live and work near family and friends, or relocate to a dream location like a beach or mountain scape.” 
 
COVID-19 raised questions – beyond markets and interest rates – that don’t have answers yet, such as: Will people feel safer living in the south and southwest where they can spend all year social distancing outside? What if companies let employees work remotely forever? Why go back to retail shopping when I’m used to ordering everything online now? What’s the point of living “downtown” if half of the restaurants, bars, and attractions never open back up?
 
How these questions get answered will ultimately re-order how Americans live in the post-pandemic new normal, Erdmann says. Also, as a result, this will determine which markets will experience growth, demand, and price appreciation over the next 3-5 years, and which ones won’t.
 
“There’s now a new wave of opportunity for areas that were once considered too small, too southern, or too desolate,” Erdmann explains. “Now, that’s what everyone wants.” Those qualities are now rising to the top of the real estate desirability lists as Americans seek warmer, healthier, less dense, better educated, and more mobile places to live that offer closer access to the outdoors, better hospitals, smaller schools, and more open space.
 
Erdmann says his team is seeing a huge surge in mortgages for people buying second homes or summer homes for the same reasons. “You can spend six months out of the year in your home town and six months out of the year on the beach without it affecting your work situation, and you can do it at super low rates, so people are taking advantage.” 
 
If you’re looking for a second home or to move to an area outside of your current market, Erdmann has some advice. “Some banks only lend in their geographic footprint, some can lend nationally,” he says. “For example, in my network, there’s someone who can lend in all 50 states. You’ll want to find an experienced mortgage professional who can help no matter where you’re looking.”
 
To learn more about Ron Erdmann, NMLS 728342, Branch Manager and SVP of Mortgage Lending at Guaranteed Rate, visit https://www.rate.com/loan-expert/ronerdmann You can also contact him via email at ron.erdmann@rate.com or call (513) 609-4484. 

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Learn about a local UC student who has turned her love of reading into a creative side business.

Just Bookish Creations was started by University of Cincinnati student Rachel Mowry.

University of Cincinnati student Rachel Mowry combined her creative side with her love for reading to create a unique business called Just Bookish Creations. 

With classes moving to an online format, it provided the perfect opportunity to start a side business, says Mowry.” 

Just Bookish Creations is a small business that creates handmade folded book art, customized just how you like!

I can create any name or date to make a one of a kind design.”  

Just Bookish Creations is a very unique talent that not many people know how to pursue. “You would be truly getting a unique, one of a kind item at my shop.”

The companies presence is completely online, and she accepts orders through her Instagram or Facebook page. 

Mowry is very excited for the future and her new products that are coming soon. 

I hope to launch my book earrings soon, these will also be completely customizable and more affordable then my folded books, says Mowery.” 

To follow along follow their Facebook, Facebook shop or Instagram

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Read about a local company that’s using the great outdoors as their classroom. 

As the weather gets warmer, it’s time to get the kiddos out of the house and learn all about nature and the arts.

Jana Marshall, owner and founder of The Roaming Naturalist has a goal is to do just that. 

“The Roaming Naturalist is a nature-based educational experience for kids and families. Our mission is to get everyone back in the great outdoors through unique nature and art programs at local parks, schoolyards and even your own backyard. The Roaming Naturalist empowers young minds to explore nature through immersive learning experiences that encourage curiosity and self-discovery,” says Marshall.

Marshall’s career in environmental and biological sciences along with her love for the natural world  is what sparked her interest in creating this company. Marshall is a Certified Naturalist and has taught outdoor education for over 13 years.  

“My career also includes teaching marine science on Georgia’s coastline, working as an outfitter guide in the Okefenokee Swamp, aquatic research locally and abroad, sea turtle conservation, migratory bird research, and entomology studies, says Marshall.”

The inspiration behind this unique experience is to open and expand children’s minds to the natural world. “Research continues to show the benefits of fresh air and spending time in nature and the global pandemic has forced us to slow down and really appreciate what nature has to offer. We are excited to be a part of the movement back outside and build that connection and gain an appreciation for the ecological world, explains Marshall.”

As if the Roaming Naturalist wasn’t already unique enough, they also explore nature with you and wherever you are in a 1970’s turquoise VW bus, Minny. “We bring nature exploration to you – whether it’s a birthday party or a casual family day at the park, says Marshall.” 

“The Roaming Naturalist is here to empower children, parents and teachers to get back outside and try something new! When we aren’t busy teaching groups of children and families, you can find us at a park near you, ready to reconnect with nature, says Marshall.” 

The Roaming Naturalist serves K-12 and even adults, so everyone can be a part of the fun! 

Marshall is excited to announce  that there is a lot new on the horizon, “We’re excited to begin Screen-free Saturdays and family hikes this Spring! And if parents are looking for socially-distanced summer programs for their kids, they can browse our programs and register online. We’re keeping some upcoming adventures top secret for now, but you’ll be among the first to know if you follow us on Instagram!”   

To keep up with The Roaming Naturalist, follow them on Instagram or visit them at www.theroamingnaturalist.org.

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To get pre-qualified or pre-approved, that is the question. Our local real estate expert shares insight and which one sellers prefer to see.

You may have heard that you need to pre-qualify or be pre-approved for a mortgage if you’re house hunting. But there’s some confusion around what makes them different and which ones sellers would prefer to see. So, we tapped the expertise of Cincinnati-based Ron Erdmann at Guaranteed Rate for some helpful insight.
 
According to Erdmann, these are two key steps in the mortgage application process. “Some people use the terms interchangeably, but there are important differences that every homebuyer should understand,” he explains. “Pre-qualifying is the first step that gives you a general idea of how large of a loan you might qualify for. Pre-approval is the second step, and it’s much more involved. It’s based on verified consumer data and a conditional commitment to actually grant you the mortgage.”
 
Pre-Qualification
Getting pre-qualified for a mortgage involves verbally supplying a bank or lender with a general overall financial picture, regarding your income and debts. The lender reviews that information and gives a ballpark estimate of how much the borrower can expect to receive, Erdmann says. “Pre-qualification can be done over the phone or online, and there’s usually no cost involved,” he adds. “It’s usually a quick process, and it can sometimes be done in as little as 10 minutes.”
 
Pre-Approved
Getting pre-approved is the next step, and it’s a lengthier, more official, process. “Pre-approval involves the lender asking significantly more detailed questions regarding your income, assets and debt,” says Erdmann, “pre-approval is carefully calculated and a significantly better indication of creditworthiness and ability to borrow.” 
 
Erdmann says pre-approval should start with the borrower meeting with a well-qualified mortgage professional to complete a pre-approval application. “They’ll need to supply the lender with all the necessary documentation to perform an extensive credit and financial background check,” he explains. “Then, if they qualify and are approved, a lender will then offer pre-approval up to a specified amount. It’s important they work with an experienced mortgage professional who will do all the research required to get them the best options.”
 
When it comes to pre-approval, Erdmann says there are five main things he wants people to know: 
1) Most realtors want you to be pre-approved so you know – for sure – what price range you’re looking for. 
2) With the current rates possibly much lower than the last time you bought a home, you may be able to buy more home than you think. “Sometimes a buyer thinks that a payment is going to be higher than it is and they’re looking for a house at a lower price point than they could afford,” Erdmann explains. “On the flip side, someone might be looking at a property that’s much higher than they can afford because they’re not calculating in property taxes or other factors they might not fully understand.”
3) The seller wants you to be pre-approved so they don’t make plans to move, only to realize you can’t go through with the purchase of the house. 
4) If an experienced Realtor suggests you to get pre-approved, they aren’t questioning your financial resources or ability to get a loan. “They’re just encouraging you to plan ahead and talk with a great lender so you have a great experience,” he explains. 
5) Regardless of if you or your realtor feel it’s important, it’s going to be important to sellers. “So the sooner the better to get it done,” Erdmann says.
 
Is there any downside to being pre-approved earlier versus later? “Pre-approval isn’t a fail or pass situation,” Erdmann says. “Some buyers want to wait until they get a job promotion or to pay off credit card debt before exploring pre-approval. But a great lender can tell you where you stand now, and what changes you can make over time to improve your application and probability of pre-approval down the road. You might be worrying about something that’s not an issue.”
 
Erdmann says clients are often concerned that getting pre-approval will negatively affect their credit score. “The biggest pushback I get from clients is that they’re very protective of their credit scores. In reality, credit inquiries have a very minimal impact on your score, so don’t let that hold you back. A reputable source will explain mortgage pre-approval affects your credit score.”
 
To learn more about Ron Erdmann, NMLS 728342, Branch Manager and SVP of Mortgage Lending at Guaranteed Rate, visit https://www.rate.com/loan-expert/ronerdmann You can also contact him via email at ron.erdmann@rate.com or call (513) 609-4484.

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Celebrate your next event with bubbles! Read more to learn about this fun mobile champagne bar.

Photo by Bambino International

With spring among us, it’s time to celebrate!  

That’s where Fizzy Trucks comes in.  

“The Fizzy Truck is an attractive, smart way to serve bubbly at your event. Wine and beer on tap means that it goes directly from the barrel to the keg and then to your glass,” explains Elise Weltge, founder of Fizzy Trucks 

Weltge, “a married mother of three girls, who enjoys all things bubbly and making special events and life a celebration,” launched Fizzy Trucks at the end of 2018. 

She says that the inspiration to launch Fizzy Trucks comes from the UK, where they use electric tuk-tuks (or auto rickshaws) to serve prosecco at garden parties.   

Getting your drink straight from the keg to your glass, “allows for efficiency in cost as well as lessening the environmental impact of bottles,” says Weltge. The truck is an electric tuk-tuk that has been fitted with a dual temp kegerator so there’s no need for ice buckets to chill your beverage.  

Fizzy Trucks carry a variety of beverages including, “Wine, prosecco, beer, cider, and nonalcoholic drinks. You can also add Fizzy Pimps, fruits, juices, purees, to your prosecco for a special combination for your signature drinks,” says Elise.  

You can find Fizzy trucks at many events such as “Private parties, wedding receptions, bridal showers, anniversary parties, graduation parties, open houses, golf events or backyard tailgating.”  

Weltge is looking forward to the Future of Fizzy Trucks and what the warmer seasons have to bring.  

“Due to the changes we have all endured over the past year the desire for more sports events, outdoor weddings and private tailgate parties is definitely on the rise. We are booking now for events in Ohio, Indiana and Northern Kentucky,” Weltge says.  

To learn more about Fizzy Trucks visit www.fizzytrucks.com. You can also follow them on Instagram or Facebook.  

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Considering the pros and cons of moving to your dream home versus a refinance and remodel? A local expert offers tips to make the most of your money.

 
Do I refinance, or do I move? Should I stay or should I go? Love it or list it? If you’ve had these questions running through your mind lately, Cincinnati-based Ron Erdmann at Guaranteed Rate shares some expert tips.
 
Erdmann says the first step is to dream. “Dream of what your ideal home looks like. How many bedrooms and baths? How much land is it on? How many cars in the garage? What does your kitchen look like? Dream up everything you wish it had,” he explains. “Look at current listings, or look into custom home options. Now, just for fun, no strings attached, look at what your payment would be for that dream house.”
 
Erdmann says to seek the help of a highly qualified mortgage professional, not a simple mortgage calculator online, to determine what your monthly payment would be. “They’ll look at your mortgage, PMI if applicable, property tax, house insurance, monthly housing cost, etc,” Erdmann adds. “Once you know what payment looks like, then look at your finances to see if you can afford it or not.” 
 
Then, he says, compare that to your current house payment. Taking it a step further, consider what your payment would be with a refinance.
 
“I often start the pre-approval process for someone looking to move and then it turns into a discussion about refinance instead because of how much they can lower their interest and payments,” Erdmann says. “People are realizing how inexpensive money is right now and questioning if they should just take advantage of the low interest to make their current home one that checks all the boxes.”
 
It’s not uncommon, Erdmann says, that lowering your interest rate with a refinance allows for a renovation while keeping your monthly payments the same. “As you take advantage of low rates, you make room in your budget for that dream renovation you didn’t think you could afford right now,” he explains.
 
Erdmann does have some advice to consider before jumping on the refinance and remodel bandwagon. “When you look at the refinance, be realistic about the condition to your house,” he says. “If you know you’re going to have to put a lot of money into the house with all new kitchens and baths in the next 10 years, take that into consideration. You may be better off buying the house now that checks all the boxes.”
 
Also, Erdmann says, people tend to undervalue what their currently house is worth in the current market. “It doesn’t matter what you paid for it,” he explains, “it matters what you could sell it for in the market. Talk to a real estate professional about what your house is worth.”
 
Something else to consider, Erdmann says, is which renovations you’ll eventually need to do before selling your home down the road. “Don’t put off the renovations to your house you know you’ll need to do,” he urges. “If you can do them now, you’ll actually get to enjoy them before you go to sell later.”
 
Lastly, Erdmann says, be realistic about the cost of improvements. “Homeowners should always plan a contingency budget for any project,” he explains. “The National Association of the Remodeling Industry suggests a contingency fund that matches 10 percent of the total budget in case something goes wrong, such as a contractor opening up a wall to find termites or water damage from a leaky pipe.”
 
To learn more about Ron Erdmann, NMLS 728342, Branch Manager and SVP of Mortgage Lending at Guaranteed Rate, visit https://www.rate.com/loan-expert/ronerdmann You can also contact him via email at ron.erdmann@rate.com or call (513) 609-4484. 

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Learn about a local art business that will have you ready to grab your paint brush. 

The inspiration behind Jenna Beyersdoerfer’s business, The Painting Chick started as a side gig but has now grown into something more, a way to help fund her and her husband Chuck’s  future adoption.

Jenna and Chuck are very excited to become parents in the near future and have an approved home study and are just waiting to be chosen.

As The Painting Chick has grown in their personal lives it also has on the business side of things as well. “The Painting Chick started off as just a painting party business but we now do so much more from laser photo engravings to custom wood projects,” says Jenna. 

The Painting Chick offers fun services for every age group such as in person painting parties as well as DIY options with video tutorials. Jenna provides online virtual art classes for kids through her Outschool link. These classes include a weekly paint club and helpful tips and tricks for young artists. She even hosts virtual parties for adults. 

Typically Jenna would host painting parties at her home studio but in order to keep everyone safe, she has thought of a different way to keep you painting through the pandemic. “I have created tutorial instruction and put together supplies for painting parties for the host to have everything they need to have a fun and creative party” she says. This is a great, fun way for you to stay creative right from the comfort of your home. 

Jenna is a busy wife, working full time as an Art Educator teaching in person and evenings virtually through Outschool.com. But she doesn’t do It all alone, her husband Chuck helps out with the website and marketing side of the business.

With over 15 years of experience she is quite the creative. Jenna graduated with her master’s degree in design and continues to take classes to keep her skills sharp. 

She is constantly adding items to her website “where you can find links to our featured products to order online as well as our social media pages,” she says. 

To learn more visit thepaintingchick.com. You can also follow along on Tik Tok.

Want to build a new house, but have questions on how to finance it? Read on as we chat with our local mortgage expert to get answers.

 
If you’re wanting to build your dream home rather than buy an existing one, you may be surprised to learn that you won’t be getting a traditional mortgage. Instead, you’ll likely get a construction loan. We tapped the expertise of Cincinnati-based Ron Erdmann at Guaranteed Rate find out more about this loan type, how they work, and what to keep in mind before jumping in.
 
 
What are construction loans?
A construction loan is a loan used to finance the building of a home or another real estate project. 
 
How do construction loans work?
Construction loans can help you build your dream home, says Erdmann. “A traditional home loan is based on the fair market value of the home and determined by the home’s condition in comparison to other recent sales,” he explains. “Construction loans are based on what the projected value of the home will be once the work is complete.”
 
Typically, traditional loans are paid out by a mortgage company for the cost of the home in one lump-sum at closing. In contrast, construction loans are paid in installments, or “draws.” A bank will pay the builder as various phases of the building process are completed. The total cost is transferred to you once the entire project is finished.
 
Why are new construction loans different?
When you borrow money to build a house, collateral isn’t there to back up the loan like there is in a traditional mortgage — at least, not yet. “With a traditional mortgage, if you default on your payments, the lender can seize your home,” says Erdmann. “With a home construction loan, the lender doesn’t have that option, so these loans are viewed as bigger risks.” 
 
Things to consider: 
Have a good team: Erdmann says it’s crucial to work with a good builder. “You need someone who’s experienced with budgeting and scheduling and who also has the ability to work well within those limitations,” he explains. “Make sure you do your research before applying for a loan, too, so you work with someone reputable.”
 
Have a good plan: According to Erdmann, you can also expect a thorough inspection of the architectural plans and your builder. “Because construction loans are on such a short timetable and they’re dependent on the completion of the project,” he says, “you need to provide the lender with a construction timeline, detailed plans and a realistic budget.”
 
Have a downpayment: For most construction loans, they’ll want you to contribute 20% of the cost of the total overall project. Example, if you purchase a lot for $200,000 and wish to spend $600,000 constructing the home, the total cost of the project is $800,000. So you’ll need to do a 20% downpayment, or $160,000, and finance the rest ($640,000).
 
Erdmann says construction loans can also be used for renovating your home, buying a fixer-upper, or building an addition onto your home. You’ll want to talk through details of those different types of construction loans with a trusted mortgage professional.
 
To learn more, contact Ron Erdmann, NMLS 728342, Branch Manager and SVP of Mortgage Lending at Guaranteed Rate, visit https://www.rate.com/loan-expert/ronerdmann You can also contact him via email atron.erdmann@rate.com or call (513) 609-4484.
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