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Jason O'Neil


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Indianapolis June 2014 Housing Report

by Jason O'Neil

Housing in central Indiana over the last six months has seen growth in a lot of key indicators but it has continued to move slower than the month over month movement we saw in 2013. Central Indiana has all of the right ingredients including a diversity of housing stock and prices. Builders are active again for the first time in a few years and that adds new product to our market every month.

New Listings in central Indiana increased 6.5 percent in June and 2.1 percent in the last quarter. Months of Inventory decreased 0.1 percent percent in June to place the current availability of properties at 5.6 months. Pending and Closed Sales were down 2.5 and 1.4 percent respectively in June.

Prices forged onward. Median Sales Price for the quarter ending in May grew 3.9 percent to $142,900 compared to the same quarter last year. Average Sales Price grew 4.9 percent for the quarter ending in June 2014 compared to 2013.

Housing experts say sales are inching up, price growth is becoming more sustainable and housing inventory is increasing slowly. The market continues to stabilize overall, but a need for more people participating on both the buyer and the seller side is evident.

By: Lisa Kaplan Gordon

#4. Install a Patio

Patios are a great cost-effective way to increase your home’s living space without actually adding on. Plus you’ll recover 30% to 60% of your investment. A $2,000 patio would return around $900 at resale.

But don’t go crazy and trick out your patio with high-end amenities, like an outdoor kitchen — especially if you’d be the only one on the block with one. When it’s time to sell, you won’t get back much — if any — of your investment on kitchens and other high-end amenities. Instead, keep it simple and functional. (And, really, how often would you use an outdoor kitchen?)

Some wise advice when planning a patio:

  • Check property for slope, sun, and shade patterns.
  • Remember ‘dig alerts’ that utilities provide free of charge.
  • Don’t skimp on patio lighting. It can make all the difference in functionality and beautification.

Visit for more articles like this. Reprinted from with permission of the NATIONAL ASSOCIATION OF REALTORS®. Read more: 

Portrait of An Affluent American Consumer - Part 1

by Jason O'Neil

Sotheby's International Realty recently released the Luxury Lifestyle Report. The report is a study of high net worth real estate consumers. The Sotheby’s International Realty Luxury Lifestyle Report aims to define the purchasing behaviors of the wealthy. They surveyed affluent consumers in the United States, United Kingdom, Brazil and China and found that the majority are more likely to purchase a lifestyle property now than they were five years ago.

The study also showed that compared with five years ago, a majority of affluent consumers are more confident in the strength of the housing market in their country of primary residence. These insights are important because we have seen the luxury sector lead the way for the overall real estate recovery. High-net worth consumers are recognizing the critical role real estate plays in building wealth…and they are investing in it.

This is the first part of a five part series that examines the findings of the Affluent American consumer.

As the above infographic shows, The top home feature affluent American consumers are willing to pay more for is location, followed by size, historical significance and famous former owners, such as a celebrity. LOCATION, LOCATION, LOCATION – still rings true.

By: Lisa Kaplan Gordon

#3. Plant Some Trees

Say what? Adding trees doesn’t instantly pop into your head when you think of adding value to your home. But trees are moneymakers that get better with age.

A mature tree could be worth between $1,000-$10,000, says the Council of Tree and Landscape Appraisers. A 16-inch silver maple could be worth $2,562, according to a formula worked out by the Purdue University Cooperative Extension Service.

In urban areas, money really does grow on trees. A recent study of home sales by the Pacific Northwest Research Station of Portland showed that street trees growing in front of or near a house boosted its sale price by an average of $8,870 and shaved two days off its time on the market.

There’s more. Trees also:

  • Save $100-$250 annually in energy costs
  • Lower stress
  • Prevent erosion from downpours and roof runoff
  • Protect your home from wind, rain, and sun

But don’t just run out and plant trees willy-nilly. Here are some tips:

  • Follow the sun. Plant shade trees on the south side of the house where the sun beats strongest and longest.
  • Follow the wind. Plant windbreak trees, which can lower winter energy costs by 30%, on the north and northwest sides of your property.
  • Don’t plant too close. If you do, branches can scrape roofs and siding, causing expensive damage. Rule of thumb: Don’t plant trees any closer than the tree’s mature height plus one-fourth of that height. So, for example, if a tree reaches 40 feet, it should be planted at least 50 feet from any other trees.

Visit for more articles like this. Reprinted from with permission of the NATIONAL ASSOCIATION OF REALTORS®. Read more: 

Indianapolis May 2014 Housing Report

by Jason O'Neil

5 Plants You (Almost) Never Have to Water

by Jason O'Neil

By: Lisa Kaplan Gordon

Every plant needs water. But drought-resistant varieties need only dainty sips once they’re established, making them perfect for low-rainfall areas and low-energy gardeners.

Susan Gottlieb, an expert on drought-tolerant gardens, says native plants have the best chance of surviving dry summers or whatever nature throws at them.

“Natives have evolved to thrive in your climate without a whole lot of extra work,” Gottlieb says. 

Include these 5 stunners in your landscaping and retire your watering can.

1. California lilac (Ceanothus): This beautiful shrub flowers in late winter/early spring, emits a lovely fragrance, and shows flowers that run from white to purple. The “Concha” variety is prized for its deep blue blossoms. California lilacs grow best on dry, sloping land or in front of any structure that protects them from wind. They also prefer well-drained soil, and they don’t do well in clay.

2. Deer grass (Muhlenbergia rigens): Found in many desert gardens, deer grass is a spiky and dependable ornamental. It loves full sun, but also will grow in a little shade. Water every three days until established. After the first year, water only every three weeks.

3. Salvia, heatwave series: These dependable perennials were developed in Australia to withstand extreme weather. As a bonus, they bloom spring through fall, to the delight of hummingbirds and butterflies. Colors include white, pink, and salmon.

4. Dusty miller (Senecio cineraria): This low-growing perennial is known for its silver-gray foliage, looks good as a ground cover, and thrives in containers stuffed with annuals. It hates standing around with wet roots, so plant it in soil that drains well.

5. Tickweed (Coreopsis): These yellow perennials add a burst of sunshine to any garden or border. More than 100 species are long-blooming (so long as you deadhead) and low-maintenance. They range from long and leggy to small and mounded. Also, they are easy to divide, creating many more plants season after season.

More than 30 states host Native Plant Societies, which can guide your selection and help you save water in your garden. To find a local society, check with your local extension agent or with the Native Plant Conservation Campaign, a friend to native and endangered plants.

Visit for more articles like this. Reprinted from with permission of the NATIONAL ASSOCIATION OF REALTORS®. Read more: 

By: Lisa Kaplan Gordon

#2. Install Quality Ceiling Fans

If crown molding and chair railing were #3 and #7 on buyers’ decorative wish lists, what was #1? 

Ceiling fans. 

Over the years, ceiling fans have become quite the crowd pleaser. Once they were just a cheap solution to rising energy costs — ugly, wobbly, noisy eyesores endured because they were cheaper than air conditioning.

Today, ceiling fans have evolved into an essential component of American homes as energy prices continue to rise. And since designs have caught up with the times, they come in a variety of styles and colors to complement any room.  If your ceiling fans are old and outdated, new ones (coupled with a fresh paint job and crown molding) could give your rooms a refreshing update while saving money.

Some tips about ceiling fans:

  • Ceiling fans should hang 7-8 feet above the floor. If you’ve got a low ceiling, buy a hugger ceiling fan that’s flush-mounted.
  • Size matters more than the number of fan blades. Go for the biggest Energy Star-rated fan that will fit the space.
  • Choose quality. You’ll get better cooling results, less noise, and good looks at a digestible price point of $200-$600.

Visit for more articles like this. Reprinted from with permission of the NATIONAL ASSOCIATION OF REALTORS®. Read more: 


The 8 Most Financially Savvy Home Improvements You Can Make

by Jason O'Neil

By: Lisa Kaplan Gordon

When it comes to home improvement, some dollars stretch more than others. And if you’re on a limited budget, it becomes even more important to spend those dollars wisely. 

Over the next few months, I am going to cover eight affordable (under $5,000) home improvement projects that’ll help you enjoy your home more today and provide excellent financial return in the future.

#1. Add the Finishing Touch of Molding

Decorative molding is a classic touch that’s been around since the ancient Greeks and Romans first installed it to add grandeur to their buildings.  Centuries later, molding is still one of the most dramatic ways to dress up a room. It’s a budget-friendly improvement that trims a room for a finished and expensive look.

Today’s wood moldings come in hundreds of options — from simple to ornate — that you can stain, paint, or leave natural. You can also find moldings in flexible materials, such as foam, that make installation a whole lot easier. Some moldings even include lighting that casts a soft, ambient glow.  

Buyers consistently rank both crown molding and chair railing in their list of most desirable decorative features they seek in a home (#3 and #7 respectively), according to the annual National Association of Home Builders (NAHB) survey, “What Home Buyers Really Want.”

And at $1.50/foot if you DIY it, or $8 per foot if you hire, it’s a no-brainer in terms of personalizing your home while adding value. (Although we don’t recommend DIY unless you’ve got above-par mitering skills.)

A few tips about molding:

  • Use crown molding to make a room seem bigger and taller. But be careful about proportions. If your ceiling height is 9 feet or less, go with simpler styles to avoid overwhelming the room.
  • Chair railing placed incorrectly can make a room seem out of proportion. Rule of thumb: Place chair railing at one-third the distance of the ceiling height.
  • Don’t forget entryways, doors, and windows: Bump up the trim around these areas to give rooms a completed and expensive feel.

Visit for more articles like this. Reprinted from with permission of the NATIONAL ASSOCIATION OF REALTORS®. Read more: 

Indianapolis Housing Market Shows Strength

by Jason O'Neil

By: Dona DeZube

Although the real estate crisis might have broken some homeowners' hearts, many folks are ready to start dating again, according to two Gallup polls.

One polls shows Americans believe real estate is the best long-term investment, better than even gold, stock, bonds and savings accounts.

High-income consumers are the biggest believers in home ownership as an investment - 38% of people who make $75,000 or more think real estate is the best long-term investment.

Image: Copyright 2014 Gallup, Inc. All rights reserved. The content is used with permission; however, Gallup retains all rights of republication.

A second Gallup poll found that nearly three in hour Americans say now's the time to buy, an attitude that could increase home buying activity and home values over the next year.

And the expectation that home prices will rise is further fueling the buy-now belief. Back in 2011, only 21% of Americans expected home prices to rise. Today, 56% of those Gallup polled expect local home prices to increase.

Looking back with 20-20 hindsight, it's clear that the scant 21% of people in 2011 who thought prices would rise were right. The median US home price rose from $166,100 in 2011 to $197,000 in 2013.

The take home from the Gallup poll? Most people can't predict the future of the housing market anymore than they can predict where the stock market and the gold market are headed.

Fortunately, most of us buy our home because we want to put down roots. But we also see buying as an investment. We know once we pay off the mortgage, we'll have a free-and-clear home to live in during retirement and wealth to pass along to our heirs. Rising and falling home prices over a few years don't matter so much if you're investing for the long run.

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Displaying blog entries 1-10 of 72