Tips for buying your first home

Tips for buying your first home

Embarking on the Home Buying Journey for the First Time? Here are some things to know.

This weekend I was talking to a friend who is ready to explore buying her first home. She’s excited and nervous, and as I talked to her I began to recall my first home buying experience many years ago. I literally knew absolutely nothing about how any of it worked, and as a result, my then husband and I probably made many mistakes, some of which I know now, and some I don’t because I don’t remember, but I know we made them.

Speaking with my friend made me realize how mysterious the buying process can feel if you’ve never done it, and how easily those of us who understand it takes knowing the process for granted. I also realized, based on my own experience, how difficult it can feel to know if you’re getting information that is true, and not just so someone can sell you something.

So here are some of the things I wanted my friend to know.

1. When you see a house you like and call the number on the sign, you will be connected to the listing agency, and they will try to get you to use one of their agents, which is their job. You don’t have to do that though. Choosing your own representation is empowering. Talk to homeowner friends about their agent, and talk to a couple of agents if you need to. Your agent is going to walk you through one of the biggest financial and possibly emotional journeys you may take. Like and trust them!

2. Any agent will have you sign an agency disclosure to see a house once. This is required by law and does not commit you to working with that agent, sign with confidence. If you are offered an exclusive agency package, this is a commitment to work with that agent, and you don’t have to sign that unless you are ready to work exclusively with that agent.

3. Get preapproved or prequalified for a loan. You will need that piece of paper to work with an agent, and to make an offer when you find your perfect house. If you don’t know where to start, ask your friends, or your agent for a referral. We send people here and here, in case you’re curious.

4. As the buyer, having an agent will not usually cost you anything. Your agent gets paid when the transaction completes and is paid through the selling brokerage. Some brokerages may have an upfront charge to the buyer, but not all do. (We don’t).

I could see the relief on my friends face hearing all this; understanding her first steps, and having a clear direction to go. The first homebuyer fog began to clear, and knowledge is empowering her decisions now. I haven’t signed any exclusive agency agreements with her, but whether she uses Southern Sky Realty or another brokerage for her purchase, I feel grateful that I could help her make wise and informed decisions.

If you are thinking about buying, and are looking for a brokerage who will walk you through the process with care and personalized service, we welcome your call. We’d love to see if we are a fit for your needs.

Learn more about Southern Sky Realty

Southern Sky Realty
By: Vanessa Gilbert


Turnkey Rental Investing 101

what is a turn key investment property

Turnkey Rental Investing 101

Often we think of rental property investing as a complex task.   Having to find a great deal in a desirable location.  Then do the needed repairs in order to rent it out.  List the property for rent and find a tenant.  Then worry about the costs, risks, and returns.  There are so many unknowns and required skill sets, it’s easy to understand why some people shy away from being property investors. However, the returns are some of the highest around.

What if you could buy a property where all the work had been done for you? Simply enjoy your investment and the returns.

Well, that’s where turnkey investment property comes in.

A turnkey rental or investment property is one where someone has rehabbed a property, placed a screened and market rent tenant in it, and installed professional management services before selling it to an investor.

Turnkey properties can be very appealing to people who want to invest in a market from a distance and know exactly what their return will be from day one of ownership.

They work really well for people who are interested in real estate investing.  Especially those who don’t have the time, interest, or experience to rehab a property.

Investors who are excited to find a deal, rehab it and tenant it, are not ideal turnkey owners.   Turnkey properties generally sell at or close to market value, so there is little built-in equity at purchase.

However, for the owner who simply wants to buy and begin seeing a return, a turnkey property can be a great way to go.

Of course, any smart investor wants to remediate risk, and a turnkey rental is no exception. Buyers need to do their due diligence with the company they are purchasing from.   Th have a general point of sale inspection to be educated about the property itself.

Ideally, a turnkey investment property will be purchased from a company which has honest and transparent business practices.  A philosophy which resonates with the buyer, and professional management in-house. They will be experts in the local market and will offer some kind of warranty on the house for the buyer’s peace of mind.

Southern Sky Realty, buying, selling, investing, property management
By: Vanessa Gilbert

Southern Sky Realty will be offering turnkey rental investment opportunities later this year, please sign up below if you would like more information.

Interested in a turnkey property?

Why we love Akron, holiday festivities

Akron Holiday Fun 2017
Akron Holiday Fun 2017
Akron Holiday Fun 2017

Why We Love Akron

Holiday festivities and local shopping

Akron at the holidays, it is a beautiful city with tons of events and plenty of local shops.  Its that time of year again, so get downtown and enjoy what Akron has to offer!  We wanted to share some fun festivities to check out with friends and family.

Downtown Akron Partnership- Art Walk Saturday, December 2nd 5-9

December Art Walk

What better way to see downtown than riding around on the trolly.  Enjoy art, shopping, and great food during this holiday edition of the art walk.  Don’t forget to take a stroll down Main street to see the magical window displays.

Akron Zoo – Wild Lights


This is a fun way to get out with the family. The Akron Zoo has a great light show and you get to see the animals.  Bundle up your loved ones and enjoy a fun festive walk with the wildlife.

Northside Marketplace

Shopping Downtown

Need to get your holiday shopping done and want to support local businesses?  Northside Marketplace has over 35 vendors in one place,  what a cool place to scratch some people off your list.

Sweet Mary’s Bakery

Sweet Mary’s Bakery

If you don’t have the time to bake this season check out Sweet Mary’s Bakery for some tasty holiday treats.  Everything made here is made from scratch.

Tis the Season

These are just a few ideas that we came across to enjoy Akron during the holidays.  Looking for more check out the DAP website for all events going on.

We wanted to share why we love Akron especially during the holidays, it is a wonderful place to live, invest or rent.

Happy Holidays Akron!

Southern Sky Realty

Southern Sky Realty






















What does a property manager do?

Southern Sky Realty, Property Management

What does a Property Manager do?

What does a Property Manager do exactly?

Maybe a better question would be….what DOESN’T a Property Manager do?

Here is a brief list of what a property manager might do for the fee you pay them to manage your property. They are all items that Southern Sky Realty includes as part of their management package.

• Meet or confer with an owner of the property, and make sure all details for management are complete.

• Visit the property, evaluate it for the rental market, and suggest or contract ways to make it rent for its highest value.

• Photograph it, create a compelling description and list it in multiple forums such as Zillow, Craigslist, Website, etc. Maintain those listings. Renew and refine as needed.

• Take inquiries, schedule showings, meet prospective renters, answer questions, explain the process and take applications.

• Process applications. Communicate with prospective tenants regarding proof of income, credit, criminal and eviction check, parameters for approval, call for landlord reference and present to the owner for final approval.

• Arrange deposit payment, create a lease and required documents, set an appointment for keys, meet new tenants at the property, do a walk through to set a baseline for the condition, and ensure utilities are in tenant’s name if applicable.

• Take and deal with early tenant move in concerns such as unexpected or unknown maintenance.

• File and share lease with the owner, disperse funds, remove listings.

• Schedule a 90-day post move-in inspection.

• Rent collection by mail or EFT. Monitor payment status, send reminders, facilitate timely rent payment. Dispersal to the owner by the 15th of the month.

• Take maintenance requests, coordinate with owner and tenants to have work done, make payment to contractors.

• Answer questions and queries from owners and tenants.

• Monitor water bills and usage.

• File Rental Registration if applicable.

• Inspect after 90 days.

• Offer lease renewal with owners consent.

• Hang notices and file evictions.

• Coordinate access to the property for buyers, inspectors or contractors.

And remember, a property manager has to follow all Fair Housing requirements and be connected to a Real Estate Broker in the State of Ohio. So they keep everything legal, too.

Your current management company isn’t providing all those services?

Or, you’re looking for a little freedom and peace of mind?

We’d love to hear from you


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    Southern Sky Realty, Property Manager
    By: Vanessa Gilbert

    Why should you hire a property manager? Articles from leaders we trust

    we don't just manage property, we manage peace of mind
    Southern Sky Realty

    Top 10 Reasons you Need a Property Manager

    By: Brenton Hayden/

    This article explains the problems landlords can have and how hiring a property manager can alleviate the stress of owning income properties.  These are some of the reasons Southern Sky Realty was established, we wanted to make owning a rental property as easy as we could for our landlords.  Check out the article below for more details.

    Property management
    Southern Sky Realty, Property Management

     5 Benefits of Using a Property Management Company

    By: Aime Fisher/

    At Southern Sky Realty we use Zillow as a marketing tool for our rental properties and found this article informative for our clients and future clients.  Investing in real estate is a great way to save for your future but the hassle of being a landlord can be extremely time-consuming. Finding a great property management company could be just what you need to give you peace of mind. Check out these 5 benefits of using a property management company below.





    Tenant Tips: Fall Maintenance Checklist

    Fall Maintenance Checklist

    Furnace Filters

    Please check your furnace filter! This is a great time to put a fresh filter in so your warm air is clean and efficient. Furnaces take different size filters, so check your size and pick one up.


    Smoke and Carbon Monoxide Detectors

    Your family's health and safety are our top priority. When you moved into our property, it would have had working smoke and carbon monoxide detectors installed and checked, but if you've been there a while, we ask you to take a moment to check batteries and replace any that are chirping, removed, or older. This can make the difference between life and death!


    Fall Leaves

    If you live in a single family home, leaves are your responsibility! Please take the time to rake or blow them to the street, and keep your gardens and yards tidy. The city will post pick up times, and if you have any questions, reach out to us, or the city you live in.

    Enjoy this beautiful season!

    Property Management in Akron: A look at Southern Sky Realty

    "I've made West Akron my home for ten years now, and I love it here. I live in Highland Square with my twin daughters who attend Firestone High School and our cat, Lucinda. I also have a son and daughter who have fledged and are living out on their own. You'll see them, as well as my adorable three year old granddaughter Memphis, in some of our Instagram posts. We absolutely love our red brick street, our wonderful neighbors and our proximity to all that Highland Square has to offer.

    I have lived in Ohio for 20 years, and Akron for 10 of those, and although it took a while, Akron really does feel like home now. The name, Southern Sky Realty, is my little homage to Australia, where I was born and raised, and where much of my family still lives.

    Our company culture was inspired by my love for the houses and neighborhoods here in Akron, Canton, and Cleveland, and the people who buy, sell and rent them. Homes are such an interesting combination of heart and practicality. A huge investment, and the places we put down roots. I really wanted to create a real estate agency that sought to acknowledge and honor both aspects of ownership, for buyers and sellers, as well as for investors and their tenants.

    Southern Sky Realty has a strong focus on Property Management, which we have a great deal of experience with, both myself, and our broker and co-owner, Baxter Widener. We work very closely with our owners and investment buyers as they get comfortable with entrusting us with their investments, and we use our expertise and experience as we place tenants and create relationships with them also. We now have owners in Florida, New York, Las Vegas, California, and Australia, among other places. These clients understand the value of real estate investing, and the wisdom of investing in Akron in particular. We believe strongly that investment properties, and our commitment to excellent property management improves Akron's neighborhoods, and therefore everyone's quality of life. Although Southern Sky Realty is a relatively new agency, it comes with years of experience behind it, and I think this, as well as our focus on creating relationships with integrity, is one of the factors that make us so successful.

    When I am not working on or at Southern Sky Realty, I love to take Memphis to her favorite place, the Akron Zoo, and I practice yoga at our neighborhood studio, Yoga Squared. My partner Kirk and I can often be found enjoying delicious food (and wine or beer) at the Mustard Seed Market, or riding our bikes on the towpath. We don't just live in Akron, we really do love it."

    By: Vanessa Gilbert