Category Archives: General Advice

Improvements That Add Value

Our clients constantly ask us about the types of things they can do to add value to their home. Typically, you can never go wrong with kitchens, baths, and a decked-out lower level, things that today’s buyers gravitate toward.

There are a lot of things to consider, however, including how long you plan to remain in your home. There’s no reason to do a major kitchen remodel if you plan to move in 3 years. Sometimes just putting in granite, new fixtures, and painting can make a difference in terms of resale.

Here are the top 5 projects that will give you the biggest bang for your buck, in terms of percentage of costs recouped*:

1.  Garage Door – 109%

2.  Entry Door – 84.1%

3.  Siding – 79.9%

4.  Windows – 65.4%

5.  Kitchen – 62.9%

Here’s a link to the cost vs. value report for the Cleveland area.

* Source: Remodeling Magazine

If you are planning on doing some projects around your home this fall, just be aware of expectations regarding your return on investment.

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ABOUT THE AUTHORS

The above information is compliments of The Schuman Team, Amy and Dan, of Howard Hanna Real Estate Services. They are Solon residents and specialize in Solon luxury homes, relocation, and first-time buyers.

They can be reached at 216-346-3235 or 216-403-9189 or via email, danschuman@howardhanna.com or amyschuman@howardhanna.com.

The Schumans service the following Cleveland area suburbs: Aurora, Bainbridge, Bay Village, Beachwood, Bentleyville, Chagrin Falls, Cleveland Heights, Gates Mills, Highland Heights, Hunting Valley, Lakewood, Lyndhurst, Mayfield Heights, Mayfield Village, Moreland Hills, Oakwood Village, Orange, Pepper Pike, Shaker Heights, Solon, South Euclid, University Heights, Westlake, Woodmere.

Improvement That Add Value is the property of The Schuman Team and may not be duplicated or used without their written consent.©August 2016

5 Winter Projects That Can Increase Your Home’s Value

Winter is the best time to do home improvement projects.

Why? Contractors are more available, material prices come down before the spring market, and you may personally have more free time on your hands, especially during winter vacation.

So with that in mind, here are 5 projects you should consider this winter to add value to your home.

1.Wow Your Walls – Adding trim, crown molding, accent walls or a sharp new paint color can provide an instant upgrade to any room.

2. Bring On The Backsplash – For a relatively small amount of money, a backsplash is an easy way to completely change the look of a kitchen.

3. Let There Be Light – Changing out dated light fixtures, ceiling fans, and adding lamps can make a room look more current and brighter.

4. Closet Organizers – Wire shelves scream “builder grade” to buyers. Spending a little money can add much needed space and organization to a closet and add resale value down the road.

5.  Hardware – Get off your ass and replace that brass! Most people have outdated hardware, including doorknobs and handles. Replacing all of your hardware is a project that will change the look of your entire home and can be easily done yourself.

These projects will help you fall in love with your home again and offer value down the road when you go to sell.

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ABOUT THE AUTHORS

The above information is compliments of The Schuman Team, Amy and Dan, of Howard Hanna Real Estate Services. They specialize in Solon luxury homes, relocation, and first-time buyers.

They can be reached at 216-346-3235 or 216-403-9189 or via email, danschuman@howardhanna.com or amyschuman@howardhanna.com.

The Schumans service the following Cleveland area suburbs: Aurora, Bainbridge, Beachwood, Bentleyville, Chagrin Falls, Cleveland Heights, Gates Mills, Highland Heights, Hunting Valley, Lyndhurst, Mayfield Heights, Mayfield Village, Moreland Hills, Oakwood Village, Orange, Pepper Pike, Shaker Heights, Solon, South Euclid, University Heights, Woodmere. We would be happy to refer you to a qualified agent if you are buying in an area that we do not service.

5 Winter Projects That Can Increase Your Home’s Value is the property of The Schuman Team and may not be duplicated or used without their written consent.©November, 2015

9 Easy Ways To Winterize Your Home

9 Ways To Winterize Your Home

 

The bone chilling cold and abundant snow are coming, so now is the perfect time to get ready.

Here are 9 easy things you can do to winterize your home.

  1. Clean Gutters
  2. Service HVAC System – You don’t want to find out the heat doesn’t work when you really need it – and getting an appointment then will be tough.
  3. Reverse Ceiling Fans – Set the fan to go clockwise so the hot air gets pushed down —especially helpful for 2 story rooms.
  4. Roof Tune Up
  5. Drain Sprinkler Systems
  6. Clean Chimney – Making sure it’s in good working order will prevent carbon monoxide poisoning. A Damper stop clamp will prevent flue from closing while gas logs are still on.
  7. Restock Supplies – Buy salt, shovels, and get make sure ice scrapers are in your cars.
  8. Store Outdoor Gear – Bring in cushions and furniture. Consider installing above garage storage to add more room.
  9. Winter Survival Kit – Create one for home and car, flashlight, blankets, water, food, candles.

There are a lot more things you can do, but this will give you a head start on old man winter.

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ABOUT THE AUTHORS

The above information is compliments of The Schuman Team, Amy and Dan, of Howard Hanna Real Estate Services. They specialize in luxury homes, relocation, and move-up buyers.

They can be reached at 216-346-3235 or 216-403-9189 or via email, danschuman@howardhanna.com or amyschuman@howardhanna.com.

The Schumans service the following Cleveland area suburbs: Aurora, Bainbridge, Beachwood, Bentleyville, Chagrin Falls, Cleveland Heights, Gates Mills, Highland Heights, Hunting Valley, Lyndhurst, Mayfield Heights, Mayfield Village, Moreland Hills, Oakwood Village, Orange, Pepper Pike, Shaker Heights, Solon, South Euclid, University Heights, Woodmere. We would be happy to refer you to a qualified agent if you are buying in an area that we do not service.

9 Easy Ways To Winterize Your Home is the property of The Schuman Team and may not be duplicated or used without their written consent.©October, 2015

How To Lower Your Property Taxes

How To Lower Property Taxes

We have been bombarded from friends and past clients lately regarding the recent notice that was mailed out last week by Cuyahoga County regarding property taxes.

So, we decided to send out some information that we hope you will find helpful.

TO DISPUTE OR NOT DISPUTE

You need to first decide if the proposed 2015 value of your home is accurate. If it is, you don’t have to do anything.

However, if you don’t agree, you can formally dispute:

1. By going on line at www.fiscalofficer.cuyahogacounty.us

2. Mailing in the response form that was sent to you.

3. Attending an informal meeting in person.

All of these scenarios require you to provide documentation to support your claim. A recent appraisal is likely the best but if cost or time constraints won’t allow this, there is other documentation you can provide such as:

Recent purchase agreement

Contractor estimates for deferred maintenance along with pictures

Recent sales of comparable properties

We have personally had our real estate taxes lowered in the past, so the process does work. Good luck.

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ABOUT THE AUTHORS

The above information is compliments of The Schuman Team, Amy and Dan, of Howard Hanna Real Estate Services. They specialize in Solon luxury homes, relocation, and first-time buyers.

They can be reached at 216-346-3235 or 216-403-9189 or via email, danschuman@howardhanna.com or amyschuman@howardhanna.com.

The Schumans service the following Cleveland area suburbs: Aurora, Bainbridge, Beachwood, Bentleyville, Chagrin Falls, Cleveland Heights, Gates Mills, Highland Heights, Hunting Valley, Lyndhurst, Mayfield Heights, Mayfield Village, Moreland Hills, Oakwood Village, Orange, Pepper Pike, Shaker Heights, Solon, South Euclid, University Heights, Woodmere. We would be happy to refer you to a qualified agent if you are buying in an area that we do not service.

How To Lower Your Property Taxes is the property of The Schuman Team and may not be duplicated or used without their written consent.©September, 2015

Buying Or Selling A Home? Keep It To Yourself

Keep Things To Yourself

If you are buying or selling a home, you will likely tell a lot of people you know.

While this is all well and good, our advice is to keep certain things to yourself or you may end up doing more harm than good.

WHEN TO KEEP THINGS PRIVATE?

To begin, let’s think of things from a buyer’s perspective. If you are in the initial stages of looking for a new home, telling your friends and family is certainly ok. However, if you have a specific home in your sights, I’d be careful who you tell until it is under contract as telling just one person may cause undue competition.

What if you tell someone who happens to have a friend who is looking in a similar price point.

While it may seem farfetched, we have seen this happen many times, especially during a seller’s market. We actually know friends who ended up bidding on the same home and it became quite uncomfortable for them.

Also, let’s say the deal falls through due to financing issues. Do you want to have to go back to all your friends and tell them?

From a seller’s point of view, we advise our clients not to reveal any details regarding the details of the transaction—-especially the price!

Let’s say you have agreed on a contract with a buyer for a price of $500,000 and you tell everyone you know. Then, the deal falls through and you have to put it back on the market. Since word is out that you already accepted $500,000 once, how can you expect anyone to pay more? You are basically setting your own ceiling for price when you could possibly get a better offer from another buyer.

A FINAL NOTE

At the end of the day, you should do whatever is in your comfort zone. Some people are private by nature and would naturally keep things to themselves. Others will gladly tell everyone their personal business.

We are big proponents in discretion because it is in your best interests. It is better safe than sorry and besides, at some point the sale will be in public records and everyone will know soon enough.

 

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ABOUT THE AUTHORS

The above information is compliments of The Schuman Team, Amy and Dan, of Howard Hanna Real Estate Services. They specialize in Solon luxury homes, relocation, and first-time buyers.

They can be reached at 216-346-3235 or 216-403-9189 or via email, danschuman@howardhanna.com or amyschuman@howardhanna.com.

The Schumans service the following Cleveland area suburbs: Aurora, Bainbridge, Beachwood, Bentleyville, Chagrin Falls, Cleveland Heights, Gates Mills, Highland Heights, Hunting Valley, Lyndhurst, Mayfield Heights, Mayfield Village, Moreland Hills, Oakwood Village, Orange, Pepper Pike, Shaker Heights, Solon, South Euclid, University Heights, Woodmere. We would be happy to refer you to a qualified agent if you are buying in an area that we do not service.

Buying Or Selling A Home? Keep It To Yourself is the property of The Schuman Team and may not be duplicated or used without their written consent.©Junr, 2015

Why You Need A Buyer’s Agent

 

 

Many home buyers view a real estate agent as someone who just opens up a home for them, providing little other value. While this may be true in some cases, many agents wear a lot of different hats and actually bring a lot of skills to the table.

Today’s post will shed some light on things a good buyer’s agent does and why you should use one if buying a home.

MY LAST AGENT DIDN’T DO ANYTHING

My motivation for writing this post was that too often, we have heard some less than flattering comments from consumers about their past experiences with a real estate agent. Here are just a few comments made to us:

“We were the ones who picked out the homes and did most of the work.”

“She really didn’t educate us too much about the market or the different areas.”

“He was nice but didn’t do a whole lot.”

“Our last agent wasn’t always available.”

In many of these transactions, the agents probably spent a lot of time with these buyers and had good intentions, yet things just didn’t work out for a variety of reasons. Perhaps they were inexperienced or only worked part-time. Maybe they did a lot of things for their clients behind the scenes, but never let their buyers know about them. It is also possible that the buyers had unrealistic expectations.

In any event, we take great pride in our industry and don’t like to hear about negative experiences. We want to dispel the myth that an agent is nothing more than a door opener.

THE VALUE OF AN AGENT

The popularity of the internet has made information more readily available to buyers than ever before. Therefore, they have a perception that they don’t need an agent for anything other them to simply open up the home for them.

I’m here to say that a skilled buyer’s agent actually brings a lot of value to the table. Many are things that buyers may not think about yet are still critical to having a successful transaction.

WHAT DOES A BUYER’S AGENT DO?

1. Preview homes in advance – No reason to pull up to a home that is located next to a commercial building ( that was conveniently not mentioned in the on-line description ). Previewing in advance saves your time.

2. Has knowledge of the local inventory.

3. Provides “insider information” – knowledge of homes that will soon be coming on the market or ones whose sellers are extremely motivated.

4. Educates their clients on the different areas.

5. Is proactive to find you a home. A good agent will call their buyers about a new home on the market or coming on the market BEFORE the buyer has a chance to call them.

6. Will refer you to another quality agent if they don’t service the area in which you want to buy.

7. Thoroughly explains the buying process.

8. Will take additional photos or video of a home or neighborhood and email them to you. Especially important to out of town buyers.

9.Gets you information not readily available on-line.

10. Refers you to trusted lenders, inspectors, and contractors.

 

Remember, this is just a small sampling of things a good buyer’s agent will do for you. This list doesn’t even get into some of the more complicated parts of the process such as negotiating and inspections, things that can be very stressful and emotionally intense.

Many of us are more than merely door openers. We bring experience and knowledge to the real estate transaction. The best part is that we represent your best interests only and the seller pays our fee.

 

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About The Authors

The above information is compliments of The Schuman Team, Amy and Dan, of Howard Hanna Real Estate Services.

They can be reached at 216-346-3235 or 216-403-9189 or via email, danschuman@howardhanna.com or amyschuman@howardhanna.com.

The Schumans service the following Cleveland area suburbs: Aurora, Bainbridge, Bay Village, Beachwood, Bentleyville, Chagrin Falls, Cleveland Heights, Gates Mills, Highland Heights, Hunting Valley, Lakewood, Lyndhurst, Mayfield Heights, Mayfield Village, Moreland Hills, Oakwood Village, Orange, Pepper Pike, Shaker Heights, Solon, South Euclid, University Heights, Westlake, Woodmere.

Why You Need A Buyer’s Agent is the property of The Schuman Team and may not be duplicated or used without their written consent.©February, 2013

Making An Offer – The Most Important Step

 

 

Buyers are starting to get aggressive on making offers once they find a home they love, but many are not getting a firm pre-approval letter up front.  Forgetting this important step in the home buying process could end up preventing you from getting the home of your dreams.

 

GET PRE-APPROVED NOT PRE-QUALIFIED

When local real estate was in a downturn, the sense of urgency to get financing was not very high. Buyers figured they could take their time to find a home, and then they’d firm things up with their lender.  However, with the market starting to really heat up and inventories still low, buyers must change this lackadaisical mindset.

The problem isn’t that buyers are totally forgetting to speak to a lender. They are simply getting pre-qualified instead of pre-approved. A simple conversation over the phone usually is not sufficient to grant a real “approval letter”.   A lender will need to pull credit and collect specific documentation from you such as pay stubs, W-2’s, or tax returns. It may not seem like a big deal but this extra step makes all the difference in the world.

I have seen cases when a buyer gets pre-qualified over the phone, and then ends up not qualifying once the lender verifies all pertinent information.

 

DO YOURSELF A FAVOR

In an active market, you never know when that special home will come on the market, and when it does, you will need to act quick. Waiting until after you find your home to get your financing in order may be too late.

Getting a solid pre-approval letter will allow you to move forward with confidence and may also help you stand out over another buyer should you get into a bidding war.

The difference between getting pre-approved and pre-qualified is merely time and a little effort on your part but is well worth it. In fact, it could ultimately determine whether or not you get the home.

 

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About The Authors

The above information is compliments of The Schuman Team, Amy and Dan, of Howard Hanna Real Estate Services.

They can be reached at 216-346-3235 or 216-403-9189 or via email, danschuman@howardhanna.com or amyschuman@howardhanna.com.

The Schumans service the following Cleveland area suburbs: Aurora, Bainbridge, Bay Village, Beachwood, Bentleyville, Chagrin Falls, Cleveland Heights, Gates Mills, Highland Heights, Hunting Valley, Lakewood, Lyndhurst, Mayfield Heights, Mayfield Village, Moreland Hills, Oakwood Village, Orange, Pepper Pike, Shaker Heights, Solon, South Euclid, University Heights, Westlake, Woodmere.

Making An Offer – The Most Important Step is the property of The Schuman Team and may not be duplicated or used without their written consent.©January, 2013

Cleveland Home Buyers Face Unusual Obstacles

luxury home

When it comes to buying a home in Cleveland, we have some customs that are unique to our area. Therefore, those who are relocating from another state need to be aware of these oddities in order to ensure a seamless transaction.

WHAT MAKES BUYING IN CLEVELAND DIFFERENT?

Here are just a few things that are unusual to our area:

1.     No Round Table Closings – In many states, both buyers and sellers come to the closing at the same time. Then, papers are signed and keys are immediately given to the buyers. Please note that this is NOT customary here in Northeast Ohio as title companies are not set up for this type of transaction.

In our area, buyers and sellers may never actually meet each other. Also a buyer will likely sign their loan documents a few days before getting their keys. I have seen buyers get upset when learning they will not be getting their keys upon signing so it is very important to understand how things are done here.

2.     Point of Sale Inspections – Many Cleveland area suburbs have their own specific inspections. These inspections are ordered by the seller, usually prior to putting the home on the market. The specific municipality where the house is located sends their own inspector out to make sure it does not have any city violations. If there are indeed violations found, either the seller must fix them prior to title transfer or the buyer must assume them. Please note that this inspection should not take the place of a buyer hiring their own general home inspector.

3.     Real Estate Taxes Get Paid In Arrears – At the time of closing, real estate taxes will not yet be due and payable. Therefore, the buyer will receive a credit from the seller to make sure taxes are paid from when the seller lived in the property. This is usually a nice surprise for the buyer as it reduces the amount of money they need to bring into closing.

Every state and even some cities have specific nuances when it comes to buying or selling a home. This holds especially true to the Cleveland area. Failure to understand the rules of the game can cause a ton of unnecessary stress and sometimes a lot of money.

A good local real estate agent can be a tremendous help here.

 

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About The Authors

The above information is compliments of The Schuman Team, Amy and Dan, of Howard Hanna Real Estate Services.

They can be reached at 216-346-3235 or 216-403-9189 or via email, danschuman@howardhanna.com or amyschuman@howardhanna.com.

The Schumans service the following Cleveland area suburbs: Bainbridge, Bay Village, Beachwood, Bentleyville, Chagrin Falls, Cleveland Heights, Gates Mills, Highland Heights, Hunting Valley, Lakewood, Lyndhurst, Mayfield Heights, Mayfield Village, Moreland Hills, Oakwood Village, Orange, Pepper Pike, Shaker Heights, Solon, South Euclid, University Heights, Westlake, Woodmere.

Cleveland Home Buyers Face Unusual Obstacles is the property of The Schuman Team and may not be duplicated or used without their written consent.©September 2012

 

 

 

On Line Home Search – What You See Is Not Always What You Get

 

 

We understand that most buyers search for homes on line and wanted consumers to understand that things are not always as their appear. For your education, we have put together a list of:

10 THINGS TO BE AWARE OF WHEN SEARCHING FOR A HOME ON THE INTERNET

1.     CONDITION – Photoshop is a powerful tool that is often abused by listing agents and homes rarely look as nice in person.

2.    LOCATION – When a home states “great location”, understand that “great” is a relative term. We suggest learning the specific neighborhoods so you know where you want to be located and use a tool like googlemaps to get a more accurate idea of the location of a home.

3.    ADVERSE CONDITIONS – Since a listing agent is trying to sell the home, they will never come right out and tell you that there are power lines or a highway located  directly behind the home. There may also be a commercial building right next door, conveniently cropped out of the front photo. Be weary of adverse factors that could greatly affect marketability of a home.

4.     STATUS – Don’t assume the home you love on line is still available. Some sites show outdated information and don’t clean up their site very often. To make sure a home is still an active listing, we recommend using a site that gets information directly from the local MLS ( Multiple Lisitng Service ).

5.     INACCURATE FEATURES – There is nothing worse than walking into what you thought was a 4 bedroom home only to find out it only has 3 real usable bedrooms.  A good agent will know these types of things so you don’t waste your time.

6.    READ BETWEEN THE LINES – The copy and description written on a home is like that on a resume, often embellished. The listing agents job is to get buyers in the door so just be mindful.

7.     TOO GOOD TO BE TRUE – Remember, if a home looks too good to be true on line, there may be a reason.  While there are some great deals out there, if a home seems priced abnormally low compared to other similar homes, find out why.

8.     EXCEPTIONS TO THE RULE – Believe it or not, some homes actually look better in person. Some agents don’t take great pictures or put much effort into their listings and fantastic homes can get overlooked. A good agent will be able to point out some hidden gems.

9.     PUBLIC RECORDS ARE SOMETIMES WRONG – Information that appears on a listing sometimes gets imported directly from public records—and is inaccurate. Do yourself a favor and double check things on your own.

10.   THE LISTING AGENT DOES NOT REPRESENT YOU –  While many on line listings encourage you to contact the listing agent directly with questions, that agent does not represent you. If you have any questions about a home you see on line, call your buyer’s agent.

When all is said and done, viewing homes on line is a great way to start. However, a good buyers agent will preview homes on your behalf up front to save you valuable time and effort.

If you are serious about buying a home, hire a buyer’s agent. It won’t cost you money ( the seller pays real estate commissions ) and will be extremely helpful.

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About The Authors

The above information is compliments of The Schuman Team, Amy and Dan, of Howard Hanna Real Estate Services.

They can be reached at 216-346-3235 or 216-403-9189 or via email, danschuman@howardhanna.com or amyschuman@howardhanna.com.

The Schumans service the following Cleveland area suburbs: Bainbridge, Bay Village, Beachwood, Bentleyville, Chagrin Falls, Cleveland Heights, Gates Mills, Highland Heights, Hunting Valley, Lakewood, Lyndhurst, Mayfield Heights, Mayfield Village, Moreland Hills, Oakwood Village, Orange, Pepper Pike, Shaker Heights, Solon, South Euclid, University Heights, Westlake, Woodmere.

On Line Home Search – What You See Is Not Always What You Get is the property of The Schuman Team and may not be duplicated or used without their written consent.

 

Beware of Home Search Sites

Everyone knows that one of the best places to search for homes is on line. While some folks still look at the newspaper,  a majority of buyers take to the net for their home search. With such easy access to homes comes numerous pitfalls, and today’s post will discuss this.

Before getting into the main problems of some home search sites, let’s start with a little history lesson. Back before the internet was in existence, most data relating to homes was only available at the local real estate office. For example, if you wanted to buy a home in Gates Mills, you would  have to sit down with an agent in a Gates Mills office to see the inventory.

The Multiple Listing Service then came into play making it easy for agents to share data with each other, but consumers did not have access to this information.  They still had to go through an agent to see the inventory.

Now, all listing information is readily available on line for everyone to see. In fact, sites that show home listings are among the most popular in the country, receiving millions of visitors every month. What has happened over time is that non real estate companies saw the power of having all of these visitors and wanted to “get into the game”. The main problem is that many of these companies are not giving consumers accurate information.

Some companies, like Realtor.com, do offer accurate information as they get their data feed directly from the original source.  Others, however, do not. On many of these secondary sites, the information is simply wrong. Prices are getting changed, square footage is off and the status of homes is not up to date. It is not uncommon to see a home advertised that is no longer on the market. Home sellers are also getting angry when seeing their personal home being misrepresented on line. Basically, brokers have begun to lose control of their data.

Once on line, it is nearly impossible to have information corrected. That is why so many real estate companies nationwide are considering not sharing their listing information with anyone else. Until everything gets sorted out, consumers are paying the ultimate price by being subjected to bad information.

WHAT SHOULD A HOME BUYER DO?

Be careful about where you search for homes. We recommend a site that provides the most up to date information. Our personal home search tool gets its information directly from our local Multiple Listing Service and is the most accurate data you will find. You can find it by clicking the “search for homes” icon on the top right hand side of this page or go to the home page of our website, www.schumanteam.com. Here is what it looks like:

Once here, you can see current listings, create your personal home search and get homes emailed to you automatically. Or, you are welcome to contact us, let us know what you want, and we can create a personal home search for you.

Also, if you find a home on line that you really want to see, it is best to check with your agent to make sure it is still “active”. I couldn’t tell you how many times I’ve had buyers ask me about a home they saw somewhere on line and it was no longer available.

In the end, information will always be a valuable commodity and having a knowledgeable agent to help with your home search will definitely make a difference.

 

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About The Authors

The above information is compliments of The Schuman Team, Amy and Dan, of Howard Hanna Real Estate Services.

They can be reached at 216-346-3235 or 216-403-9189 or via email, danschuman@howardhanna.com or amyschuman@howardhanna.com.

The Schumans service the following Cleveland area suburbs: Bainbridge, Bay Village, Beachwood, Bentleyville, Chagrin Falls, Cleveland Heights, Gates Mills, Highland Heights, Hunting Valley, Lakewood, Lyndhurst, Mayfield Heights, Mayfield Village, Moreland Hills, Oakwood Village, Orange, Pepper Pike, Shaker Heights, Solon, South Euclid, University Heights, Westlake, Woodmere.

Beware of Home Search Sites is the property of The Schuman Team and may not be duplicated or used without their written consent.