The only online publication for women in Greater Cincinnati
Real Estate

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So you’ve made the exciting decision to purchase a condo – congratulations! While buying a condo is extremely exciting, there are also a lot of differences in comparison to purchasing a house. But as long as you know what you’re getting into ahead of time, you should be all set. Here are a few things to think about to make purchasing a condo much easier and enjoyable for you.

 

Finances:
Something you need to keep in mind is the monthly cost of Homeowners Association (HOA) fees – this covers the cost of typical maintenance and repairs. Dues can range up to over 50 cents per square foot of your condo – every month.

 

But when it comes to getting a good deal on your condo, it’s not always just about the lowest monthly fees. Sometimes, condo community fees pile up for years from not collecting enough dues from residents, and then current residents end up paying huge amounts to fix doors, walls, elevators, and more.

 

So when it comes to getting the most out of your bills, don’t just look at the price of the condo and the lowest monthly fees – think about the value. If two properties come fairly close in price, make sure to look into what amenities you’re getting for your monthly dues – a doorman? a cleaning service? a pool? a work-out facility? Looking into these assets will help you figure out where you’re getting the most for your dollar.

 

Make sure to sit down with your real estate agent and look through the financial documents of the community you’re considering moving into, so that you’re aware of upcoming assessments, and whether or not the property can afford to cover all needed repairs and upkeep. After all, this is an investment, and you want to make sure you’re getting enough value out of this purchase. If you don’t have a real estate agent yet, get one!

 

Community Policies
The rules and regulations of the community you move into will actually be just as important as the finances. These are most often known as covenants, conditions, and restrictions – or CC&Rs. It’s crucial that you pay special attention to these policies BEFORE you purchase your condo, so that you know exactly what you’re getting into, what’s allowed, and what’s not. For example, you don’t want to purchase a condo and then find out that they don’t allow pets if you have a special companion.

 

Other regulations can affect how you decorate and invest in your condo – including bans on hardwood floors, design aspects, and more. Sometimes the regulations can be extremely specific too – such as whether you can put something on your front door, or your balcony, and more. This could mean that the grill or patio furniture you’ve dreamed about may not be allowed.

 

You’ll also want to ask about parking rules, if you can have guests park overnight, how many spaces you get, and more. There are plenty of communities that will have exactly what you want and need, but there are also some communities that won’t give you what you hoped for. That’s why it’s important to know exactly what you’re getting into.

 

The Condo-Living Lifestyle
You also need to remember the condo lifestyle – you’ll be working a lot with the property’s management, so you’ll want to make sure they’ve gotten good reviews from other residents. Community living also means sharing walls with neighbors, occasionally having to abide by quiet hours, and more.

 

There are plenty of positive aspects of purchasing a condo as well – there’s a strong community feel, you get to know your neighbors easier, it often feels safer if you are living alone, and more. Think about all of the pros and cons when it comes to deciding if you want to purchase a condo or a home. The more you have thought about ahead of time, the readier you’ll be!

 

Make sure to sit down with your real estate agent and look through the financial documents of the community you’re considering moving into, so that you’re aware of upcoming assessments, and whether or not the property can afford to cover all needed repairs and upkeep. After all, this is an investment, and you want to make sure you’re getting enough value out of this purchase. If you don’t have a real estate agent yet, get one!

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As most of you already know, I am so passionate about my career, not just because I love real estate, but because I love the place where I work in real estate – Cincinnati. This is an incredible city and outside area, with thousands of things to do every year, including festivals, concerts, shopping extravaganzas, art programs, and more.

 

Cincinnati is a city rich in culture, thanks to its many diverse neighborhoods, and there’s something to do here for everybody, no matter what you’re into. I’ve rounded up 3 of my favorite sites that give you the 411 on everything you need to know about Cincinnati events, so that if you’re new to the area or looking to get more active, you can start having fun in no time!

 

1 – 365Cincinnati.com 
365 Cincinnati is a blog that was started by a Cincinnati resident, and contains things you can do every day in Cincinnati – from city tours, to marketplace visits, to concerts, and more. The site contains an event calendar, a mailing list, tour information, and pages about parks, indoor fun, just for kids, food events, and more. Be sure to check it out if you’re looking to spice up your social life or get to know the area more.

 

2 – CincinnatiUSA.com 
CincinnatiUSA is a fantastic travel guide for the area of Cincinnati and Northern Kentucky. The website contains some great information about the region, as well as special offers for various events. There are plenty of pages and special offers for hotels & lodging, special events and attractions, dining & shopping, and more. If you’re thinking of moving to this area and want to know more about your options, or you just want to plan a fun weekend for you and your friends or family, this website has everything you need.

 

3 – Trip Advisor 
If you want to learn more about Cincinnati and everything it has to offer directly from hundreds of other people that have experienced it, Trip Advisor is a great place to start. There are lists of events, museums, outdoor fun, cultural events, sports, amusement parks, and more. Better yet, you can read real and personalized reviews from other Cincinnati dwellers and visitors. Check out this website for some great ideas for ways to plan a great weekend – or even a fun week night!

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Home Sellers: This Is the Most Important Room in Your House

 

When it comes to selling your home, you need to make sure every room, pantry, closet, shower, and crevice is in tip-top shape. And the first place to start: the kitchen.

 

For most people buying a home, whether they are first-time buyers or seasoned veterans, the kitchen is the most important room to them. It’s where they’ll spend lots of their time – cooking, spending time with family, eating meals, hosting dinner parties and events. People moving out of small rented apartments are looking for a vast new space to cook and dine, and previous homeowners are looking for something that will far exceed what they had previously experienced.

 

The first thing you need to do is remove everything from the counters. This means everything – toasters, blenders, food – everything. The more you clear off, the larger the space is going to be, and the more visible your countertops will look.

 

You also need to clear out all of your drawers and cabinets. Keep some nice pots, pans, plates and other utensils in the space so it looks lived-in, but don’t make it overcrowded. You want it to look like your kitchen has more storage and space than any other home these people look at. So the more you can put into storage, the better.

 

Finally, don’t forget the under-the-sink area! Most potential buyers are wary of stumbling into any trouble or maintenance issues. So clean out everything under the sink, including cleaning products, and scrub the area down. You want to take care of any needed repairs and keep it as clean as possible – you’d be surprised how much a clean and well-kept under-the-sink area can impress a homebuyer.

 

These are just a few of the key aspects you have to remember when it comes to selling a home, so be sure to check back with our blog every week for more useful tips!

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In the past five years, the real estate market – and the entire world of communication for that matter – has evolved into a mass of social media, mobile marketing, and new way of thinking. With the recent crash of the economy the market has taken a hit on home values across the nation. However, we’re currently very low on inventory in the Tri-State, which means the demand is very high and prices are on the rise.

 

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Beverly Corsmeier

In today’s industry, far too many professionals are overlooking the great benefits modern technology can provide to their clients. However, I’ve not only embraced technology but utilize everyday to provide better services to my clients while growing my business. Here’s just a sample of the many technologies I’ve embraced to better serve you:

 

Smart Phone: While this seems like a necessity to many of us, there is still a majority of agents not utilizing smart phone capabilities. I’ve equipped my phone with email capabilities so I’m not more than a few moments away from any questions you have. I make it a priority to make myself available by email, phone, or even social media through my smart phone.

 

Website: Have you ever had a hundred questions about buying or selling a home? Are you hoping to find more information about a Realtor but their company website provides limited information? You won’t find those difficulties with me. I maintain a full-service website with hundreds of individual resources for you. I provide information about everything from community statistics to home values in your area. Also, if you’re interested in finding some properties in a specific area of Cincinnati, I’ve provided the tools to assist you in this process.

 

Social Media: The growth of social media over the last decade has change the real estate industry. Today’s agent must be readily available on several mediums of communication. That’s why I pride myself on the expansive list of social media networks I belong to. Many of these networks not only share my services but help to advertise your property. I have integrated my system to automatically feed your listing and pictures to dozens of popular websites. Just to name a few websites that you can find your listing on: Facebook.com, Trulia.com, Zillow.com, and Realtor.com. These websites continuously channel high levels of traffic towards your listing providing the most exposure possible.

 

Online Lifestyle Resource: I also developed a website you might enjoy, LiveandPlayCincinnati.com. It’s not as a “real estate” website, but instead, it’s an information hotspot. After living in other parts of the United States, the one thing I found difficult with each move was learning the various neighborhoods within a metropolitan area, and what to do in each. I often wondered why there wasn’t an easy way to get an unbiased opinion of different suburbs and what areas were suited to my personality. That’s what I strive to offer with this site and I hope you enjoy it!


In the video below, I share some updates on the market and a little more about my experience in the industry. Please feel free to email me at Beverly.Corsmeier@cbws.com if you have any real estate needs. I look forward to hearing from you!

This is a special advertising supplement, paid for by Beverly Corsmeier.

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What can a great real estate agent do for you? Run you around and show you houses? Perform internet research for you? Help to determine current property value? Provide information?

 

All of these are great, but it doesn’t take rocket science to do any of it. A great agent relies on the experience from different transactions and previous client issues.

 

Every transaction is different….there truly are no two alike.

 

How much does your agent know about lending? Why does it matter since you have a loan officer that handles your loan?

 

All too often I run into buyers that would greatly benefit from greater lending knowledge. Here’s an example: Did you know we have different lenders in Greater Cincinnati that have different loan programs. Some lenders require higher credit scores, lower debt to income ratios while others have specialized programs for lower scores and higher debt to income ratios.

 

Did you know only some of the lenders offer housing grants? Did you know there were grants available for buyers? There are a lot actually and they are not hard to get if you fall within the necessary matrix. An experienced agent knows about these options and doesn’t just leave it to the loan officer.

 

Real estate agents are required to know lending, however, having such knowledge has saved many a transaction from falling apart. Let’s say you go to your local bank and get “pre-approved.” This may or may not mean that they pulled your credit. Sometimes it is just a series of questions that you are asked about time on job, income, credit cards, car loans etc. Your pre-approval letter just states that you look pretty good and “IF” after you turn in your bank statements, tax returns, pay stubs and credit is pulled all the numbers still look good then they will consider giving you a loan. (Please note, this is just a very brief explanation. There is more to it).

 

We often run into problems once the documentation is actually provided and now the bank says the debt to income is too high and the bonus or overtime you get isn’t included in your income they base the decision on. A better one is that you are a 1099 self-employed individual and you show as little as you can on your tax return. Now we have another problem. It just keeps going..

 

Where an agent can help is by knowing the different products offered by the different lenders in the area. I approach life with the philosophy of “if there is a will there is a way!”


Here are a few examples: Shannon Scott 513-254-8238 – Shannon.Scott@mortgagefamily.com Coldwell Banker Home Loans is my in-house loan officer that I love and trust with my clients. He bends over backwards to help and the loans close on time. He is spectacular with VA Loans which can be 100% financing. He has a very fast loan approval process!


Kathie Brahaney (513) 258-1704 – Kbrahaney@stonegatemtg.com Stonegate Mortgage is my favorite rehab loan specialist – they have amazing products for doing simple renovations like putting in a granite counter and tiling the bathroom to full blown rehab projects.


Greg Tudor (513) 238-5462 – gtudor@warsawfederal.com Warsaw Federal has several grants available. I was introduced to Greg by a buyer. He did such a fantastic job I have kept him in my “go to” file! PLEASE NOTE! There are a lot of loan officers out there as well as lending institutions.


The above are just a few of my personal favorites that I have been extremely pleased with their above and beyond service for my clients.

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You are thinking about selling your home. You have young children and pets. But I have a scary scenario to consider.

 

You talk to a real estate agent about getting your home ready. “It’s already Pottery Barn cute” you think to yourself.

 

After all, your pet’s names are on their food mats and dishes; their leashes hang by the back door. You have some spectacular photography of your children in expensive frames that look perfect where they hang. Now move into the children’s bedrooms where their names are on the wall, their headboard and various other furniture pieces.

 

Your home is immaculate and ready to be photographed. Photos will be posted on the internet in preparation for being listed. It’s going to look so great to prospective buyers.

 

Have you given thought to how many people are looking at the photos of your house? Your home is on the market now and an open house is scheduled.

 

Postcards have been sent out to all your neighbors inviting them to see your home. Still sounds great right, right?

 

Now take a step back and think about WHO has access to all this information that has been given to the public. We all hear about people parked in cars near bus stops or schools or the person that drives through a neighborhood and offers candy or says they have a dog they think belongs to the child to lure them into the vehicle.

 

Stop and think! You have just put pictures and possibly names of your kids along with the names of their beloved pets out to the public. An open house is just that and anyone can come through – now they really know quite a bit about the kids in the house just by looking around.

 

What would your child do if someone knew them by name as well as the name of their pet and of course the name of their mom and dad? Most of this can be prevented.

 

Before putting your home on the market, de-personalize! Remove pictures of young children. Remove items with names of the children and pets. While these things help to make a home look warm and inviting, they really don’t sell homes.

 

It takes me longer to hustle buyers out of a home with lots of pictures because they stop to look just out of curiosity. If these things aren’t something you’ve thought about, it’s time to think safety first.

 

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Clean everything! Seriously, all baseboards, light fixtures, windows, window sills, door frames and light switches. Make sure you get every inch of the house. There are quite a few professional cleaning crews that do this. I personally have used one many times to “Spring” clean for me. They wiped the backs of pictures on the walls and actually scrubbed around the toilet with a toothbrush type tool. It is amazing how much a sparkling clean home speaks to potential buyers.

 

De-clutter! Knick Knacks can all be boxed up. Same with personal picture frames everywhere. A nice neat stack of packed boxes in the basement, garage or even a spare room looks better than a lot of items that collect dust and personalize the home to the seller not the buyer.

 

Fix the broken stuff! We all have little “honey do” lists! All those maintenance items that we keep saying we will get to – time to get to them! If you are able, one of the best things a seller can do is to hire a really good home inspector to PRE inspect the home. Besides giving you a maintenance checklist to work through, you will also be able avoid issues when a buyer has the home inspected. Sometimes the buyer accepts the inspection report that you had done and is satisfied with repair receipts for items that were called out.

 

Paint Professionally! Crappy painting is just, well, crappy and can quickly decrease value to a buyer. If your walls, ceilings and trim work don’t look that polished it can be well worth having a professional spruce up your paint and neutralize your home to appeal to a wide range of buyers.

 

Wallpaper? Remove. Period. Number one reason I have buyers walk away from otherwise great homes.

 

Landscaping – clean it up! Think curb appeal! Nice, neat and tidy with fresh mulch and sharply edged. Doesn’t cost a lot but does take physical activity.

 

What does your front door and garage door look like? These are major welcoming points and need to give a great first impression!

 

Haven’t been able to sell and want an honest answer why? If you can handle brutal honesty give me a call. I am more than happy to create a “to do list” for you to increase your chances of selling your home quickly. Feel free to give me a call (513) 623-7756 or send me an email at Beverly.Corsmeier@cbws.com. Please note, I am unable to offer this to any home that’s currently listed.

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The real estate market has been more than interesting in the past four years. We are now seeing it begin to bounce back and have a shortage of inventory. This inventory is across the board from resale homes to new construction. Many people locating to Cincinnati want the charm of a “Town Square,” to be able to walk to dinner or do a little shopping. Blue Ash, Montgomery, Glendale, Hyde Park, Mount Lookout and Mariemont are a few that offer this amenity. While there are other suburbs with town squares these are the most requested and some of the highest priced.BEV INSTORY

 

What has been interesting is that I could have sold 4-6 homes in these areas in just the past four weeks…nothing was available in the $350k-$450k range (3 bedrooms, Master suite, 1.5 other baths, spectacular kitchens and of course a 2 car garage minimum). A “tear down” home with a builder’s sign in the yard dictates that specific builder’s price range, many of which are over $600k. What is a “tear down” you ask? These are older homes that need total rehab due to the lack of modern amenities or torn down and new construction put in its place. It is wonderful for property values of like homes in the area.

 

I’m working toward creating a centralized location of all listings with the opportunity to either rehab or tear down in these areas. By doing this, I create an easy search for buyers. Currently, it is very difficult to find these properties when agents search the Cincinnati MLS or potential buyers search the internet- most buyers want the builder to be their choice. Sellers limit themselves with a specific builder sign in their yard. I can’t tell you how many builders are contacting me wanting land and/or homes that can be removed or renovated.

 

Shall we blame HGTV? Buyer’s want all the goodies in a home. Unless a home is very old with a ton of charm, that old 1970’s décor, gold hardware, lack of a master suite, old materials like 3″ baseboards, Formica, even Corian is out of style, wallpaper, a mishmash of flooring throughout the home is a no-no! Buyers want energy efficiency beyond what was ever capable of being accomplished in the 1980s.

 

So, how do you proceed if you are a seller or a buyer? With an experienced agent that has a tremendous construction background that can guide you through the process and put the pieces of the puzzle together for you. There are many quality builders in different price ranges and architectural styles that fit your needs.

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I tend to write my columns with information or situations through experience. Recently, I have had several requests to list homes purchased within the last couple of years. The problem is that the buyer over-paid substantially for the property. A good buyer’s agent will not let this happen. Personally, I will argue with the buyer if they are being unrealistic about the price they are willing to pay for a property. Here is a basic checklist for you as a buyer to ask your agent to provide to you to help determine property value on a numbers basis only:

 

1) A ¼ mile and a ½ mile radius search of all property types, current active, pending and properties sold within the past 6 months but no further back than 1 year.
2) A report from the auditor that gives the property information for the subject property street. If the street is extremely long, at a minimum 20 houses on both sides of the address.
3) The auditor information about the property itself.
4) Listing history if any.

 

These are not fool-proof but they help to indicate property values in the area.

 

It is important that you understand the role of agents and brokers with whom you are working. A buyer’s agent must follow the buyer’s lawful instructions, be loyal to the buyer, promote the buyer’s best interests, disclose material facts to the buyer, maintain confidential information and, account for any money they handle in the transaction. What happens when a buyer contacts the listing agent directly about a property? This is fine and actually thrills us as agents (we make extra money!) Problem is that the buyer usually doesn’t understand the role of the listing agent who entered into contract with the seller to represent the seller’s interest and sell the home for the highest possible price.

 

Where does this leave the buyer? The listing agent can write an offer for you on the property. That agent is acting either as a “dual agent” which means they are nothing more than a facilitator between buyer and seller or they remain the listing agent only representing one of the parties. Please be sure you understand the agent’s role and what if any representation you are getting.

 

If you do not feel comfortable with the agent you are working with, choose another one! You are never stuck and this is too important to not be happy with who you are working with. Depending on the situation, you may need to contact the Realtor’s manager or broker and ask for a different agent to be assigned to you. If you are not yet under contract to purchase a home and you did not sign a contract guaranteeing the agent your business, just walk away and contact a new agent. Referrals are a wonderful way to find someone who will take great care of you.

 

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The agent with the most listings wins! Never thought about it that way?

 

Referrals are the number one way to grow any career in sales. Your nearest and dearest friends and happiest customers help to establish trust for you through recommendations. Real estate sales are no different. The crux is that listings produce buyers for agents. Even if the listing is overpriced or not what a buyer is looking for, the agent has the opportunity to establish a rapport and sell them something else. An agent with very few listings gets much fewer buyer leads. What should you take away from this?

 

Use caution when listing your home. Interview several agents and compare their listing prices, track record of list to sale price and of course time on market. Be sure to look at a comparable market analysis (radius from your address of the sales in the last six months, active and pending listings), take your emotions out of your own home and truly compare your house with your competition and with what has actually sold.

 

As a seller, the agent that states their home is worth the most usually gets the homeowner excited and dreaming of making money on the sale of their home. A house properly priced sells for the most money in the shortest amount of time. An overpriced home sits on the market, provides buyers to the listing agent and ultimately sells for less than what it would have if priced correctly when first listed.

 

There is a saying among agents that we want to be the third agent to list the property of a seller stuck on an unrealistic price. By then, the homeowner has gotten realistic and the previous listing agents are no longer trusted by the seller. There are so many expired listings that could have been sold.

 

Please note that “properly priced” not only includes the appraisal value but also the curb appeal, condition of the home, decorating appeal (neutralize!) and quality of the home. Can you step back and honestly assess your home on the above points?

 

Ask yourself these questions:
Does the agent(s) I am considering sell houses in a reasonable amount of time and close to the list price?
Does the agent(s) I am interviewing respond candidly, but honestly about the price, condition, curb appeal and needs of my home to sell at the highest possible price?
Does the agent(s) have knowledge about financing, inspections, necessary improvements, negotiations and the ability to stage my home?
Does the agent network well and utilize today’s technology to reach the largest possible audience?
How long does it take the agent to respond to my phone call, email or text?
Is there job as a Realtor priority in their lives?

 

As a homeowner and potential seller, please do your due diligence. There are a lot of licensed agents in Greater Cincinnati – find one who will represent you with their entire heart and soul!

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