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Speaking of the cart before the horse.......

It occurred to me after writing the previous entry about whether you shop for a home or sell your current home first that maybe there is another first to consider…FINANCING! With all the changes in the world of mortgage lending in this new economy you should probably make that talk with a lender the first thing you do. A lender can give you a pretty good indication of your likelihood of getting a loan and for how much and what percentage of the purchase price if you’ll share with them your income, assets, debts and employment information and allow them to pull your credit. It’s free and most lenders are more than happy to help you get pre-qualified.

Keep in mind however, even after YOU are pre-qualified, property value as determined by the appraisal and reviewed by the lender may still become an issue but YOU will be a qualified borrower and buyer. Please feel free to work with the lender of your choice. If you don’t have an established relationship with any local lenders I have several I can recommend from my 15 years in the mortgage industry. The most important thing a lender can do for you and for us is to maintain communication. Simple yes, but you’d be surprised at how many lenders start ducking you/us as soon as anything negative happens. It is important to deliver good news fast and bad news faster but human nature for many is to avoid confrontation so they avoid delivering the bad news. The lenders below are just a few I know who have demonstrated the kind of professionalism that gets deals done:

  • Mike Burroughs, owner Mortgage House of America, 513-794-7812 mikeb@mtghouseofamerica.com
  • Greg Updegrove, Mortgage House of America, 513-794-7805 gregu@mtghouseofamerica.com
  • Dick Engel, Summit Home Loans, 513-266-3160 loans@dickengle.com
  • Kathy Lamb, Union Savings Bank, 513-310-3301 klamb@usavingsbank.com
  • Shawn Huss, First Place Bank, 513-232-0800

-Arlen Rissover


The Chicken or the Egg?

Chicken or the Egg?  Cart before the Horse?  Buy/Sell or Sell/Buy? 

Ever wonder which came first, the chicken or the egg?  If you actually spend any time thinking about it, it is quite a conundrum.  Whichever it is though, doesn’t really matter at this point.  We have chickens and eggs in adequate supply so the order is just not that important.

Now, when it comes to putting the cart before the horse, I’ve seen it done once before with the expected poor result.  Ever see Fiddler on the Roof?  Remember in when Tevye’s horse came up lame and he had to put the yolk over his shoulder and pull the cart with the horse bringing up the rear?  Tevye found out the hard way that you definitely want the horse before the cart.

Now this third topic is in reference to the order in which people plan a move.  Like the Hermit Crab who carries his shell/home with him all the time, right up to the moment he finds a new larger, more attractive shell to move into, it is human nature to seek your next shelter while still inhabiting your current shelter.  Shelter after all is, is one of the core human needs right up there with food and water.  However, the Hermit Crab doesn’t require a mortgage to obtain a new shell.  Unfortunately, due to the cost of a desirable human home, most of us do. 

So we want to find the perfect home to move right into but we don’t want to give up the security of the home we are in now.  Here’s the rub, we can’t usually buy the house we’ve looked for and fallen in love with because without selling our current home and satisfying the existing mortgage, no lender will give us a mortgage and add to our debt load.  Even those who can qualify for 2 mortgages are usually petrified at the thought of having to pay on 2 mortgages for any period of time if the original home doesn’t sell right away.  What is the answer?  What should you do first? 

Fortunately we are living in the information age.  Everyone can do a little house hunting online and whet their appetite…get the juices flowing.  If you find something you really like and want to see it, by all means, CALL US!  We would be happy to show you the home(s).  However, if your home isn’t sold, listed or virtually ready to sell, you run the risk of falling in love only to end up with a broken heart!  It’s a common story really.  Boy/Girl meets home.  Boy/girl fall in love with home.  Boy/girl can’t purchase home.  Boy/girl loses home to other suitor who could get a mortgage. 

Sometimes you get lucky and write an offer contingent upon selling your home and it works out.   But make no mistake, your new love will continue to seek qualified suitors all the while and too often, you will have to settle for the next love of your life.

To sell before you buy and not risk losing a home you love you can start thinking about a temporary housing solution for the period between the sale of your home and the purchase of your next dream home.  Shacking up with a friend or family member can be economical and interesting.  Think about the experiences and stories you’ll acquire from that one.  Or, maybe a short term rental of a house, condo or apartment with most of your belongings in storage.  A little planning upfront could help you get mobilized and get your home sold so you can proceed with much greater clarity of your financial situation.  How much do you have to put down?  How much can you qualify to borrow?  How much do you want to borrow?  With this information you’ll be ready to pounce when you find THE ONE.

So buy/sell, sell/buy…it’s ultimately your call.  Are you lucky and like to take chances?  Do you like to take control of a situation when possible?  Either way, feel free to contact us for advice and consultation or to just start looking and get those juices flowing.

-Arlen Rissover 


The Big Picture


I am blogging today on behalf of my sellers – and sellers everywhere.  These are trying times in real estate.  I don’t have to tell anyone that.  But I have a strange gift of being able to see the ‘big picture.’  I see the minutiae, but it does not mean as much to me as the whole scene in context.  Because of this, I tend to be a very patient person – I would rather take the time to wait for what is right than to settle for something less than right.  What does this have to do with real estate, you ask?  Everything! 

There is an article in this month’s Ohio Association of Realtors (OAR) magazine about price reductions, and what it takes to get a house SOLD these days.  I am always getting the question from my sellers, “what are you doing to sell my house?”  A very valid question, mind you.  The typical scenario that happens if a house is not selling is the agent will have that difficult talk with the seller about reducing the price.  It must be the price, right!?  Maybe not. 

Patience can be the most important factor for a seller – especially if a seller is lucky enough to have time on their side.  What if there is no buyer in the market at a particular time for your house?  What good will lowering the price do?  The most important thing is to have great photos of your house and get them out there on every real estate website imaginable (and there are lots!).  Almost all buyers look online well before they start looking at houses in person.  A good agent will make your house look good and inviting to the world.  A ‘well packaged’ and appropriately priced listing will make the right buyer want to see the house in person.  It’s that simple.   There are no secret tricks to get a house sold.  

I was glad to see the OAR article reinforce what I have been thinking all along.  As long as you are priced appropriately for the market (which requires constant surveillance), and have room to negotiate an offer within that price, a price reduction may not be the magic bullet.   In the big picture, it’s in everyone’s best interest for you to get fair market value for your home.  Sometimes you just have to wait for it to happen.

-Susan Rissover





The Best of Times?

“It was the best of times, it was the worst of times”, A Tale of Two Cities, Charles Dickens

“Potter isn’t selling, Potter’s buying!” George Bailey in Frank Capra’s ‘It’s A Wonderful Life’

 I have taken to quoting the above lines in recent months when discussing the current economic climate and it’s effect on the real estate market.  No one has seen anything like this before.  With my 15 years in the mortgage industry and Susan’s 6 years in real estate we have witnessed this crisis from the front row.  We have seen friends, clients, colleagues and companies suffer personally, professionally and financially.  We empathize deeply with all those who are struggling in these trying times.

 While it is certainly a time to hunker down, fortify your perimeter and focus on weathering the storm there is also opportunity afoot.  The extended and enhanced home-buyer tax credit combined with unprecedented low mortgage interest rates make this an excellent time to buy if you are in a position to do so.

 Here are the tax credit highlights.  Please call or e-mail if you would like more detailed information.  The tax credit was originally slated to end November 30, 2009. It has now been extended into 2010. If you have a signed purchase agreement by April 30, and close the transaction before July 1, you’re eligible for the credit. 

 First-time homebuyers are eligible for a credit of 10 percent of the price of the home, up to $8,000. (Married couples filing individually can receive $4,000 each.) You are considered a first-time buyer if you haven’t owned a principal home in the U.S. in the last three years.

The tax credit has also been expanded to buyers who have owned a home at some period during the last three years and used it as their principal residence for five consecutive years in the last eight. They can receive up to $6,500 - or $3,250 for couples filing as individuals.

Individuals who earn up to $125,000, and couples who earn up to $225,000, are eligible for the full credit. Individuals who earn between $125,000 and $145,000 – and couples who earn between $225,000 and $245,000 - can receive a percentage of the full credit.

 If you qualify for the tax credit and are in a position to qualify for a mortgage, harder than ever but with fixed rates in the 4’s and adjustables in the 3’s, you might want to give it some serious consideration.  Things are slowly improving but it is still a buyer’s market.  Your buying power will probably never be greater.  Don’t forget if you do get the itch to start home shopping, if you are like most people you will probably need to sell your home before you can buy another.  If you are not prepared to sell, it’s likely you will find a home you love and lose it because you weren’t able to pull the trigger because of your present home. 

 Is it the best of times?  Is it the worst?  Are you selling like the masses or are you buying like Potter?  If you want to talk about it with someone, don’t hesitate to contact us.

 -Arlen Rissover


The Corbett House


There are several new MCM listings of note this month – kind of unusual for December.  Ben Dombar’s signature masterpiece ‘Good Living’ is on the market again after selling a couple of years ago (see link to the left for more info on this fabulous home) – if you missed it last time, here’s your chance! There is also a Ben Dombar fixer upper in North Avondale with a lot of potential, a way cute MCM ranch on the west side and an interesting looking place in Hamilton (see MCM link to the left for all of these listings).  Another home of note (no pun intended) just hit the market for the first time ever – the Corbett house! 

 Built in 1959 as the House Beautiful Pacesetter House of the Year (Feb. 1960 issue - see above), this state of the (then) art masterpiece is in largely original condition.  The home sits on over 5 acres of prime riverview property on Grandin Road at Edwards Rd. in Hyde Park.  It was designed for NuTone owners and major Cincinnati arts benefactors Ralph and Patricia Corbett by architect John deKoven Hill.  At the time, deKoven Hill was ‘on loan’ for a year from the Frank Lloyd Wright Fellowship to be acting editor of House Beautiful.  A little nepotism, perhaps?  Perhaps, but the result was a way cool home built for living (with his and hers master suites), entertaining (with special music performance areas) and recreation (yes, it even has an indoor pool!).  

All of the ads in the featured issue of the magazine were tie-ins to the materials used in the house.  The Formica ad featured the home’s kitchen (complete with a ‘boxer shorts’ inspired Formica print on the cabinet doors); a Bell Telephone ad introduced the first ‘princess’ phone used in ‘her’ master suite; Of course, NuTone products (intercoms, sound systems, doorbells, built in kitchen appliances) were also prominently featured.  Even the roof and extensive use of mosaic tile were featured in ads.  The list goes on and on.

With Mrs. Corbett’s passing last year (at age 99!), the home sits as a 1960 pop culture time capsule, with a $1,995,000 price tag.  As with so many other significant MCM homes, has the value of the land has far outpaced the perceived usefulness of the house?  What will become of the Corbett’s modern castle?  It’s too bad that some of that Corbett Foundation money, which funded so many Cincinnati music and arts organizations for so many years (including my childrens’ Cincinnati Public Schools Suzuki program for which I will forever be indebted), could not be structured as an endowment to sustain this property for all to enjoy.  Maybe Cincinnati could take a cue from the Miller Family and the Indianapolis Museum of Art who are working together to open the Eero Saarinen designed Miller House in Columbus, IN to the public.  It’s about time Cincinnati had one of our modern treasures preserved and open to the public for all to see!

-Susan Rissover