The West Chester Liberty Scoop!

April 19, 2018

The Better The Score, The Better The Mortgage

Looking to Buy? How DIY Credit Repair can Help You Qualify for a Mortgage


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It can come as a surprise to some when they’re denied a mortgage on the West Chester or Liberty Township home of their dreams. Some don’t even realize at the time that they have bad credit!

But there’s no need to panic. Think of this as one of life’s many curveballs. There are ways to improve your credit score so you can buy a West Chester or Liberty Township home for sale. It might take time, but it can be done.


There are two ways to go about improving your credit score. The first is to engage the help of a credit repair company. In short, credit repair companies can help you get inaccurate and/or outdated information removed from your credit history.


The second option is to try and improve your credit history on your own, or what we like to call “DIY credit repair.”


In fact, one of the reasons credit repair companies get a bad rap is because most of the services they offer are things that people can do themselves. That said, DIY credit repair can be daunting for many. Most don’t even know where to get started.


DIY credit repair isn’t for the faint of heart. But if you’re willing to give it a try, here are a few steps to follow.


  1. Request a credit report from all three credit bureaus.
    Did you know that there are really three credit bureaus? Experian, TransUnion and Equifax are the big three. If you were denied a loan on a West Chester or Liberty Township home for sale, the lender may have only run your credit history through one of the bureaus. It’s important to get a feel for how you rank across all three, as each evaluates a person’s credit history a bit differently.


You can request a copy of your credit history from each of the companies for free once a year. Visit for a free copy of your report. The website has been approved by the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) so you can be sure it isn’t a scam.

Note: a credit history is different than just a credit score. There are a lot of websites and mobile apps out there (Credit Karma and Credit Sesame are two of the most popular) that will give you your credit score. But you really need a copy of your credit history to evaluate the inputs that are going into determining your credit score.

  1. Evaluate the accuracy of your credit reports.

Most people find that their credit histories are indeed accurate. Maybe you have a credit card that you forgot you opened, had a balance on, and are now racking up interest payments on. It happens to the best of us. But on occasion, people find blemishes on their record that are totally inaccurate. Credit reports usually contain the following information:


  • Personal information, including your name, social security number, address and employment history;

  • Types of accounts, such as credit cards, loans, and debt;

  • Collections if any collection agency has pursued recovering money you owe;

  • Public records about any financial obligation, such as overdue tax payments or liens on your property; and

  • Credit inquiries that indicate whether you’ve applied for a new loan, how many new loans, and when.  


Each bucket of information can influence your credit score when trying to buy a West Chester or Liberty Township home. For instance, if you try to open a number of new credit card accounts in a short period of time this could negatively impact your credit score. If you see credit cards opened that you didn’t actually open, this is a red flag that needs to be addressed.

Pay close attention to missed payments, length of time using credit cards, the variety of accounts on your record, recent credit inquiries and your amount of available credit. These are the biggest influencers of your credit score.


  1. Dispute any errors you find on your credit report.

After you’ve gone through your credit reports with a fine toothed comb, you’ll want to dispute any information that’s inaccurate. Errors aren’t common, but they do happen! To dispute a record, make a copy of your credit report and highlight the information in question. Gather any information you have as backup (bank records, credit card payments, etc.) to prove the inaccuracy. Compile this information, write a letter to the credit bureau reporting the inaccuracy and detailing why that’s not the case, and submit either online or by certified mail.

Contact the three credit bureaus for more information:



The FTC mandates that credit bureaus respond to your claim within 30 days. During that time, the credit bureau will contact the creditor to verify your claim. If the creditor does not respond within 30-45 days, the credit bureau will remove the account or correct the negative information from your credit report.


  1. Request new copies of your credit report.

Give the credit bureau a few weeks to correct any inaccurate information on your credit report. Once 3-4 weeks have passed, request a fresh copy of your credit report to ensure the item has actually been deleted from your record.


So, is the DIY credit repair approach worth it? It can be. Credit repair companies can charge upwards of $500 or more to settle your credit history inaccuracies. So it can make sense to save the money and try and improve your credit history on your own if you’re up for it.


Remember: having good credit is SO important when it comes time to buying a West Chester or Liberty Township home for sale. Be sure to get your financial ducks in a row before you start shopping for West Chester or Liberty Township homes for sale. That way, when you’re ready to buy, you don’t have to worry about whether the bank approves you for a loan.


It can take time to improve your credit score, but remember that buying a home can be within reach – just keep your eye on the prize!  

Posted in articles
April 5, 2018

Look Good on a Budget? We got you...

5 Inexpensive Ways to Improve Your Home’s Curb Appeal

Date: April 4, 2018


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They say first impressions are everything! If you’re planning to sell your West Chester or Liberty Township home this spring, it’s important that buyers are impressed the minute they pull up. So where better to start than improving your home’s curb appeal?


Enhancing your home’s curb appeal doesn’t need to cost a fortune. Homeowners often think they need to invest tens of thousands of dollars in landscaping before listing their West Chester or Liberty Township home for sale – but that’s simply not the case!

Here are a five inexpensive ways to improve your property’s curb appeal this spring.


  1. Power wash the exterior.

    Over time, dirt and mildew build up on the outside of a home. It happens little by little, so sometimes it’s hard to notice how bad it’s become. It’s amazing what a good scrub-down can do. Rent a power washer and blast all exterior surfaces of your home.

    While you’re at it, power wash front walkways, outdoor patios, fences, pool decks, and driveways. Not only will power washing help beautify your property, it can also help extend the lifespan of these outdoor elements.

Power washing is incredibly affordable. Even if you decide to hire a professional, the costs are still really low. On average, it costs anywhere from $100 to $300 to power wash a house. It costs another $80 to $200 to power wash a driveway, and about $250 to $500 to power wash a deck or patio.


  1. Clean up the yard.


Take a step back – literally. Go across the street and look at your West Chester or Liberty Township home. What needs improving?

Start with general yard cleanup. Pick up loose branches. Prune shrubs. Rake leaves and other debris. Mow the lawn. Weed overgrown gardens. Throw down a layer of topsoil or mulch to make flower beds pop. You may have a really pretty outdoor area, but if it’s hidden under debris and weeds nobody will notice! These simple fixes will do wonders for the appearance of your property, and often don’t cost a time. Just a little time and elbow grease.


  1. Invest in lighting.


Cast your home in a more favorable light with a few lighting techniques. Wall lighting and sconces are a great way to softly illuminate a walkway or entrance.

Be sure not to overdo it with lighting. Fixtures should create a focal point and create a warm, welcoming vibe. Designers often suggest mimicking moonlight: only illuminate your front yard as intense as the moon would on a clear night. It should be enough to cast shadows without looking like a Hollywood movie set.

  1. Add some color.


Make your West Chester or Liberty Township home for sale pop with a few bursts of color. The spring is a great time to add colorful flowers to your front-yard gardens or flower boxes. We also like using hanging plants that accent the front door or walkway.

Another easy way to add a pop of color is by painting the front door. Consider a bold red or deep blue hue. This creates contrast and dimension. Be sure to use a paint that’s designed specifically for exterior doors. You’ll want a paint that’s fade resistant, water resistant, and scuff resistant. It’s amazing how much wear and tear front doors take! Top it off with a cheerful doormat that is welcoming and inviting.


  1. Make repairs.

    A sagging front deck, unsightly tree stumps or cracked pavement can be a major turnoff. Make these repairs a priority if you want to make a good first impression. Someone may love the idea of having an old stone wall around the property, but if that stone wall is crumbling, people might begin to wonder what other maintenance you haven’t stayed on top of over the years.


Now that’s it’s *officially* spring, there’s no better time to invest in a few low-cost home improvements to boost your property’s curb appeal. Most of the projects listed above can be accomplished over the course of a weekend for only a few hundred dollars. That time and money can translate into even bigger gains as more people become interested in your West Chester or Liberty Township home for sale.


Interested in learning about other ways to prepare your home for sale? Give us a call today! We’ve been working with dozens of eager buyers looking for homes for sale in West Chester and Liberty Township, OH. We’d be happy to share some advice as to what they’re looking for this season!

Posted in articles
March 28, 2018

Get The Return On Your Home Improvements

Property Improvements with the Highest ROI
Date: March 28, 2018

Determining when, where, and how much money to pump into property improvements is no easy task – particularly if you’re thinking of selling your home. Installing new windows, for instance, might seem like a worthy investment. But will people looking for West Chester or Liberty Township homes for sale be willing to pay enough of a premium to cover the costs?


Decisions about property improvements are a combination of art and science. Some property improvements generate significantly more ROI than others.


Here are some of the most cost-effective upgrades when trying to maximize rental values:


Replace old carpeting.


Over time, carpet really takes a beating. This is particularly true if you have pets or small children. At a minimum, carpets should be professionally cleaned or (depending on their condition) replaced when getting ready to list your West Chester or Liberty Township home for sale. You may also want to consider replacing carpets entirely with high-quality tile, vinyl or new hardwood floors.

Build out a separate laundry room.


People love the convenience of having a separate room to do laundry. Consider moving the laundry out of the kitchen, bathroom or closet and into its own space – like in a spare room or in the basement.

Keep in mind that new washers and dryers will carry a high up-front cost, and could lead to higher water bills. A middle-ground is to build out a new laundry room with the hookups. This allows the new homeowner to bring in the washer and dryer of their choice without you having to foot the bill.

Improve lighting.


Harsh fluorescent or aged incandescent lighting can make a home feel drab and dreary. Consider replacing lights with new energy efficient bulbs (which increasingly come in a variety of warm shades). Not only do CFL and LED bulbs last longer, but they use between 25% and 80% less energy than their traditional counterparts.

Related, consider replacing outdated lighting fixtures. Fluorescent kitchen light boxes, ugly “boob” lights, and Hollywood-style strip lighting above the bathroom vanity are easy enough to replace and will make a West Chester or Liberty Township home for sale feel more modern.

Regulate water usage.


Many cities have doubled, even tripled, water rates over the past twenty years in an effort to offset the costs of badly-needed water and sewer infrastructure upgrades. As a result, the water bill is often one of a homeowner’s largest recurring expenses.


A few low-cost improvements can make a big difference in terms of water usage. Install low-flow regulators on sinks and showerheads. If toilets haven’t been replaced since the early 1990s, consider replacing with new energy-efficient models which can save up to 5 to 10 gallons of water per day, per toilet. Otherwise, calibrate the toilet’s water flow. Be vigilant about leaks and remind tenants to call you if they suspect there’s a problem. And finally, consider re-landscaping with drought-tolerant plants if existing plants require frequent watering.


Add fiberglass insulation.


A recent analysis finds that fiberglass attic insulation provides a major return on investment. On average, fiberglass insulation costs just $1,438, while returning an estimated $3,911 in property value (272% ROI). Not only does this improve property values, but it also translates into energy savings—which is a great selling point when listing your West Chester or Liberty Township home for sale.

It’s also much more cost-effective than replacing windows. Research shows that replacement windows save about as much energy as adding insulation, but cost ten times as much. “In most cases, you can get the same energy savings by investing $1,000 or so in insulation, sealing air leaks and repairing your windows instead of replacing,” explains HouseLogic analyst Karin Beuerlein.



If you’re preparing your West Chester or Liberty Township home for sale this year, consider making smart property improvements. Invest in projects that will generate the most return on investment. These projects are a good place to get started.


Looking for other real estate advice? Give us a call today. Our team will be happy to provide you a no-cost assessment regarding which improvements will have the most impact when planning to sell.

Posted in articles
March 22, 2018

We've Got Your Spring Cleaning Tips

Spring Cleaning Tips for Homeowners Preparing to Sell

Date: March 21, 2018

Spring has officially sprung! And for West Chester and Liberty Township homeowners – that means it’s time to break out the cleaning supplies and get started with some good, ol’ fashioned spring cleaning.


Spring cleaning is always an important task, but it’s even more important for anyone planning to list their West Chester and Liberty Township homes for sale this year. You want your home to sparkle when people come to see it.


While you’re probably up to speed on spring cleaning basics, like washing windows, cleaning blinds and shampooing rungs, there are several areas that you may overlook. Here are five areas that deserve a little extra love and attention before listing your West Chester or Liberty Township home for sale.

  1. Smoke alarms.

    Rather than waiting for the telltale chirp signifying low power, use daylight saving time or a holiday like Memorial Day as a reminder to replace the batteries in all of your home’s smoke and carbon monoxide detectors. You should also wipe down each device to clear it from any dust or cobwebs that may have accumulated throughout the year.

  2. Medicine cabinets.

    When people come tour your West Chester or Liberty Township home for sale, they don’t want to open the medicine cabinet and have it overflowing with outdated prescriptions and gunked-up toothpaste. Take some time to purge

  3. your medicine cabinets and other storage areas in the bathroom, including cabinets next to or under the sink.

  4. Kitchen pantry.

    Stale spices and expired canned goods don’t reflect well when showing West Chester and Liberty Township, OH homes for sale. Take this opportunity to wipe down shelves, reorganize the contents of the cabinet, and toss out any staled or expired goods.

  5. Appliances.

    Have you thought about cleaning the machines that do the cleaning for you? This simple task can help your washing machine, dishwasher and other gadgets run more efficiently. Wipe down the doors of all appliances, including any rubber ga

  6. skets that help seal the doors tightly. Sanitize the inside of your dishwasher and washing machine, and run your oven on a high-heat clean cycle to loosen any caked-on foods.

  7. Ceiling fans.

When was the last time you removed the dust that’s accumulated on your ceiling fans? If it’s been a while, now is the time to tackle this spring cleaning chore. Ceiling fans can add value to West Chester and Liberty Township homes for sale, but you want to be sure these look great. You want them to be clean and in good working order when people come to touryour home. Simplify this process by slipping a damp pillowcase over each blade and slowly pulling it back.


There’s no point in spring cleaning if you’re using dirty tools for the job. Be sure you replace sponges regularly and run cleaning cloths through a hot-water cycle in the washing machine. And don’t forget the broom! The broom deserves a shake, vacuum and hose down to keep it clean and useful.


While spring cleaning isn’t our favorite part of spring, it’s absolutely necessary if you’re planning to list your West Chester or Liberty Township home for sale this season. So, grab a few friends, crank up the music and get going! You never know when someone will knock on your door looking to come inside for a peek.

Interested in more ways to prepare your West Chester or Liberty Township, OH home for sale? Give us a call today! Our team is among the leading real estate agencies in Butler County and we’d be happy to have a no-obligation chat about the strategies that will best position your home for a successful sale.

Posted in articles
March 15, 2018

7 Q's to Ask Before Making an Offer

7 Questions to Ask Before Making an Offer on a West Chester or Liberty Township Home

Date: March 13, 2018


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It might not seem like it just yet, but spring is right around the corner. That can only mean one thing: West Chester and Liberty Township, OH real estate activity is about to pick up again!


We expect this year’s market to be just as strong as it was this time last year. Inventory is still incredible low, and buyers are begging to get into the West Chester or Liberty Township home of their dreams. Sound familiar?


But, take our advice… Once you find a West Chester or Liberty Township home that you love, don’t rush into making an offer. Over-eager buyers often overlook important details. They’re ready to pack their things and make the home their own. It’s natural to be excited about finding a great property, but don’t submit that bid just yet.


Even if your initial home tour went swimmingly, things aren’t always what they seem. Before putting in an offer (which is a legally binding contract!), be sure you ask the following questions:


  1. What are the property taxes? The price of the home doesn’t necessarily tell you much about local property taxes. Your mortgage will be your largest monthly expense, but local taxes can add up quickly too. Get a handle on how much you’ll be expected to pay in taxes each year. Ask your West Chester or Liberty Township real estate agent if you might be eligible for any exemptions.

  2. Is there a homeowners’ association? Many West Chester and Liberty Township homes are part of a homeowners’ association. There’s a fee associated with being part of an HOA, and sometimes this fee is hundreds of dollars each month. Be sure you understand the benefits provided by the HOA as well as any HOA rules and regulations.

  3. How’s the neighborhood? Real estate agents are limited in what they can say about a neighborhood. The Federal Fair Housing Act of 1968 prohibits real estate agents from steering prospective homebuyers or renters toward or away from a community based on race, color, national origin, religion, sex, disability or family status. Voicing an opinion about a neighborhood, even unconsciously, such as “this is a great neighborhood for young families” might be considered a violation of the federal law.

    But that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t do your own homework. There’s plenty of information online. A quick Google search will tell you about local crime rates, the quality of schools, and the general demographic profile of the area. Your West Chester or Liberty Township realtor can fill in the blanks by offering information about nearby amenities such as grocery stores, restaurants and parks.

  4. What’s coming down the pipeline? Up-and-coming areas can be a great place to buy, as home values are likely to rise. Ask your West Chester or Liberty Township real estate agent about any planned improvements in the area (such as a new business park, shopping center, or major infrastructure upgrades).

    You should also gauge whether there’s any new housing development in the pipeline. Is the area growing or contracting? Are new homes being built? What are the characteristics of those homes? An influx of new development can impact local property values.

  5. How much do utilities cost, on average? Ask your West Chester or Liberty Township real estate agent to request information from the seller or the seller’s agent about the average cost of water, gas and trash bills. Figure out what options you’ll have for cable, internet and other services if you were to buy this West Chester or Liberty Township home for sale. These costs should be factored into what you can afford to buy. The last thing you want is to feel “house rich” and “cash poor” after buying your new home!

  6. How long has this West Chester or Liberty Township home been on the market? If the home has been sitting on the market for some time, you’ll want to know why. Maybe the seller is difficult. Maybe the home is overpriced. Whatever the case may be, you want to be sure there’s not some major defect that you’re unintentionally overlooking.

  7. What’s motivating the owners to sell? People sell their home for all sorts of reasons. Maybe they took a job elsewhere and need to relocate. Maybe they’re getting divorced. Maybe they’re looking to cash out and downsize. Knowing the sellers’ motivation can give you incredible leverage when putting in an offer on the West Chester or Liberty Township home of your dreams.


Searching for West Chester and Liberty Township homes for sale is both exciting and daunting! Given the limited inventory, we totally understand why people are eager to jump when they find a home that seems like it meets their needs. But it’s important to do your due diligence beforehand. These questions will help you make the best decision for your household and budget.


If you’re just getting started with your home search, give us a call! Our agents have a strong understanding of the West Chester and Liberty Township real estate market and will be able to answer all of your questions with ease. Contact us for a no-obligation consultation today!

Posted in articles
March 7, 2018

Put Your Tax Refund to Good Use!

Put that Tax Refund to Good Use!
7 Ways to Add Value to Your West Chester or Liberty Township Home

Date: March 7, 2018


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Tax season isn’t exactly fun. Dredging through piles of paperwork and accounting for expenses we may have forgotten to document throughout the year can certainly be a headache. But after taking a litany of deductions, West Chester and Liberty Township homeowners often find Uncle Sam sending a big check back their way.

Have you thought about how you’ll be spending your tax refund this year? Maybe you’ll go on a long-overdue vacation. Maybe you’ll pay down your student loans. Another option—reinvest those dollars into your West Chester or Liberty Township home for sale.


According to a recent study by Fidelity Investments, the average American gets a tax refund of about $2,953. It may seem like short money, but there are a number of ways to put this money towards projects that add value to your West Chester or Liberty Township property.


Here are a few of our favorite ideas, with the most budget-friendly options listed first:


  • Patch air leaks. Normally this is something we’d recommend West Chester and Liberty Township homeowners do in the fall in order to save on heating costs, but the same logic applies to save on cooling costs. Go around your home with a small flame and see if there are any small cracks or holes in walls or around windows and doors. If the flame flickers it means there’s a draft. A little caulk can usually patch things up in no time. One tube of caulk costs less than $20 and will save you much more on heating and cooling down the line.

  • Add a fresh coat of paint. Personally, I hate painting. That said, it’s amazing how far a fresh coat of paint goes in covering dings and scratches, and making a room feel instantly cleaner. Consider using a portion of your tax return to hire a professional. Remember to keep colors neutral if you plan on listing your West Chester or Liberty Township home for sale in the near future.

  • Do a deep clean. There’s a reason they call it “Spring Cleaning!” – This is a great time to hire a professional cleaning crew to scrub your West Chester or Liberty Township house top to bottom. It is relatively inexpensive to have someone come in and steam-clean all of your carpets, battle hard-to-reach cob webs and polish your baseboards. Your home will feel lighter, fresher and more attractive as a result.

  • Give kitchen cabinets a facelift. Depending on the size of your kitchen (and the size of your tax return) you might be able to install a brand new set of kitchen cabinets. If that’s out of your budget, you can still reface or repaint your existing cabinets. There are plenty of tutorials online that will give you ideas for doing so, and foolproof tips to make the project easier. Replacing handles is another easy way to upgrade cabinets. Say bye-bye to the flowered porcelain knobs. Sleek, stainless steel handle bars are a great way to attract those in search of West Chester and Liberty Township houses for sale.   

  • Remodel a bathroom. Obviously, the smaller the bathroom the less expensive this will be. But on the less expensive end, consider adding a new vanity and mirror. You can also swap out old lighting fixtures with more modern fixtures to give the space a new feel. On the more expensive end, you might do a full bathroom makeover that includes installing a double vanity, adding a Jacuzzi tub and/or retiling the floors or walls around the shower.

  • Replace old appliances. If your current appliances are old and outdated, it may be a perfect time to invest in new ones. People looking for West Chester and Liberty Township houses for sale are typically looking for sleek, stainless steel models that add a modern feel. Even if you aren’t looking to sell any time soon, replacing your older appliances with energy efficient appliances will lower your utility bills. Donate your old appliances and you’ll be able to write them off as a charitable donation this time next year!

  • Tackle ordinary home maintenance. Let’s face it – we’re all guilty of kicking small projects down the road. Whether it’s patching a corner of the roof or replacing a rickety hand rail, there are usually a handful of projects for any Butler County, OH homeowner to tackle at any given time. When you get your tax return, consider hiring a handy man to start checking some those projects off your list. You’ll feel so much better without them hanging over your head!


While it would be so much more fun to take our tax returns and jet set to a tropic location, the responsibilities of homeownership shouldn’t be overlooked. Investing in small home improvement projects now can add tremendous value over time. Chip away at projects every year and when you’re eventually ready to list your West Chester or Liberty Township home for sale, the process will feel so much less daunting. And higher appraised value might just enable you to take that vacation, after all!


Interested in learning other ways to add value to your West Chester or Liberty Township home for sale? Give us a call today! We’d be happy to discuss in greater detail.


Posted in articles
Feb. 28, 2018

Downsizing Doesn't Have to be Hard!

The Right Way to Downsize Your West Chester or Liberty Township Home

Date: February 28, 2018


Downsizing Your Home: Ten Tips


Whether you’re motivated by financial benefits or lifestyle perks, moving to a smaller space can be a smart idea with lasting benefits. Ready to start this daunting but exciting task? Here are 5 tips to help you seamlessly and successfully downsize your West Chester or Liberty Township home.


5 Tips for Successfully Downsizing Your West Chester or Liberty Township Home

1. Start Early


While it’s not always possible, you’ll fare much better if you give yourself ample time to make the transition. Give yourself at least three months to downsize, if possible. That should be long enough to sort through your possessions and manage the details of a move from your West Chester or Liberty Township home.


2. Take Inventory

It’s not easy, but giving all of your belongings an honest assessment will ensure that you only keep things that really matter to you. Ask yourself: If this possession was lost in a fire, would I be upset? And if something was lost in a fire, would you actually replace it? If not, time to chuck it.

3. Focus on the Basement, Attic and Garage First

Easier said than done, right? We know that outlived items tend to get stored in the basements, attics, and garages of West Chester and Liberty Township homes for sale. Start decluttering these areas first, one by one. If you can get through these areas, the rest of your home should be a breeze.  


4. Make a Plan


As you sort, begin grouping items that don’t make the cut: will they go to family, friends or charities? Another option is to sell your goods online or at a consignment shop. Before you bring the “keepers” to your new space, make a simple floor plan with measurements of your new West Chester or Liberty Township home and assign each item a spot to be sure everything fits.


5. Live Creatively


You’ll live large in your new, smaller West Chester or Liberty Township home if you follow some basic decorating and storage tips.


  • Hang mirrors

  • Use double-duty furniture (like a storage ottoman or bed frame with drawers)

  • Consider tall bookcases

  • Utilize hooks and shelves to maximize your vertical spaces.


Downsizing out of your current West Chester or Liberty Township home for sale can be a big change. But a good attitude and some careful planning will help make sure your new home is just as comfortable as your last.


Thinking of selling your West Chester or Liberty Township home? We’d be happy to have a no-obligation chat about your options – whether downsizing is on your radar now or farther down the horizon. It’s never too early to start planning your move. Give us a call today!

Posted in articles
Feb. 21, 2018

Is a Second Mortgage Necessary? Maybe...

What to Know about Second Mortgages on Your West Chester or Liberty Township Home

Date: February 21, 2018


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Congrats! You’re the proud owner of a West Chester or Liberty Township home. You’ve made it through a long, arduous process that included shopping around for mortgages. Now, you’re finally settled in. Feels great, doesn’t it?


Whether you’ve been in your West Chester or Liberty Township home for a year or for decades, there might be reasons for you to consider taking out a second mortgage against the property.


Here’s what you need to know about second mortgages:


There are several reasons to get a second mortgage.


Although this is not a complete list of reasons to take out a second mortgage, here are some of the more common scenarios:


  • Eliminating PMI.

    If you purchased your West Chester or Liberty Township home for sale with less than 20% down, there’s a good chance you’re paying PMI (private mortgage insurance) each month. A second mortgage can eliminate PMI by covering the rest of the 20% down. This can save you hundreds of dollars each month.

    Yes, you’ll have another loan to pay, but there are some second loan programs that allow you to pay interest only for a certain period of time (e.g. 10 years). Better yet, you can turn around and write off that interest on your taxes each year!


  • Covering big expenses.

Second mortgages are often used to cover big expenses like home improvements, college tuition, or a new boat or car. Some people even leverage the equity in their West Chester and Liberty Township homes to purchase another piece of property!

  • Paying down debt.


Buying a West Chester or Liberty Township home for sale usually requires a large upfront investment. In addition to your down payment, you probably had to put up a good chunk of change for the closing costs. Buying a home sometimes straps people financially, at least at first. You may have turned to credit cards to cover monthly expenses that you’d normally have paid off in full. Or maybe buying a home meant that you couldn’t put as much money toward your student loans each month. Second mortgages are often used to help pay down other loans or debt, particularly those with high interest rates.


There are generally two types of second mortgages.


Once you start looking into second mortgages, you’ll find that they all generally fall into one of two categories.


  1. Home equity loans.

    With a home equity loan, you’re borrowing a lump sump and will pay it off monthly over a set period of time. The interest rate on home equity loans is typically fixed.

  2. Home equity lines of credit (HELOC).

A HELOC is different in that it grants you access to a set amount of money over a certain period of time. You can tap into that money whenever you need to, but aren’t obligated to do so at all.

For instance, if you’re thinking about taking a new job, you might decide to take out a HELOC first. (It’s usually much harder to obtain a second mortgage after you’ve switched jobs.) You’ll have that HELOC handy in case you need it down the road, for home improvements or otherwise.

The benefit of a HELOC is that you only need to pay back what you borrow. The downside, though, is that interest rates are typically adjustable and can go up over time.


A second mortgage isn’t for everyone. Instead, you might consider refinancing your home and taking out a chunk of equity in the process. You may have heard that interest rates are rising, and yes, that’s true – but interest rates are still hovering around record lows.


Interested in learning more about how you can leverage the equity in your West Chester or Liberty Township home? Give us a call! We have great relationships with several local lenders. We’d be happy to put you in touch with one of them to discuss your options.

Posted in articles
Feb. 14, 2018

What Your Realtor Won't Tell You Part Two!

10 Things Your Realtor Won’t Tell You – but Should! [PART II]

Date: February 14, 2018

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Last week, we gave you a run-down of five things that a realtor isn’t likely to tell someone searching for West Chester or Liberty Township homes for sale. Today, in Part II of this series, we’re covering the topic from the opposite angle – 5 things a realtor won’t tell their sellers.



Five Things a Realtor Won’t Tell Their Sellers


  1. “This home isn’t worth what you think.”


I know. Your “Zestimate” says your West Chester or Liberty Township home for sale is worth a half million dollars. But it’s not.


While we always, ALWAYS encourage homeowners to do their own due diligence before listing their West Chester or Liberty Township home for sale, one of the biggest traps they fall into is putting too much faith in the estimates provided by online real estate databases like Zillow, Trulia and Redfin. It’s important to remember that these are intended to be a guide. A West Chester or Liberty Township realtor will be able to give you a more accurate idea of what your home is worth after touring your property and sizing up local competition. If you’re planning to sell your home, it’s important to go into the process with a realistic expectation of what your home is worth.

  1. “Your kitchen renovation wasn’t worth it.”


This is one of those topics that pains us every time. Many West Chester and Liberty Township, OH homeowners falsely assume that pumping big bucks into a home renovation will help their home sell for at least that much more. Unfortunately, it doesn’t always work that way. You’ve got to hope that the buyers will have your same sense of style and design, otherwise, they may not be willing to pay a premium for your upgraded kitchen.


One of the things that influences kitchen renovations is the location of your property and the most likely demographic of homebuyers. For instance, young buyers are more likely to eat out, and therefore, place less of an emphasis on the kitchen than middle-aged and older buyers. The same is true in urban areas, where people (regardless of age) tend to eat out more than they cook. Renovations, in our experience, tend to be more valuable in suburban areas (which is great news for people looking to sell their West Chester or Liberty Township property!).


We always encourage homeowners to consult with a local real estate agent before making a significant upgrade to your property, particularly if your intention is to make the renovations in preparation of listing your West Chester or Liberty Township home for sale.


  1. “If your home is vacant it will probably sell for less.”


Many people wrongly assume that emptying their West Chester or Liberty Township house for sale will make the rooms look larger. Sometimes that works (particularly if you have oversized furniture). But sometimes, it doesn’t.


See, the truth is most homebuyers have a hard time envisioning themselves in a space when there’s nothing there to “set the stage.” When there’s no furniture, it’s hard for them to figure out how they might configure their own belongings. Your West Chester or Liberty Township home for sale might, in fact, have plenty of room for their stuff – but an empty home lacks the context to convince buyers otherwise.


Also, an empty home signals that a homeowner has already moved out. The buyer gains an advantage when they realize that the seller might need to move quickly to avoid paying both the carrying costs on this property as well as their new mortgage. As a result, we find that vacant West Chester or Liberty Township homes for sale tend to draw lowball offers.


  1. “Staging your home will help it sell, but we don’t want to use YOUR stuff.”


OK. So, let’s clarify. We don’t want to show a VACANT home, but we don’t want to show a home chock full of your belongings either. No offense.

Homebuyers love properties that have been expertly staged. It makes the home feel cleaner and more polished. At a minimum, you should always remove any personal belongings (family photos, the kids’ artwork hanging on the fridge, etc.) before listing your West Chester or Liberty Township home for sale. But really, we’d prefer you to just rent a storage unit for a month or two while the house is on the market. Leave the staging to us. You’ll be glad you did.


  1. “FSBO won’t save you money.”


Some homeowners believe that listing their home as “For Sale by Owner” (FSBO) will save them money, but this is a HUGE misconception!


You might be thinking… “Of course you’re saying that, you want our business!” (True). However, don’t just take our word for it. There are plenty of stats out there that show how listing your home with a West Chester or Liberty Township real estate agent can actually save you money, even though you’re paying up to 5-6% towards the realtors’ commissions.

The cost savings come from working with a real estate agent who knows the local market. They can list your West Chester or Liberty Township home for sale properly, reducing the time it sits on the market. They have access to MLS, which is the national database for real estate listings – and listing your home on MLS gives you the greatest exposure to people looking for West Chester or Liberty Township homes for sale. Real estate agents also know how to negotiate to get you the best deal – most have been in the real estate industry for years. A realtor knows how to protect you, your best interests, and lock in the best deal possible.

While it’s tempting to save on the commission, trust us – FSBO won’t save you money.

Finding a Great Real Estate Agent


There are lots of great real estate agents out there. Before listing your property, we recommend interviewing a handful of West Chester and Liberty Township realtors. Sit down in person and have an honest conversation. Learn how they’ll evaluate what your home is worth, how many homes they’ve sold in your area. Gauge how well they know the local market, and above all else, get a sense for whether they’re going to be straight-forward and transparent with you.


Not sure where to get started? Give us a shout. As one of the leading real estate agencies serving West Chester and Liberty Township, we’ve worked with countless sellers who are in your shoes. We’d be happy to have a no-obligation chat to discuss all of your real estate needs.

Posted in articles
Feb. 8, 2018

10 Things Most Realtors Won't Tell You... But Should!

10 Things Your Realtor Won’t Tell You – but Should! [PART I]

Date: February 6, 2018

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As long-time industry pros, we know that West Chester and Liberty Township real estate agents need to strike a delicate balance. On one hand, they need to be truthful and straightforward. On the other hand, there are some subjects they don’t want to broach – especially if it might offend a client.


Makes sense, right?


So if you’re wondering what your real estate agent isn’t telling you, wonder no longer!  We’ve put together a two-part series that looks at the most common things your West Chester or Liberty Township Realtor won’t tell you. We’re going to start with five things targeted towards buyers, followed by an article next week on five things realtors don’t typically tell their sellers.



Five Things a Realtor Won’t Tell Their Buyers


  1. “I don’t actually know this market!”


When you’re shopping for West Chester and Liberty Township homes for sale, it’s important to work with a real estate agent who knows the local market. They should know the ins- and outs of the neighborhood, from comps to list and sales prices. They should also be familiar with the school district, local businesses, and events or other activities that make the neighborhood a great place to live.


No real estate agent will brag about their lack of local knowledge, so it’s up to you to dig a little deeper. Always interview agents and ask probing questions, such as: How did you become familiar with this neighborhood? How many homes have you sold in this neighborhood? What’s the most expensive home that’s sold in this neighborhood over the past year? This is a great way to gauge the agent’s familiarity with the West Chester or Liberty Township submarkets.


  1. “I probably can’t get you your dream home.”


Many Realtors will beat around the bush, telling you that they can find you the “perfect” property – your dream home. Yet in our experience, most people have a wish list longer than their budget can accommodate so unfortunately, even the most-qualified agent won’t be able to find you your dream home. That’s why it’s important to prioritize your “must haves” when shopping around for West Chester and Liberty Township houses for sale.


  1. “Be prepared to spend more than you think.”


The West Chester and Liberty Township real estate market is as hot as ever. There’s limited supply and an abundance of buyers. This means bidding wars have become all the more common. We often see homes trading for 10-15% over the asking price. This is a hard pill for buyers to swallow. In our opinion, it’s best to be upfront about the issue and bake in that additional 10-15% into your budget so you can plan accordingly.  


  1. “Cash is king.”


One thing most buyers don’t understand (and most Realtors don’t take the time to explain) is that your mortgage is usually contingent upon the bank’s appraisal. For instance: say you qualify for a $300k mortgage and decide to buy a property worth $250k. The bank won’t necessarily extend a loan to you just because you can afford it. Instead, the loan is based on the value of the property. (This is because if the bank ever needs to foreclose on the property, they don’t want to own a property worth less than the value of the home.)

So that means… cash is king. This is true for a few reasons. First, using the example above, buyers with cash can usually pay the difference between the maximum loan amount and their planned purchase price. So, if the bank is only willing to lend $220k based on the value of the home, someone can still buy a $300k home – they just pay the difference in cash.


Second, cash is king because it eliminates the uncertainty around getting a loan to begin with at all. The loan process can take time, and some sellers don’t have time to kill. It’s a cleaner process to sell West Chester or Liberty Township real estate for cash, which makes cash offers more compelling to sellers.


  1. “Your attorney is your best line of defense.”


Sure, your West Chester or Liberty Township real estate agent will take you from property to property. They’ll help advise you on the local market, and will help you negotiate your offer. But from there, once your offer is accepted, it’s really your real estate attorney that does most of the heavy lifting.

Finding a good real estate attorney should be at the top of the list for anyone in search of West Chester or Liberty Township homes for sale. Your real estate attorney will review all documents with a fine-toothed comb to protect you. They’ll discuss your legal options with you, modify transaction documents, and in some cases, facilitate the closing process for you. Your real estate attorney actually wields far more power than your Realtor – even if your Realtor will never admit it!

Finding a Great Real Estate Agent


Finding a great real estate agent can feel daunting. There’s so many to choose from – how are you supposed to decipher the “good” from the “okay” from the “stay away!...”?


It’s no easy task. But as a team with years’ of experience in the West Chester and Liberty Township real estate market, we’re here to help. We believe in being straight-forward and honest with our clients. If you’re looking to get started with a straight-shooting real estate agent, give us a call today!

…And stay tuned for next week’s article: [Part II] - Five Things Realtors Won’t Tell Their Buyers!

Posted in articles