The West Chester Liberty Scoop!

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
Jan. 31, 2018

Always Take Advantage of Doing a Final Walkthrough

Closing on a West Chester or Liberty Township Home for Sale?

You’ll Want to do a Final “Walk-Through” First

Date: January 31, 2018


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You’ve spent months scouring West Chester or Liberty Township homes for sale and now the time has come – you’re just days away from closing, days away from calling your new place home. Before this can happen, though, you’ll need to do a final walk-through of the property.


What is a final walk-through?

A final walk-through isn’t a home inspection (that should have already happened by now). It’s not the time to request new repairs, either. Instead, this is an opportunity to make sure the condition of the home is as expected. Specifically, you’ll want to confirm that there haven’t been any unexpected or unwanted changes made to the West Chester or Liberty Township home for sale.


What should you bring with you to the walk-through?


Definitely bring a copy of your purchase and sales agreement with you to the final walk-through. You’ll want to have the contract handy as reference regarding what was promised as a condition of sale.


You should also bring your West Chester or Liberty Township, OH real estate agent with you. Any experienced Realtor will have been through this process a million times over and can guide you through the process. Although it’s usually not necessary, if you have requested substantial repairs prior to closing, you might ask your home inspector to tag along. Your home inspector will be able to gauge whether the repairs were done properly.


What should you look for during the walk-through?


You’ll want to make sure that there isn’t any move-out damage and that all of your requested repairs have been made. For instance, if you asked that the back deck is repaired as a condition of closing, be sure that it’s been repaired.


At the same time, you’ll want to check that no extra furnishings have been left behind and that everything included in the home price – items like appliances, light fixtures or window blinds – are in place and in good condition.


We just recently worked with a client who expected the basement to be cleaned out before moving in. On the day of the closing, we toured the West Chester home for sale and during the final walk-through, realized that all sorts of the sellers’ personal belongings were still in the basement. We actually had to delay the closing by two days in order for the seller to clear the basement accordingly!


If this feels daunting, don’t stress out. Remember, your West Chester or Liberty Township real estate agent will be by your side. Just for good measure, you might want to print off a checklist to be sure you don’t forget anything along the way.


When does the final walk-through take place?


The final walk-through can happen anytime from a few days prior to your closing to just a few hours before. In the instance I mentioned above, the walk-through was scheduled just a few hours prior to closing – but wound up being a few days before closing because (as a result of the walk-through) we had to delay the closing to give the sellers more time to clear out the basement of their West Chester home for sale.


Remember, this is your last chance to give the West Chester or Liberty Township home for sale a good once-over before you legally claim it as your own. Don’t blow off the final walk-through. After you sign the closing docs and have keys in hand, there’s no going back. The home, regardless of the condition it’s in, is now yours (YAAAAY!!!!).


Want to learn more about West Chester or Liberty Township real estate for sale? Give us a shout. One of our agents would be happy to have a no-obligation conversation with you about all of your real estate needs.

Posted in articles
Jan. 29, 2018

Liberty is Only Going to Get Better

Public Officials Set to Make Liberty Township an Even Greater Place to Live in 2018

Date: January 3, 2018

Above: iFly Indoor Skydiving, one of the many businesses set to open in Liberty Township this year

There are already so many reasons to love Liberty Township, from its great retail and restaurants to its best-in-class school district. But Liberty Township officials want to make it an even great place to live in the years to come.


Last month, trustees announced their plans for 2018 – with economic development coming in at the top of their list.


According to, Liberty Township officials have prioritized to sets of activities: The first is improving infrastructure. This could include adding an interchange at the intersection of Interstate 75 and Milliken Road or widening Ohio 747. Improvements to Princeton Road are already in the works.


The second set of activities is geared towards attracting and retaining businesses.


An estimated 26 new businesses opened in Liberty Township last year. Another 13 have indicated they’ll be opening their doors in 2018. We’re particularly excited for iFly Indoor Skydiving to open. The location at Liberty Center will be the company’s first in Ohio. Businesses like these attract people from all over the region, and with it, people in search of Liberty Township homes for sale.


While some consider our chances a long shot, the trustees have also put our best foot forward with submitting a bid to Amazon. You may or may not have heard – Amazon is looking to build a massive new headquarters, dubbed “HQ2,” and has asked municipalities to apply for the company’s consideration. Amazon had a long list of criteria it was seeking for its new mega-complex, and Liberty Township checks many of the boxes.


“When Amazon went out for bids, they had a checklist of things they had to have. They weren’t negotiable,” says Trustee Tom Farrell. “As we went over that list, Liberty Township checked the box for every single item – multiple airports, parks, walkability, quality workforce. Regardless of what Amazon does, it validates our vision.”


Amazon will announce its short list of contenders in the coming months. If Liberty Township makes the cut, it will be a boon for the local real estate market. Just look what’s happened in Seattle. Home prices have skyrocketed thanks to the growth of Amazon’s local workforce. The company plans to host 50,000 people at HQ2. All of those people would need a place to live. If they chose Liberty Township, we suspect home prices would go through the roof.


We’re lucky to have such engaged public officials. The trustees’ forward-thinking approach to economic development will make Liberty Township an even greater place to live, work, play and raise a family.


If you’re in the market for West Chester or Liberty Township homes for sale, give us a call. We suspect this flurry of economic activity will drive prices even higher over time, making now a great time to buy! Contact us to learn more.

Posted in articles
Jan. 29, 2018

Buy or Rent?

New Data Confirms: It’s More Affordable to Buy than Rent in Butler County, OH in 2018

Date: January 23, 2018


buy or rent map


When it comes to buying a West Chester or Liberty Township home for sale, people usually have a lot of opinions. “Now is a great time to buy!,” some will say. “Hold off – the market is overheated,” others might caution. So, which is it?

Well, we finally have new data to confirm: it’s more affordable to buy than rent in Butler County, OH in 2018.


According to a new report from ATTOM Data Solutions, curator of one of the largest property databases in the nation, it is more affordable to buy than rent in 54 percent of U.S. counties. As shown in the map above, areas highlighted in green bubbles are places where it’s more affordable to buy than rent. Butler County, OH is one of those.


Here’s ATTOM’s snapshot of Butler County, OH:


Average weekly wage: $901 per week

Rent for a 3-bedroom apartment: $1,265 per month

Rental affordability: 32.4% (percent of average wages to rent)

Median home price Q4 2017: $149,000

Home affordability: 27.2% (percent of average wages to buy a home)


So there you have it, folks: it’s actually more affordable to buy a West Chester or Liberty Township home for sale than to rent one. You’ll spend about 5% more of your income on renting than buying if you were to buy this year.


Now, we understand it’s not as simple as looking at the raw data. There are other costs that come with homeownership. For instance, you’ll need to save for a down payment (we recommend putting down 20% if possible), closing costs (which can run anywhere between $5,000 and $10,000) and you’ll want to budget for unexpected home repairs. BUT, if you’re able to do that, your average monthly expenses will actually go down if you buy a West Chester or Liberty Township home as opposed to rent one.


Don’t wait to buy a West Chester or Liberty Township home for sale.


If you’re in the market for a new home, we suggest buying sooner rather than later. ATTOM’s latest report indicates that median home prices are rising faster than average fair market rents in 59% of the markets it analyzed.


“Although buying is still more affordable than renting in the majority of U.S. housing markets, that majority is shrinking as home price appreciation continues to outpace rental growth in most areas,” says Daren Blomquist, vice president at ATTOM Data Solutions.


We already see this happening in other parts of southwest Ohio. In Warren County, for instance, it’s now more affordable to rent than buy. The gap is also narrowing in Greene and Clermont Counties, where it’s almost equally as expensive to rent as buy.


Ready to start looking? Contact us today. As one of the top real estate agencies serving the West Chester and Liberty Township area, we’d be happy to take you on a no-obligation tour of properties that meet your needs. After all, there’s no better time to buy – don’t just take our word for it. The data doesn’t lie!

Posted in articles
Jan. 17, 2018

Don't Make These Mistakes When It Comes to New Construction

The Most Common Mistake Buyers Make when Buying New Construction  

Date: January 17, 2018

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Buying a brand new West Chester or Liberty Township home can be an exhilarating experience. Sometimes builders will let you be involved in the construction process, making tweaks to the design or layout that meet your family’s needs. Almost always, you’ll be able to have a say in the finishes—like the cabinetry, lighting and paint schemes. New construction gives West Chester and Liberty Township homebuyers the opportunity to add their personal touches before they even move in!


But some homebuyers get so caught up in the excitement of buying a brand new West Chester or Liberty Township home for sale that they make a major mistake: not hiring their own real estate agent.


Most buyers assume that the builder’s rep will help them purchase their new home. They might also (falsely) assume that working with the builder’s sales office will save money. This is because builders’ agents frequently promise customers a number of “discounts” if they buy directly through the sales office. The sales rep might also offer to connect you with the builder’s lender, who – if you use them – might be able to get you a mortgage at a lower rate with fewer fees.


Lower costs and a streamlined closing process – seems like a no brainer, right? Wrong! The biggest mistake buyers of new construction make is not using their own real estate agent. Here’s why:


  • The builder’s rep has the builder’s best interests in mind. When you work directly with the builder’s rep, you are foregoing the undivided loyalty and guidance you’d get from having your own West Chester or Liberty Township real estate agent.


Let’s use a simple basketball analogy to drive this point home: a buyer’s agent is like a coach; the builder’s sales rep is like a referee. With the clock ticking down during a championship game, your coach can call a time out to advise the team on how to run its final play. The referee cannot call a time out for you because they are managing the game for both sides. Buying a West Chester or Liberty Township home is a huge financial commitment—you’re going to want to have a coach on your side.


  • Using a West Chester or Liberty Township buyer’s agent ensures you have someone with knowledge and expertise by your side through the entire home buying process. They’ll help you with a range of activities, including (but not limited to!): touring multiple properties, submitting an offer, negotiating a sales price and other concessions, arranging a home inspection, and setting up the closing. The home buying process can be daunting, especially if you’re buying a new build where last minute changes and surprises are common. An experienced agent will know how to navigate any unexpected complications.

  • Builders’ contracts can be long and complicated. A buyer’s agent, particularly one experienced with new construction, will know what questions to ask and what clauses to look for before you submit an offer, and will likely include language in the offer that states the offer is contingent upon your attorney’s satisfactory review of the builder’s contract and related documents.

  • Your West Chester or Liberty Township real estate agent can help you sort through options and upgrade alternatives. Sure, you have your own style and preferences. But someone who is inexperienced with home building may not fully understand what upgrades are worth it. For example, you may not need a 3-car garage but if 80% of West Chester and Liberty Township homes have this feature, you’ll probably want to spring for the upgrade to protect resale value.

  • What about all of those “discounts” the builder’s sales rep offered you? Well, it turns out that many of those “discounts” aren’t really discounts after, all. The “cost savings” are typically baked into the price elsewhere, through things like higher sales prices and marked up fees on the front end disguised so the sales rep can offer you “discounts” on the back end. Using a West Chester or Liberty Township realtor can save you even more money when all is said and done.

There are so many benefits to using your own agent when purchasing a new build. If somehow you aren’t convinced just yet, here’s the icing on the cake:


  • Hiring your own West Chester or Liberty Township real estate agent doesn’t cost a thing! Most buyers don’t realize that it is standard practice for both the buyer’s agent, seller’s agents and/or any transaction agent to be paid their commission by the seller. In the unlikely event that the builder is unwilling to pay a commission to buyers’ agents (typically, equivalent to 2-3% of the property’s sale price), you can negotiate that fee be deducted from the sales price so you can pay your agent directly.


Of course, always be sure to spend some time interviewing West Chester and Liberty Township real estate agents. Look for someone that has experience with new construction. Ask them specific questions, like how many new construction homes they’ve sold in the past, and whether they have relationships with lenders who specialize in new construction loans.


And why is new construction experience so important? Well, an agent who has sold new builds will be able to give you advice on the contractor’s workmanship, and will be able to point out whether any corners have been cut. They’ll be able identify any “builder fallacies” about pricing and area information, taxes, etc. And they’ll know how to negotiate warranties and other buyer protections that are common when purchasing newly built homes.


Want to learn more? Give us a call today!

Posted in articles
Jan. 10, 2018

Planning on Buying Your First Home This Year? This Will Help...

7 New Year’s Resolutions for First Time Homebuyers

By: Amanda Maher

Date: January 9, 2018

A new year, a new set of resolutions. According to a Nielsen survey, the most common New Year’s resolutions have to do with getting in shape. Go to the gym more. Eat healthier. Lose 15lbs.


This year, go against the grain.


Here are 7 homebuyer resolutions for those planning to buy West Chester or Liberty Township homes for sale in 2018.


Pay down as much debt as you can.

Lenders are required to follow strict rules around debt-to-income ratios. The less debt you have, the better terms a bank will be able to give you on your mortgage. If you want to buy a West Chester or Liberty Township home this year, start aggressively paying down your debt. Pay off your car loan. Pay off credit card debt. Refinance student loans into lower rates. Doing so will put you in a better position when it comes time to qualify for a mortgage.


Pad your savings.

Related to the point above, banks will want to see that you have at least 3 to 6 months’ worth of living expenses in your bank account. That provides the bank with confidence that, should you lose your job or encounter another large financial burden, you’ll still be able to pay your mortgage. It’s also good to save up for closing costs, home renovations and/or any unexpected repairs you encounter after buying a West Chester or Liberty Township home for sale.


Monitor your credit score.

Do you know what your credit score is? If not, get a copy of your credit score today! It’s free and will provide you with great insight as to how you’re positioned when going to apply for a home loan. You’ve probably heard that interest rates are near record lows – and while that’s true, only those with good to excellent credit scores can qualify for those rates. Sing up to get auto-alerts from your credit card company so you can monitor your credit score between now and when you plan to buy a house.


Start compiling relevant paperwork.

We see it happen all the time. People find a house that they love, put in an offer, and then scramble to pull together their paperwork for the bank. It’s often a mad-dash and creates unnecessary stress for people looking at West Chester or Liberty Township homes for sale. Avoid that by getting your financial house in order now. Get copies of at least the last 3 years of tax returns, recent bank statements, divorce decrees and other items. This way, when you’re ready to get pre-qualified for a mortgage you’re in good shape and ready to go.


Determine how much “home” you can reasonably afford.

Before you start looking for West Chester or Liberty Township homes for sale, put together a realistic budget. As a general rule of thumb, we suggest spending no more than 30% of your total income on living expenses. This includes your mortgage payment, taxes, insurance, HOA fees and utilities. Bidding wars are common in today’s red-hot real estate market, and the last thing you want to have happen is becoming saddled with more debt than you can reasonably afford. Plan in advance before you start looking at homes with your West Chester or Liberty Township real estate agent.


Explore mortgage options.

We’ve said it before but it’s worth saying again – the average person typically spends more time on social media each day than they do shopping for a home loan. In our opinion, that’s insane! The terms of your mortgage can add to or save you hundreds of dollars each month. Start talking to mortgage brokers now to explore your options. You may find, for instance, that you qualify for a larger mortgage if you pay off your car loan now (that happened to one of us, true story!). This will also help you understand how much of a down payment you’ll need so you can start to plan accordingly.

Begin a dialogue with a local real estate agent.

As a homebuyer, it generally costs you nothing to work with a real estate agent. Start chatting with West Chester and Liberty Township real estate agents today. Let them know what you’re looking for in a home, what neighborhoods you have in mind, and how much you’re looking to spend. Even if your timeline to buy a West Chester or Liberty Township home isn’t until later in 2018, this at least puts things on your Realtor’s radar. He or she can keep an eye out for West Chester and Liberty Township homes for sale that meet your criteria. If a great deal comes along, maybe you’ll be able to buy sooner than you expected! Talk with your local real estate agent today – you have nothing to lose.


Don’t know where to start? Give us a call. As one of the top real estate agencies in West Chester and Liberty Township, we can guide you through the process.


On behalf of ours to yours, we wish you a happy 2018! We hope this year brings you nothing but health, prosperity and of course… a new home!

Posted in articles
Dec. 27, 2017

Our Housing Market Crystal Ball for 2018

5 Predictions for the West Chester and Liberty Township Housing Market in 2018

Date: December 27, 2017


Image result for 2018 crystal ball real estate


This was a busy year for the West Chester and Liberty Township, OH housing market. Low inventory meant homes were flying off the shelves, with many people offering above asking price to land the home of their dreams.


Will 2018 be another banner year for the West Chester and Liberty Township real estate market? It’s anyone’s guess. But short of having a crystal ball, we can make some pretty educated guesses about what to expect in the coming year. We’ve combed through some local data to help inform our predictions. So, without further ado, here are five predictions for the West Chester and Liberty Township housing market in 2018.


  1. Home prices will start to moderate. After years of steep growth, home prices will finally start to taper off. We’re already starting to see that across Butler County. Data from the online real estate marketplace Trulia indicates that home prices in West Chester climbed 6% over the past year but have actually declined by 3% this year in Liberty Township.  

  2. There will be a slowdown in new construction. We’ve seen an influx of new home construction over the past few years, but we suspect that will start to slow down in 2018. There are a few reasons why. For one, building materials have become more expensive which makes it more costly to build a house. Labor costs are also on the rise. Now, companies have to pay exponentially more to find qualified tradesmen than they did in years before. This combination – more expensive materials and a shortage of skilled labor – will make it more costly (and less profitable) to build new construction. In 2018, we expect to see an uptick in home renovations in place of newly built homes.

  3. Builders will shift their focus to entry-level homes. One reason home prices have climbed so high is because of the lack of new entry-level homes that are coming to market. The 1990s and 2000s were all about the McMansions. But now Millennials are starting to buy homes. Millennials saw their parents fall behind on oversized mortgage payments, and many are determined not to become similarly house-rich and cash poor. Millennials are buying smaller houses, forgoing square footage for more affordable monthly payments. Yet there’s a complication: older Americans are downsizing and are willing to pay more for smaller houses – and there aren’t enough moderately sized homes to go around. That’s why we predict homebuilders will, for the first time in decades, shift their focus to building entry-level homes.

  4. Millennials will start moving to the ‘burbs. For the last few years the media has been fixated the notion that the suburbs were quietly dying while cities were thriving. Well, we think the pendulum is going to start to shift back to the suburbs – once again, due to Millennials entering the housing market. As Millennials age, get married, and have children, we suspect they’re going to start moving back to the suburbs in droves. Millennials will want affordably priced homes, good school districts, more space and backyards – criteria that area hard to meet in urban areas. West Chester and Liberty Township are particularly family-friendly communities, so we expect they’ll draw the eye of Millennials moving outward into the burbs.


  1. Investors will start to take notice of the area’s potential. West Chester and Liberty Township haven’t traditionally been a haven for real estate investors, but we suspect that will start to change in the year to come. Investors priced out of primary markets like New York and San Francisco are starting to look at secondary and tertiary markets like Columbus and Cincinnati, where investment is considered a little riskier but in turn, offers the potential for greater rewards. As this shift continues, it will put pressure on homes in places like Butler County. Increasingly, investors are willing to buy single family homes to convert into rentals – and West Chester and Liberty Township are great markets for doing so given affordable home prices and low occupancy rates.

Are you thinking of buying or selling your West Chester or Liberty Township home in 2018? Give us a call! We’d be happy to have a no-obligation chat to help you explore your options, particularly given what we’re seeing in the market.


In the meantime…


On behalf of our family to yours, we want to THANK YOU for an incredible 2017 and wish you all the best for a happy, healthy and prosperous New Year!

Posted in articles
Dec. 20, 2017

Short Sale is Not Necessarily a Bad Thing

Should I “Short Sell” My West Chester or Liberty Township Home?

Date: December 20, 2017

A couple recently came to me looking for advice. A few years ago, they purchased a condo in West Chester. They are a family of four and decided it was best to save money, so last year, they moved back in with their parents and decided to rent their condo in the meantime.


Unfortunately, the rent they get on their condo doesn’t cover the mortgage, taxes, insurance and monthly condo fee. For the past year, they’ve been paying about $400 out of pocket each month to fill the gap.


Three months ago, after shopping for West Chester and Liberty Township homes for sale, they purchased their “forever” home. Now they’re paying a mortgage and $400 to cover the cost of the condo.


On a few occasions over the past year, the couple has tried to sell their West Chester condo. They listed the home for $180,000 but received no offers. Eventually, they dropped the price enough to get an offer of $157,000 that came in just last week. Not bad, but not enough to pay off their existing mortgage ($165,000).


Making matters worse, their tenant has recently notified them that he’ll be relocating for work and leaving the apartment as of December 31st.


The offer that came in last week comes with a major caveat: the West Chester homebuyer doesn’t want to close until April 1st. This means that the couple would be responsible for all carrying costs ($1600/month) between now and then, an expense they just can’t float. That’s in addition to the $8,000 they’d need to come up with at closing to pay off their mortgage – and any extra costs associated with the closing and realtor’s fees. It would wipe out the couple’s savings entirely.


Should they try to sell their home as a short sale, instead?


A short sale is when a property is sold at a price lower than the amount the homeowner owes on the mortgage, and the lender agrees to the “short” payoff. For instance, in this situation, a bank might agree to “short sell” the property for the offer price of $157,000 and the sellers would not be obligated to cover the difference owed to the bank. Complicating matters, though, is the short sale process can take months to complete – and even in the best case scenario, the sellers might not be able to close on the buyers timeline (April). The short sale approval process is complicated, expensive and drawn-out.


The benefits of selling through a short sale:

  • Your loan will be considered paid in full.

  • You won’t owe any more money to the bank in the interim or at closing.

  • You’ll avoid foreclosure.

  • A short sale has a smaller impact on your credit (3 years) than a foreclosure (7 years).


In this case, the sellers could stop paying their mortgage now (saving $1400/month) if they decide to sell via short sale. It would also eliminate the $8,000 gap they owe to the bank. However, the couple would still be obligated to pay the condo association fees ($200/month) until closing. If they stopped paying their condo fees, the association would put a lien on the West Chester property and could begin foreclosure proceedings against the sellers’ will.


Another benefit for the couple: damaging their credit score for the next three years isn’t that big of a deal. They’ve already purchased their “forever” home and own their vehicles outright. They don’t anticipate taking out any new loans in the near future, so having a poor credit score isn’t the end of the world for them.


The risks, though, are that the bank doesn’t approve of the short sale – or alternatively, don’t approve of the offer price ($157,000). In that case, the sellers are back at square one. They could decide to move forward with the sale under the existing terms of the offer, not using a short sale, but then they tip their hand to the prospective buyer who will then know that the sellers are underwater and can’t afford to pay the mortgage. Tipping their hand may cause the buyer to go back and modify their offer to a lower price in the hopes that the sellers are so desperate that they’ll accept.


So what should they do?


Here’s my take: I think they should go for the short sale. After trying to sell their home for months with little interest, the fact that they have an offer at all right now is a good thing. In the meantime, they should do everything they can to save money in the event the short sale isn’t approved. That way, if they have to cover the $8,000 difference (plus closing costs) they’ll be in a better position to do so.


Another suggestion I had for them: try doing a short-term rental at their condo. If they were able to provide even basic furniture, they could put their condo on Airbnb and attract visitors to West Chester and Liberty Township for the first few months of the year. They could market to short-term renters, as well, like those who need a place to stay during home renovations.


Do you have questions about your West Chester or Liberty Township home for sale? Shoot me a message! Our agency specializes in working through tricky situations like these.

Posted in articles