Maria Walley, Realtor
Selling a Condo | Cincinnati Condo Connection

Historic School House Lofts Condo in East Walnut Hills #33

Walk to cafes, restaurants, breweries and shops on  Woodburn Avenue  East Walnut Hills Business District. School House Lofts was formerly Walnut Hills High School, it was converted to condos in the early 2000’s.  Soaring 12 foot ceilings, huge windows and the turet make this condo an architectural delight.  It’s 2 bedrooms and 2 baths with high end finishes.  It even has a garage! See Video

See MLS Link for more detail

Woodburn Avenue at DeSales Corner

 

See video of School House Lofts #33.

 

10 Must Do Items Before Listing Your Condo For Sale

1) Have HVAC serviced and save the report for buyers. The most common item I see come up on post inspection requests is an allowance for an HVAC at the end of it’s life.  Be proactive, show that you service it and that it’s in working order and you may save yourself thousands of dollars.

2) Make sure all doors close properly and repair doors that don’t. Same with cabinet doors.  Doors and cabinets that don’t shut properly are annoying and are easily and cheaply fixed.

3) Repaint if necessary, especially if the colors are no longer fashionable.  Red and gold, remember the jewel tones of the 90’s.  They look terribly dated now.  Try Sherwin Williams Agreeable Gray.  If there is prior water damage that has been resolved, please repaint the ceiling. Yes, you need to disclose if there was water damage but if you leave the spot on the ceiling, it makes buyers nervous.

4) Make sure all faucets are working properly.  No one likes to see a drippy water faucet. If they are old and unfashionable, change them out with newer inexepensive faucets.

5) Make sure the toilets are not running.

6) Make sure all lightbulbs have been changed to attractive bulbs (no CFLs) and that all are working and free of dirt and debris.  Otherwise buyer’s inspector will tell buyers to bring an electrician to make all lights operable. They don’t carry spare bulbs for testing.  Also, good lighting can make a home look cozier and prettier.  Bad lighting just makes everything look uglier.

7) Make sure washer and dryer is working or remove them if they don’t.

8) Make sure you have all of your current HOA docs including any amendments, master insurance policy, rules and regulations, minutes from board meetings and current year operating budget and balance sheet.  You will be asked for these things and you don’t want to wait until that moment to try to get these items.

9) Check smoke detectors.  Make sure they have new batteries if they are not hardwired and get rid of the ugly yellow ones and replace them with new white ones.

10) Deep clean and declutter (refrigerator, closets, storage area)  Condo buyers are usually downsizing and worried about containing all of their possessions.  You don’t want them to open up your storage area and see things stacked on top of each other.  Nothing says this place is to darn small that a storage unit piled high, ditto for your linen closet. Pack up anything seasonal or that you won’t need right away and store offsite.. Also clean out the cabinets under sinks and in laundry room. Chances are you have many duplicates of cleaning supplies that you don’t use.

I always recommend staging a condo.  I believe sellers usually sell it faster and get top prices when they stage.  I realize not all sellers have the funds to invest in staging up front.  Often, clients ask if they should repaint.  If the colors aren’t hideous, I usually tell them to save the time and money on painting and stage it instead.

6 Hidden Factors that Influence Condo Values

Assessment History

The elephant in the room, people are afraid of special assessments.  They have heard horror stories from friends and family and don’t like the unpredictability of assessments.  Limit your exposure to  assessments if you can.  The best way to run a community is to adjust the HOA every year with inflation so that needs can be met without the “A” word.  There is a place for them but a well run community doesn’t have a new assessment every year or two. Ask if the building has had a reserve study.  The best buildings have and have budgeted for future capital improvements.

Condition

It doesn’t matter how fabulous the view is if it has ugly carpet and wall paper and outdated kitchen cabinets and appliances.  Yes, some would like a blank slate so they can renovate to their taste but this is a much smaller market than those who want to buy something that is move in ready. Sellers, consider painting your condo to a neutral grey or beige especially if you have strong colors such as red walls which were so hot in the 90’s. Consider replacing old appliances especially if they are  white and have electric coil burners.  Get rid of heavy drapes that impede the view .  It’s better to have no window treatments than ugly curtains. Parquet floors? Some people love them but a lot buyers will change them.  The easiest thing to get rid of is the dated light fixtures.

 

Demographics

Are most of the people original to the building when it was built 25 or 30 years ago? If so it may feel dated or like a retirement home.  Many people are looking for a vibrant community and like to see people of different ages and backgrounds. Is it all recent college grads that fill the pool with their friends every weekend?  Is it full of pensioners that won’t fund minor improvements like a lobby renovation?

Walkability

People will pay a premium for walkability.  Some condos have great views but are set back so far that they feel like they are not part of the neighborhood.   2770 Observatory is the most expensive condo building in Cincinnati at this time and it’s two blocks off Hyde Park Square.  Cincinnati has great neighborhoods with vibrant business districts.  The condos in Eden Park, Hyde Park, OTR and downtown are more expensive than a condo in Anderson Township or Loveland.  By the way, this applies to single family homes as well.

Hyde Park Square

Outdoor Features

A lack of private outdoor features such as balconies and deck will hold back the value of a building. Yes, size  matters when it comes to balconies.  So does the ability to have a grill on the balcony.  I know one building in town that will not allow grills of any kind.  They have great balconies and great views but the fact that people can’t grill on the balcony is a major drawback.  Think about it.  Most people are coming from large homes with back yards.  They are open to “downsizing” and looking forward to giving up yard maintenance but they don’t want to give up the good old fashioned American BBQ.
View?

Deferred Maintenance 

Some home owner associations  think it’s more important to keep reserves high at the expense of maintenance.  This strategy is wrong.  Like it or not, buyers are judging your condo building by the appearance of your common areas.  They want to see pretty professionally designed lobbies, hallways and yes even the management office should be pretty.  What do the elevators look like? Is the parking lot full of potholes?  Is the landscaping attractive or does it look like it’s been neglected.

Cincinnati & Northern Kentucky Luxury Condo Market Update 6.30.18

Buying a Home in Cincinnati: Spring 2018 Market Forecast

Buying a Home in Cincinnati

As the days start to turn slightly warmer and the snow finally begins to melt away, the Cincinnati housing market will begin to heat up. As in most places across the country, spring is one of the most popular times of year to sell or buy a home, which means it’s also a great time to look at real-estate trends and what we are likely to see in this year’s hottest buying season. Here are a few things we can expect both nationwide and in Cincinnati this year.

1. A slow start to the spring buying season

The new tax bill signed by President Trump last December will likely have an effect on how many sales are made early in the spring season. People will probably be taking a close look at their finances and doing their research to ensure the best course of action for them and their money given the new tax bill.

2. Increases in Homeownership

Despite low inventory levels across the country, home ownership numbers are increasing. According to Trulia, Q4 2017 was the fourth quarter in a row where the number of new homeowners was higher than the number of renters nationwide. In addition, Trulia research shows that many of those homeowners are millennials, which is a great sign that the real-estate market has finally begun to bounce back from the Great Recession. However, this same data also shows that more and more millennials are moving away from the city to the suburbs to find a better deal on a home. Increasing numbers of millennials may move to Cincinnati in 2018, given the area’s cheap prices and a high likelihood for home value appreciation

3. Prices continuing to slowly rise

Case Shiller data from October 2017 show that prices have climbed consistently over the past two years. In addition, the index shows that home prices increased 5.92 percent between January and October of last year. However, despite price growth, a recent article by Forbes names Cincinnati as one of “America’s Most Affordable Cities.” A December article published by Realtor.com, “The Hottest Real Estate Markets of 2017: Who Gained Big, Who Fell Hard”, also indicated Cincinnati as one of the country’s hottest real-estate markets for 2017. In the article’s list of the country’s 300 largest markets, Cincinnati jumped from a previous ranking of 117 to a ranking of 64. Economists speculate that this is likely due to the affordability of Cincinnati homes. Unlike most places in the country, there are still great homes available in Cincinnati in almost every price range. The current average listing price of a home for sale in Cincinnati is $156,000—a modest 4 percent increase over last year. Thus, although cheaper than most other metro areas, Cincinnati is following the same pattern of price appreciation.

In conclusion, despite what is likely to be a slow start to the buying season, it is clear that there will be plenty of movement in the Cincinnati market in 2018, and we may even see an influx of millennials and other first-time homebuyers moving to the city in search of a more affordable home.

Looking Back: What 2017 Showed Us About Buying a Home in Cincinnati and US Real Estate Market Trends

Cincinnati Skyline

It is no secret that 2017 was a year of tumultuous political and economic change for the US, both on a local and national level, changes that had a direct influence on the US Real Estate Market.

At the beginning of 2017, Forbes predicted the following for the United States housing market:

  1. Prices will continue to rise, albeit more slowly than in recent years.

  2. Affordability will worsen, particularly in cities like Seattle, WA and Austin, TX, which continue to see huge amounts of real estate and job market development.

  3. More Millennials will become homeowners.

Now that we are a few weeks into 2018, here at the Cincinnati Condo Connection we decided to do a little research to determine how those predictions played out on both a national and local level.

According to an article published by Trulia in October of 2017, demand for homes across US markets has continued to rise. In fact, the share of inventory sold in the US surpassed its peak for the first time since the recession of 2008. Unfortunately, that increase has done little for the affordability of homes on the market. A recent study by Realtor.com shows that the median list price for a home in the US in December of 2017 was $270,000, 8% higher than the median price in December of 2016. However, earlier in 2017, the median list price was at $275,000. These numbers show that Forbes’s prediction was correct, and that, while prices are still higher than they were in 2016, they are rising more slowly than in past years.

Numbers here in Cincinnati show a similar pattern. However, Cincinnati condo and home prices are actually rising more sharply than the national average.

According to a report released by the MLS of greater Cincinnati in November 2017, the median sales price for a home in Cincinnati was roughly $170,00 0up about 10.41 percent from November 2016’s estimated $150,000.

Although most 2017 pricing reports are still being collated, research by CoreLogic from April 2017 shows that home values were indeed increasing across the United States, rising by 6.9 percent as compared to April 2016. However, it is worth mentioning that these numbers can vary vastly by market. According to 2017 data from the Federal Housing Finance Agency, Cincinnati trends show a home value gain of 6.5 percent over the last 10 years. While, in more quickly growing areas such as Austin, Texas home values have grown 65.8 percent over the last 10 years.

So the final question remains, did more Millennials actually buy homes in 2017? According to the 2017 Home Buyer and Seller Generational Trends Report, the answer is yes. In fact, buyers 36 years of age and younger made up the largest share of homebuyers in 2017. However, that overall number is down 1 percent from 2016’s 35 percent. Are you a millennial interested in buying a home in Cincinnati this year? Research shows that an investment in “The Queen City” will be a smart one in 2018 given that Cincinnati was named one of Trulia’s top 10 best markets for Millennials who want to buy a home in 2017. The report evaluated housing market viability for Millennials based on the following criteria: job growth, vacancy rates, starter-home availability, online listing searches, and the percentage of people in the vicinity under age 35.

Overall, research from multiple sources shows that the housing market is finally beginning to even out, even in the nation’s most popular and expensive markets, and that the outlook for home values, prices, and inventory in 2018 is a relatively positive one.

Three Tips for Flipping a Condo in Downtown Cincinnati

The American

With the ever-growing popularity of HGTV shows like Flip or Flop and Fixer Upper, home flipping as a source of income is becoming more and more popular. While for some, it can be a great and lucrative investment; home flipping is not for everyone. Interested in flipping a home or condo in downtown Cincinnati? Check out the following tips to help you get the most bang for your buck.

1. Understand the home flipping market and the costs involved

Presently, the home flipping market in the United States is a saturated one. Atom Data Solutions’ Q2 2017 U.S Home Flipping Report, showed a home flipping rate of 5.6% of all home sales during the quarter and a gross flipping profit of $67,516. Inventory is tight nationwide, which makes flipping anywhere a tough investment. Before buying a home, make sure that you have done your research on the area in which you are purchasing. Check multiple sources to see what comparable properties are renting or selling for, and gauge the level of necessary repairs around those numbers.

The importance of understanding the growth potential of the neighborhood in which you are purchasing cannot be understated. For instance, a condo for sale in Over-The-Rhine may be more expensive and need fewer repairs than one in Oakley. However, given the rate in which home prices in Over-The-Rhine have grown in the last 20 years, a condo flipping project in that area is likely to be the better investment.

2. Be Wary of Costly Repairs

Allow your research to inform which repairs you undertake on your newly acquired property. While research shows that an upgraded kitchen and bathroom are large selling points on most homes, they are also the most costly upgrades, given that typically they will require plumbing work. Although some costs will vary by market. According to HomeAdvisor, the average kitchen repair will cost anywhere from $4,000 to $50,000. While the average bathroom repair ranges from $2,500 up to $23,749.

3. Work with the right contractor and construction team

Do your homework to find the best, most reliable contractor for the job. Check references, look at past projects and thoroughly interview everyone you bring on your team. The right contractor can also be a great sounding board for cost – effective re-model ideas but, be careful not to overdo it. Choose a few, impactful repairs that will help you to improve the value of the home without paying an arm and a leg and, do your own repairs where you can. The best way to save money on a home improvement project is to do-it-yourself.

Although the house flipping market is a saturated one, it is possible to make a decent profit given the right tools. Here at Cincinnati Condo Connection, we have condos for sale in a variety of price ranges, some of which may be a great flipping investment. Contact us today to begin your own project!

How Is Selling a Condo Different than Selling a House?

Selling a condo is very different from selling a house.  Make sure you work with an agent that understands and sells a lot of condominiums. Get recommendations from your neighbors or management of the building.

Lofts at 4120 in Oakley

Pricing

Condos in many buildings have a wide variety of prices.  Some of the factors that affect the price are location in the building.  In a high rise, the higher the more expensive.  Corner units also sell for higher prices than interior units.  The view also matters.  The premium for a better view can sometimes be 100% or more.

A River View in East Walnut Hills

Seasonality

Condos in Cincinnati sell year round.  They don’t follow the typical spring cycle, mainly because it’s rare for family’s to purchase a condo in this city.  It’s typically a single person or a couple.  Many empty nesters start looking at condos when their last child graduates from college Or when  they feel they are no longer able to live in their house . This can happen suddenly.  They often have encouragement from other family members to make this move.  Showings pick up around the holidays when adult children are home to help their parents find a condo.

Staging

Condos tend to be smaller than houses and many empty nester buyers who are moving from a large home worry about fitting their belongings into a condo.  Empty condos look small.  I recommend staging empty condos for many reasons but mainly because people can see that they can fit their king size bed, two night stands and dresser in the seemingly small bedroom of a condo.  The other benefit to staging a condo is that it takes the buyer’s eye away from the flaws.  They tend to see the view and the furniture rather than the dated parquet floor or worn kitchen appliances.  A good stager will have on trend colors and new stylish furniture. Developers, builders and flippers all stage homes because they know staging yields a better price and a quicker sale.  See this condo at The Ingleside that has been staged.It was on the market for 6 months as an empty condo.  It went under contract in one week after staging.

Staged condo at the Ingleside

The Building

Make sure that you have a realtor that understands the building. It’s best if you can get a realtor that not only knows the building but will be present for all showings.  There’s a lot to know about each building or community and you don’t want the selling agent who doesn’t understand your building fumbling around trying to find the party room or your parking spaces.  You want someone who can speak confidently about the amenities, the culture, the location and the financial health of the building. My team and I focus on condos and are familiar with all of the urban buildings in Cincinnati.

HOA Docs and Financials

Make sure that your realtor has current HOA documents and all amendments as well as financial statements for the building.  They will need the current budget, a recent balance statement and an income statement.  A copy of the rules and regulations is important to have too.  You don’t want to get a contract and then have the buyer find out that their 60 lb dog is not allowed in the building. Provide them with meeting minutes too. Many potential buyers want to know what the hot issues are in the building. You may also want to provide information about past special assessment and the history of the monthly HOA payment increases.

Photography

Make sure you have professional photography and that the common areas are shown.  If there is a pool or a gym, you will want to have those photographed too. If it’s winter, a good realtor that is familiar with your building will likely have photos of the pool from previous listings. For luxury condos or condos with great views consider doing a drone video to really show off the view and surroundings.

Days on Market

Condo buyers are a bit more deliberative than a house buyer.  Most will be very thorough in their evaluation of the building and the unit. In the last six months of 2017, condos in Cincinnati averaged 69 days on the market compared to single family houses which averaged 43 days on the market. Pricing the house right is the best way to beat the averages.

Advertising and Marketing

Many buildings do not allow signage so make sure that your realtor not only puts the condo on MLS but has a complete marketing plan to sell the condo.  Open houses are great for condos and usually attract a lot of people.  Make sure your realtor is willing to host open houses until it’s sold. Consider a dedicated website for your condo.

Financing

Financing a condo is more complicated than financing a house.  You and your realtor will want to line up a mortgage officer that does a lot of condos.  Not all condo mortgages can be sold on the secondary market. Other condos that have storefronts or restaurants are considered mixed use buildings and many lenders will not underwrite mortgages on those buildings.  The Edgecliff Private Residences, The Regency and many condos in OTR (Over-the-Rhine) are mixed use.