Infographic: Preparing Your Home for a Natural Disaster

September 8, 2014 at 4:46 pm
September 8, 2014 |


natural disaster infographic

Comey & Shepherd Realtors | Cincinnati Real Estate Blog | Cincinnati Real Estate | Comey Blog

New single-family homes planned for Pendleton

August 26, 2014 at 1:04 pm
August 26, 2014 |


Pendleton rendering

Before starting to build new single-family homes in Pendleton four years ago, Chris Lacey and his wife Lisa Altenau considered leaving the region.

The couple lived in Madeira and considered a change of scenery, but they instead decided to be agents of change.

“I just believe there are a lot of people who want to live Downtown,” Lacey said.

Lacey and Altenau made a big bet to invest in land and real estate when the market was still reeling from the Great Recession and in an area dotted by blight and disinvestment.

Now, construction is underway on the couple’s newest project – 10 three-bedroom, 2½-bathroom townhomes on Pendleton and Spring streets.

The city of Cincinnati hosted a groundbreaking ceremony Thursday in front of developments at 1333 Pendleton St. With shovels in dirt under rainfall, Lacey and several other city officials shoveled dirt on land that will eventually feature townhomes.

pendleton pre-sold
Five of 10 townhomes planned to be built on Pendleton and Spring streets in Cincinnati’s Pendleton neighborhood have already been sold.

The homes, five of which have been pre-sold, will start at $425,000, will be Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design certified, feature between 2,500 and 3,000 square feet, and have rear garages and yards. Construction has started on the first phase of housing on Pendleton Street. The second phase is expected to begin in spring 2015 on Spring Street.

The new homes are within walking distance of Horseshoe Casino. Less than two blocks away, the larger $26 million Broadway Square development is under construction to convert historic buildings into 90 apartments and retail space. The street also offers a view of Procter & Gamble Co.’s twin towers.

Cincinnati Development Fund, which is a lender on the new townhomes, made its first loan to Lacey and Altenau to complete development of six attached townhomes on nearby Dandridge Street left unfinished by a developer who went bankrupt. Jeanne Golliher, executive director of the community development entity, recalled the struggles trying to find a developer who was interested in finishing the project and assuming the risk to help get the homes sold.

“We were desperate,” Golliher said. “I called every developer I knew. (It was tough to fine someone) who’s going to take on for-sale housing. The numbers just didn’t make sense for rentals.”

But eventually the homes sold, the couple moved to the neighborhood and decided to continue residential redevelopment seeing the neighborhood’s potential. Golliher said at the time, the project was among the newest residential construction projects in the neighborhood in a century.

Chris Lacey
Pendleton resident Chris Lacey talked about the townhomes being he’s helping develop in the neighborhood Thursday, Aug. 21, 2014.

Lacey praised the involvement from public and private entities to help get the project out the ground. He said his project partners for the new townhomes include Jamal Daoud and former Cincinnati city official Tim Riordan.

“They’ve become champions for the neighborhood,” Golliher said.

Comey & Shepherd Realtors | Cincinnati Real Estate Blog | Cincinnati Real Estate | Comey Blog

Historic Mortgage Rates by Decade

August 15, 2014 at 4:12 pm
August 15, 2014 |


Historic Mortgage Rates by Decade | Keeping Current Matters

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Home Prices…Where are They Headed?

August 7, 2014 at 10:27 am
August 7, 2014 |


Home Prices... Where are they Headed? | Keeping Current Matters

Today, many real estate conversations center on housing prices and where they may be headed. That is why we like the Home Price Expectation Survey. Every quarter, Pulsenomics surveys a nationwide panel of over one hundred economists, real estate experts and investment & market strategists about where prices are headed over the next five years. They then average the projections of all 100+ experts into a single number.

The results of their latest survey

  • o  Home values will appreciate by 4.6% in 2014.
  • o  The cumulative appreciation will be 19.5% by 2018.
  • o  That means the average annual appreciation will be 3.6% over the next 5 years.
  • o  Even the experts making up the most bearish quartile of the survey still are projecting a cumulative appreciation of 11.2% by 2018.

Individual opinions make headlines. We believe the survey is a fairer depiction of future values.

Comey & Shepherd Realtors | Cincinnati Real Estate Blog | Cincinnati Real Estate | Comey Blog

What To Expect From Housing In The Second Half Of 2014

July 28, 2014 at 9:00 am
July 28, 2014 |


If the housing market was in overdrive for much of 2013, during the first half of 2014 it hit the metaphorical brakes. Winter storms across the nation contributed to sluggish sales during the first quarter, while rising mortgage rates and tight inventory didn’t help. By spring housing began to thaw, with April Existing-Home (previously-owned) sales numbers ticking up for the first time as the pace of price gains slowed. By June, sales had reaching their highest levels since last October.

Although the headlines each month can create high drama as the numbers go up and down, the theme so far this year is this: we’re steadily on the road back to normal. Here’s what real estate experts say to expect for the second half of 2014.

Prices will go up, but not as fast as in 2013
In 2013, the housing market clocked double-digit, year-over-year price gains each month. Now that pace is slowing. Prices across the 20 metro areas tracked by the S&P Case-Shiller Indices rose by 10.8% year-over-year in April, a significantly slower rate than the prior month, when prices rose 12.6% for the 10-City Composite and 12.4% for the 20-City Composite. Other indices are also reporting slows: Mountain View, Calif.-based data firm Altos Research finds that through June 30th, prices are up just 9% year-over-year.

Expect the slowdown to continue right through December. “Some markets are seeing a big slowdown,” says Jed Kolko, chief economist at Trulia. “The boom markets of the Southwest and California are seeing prices level out. In markets where the recovery has come a bit slower, prices are still accelerating; parts of the Midwest and the South are now leading the country in price changes.” Nela Richardson, chief economist at Redfin, adds that Redfin agents are seeing far fewer bidding wars than in 2013.

By the end of 2014, both Stan Humphries, chief economist at Zillow, and Mark Fleming, chief economist at CoreLogic, an Irvine, Calif.-based real estate data firm, expect home prices to be up about 5% for the calendar year. By comparison, the median price of an existing home gained 11.5% in 2013, the highest annual gain since the median priced rose by 12% in 2005, according to the National Association of Realtors. ”It will be another three years before we hit the peak levels we last saw in 2007,” says Humphries.

The slowdown is due to a few different factors. First, the foreclosure crisis has largely ended, meaning that fewer homes sold are distressed (foreclosures or short sales). In June, distressed homes comprised about 11% of sales, down from 15% one year earlier, according to NAR data. A recent RealtyTrac report shows June foreclosure activity at its lowest level since August 2006. With fewer bargains left on the market, there is less room left for prices to rise, says Kolko.

A second reason for the deceleration in price gains: inventory is finally easing up–a bit.

Supply will continue to increase
Throughout the recovery, the stock of available homes for sale has been well below the 6-month supply (calculated based on that month’s sales pace) that economists consider the hallmark of a healthy market. In January, available, for-sale resales stood only at a 4.9-month supply, according to NAR. By June, inventory had increased to a 5.5-month level.

“The biggest challenge of the past 18-20 months has been low inventory,” says Michael Simonsen, CEO of Altos Research. ”As price increases kick in more people are above water on their mortgages, so supply is increasing a little bit.”

Still, negative equity remains high: about 18.8% of homeowners had underwater mortgages in June, according to Zillow. The burden falls most heavily on homeowners at the lowest price tier, where homes are three times more likely to be underwater than the top one-third of homes. About 30% of homeowners in the bottom one-third of the residential market are underwater, says Zillow’s Humphries, while only about 11% of homeowners in the top tier face negative equity. The good news is that, on average across the nation, prices are rising fastest in the lower price tier. Expect more returns to positive equity–and an accompanying expansion of homes for sale–as the year progresses.

New construction has been a sad story so far this year. While homebuilder confidence is rising, housing starts (groundbreakings) fell by 9.3% in June from the prior month. Last month’s numbers were the weakest since September 2013, and the second consecutive month drop, according to the Commerce Department. “We have been under-building for six years,” remarks Simonsen.

June’s abysmal numbers did have a few silver linings. Overall, housing starts were actually 7.5% higher than one year earlier. The entire decline was concentrated in the South, defined by the Census as the states between Delaware and Texas, where groundbreakings dipped by nearly 30% from May to June. In each of the other three Census regions, housing starts actually increased.

There certainly is demand for new construction. In May (the latest data available), sales of new homes, a much smaller portion of the market than resales, jumped by 18.4%, according to Commerce. Update: Commerce later revised the numbers downward to an 8.3% jump for May, followed by an 8.1% tumble for June, leaving sales of new homes just about flat with April.

Multifamily starts continue to be an “unusually large share of total construction starts,” points out Kolko. “Builders are expecting strong demand as young people start to move out of their parents’ houses.”

Expect inventory to continue to ease up in the second half of the year, largely due to rising home prices.

Changed fundamentals mean a new normal
Mortgage rates stood at 4.13% for conventional (30-year, fixed-rate) loans for the week ended July 18, 2014. The Mortgage Bankers Association predicts rates will hit 4.7% by the end of the year, while Fannie Mae predicts a lower 4.3% for Q4. Although higher than last year, those rates are still low compared to historical norms.

Despite this, The Fed says the housing recovery has “lost traction,” based in part on low household formation and residential construction numbers. “Even after rising noticeably in 2012 and the first half of 2013, real residential investment remains 45 percent below its pre-recession peak,” reads a mid-July Fed report. “The lack of a rapid housing recovery has also affected the labor market: Employment in the construction sector is still more than 1.6 million lower than the average level in 2006.”

Many long-term drivers of housing demand are stalled, writes Nela Richardson, chief economist at Redfin, pointing to “below average growth in median household income, labor force participation, bank lending and household formation.” And despite high levels of corporate profitability (historically the leading indicator for wage increases), pay levels remain stagnant.

Given these realities, and the short supply of inventory of less expensive homes, it’s not surprising that first-time home buyers comprise a relatively low 28% of the market, as of the latest NAR numbers. Although high student debt loads have been frequently blamed for crowding out younger buyers, CoreLogic’s Fleming calls that theory “a red herring,” pointing to Brookings Institution data suggesting this generation’s debt burden is no worse than in the prior one. Trulia’s Kolko says the lack of buying activity among people 18-to-34-year-olds is due entirely to demographic changes: this group is marrying and having children later, and includes fewer non-Hispanic whites, than 30 years ago.

Those factors relate to some housing trends that are not going away: younger people are continuing to live with their parents, and when they  move out, often moving to rentals rather than purchases. “In the second half of this year we should see a lot more new apartments come onto the market, because many new apartment buildings were started last year,” says Kolko of Trulia. “There is a strong demand for apartment rentals, but we should also see more supply.”

Comey & Shepherd Realtors | Cincinnati Real Estate Blog | Cincinnati Real Estate | Comey Blog

The Only Home Maintenance Strategy You’ll Ever Need

July 14, 2014 at 11:30 am
July 14, 2014 |


Would you throw away $20,000? You are if you’re letting your home age faster than it should. Here’s a simple maintenance strategy to keep your home young.

Water damaged wall
Would you rather spend $4 or $5,000? A cheap tube of caulk can prevent expensive mold damage and rot caused by water, your home’s No. 1 enemy.

You know how Dr. Oz says that if you keep your body fit and your mind nimble, you’re likely younger than your chronological years? The same principle applies to your house.

An out-of-shape house is older than its years and could lose 10% of its appraised value, says Mack Strickland, an appraiser and real estate agent in Chester, Va. That’s a $15,000-$20,000 adjustment for the average home.

But good maintenance can even add value. A study out of the University of Connecticut and Syracuse University finds that regular maintenance increases the value of a home by about 1% each year.

So if you’ve been deferring maintenance, or just need a good strategy to stay on top of it, here’s the simplest way to keep your home in good health.

Focus on Your Home’s #1 Enemy

If you focus on nothing else, focus on moisture — your home’s No. 1 enemy.

Water can destroy the integrity of your foundation, roof, walls, and floors — your home’s entire structure. So a leaky gutter isn’t just annoying; it’s compromising your foundation.

Keeping moisture at bay will improve your home’s effective age — or as Dr. Oz would say, “real age” — and protect its value. It’ll also help you prioritize what you need to do. Here’s how:

Follow This Easy 4-Step Routine

1. When it rains, actively pay attention. Are your gutters overflowing? Is water flowing away from your house like it should? Is water coming inside?

2. After heavy rains and storms, do a quick inspection of your roof, siding, foundation, windows, doors, ceilings, and basement to spot any damage or leaks.

Related: How to Tell if You Have a Drainage Problem

3. Use daylight savings days or the spring and fall equinox to remind you to check and test water-related appliances like your washer, refrigerator, water heater, HVAC (condensation in your HVAC can cause leaks) or swamp cooler, and sump pump. It’s also a great time to do regular maintenance on them. Inspect any outdoor spigots and watering systems for leaks, too.

4. Repair any damage and address any issues and leaks ASAP.

Don’t procrastinate when you spot minor leaks or drips inside your house. Ongoing small leaks can slowly erode pipes and fixtures, and even cause mold and mildew issues you won’t notice until it’s too late.

Say you’ve got a bit of cracked caulk around the kitchen window. It may not seem like much, but behind that caulk, water could get into your sheathing, causing mold damage and rot. Before you know it, you’re looking at a $5,000 repair that could have been prevented by a $4 tube of caulk and a half hour of your time.

To help you with this routine, we have several guides with specifics and tips:

Once you settle into a routine, it becomes easier to handle other maintenance tasks, which will only do more to protect and enhance your home’s value. Plus, you’ll get to know your home better, which will help you spot other one-off problems, such as termites and other wood-destroying insects, that can cause costly damage.

If You Want to Take Home Maintenance to the Next Level …

If you’re a geek about home maintenance like we are, and you want to do more than water patrol, these ideas will help you keep your house in great shape.

Give yourself an incentive to do maintenance. Maintenance is your springboard to sexier projects like a kitchen remodel or basement makeover. So plan a room-per-year redo. This way you’re maintaining, fixing, and improving. For example:

In your basement:

  • o  Check for dark stains that could signal plumbing leaks. If you find any leaks, fix them.
  • o  Check your ductwork for leaks that are wasting energy.
  • o  Clean the lint out of the dryer vent. The machine will last longer, and you’ll help prevent fires.
  • o  Caulk and seal basement windows to stop air leaks.
  • o  Once your space is moisture sealed, you can start converting it into a family room or other livable space.
  • o  Brighten it up with paint.

In your kitchen:

  • o  Clean out all the cabinets, then wipe them down. It’s a great way to purge and get organized.
  • o  Take a good look under your kitchen sink. Remove all the wastebaskets and cleaning supplies to help you spot any leaks, and fix them.
  • o  Re-caulk the seam between your backsplash and wall to keep moisture out. To give your whole kitchen a low-cost facelift, how about a new backsplash?
  • o  Re-paint the walls using paint with a tough, semi-gloss sheen that stands up to repeated cleanings and resists moisture.

Keep a maintenance fund. Some sources say you should save 1% to 3% of your initial house price annually to pay for maintenance. On a $200,000 house, that’s $2,000-$6,000 a year. Yeesh, that’s a big nut.

Alternatively, make it a goal to save enough money to do a major replacement project, so the bill won’t catch you off guard. Probably the biggest single replacement project you’ll have is your roof or siding.

You can build up this fund over several years by paying yourself a monthly assessment — whatever you can manage. Keep it in a separate account to avoid the temptation to tap it for hockey tickets or other impulse buys.

If you need to replace the roof before you have a fund, an equity loan is an option. But consider very carefully.

Related: When to Use Home Equity and When Not To

If you’re practicing maintenance in the way we’ve outlined here, you won’t need $2,000 per year to manage your home’s natural aging process.  Some routine tasks, such as cleaning rain gutters and changing furnace filters, could cost you $300 or less per year.

Your house takes care of you — not just for shelter but as a financial asset.  Return the favor and keep it hale and hearty by caring for it with regular maintenance.

Read more:

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Home Prices over 30 Years

June 23, 2014 at 2:35 pm
June 23, 2014 |

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Did You List Your Home Before You’re Ready to Sell?

June 16, 2014 at 11:07 am
June 16, 2014 |


Your home is listed for sale but you aren’t getting showings, let alone offers. It’s been six weeks and even though you’ve listed your home with an agent and put the sign on the front lawn, you aren’t seeing any action on your home. Meanwhile, all you hear is that the real estate market is back. It’s now a seller’s market and homes are selling quickly with multiple offers. So why isn’t your home feeling the love?

messy roomTo better understand this, it helps to take a step back and look at how you came to the decision to list your home for sale in the first place. In good markets, when a home is priced right and shows well, it should see positive action within four weeks. If not, something’s wrong.

A serious, motivated seller doesn’t simply list their home on a whim. It’s something that happens over the course of time. A life change generally dictates a home sale and, although there are times when life changes happen abruptly, generally you know about them in advance and have time to plan. Deciding to sell your home, whether you’ve been there two years or 22 years, is a decision not to be taken lightly.

What role did you play?

In these situations, it’s easy to blame the real estate agent for not doing enough to market and sell your home. Of course, there are bad agents out there as well as good ones.

But what role might you have played? Were you truly ready to sell? Ask yourself:

    o  Did you interview multiple agents prior to signing a listing agreement?
    o  Did your agent (or other agents you interviewed) suggest changes or modifications to the home to show it in its best possible light?
    o  Did you listen to those suggestions or ignore them?
    o  Was the ultimate list price you chose in line with what the agent suggested?
    o  Did all the agents you interviewed come in with similar prices?

    If you just spoke to one agent, dictated the price and didn’t do any work to get the home ready for sale, you’re probably not a ‘serious’ seller. That’s OK; it happens to a lot of people. But in the next generation of real estate, going on the market when you’re not truly ready to sell and you’re not putting your best foot forward will result in a lower selling price on your home.

    If you go on the market over-priced, with poor listing photos, cluttered rooms, outlandish paint on the walls, and toys sprawled all over the place, you’re not ready to sell. As a result, your home will sit on the market and the days on market (DOM) will start ticking for all the buyers in town (and their agents) to see. Everyone will know your home’s history. The chances are you’ll receive only low offers. And no buyer will take you seriously.

    Advice to sellers

    Selling can be an emotional and financial decision, and sometimes sellers think they’re ready even when they aren’t. They go through the motions, but something prevents them from putting their best foot forward. Maybe they have nowhere to go. Or their reason for selling is in response to some personal life situation. Therefore, they resist selling as a way to avoid what’s going on in life.

    Because so much information about listings, past sales, transaction history and even old photos are online today, you should never list your home on the open market if you’re not truly ready to sell. A truly ready-to-go seller will have interviewed multiple agents and had multiple price discussions. They’ll have made small alterations to their home to get it “showing ready.” They have a plan in place and a place to go once they sell. And they’ll have studied the market, learned the comps and understood what is happening locally in real estate.

    If you haven’t done all of this, it might be best to start now. Instead of going live on the market, take a step back, do your research and wait until you are truly ready. If you’re live on the market and it’s not going in your favor, take it off the market immediately and go back on only when you’re fully ready to sell.


    Comey & Shepherd Realtors | Cincinnati Real Estate Blog | Cincinnati Real Estate | Comey Blog

    4 Reasons to Buy YOUR HOME Now!

    June 9, 2014 at 11:32 am
    June 9, 2014 |



    Here are four great reasons to consider buying a home today, instead of waiting.

    1. Prices Will Continue to Rise

    The Home Price Expectation Survey polls a distinguished panel of over 100 economists, investment strategists, and housing market analysts. Their most recent report projects appreciation in home values over the next five years to be between 30.8% (most optimistic) and 9.4% (most pessimistic).

    The bottom in home prices has come and gone. Home values will continue to appreciate for years. Waiting no longer makes sense.

    2. Mortgage Interest Rates Are Increasing

    Although Freddie Mac’s Primary Mortgage Market Survey shows that interest rates for a 30-year mortgage have softened recently, most experts predict that they will begin to rise later this year. The Mortgage Bankers Association, Fannie Mae, Freddie Mac, and the National Association of Realtors are in unison; projecting that rates will be up almost a full percentage point by the end of next year.

    An increase in rates will impact YOUR monthly mortgage payment. Your housing expense will be more a year from now if a mortgage is necessary to purchase your next home.

    3. Either Way, You are Paying a Mortgage

    As a recent paper from the Joint Center for Housing Studies at Harvard University explains:

    “Households must consume housing whether they own or rent. Not even accounting for more favorable tax treatment of owning, homeowners pay debt service to pay down their own principal while households that rent pay down the principal of a landlord plus a rate of return. That’s yet another reason owning often does—as Americans intuit—end up making more financial sense than renting.”

    4. It’s Time to Move On with Your Life

    The ‘cost’ of a home is determined by two major components: the price of the home and the current mortgage rate. It appears that both are on the rise.

    But, what if they weren’t? Would you wait?

    Look at the actual reason you are buying and decide whether it is worth waiting. Whether you want to have a great place for your children to grow up, you want your family to be safer, or you just want to have control over renovations, maybe it is time to buy.

    If the right thing for you and your family is to purchase a home this year, buying sooner rather than later could lead to substantial savings.

    Comey & Shepherd Realtors | Cincinnati Real Estate Blog | Cincinnati Real Estate | Comey Blog

    Top 10 Reasons To Hire A Real Estate Professional

    June 2, 2014 at 10:12 am
    June 2, 2014 |

    Buyers: In the fluctuating real estate market it is essential to engage an agent with a proven track record who consistently delivers results and understand the local real estate market.

    Homebuyers at Comey & Shepherd City Office receive a level of service that is unsurpassed by any other firm in the area. We understand that, whether purchasing your first home or your tenth, the process can seem daunting. This is why we go out of our way to make sure you feel completely comfortable and satisfied with your purchase before, during, and after closing. We are dedicated to getting the results you desire and building a relationship on which you can rely.

    Sellers: It’s never easy to pack up and move away from the places and memories we cherish most. But one thing we’ve learned at the Comey & Shepherd City Office over the years is that nothing is as rewarding as finding a prospective homeowner who’s as excited about your home as you were the very first time you saw it. If that sounds difficult, it is. But it’s a lot easier when you’re as enthusiastic about Greater Cincinnati as we are. You’ll notice it right away. Better yet, so will buyers.

    When the time comes to sell your home, it is important that you look for an agent that will have the knowledge, experience, and talent to complete the sale successfully. The professionals at Comey & Shepherd City Office possess these qualities and will use them to coordinate the sale of your home in the most efficient manner possible. From the moment you contact us to put your home on the market until the closing is completed, we are dedicated to working as your agent and making sure you are completely satisfied with the entire process.

    If you are in the market to purchase or sell, please do not hesitate to give us a call. Once you meet us, you will understand that we are here to help you realize the home of your dreams OR sell your home in the most efficient manner possible for the best price & terms :