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Vacant Home Preparation Tips

Vacant Home Preparation Tips

Vacant Home Preparation Checklist

Whether for vacation purposes, temporary change of location due to employment or some other reason homeowners may need to leave their home vacant for a while.  Short-term leaving a house vacant is usually not much of an issue and does not require much preparation.  Long-term leaving a home vacant though requires the home to be properly prepared otherwise the homeowner could come back to disastrous conditions.  This article provides some tips on what homeowners should be doing when leaving their home vacant for an extended period of time.

Security Tips

Some people opt to turn off power and turn off internet connections to the vacant house.  By doing that though the homeowner is limiting their ability to monitor their home remotely with security cameras and security systems.  While there are home security systems that can run on cell phone service they still need power for the monitoring system and sometimes they charge more for continual cell phone monitoring versus using an internet or phone (land line) connection.  By having a monitored security system the homeowner can have peace of mind that if someone does try to break in the police can be called to check out the property.

Always on security cameras also need an internet connection so the homeowner can monitor the home from anywhere they can get access to internet and a cell phone.  Different parts of the home can be monitored so if the alarm does in fact go off the light...

Do New Construction Homes Come With A Warranty?

new construction home warranty

Do New Construction Homes Come With A Warranty?

One of the biggest advantages of a new construction home is that pretty much everything from top to bottom is brand new.  Being brand new does not mean picture perfect though as there still can be problems/issues lurking in a new construction home.  Buyers of new construction home have the option to have a home inspection performed and the inspection usually is done in multiple stages as the progress of the home is completed.  In this article new construction home buyers can learn what sorts of warranties and guarantees they may get after they close on the home.

New Construction Home Warranty

The warranty coverage and warranty time frames will vary builder by builder and buyers need to understand what type of warranty they are getting before they sign on the dotted line.  By working with a real estate agent or real estate attorney the buyer can have someone in their corner representing their best interests.  Warranties for things like appliances installed in the house will be passed onto the buyer by the builder after closing on the house.  So if for example the refrigerator goes bad the buyer will need to contact the refrigerator manufacturer to get service for it.  On the other hand, if the issue is related to the warrantyinstallation of the appliance then the builder should be taking care of any defects related to the appliance installation.

Many builders offer a one-year general warranty on the home which covers defects outside of normal wear and tear.  Some...

What To Know About Capital Gains Tax When Selling A Home

capital gains and selling a home

What To Know About Capital Gains Tax When Selling A Home

Capital gains tax is a tax homeowners and real estate investors will pay to the government after selling their home or investment property and they have made a profit.  Depending on the level of profit and whether the homeowners are married or not the tax can be zero or some other amount more than zero.  Real estate investors have different rules to work under and that will have an impact on what taxes they pay.  This article looks at the capital gains tax at the federal level and what homeowners and investors need to know about it.

Note on Tax Advice

The numbers in this blog article are general and with the tax laws being complicated, this article is intended to help homeowners and real estate investors better understand the capital gains tax process when it comes to selling a home or investment real estate.  As with anything tax related things could be different based on individual circumstances and both homeowners and real estate investors are advised to consult with a Certified Public Accountant (CPA) or a Tax Attorney for advice related to their particular situation.  By utilizing a tax expert money can be saved in the form of avoiding penalties for getting things wrong or by learning about other tax breaks that may be available based on an individual’s personal situation.

Home selling expert Bill Gassett of Maximum Real Estate Exposure provided sage advice on real estate taxes.

Paul, I have owned and sold several homes and have been a Realtor for three decades. So,...

Which Rooms Offer The Best Renovation Return On Investment

room renovation

Which Rooms Offer The Best Renovation ROI

ROI or return on investment with regards to home renovations means when a homeowner puts money into improving/updating a room what will be their potential increase in value.  With many home updates the amount of money put into the update does not necessarily mean an equal return in value.  So for example a homeowner pays $7000 to update a bathroom, that does not mean their home value automatically goes up $7000 all other things being equal.  In this article homeowners can learn about which room updates will give them the best return on investment.

What Does an Update/Renovation Involve?

A renovation basically means making updates, so the room is in good condition again.  That could be as simple as a fresh coat of paint on the walls and cabinets (if present) to a full strip everything out and replace with brand new items after taking the room down to the studs.  If a particular room has been recently updated but the paint is worn/dirty the homeowner can paint the room and call it a day.  On the other hand, if the fixtures are original to the home when built in the 1950s then a full renovation is more likely to be needed to make everything good again.  

Regardless of whether the fixtures work or not part of the reason for renovating a room is to bring it up to current standards.  That means modern light fixtures, modern cabinetry, modern plumbing fixtures and more as the room needs according to its intended purpose.  So for example updating a bathroom can mean tearing out old tub and tiles and adding new tub and tiles in addition to new plumbing...

Smart Home Technology in 2024

Smart Home Technology in 2024

Smart Home Technology in 2024

Smart home technology in 2024 can make home life much easier, more secure and more cost effective.  From smart security cameras, smart vacuums to smart thermostats many of these smart devices operate without the need for much homeowner input and take a home to the next level.  Buyers these days are looking for smart home features when shopping for a home and many new home construction builders add smart home features as part of the base package for their homes.  Check out what smart home features are a must have for homeowners in 2024.

Smart Home Control Panels

Many new construction homes are coming today with smart home control panels (also called hubs) installed into the home.  These smart control panels control security systems, HVAC systems, smart speakers, lighting and more all in one device and can be accessed anywhere the homeowner has access to internet and a smartphone.  These smart control hubs work with many of the home automation software AI assistant protocols like Google Assistant, Amazon Alexa, Apple HomeKit and more.

As these control hubs support a variety of software and apps that means it is easy to add on different brands that also support one of the common protocols and control them all in one central location.  Things like smart blinds/curtains that can be controlled via the hub means being able to let the sunlight in when needed or close them when no light is needed.  As more smart devices for home use come to market the existing hub should be able to control them all at one place.

Security Systems

Security systems include...

6 Reasons Why Your Home Did Not Sell

6 Reasons Why Your Home Did Not Sell

6 Reasons Why Your Home Did Not Sell

There are a number of common reasons that a home listed for sale ended up not getting any offers and therefore not selling.  For the home seller who truly wants to sell their home understanding and addressing these common reasons can help put them on the path to selling the home the next time it is listed for sale.  Qualified real estate agents will understand these reasons and be able to guide a home seller to avoid them, but the home seller should also understand the causes of a failed sale as well.


First and foremost, pricing is on the top of the list as a common reason why a home did not sell.  Homebuyers are looking to get the best value for their money when buying a home and go in fully informed with regards to home prices and features.  Regardless of how many upgrades or add-on features a home has if the price is not in line with other homes in the neighborhood it will not sell.

Many neighborhoods tend to have similar houses where the builder went with similar quality and design.  If one house in the neighborhood has been upgraded that does not necessarily mean the homeowner will be able to recover the price of the upgrades when selling the home.  Home buyers will be looking at similar houses within a similar price range.  While it may be nice to have an updated/upgraded home, buyers will not be willing to pay a premium for that option.  There is also the added concern that an appraiser may not find the value to be what the seller thinks it is, which would result in a lender not approving a mortgage for the home.

If the price of a home is above other homes in the neighborhood, buyers...

Tips For First Time Home Sellers

first time home seller tips

Tips For First Time Home Sellers

Getting ready to sell a home is more than just signing a listing agreement and posting the house on the local multiple listing service (MLS).  In order to get the best possible offer the first time home seller should make sure their home is in tip top condition both looks and function wise.  Having broken appliances or fixtures, dirty walls, dirty floors or more just distract buyers from seeing what the home is truly capable of.  In this article first time home sellers can learn about some of the important areas they should be addressing before listing the home for sale.

Home Repairs

Making sure the home is in tip top condition with no clear repair issues is an important step to take to make sure buyers are happy with the home they see.  Homes with deferred maintenance can be seen as ticking time bombs by home buyers.  Since if there are some issues left untouched what else could be hiding beneath the surface of a home that can be an expensive surprise to a new owner.  For those issues, sellers may not be aware of getting a pre-listing home inspection can help the first-time home seller identify critical areas that need to be addressed.

When a home buyer gets a home inspection report with little to no significant issues that will only help the closing process go through that much quicker.  By repairing things prior to listing the home for sale the home seller can save valuable time by not having to get repairs done in a short time frame if the buyer were to request repair...

Can A Mortgage Be Transferred To Someone Else

Can A Mortgage Be Transferred To Someone Else

Can A Mortgage Be Transferred To Someone Else

Some homeowners may get an offer to “buy” their home where the buyer proposes to give a small down payment to the homeowner and take over the existing mortgage.  As part of this deal the buyer agrees in writing to continue paying on the mortgage.  Especially with mortgage interest rates much higher than they were in the recent past getting a house with a low-rate mortgage can be a great deal.  Once the homeowner moves out the buyer will then attempt to sell, rent or live in that house.  The problem with situation becomes when the current homeowner does not have an assumable mortgage or has not done the proper paperwork for the buyer to assume the mortgage when the mortgage is assumable.  If the buyer stops paying on the mortgage the trouble will begin.

Which Mortgages Are Assumable?

An assumable mortgage means a buyer can officially take over an existing mortgage and take the place of the current homeowner whose name is on the mortgage.  Generally VA (Veteran’s Administration) and FHA (Federal Housing Authority) mortgages are the only assumable mortgages for residential real estate.  Both the VA and FHA have rules and requirements for the new buyer to meet prior to being able to assume the mortgage.  Failing to meet those requirements can prevent the assumption of the mortgage.  As a result the homeowner needs to be discussing the assumption process with the VA/FHA at the very start before any agreements are made to sell a home with the condition of the buyer assuming an...

What Does It Mean To Be House Poor?

what to do when house poor

What Does It Mean To Be House Poor?

Getting into a house poor situation usually is the result of stretching ones budget in the hopes of some future promotion, bonus, or new (read pays more) job.  Other times it may be because there is a change it job situation or change in marital status and now what used to be enough earnings to cover the mortgage payment is gone.  Being in a house poor situation means barely being able to afford the mortgage on a home and as a result falling behind in important repairs and maintenance of the house.  There are some different options homeowners can consider when they find themselves in a house poor situation as discussed in this article below.

Figure Out What Fits Within the Budget Before Buying

It is easy to get carried away in the excitement of home shopping and start looking at homes before one has sat down with a mortgage lender to figure out what the monthly payments will be.  That is a sure-fire way to lead to disappointment when one finds that “house of their dreams”, the must have house which leads to stretching oneself to purchase that home.  Any home buyer should first determine how much mortgage they can get pre-approved for and then consider that monthly payment in terms of their monthly take home pay.  Stretching that budget because there is a promotion on the horizon or because of an expected new (higher paying) job while tempting, is a path towards being house poor.

New jobs and promotions are not guaranteed in life and just as easily as those promotions can come a homeowner can find themselves without any job for any number of reasons.  In...

Luxury Home Features For Any Home

Luxury Home Features For Any Home

Luxury Home Features For Any Home

Adding features found in luxury homes can be done for any home but to get the best return on investment (ROI) the home should be in a location where it can realize some gain in value.  A home surrounded by other homes which do not have some of these high-end features may seem nice but will not get much increase in value with added luxury features.  On the other hand, homes in neighborhoods where other homes have some of the features, adding those features could possibly help the home value.  Adding one or more of these luxury features for homeowner enjoyment without regards to value though may be just what is called for if the homeowner is wanting it for their own enjoyment.  

Central Vacuum System

Having a central vacuum system is something found in luxury homes.  Rather than carrying around a cannister vacuum to vacuum the house the homeowner instead moves the vacuum hose from room to room as needed.  The central vacuum system needs to be emptied less frequently as well as usually there is a large cannister which holds all the vacuum debris in one location.  Sometimes homeowners install a kitchen vacuum port where one can sweep up debris to a single location and let the vacuum suck it up.

Typically, central vacuum systems are easiest to install when the home is being constructed.  A home being remodeled where drywall is being removed might also be an ideal time to have installed a central vacuum system as the pipes and power for the system are usually installed behind the walls.  Central vacuum systems can be installed in existing homes as...

What Happens on the Day of Closing?

What Happens on the Day of Closing?

What Happens on the Day of Closing?

On the day of closing the buyer and the seller are at the end point of the journey for buying/selling a home.  There will be a number of documents for both parties to sign.  At this point the background title search will also have been completed, the mortgage loan (if being used to make the purchase) being given clear to close and any down payments (or payments from the seller) must be made.  This article explores in depth what happens on closing day so both the buyer and the seller of a home can be prepared.

Buyer Closing with a Mortgage

Once the mortgage lender gives the buyer clear to close on the loan the actual closing can be scheduled and is usually scheduled by the title company.  The mortgage lender will typically send the funds to the title company ahead of the actual closing time.  Once all parties have signed their documents and the lender has gotten and approved of their required documents then the title company will be given authorization to release the funds to all parties as required by the contracts.

The buyer and the seller can meet at the closing table if their schedule permits.  Closings can be done separately though with the buyer and seller signing separately at their own time and even in different locations.  Not until both parties sign though is the transaction considered closed.  The seller will not be able to get their proceeds check, nor will any of the real estate agents be able to pick up their commission check until both the seller and the buyer have signed their documents and provided their payments.

Typically, it is the buyer who must bring money to the closing table and that money is to cover the...

Common Real Estate Myths

Common Real Estate Myths

Common Real Estate Myths To Know About

Myths about real estate and homeownership have been around for a long time.  These myths are passed along sometimes as common knowledge but when taking a little closer look, the facts do come to light.  Check out some of the common myths and the reality of the situation in this article below.

Myth: Home Buyers Don’t Need a Mortgage Pre-approval Prior To Seeing Homes

With a home being one of the most expense purchases made in one’s lifetime, not knowing ahead of time the amount of money they can borrow to buy a home can lead to great frustration.  Seeing a house that a buyer truly loves only to then find out it is out of their price range means a lot of wasted time and wasted effort.  A mortgage pre-approval is an easy process providing the home buyer has all their paperwork ready to give to the mortgage lender.  By getting a pre-approval ahead of time not only does the buyer learn the amount of mortgage they can get but other issues can be taken care of if they do pop up before any offer is made.  Things like correcting credit report errors or simply paying down certain accounts the buyer can get a better interest rate and better terms which leads to big long-term savings.  

As part of the mortgage pre-approval process the buyer will learn how much money they will need to bring down when purchasing a home based on the mortgage type.  Sometimes this can be a large number (depends on mortgage type) and the buyer may not have all that cash ready to put down towards a downpayment.  Which means if they do find a home they love and can’t come...

Great Local Cincinnati Charities To Know About For #GivingTuesday

giving tuesday cincinnati charities to consider

Local Greater Cincinnati Charities To Know About For #GivingTuesday

After Thanksgiving comes Black Friday, Small Business Saturday and then Cyber Monday.  Black Friday, Small Business Saturday and Cyber Monday are all about buying something at a discount or buying local in anticipation of the upcoming holidays of Christmas, Hanukah, Kwanza, Festivus and more.  Another day for consideration is #GivingTuesday.  With #GivingTuesday the idea is to contribute some money to a charity of your choosing so those who are in need can benefit as well from the holiday season.  Being a personal fan of local charities I have compiled a number of local charities in this article.   These charities operate in both the Greater Cincinnati, Ohio area and Northern Kentucky areas.  Take a look at the great things these local charities are doing and consider donating to them or becoming a volunteer.

La Soupe

La Soupe located at 4150 Round Bottom Road Cincinnati, OH 45244 and helps people get nutritious meals.  Founded in 2014 by Chef Suzy DeYoung the goal of La Soupe is to repurpose excess food (that would otherwise be thrown out) to create tasty and nutritious soups and meals for those in need.  Currently La Soupe rescues approximately 5000 pounds of food per week and with that is able to feed 2000 children in and around the Cincinnati area.  La Soupe recently sent 23,000 pounds of food to assist with hurricane recovery efforts in Houston, Texas.

Not only does La Soupe give soup to those in need they also sell their soups to anyone wanting to buy their delicious soups.  So in case you want...

How Long Does It Take To Sell A Home?

how long sell

How Long Does It Take To Sell A Home?

From start to finish a home can take a number of months to be sold.  By being sold it is meant what happens at the closing table when the seller transfers ownership of the home to the new buyers.  Depending on when the homeowners decide to get their home ready for sale there are several tasks a homeowner should perform to make sure they get the best value for their home when listed for sale.  This article explores the time involved and how long it takes for a home to get sold.

Prior to Listing the Home for Sale

Unless a home is in perfect condition, prior to listing a home for sale the homeowner needs to be cleaning up the house, refreshing certain aspects and making needed repairs.  If the carpet and paint is old, dated, and/or worn it is best to put up fresh paint and replace the carpet with new neutral color carpet.  Old broken appliances should be replaced.  Any deferred maintenance issues should be fixed prior to listing the home for sale.  Basically, anything that a buyer is going to look at and think twice about making an offer due to the condition should be fixed.

Depending on contractor availability and time of year these types of updates can take a couple of months or more.  Especially outdoor updates, repairs can’t be done if the weather outside won’t permit it (snow and freezing temperatures are a perfect example).  In a hot housing market, the quality contractors can be booked out months in advance, so proper planning is important.  If a homeowner knows they want to sell at a particular time, getting everything evaluated six to eight months prior is key.  Trying...

How To Maintain A Sewage Ejector System In Your House

How To Maintain A Sewage Ejector System

How To Maintain A Sewage Ejector System In Your House

Some houses due to placement need a sewage ejector system in order to take the household wastewater and pump it to the sewage line outside of the house.  A sewage ejector system may be needed for part of the house that is below the sewer line such as a basement or the entire house may be built with a sewage ejector system at the lowest point of the house.  Proper maintenance and use of the sewage ejector system is a must in order to avoid a dirty backup of sewage in the basement.  In this article learn about the key components of a sewage ejector system, how to make sure the sewage ejector system runs properly and maintenance tips.

Sewage Ejector System

The sewage ejector system consists of several components.  There will be a sewage basin where all the wastewater is collected until pumped to the outside sewage line, a sewage ejector pump or sewage grinder pump (sometimes two pumps with one serving as a backup), and a high-water alarm.  There are also various piping for draining wastewater into the sewage basin as well as pipes connected to the sewer line and a vent line pipe.

A standard sewage ejector pump is designed to pump out sewage and can handle a certain size of solids to be pumped out of the basin.  These pumps are submersed in the wastewater and when the wastewater level reaches a certain level a float sensor is triggered causing the motor to power on and pump the waste out of the basic.  These sewage ejector pumps usually only run when the wastewater is at a certain level and should not be running continuously.  If a homeowner hears their...

How To Maintain A Septic System

How To Maintain A Septic System

Tips For Maintaining your Septic System

Maintaining a septic system is essential for its longevity and to prevent potential issues and public health/environmental impacts. We will provide a comprehensive guide on septic system maintenance.

It covers topics such as understanding its importance, how systems work, essential maintenance tips, effective management strategies, troubleshooting common problems, prolonging system lifespan, and educating others.

Regularly pumping a septic tank is the most vital part of system maintenance. From experience as a Realtor over many years, many homeowners don't realize the importance of proper care. We will aim to change that.

Understanding the Importance of Septic System Maintenance

Maintaining a septic system is essential for the long-term functionality and protection of human health and the environment. By properly caring for your septic system, you can prevent potential hazards and ensure its efficient operation.

The Impact of Proper Septic System Care on Health and the Environment

Proper septic system care plays a significant role in safeguarding public health. When septic systems are not well-maintained, untreated sewage may contaminate nearby groundwater or surface water sources.

This contamination can pose serious health risks, such as waterborne diseases and pollution of drinking water supplies. By prioritizing regular maintenance and inspections, you can prevent these potential health hazards and protect the well-being of your community.

Environmental Guidelines and Regulations for Septic...

How to Bury a St. Joseph Statue to Sell Your House

How to Bury a St. Joseph Statue to Sell Your House

How to Bury a St. Joseph Statue For Selling Your Cincinnati Property

Selling a house can be challenging and stressful, especially if your property has been on the market for an extended period without any interest from potential buyers. In such situations, some homeowners use unconventional methods to improve their luck. 

One such practice is burying a St. Joseph statue, a centuries-old tradition believed to bring assistance in selling a home. This comprehensive guide will explore the steps involved in this tradition.

Maximum Real Estate Exposure has written extensively on burying a St. Joseph statue for house selling. After reading their helpful resource, sharing these tips with Kentucky and Cincinnati homeowners seemed like a great idea.

What is the St. Joseph Statue Tradition?

The St. Joseph statue tradition is rooted in Catholicism and is based on the belief that St. Joseph, the patron saint of real estate, can intercede on your behalf to expedite the sale of your home. 

While no concrete evidence supports its effectiveness, many people find solace in this ritual. Is it a common home-selling myth, or does it hold some credence?

Many real estate agents and home sellers swear by the practice. While others think it is a bunch of hogwash.

If you have faith it will work and want to give it a shot, here are the instructions.

Materials Needed

Before you begin, you'll need a few essential materials:

  • ...

New Construction Home Mortgage Options

New Construction Home Mortgage Options

What Sort of Mortgage Options Are There For New Construction Homes?

With the inventory of homes available for sale being tight in many markets, home buyers are looking at new construction homes.  With a new construction home a buyer can buy a newly built home that is ready or almost ready to move in.  Or they can select a floor plan offered by a builder, select a lot/location and select the finishes and fixtures as permitted by the builder.  For financing that new construction home purchase there are different options to consider as this article explores.

Construction Mortgage

Some new construction homes are available in new developments and the builder is building new homes in particular lots that have been set up previously.  For other new construction homes the buyer is responsible for finding the land for their home, purchasing that land and then getting in touch with an architect and/or builder to plan the actual home.  The land for the home can be anywhere where there is enough space to build the desired home and the land is buildable.

Mortgage lenders do offer land loans to purchase land although the interest rates and terms of land loans are not as favorable as a mortgage loan for an owner-occupied home.  Lot loans are viewed as somewhat riskier to the lender for a variety of reasons and hence come with higher interest rates and shorter overall terms.  Buyers may get a better deal if they get a loan that covers the purchase of the land as well as building of the home as discussed below.

Some mortgage lenders will offer construction mortgages which allow the buyer to purchase...

Batavia, Ohio new construction homes by DR Horton.

In this video I tour the Milford model new construction home for the Heritage Farm development in Batavia, Ohio built by D.R. Horton. East of downtown Cincinnati Batavia is close to shopping, entertainment, transportation and more. This is a new development with new homes.  Take a look and reach out to get assistance with buying a new construction home.  If you are interested in buying a new construction home in Northern Kentucky or Greater Cincinnati please reach out to me at: or call/text 513-560-8002


Why Do Pending Home Sales Fall Through in Real Estate?

Why Do Pending Home Sales Fall Through in Real Estate?

Why Do Pending Home Sales Fall Through in Real Estate?

Pending home sales can sometimes fall through due to various reasons. These include buyer-related factors like remorse, financing challenges, and lack of awareness about the buying process. Property-related factors such as inspection issues, appraisal discrepancies, and contingencies can also contribute to sales falling through.

Educating buyers and sellers, addressing financing and inspection concerns, and streamlining the sales process are crucial to mitigate this risk. Falling through sales can impact buyers and sellers and affect the overall housing market trends. Successful home sales require appropriate pricing, enhancing property appeal, and effective marketing strategies.

Understanding Pending Home Sales: An Overview

Pending home sales are an essential aspect of the real estate market. We will provide an overview of pending home sales, emphasize the significance of analyzing pending home sales data, and explore current trends and statistics in the real estate market.

What are pending home sales?

Pending home sales refer to residential properties that have entered into a contract but have not yet closed. These properties are no longer available for purchase, as they are under contract with a prospective buyer....

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