It’s All About the Holidays …

At this time of year it is all about the holidays. We decorate our Christmas tree, home, front yard, car (?), and as I noticed this morning, Lady Gaga has decorated her head.  Yes, she appears to have sprouted half of an evergreen atop her pate.  (See link below.)

Not everyone can wear an evergreen on his or her head. The closest I have come to that is wearing a wreath of blown-out eggshells in my 8th grade Easter play. I was Mother Nature.

But, back to decorating for the holidays. Magazines and websites are full of ideas to decorate. Everyone in the photos has Giada smiles on their faces. They are dressed in clean clothes and no one is sweating. The trees appear magically in their stands.  Many of the photos have a crackling fire, plates full of perfectly decorated sugar cookies set aside a House Beautiful magazine on an unscratched, unmarred coffee table.

These are photos I call Hallmark and Folger coffee moments.

But, if we look behind the scenes at many homes, I think we might see a different picture.  In fact, I am positive we would.

There are no photos of dads and moms crawling out of crawl spaces and attics or wrestling with trees that didn’t seem THAT big at the tree lot. There also aren’t photos of wives giving their spouses the “stink-eye,” because the spouse can’t get the tree to stand straight. I would also bet a biscuit that there have been quite a few husbands who have been permanently maimed because they couldn’t find the top part of the fake Christmas tree from years past.

One friend of mine invited (bribed) her grandchildren to come and help put up the Christmas tree and decorate her house. The cost of the bribe? Drive them to the mall so they could shop, not for others, but themselves. Upon arrival to her house, the sullen faces plopped down and sat there. Directions had to be so basic it was like teaching children how to read. “What is that?” one said, of the Christmas song that had been turned on to get everyone in the mood.

“I can’t work and listen to that,” another said.

Before a twitch of Santa’s nose, iPhones were brought out.

It was only with threats of the bribe being rescinded that anyone helped. And, a merry hook, ho to you.

Three friends have talked have said, “forget it,” about putting up a tree. Bring on January.

Two women friends reported they had a delightful time putting up their tree.  They are both divorced and decorated the tree while under the influence of wine and Garth Brooks. One confessed she had a picture in her mind of she and Patrick Swayze dirty dancing around the tree.

Most mothers say they want help decorating the tree, but they really don’t. It just sounds good to let all of the kids think their efforts are appreciated. Truth is, kids just aren’t capable of getting that Martha Stewart look right. Same thing goes for husbands. They are supposed to be there to do stuff but whatever they do is not going to be right and they will get “The Look” repeatedly.

At my house, my husband carried the 3 ft. tree up from the basement and plopped it down, and I took over. Within 15 minutes, Christmas decorating was finished.  No Santa pillow out, no nutcracker and no wise men. Nada.

Am I anti-Christmas?

Not at all.

I simply am focused on cutting 25 pine boughs to put on my head with a big red bow sot that I can decorate myself like Lady Gaga.

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SRES Designation Awarded to Susan DeBow

Two Bits

I have a great new listing on my website  It is in Landen.  There are lots of photos on website.  

Also … Big, Big News!

I have just been awarded the Seniors Real Estate Specialist (SRES®) designation by the Seniors Real Estate Specialist Council of the NATIONAL ASSOCIATION OF REALTORS® (NAR).

I join more than 16,000 real estate professionals in North America who have earned the SRES® designation.  All were required to successfully complete a comprehensive course in understanding the needs, considerations, and goals of real estate buyers and sellers aged 55 and older.

SRES Council, founded in 2007, is the world’s largest association of real estate professionals focusing specifically on representing senior clients in real estate transactions. There are more than 16,000 active members of the organization world-wide.  The NATIONAL ASSOCIATION OF REALTORS®, “The Voice for Real Estate,” is America’s largest trade association, representing more than 1.3 million members involved in all aspects of the residential and commercial real estate industries.

If you are looking to downsize, or have parents who are in a transition period of their lives and need help deciding what housing options are best for them, I would be glad to help. Each generation’s needs are different. The SRES has given me great insight into the needs of people over 50. 


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How I Became a Realtor

I love to watch house shows. “Love it or List It,” “House Hunter’s International,” remodeling shows, “This Old House,” almost any house show that is on television. I have always found houses fascinating. 

When I was little, I lived in a house my parents had built. We would all go out for Sunday rides and my mother would take note of houses that were for sale. I was fine if they wanted to look at “new” houses, but when it came to what I termed, “used” houses, well, not so much.  The word resale was not in my vernacular. I remember going with my parents to look at a “used house” in Kenwood, an area my mother would have given her eye teeth to live in. She loved McDonald’s french fries and the first McDonalds in our area was in Kenwood, along with Kenwood Shopping Center, where mother spent a good portion of her life in the McAlpins store. 

I can still picture walking through the large ranch house, my parents and the Realtor, pointing out the amenities.  All I could think was, “Well, for Pete’s sake, someone else has lived here. Who would want to live in a house someone else had lived in?” 

I had no clue. I did know that I enjoyed floor plans and house magazines. Sometimes, in church, on the visitation cards, I’d draw a floor plan during the sermon, which always seemed to last about 3 hours. There is still one floor-plan that I remember drawing.  I could draw it now if I wanted. Maybe I will and post it sometime. 

Eventually, I wised up and got over my immature, snobbish attitude towards resales. I overcame it so much that the first house my husband and I bought was an old house that was quite worn. There were so many burn holes in the carpet from where the aged woman who lived there dropped cigarettes, that it was amazing the house hadn’t burned to the ground. The wiring was jerry-rigged. The man who had lived in the house, was a tinkerer and woodworker. A real do-it-yourselfer.  

Layers and layers of wallpaper were on every wall. The stove in the kitchen was old. I called it a “flame-thrower” as every time I lit a match to turn on the oven, it went WHOOSH! I stood back as far as I could. 

The kitchen sink was something out of the “It’s a Wonderful Life” era. 

It had a claw-foot bathtub in the one up stairs bathroom. There was much water damage in the two huge closets in the big bedroom, (we didn’t have the term ‘master’ bedroom). It was brick and solid as anything, but still shook and rumbled when the firetrucks blasted down the busy road. 

There was no driveway or garage. We parked on the busy street. 

We looked at it on a lark, knowing we didn’t have any money, but were tired of the big apartment complexes we had lived in.  

I had called the Realtor on the sign, who met us to show us the property. After looking at it, we called my parents.  My dad came down to the house for his inspection, pocket knife in hand to dig into a wooden pole in the basement to test for termites. That was his big inspection. Dad also saw the house had good bones and potential. Mom was glad it was five minutes from their house. 

We talked to the Realtor, told him of our financial situation. My parents suggested we go talk to Fred at the building and loan. We did. I don’t recall who came up with the idea of a collateral pledge. At that time I hadn’t a clue what that was. I would later learn about them in real estate classes. I do know we borrowed $500.00 from my parents. The sellers put up another $500.00, and we bought a house. The price? $20,500.

My mom, who had gone through some depression issues, immediately came down and got to work stripping wallpaper. It was therapy. We stripped paper, painted, had new paper hung, replaced carpet, got new wiring and a new roof.  

It cracks me up when I see so many first-time homebuyers disappointed when a house doesn’t have granite kitchen countertops. Heck, we were glad to have a kitchen!

We had one son when we bought the house. We left that house a year and a half later with two sons, and a profit of $14,000, which we used as a downpayment for a new house not on a busy street. When we first saw the new houses in that area, we didn’t think we could afford to build one. We didn’t know about equity. But I knew enough to ask questions. I called up the real estate woman from my parent’s church, whose office was up the block from our house.  She told us what she thought we could sell the house for and we were stunned. But it worked.

While dealing with both real estate agents, I must have shown them something as both mentioned that I would be good in real estate. I put that compliment and nugget in the back of my head as I was still busy having and raising children.

It wasn’t until years later, four young children in the house, when the thought to pursue real estate came to the forefront. Again, we were selling our house, and the agent mentioned I would be good at real estate. 

This time, I took the mention seriously and enrolled in real estate classes. Within a few months, I was a licensed Realtor. As soon as possible, I studied for and received my broker’s license. 

Although I was successful in the business, other things in life tugged at me. At 34, I still didn’t really know who I was. I had other avenues in life I wanted to pursue. I had children to raise. 

All of that is another story.  

As was re-doing our first house, life is a building and remodeling process. A work in progress. Although I was successful in the real estate business, I wasn’t ready for it.  Now I am. I am a different person now, or at least the person I wanted to be but didn’t know how. The wealth of what I have learned in my different business and creative endeavors provides me with such a better footing for this business. 

So, there, you have it, the making of a Realtor. 

If you would like to talk “houses,” please give me a call. 

Susan DeBow  




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Learning Again and Again

I am in the midst of learning and relearning, updating the facts in my mind and having the best time. I have always been of the opinion that if you were not moving forward, you were moving backward. In a world that changes in a nano-second, this is especially true.

When was the last time you learned something new, or relearned something you already knew or thought you knew? I am not talking about going through the motions of it, eyes glazed, only looking for the redundancy, but with eyes wide open, attentive. It is a great joy to learn. It is also a gift to have the ability to do so.

Learning something new or looking at things in a fresh manner creates energy. It builds confidence. It makes you smile.  It makes you engage with other people more. It makes you interested in learning what someone else knows. It gets you out of that deep, dark well that many of us get into.

I am very excited about returning to my real estate roots, seeing how the market, technology, and business has changed. I am using every skill I have acquired in my years of business. And because of being in different businesses through the years, I believe I bring valuable insights. It is amazing how businesses cross-connect.

Yesterday, I took a class on Accessibility/Visit-Ability in real estate. It was taught by a fantastic woman with a disability and included a panel of people who had disabilities. Peg Gutsell, Ed.D., who  has a visual impairment, was a fabulous teacher. Peg has a company called Inclusive Quality.

At the beginning of the class, she told us that shaking our heads yes or no wasn’t going to work. We would have to speak in order to communicate. It is amazing that even with her telling me this, I found myself doing my usual nodding or shaking my head.

Among the many things I learned, were these Ten Tips to help when communicating with a person who has a disability.

1)  Offer to shake hands when introduced.

2)  Identify yourself by name

3)  Offer assistance, but wait until it is accepted

4)  Speak clearly and directly to the person

5)  Listen carefully and patiently to a person who has difficulty speaking

6)  Use common expressions and speak naturally

7)  Be descriptive when giving instructions to a person with a visual impairment.

8)  Hold lengthy conversations at eye level whenever possible.

9)  Avoid leaning on wheelchairs or distracting service animals.

10)  Relax and be yourself.

I asked Peg if there were ever a situation wherre a person could ask someone what their disability was, and she said that you shouldn’t unless your relationship is to the point that that sharing of information is comfortable.

The Fair Housing Act prohibits discrimination on disability by:

* Prohibiting discrimination in housing practices.

* Requiring reasonable accomoddations to be made.

* Requiring certain construction standards for multi-family dwellings built for the first time occupancy after March 13, 1991.

It is not just “nice” to treat people with disabilities fairly … it is the law.

If you would like more information concerning Accessibility and Visit-Ability issues, you can contact

Peg Gutsell or 513-681-0691

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Market Update

According to the Journal News, “Home sales in the Cincinnati area climbed 14 percent in October, and the average price of the homes sold rose 1.6 percent from October 2012.”

That is good news. 

1,895 single-family homes were sold in the Cincinnati area last month, including Butler and Warren counties.  The average price was $154,433, which is up 1.66 percent from the average sale price in October 2012. This information is from the Cincinnati Area Board of Realtors. 

What a difference a few years make.  Last month’s average price is 22 percent higher than the low of $127,018 set in January 2009. That is still off the mark from the $195,370 average reached in June 2007. 

Total sales volume was up, more than 15 percent, as the dollar volume of homes sold rose to more than $72.5 million from about $63 million.

The good news is that houses are more affordable. There are also fewer people underwater with their mortgages.  

One of the nice things about living in the Cincinnati area is that, in general, Cincinnati doesn’t have the highest of the highs or lowest of the lows as some other markets do.  

House prices are not expected to fully recover until 2018. The good news on that is that if you are buying, you can still get a good value.  Image

If you look out your window today, here in Cincinnati, it will be hard to believe this photo was just taken a week or so ago. The brilliant colors have been replaced with dull grey. This was in Landen.  

Real estate prices are very fascinating. I check out the MLS several times a day to see what is new on the market, what has gone pending and what has sold.  I noticed today that one house sold at 101% of asking price. That is not your normal situation these days.  Some were are low as 70% of list to sales price.  Pricing is a very KEY in selling your house. Deciding the list price is part art and part science. And, as much it isn’t Realtor who determine the sales price … it is the market. Sellers can ask what they wish, but that doesn’t mean the market is willing to pay that price. The market doesn’t care that you need “X” amount of dollars to purchase your new house, or that you put in a $50,000 kitchen. The market, (buyers), will determine what your house is worth to them.  

Until next time … 

Please remember, I would love to talk to you about real estate.  Or, for that matter, most anything. I would enjoy getting to meet you.  Susan



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An Interesting Piece of Real Estate News

  • This is an interesting piece of news I read about today in the Cincinnati Enquirer. A company called America Homes 4 Rent has bought 300 houses in Warren County.  They plan on renting the properties. They have bought 750 houses in the Greater Cincinnati area in the last year or so.
  • American Homes 4 Rent is the largest residential real estate investor in the country.  Another real estate investment company has recently purchased 50 houses in Warren County.
  • “There’s also consumer demand for suburban rentals, although perhaps not as much demand as supply at the moment: Last week, 100 area houses were listed for rent at the website, from a three-bedroom for $1,075 in Elsmere to a four-bedroom for $2,100 in Lebanon.”
  • Naturally, homeowners in these areas can get nervous about this. What is the long term scenario for these properties? It is a concern whether the houses will be maintained if occupied by renters. Everyone has heard some horror stories about renters not taking care of the properties. Financial institutions also have an interest in the number of rental properties are in the area.  It is something to pay attention to.
  • I held an open house Sunday in Sailboat Point in Landen. It is a lovely three bedroom condominium with first floor master in a lovely neighborhood.  It is clean as a wink and has a great kitchen with an eating nook by the front window. Very cozy. It is priced at $237,500.  If you would like to see it, give me a ring.
  • Many of the houses in Landen received a makeover this past summer and fall due to the hail storm on April 15. My house got new siding and roofing. With the dire predictions of 60 mph winds yesterday, we were afraid our new roof and siding would end up in Pennsylvania. Luckily, the storm was not as bad here as anticipated.  Unfortunately, it devastated other areas and tragically took lives.
  • If you have any questions about what is going on in real estate, please let give me a ring.  If I don’t know the answer, I will be glad to find the information.


Susan DeBow  Century 21 HomeStar

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2014 Homearama to break ground

2014 Homearama to break ground

 Groundbreaking is set for 1 p.m. Friday for next summer’s Homearama new home show at Carriage Hill in Liberty Township, Butler County.

Homes in the show July 12-27 will feature a variety of architectural styles and range from $950,000 to $1.8 million.

Builders include Arthur Rutenberg Homes, Clayton Douglas Homes, Daniels Homes, Hensley Custom Building Group, Jack H. Wieland Builders, Justin Doyle Homes, The Leland Group, M/I Homes of Cincinnati, Robert Lucke Homes and W.V. DeStefano Homes.

Homearama is produced by the Home Builders Association of Greater Cincinnati.

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