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Saturday, June 11, 2011

How Changes in the Market Have Affected Home Values in Berea, OH

This will be fun for those number crunching types!

According to Zillow, the median sale price for a single family home in Berea, OH is $120, 000.  Median, being the middle value, meaning half the homes sold above and half sold below this number, seems a safe way to show what is happening in an area.  

First I confess that I am not really sure where Zillow gets its figures.  As I look at the chart, the period of greatest decline in the median sales price is listed from December 1, 2008 to July 1, 2009.  Just prior to that we saw a robust increase in median sales price from October 1, 2008 to December 1, 2008.  Zillow shows this jump going from $134,000 on October 1st to $159,000 on December 1st.   

I searched out all closed sales in the MLS from October 1, 2008 – December 1, 2008.  During this period, 31 home sales had closed in Berea, ranging from $30,000 to $250,000.  The average sales price was $101,261 and the median sales price was $98,900. 

Now I realize that this number does not represent all closed sales, as there are some that closed without the MLS, but since this number represents approximately 98% of all closed sales for that period, I am fairly confident that the additional 2% that closed outside the MLS would not skew the numbers enough to matter.  I have concluded that Zillow must be working with some sort of rolling average that I don't have the patience to calculate.  ;)

So, instead, I worked up my own little hybrid study.  I went back to 2005 to find a period of growth or stability and tracked what has happened in Berea from that point as well as the changes, year over year.  Not really a fancy rolling average kind of thing, but good info, if you ask me.  So here are the MLS stats for all single family residential properties (excluding condos) sold:

May 2005 Snapshot-Cuyahoga County:
12,357 Active/Pending Homes on the market
              1,365 Closed Sales
Berea Statistics from June 11, 2004-2005:  Y/Y Change               
Properties sold: 186                                          -3%
Average Sales Price: $138,342                         +3%
Median Sales Price: $130,000                          +2%
Low: $62,500
High: $745,000

May 2006 Snapshot-Cuyahoga County:
12,389 Active/Pending Homes on the market
              1,307 Closed Sales
Berea Statistics from June 11, 2005-2006:  Y/Y Change          2005/2006
Properties sold: 225                                          +21%                          +21% 
Average Sales Price: $137,582                         -1%                             -1%
Median Sales Price: $132,500                          +2%                            +2%
Low: $55,000
High: $310,800
May 2007 Snapshot-Cuyahoga County:
12,158 Active/Pending Homes on the market
              1,230 Closed Sales
Berea Statistics from June 11, 2006-2007:  Y/Y Change          2005/2007
Properties sold: 203                                          -10%                           +9%
Average Sales Price: $132,904                         -3%                             -4%
Median Sales Price: $131,500                          -1%                             +2%
Low: $45,100
High: $357,833

May 2008 Snapshot-Cuyahoga County:
12,133 Active/Pending Homes on the market
              1,102 Closed Sales
Berea Statistics from June 11, 2007-2008:  Y/Y Change          2005/2008
Properties sold: 176                                          -13%                           -5%
Average Sales Price: $122,813                         -8%                             -11%
Median Sales Price: $125,000                          -5%                             -4%
Low: $8,500
High: $660,000

May 2009 Snapshot-Cuyahoga County:
12,268 Active/Pending Homes on the market
                 996 Closed Sales
Berea Statistics from June 11, 2008-2009:  Y/Y Change          2005/2009
Properties sold: 155                                          -12%                           -17%
Average Sales Price: $104,967                         -15%                           -24%
Median Sales Price: $100,000                          -20%                           -23%
Low: $30,000
High: $250,000

May 2010 Snapshot-Cuyahoga County:
12,576 Active/Pending Homes on the market
              1,066 Closed Sales
Berea Statistics from June 11, 2009-2010:  Y/Y Change          2005/2010
Properties sold: 203                                          +31%                          +9%
Average Sales Price: $114,559                         +9%                            -17%
Median Sales Price: $115,000                          +15%                          -12%
Low: $9,500
High: $290,000

May 2011 Snapshot-Cuyahoga County:
11,821 Active/Pending Homes on the market
                 871 Closed Sales
Berea Statistics from June 11, 2010-2011:  Y/Y Change          2005/2011
Properties sold: 143                                          -30%                           -23%
Average Sales Price: $104,480                         -9%                             -24%
Median Sales Price: $109,000                          -5%                             -16%
Low: $5,000
High: $275,000

Once again, according to Zillow, our current median sales price is $120,000.  While I like that figure better than the one the MLS provides, I am skeptical, based on the information available.  Moreover, I am a bit disappointed, at this moment, in this last 12 month period.  Until recently, Berea has enjoyed a relatively low negative impact, considering the market, on its home values.  We saw some nice gains from 2009-2010 that were almost completely wiped out from 2010-2011. 

On a positive note, however, I am confident, based on having seen much recent activity in the market, that we will see another rebound in the 2011-2012 numbers.  As I write this there are 29 homes in Berea under contract and waiting to close.  The asking prices range between $45,000 and $197,990.  Even if 10% of the deals die and another 10% don’t close within the next 30 days, we are still looking at 24 homes sold in this upcoming month.  Only 179 more to go (16 +/- per month) to match 2010, which is totally do-able.  Go Berea!!

While tools like those found on Zillow and other real estate sites can provide some general information about a market area, consider contacting your Realtor® for an up-to-date evaluation of how the current market has affected your home’s value.  Most don’t charge for this service and we are happy to keep our customers, friends and family informed about the value of their investment. 

Thursday, June 9, 2011

Flynns for the Cure

Yesterday evening, I attended a benefit at Stamper's Grill Pub to help raise money for some friends who will be walking in the Susan G Koman 3-day for the Cure.  In case you were unaware, the foundation is focused on breast cancer and has a far reaching global impact that ranges from research to education to financial assistance.

What a good time!  They held several raffles and prizes ranged from 18 holes of golf to wine to $150 gift certificates for local shopping.  The donations to the cause were generous, including a guest performance by The New Barleycorn.  The food was crazy good, too!  I have to say, the Flynns always know how to throw a party.

My friends are walking as a team, Flynns for the Cure.  One team member is a BC survivor and has inspired us all with her determination and spirit.  Each walker has committed to raise $2,300.  Please click the link and donate to the team.  Any size donation is appreciated.

As this post goes to my Life in Berea theme, I have to mention that the walk will begin on Friday, July 29, 2011 near the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in Downtown Cleveland at the Port Authority Lot, 237 Erieside Ave, Cleveland, OH  44114 on July 29, 2011.

The closing ceremony will take place on Sunday, July 31, 2011 at the Cuyahoga County Fairgrounds, 164 Eastland Rd, Berea, OH 44017.

Come and support the walkers.  Cheering stations will be set up along the route which will be posted on the site about 2 weeks prior to the walk.

Friday, June 3, 2011

First Time Home Buyers, Students and Heroes, Oh My! Loan Programs That Help

First time home buyers are either persons who have never owned a home before or persons who have not owned a home for three or more years.  For many first time home buyers, mortgages, down-payments and closing costs are a mystery.  Often, people don't know what is available or whether they qualify.  Your REALTOR® is always a good place to begin.   Many of us are familiar with conventional and federal programs as well as some local ones that can offer additional assistance in certain areas.

Where do you start?
A good first place to start, if you haven't already, is to get a look at your credit reports from the three agencies to which creditors report.  They are Experian, Equifax and TransUnion.  The fastest, easiest way to get them is to log on to  Here, you can order a copy of each of the three reports once per year for free.  In order to see your credit scores, which I recommend that you do, they will charge a small fee.  If you are serious about buying a home, it is a wise investment.

Upon receiving your reports and scores, you want to look for anything that looks unusual.  For instance, credit reporting is not perfect and sometimes things appear on your credit report that are not actually yours.  If you find something unfamiliar on your report, you have the ability to challenge the item and have it removed.  The instructions for doing so for each agency is listed on the site.

You also want to look at each of your accounts to verify that none have reported delinquent or in collections.  All is not lost if you find some of these; however, the lender you eventually work with will likely ask you to explain or pay these to qualify.

The advantage of reviewing your own credit prior to beginning your home search is that you can find problems before you begin and correct them before they become an issue at loan application time and cause you to lose out on your dream home by either zapping your savings to clear up bad debt or delaying the closing beyond the contract dates.

Getting help.
If you are having trouble understanding your credit report, your REALTOR® can usually assist.  Most REALTORS® are also pretty adept at pre-qualifying in order to help you understand your price range based on income, debt, and current interest rates, and others work directly with several preferred lenders that will do the job.  Either way, it is important to make an honest list of all debt prior to sitting down together.  Don't forget things like child support and alimony payments, other loans, credit cards, loans for which you have co-signed, etc.

How much can you afford?
A good rule of thumb is that your prospective mortgage payment should be less than one-third of your monthly gross income.  However, other debt may play a role in the maximum payment for which you will qualify.

Other criteria to consider is that you should be able to show two years of steady employment with consistent or increasing pay.  Over-time and second jobs will not count unless they are consistent and ongoing long term (often 1-2 years).  Bankruptcies must have been discharged, in many cases, at least two years ago and foreclosures often must have been finalized at least three years ago.

How much cash will you need?
Most programs have established a minimum down-payment.  Closing costs are an additional cost representing approximately 3% of the loan amount.  However, there are programs available that will provide down-payment assistance and your REALTOR® should, in most cases, be able to get the seller to contribute to your closing costs.  Gift money from relatives may also be an option.  Additionally, qualifying Veterans have the ability to use the VA $0 down-payment program.  Therefore, in many cases it is possible to buy a home with very little money.

So what assistance is available?
In addition to low down payment loans, there are grants to help with down-payment assistance in Cleveland or East Cleveland, as well as some suburban neighborhoods, grants for first-time home buyers and recent college graduates with at least a two-year degree purchasing their first home.  Coupled with the previously mentioned assistance, Ohio also rewards its heroes with special financing rate reductions on certain loans.  Ask your REALTOR® for more details.

Think you are ready or would like to find out if you are ready?  Give me a call and I will be happy to help you begin the process.  The keys to your new home may be just within reach.

Thursday, June 2, 2011

Cornerstone Brewing Company

As we frequently do, my husband and I walked to CornerStone Brewing Company for dinner last night.  Located at the Berea Triangle, Berea's version of downtown, it was about a 10 minute walk from home.  Their sidewalk patio is one of our favorite hangouts in the summertime.  It seems the entire town will walk by as you enjoy your meal, and it isn't uncommon to be joined for a beer or two by a neighbor. 

CornerStone Brewery, as the name suggests, is more than a restaurant.  They are a microbrewery as well, brewing their own independent beers.  There are staples on tap with such locality inspired names as Grindstone Gold and Sandstone Lager, as well as some interesting originals.  One of my favorites, the Angry Gorilla, has a hint of banana and spice.  The varieties change by season and are always a surprising delight.  The hardest part is choosing one, but don't worry.  You can always order a sampler, a wheel of all seven current varieties, in 2 oz glasses to help you decide.  For the not-yet-of-age, they also brew a fabulous rootbeer.  

For those who like to see how it's done, you can wander to the side of the building and watch through the windows as the brew-mastersErik Rothschiller and Jay Cox, make magic happen. Or ask one of the most friendly of servers to be found anywhere to take you back for a mini tour.  The scents of hops and spice are heavenly.

The menu is perfectly suited to beer drinking with such items as handmade hot pretzels, Reubens, beer battered fish, smoky salmon, Buffalo chicken wraps, and another absolute must-try, the Bavarian Pretzel Chicken.  They also serve phenomenal burgers and several unique varieties of pizza.  But no matter what else you decide to eat, make it a point to order some fried pickles!  They are addictive and are the one item that keeps luring us back, again and again.  

The atmosphere can best be described, on most days as bustling.  The space is long and narrow with high exposed ceilings,  creaky wood floors and an abundance of windows.  The open kitchen and generous bar area add an airy feel and contributes to the activity.  If you haven't been there, trust me, CornerStone Brewing will become a favorite hang out after just one visit.  

Life in Berea, Ohio

I have lived in Berea since 1994.  I first bought my HUD fixer-upper thinking I would spend a couple years here, fix it up and re-sell it.  After all, I was a Lake Erie girl, not a valley girl.  Sure, we loved the MetroParks.  My kids loved to hike and climb and play there, but it was a place to which we went, not where we lived.

Attribution: Chris Light at en.wikipedia
In Lakewood, we lived within walking distance of the lake and had front row seats to all the great storms that rolled in from the north.  We swam whenever we felt like it.  We had great tans and pretty cool sea glass collections.  As a kid, I grew up with boats and didn't think I ever wanted to live where I couldn't get to the lake in a matter of minutes.

What I didn't realize is that the charm of Berea hooks you.  The first thing I learned when I began meeting my neighbors was that they had all either lived in Berea all their lives or they had grown up here, moved away, and then came back.  Apparently, once a person spends any amount of time here, Berea will imprint on your soul.  I suppose you could leave it, but it will call you back.

Another thing I realized, 20 minutes drive to Lake Erie is not that far and it is especially nice if you take the parkway all the way there.

So I thought, every now and then, I would share something of life in Berea on my real estate blog, to perhaps lure those who have not already been cast in its spell.

Caution: This blog may cause a sudden change in geographic location.  Should symptoms occur, do not discontinue use of this blog, as sudden withdrawal can cause permanent and irreversible damage.  Residents of other neighborhoods should promptly contact their Realtor if they are experiencing any of the following symptoms during or immediately after reading this blog: wanderlust, extreme desire to re-locate, uncontrollable urge to drive to Wallace Lake, the unexplained need to feel sandstone, cravings for the fresh smell of park breezes, or what can otherwise only be described as "the itch."

 For detailed information about Berea, OH visit City-Data: