New Real Estate Realities: The First-Time Buyer

Always looking for a way into the housing market.

Bar none, Hyde Park and Oakley are the two neighborhoods in Cincinnati that first-time buyers gravitate to most heavily, says Susan Rissover of Keller Williams Advisors: “They all seem to want houses with character.” But as demand goes, so go prices, and many first-timers have been squeezed out. Enter Pleasant Ridge.

Photograph by Jeremy Kramer

Homes in this city neighborhood just north of downtown are no steal. “You usually have to be in that upper-$100,000-close-to-$200,000 range to get in there,” says Pam Porter, a real estate agent with RE/MAX, which is tough “with salaries remaining static.” But the housing stock in Pleasant Ridge does have charm, and the average home sale price between May 2013 and May 2014 was $151,218, according to the Cincinnati MLS. Rissover notes that you might even be able to afford one with a garage, which is a big thing, especially after the winter we just had.

If you’re a potential seller in Pleasant Ridge, take note: First time home buyers are not so interested in fixer-uppers. “Whether its HGTV or how we’ve been brought up, there’s a lot of instant gratification out there,” says Michael Hinckley, senior sales vice president with Coldwell Banker West Shell. Maybe, he speculates, there are fewer handy people or they have less free time; either way, “now they have other things they want to do” besides work on their homes.

And high-end finishes are no longer the dangling carrot they once were. “Obviously granite is great,” says Porter. “But I don’t necessarily think a first-time homebuyer is swayed by that as much as they’re swayed by the harder, more structurally-oriented things. If they go in and all the concrete is a mess, that’s an issue. If there’s water in the basement, I don’t care how beautiful the kitchen is, you’ve got issues. For first-time home buyers, a repair might be really simple but immediately in their minds the price doubles, which makes that house not achievable anymore.”

Charming old homes here come without the high price tag: average home sale price between May 2013 and May 2014 was $95,930. Recent development in Rookwood doesn’t hurt either, says Porter—more places to eat and shop boosts property values.

Both are “headed in the right direction” in first-time buyers’ eyes, says Hinckley. “During the downturn,” adds Rissover, “Northside’s values went up.” A just reward for a community that has worked hard “to build an up-and-coming neighborhood,” says Hinckley.

Want more New Real Estate Realities? The New Constructionists, The Luxury Renters, The Comeback, The Can-Do Urban Condo, The Teardown

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