Cleveland Real Estate Market Ends 2014 On A High Note

The home values in Cleveland and its surrounding areas rose again in 2014, gaining about 3.5%, according to a recent report in real estate industry website Zillow. Although slightly less than 2013’s gain of 3.7%, the numbers show a positive increase for the second straight year, and, the first two-year positive growth for the Cleveland area since the recession hit the housing market a few years ago.

In another positive statistic, housing data website RealtyTrac estimated that Cleveland’s home sales price appreciation accelerated 16% in 2014, compared to 8% in 2013.

Experts are hopeful for continued growth in this area, as young adults (aka millennials) begin to enter the housing market in force for the first time, thanks to increased growth in job opportunities for the 18-34 demographic and first-time home buyer mortgage incentives.

The Wall Street Journal this month mentioned Cleveland by name when talking about midsize U.S. cities experiencing growth, especially in it downtown areas.

In describing why some cities are seeing strong urban growth, the Wall Street Journal said: “…the trend is spreading to midsize cities, such as Nashville and Cleveland, where a long-struggling downtown is beginning to draw residents seeking city life without the high cost they would face in New York or Boston. Developer Doug Price, for example, once focused on apartments in the suburbs. Now he is the biggest converter of downtown Cleveland office buildings to apartments.”

Wondering about your home’s value? Considering selling your home in 2015? Looking to purchase a great home at a great price? Contact us today, The Rock Group,440-895-1111 or




January 15th, 2015

Increase Your Power When Buying and Selling a Home

One of the many services offered by Colleen Rock and The Rock Group is a loan shopping service. This service can find a way for buyers to get more home for their money, as well as present listings as an even better value.

Many buyers today mistakenly assume that when buying a home, they have to put down more than five percent. Otherwise, if they put down less than five percent, they are stuck with FHA financing that has expensive private mortgage insurance (PMI), which can raise their monthly payments by a couple hundred dollars per month, on average.

However, by working with The Rock Group and their loan shopping service, qualified buyers with less than 5 percent down may not have to worry about PMI. For example, Colleen Rock can inform her buyers of a conventional (not FHA) loan that allows for 3 percent down with NO PMI attached.

By skipping past the costly PMI, this can allow buyers to look at homes with higher asking prices, but still keep their monthly payments as low as originally budgeted, or get the home they desire for less per month than they expected. The Rock Group’s loan shopping service can give buyers home purchasing power they never realized they possessed.

Additionally, The Rock Group works with home renovators. Their loan service has a product that merges both the purchase price and the expected renovation costs into a single loan. This is not a FHA product, but rather a conventional loan, with a down payment of as low as 5 percent.

Not only have these loans helped buyers who are clients of The Rock Group, but sellers as well. Colleen Rock has been able to use her loan shopping service to educate the buyers of her listings of ways they can save money on their monthly payments, making it so Colleen’s sellers didn’t lose deals to buyers who wrongly assumed they could not come up slightly to purchase the house they wanted.

There are restrictions for these loans, of course, so it makes sense to talk with Colleen Rock and her loan specialists to find out how they can help you.

The bottom line is that this loan shopping service has put people in homes they otherwise would have never been able to consider.

When considering who to work with to meet your real estate needs in the northeast Ohio areas, the decision is an easy one… Contact Colleen Rock and The Rock Group, Cleveland’s real estate experts, at 440.895.1111.

home loan balancing act


1 comment December 29th, 2014

Holiday Events in Cleveland, OH

Looking for some fun family events to enjoy this month in Cleveland? Here are some to consider…

Cleveland Botanical Garden’s “Glow”
For the third year in a row, “Glow” is back at the Cleveland Botanical Garden, which this year is both an indoor and outdoor adventure. As with the past two years, the indoor activities features breath-taking lights and decorations, giant gingerbread houses, live Christmas music and caroling, hot chocolate, holiday candies, specialty shopping, and much more. Newly added this year is an outdoor walking tour, with holiday artwork and the gardens lit up in festive lights. Kids can also hop aboard a train ride on the Garden Express. “Glow” runs through January 4th.

The Rink at Wade Oval in University Circle
The well-maintained outdoor ice rink is back at University Circle, decorated with holiday lights. Admission to The Rink at Wade Oval is only $2, and skate rental is just $3. Special events include live holiday music on the 17th and skating with Santa Claus on December 21st.

Nela Park Holiday Lights
The 90th annual Nela Park holiday lights display can now be seen through January 1st. Nela Park is the world headquarters for General Electric’s Lighting Division. A Cleveland tradition since 1924, GE sets up numerous displays with over half a million light bulbs along the 92 acre Noble Road estate (just southwest of Euclid Avenue in East Cleveland). The 100+ trees and vignettes are all illuminated with high-efficiency LED bulbs. Roll down your windows and listen to the holiday music as you drive by, too!

“Celebrations: Holiday Traditions in Cleveland” at the Western Reserve Historical Society
The WRHS has a nostalgic holiday event this year. Families can take rides on the famous Euclid Beach Carousel; see the 1950s/1960s mechanical Christmas figurines that were in the store window displays of Higbee’s Co.; winter vignettes in the upper Crawford museum; holiday lights and decor at each of the historic mansions; craft-making; authentic malts and much more. Additionally, Mr. Jingeling, the classic “Keeper of the Keys” from the Halle Bros. department store, will make appearances on December 20th and 21st.

Kringles’ Inventionasium at Tower City Center
Visit the Tower City Center in downtown Cleveland (230 W. Huron Road) and see Mr. Kringle and Company. Set up within the mall is Kringle’s Inventionasium, a twist on the traditional “mall Santa” set-up. Children are encouraged to play, use their imagination, and learn while having fun. There are guided tours of Mr. Kringle’s toy laboratory, a workshop where kids can create their own toy idea, a “Build-A-Bubble” department, a place to create snow, and more. Of course, there are also photo opportunities. In 2013, Time Magazine named the Mr. Kringle & Company experience one of the best Santas in the U.S.

Winter Waterland at the Greater Cleveland Aquarium
Not only has the Greater Cleveland Aquarium been transformed into a holiday festival of lights, but Santa has been transformed into “Scuba Claus.” Along with visiting Mr. Claus in the shark tank, King Neptune will be making appearances; the aquariums are full of holiday lights and decorations; there are special animal displays; crafts for kids; live music and more.

The Great Lakes Theater Festival’s “A Christmas Carol”
“A Christmas Carol” is back again this year at the Ohio Theater at Playhouse. The Great Lakes Theater Festival production of the classic Dickens Christmas story of redemption runs through December 23rd.

The Festival of Trees and “A Christmas Story” at the Cleveland Play House
The Cleveland Play House, now in its new home at the Allen Theatre Complex (1407 Euclid Avenue), has a pair of holiday treats. The first is the return of their Festival of Trees. This free exhibit features dozens of beautifully decorated trees to make the holidays brighter. The second is the CPH live stage production of the classic holiday movie “A Christmas Story” (running through December 21st).

“A Christmas Story” House & Museum
Speaking of “A Christmas Story,” the Cleveland house used for the classic Midwestern holiday film has been restored to its full movie splendor. Yes, the “leg lamp” is in the front window! The house is open for tours. Located right across the street from the house is the “A Christmas Story” Museum, which features original memorabilia from the film, as well as a collection of rare behind-the-scenes photos. Although the house and museum are open all year long, this is understandably its busiest month.

Thinking about buying Cleveland area real estate in the New Year? Need some home selling tips to give you an edge during the holidays? Talk with an expert who can guide you through the entire process! Contact Colleen Rock and The Rock Group, Cleveland’s real estate experts, at 440.895.1111.


1 comment December 14th, 2014

Luxury Lifestyles: 3 Luxury Fashion Brand Home Collections

‘Luxury Lifestyle’ is a much called-upon catch phrase in today’s sought-after niche markets.

A term often utilized by builders and real estate agents alike, its real success has been more recently enjoyed by luxury fashion brands, such as Armani, Diane Von Furstenberg, Hermès, Fendi and Versace. In addition to their clothing lines, these top designers have extended their runways into our homes. In part, their collections include accessories, dinnerware, fabrics, furniture and lighting. Although not an entirely new concept, the success of these luxury fashion brands has been undoubtedly propelled by their perceptive talents in mastering the trends. In the past few years, where other markets have plummeted, luxury fashion brands have soared (partially fueled by the desire for branded Western goods in China and Asia.) Nonetheless, the luxury fashion brands continued integration into homewares delivers cutting edge style, with a new focus on sustainability, and undoubtedly appeals to the consumers that may buy less, but better.

Here are three that top the list:

FENDI: Since 1989 FENDI CASA creates decors, furniture and prestigious objects that evoke the FENDI taste for homes. A project that is characterized by the workmanship skills of precious materials that translates in the creation of furniture collections such as sofas, armchairs, chairs, beds, poufs and design objects in line with the FENDI lifestyle philosophy.

ARMANI: Armani/Casa was founded in the year 2000 as a separate division, though seamlessly linked to the other “worlds” within the Armani Group, providing a platform for Giorgio Armani to set out his vision of the living space: an intimate and very special place, at one and the same time both comfortable and sophisticated. The collection ranges from furniture to accessories, and from fabrics to ornaments and lighting.

VERSACE: Versace Home collection was launched in 1992. Originally, it started as a collection of lines and textiles for the home… sheets, duvets, pillows and cushions. Later released was a carefully designed range of porcelain dinner services which represented the neo-classical sentiments of its fashion textiles.

March 9th, 2013

Smart Remodeling Can Deliver Immediate Benefits

Whether you’re remodeling to stay or to sell, it’s good to know where best to put your money. After all, our homes are, most likely, the largest investment we hold. They also provide the benefit of immediate gratification – from personal style and comfort, to the tax benefits.

The two projects that consistently top the remodeling list are bathrooms and kitchens. On an average, remodeling these rooms can cost $15,000 – $60,000, respectively. But the cost is well worth the effort. A homeowner can expect to recoup nearly 65% of this cost if he or she sells within the next few years.

After bathroom and kitchen remodeling, think energy efficiency: exterior siding and windows. In Ohio, these projects actually take the lead for providing the highest return on one’s investment. The advantage is also found in the curb appeal they add to the home.

Remember, though, not every improvement is perceived by prospective future buyers as a benefit. For instance, reducing the number of bedrooms—say, from four to three to expand the master bedroom—may be a long-awaited personal desire. However, it could be perceived as detrimental by prospective future buyers, especially if the other neighborhood homes are predominantly four-bedroom dwellings.

Many factors can affect the return on your remodeling investment, such as overall condition of the home, location and quality of finishes. It’s always advisable to speak your real estate agent or an appraiser before making any major improvements. In addition to giving you better insight into your home’s value, a Realtor or appraiser can provide a list of local and reputable remodeling companies.

For a complete Cost vs. Value report, email or call me direct.

February 27th, 2013

Is a Lease Option Right for You?

Today’s economy has undoubtedly raised the level of uncertainty for buyers and homeowners. Will home prices decline further or have we hit bottom? No one wants to pay too much for a home or sell their property for little. An uncertain job market and economy make many people hesitant to leap into home ownership. Many seeking to own a home face another obstacle in getting a mortgage. Many banks now require larger down payments. Renting a home with a lease option may provide an excellent way for a renter to become a homeowner in just a few short years. If a seller has the ability to wait-out the sale, a lease option may make sense.

In a lease option contract, sellers and buyers negotiate most items, and, the contract commonly ranges between a year and three years. A lease option provides a number of very attractive features that help make buying and selling a home a little easier. One positive aspect of a lease option is the potential to lock in a purchase price at the outset of the lease. This factor can benefit both parties. Everyone will know how much the house will sell for at the end of the lease period.

For the buyer, a lease option offers a place to live while saving to buy a home. However, one of the primary benefits of this type of lease is that a portion of the rent payments will be credited toward a down payment at the end of the lease period. This money won’t be returned if the buyer decides not to purchase the property or can’t qualify for a mortgage.

For the seller, they benefits from the rent money received during the lease; and, a tenant in a lease option often maintains the property better than a typical renter. After all, the tenant plans to become the owner of the home at the end of the lease. Also, a lease option includes a first and last month’s deposit, as well as an additional upfront payment. A buyer who cannot complete the purchase usually loses the deposit and upfront payment. If the tenant doesn’t purchase the home and did not care for the property, the upfront payment and deposits protect the seller.

Before signing on the dotted line of a lease option contract, both the buyer and seller need to do some extra homework. A real estate attorney should review the contract to ensure the contract treats each party fairly. It’s also important to get a home inspection and appraisal to be sure the home is in good shape and worth the sales price stated. A lease option is a serious commitment, so everyone involved needs to clearly understand all the details of the arrangement.

Use care when entering a lease option agreement to purchase a home. A lease option offers a great chance for a potential buyer to gain extra time to build up an adequate down payment and lock in a good sale price. It also offers a taste of the benefits and challenges of home ownership. In the meantime, the seller collects rent and gains a responsible tenant for their property. Although the seller keeps any upfront money paid, a lease option provides an out for a buyer if their circumstances change. In these uncertain times, a lease option can offer an excellent opportunity for both the buyer and seller of a home.


January 8th, 2012

Using Home Reversion Plans to Access Home Equity

For the 60+ homeowner, a home reversion plan can be the perfect solution for securing the money they need to do the things that they want to do. What is a home reversion plan? Does the homeowner need to repay the borrowed money?

For homeowners who have reached the age of 60, using home reversion plans to access home equity is an affordable option that can ease financial strain. This type of plan involves a process in which the homeowner trades a portion of the equity in his home to a reversion company in exchange for a sum of cash. The homeowner determines how much of the home equity he wishes to trade to the reversion provider. It is possible to trade a portion of the home’s equity or the entire amount.

The homeowner may also determine whether he wants to receive all of the money at once or in monthly installments. Some homeowners opt to receive all of the money in order to maintain control of the funds. The money can be placed into a bank savings account, checking account, savings bonds, or CDs. It can be invested in stocks or simply placed into a safety deposit box until needed.

For those homeowners who have difficulty managing their finances, the option to receive monthly installments is generally a better one. With monthly installments, the homeowner can receive enough money to cover his monthly expenses, allowing him to live a stress free existence, while still having enough money to use throughout the remainder of his life.

Interest is not charged with a home reversion plan. The homeowner never needs to repay the money to the reversion lender until the home is sold. In the event that the homeowner decides to sell the property and move into a retirement facility, the money is repaid at that time. If the homeowner dies, the individual who inherits the property is responsible for repaying the lender for the amount of money that was borrowed through the home reversion plan.

May 21st, 2011

What You Need to Know about Buying a Bank-Owned Property

The current real estate market seems to be driven by a continual influx of foreclosed, bank-owned properties. Should prospective homeowners consider buying one of these properties instead of new construction or one of the higher-priced homes currently up for resale? Here are a few pointers on what to do if faced with this decision.

Continue Reading February 2nd, 2011

Tax on Home Sales Buried in Health Reform Bill?

Rumors are flying with respect to a Home Sale Tax buried within the Health Reform Bill. The answer is NO.

As always, our association (National Association of Realtors) works diligently in not only supporting homeowner’s rights, but also tracking issues of concern. Here’s a recent excerpt from our news feed that should help clear up some concerns:

Contrary to reports and newspaper articles circulating widely on the Internet, there is not a 4.0% “sales tax” or “transfer tax” on the sale of a home included in the recently signed health care reform bill. The analysis underlying these reports is incorrect and fails to take into account the interplay of the bill’s provisions with already existing real estate tax laws that remain unchanged.

What was included in the health bill is a provision that imposes a new 3.8% Medicare tax for some high income households that have “net investment income.” Any revenue collected by the tax is dedicated to the Medicare hospital insurance program. This new tax will only apply to households with Adjusted Gross Income (AGI) of more than $200,000 for individuals or more than $250,000 for married couples. Since capital gains are included in the definition of net investment income, an additional tax obligation might result from the sale of real property.

In the case of the sale of a principal residence, the existing $250,000/$500,000 exclusion from capital gains on the sale of a principal residence remains unchanged. Consequently, even when the AGI limits are met, the new tax would not be applied to all capital gains that result from the sale of a home. Rather, it would only apply to any home sale gain realized in excess of the $250K/$500K existing primary home exclusion that pushes the filer’s AGI over the $200K/$250K adjusted gross income limit.

The new Medicare tax will not take effect until January 1, 2013.

For more information on the new Medicare tax, please consult NAR’s Health Reform Q&A on this and other provisions of the new health reform law located at:

October 14th, 2010

REALLY? “Federal Energy Audit Certificates” required prior to selling a home?

Since the signing of HR 2454, the American Clean Energy and Security Act of 2009 (aka “the cap and trade” energy bill signed on 6/26/09) rumors have been flying.

The most rampant seem to be:
1) Homeowners will be required to obtain “federal energy audit certificates” before selling their home; and
2) Homeowners will be required to update their homes, per the federal government’s compliance levels, before selling or transferring real property.

This is false… at the federal level. I say this with caution, because the House-approved Bill leaves the decision to states as to whether or not they wish to require energy audits, disclosures, etc. For additional information on this topic, visit the following sites:

April 3rd, 2010

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