how this works

 the wyler house by carl strauss + ray roush. coming soon in clifton!

It came to our attention recently during a conversation with our millennial offspring that people really don’t know how the real estate business works or how we get paid.  So I thought I would use this opportunity to explain one of the strangest – and most misunderstood - professions!  

We don’t get paid to list houses or to show houses.  I don’t get paid to make all of those visual tours that get thousands of viewings each month.  The fancy custom brochures and web pages dedicated to each listing?  The cincinnatimodern website? Nope!

We don’t make a dime until we are with our clients at the closing table.  We (Realtors) are independent contractors.  We are not employees.  Local real estate brokers hold our licenses so we can sell properties through their brokerage.  We have to pay dues to our local, state and national Realtor associations, as well as our local MLS (so we can cooperate with other brokerages and have access to listings).  We also pay an annual fee to Supra so we can have the technology to access lockboxes.  We have to participate in 30 hours of continuing education – that we pay for – every 3 years to keep our licenses (which we also pay for) in the state of Ohio.  This is over and above the cost of the classes to become licensed in the first place (120 hrs of pre licensing classroom hours, licensing exam plus post licensing classes).

Commissions are paid to the BROKERS at closing and are paid by the SELLER.  It is up to the individual broker and the arrangement that they have with their agents (Realtors), what kind of split that agent receives.  So the commission that is collected at closing is actually split 4 ways (listing broker, selling broker, listing agent and selling agent).  Confusing, isn’t it?!

Basically the BUYER for the most part is the only party without obvious skin in the game (at least as far as agents getting paid).  But not really….the buyer holds all the cards to make sure their agent gets paid!  The buyer’s responsibility is actually twofold:

  1. To choose an agent who will work for them, who understands what they are looking for, who has their best interest in mind (see the Ohio Consumer Guide to Agency Relationships for a quick overview of agency),  who is knowledgeable of the market and the housing stock AND
  2. To show that agent the utmost loyalty.  Don’t just call the listing agent on a property because you don’t want to ‘bother’ your agent.  Or worse yet, go on a midnight bender and use the ‘contact agent’  or 'schedule a showing' link on Zillow or Trulia.  These leads don’t go to the listing agent OR your agent.  They go to agents who pay for the leads.   If your agent is working for you, stick with them!   But do feel free to go to Open Houses, because at open houses, other agents will honor agency relationships.  Just let the agent know that you are working with someone! 

Since the SELLER is basically paying all of the commissions, it is their responsibility to choose a listing agent who can represent their house the best way possible and give it the best possible web presence, and who is a skilled negotiator.  Over 90% of buyers search online for properties (2010 statistic from NAR – probably higher now!).  In our opinion, there is no excuse for choosing an agent who does not post photos with a new listing, post the maximum number of photos allowed (25 in the Cincy MLS), and take great quality photos.  It is your choice who you list with.  A top performing agent who knows how to properly market properties will always charge a market rate commission and will likely get you more for your listing than a cut rate agent.  Compare and choose the best!  It will pay off in the end! 

We LOVE what we do!  We love the clients, and the houses and our city.  We love the fact there is nothing routine about this business and that no two days are alike!  For us, it is worth the lack of job security and benefits because we are successful at what we do.  Occasionally a client will get confused about how this works and will not be loyal.   I hope this helps to clear the air, and educate those who just don't know.  And as always, we love feedback and referrals!  Thanks to all past, current, and future clients for a great 10 years of cincinnatimodern! 



another one bites the dust

this is the only 'before' picture we have of the house. to the left (not shown in pic) is a 3 car carport. the portion to the right is the split level bedroom wing.


I write of this with a heavy heart, and after a long day and a glass of wine.  The house that started my quest into Cincinnati Modern architecture was torn down today.  I knew it was coming.  The house was in terrible disrepair and suffering from what must have been an incurable mold infestation due to a horribly leaking (and collapsing) roof.  But I weep for the house that is was.  And for the original owners, who graciously invited me into their lives and their home when I started dating their best friends’ son, Arlen.   This house was built on a dream, for a young Jewish family who wanted to build their ideal house in Amberley Village (after first being denied permission to purchase a building lot because of deed restrictions against Jews).  Why they wanted to build here after such treatment, I have no idea.  But in 1960, they got their wish courtesy of avant garde architects Carl Strauss and Ray Roush, the architects to the movers and shakers in town, and a heavily Jewish and progressive clientele. 

The façade (shown in pic above) was private and somewhat modest, but the house was grand – a large entry foyer, with glass walls to front and rear and a ‘floating’ closet in the middle.  To the right of the entry, the house was a split level – master suite on the lower level, and 3 bedrooms on the upper.  The upper hallway was lined with closets and cabinets.  One even housing a mop sink for the housekeeper.  All of the bedrooms had sliding window walls to the rear of the 4 acre private heavily wooded lot. 

The main level of the house had a living room, dining room with private courtyard, HUGE family room and rec room, a large kitchen adjoining an equally large laundry room, and beyond that was a maid’s room and a full bath.  There was a 3 car carport and a full basketball court on the front motor court.  It was the stuff that dreams were made of. 

I was 18 when I met the owners and I enjoyed going to dinner with them and my (soon to be) in laws immensely.  As soon as I graduated college in 1984, they hired me to ‘help redecorate’ the bedrooms in this amazing house.  I was beyond thrilled to be able to work and spend time in the most amazing house I had ever known.  At the time I did not know who Carl Strauss was, but I knew he must be a genius!  But even then, the house had issues.  It had a particular musty type smell that came back to me full blast today when it was being torn down and the wind blew.  They had always battled the flat roof issue, and somewhere along the line, it got away from them. 

Eventually, the owners passed away and family members moved into the house.  Shortly thereafter, we actually bought the house behind it, and have been back yard neighbors for the past 16 years.  We helplessly watched the house deteriorate over the past several years.  It’s been vacant for the last 5 or so, and the house was condemned and ordered torn down last summer because water damage made it uninhabitable.   I don’t question why it was torn down.  But I will always wonder what could have been done to keep it from that awful fate.  I wish I had photos of what it was.  All I have are memories.  I’ll treasure the good ones.  


click here for a very sad video of the demolition

a modern tragedy

It once stood proud

It’s now in tatters

Is architecture all that matters?


Carl Strauss, Ray Roush, you built them all

You never intended to see them fall


If you love it, a house is a home

But watch out if you start to roam


Fifty years from start to finish

Wood, glass and stucco, hard to diminish


Yet there it is, so uncertain

Waiting for its final curtain


-Susan Rissover, March 26, 2012 (upon first viewing of the condition of this property)


the times they are a changin


Vintage buffets and credenzas can work well as media storage for today’s flat panel TVs and components, but sometimes there is that particular space where nothing vintage (or cool) seems to fit.  It’s amazing how much of our furniture is really space specific.  Something that worked so well in one home may just not fit in another.  

As I was recovering from shoulder surgery last month – and staring at our bedroom TV -  it reminded me how inadequate our TV  setup had become.  When we moved into our house 16 years ago, a tall Techline bookcase fit the bill in a very utilitarian (but not very stylish) way.  It gave us needed storage (no room for dressers in our bedroom), and a place to house (hide) our then state of the art tube TV, along with a stereo and a VCR (remember those?). 

 our original bedroom media setup. great for 1997. not so good for 2014! this is also before we put cork floors in our bedrooms.

But as TVs got flatter and wider, the boxed in space of the Techline limited the size of the flat panel we could accommodate.  And let’s face it, our eyes aren’t getting any younger.  I really wanted a bigger screen.  And I wanted the TV to be a little lower than it was (blended bifocals, but let's not go there!).  So I started looking for a dresser or highboy that would fit the space.  The dressers were all too wide – and the highboys too small for our storage needs.

As a last ditch effort, I checked Ikea and to my surprise, found that their Besta media storage offered the perfect solution.  Two of their low bookcases side x side on an aluminum base, and outfitted with doors and full extension drawers filled the space perfectly, did not obstruct the heat register, gave us plenty of storage, accommodated the dvd player, cable box, and apple TV.  And best of all allowed us to fit a much larger flat panel TV on top.  It fits much more flush to the walls than the old Techline did.  Overall, it turned out to be the perfect solution.  For now…..

 we had 47.5" to work with - the exact width of the Ikea Besta unit. a perfect fit! the unit completely clears the heat register. it is outfitted with 6 full extension drawers (top) and two doors (bottom). It is actually two shelf units, screwed together and sitting on one base. Ikea had just discontinued the single unit this size.

to give the unit a little midcentury flair, we chose these Paul McCobb inspired pulls in a brushed chrome (NOT satin nickel) finish. These pulls and many, many, many other cool ones are available for order at one of our favorite places, Bona Decorative Hardware in Oakley.



it's showtime!

come see us at the cincinnatimodern booth at the show this weekend! 


modern in the snow

a snow day photo essay by tenley rissover