Sibcy Cline Employee Spotlight: Ronnie Weiss

  • Hometown: Okeana, Ohio 
  • Current home: White Oak, Ohio 
  • Proudest career accomplishment: Changing people’s lives with homeownership 
  • Favorite local hangouts: Local backyard firepit or any place with my wife  

“I’m glad I enjoy what I do, and I’ve never called it ‘work’ from day one,” said Ronnie Weiss, explaining that the thing he likes most about his job as a mortgage consultant with Sibcy Cline Mortgage Services is his ability to make such a significant impact on individuals and families who want to become homeowners. “It’s great to see people able to buy a home when just a year before they were struggling with building credit or coming off a hardship.”  

Like many others in the business, real estate was something Ronnie unexpectedly found himself in, but quickly realized that he was in the right spot. He was managing retail leather stores in local malls, occasionally working with a friend at a title company, and that led him to the mortgage business in Marco Island, Florida. “A couple of years after that, a partner and I owned mortgage offices in Michigan, Ohio, and Florida,” said Ronnie. Helping people achieve their dreams of home ownership was something that gave him a sense of purpose. “I learned not to look at things as problems, but rather as opportunities for solutions.”  

Moving back to Ohio was a decision motivated by wanting to help care for his aging grandparents who were bedridden. “No matter how hard it was to care for them, I would never go back and change the fact that I was able to allow them to pass in the home my grandpa built when they were first married in the 40’s. I’m even happier to say I own this house now and it’s where I plan to raise my family.”  

Staying settled in the Cincinnati area is important to Ronnie and his wife Mila, who have been married since 2019. When he began searching for a new job in 2021, he wanted to find a place where he could see himself working until he retired. Known as “the fedora guy” for his trademark hat, Ronnie was looking for a place he could hang his hat, a career home; Sibcy Cline felt like that kind of company. “What stood out was the number of long-time employees I found; it was a major deciding factor. I felt comfortable in the interviews and really enjoyed the atmosphere.”  

Although he finds his work rewarding and feels like he’s found the right company to spend the duration of his career, Ronnie also values time off to spend with family and enjoy life. He and Mila like to explore the area and spend time at Cincinnati parks. A lover of automobilia—any memorabilia related to classic cars—Ronnie likes to search old barns for rare finds. “I can’t wait to find that missing Duesenberg, Bugatti, or Fiat,” he says, adding that he also enjoys “working on old cars, motorcycles, or anything with a motor that goes fast.”  

7 Smart Reasons to Use Your Home Equity

Homeownership has cemented its role as part of the American Dream, providing families with a place that is their own and an avenue for building wealth over time. This ‘wealth’ is built, in large part, through the creation of equity…Building equity through your monthly principal payments and appreciation is a critical part of homeownership that can help you create financial stability.”

-Freddie Mac

The past year may have had its challenges, but there have been some silver linings. Home values, for example, have risen rapidly resulting in huge equity gains for homeowners. The average amount of equity that homeowners have gained in the last year is over $33,000 and the average homeowner has over $216,000 in equity (Source: CoreLogic).

These gains in equity are great news for homeowners. According to Jay Buten, VP of Production for Sibcy Cline Mortgage Services, “Now is a great time for homeowners to take advantage of the increased values and utilize the equity to improve their overall financial picture.”

There are many ways that homeowners can choose to use their equity to give themselves a leg up financially, from debt consolidation to college expenses. “It’s a great time for homeowners to evaluate their personal finances and look for opportunities to benefit from the increased equity they have gained.” said Buten.

Think you might be able to use your equity? Here are 7 smart ways to consider:

1. Move Up to Your Dream Home

One of the most common ways that homeowners use their equity is to sell their home in order to buy or build something more suitable to their needs. Sellers can use the cash they make at closing for their next down payment OR take out a bridge loan that allows them to borrow that cash before they close to make their down payment on a new home. 

2. Home Improvements

Improving your home can further increase its value and your equity, depending on the type of improvements you choose to do. 

3. College Costs

This can make sense when the interest rates are lower than other sources for borrowing money for education. 

4. Debt Consolidation

Homeowners can save money by using equity to pay off high-interest debt. 

5. Long-Term Investments

Some long-term investments, such as a second home or rental property, can be worth drawing on your equity. 

6. Wedding

Rather than using credit cards or other high-interest sources to fund a wedding, consider drawing on your home equity to celebrate this long-term commitment.

7. Start a business

Starting a business or investing in a current one can bring a huge return on the investment of your equity.

Ready to get started on buying or refinancing? Reach out to one of our Sibcy Cline loan officers!

Sibcy Cline Employee Spotlight: Damon DiBari

“My success is based on everyone’s success, and I truly enjoy being a part of everyone’s life and livelihood.”
  • Name:  Damon DiBari, CFP, ChFC, MBA 
  • Title: Senior Loan Officer 
  • Birthplace: Providence, RI 
  • Current home: Downtown Cincinnati’s West End
  • Proudest accomplishments:  Becoming a Certified Financial Planner and running three marathons 
  • Favorite local hangouts: Salazar’s in OTR and Washington Park’s bar area 

The virtual world that we live in now was only an imagined reality in the world Damon DiBari grew up in. “It’s like something from the 80’s sci-fi movies,” Damon says, “not something we thought we’d actually see in our lifetime. Now it is just the norm, the way we do business every day.” 

During the pandemic, the mortgage business couldn’t just come to a grinding halt, so making those sci-fi fantasies a reality has been a necessary move. People needed to buy and sell homes, so a pivot was the only option.  “In any industry, you have to have the ability to make a 180 change based on whatever the market is. You have to come up with your own method,” he says.

According to Damon, Sibcy Cline has proven its ability to shift in response to changes in the market and he believes that ability is what has made the mortgage division successful during COVID. “Covid pushed me to my limits on how efficiently I can handle our business.  I have changed processes, added new teammates, became virtual in a new virtual world.” 

In his 8 years with Sibcy Cline, Damon has been able to find a space for himself as a financial planner who gives advice and information to clients, rather than simply quoting rates and terms for a loan. One of his favorite parts about his job is the freedom it gives him to innovate and create personalized plans with clients, something he couldn’t do in his previous roles as a stockbroker and private banker. “The bigger banks I worked for in my career did not have that option. Here I can come up with a plan and Sibcy Cline helps me see it through.” 

It’s this kind of “personal touch” banking and the ability to innovate freely that Damon finds most rewarding in his job as a financial planner. “I have built excellent relationships that have been like family.  My success is based on everyone’s success, and I truly enjoy being a part of everyone’s life and livelihood,” he says.   

And the challenges that come along with that are not something that he shies away from. Rather, he sees fluctuations in the market as opportunities to learn and change so you can be better prepared for the future. “With the millennials seeing the housing crisis in 2008, they have been better prepared. They have saved carefully and are ready to buy houses. Right now, even with the Coronavirus, this is going to be the smartest group of buyers I’ve seen in my entire career. They know more, they’ve seen more,” he says.  

As someone who has seen tremendous change in his lifetime, Damon speaks from experience. In his own neighborhood in Cincinnati’s West End, he’s seen a huge shift from one of the most dangerous neighborhoods in the U.S. to what is now often referred to as “the Paris of the Midwest”.  “After college I got my first apartment downtown, right after the riots happened. It was rough time for downtown, before OTR was what it is now. You could find a property for $10,000 which are now selling for $500-600,000. It was a different time,” he says.

Being in the middle of so much urban upheaval in the early part of the 2000’s was far different than Damon’s upbringing on the outskirts of Cincinnati. “My parents moved here from Rhode Island and My dad worked for GE, so I grew up in Fairfield and West Chester in the 80’s, which was mostly farmland. I went to college at Miami, which was also pretty far out there…a gorgeous campus, but not in the middle of anything.”  

In spite of his rural-suburban roots, something about the urban life appealed to Damon. “They built a pocket neighborhood there in 2005 on the West End, where they built 15 brownstone rowhouses. I passed by there and I fell in love with them the first time I saw them,” he says.  Damon bought one of the brownstone houses and has lived there ever since, with no plans to leave. “Especially with the new FC stadium going in—I’m a big fan—I’m going to own that house forever,” he says.  

Another thing that Damon loves about the downtown life is being so close to the music scene. “I love music. I go to 20-30 concerts a year. I’m a Bunbury fan and I’ve been every year since its inception.” Damon’s also looking forward to downtown’s newest concert venue, The Icon Center. “It’s unbelievable. That is going to be a gem in the city.”  

It may seem like a distant reality to gather again in an indoor concert venue to enjoy live music, but Damon is confident that it’s not only imaginable, but possible. “Things will evolve,” he says, “there will always be something new, something we haven’t thought of.” 

Before You Buy a Home – Do Not Do These Five Things

Are you getting ready to purchase a home? There are five things you should not do prior to closing on your mortgage loan:

Do not go on spending sprees
Keep your credit in check. Do not buy a new car or furniture until after your loan closes. Avoid obtaining any new credit. You do not want to add to your debt at this time. (Any new payments will add to your debt-to-payment ratio which will affect obtaining a mortgage loan.)

When you take on new debt it changes the debt-to-income ratio. The lender may be concerned you have too much money going out and not enough coming in. If you buy a large item (such as furniture), a credit inquiry triggered when you buy that item can result in a negative response from your lender (even after you are approved.) This is because new credit creates a “FICO triple hit” on your credit: new account, an account with little or no repayment history and a high balance-t0-credit limit ratio.

Do not make unusual deposits or withdrawals
Any unusual deposits or withdrawals will need to be explained with documentation and a paper trail. If someone is giving you a gift for a down payment or closing costs, it will need to be documented.

Do not be late on paying your bills and don’t close accounts
You do not want to have a late payment on your credit report. (Payment history accounts for a large portion of your credit score.)

Also, do not close any accounts. If you don’t have existing credit accounts that show your good money habits of timely payment, it may look like you have less available credit.

Do not co-sign a loan
When you co-sign a loan, you take on a possible financial responsibility and that can affect your debt-to-income ratio which could affect your ability to obtain your mortgage loan.

Do not change employment
Lenders want to see stable, reliable employment. If you get a promotion or change to a job with a higher salary, you will need to present your proof of employment again and this could delay your closing.

Remember, pre-approval for a mortgage loan is not a guarantee of obtaining that loan. Be sure to communicate with your Sibcy Cline mortgage loan consultant throughout the entire mortgage process.

Need help with your home mortgage? Contact Sibcy Cline Mortgage Services.

A First-Time Home Buyer? Here is the Home-Buying Process

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Thinking of buying a home for the first time? Here is a synopsis of the home-buying process:

Hire a Real Estate Agent
This professional will be your guide from beginning to end and will assist in your home selection, purchase negotiations and closing. Work with someone who listens to what your housing needs are and is knowledgeable of your market area. Here are some of the activities your agent will coordinate with you:

  • Learn what home features are most important to you – condition of the home, age of home, design of home, quality of home features, etc…
  • Do you prefer a newly built home or a re-sale home?
  • Make arrangements to tour homes
  • For each home tour, provide details about the property
  • Discuss benefits and drawbacks of each home toured in relation to your needs
  • Provide current comparable market analysis of homes in the areas of most interest with information that includes: active listings, sold homes and pending home sales and sale histories of the home of interest
  • Insure you understand all of the terms and conditions of the purchase contract and other documents
  • Perform detail work and negotiations that arise from submitting your purchase contract to the seller
  • Insure all parties involved are performing their roles to bring about a smooth purchase transaction through to the closing

Qualification for Mortgage Loan – Determine Your Purchasing Power
Before beginning a home search, it is best to have pre-qualification for a mortgage loan so you can determine the amount you can afford as well as an estimate of what costs you will incur with the mortgage. Pre-qualification gives a buyer stronger negotiating power over non-qualifed buyers.

Your mortgage loan officer will also educate you on the different type of loans that are available and will help you choose the one that best serves your needs.

Take time to figure out where you want to live. Factors may include:

  • Near to schools or work
  • Proximity to highways (or other transportation) and airport
  • Ambiance of the area: Does the neighborhood have well-maintained yards? Is it a walkable area? Is there a nearby business district or recreation area? Do you prefer a neighborhood that offers an outdoor pool and other amenities?

Make An Offer
Your real estate agent will assist you in making an offer on a home. This purchase contract will include the price you are willing to pay, along with any terms you have included (such as occupancy date and inclusion of appliances, to name a few). Many contracts also have contingencies to purchase such as a house inspection or financing.

Once the contract has been submitted, there may be a period of negotiation of price and terms. Your real estate agent will guide you through this back-and-forth process, and hopefully the result is an accepted offer.

Home Inspections
Once you have an accepted purchase contract, you will want to schedule a whole-house inspection to evaluate its structural and mechanical condition. This inspection reveals observable conditions and the professional inspector may make recommendations to consult a specialist (such as a roofer, engineer, etc.) You will receive a detailed report from the home inspection. Based upon the results of this report, you may have more negotiations with the seller.

Finalized Your Mortgage Loan and Obtain Insurance
At this point your loan will be going through its final steps with your loan officer. The mortgage institution will require an appraisal of the property. You will need to obtain home owner’s insurance. And, you will need to consider purchasing an owner’s title insurance policy to defend and protect your investment from future liens or disputes of title claims. Learn more about title insurance here.

Closing Day
An exciting day is when you sign on that dotted line and take ownership of your first home. Usually the sellers, buyers, their real estate agents and the closing officer meet together at an agreed upon time and location. Your agent will review all of the documents with you so there are no surprises at your closing. Congratulations, you are now a home owner!

Mortgage Rates – Why You Should Not Wait


Waiting on mortgage rates? Some people are now waiting for rates to  go back down before taking action to buy a home.

Although no one knows the future of what rates will be, experts are forecasting rates to go even higher. And with higher rates, the cost of buying a home also rises.

See current mortgage rates here.

Now is a great time to buy a home with your Sibcy Cline Agent.

Graphic courtesy of The KCM Blog.


Home Buying Tips – Searching for that Dream Home


Here are some tips to consider while searching for your dream home:

First Things First. How Much Home Can You Afford?
Most people need to finance a home purchase and require a mortgage loan. You need to understand the different types of home mortgage loans available and which type of loan best fits your situation.

Your Mortgage Loan Officer will be able to establish how much home you can afford and how to budget for insurance and other costs.

Funds for Down Payment and More
You will need to set aside money to make a down payment as well as have funds available for other needs such as closing costs.

Value the Knowledge of Your Real Estate Agent
Your agent will be your guide to making a good decision with your home purchase. That professional will:

  •  Inform you of new homes on the market
  • Schedule personal home showings and tour homes with you, as well as give you detailed information about those homes
  • Prepare home market analysis of the area you are interested in
  • Provide negotiating skills when it comes time to make an offer and write a contract
  • Guide you through the entire purchasing process from home showings to the closing table

Where Do You Want to Live?
You will need to do research on where you want to live and what neighborhood amenities are important to you. Do you need a home…

  • Close to work?
  • Close to public transportation?
  • Located in a walkable neighborhood?
  • With a large yard or no yard?
  • With easy access to highways?
  • Located in a neighborhood with certain features? See a former blog about this topic here.

Is It Really Your Dream Home?

  • Be prepared. The current real estate market is seeing multiple offers on homes. Your offer might need to be aggressive or you will need to be willing to wait for another home.
  • Homes are not sitting on the market long – you may need to make a decision quickly about making an offer.
  • Do not become too attached to a home too early. Your dream home may not look so dreamy once you have a whole-house inspection and find major issues.
  • An appraisal sets a market for the home value. Your dream home will need to appraise based on comparable sales in the area. If it does appraise well, you will either need to have enough cash to make up the difference or rethink your offer to purchase the home.

You need to look at all of the details about the house and make a smart decision. 

Make the search for a home a positive adventure! Have fun looking into homes (on the Internet) and in person. Prioritize your list of home features and note which ones are non negotiable.

Keep a journal about your home search and include notes on the homes you have visited. This log will help you narrow down the most important features you are searching for in your next dream home.







Easier Credit for Mortgage Loans? Yes!

Mortgage application

With the rise of mortgage rates (and refinancing applications falling), the mortgage loan industry is easing up on lending qualifications for borrowers. Per CNBC, credit availability rose 2% in July (and 3% in May when mortgage rates started to rise.) See the CNBC news article here.

The Good News?
Home buyers with lower credit scores and higher loan-to-value ratios will have an easier time obtaining a home mortgage loan.

New Pre-Qualification for a Mortgage Loan?
Sibcy Cline Mortgage Services has worked with home buyers and owners for over 30 years. Their team of mortgage loan officers work diligently to find the best mortgage loan product to meet the needs of the home buyer or refinancing home owner. Sibcy Cline Mortgage Services is a licensed Mortgage Banker and represents many national and local lenders.




Pricing Your Home to Sell? Price It Right!


Home prices are starting to appreciate once more and many homes are selling briskly. If you are placing your home on the market to sell now, be careful with your pricing strategy. Interest rates have started to increase and the purchasing power that today’s buyers have is now more limited. When mortgage rates increase, buyers have to lower the price of the home that they can afford. 

What is the best strategy in pricing your home?
Don’t overprice it. Contact your Sibcy Cline agent to get a realistic overview of what homes are currently selling for in your area. That should give a good indication (along with following current mortgage rate increases) of what price your home should be to appeal to the largest sector of the home-buying public.

Read more about this topic from The KCM Blog here.

Image courtesy of The KCM Blog.