Happy Homeowners: The Fenno Family

This “Happy Homeowners Interview” brings us to Megan Fenno, who recently purchased her new M/I home in Cincinnati with her husband and 5 year-old son. Megan has shared the experience of building her new home with M/I Homes!

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M/I Homes: Is this your first M/I Home and what convinced you to choose M/I over another builder?

Megan: This is our first M/I home. There were a lot of factors that contributed to our decision to move and build with M/I, but criteria that topped our list was location, a sense of community, a good school district, and a home builder that had a variety of options and floor plans to choose from. As my husband and I both work in creative fields, the last thing we wanted to do was build a uber traditional ‘cookie cutter’ home, which is often what is available when building new. Megan wrote more about how she chose her lot and what factors played a role in the decision here.

M/I Homes: Are you happy about how your home turned out?

Megan: The home exceeded our expectations. The little things and attention to detail made us appreciate the experience that much more. For example, since our house is facing west, we wanted to add a covered porch off of the kitchen to help block some of the evening sun. We were very surprised when we started to see it being built and all it included — such as recessed lighting, metal rails, etc.

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M/I Homes: What is your floorplan called and what features of your home do you especially love?

Megan: We originally were going to build the Sorrel, but after my husband modeled that floorplan and the floorplan for the Cooke, we decided the Cooke was a better option for us.

We liked that the plan was so open and had the ability to remove the fifth bedroom, which is what we decided to do.

The plan works for us because we are both able to have our own office space upstairs, a large master bedroom, and a bedroom with a walk-in closet for our 5 year-old son. Plus the open main floor is great for entertaining! Mean wrote more about how she chose her layout and floor plan on her blog here.

M/I Homes: Overall, how was your experience with M/I Homes? Did you pick your lot and floor plan to build the home, or was the home already started for you?

Megan: Because we were one of the first to build in the neighborhood, we had a lot of options when it came to the selection of the lot and style of our home. Our experience was great, honestly.

When I’d tell people that we were building a home, I’d often get comments about how time consuming and hard it must be. While it can be time consuming up front, the process was smooth from start to finish.

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M/I Homes: Do you have any fun memories from the building process?

Megan: On Christmas day, we took a photo to share on social media of the three of us standing in front of the new home captioned, “First Christmas in our new home.” I got a lot of laughs.

In all seriousness though, our son probably enjoyed the process just as much as us, if not more. He loved seeing all of the changes each time we went on weekends to see the progress. I know it will be something he’ll remember the rest of his life, like the first time he was able to walk into HIS room!

M/I Homes: Was there something about your home that made you immediately know you wanted to move in?

Megan: All of the space! This isn’t our first home, but before deciding to build, we tried out the urban living scene and had lived in a small apartment in the heart of downtown Cincinnati. While it was a LOT of fun, we missed having space to spread out. The next thing I thought about was all of the DIY projects I could do with extra space and places to spread out. Needless to say, I’ve been busy!

M/I Homes: What do you like about your neighborhood / community?

Megan: The neighborhood is unique to Cincinnati’s westside and there isn’t anything quite like it anywhere else. I like that there won’t be any through-traffic and that most of the people that are moving in tend to have a lot in common. Most have one or two young children, so I can see a lot of new friends and playdates galore in the near future!

M/I Homes: Anything you would recommend to someone looking for a new home?

Megan:  It’s not something you want to jump into. It’s one of the biggest purchases of your life, and just as you would do research before buying a larger item, such as reading reviews, doing the same when looking for a new home is important.

Here’s what we did: We sat down with a pen and notebook and made a list of what we’d want if we could have any home. From there we prioritized the list and decided on what’s most important. For us it was finding a home we could stay in long term with the ability to build equity. Other things that topped our list were being in a good school district and having a sense of community in the neighborhood.

M/I Homes: What is your favorite memory in your new home thus far?

Megan: The day we moved. It was means to a fresh and new beginning and I will always remember walking in shortly after closing and thinking, “I can’t believe this day is FINALLY here!” After planning and daydreaming for so many months, it’s surreal to finally move in.

M/I Homes:  What is your favorite space in your new home?

Megan: Our favorite space is probably the back deck. The sunsets are spectacular!

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M/I Homes: What was something that surprised you the most with building a new home?

Megan: All of the options to customize our home. I mean, we had the ability to pick everything from bigger aspects, like the brick color, to even the tiniest of details, like the knobs on the bathroom vanities.

M/I Homes: Any suggestions you would give for someone building a new home with M/I Homes?

Megan: Have an idea of what you’re looking for prior to starting the process. I think that helped us a lot when picking the floorplan and during our design center trip. Pinterest is a really helpful tool when looking for design inspiration!

**Megan lives in the Cincinnati area with her husband John and her 5 year-old son. She is a blogger at meganfenno.com and also works as an accessory designer. She and her family have moved from downtown Cincinnati to their new M/I home in the city’s suburbs.

3 Cincinnati Suburbs for New Construction Homes

Opting for a new construction home has many benefits, not limited to customized interiors, new plumbing and electric, energy-efficiency and technological advancements. Another lesser obvious upside to choosing a new construction home is flexibility of location. Many new construction communities lie just outside of major cities across the U.S. – allowing for relaxation and privacy without comprising convenience.

In the Cincinnati area, M/I Homes builds and sells new construction homes in fourteen different neighborhoods, creating an array of options for homebuyers looking for a move-in ready or customized home-buying experiences. If you’re considering buying a home near Cincinnati, look at Hamilton, Deerfield and Mason, three northern Cincy suburbs great for homebuyers who prefer proximity to downtown without the stress of high-rise living.

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Hamilton

Home to one of Miami University’s regional campuses, the city of Hamilton is part of the Cincinnati metropolitan area and encompasses over 60,000 residents. The new construction community of Rivercrest within Hamilton offers 132 acres of freshly-built residences. Rivercrest overlooks the Little Miami River, creating an environment so serene it’s hard to believe the Queen City is only 30 miles away. Prices for new construction properties in Rivercrest range from $335,995 to $473,674 with sizes large enough to accommodate big families – some over 5,400 square feet. Comparatively, buyers searching for homes in Hamilton, both new and previously owned, face a median list price of $159,900 with a median sale price of $135,925. Although the median list price for homes in Hamilton are less than new construction Rivercrest homes, home values in Hamilton (including Rivercrest) increased 4.2 percent in the last year. Rivercrest buyers can expect their home values to rise another 2.4 percent in 2015, congruent to the surrounding local market. With more money down, new construction buyers in Rivercrest are likely to face large returns – and a more satisfying, comfortable home in the meantime.

Deerfield Township

New construction homes in Roberts Park range from $402,990 to $627,032 and vary from around 2,500 to almost 6,000 square feet per single-family property. And, with the purchase of a new property in this community, you also are granted social member status at the Four Bridges Country Club, which includes gym, clubhouse, tennis courts, kiddie pools and golf course amenities. The median home value in Deerfield as a whole is $129,200, which represents a 5.2 percent increase in the past year. Zillow economists expect all Deerfield homes to rise in value another 2.7 percent in the coming year. Although new construction homes in Deerfield are more expensive than their counterparts in greater Hamilton, the local market is strong enough to provide substantial returns in the future. Families are especially drawn to Deerfield Township and Roberts Park due to it being located in the Mason City School District, one of Ohio’s best.

Mason

Mason was rated the 7th best place to live in the nation by Money Magazine, which could be why it’s the most expensive suburb on this list. Like Deerfield Township, Mason residents benefit from the Mason City School District. Generally, homes in Mason are valued at a median price of $228,500, representing a 2.5 percent increase since last year. Much like the other cities in the Cincinnati metro region, home values are expected to rise another 2.3 percent in 2015. The median list price is much higher than the median value, hovering around $330,000. Although prices in Mason seem out of reach, Alverta offers moderately-priced homes between $351,495 and $481,896. And, Alverta supplies residents with an 8-acre community park, ponds and gardens to enjoy the warm Cincy summers.

Although list prices, for the most part, are higher for new construction homes than the median prices of their respective locales, new construction offers many upsides. From customizing your home to perfectly fit your family to evading costly maintenance for dated plumbing and electric, new homes in Cincinnati are hard to beat.

** Jennifer Riner writes about rentals, home improvement and design for Zillow.

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