About Us

How My Real Estate Dream Became a Reality…

mariaheadshot
2016 Aero City Today


I was happily living my life as a newspaper reporter for CityBeat in Cincinnati, covering everything from politics to current events. It was 2002 and my daughter Martina was 2 years old at the time. Everything was heading in the right direction, except we needed a house with more space.

We were living in the first house I ever bought, an 840 square foot ranch in Middletown, which was purchased in 1997 when I was a 20-year-old college student at Miami.

By then we were cramped and packed to the rafters. Our house had no basement, it had no garage, but in 1997 I had been excited to buy it because the sellers were leaving the washer and dryer, and I had been going to the laundromat for years and was sick of it. In addition, they were paying the closing costs for me (something that has now become commonplace but wasn’t so much so back in 90’s) so I jumped on it. As an added bonus it was right next to the west side neighborhood where I grew up so I had easy access to friends and family.

I decided to turn that house into a rental and move to Monroe, and I finally located the perfect place for my family. It was a fixer upper and was frozen in time from the 1970s, complete with an olive green kitchen. That began the process of a now 14-year-long obsession with finding real estate deals, not only for myself but for buyers, and for pointing out to sellers what buyers REALLY want in a home (because it’s not always the obvious things that grab them, see comment regarding “washer and dryer included” above lol).

So in 2003, shortly after the purchase of the house in Monroe, at the encouragement of my then- Realtor and now good friend Becky, I decided to hand in my press pass and exchange it for a real estate license. My search for the Monroe house had gotten the ball rolling.

karlaclosing
Agent Karla Watkins at a closing

I had the good fortune to start my career at Morrison Real Estate in Middletown. I worked with owner Dick Morrison learning the ropes of sales, rehabs and rentals. That experience changed my life, because you can’t buy real life, hands on experience. The best way to learn about real estate investing is from working alongside someone who has lived it. I’ve tried to pay that experience forward by helping other investors get their start or improve their profits through my role as an agent and more recently as a broker.

Later, when Big Hill GMAC (now Better Homes and Gardens Real Estate Big Hill) bought Morrison Real Estate, I went from swimming in a small pond to being part of a big franchise brokerage with multiple offices. It was a totally different environment than the family owned operation I was accustomed to at Morrison. It offered valuable insight into all the opportunities a large office can offer. I can’t say enough good things about the people at Big Hill, they are a wonderful group.

Aero City Realty Agent Terry "Frosty" Simpson
Aero City Realty Agent Terry “Frosty” Simpson

In 2011 I decided that I wanted to recreate that small office setting I loved at Morrison. I became a broker and started Aero City Realty. Soon my comrade from my Morrison days, Terry “Frosty” Simpson joined me here.

Frosty is a “people person” and we all love working with him. Like me, he’s a lifelong Middletown-area resident.  We both grew up in families where our fathers worked long hours. We both understand the effort that goes in to making dreams reality through personal effort and building a strong team.

Whenever I have a new idea I can count on Frosty to be there to provide his honest feedback to me. I can always count on Frosty to take good care of the buyers and sellers who come to this office looking for our help.

Frosty has been involved in countless transactions since he was first licensed in 2000 and he was a great support to me when I began my real estate career in 2003. Frosty’s patience and dedication to getting the job done are well respected in this office and I am lucky to have him.

In 2013 we were joined by agent Karla Watkins, who has experience of her own in the house rehabbing world. Karla is our Madison Township gal who has interior decorating and staging vision that I am envious of. Karla is one of those people who can finish a project that you would be proud to put on Pinterest.

randy
Randy Balag, unlicensed assistant

She’s an awesome cook, and has amazing energy. She is the person who I can always count on to be enthusiastic and excited about a new project, and she treats clients like family. When I call her she often says she’ll call me back because she’s “on the tractor.” Her knowledge of rural living brings added real estate possibilities to our office.

I could never do this without my two wonderful and helpful assistants, Randy Balag and Jeremy Flannery. They are the ones who catch my mistakes, listen to my rambling thoughts, keep me on track and dutifully look out for the day-to-day “behind the scenes” operations of this brokerage. Basically they keep me sane, laugh at my jokes, and are my dear friends.

Jeremy Flannery
Jeremy Flannery, unlicensed assistant

Every family business has at its heart your family and friends, who understand the long hours and provide the faith you need to stay motivated. In every way they help keep things running smoothly. My husband Dave, who gives me pep talks when I need them (and I need them a lot) was the one who originally said, “I think you should start a real estate brokerage.” I’m glad I listened.

My daughter Martina and my son Brant, who realize that although duty calls and I can’t always be there for every event, add the energy that I need. I have daily reasons to be proud of them. My friends, who are often left patiently waiting when an appointment runs over or I have a last minute showing request, help keep us inspired here. Our clients, who are so happy when their move-in day finally arrives or when the “for sale” sign comes down and the deal is done, bring momentum. The people who share our listings on Facebook, hand out our cards, trust us with their referrals, or take the time to talk us up to their friends- it’s those votes of confidence that make us smile.

All of these people make this place possible and I am so very lucky to have them.

 

Big Hill Days
Back in the Big Hill days- I’m the third from the left in the pink jacket. Frosty is in the plaid jacket on the right hand side. My husband Dave is the tall guy behind me (he was a loan officer there at the time) and Dick Morrison is on the far left in the blue jacket. This was at the office in Kittyhawk in Middletown

 

2011
2011 Christmas Party at what was then the Middletown Board of Realtors, with my friends Barb and Amy