Archive for October, 2009

Energy Efficient Mortgages for Bloomfield Hills Real Estate

Posted in Bloomfield Hills Real Estate by Michigan Real Estate Expert on October 29th, 2009

If you’re looking to buy Bloomfield Hills real estate in Southeast Michigan, you’re probably already looking at mortgage possibilities as well. Since many buyers are also looking for energy efficient options, I thought it only right that I brought EEMs (Energy Efficient Mortgages) and EIMs (Energy Improvement Mortgages) to your attention.

What are EEMs and EIMs?
An EEM adds a home’s energy efficiency into the mortgage, giving you the ability to finance energy efficient measures as part of the mortgage payment. One of the good things about an EEM is that it stretches the debt-to-income qualification ratio, which means that you can qualify for a larger loan and a more energy efficient home.

An EIM is for existing Bloomfield Hills real estate that you plan to make energy efficient improvements to. You can include the cost of the improvements into the mortgage without raising the down payment. In addition, whatever you save in utility costs from the improvements can go to finance more improvements.

If you’re trying to qualify for an EEM or EIM, you’ll need to have a home energy rating conducted first. This is to give you an estimated Energy Savings Value – the value of the measures and the estimated monthly energy savings.

Types of Energy Mortgages
There are several types of energy mortgages available:

  • Conventional – sponsored by Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, these EEMs give the Fannie Mae approved lender the ability to raise your income, matching a dollar for each estimated dollar gained through efficiency.
  • FHA – Lenders can add 100% of the cost of improvements to an approved FHA loan, up to $4,000 or 5% of the home value (maximum of $8,000). FHA loan limits won’t stop you from getting the EEM. You can find out more about the FHA EEMs on their website
  • VA – Veterans Administration EEMs cap energy improvements at $3,000 to $6,000, and are for buying existing Bloomfield Hills real estate. If you’re a qualifying reservist, veteran or military personnel, you can find more information on the U.S. Department of Veteran’s Affairs website.  
  • Last but not least, there is the Energy Star mortgage pilot program. Currently, it is only available in a few states, but it’s growing to include others.

If you’re interested in making energy efficient improvements to an existing home or buying a home that’s already energy efficient, I strongly recommend that you look into EEMs and EIMs.

If you’re looking for an energy efficient home or one you can make energy efficient, I can help. Call me at 248-514-2640 or email me now at for more information.

Lee Morof
RE/MAX Showcase Homes
Birmingham, Michigan
Call:  248-514-2640


3 Ways to Improve the Indoor Air Quality of Your Troy Michigan Real Estate

Posted in Troy Michigan Real Estate by Michigan Real Estate Expert on October 26th, 2009

When people think of environmental concerns, very seldom do they think of their home environment. Mold spores, carcinogens, allergens and more can fill up your Troy Michigan real estate and create a bad environment. Here are a few ways to make sure your indoor air quality is as good as it can be:

  • Check for mold. Mold has a distinctive odor; somehow, it manages to smell both wet and dry, as well as musty. It can grow around windows, in the bathroom and in your air ducts. For windows, bathrooms and small areas within your home, you can clean the mold yourself wearing protective gear and using the right mold cleanup methods
  • Check the ductwork. Mold, dust, insect parts and other small to microscopic pollutants settle in ductwork and then, when the air is turned on, flow out into the various units. I recommend leaving this job to professionals with the proper equipment.  Research green janitorial services in your area that specialize in environmentally safe cleaning practices and provide good indoor air quality through the practices.
  • Check your carpet. Carpets can be a big cause of bad indoor air quality. Some carpets contain a high level of VOCs (volatile organic compounds), which are emitted into the air as gases. Exposure to VOCs can cause nose and throat irritation, headaches, nausea, fatigue, dizziness and skin rashes. If you’re having any of these issues, you may want to replace your carpet with an eco-friendly carpet

If you’re looking for eco-friendly Troy Michigan real estate, I can help. Call the Michigan Real Estate Expert, Lee Morof at 248-514-2640 or email me at for more information.

Lee Morof – Michigan Real Estate Expert
RE/MAX Showcase Homes
Birmingham, Michigan
Call:  248-514-2640


6 Tips to Protect Michigan Foreclosures from Loan Modification Scams

Posted in Michigan Foreclosures by Michigan Real Estate Expert on October 22nd, 2009

Many facing the possibility of being added to the number of Michigan foreclosures are frightened, often frustrated and feel helpless. It’s understandable; nobody wants to lose their home. However, those feelings often lead to being victimized by loan modification con artists who promise freedom from foreclosure for a little bit of money and leave victims in their wake.

Here are a few tips to protect yourself from scams that could take you one step closer to becoming one of the Michigan foreclosures:

1. Never believe a guarantee. No one, company or individual, can guarantee loan modification or that your lender won’t foreclose. If the loan modification company starts spouting guarantees, walk away.

2. Never sign over power of attorney. Sometimes, con artists will tell you that if you sign over your house to them, their good credit can help save your home. This is never a legitimate proposal and no legitimate company will ask you to do this.

3. Never spend thousands of dollars. Fees higher than $6,000 should be dismissed. Often, scam companies will charge absurdly high upfront fees to help. While some counselors will charge you a fee, those costs are added up after the loan closes, NOT before they even do anything. As well, any company charging over $4,000 needs to have a proven high quality of service and level of success.

4. Always talk to your lender first. Many loan modification scam artists will tell you to stop communicating with your lender. Communication is key, however, since your lender owns the note and will, ultimately, approve or deny the modification. Talk to your lender to find out how to refinance or restructure your payment.

5. Always check with the Better Business Bureau before hiring a “rescue” company. You can check with the Attorney General or Real Estate Commission as well.

6. Always look for free services first. Many foreclosure specialists can help, and will do so free of charge if you can’t afford them. As well, the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) has approved housing counseling that will provide foreclosure prevention services, also free of charge.

When you’re already faced with the possibility of being one of the Michigan foreclosures, you need help – not someone who will push you further across the line. Be careful when looking for loan modification help.

If your loan modification has been denied and you need to do a short sale instead, I can help. Call me at 248-514-2640 or email me at today for more information.

Lee Morof
RE/MAX Showcase Homes
Birmingham, Michigan
Call:  248-514-2640


Helping Families Save Their Homes from Southeast Michigan Foreclosures

Posted in Michigan Foreclosures by Michigan Real Estate Expert on October 19th, 2009

By now, everyone knows that, just like the Dot Com bubble, the real estate market grew its own bubble to a degree that it finally popped.  Not only foreclosures across the nation, but Southeast Michigan Foreclosures went up, sales went down and everyone, from the government to lenders to John Q public, started looking around for someone they could point a finger at and blame.

The hard truth is that placing blame doesn’t do anyone any good, especially those trying to save their home from being a Southeast Michigan foreclosure statistic.  The truth is that it’s time to do what Americans have been doing since the country was founded – picking ourselves up off the ground, dusting off and working with what we still have. Thanks to new acts such as the “Helping Families Save Their Homes Act of 2009,” it’s even more possible to do that.

If you’ve been dealing with the possibility of becoming one of the Southeast Michigan foreclosures, you may have missed the news, so here are a few uplifting highlights that can make all the difference:

1)  If you rent your home and it is being foreclosed upon, you have to receive a 90-day eviction notice. You can’t just be preemptively kicked off the property. As well, if you have a lease you have to be allowed to live on the property until the lease is up unless:

     a) the new owner wants to move in and make it his or her residence or
     b) state law says the lease can be terminated on notice.

Although three months doesn’t seem like a lot of time, that’s three months you wouldn’t have had in most states before the Act was passed.

2)  Lenders and homeowners are now receiving incentives for successful loan modifications and refinancing under the Making Homes Affordable Program. According to the White House government website,  “Servicers covering more than 75 percent of loans in the country have now begun modifications and refinancing under the Administration’s MHA Program.”

3)  One of the biggest challenges to homeowners is finding out who owns the mortgages on their homes.  This can make it incredibly difficult to discuss refinancing or modification with the mortgage owner. Thanks to the Act, you have to be informed whenever your loan is sold or transferred to another party. Now, you always know who has control of your mortgage and who you need to talk to.

Dealing in the current real estate market can be hard. If you’re already struggling financially, it can be even harder. Try to keep abreast of the current laws that can help prevent homeowners and families from becoming one of the Southeast Michigan foreclosures and stay in their homes!

If you can’t qualify for loan modification or refinancing, and are considering a short sale, I can help. Call me now at 248-514-2640 or email me at for more information.

Lee Morof
RE/MAX Showcase Homes
Birmingham, Michigan
Call:  248-514-2640


Troy Michigan Real Estate: How to Pick Perfect Pumpkins

Posted in Troy Michigan Real Estate by Michigan Real Estate Expert on October 16th, 2009

It’s getting close to Halloween, and families across the nation are slowly but surely decorating their homes.  The spirit of the season is in the air, the leaves are changing colors, and pumpkins are going up for sale.  It’s time to prepare your Troy Michigan real estate for the season and carve!

Picking Tips

  • Make sure your pumpkin has a stem; it won’t last very long if it doesn’t.
  • The pumpkin needs to have a flat bottom so it won’t roll.
  • No holes or soft spots, because they’ll rot.
  • Choose a light-colored pumpkin for easier carving, or a dark colored pumpkin for a longer lasting decoration.

Pattern Tips
On the steps of Troy Michigan real estate homes everywhere, pumpkin faces sprout fangs and witches ride their brooms.  Maybe you want your carvings to stand out, though.  Here are a few things to look at when choosing a pattern:

  • Keep in mind who’ll be doing the carving.  Smaller children generally have a harder time with detailed carvings. 
  • Carving patterns should be as large as the pumpkin you’re working with.
  • If your design is elaborate, draw it out on paper first.  You can’t erase a cut.
  • Remember that you have to leave space between the cuts.  The pumpkin has to stay together.

Carving Tips

  • Before carving, wash the pumpkin and let it dry.
  • Use good carving tools – or a sharp knife and a small serrated knife – for the more elaborate designs (unless you want to carve a difficult design with a spoon tip)
  • Start at the center of your design and work outwards.
  • Use petroleum jelly on the cuts after you’re done so the pumpkin will last longer.

Once you’re done carving, you’ll have a lot of left over pumpkin.  Instead of throwing it in the trash, try roasting the pumpkin seeds for a great snack, or try using the flesh for a delicious pumpkin pie.

When you own Troy Michigan real estate, soon, children will be visiting your home in mass.  With these tips on pumpkins, patterns and carving (and candy, of course), you can have them oohing and aahing with delight.

Want to find new Halloween decorating ideas for your home?  Click to Learn More!

Lee Morof
RE/MAX Showcase Homes
Birmingham, Michigan
Call:  248-514-2640


Bloomfield Hills Real Estate: 4 Halloween Decorating Ideas for Your Home

Posted in Bloomfield Hills Real Estate by Michigan Real Estate Expert on October 15th, 2009

It’s October, which means Halloween is just around the corner. Are you still struggling to come up with great decorating ideas for your Bloomfield Hills real estate? Have no fear; your real estate agent is here to help. Here are a few ideas that will take away your holiday Halloween jitters:

1. Nothing says “Halloween” like twitching fingers, growling werewolves and hovering demon skeletons. Thanks to today’s technology, you can turn your decorations into a hellish wonderland with animated Halloween props. Build a graveyard and have a rocking tombstone or a creeping skeleton to snatch up visitors.

2. Everybody has the standard jack-o-lantern on the front porch. As Halloween nears, they crop up everywhere. This year, try something a little different. There are plenty of pumpkin-carving patterns  available for purchase or for free on the Internet. Grab some bloodcurdling patterns and get to work.

3. Are you throwing a party this year? Add a little fog to your Halloween decorations! Fog machines aren’t near as expensive as they used to be. You can grab one big enough for fantastic, spine-tingling effects for less than $50. Sometimes the extra touches make all the difference, and fog is a great addition

4. Spruce up your doorbell with sinister sound effects and chilling Halloween music. Record-A-Chime™ by Dimango® Carlon® is perfect for just such a thing. Although it’s somewhat expensive at $59.98, you can record whatever sound effect or music you want for any holiday.
Each Halloween, people struggle to come up with something different for their Bloomfield Hills real estate home. I hope these ideas help you find your own “something different” and get your creative juices flowing. Have fun, stay safe and happy holidays!

Lee Morof
RE/MAX Showcase Homes
Birmingham, Michigan
Call:  248-514-2640


Face Those Buying Fears on Royal Oak Michigan Homes for Sale

Posted in Royal Oak Michigan Homes for Sale by Michigan Real Estate Expert on October 12th, 2009

Halloween is just around the corner, but if you’re looking at the Royal Oak Michigan homes for sale, it’s probably the first-time buyer fears that have your knees shaking. Hey, buying a house seems like such a final thing, so that’s understandable. It could be the biggest change in your life – EVER!

Now that I’ve thrown some scary thoughts your way, let’s take a turn at facing those first-time buyer fears.

1)  Am I crazy? No, you’re a first-time buyer. You may alternate between periods of paranoia, confidence, nervousness and calm, but you aren’t crazy to want to buy one of the Royal Oak Michigan homes for sale.

2)  Is this really the right time to buy a house? The best way to answer this question is with a few questions. Do you have good credit? Do you have a decent job? If the answers to these questions are “yes,” then there’s never a bad time to buy the right house. Especially now, with tons of inventory, record low interest rates and the $8,000 tax credit.

3)  What if I don’t pick the right neighborhood? What if I buy, move in, hate it, and then can’t turn around and sell the house? An understandable fear; one of the most common horror stories is moving into the perfect house, right next to the neighbor from the Black Lagoon. This is why it’s imperative to do your research (or, at the very least, tell your real estate agent exactly what kind of neighborhood you want). With the Internet, you can find out everything from the crime rate of an area to the quality of the schools.

4)  What if I lose my job? I won’t say that’s not a possibility. However, keep in mind that you have the same question when you’re renting. The difference is that if you can’t pay the rent, you can be evicted within days, depending on where you currently live. While some lenders may do the same, most lenders don’t want to foreclose and are willing to work with you to keep you in the home and making your payments. In addition, many are willing to wait for at least two months of nonpayment before starting the foreclosure process.

If you’ve been a renter all your life and are looking at the Royal Oak Michigan homes for sale, take a deep breath. Yes, it’s scary and yes, the worries can give you worse nightmares than the freakiest Halloween you’ve ever experienced. However, remember what made you decide to start looking in the first place. If those reasons still exist, go for it!

If you’re looking for that perfect, affordable home, I can make the whole process less scary and fear free. Call me at 248-514-2640 or email me now at for more information.

Lee Morof
RE/MAX Showcase Homes
Birmingham, Michigan
Call:  248-514-2640


The Laws are Changing for Southeast Michigan Real Estate

Posted in Southeast Michigan Real Estate by Michigan Real Estate Expert on October 8th, 2009

Not just Southeast Michigan real estate, either. Since the end of 2007, as the real estate market started to decline, new rules, regulations, mandates and more have come down the pipeline.

State Specific Laws
Take Michigan, for instance. Ranking sixth in the nation on the number of foreclosures, Michigan legislature enacted the “Lifeline Law.”  This law gives an extra 90 days for homeowners to work with banks to come up with solutions other than foreclosure.  California did the same, with the California Foreclosure Prevention Act.  In New York, judicial hearings are mandatory for both borrowers and lenders before foreclosure can go through.

Nationwide Laws
Other laws have been enacted throughout the United States, such as Congress lowering homeowners’ tax deductions.

Before 2009, if you used your Southeast Michigan real estate as a primary residence for at least two years out of the last five, you could keep up to $500,000 (married couples – $250,000 if single) in real estate gains on your tax return. That exemption is now pro-rated to the time you spent in the house, which could be quite substantially less than what your tax exemption would have been last year.

As well, new appraisal rules went into effect May 1, and, although they aren’t government rules, they do affect Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac loans. With the Home Valuation Code of Conduct (HVCC) put into place, every lender that goes through Freddie or Fannie has to follow the HVCC to the letter. The HVCC stops mortgage brokers from having home appraisals done themselves. Instead, the home appraisals must be done by a third party appraisal management company in the same area as the home.

Laws that Affect You
Other laws have been put into place that may (or may not) effect the Southeast Michigan real estate you own or are looking to buy. However, with so many coming down the line, make sure that you ask your real estate agent what laws have been put into place that may affect your purchase, sales or ownership.

As your Michigan real estate expert, if you’re looking to buy or sell Southeast Michigan real estate, I can help.  I’m not only a professional REALTOR®, I’m also a licensed real estate attorney who keeps up to date on real estate laws.  Call me at 248-514-2640 or email me at for help or more information.

Lee Morof
RE/MAX Showcase Homes
Birmingham, Michigan
Call:  248-514-2640


5 Myths Debunked About Troy Michigan Real Estate Agents

Posted in Troy Michigan Real Estate by Michigan Real Estate Expert on October 5th, 2009

Every industry has a few myths. Look at science – according to myth, if you’re a scientist, you’re also a lone wolf and a geek. Now, I’ve known one or two scientists, and they were anything but. Troy Michigan real estate agents carry around a few myths of their own, passed around from homeowner to homeowner since the dawn of time.

Myth #1: Every agent drives a brand new, high-end car. Now, I don’t know about other Troy Michigan real estate agents, but I tooled around town for several years in an older-model car. Not very hip, but it got me where I needed to go. While it’s true I now have a newer car, it’s definitely not brand new, and certainly not high-end.

Myth #2: Lenders and inspectors give agents kickbacks. Not unless those lenders, inspectors and agents want to go to jail. You see, in 1974, the Real Estate Settlement Procedures Act was passed. The RESPA says receiving or giving kickbacks is illegal. I don’t know about anybody else, but I’d rather keep my real estate license.

Myth #3: Agents make a lot of money. Those that pass this little myth around have never asked an agent. Remember the car from Myth #1? Once all of our fees are paid, such as MLS fees, overhead, insurance and other marketing expenses, most agents average a salary of around $36,000. For those that don’t know, middle class is somewhere around $75,000 and above.

Myth #4: Agents will say anything to get a sale. Some agents might lie to you, but most won’t. Personal reputation is especially important in the real estate business. An agent with a reputation for lying soon ends up out of work or without a license.   Most agents, like me, are in this business because they love to work with people.

Myth #5: The higher the sale price, the more agents make. Many think that agents would be ecstatic if they sold a house for $10,000 more than expected because of their real estate agents’ commission. If they are, they’re ecstatic for the client, not themselves. While the seller makes around $10,000, the agent makes about $150. With today’s prices, $150 doesn’t go very far and certainly isn’t worth comprising their integrity.

The next time you think about Troy Michigan real estate agents and everything you know about them, consider where you got the information. Is it something that “everybody knows” or something you know from experience?

If you’re looking for a professional agent who puts your needs first, you’ve found him.  I’m not your typical agent.  Besides being a REALTOR®, I’m also a licensed real estate attorney.  I can help you with any real estate issue you might encounter and keep you from making a mistake that could cost you thousands.  To learn more about Lee Morof, your Michigan Real Estate Expert, my or call me at 248-514-2640 now.

Lee Morof – Michigan Real Estate Expert
RE/MAX Showcase Homes
Birmingham, Michigan
Call:  248-514-2640


Royal Oak Michigan Homes for Sale: Is Your Home Perfect for Men?

Posted in Royal Oak Michigan Homes for Sale by Michigan Real Estate Expert on October 1st, 2009

There’s a group of individuals constantly overlooked when someone has a Royal Oak Michigan home for sale. It’s not just newlyweds, families and women looking for homes. Men are on the look out, too. So what are they looking for? Here are a few points on the list:

1)  Location, location, location – Most men want a place close to their job. No long commutes, no hours on the highway. In fact, it’s one of their biggest considerations when choosing a home.

2)  The Man Cave – Is your Royal Oak Michigan home for sale set up with a man cave? Many men dream of having an extra room that can be converted into a place for recreation and entertainment. If you already have a man cave, you’re ahead of the competition!

3)  Surrounding area – In a fun survey, Sperling’s BestPlaces examined America’s cities and marketing trends to find the “Top 50 Manliest Cities” in the U.S. Believe it or not, Nashville took the top place as the Mecca of manliness. Why? A few reasons:

o High number of NASCAR fans
o High number of BBQ restaurants
o Popularity of hunting and fishing

What other things did Sperling’s look at to decide “manliness?”

  • Major league sports teams in a city, nearby NASCAR events, monster truck events and local drag racing strips, among other sports venues
  • Memberships in motorcycle owner groups, bowling, hunting, woodworking, DIY home improvement
  • Number of manly retail stores, such as steak houses, sports bars, general hardware stores, sportsman stores, etc.
  • Percentage of houses subscribing to manly magazines

So what does all this mean to you? If you have one of the Royal Oak Michigan homes for sale with manly decor as well as surrounding attractions, you have a match made in heaven for the busy bachelor. Okay, so women like monster truck events, motorcycles and DIY, too. And, okay, so the survey is a little silly. However, if you’re trying to sell that house and are having no luck, it’s definitely something to think about.

If you’re trying to sell your home, I can help. Call me for more information at 248-514-2640 or email me at

Lee Morof
RE/MAX Showcase Homes
Birmingham, Michigan
Call:  248-514-2640