Archive for January, 2017

Thinking About Buying a ‘Fixer Upper’? Here’s What You Need to Know

Posted in Home Buyer Tips by Michigan Real Estate Expert on January 31st, 2017

Thinking About Buying a 'Fixer Upper'? Here's What You Need to KnowWith all of the home renovation and fixer-upper shows on television, the idea of completely renovating and re-doing an old home can seem like an enticing premise. Unfortunately, investing in the wrong fixer-upper can mean an awful lot of expenditure without the added financial rewards. Whether you’re considering investing down the road or are ready to dive in, here are a few things to consider first.

How Much Do You Want To Spend?

It’s easy to be swept away by possibility, but before making an offer you’ll need to sit down and determine exactly what you’re willing to invest into upgrades for your fixer-upper. By deciding what you would want to renovate, what the cost of materials and labor would be and how this figures into the market price of the home, you’ll be able to determine if the price you’re offering will be worth it.

Are Major Repairs Required?

It’s one thing to consider a nice paint job and new tiling in the kitchen, but if there are serious issues with the home, it can create huge financial issues to put money into it. Because foundational issues or water damage throughout the home can be expensive items to repair and will take time and resources, fixing these issues may cost more than the money you’ll make. If you’re uncertain about what you’re getting into, it may be a wise decision to bypass the investment all together.

Are You Willing To Work?

Most home fixer-uppers that people buy can be financially lucrative because the buyer is interested in doing a lot of the work themselves. However, if you’re thinking of hiring people to do the work for you, this can end up costing a lot more money and eating any profits the renovations might have created. It’s also important to realize that renovations can go over budget. Instead of being idealistic about a fixer-upper, ensure you’re certain it’s what you really want so that you’re not stuck with a home you don’t want to invest your efforts into.

The idea of digging in and getting your hands dirty with purchasing a fixer-upper may be endearing, but if you’re not truly prepared for the responsibilities it can be a drain on your time and your finances. If you’re currently considering purchasing a home in need of help in your neighborhood, contact one of our real estate professionals for more information.

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What’s Ahead For Mortgage Rates This Week – January 30, 2017

Posted in Mortgage Rates by Michigan Real Estate Expert on January 30th, 2017

Last week’s economic news included readings on new and existing home sales and mortgage rates. Also released were reports on new jobless claims and consumer sentiment.

New and Existing Home Sales Lower in December

According to the U.S. Commerce Department, sales of new homes fell to 536,000 sales on a seasonally-adjusted annual basis. This reading was markedly lower than the expected rate of 595,000 sales and November’s reading of 598,000 sales. Analysts said that the drop in new home sales indicated that the housing sector is still experiencing a rocky recovery. December’s reading for new home sales was 10.4 percent lower than December’s adjusted reading of 598,000 sales. December’s reading was 0.40 percent lower year-over-year.

The median sale price of new homes was $322,500 in December, which was 4.30 percent higher than in November and 7.90 percent higher than in December 2015. The dip in sales has increased inventory of available homes to a reading of 5.80 months needed to sell all new homes presently available. Real estate pros typically consider a six-month supply of homes for sale a normal inventory.

In related news, sales of pre-owned homes were also lower in December. The National Association of Realtors® reported December sales at 5.49 million on a seasonally-adjusted annual basis; this reading was lower than expectations of 5.51 million sales and November’s reading of 5.65 million sales. The slower rate of sales may signal that home prices have topped out; there is also a very low inventory of available pre-owned homes for sale as compared to demand. Sales of pre-owned homes were 2.80 percent lower than November’s reading, which was the highest rate of existing home sales since 2007. Sales of pre-owned homes were 0.70 percent higher year-over-year.

Winter weather and holidays may have contributed to lower home sales in December, but higher prices, tough mortgage requirements and a low supply of available pre-owned homes were seen as obstacles to completed home sales for December.

Mortgage Rates Mixed, New Jobless Claims Rise

Freddie Mac reported higher fixed rates for mortgages last week. The average rate for a 30-year fixed rate mortgage rose 10 basis points to 4.19 percent; the average rate for a 15-year fixed rate mortgage rose six basis points to 3.40 percent. The average rate for 5/1 adjustable rate mortgage fell by one basis point to 3.20 percent. Discount points for fixed rate and 5/1 mortgages averaged 0.40 percent.

New jobless claims exceeded expectations of 250,000 new claims with a reading of 259,000 new claims and the prior week’s reading of 237,000 new claims. Analysts said that volatility is common with new jobless claims in January. There were few layoffs reported and good news that the new jobless claims rate remained below the benchmark reading of 300,000 new claims for the 99th consecutive week. This milestone was last seen in 1970.

The four-week rolling average of new jobless claims fell by 2000 to an average of 245,900 new claims filed; this was the lowest reading since 1973.

Consumer sentiment rose to 98.5 which surpassed the expected reading of 98.2 percent and December’s reading of 98.1 percent.

Whats Ahead

Multiple readings on housing and labor related data will be released this week. Scheduled releases include pending home sales, Case-Shiller Housing Market Indices and construction spending. Reports on inflation and core inflation are due along with readings on non-farm payrolls, ADP payrolls and the national unemployment rate. 

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How Will Having a New President Impact Your Mortgage? Let’s Take a Look

Posted in Home Mortgage Tips by Michigan Real Estate Expert on January 27th, 2017

How Will Having a New President Impact Your Mortgage? Let's Take a LookThere is always uncertainty in the market in an election year, but many people are wondering exactly what kind of impact Donald Trump’s election will have on their mortgage and the real estate options available. Whether you are still paying off your home or have been shopping around for the right one, here are some possibilities for the real estate market following the results of the 2016 election.

An Increase In Luxury Properties

With the release of Donald Trump’s tax plan which provides the most sizeable tax cuts to the wealthy, it could be the case that there will be an increase in the demand for high-end properties which may lead to less availability and a higher price point. As this kind of demand could also work to bump up the median price of real estate in urban areas, it could have an adverse impact on low-income earners who may see themselves priced out of a more expensive market.

Rising Mortgage Rates

Most people that have been perusing the market recently have heard about the low interest rates that make purchasing a home a good financial decision. However, following the uncertainty of the election, interest rates are on the rise. While the sense of instability may persist until potential homebuyers know more, this boost in the rates since the election may mean that many buyers will decide to hold off until the new year.

A Loosening Of Regulations

The concept of the cost involved in regulation was something that Donald Trump brought up many times on the campaign trail, and this could be a sign that he is ready to make adjustments when it comes to housing regulations. While there may be little he can do at the local level, if regulation changes take hold, this could mean more loan opportunities for those with a poor credit history who may not have been a shoe-in for a mortgage previously.

With the fluctuations of the market dependent upon a variety of factors, it’s hard to say what will occur in the mortgage market in the next few months and years. However, with mortgage rates on the rise and the potential change in regulations, it could continue to fluctuate until there is more certainty on the horizon. 

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3 Ways That Buying or Selling a Luxury Home Is Different

Posted in Real Estate Tips by Michigan Real Estate Expert on January 26th, 2017

3 Ways That Buying or Selling a Luxury Home Is Different From a Regular OneSelling a standard home is fraught with enough concerns about marking it at the right price and staging it properly, but it’s an entirely different ball game when it comes to luxury property. If you’re planning on selling your high-end property and are trying to determine what sets it apart from the average home sale, here are some things to consider before putting it on the market.

The Price Must Be Reasonable

It’s important for the asking price on any home to show an awareness of market conditions, but when it comes to luxury, it becomes even more important. Most luxury homes are going to sit on the market for a longer period of time than a less expensive home because there are fewer potential buyers. In order to facilitate a successful sale, it’s necessary for the asking price to be competitive and in line with the amenities provided so that buyers won’t flock to other opportunities.

Use The Right Marketing Tools

With so many available methods to sell a home nowadays, it’s never been easier to get the word out that you’re selling your home. However, if the asking price is higher it’s imperative that the property is displayed in the right light. When it comes to a luxury property it’s worth having an agent who knows the market and the neighborhood well. They will be able to display your home at its most ideal by creating a website with enticing photography and details to showcase all of your home’s best attributes.

What Are The Market Conditions?

It’s difficult to time the market, but when it comes to the impact economic times can have on a luxury home sale, it’s even more important to be aware of prices. Not only will you want to be aware of the amenities your home has and how much more desirable they’ll be at certain times of the year, you’ll also want to be sure that the market is on an upswing. A market that is on the rise can make a significant difference on the offers you’ll get.

There are many factors involved in putting your home on the market, but when it comes to luxury real estate it’s important to time the market and ensure your asking price is spot on. If you’re currently preparing to put your luxury home on the market, you may want to contact one of our real estate professionals for more information.

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Get Your Mortgage Paid Down Faster With These 5 Simple Money Saving Strategies

Posted in Home Mortgage Tips by Michigan Real Estate Expert on January 25th, 2017

Get Your Mortgage Paid Down Faster With These 5 Simple Money Saving StrategiesThe monthly mortgage payment can be burdensome for many, but it’s possible you’ve thought of trying to pay it down more quickly. Without getting a new job or working overtime, here are some tips you can use on a daily basis to save additional funds and pay off your mortgage at a swifter rate.

Make Your Lunch

The five or ten dollars spent on lunch might not seem like a lot, but over time this amount adds up to a lot of savings. Instead of hitting the cafe, pick one or two nights each week to prepare a lunch for yourself so you can skip the daily expense.

Take A Coffee To Go

Like lunch, coffee is another thing that can end up costing a lot of money. However, instead of going for the two-dollar cup, make a pot before you leave for the day or opt for the office coffee instead. If you prefer yours on the go, you can always make it a once-a-week treat.

Avoid The Impulse

This might seem like a hard one to stick with, but instead of buying something because you want it, sit on it for a day or two and see if it still appeals to you. In all likelihood, the desire to purchase will pass and you’ll manage to keep more money in the bank.

Read The Flyers

Items like groceries may be a necessity, but that doesn’t mean that you have to buy the first thing you see. From fruits and vegetables to packaged goods, there are plenty of food items that go on sale all the time. By the time the month is out, you’ll be surprised how much you can save just by shopping around.

Skip The Cell Phone Plan

For most people, having a cell phone is a necessity these days; however, there are ways that you can get around the high costs that are often associated with smart phones. Instead of going for the expensive plan you have, settle for a little bit less service and talk to your provider about deals they can offer you.

It may seem like paying a higher monthly amount on your mortgage is impossible, but there are little ways to save each day that can help you pay it down faster.

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4 Terrible Mistakes Made by First-time Home Sellers

Posted in Home Seller Tips by Michigan Real Estate Expert on January 24th, 2017

4 Terrible Mistakes Made by First-time Home SellersThere are a lot of different factors that go into selling a home for the first time that can make it a stressful process, but there are a few things home sellers should avoid for a successful sale. If you’re going to be putting your home on the market in the near future and are hoping for quick success, here are some common mistakes you’ll want to be sure to bypass.

Pricing Your Home Too High

It’s entirely likely that there’s an amount you have in mind when it comes to selling your home, but it’s important that your asking price is in line with the market conditions and what’s being offered. Instead of winging it, check the local neighborhood listings and see what similar homes are selling for so yours won’t be left to linger on the market.

Forgetting The Small Repairs

After you’ve put your home up for sale and have arranged an open house, one of the first things people will notice is the small repairs; like paint chips or loose doorknobs; that haven’t yet been fixed. Instead of letting this negatively impact the offers you’ll receive, complete the little fix-ups before you schedule your open house so potential homebuyers are not turned off.

Missing On Marketing

There are so many avenues for selling a home these days that it can be hard to know which way to go. However, it’s best to consider all of your options and utilize social media to widen the audience you’ll attract. Keep in mind that if you’re investing in a website or brochures, it’s important to hire a good photographer to show your home in its best light.

Selling It On Your Own

Hitting the market on your own can be rife with a lot of questions, so as a first-time seller you may want to consider the services of a real estate agent. It’s just important to ensure that the person you choose is qualified and has experience in your community so they can steer you in the right direction and offer up helpful advice when it’s required.

Selling a home for the first time can be a stressful thing to take on, but by utilizing the right agent and having reasonable expectations, it may be off the market before you know it. If you’re getting ready to put your home up for sale, contact one of our real estate professionals for more information.

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What’s Ahead For Mortgage Rates This Week – January 23, 2017

Posted in Mortgage Rates by Michigan Real Estate Expert on January 23rd, 2017

Economic news was impacted by the Martin Luther King holiday on Monday and the Presidential Inauguration on Friday. Readings released included reports on inflation, the National Association of Home Builders Housing Market Index and Commerce Department releases on housing starts and building permits issued. Weekly reports on mortgage rates and new jobless claims were released as scheduled.

Home Builder Confidence Dips as Inflation Ticks Upward

The National Association of Home Builders Housing Market Index dipped from December’s reading of 69 to 67. Ongoing challenges including a short supply of lots for development and inability to hire skilled labor were cited, but builders were also confident that market conditions will improve due to a pro-construction stance in the new administration’s policies.

Inflation rose by 0.10 percent to 0.30 percent in December against expectations that inflation would rise by 0.20 percent. November’s reading was also 0.20 percent. The Federal Reserve has long cited a goal for inflation to reach an annual rate of 2.00 percent; incremental month-to-month increases in inflation will help achieve the Fed’s benchmark. Core Consumer Price Index readings do not include volatile food and energy sectors and held steady with a reading of 0.20 percent, which matched expectations and November’s reading.

Housing Starts Increase as Building Permits Slip

According to the Commerce Department, housing starts rose to 1.226 million against an expected reading of 1.200 million housing starts and November’s reading of 1.292 million starts. Building new homes is a priority for home builders as housing markets have been hampered by a lack of available homes. High demand has driven up home prices in many areas and has caused a great deal of competition in highly desirable metro areas. This has permitted investors and other cash buyers to prevail in home sales where multiple offers were made.

Building permits were lower in December with a reading of 1.210 million permits issued as compared to 1.212 million permits issued in November. Winter weather and holidays likely contributed to the dip in permits issued.

Mortgage Rates Fall for Third Consecutive Week

Mortgage rates fell last week for the third consecutive week. 30-year fixed rate mortgages had an average rate of 4.09 percent as compared to the prior week’s reading of 4.12 percent. 15-year fixed mortgage rates averaged three basis points lower at 3.34 percent. The average rate for a 5/1 adjustable mortgage rate was two basis points lower at 3.21 percent. Discount points for fixed rate mortgages averaged 0.50 percent; average discount points for 5/1 adjustable rate mortgages averaged 0.40 percent.

New jobless claims fell sharply from 249,000 to 234,000 claims. Analysts had expected a reading of 245,000 new jobless claims. Analysts said that layoffs reached their lowest level since the 1970’s. Job security is an important consideration for prospective home buyers; stronger job markets will likely positively impact housing markets.

Whats Ahead

Next week’s scheduled economic reports include readings on new and existing home sales and consumer sentiment. Weekly readings on mortgage rates and new jobless claims will be released as usual.

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Living the Simple Life: How to Minimize Your Clutter and Maximize Your Space

Posted in Around The Home by Michigan Real Estate Expert on January 20th, 2017

Living the Simple Life: How to Minimize Your Clutter and Maximize Your SpaceMany people look at a smaller living space and think that there are a lot of limitations imposed. However, a more miniature home can offer up the opportunity to be inventive with design and get creative about your abode. Whether you live in small apartment now or are thinking of downsizing in the future, here are some ideal ways to make the most of your pint-sized pad.

Invest In Multi-Functional Pieces

It may be nice to have a stylish bar cart or a hefty china cabinet for your space, but there are certain kinds of home items that only serve one function and this is not necessarily useful with limited capacity. Instead of a one-size-fits-all approach, try purchasing items like a folding table tray that can serve as a coffee table or a bookcase that can hold dishes, books and other household items. This will enable you to maximize the space you have and create a uniquely modern design aesthetic.

Maintain An Organized Space

Every home has a little bit of clutter, but nothing will fill up a comfy space like having a lot of knick-knacks all over the place. Instead of making your home look smaller, ensure that you have vertical storage or closet space that can be effectively used for items that might often be left out. An organized space will not only make for a cleaner, more effortless looking apartment, it will give the allusion that you’ve got a few more square feet than you actually do.

Stick With Neutral Colors

It can be tempting to go with a bright color for an accent wall, but this can actually work against your space and make it look a lot smaller. Instead of something vibrant and eye-catching, stick with a neutral palette and go for shades like white, light grey and light brown so they can naturally expand your space. You can still choose to accent with bright colors, but you may want to leave them to your pillows or a vase so that they don’t take over your space.

It might seem like there are many limitations imposed with a smaller living space, but with so many people downsizing there are a variety of great design possibilities for a less sizeable home. If you’re currently staging your home and are planning to put it on the market, you may want to contact one of our local real estate professionals for more information.

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Home Builder Index Dips in January

Posted in Home Values by Michigan Real Estate Expert on January 19th, 2017

January’s National Association of Home Builders Housing Market Index dipped two points from December’s revised reading of 69 to 67;  the index reading forecast for January was also 69.Analysts said that January’s reading was the second highest (after December 2016) since the peak of the housing bubble in 2005. January’s dip in builder sentiment was attributed to easing of builder enthusiasm, which spiked right after the U.S. presidential election. To put January’s home builder confidence reading in context, NAHB says that any index reading over 50 indicates that more builders than fewer have confidence in housing market conditions.

NAHB SubIndex Readings for January

Three sub-index readings are used in compiling the NAHB Housing Market Index reading. Builder confidence in current housing market conditions fell three points to 72; builder confidence in housing market conditions over the next six months fell two points to 76. Builder confidence in buyer traffic in new housing developments dropped one point to 51.

Builders surveyed continued to cite the cost of new lots for development and the lack of skilled labor as obstacles to higher builder confidence.

After releasing January’s index readings, the NAHB said that while January’s readings were lower than those for December, a majority of builders have expressed confidence that the new administration will reduce regulatory pressure on home builders. NAHB also cited home builder concerns over mortgage rates, which rose nearly a percentage point in November and December before falling. Despite ongoing concerns, builder sentiment has steadily improved over time. On average, builder confidence averaged a reading of 61 in 2016 against 2015’s average reading of 59 and the 2014 average reading of 52.

Builder Outlook Seen as Key to Easing Home Shortage

Real estate and mortgage pros have consistently said that building more homes is necessary to ease the ongoing shortage of available homes. NAHB’s Housing Market Index is closely followed as a benchmark of home builder confidence. Higher builder confidence in current and future housing market conditions is viewed as a potential indicator of home building activity, but housing starts have not been uniformly allied with builder confidence.

Shortages available homes creates high demand creates concerns for potential buyers seeking affordable homes. Rapidly rising home price, particularly in high demand metro areas, have sidelined buyers who cannot compete against buyers making cash offers on homes with rapidly escalating prices. 

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Wondering How Much Mortgage You Can Afford? Here’s How to Calculate It

Posted in Home Mortgage Tips by Michigan Real Estate Expert on January 18th, 2017

Wondering How Much Mortgage You Can Afford? Here's How to Calculate ItMany people are aware of the financial commitment that is involved when investing in a home, but what that amounts to is different for every person. From what you can afford to what a lender will allow, there are plenty of details involved in determining the right home for you. If you’re not quite sure what the right price is, here’s how to approach home ownership and determine your debt-to-income.

Calculating Your Debt-To-Income Ratio

You may not know what your DTI ratio is, but it has a lot to with how much home you can afford. In order to calculate this amount, add together all the debts you owe each month and divide them by your monthly pre-tax income. For example, if your credit card is $150 and your rent is $900, your debt amount would be $1050. Divide this amount by your income, say $2500, to get 0.42. This means your DTI ratio is 0.42 or 42%.

What Your DTI Means

While a DTI in the high 20s or low 30s is good, anything that hovers above 43 percent may serve as a red flag to the lender. The lower your DTI ratio is, the more likely it is that a lender will approve your mortgage application since you’ll have the disposable income to deal with financial hurdles. If your dream home has you hovering close to this amount, it may be a sign that it’s a bit out of reach.

How Do You Want To Live?

It’s quite common to be taken over when you find your dream home and decide to commit. However, buying a home is a huge financial commitment, and if you’re buying more than you can afford it may drain your well-being over time. Instead of diving in, determine other expenses that are likely to come up in the next few years, whether it’s travel, a child or a new car. It’s important to have the home you want and budget when buying it, but you’ll still need to financial wiggle room in case something comes up.

There are a lot of factors involved in determining how much house you can afford, but by calculating your DTI ratio and being aware of your spending plans, you’ll be well on your way to an ideal price range.

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