Archive for September, 2017

Upgrading Your Home? 5 Great Reasons to Make the Switch to Hardwood Floors

Posted in Around The Home by Michigan Real Estate Expert on September 19th, 2017

Upgrading Your Home? 5 Great Reasons to Make the Switch to Hardwood FloorsAre you tired of scouring the internet, trying to find the secret recipe for whatever will take stains out of your carpet? And the irritating annual steam cleaning ritual where your whole home is soaking wet for a couple of days? Ugh. If your old carpet has you down, it might be time for a change. In today’s blog post we’ll share five great reasons why you’ll want to make the switch from carpet to hardwood floors.

Your Home Will Look Amazing

Let’s face it. Unless you have a serious appreciation for all things shag, hardwood floors look much better than carpet. Available in a variety of colors and grains, hardwoods add a natural element to any room. They give off a much warmer appeal than carpet as well, especially when polished.

They’re Much Easier To Keep Clean

Spill on the floor? No problem. Pet has an accident? Rest easy. Hardwood flooring is far easier to keep clean than any form of carpeting. Your floor won’t absorb liquids and solids won’t leave a mess.

They’re A Great Equity-Building Investment

Hardwood floors are an excellent investment in your home. Some studies show that up to 75 percent of the cost will be returned when the house is sold, which puts hardwoods high on the list of equity-building renovations. Also, many home buyers are specifically looking for houses with hardwood flooring. So when you do choose to sell, your home may sell that much faster.

They Last Longer Than Carpets

The next time you are over at a friend’s house, take a look at their floors. Many homes have hardwood flooring that has been around for decades, requiring only the occasional refinishing to restore its former shine. Hardwoods last much longer than carpets and won’t require a full “rip and replace.”

Your Allergies Will Thank You

Finally, if you or any of your family members suffer from allergies, hardwood floors may be the answer. Carpets collect dust, which can lead to the formation of dust mites and other allergens. And while you can vacuum them regularly, only the very best vacuums have enough suction to get deep into the carpet fiber to remove this gunk.

These are just five of the many good reasons to invest in hardwood flooring for your home. When you’re ready to sell, or if you’re in the market for a great new home, contact your local real estate professional. We will be happy to show you some great local opportunities.

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What’s Ahead For Mortgage Rates This Week – September 18, 2017

Posted in Mortgage Rates by Michigan Real Estate Expert on September 18th, 2017

Last week’s economic readings release included reports on inflation, core inflation retail sales and retail sales excluding autos. Consumer sentiment, along with weekly readings on mortgage rates and new jobless claims were also reported.

Inflation Exceeds Expectations, Retail Sales Lag

Consumer prices rose 0.40 percent in August, which surpassed expectations of 0.30 percent growth and July’s reading of 0.10 percent. Core consumer prices, which exclude volatile food and energy sectors, matched expectations with a reading of 0.20 percent growth and exceeded July’s growth of 0.10 percent.

August retail sales fell to -0.20 percent against expectations of no change from July’s reading of 0.30 percent.

Retail sales excluding auto sales grew by 0.20 percent, which was lower than expected growth of 0.40 percent, which was based on July’s growth rate of 0.40 percent.  

Mortgage Rates Hold Steady, Weekly Jobless Claims Dip

Freddie Mac reported no change for averaged fixed mortgage rates; the rate for a 30-year fixed rate mortgage was unchanged at 3.78 percent. Rates for a 15-year fixed rate mortgage averaged 3.08 percent and was also unchanged from last week’s reading. The average rate for a 5/1 adjustable rate mortgage dropped by two basis points to 3.13 percent. Discount points averaged 0.50 percent for fixed rate mortgages and 0.40 percent for 5/1 adjustable rate mortgages. The readings for fixed rate mortgages were the lowest in 2017, and provided an ongoing incentive for home shoppers who continued to face high home prices and slim inventories of homes for sale.

New jobless claims were lower at 284,000 new claims filed than last week and were also lower than the expected reading of 300,000 first-time jobless claims The prior week’s reading reported 297,000 first-time jobless claims.

Whats Ahead

This week’s scheduled economic reports include readings on home builder sentiment, existing home sales, housing starts and building permits issued. The Fed’s Federal Open Market Committee will issue its post-meeting statement and Fed Chair Janet Yellen will give a press conference. Weekly readings for mortgage rates and new jobless claims will also be released. 

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You Ask, We Answer: What Are the Fees and Costs That Come Along With a Mortgage?

Posted in Home Mortgage Tips by Michigan Real Estate Expert on September 15th, 2017

You Ask, We Answer: What Are the Fees and Costs That Come Along With a Mortgage?Have you been considering a mortgage for your next home purchase? As with any loan or financial product, there are a variety of fees and costs you may incur in the process of closing your mortgage. In today’s post, we’ll explore a few of these potential fees and the situations in which you may encounter them. Let’s get started!

Title Insurance Costs

You’re almost certainly going to incur insurance fees and charges. In most cases, you’ll need to pay for title insurance for the lender, which is based on the purchase price of the home but varies from state to state. This protects the lender if something is missed during the title search, which shows whether or not there are any liens on the property.

Mortgage Underwriting Fees

Depending on the lender, you may or may not be assessed an underwriting fee. When you apply for a mortgage, there’s an intense amount of research required to determine the types of mortgage products that you qualify for and the amount of financing you can afford. This fee covers the costs involved in conducting this research. This may also be referred to as the ‘origination fee’ or included within it.

The Closing Fee

As mentioned above, there are title costs associated with finalizing your home purchase. As the name suggests, the closing fee covers the cost of having a representative from the title company present at the final ‘closing’ of the deal. This professional supervises the formal legal transfer of the home from the previous owner to you.

Legal And Attorney’s Fees

Speaking of legal, in most states you will require an attorney for some part of the closing process. This may or may not be related to the mortgage financing itself. For example, in some states, you will need to have an attorney present when you finalize the mortgage paperwork. In others, you’ll only need them for other parts of the purchase transaction.

Other Miscellaneous Costs

Finally, there are a handful of less common fees and costs that you might incur. These range from courier fees to get documents moved around the city to bank and wire fees to transfer your down payment.

While the list above may look like a lot, in the grand scheme of your total mortgage cost you won’t even notice most of these fees. For more information about the mortgage process, contact your local real estate professional today. We’re happy to help.

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Selling Your Home? Here’s 3 Reasons Why You Won’t Want to Handle the Sale Yourself

Posted in Home Seller Tips by Michigan Real Estate Expert on September 14th, 2017

Selling Your Home? Here's 3 Reasons Why You Won't Want to Handle the Sale YourselfAre you thinking about selling your home? If so, you may be weighing the pros and cons of working with a professional real estate agent. Let’s take a quick look at three great reasons why you won’t want to handle the sale yourself.

You Won’t Save As Much As You Think

Let’s start with the most common and obvious reason that homeowners try to handle their home sale: the cost. It’s true that selling your home using the services of a real estate professional isn’t going to be free. Depending on the value of your home, their commission might range from two to four or five percent of the final sale price. However, the entire reason you’re paying commission is that you’re contracting with a professional to do a job. Your real estate agent is there to both share their experience and handle all of the tasks and responsibilities with your sale. Without them, you’ll be responsible for everything from creating an online listing for your property to figuring out how to host an open house.

So while you may believe you are saving money by not paying commission, you’re going to be burning a lot of your time. If you’re already busy in your career or as a parent, that may end up costing you more in the long run.

A Professional And Objective Eye Is A Huge Plus

Objectivity is another great reason to work with a real estate professional when selling your home. If you had to answer right now, would you say your home is better than your neighbor’s? Better than all the houses on your street, even? The majority of home sellers do believe their home is “above average,” which is of course statistically impossible.

When someone has been the one painting, renovating and putting love into her home for so long, it is no surprise that she becomes attached to it. A real estate agent’s objective eye can offer a nice dose of reality and help to keep the sale moving.

Many Buyers Will Automatically Avoid Owner Sales

Are you a professional salesperson? If not, do you have experience dealing with the public? Selling your home is a significant financial transaction in which you’re going to have to meet with buyers. Moreover, from their perspective, it’s likely that your home is not the only one they’re viewing. Many homebuyers will prefer to work with a seller agent as they know the process will be smooth and professional rather than trying to negotiate directly with an owner.

These are just a few of the reasons you won’t want to go it alone when you sell your home. For more information about local home sales, contact your local real estate professional today.

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3 Useful Tips for First-time Homebuyers Trying to Navigate the System

Posted in Home Buyer Tips by Michigan Real Estate Expert on September 13th, 2017

3 Useful Tips for First-time Homebuyers Trying to Navigate the SystemWhether you’re tired of renting, need more space or want to make an upgrade, buying your first home is the solution. However, if you have never participated in the market before it can be a bit daunting at first. Let’s explore a few useful tips that are helpful for first-time homebuyers who are new to the process of buying real estate.

Tip #1: Begin With The End In Mind

Before you start exploring local home listings and shopping around, it’s worth asking yourself both what you ‘need’ in a home and what you ‘want’ in a home. For example, are you single or married? If you are married or are likely to be in the near future, are you planning on having a family? Will you need space for pets? What area of the city is most convenient for your commute? And so on. If you start by knowing exactly what you need, it will be that much easier to narrow down your options.

Tip #2: The Market Determines The Value Of A House

The second tip to keep in mind is that your local real estate market is what determines how much a home is worth. What you can afford has nothing to do with a home’s value, nor does your opinion of its current condition. In some cities, homes will sell with the intention of being torn down after the purchase completes.

Tip #3: Go Low, Start Slow

Finally, when you’re ready to make an offer, it should be one that is as low as possible without insulting the homeowner. Buying a house is not like buying groceries or clothing. The price isn’t fixed and is certainly going to be open to negotiation. Conversely, you shouldn’t be surprised if and when the seller makes a counteroffer against yours. The more you’re prepared for a lengthy back-and-forth to hammer out a final price, the more likely you are to be successful.

When you’re ready to buy your first home, contact your trusted real estate professional and we’ll be happy to help.

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Ready to Buy Your First Home? Don’t Forget to Check Your Credit Score – Here’s Why

Posted in Home Buyer Tips by Michigan Real Estate Expert on September 12th, 2017

Ready to Buy Your First Home? Don't Forget to Check Your Credit Score – Here's WhyWhether you’re just out of college, recently married or simply haven’t jumped into the market yet, buying your first home is an exciting prospect. It can also be an expensive one, which is why most people will take out a mortgage to help finance the cost.

If you are planning on engaging with a mortgage lender, you’ll need to have your finances in order. In today’s post, we’ll share a few key reasons why you’ll want to check your credit score well in advance of buying your first home.

Your Credit Score Is A Signal For Lenders

As you know, mortgage lenders have a responsibility to lend to those individuals and families who are at a low risk of default. So when a mortgage lender starts to dig into your financial background, they are looking at your credit history and credit score to help them assess that risk.

Note that having a low score doesn’t necessarily mean you have bad credit. If you’re still in your 20s and have only had a credit card, your score might be low even though you are fully capable of managing a mortgage.

Your Score Impacts Your Mortgage Interest Rate

As mentioned above, your credit score helps to signify your risk. If your credit score is in a lower range, perhaps a 640 or 660, you’re presenting a greater risk than someone with a score of 760 or 800. Because of this, the interest rate that you pay on your mortgage will in part be determined by your credit score. Those individuals who present a higher risk pay a higher rate to compensate. And vice versa, if your credit is spotless you can expect to pay a lower interest rate.

You’ll Need Time To Challenge Any Issues

Finally, you’ll need to give yourself some lead time to challenge any irregularities with your credit report. The credit reporting agencies aren’t perfect and they do make mistakes. There may be some old, retired credit card or other debt sitting on your report which is holding the score down. Even worse, there may be some incorrect delinquency or other error which ends up as a big red flag for potential mortgage lenders.

As you can see, it’s worth spending the time to check your credit score. You get to check it for free once per year, so take advantage of the opportunity. And when you’re ready to discuss buying your first home, contact your local professional real estate agent. We’ll share how to navigate the credit score and mortgage process so you can land the home of your dreams.

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What’s Ahead For Mortgage Rates This Week – September 11, 2017

Posted in Mortgage Rates by Michigan Real Estate Expert on September 11th, 2017

Last week’s economic news was slim due to the Labor Day Holiday. Scheduled releases included the Fed’s Beige Book Report and weekly readings on mortgage rates and new jobless claims. 

Beige Book Cites Concerns Over U.S. Auto Industry

Federal Reserve Board members shared anecdotes from their respective regions; of note were concerns about U.S. automakers. Auto production was more than 16 percent lower year-over-year in Cleveland, Ohio. Fed business contacts said that automakers are no longer seeking buildings for expanding production. Analysts said that slowing auto production and sales could indicate slowing economic trends. Auto industry slow-downs could also result in layoffs in auto production and sales/

Economic conditions, in general, continue to improve at a “modest to moderate” rate. August’s Beige Book did not include responses to damage caused by Hurricane Harvey, but damage to Houston and surrounding areas were expected to impact negatively impact the economy.

Mortgage Rates Mixed, New Jobless Claims Rise

Freddie Mac reported lower fixed rate mortgage rates last week; this was the second consecutive week of record low rates. The average rate for a 30-year fixed rate mortgage dropped by four basis points to 3.78 percent. The average rate for a 15-year fixed rate mortgage was also four basis points lower at 3.08 percent and rates for 5/1 adjustable rate mortgages averaged 3.15 percent. Discount points for fixed rate mortgages averaged 0.50 percent and points for 5/1 adjustable rate mortgages averaged 0.40 percent.

New jobless claims rose sharply to 298,000 new claims filed as compared to expectations of 242,000 new claims and the prior week’s reading of 236,000 new jobless claims filed. Hurricane Harvey was blamed for the surge in new jobless claims. Further impacts on jobless claims were expected as two hurricanes, Irma and Jose, approached Florida on Friday. Severe damage was predicted; the total economic impact will be assessed in the aftermath of the hurricanes.

Whats Ahead

This week’s economic reports include readings on job openings, inflation, retail sales and consumer sentiment. Weekly readings on mortgage rates and new jobless claims will also be released.

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Selling Your Home? 3 Secrets to Getting the Best Price

Posted in Home Seller Tips by Michigan Real Estate Expert on September 8th, 2017

Selling Your Home? 3 Secrets to Getting the Best PriceAre you ready to sell your home? Whether you’re just starting to make your plans or you’re ready to list now, you likely want to know how you can get top dollar. It’s going to take more than just throwing up a high price on the listing and waiting for a buyer to show up with a check. With that in mind, here are three secrets to ensuring that when you sell your house or condo, you get the best possible price.

Great Staging Is Critical To Your Success

The first secret is that you’ll really need to consider how you want to stage the outside and inside of your home. Staging your home is your best way to make a positive impression on potential buyers. Think about the difference in perception it makes arriving to view a beautiful, spotless and well-lit home compared with one that looks dirty or messy. Invest the time and money in staging your home and it will increase the value in the buyer’s eyes.

Let A Professional Take Care Of The Heavy Lifting

It probably comes as no surprise that buyers who engage the assistance of a professional real estate agent end up selling for more than those who try to go it alone. A great selling agent will have their eyes and ears tuned to the local real estate market and will have insight into current selling trends. They can also research other recent home sales in your local community and can share which price is likely to attract the most offers. When it comes time to field offers, your agent will be able to help you understand how much you can counter-offer without scaring off the buyer.

Be Willing To Negotiate With The Right Buyer

Finally, to ensure you get the most you can out of your sale you’ll need to remain open to negotiating with potential buyers. You may find that a great buyer needs some extra time to close their financing. Or that they’re willing to bump up their asking price in exchange for you making some easy renovations before turning the keys over to them. The more you’re willing to be flexible with your pricing and terms, the better your chances of securing a buyer that will give you a fair price for your home.

If you’re thinking about selling your home, contact your professional real estate agent. We’re happy to share our insight and experience to help you with the selling process.

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Four Mistakes to Avoid When Making an Offer for Your Dream Home

Posted in Home Buyer Tips by Michigan Real Estate Expert on September 7th, 2017

Four Mistakes to Avoid When Making an Offer for Your Dream HomeYou’ve scoured the new home listings, been to all the open houses and have finally found the home of your dreams. It is now time to draft an offer and begin the negotiation process. Below we’ll share four mistakes that you will want to avoid when making an offer on your dream home.

Mistake #1 – Not Working With A Professional

The first mistake that home buyers make is trying to buy a home without using the services of a real estate professional. Buying a home is a significant financial transaction and one where the seller and their agent are working hard to ensure they come out ahead. Having experienced representation on your side of the table ensures that you won’t be taken advantage of.

Mistake #2 – Skipping The Home Inspection

The second mistake – and one that is more common than you think – is skipping the home inspection. There are countless instances of home buyers thinking that the house looks great on the outside without realizing that there are issues with the roof, the foundation, the plumbing, inside the walls or some other area that’s tough to see. Having the house professionally inspected before tabling an offer ensures that issues are fixed up before the transaction is complete. Alternately, if you’re willing to move ahead regardless, you can ask for the price to be reduced as compensation.

Mistake #3 – Not Being Pre-Approved For Financing

The third mistake in our list is making an offer on a home without being pre-approved for the amount of mortgage financing you will need. Regardless of how good your credit is, the mortgage application process is one that can present challenges. Also, many home sellers will require evidence of financing pre-approval before accepting an offer, so it’s best to come prepared.

Mistake #4 – Taking On Other Debts

Once you’ve decided on the home you want to purchase, you will want to avoid taking on any other debts which can affect your credit score. Don’t buy a car, open any new credit cards or do anything else which will show up on your credit report. Once you are pre-approved for your mortgage, you’ll want to keep your credit as spotless as possible to ensure that nothing goes wrong.

If you’re prepared and clear-headed, the offer process will go smoothly and you’ll soon be moving into your dream home. When you’re ready to explore local real estate options, contact your trusted real estate professional.

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Kids Moving Out of the House? Here Are 3 Tips for Creating a Warm, Welcoming Guest Bedroom

Posted in Around The Home by Michigan Real Estate Expert on September 6th, 2017

Kids Moving Out of the House? Here Are 3 Tips for Creating a Warm, Welcoming Guest BedroomIf you’re a homeowner with children, at some point, you’ll be saying goodbye. They’ll move off to college or to start their career and adult life. As children move out, you’ll discover that you have extra bedrooms and other living spaces that will need a new purpose. Let’s take a look at three ways that you can transform an unused bedroom into a welcoming place for guests to stay.

Get Started With A Deep Clean

The first thing you’ll want to do is engage in a top-to-bottom deep clean of the room. Get everything out of the room so that nothing’s left but the carpet. Clean the walls, windows, light fixtures and closets until they’re sparkling clean. If the carpet is still in good condition and doesn’t have a lot of stains, have it professionally steam-cleaned. Or if it’s a little beat up from years of abuse, consider replacing it with beautiful new carpeting.

Consider A Fresh Coat Of Paint

Have a look at the condition of the paint and walls. Does the paint still add a colorful “pop” to the room? Or have the years taken away its luster? Do the walls have scratches, dents, and holes in random areas? Are they in need of repairs?

Even if the paint is in good condition, this is an excellent opportunity to completely change the look and feel of the room. Consider going with a lighter color palette that gives off a welcoming vibe.

Go With Matching Furniture And Tables

Once the room itself is in tip-top shape, you’ll need to focus on the bed, dresser, tables and other furniture. As mentioned above, this is the perfect time to get rid of any mismatched furniture and replace it with a matching bedroom set. Also, be sure to toss out any dated mirrors or light fixtures that don’t match up with the room’s new look.

As your children get older and move out of the family home to start their own lives, you’ll be granted with a lot more space to make use of. Having a welcoming guest bedroom or two will ensure that you’ve always got some room for family members to come and visit. But if you decide that you’ve got too much space, contact your local real estate agent. We’ll share how you can downgrade the size of your home while improving your quality of life.

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