Archive for February, 2020

Turn Your Yard Into An All-Seasons Living Space

Posted in Real Estate by Michigan Real Estate Expert on February 28th, 2020

Turn Your Yard Into An All-Seasons Living SpaceThink of backyard space as “in-between” or transitional space that is a bit like being inside while being outside. Sunrooms, screened-in covered patios, outdoor kitchens, spas, fire pits and more, are all becoming very popular ways to make more use of the backyard. Making use of the outside area is not limited to only the times of the year that have nice, warm weather.

Sitting around a fire pit, with a blazing fire in it, is a perfect way to spend a chilly winter evening under the stars. This is a bit like camping out, without having to leave the comfort of your home.

Here are some tips about how to turn your backyard space into a comfortable and functional transitional area.

Landscaping

Install shade trees, cobbled paths that invite exploration, and water features that are mixed in with attractive landscaping to make your backyard more inviting. Add some inexpensive solar-powered lights to line the walkways for a nice nighttime look.

This can be a labor of love that you take your time doing without having to rush the end result. It is healthy for you to do a bit of gardening, to get some fresh air and light exercise.

Outdoor Cooking

There are many ways to enjoy outdoor cooking such as simply taking a hibachi grill out to cook on a patio. You can cook hamburgers, hot dogs, steaks, chicken, shish kebab, and more. You can even grill vegetables, like delicious slices of eggplant or corn on the cob, for your vegetarian friends on a separate grill reserved for that use.

Pizza Oven

If you really want to impress your guests, then put in a wood-burning pizza oven. Pizza made this way tastes delicious. There are dozens of pizza recipes you can try from thin crust to deep dish.

You can also make loaves of bread and other types of oven-baked foods. When you get a wood-burning pizza oven hot enough to cook properly, you will want to cook plenty of things so be sure to invite over lots of friends and neighbors.

Gourmet Kitchen

Taking the outdoor cooking one step further, some people like to install a full gourmet kitchen and spend lots of time cooking outside. There are many stainless steel grills to choose from that go along well with matching stainless steel appliances, which are strong enough for exposure to the elements.

Temperature Control

When desiring to have some control over the temperature outside, it is best to think of creating usable areas. When it is cold outside, you can use patio heaters that burn propane to make warmer areas for sitting. Another popular idea is to put in a fire pit to sit around.

During warmer times, you will want to have shaded areas and patio covers with ceiling fans. In the hot summers, you might enjoy a misting system that sprays a fine mist of cool water vapor in the air.

Summary

Many neglect their backyards, which is a shame because they can be lovely places to hang out. Rather than investing in an expensive room addition, start thinking about how you can make your backyard more enjoyable as a transitional space between the interior living area and the outside.

If you are in the market for a new home or interested in listing your current property, be sure to contact your trusted real estate professional.

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What Should I Consider Most When Buying A Home In 2020?

Posted in Real Estate by Michigan Real Estate Expert on February 27th, 2020

What Should I Consider Most When Buying A Home In 2020There are two times when it is best to buy a home. When you have to buy one and when you can afford to buy one. In general, owning a home is better than renting one because you are building up equity for yourself, instead of throwing your money away by helping the landlord buy the property with your rent money.

Best- And Worst-Case Scenario Planning

Be prepared for owning a home, especially if this will be your first time as a homebuyer. There is a natural tendency to stretch finances to the breaking point when wanting to own a home. Try to be patient and have a contingency plan for what would happen if you lose your job or if your significant other loses his or her job if you are buying a home with the help of another income.

A surprising piece of counter-intuitive advice is NOT to use all of your savings as a down payment, even if you have to pay more for the mortgage. Instead, hold back three to six months of mortgage payments in your savings to use in case there is an unexpected job loss or problem. That will give you enough time to recover from a temporary problem without having to worry about having enough money to make the mortgage payments.

Keep Emotions Under Control

Try not to let your emotions override practical considerations. Most people trade-up from the first home that they buy. A house need not be “perfect”; however, you want it to be in a decent condition to avoid having large expenses right after buying it, unless you are a fixer-upper type and know what you are doing.

Seller’s Or Buyer’s Market

It is useful to know whether the area you want to buy a home is a seller’s or a buyer’s market. In a seller’s market, there may be many buyers for fewer sellers. In that caseyou will need to be more competitive in your approach when buying a house.

One easy way to tell if the area is a seller’s market is to ask your REALTOR® to find out the median number of days that homes are on the market for sale and the percentage of the asking price that the average home sells for.

Don’t be surprised to learn in a seller’s market that homes stay listed only for a short time, and they sell for nearly the asking price. Having a pre-approved lending commitment before you go looking for a home in a seller’s market is one way to make your offer(s) stronger.

Summary

Take time when buying a home to do some market research first. Get your loan commitment approved, before shopping for a home. Make looking for a home to buy an adventure. Avoid stretching yourself to a financial breaking point and plan to stay in your home for a few years, at least, before you trade-up.

If you are in the market for a new home or interested in listing your current property, be sure to set an appointment with your trusted real estate professional.

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Coping With Relationships During The Moving Process

Posted in Real Estate by Michigan Real Estate Expert on February 26th, 2020

Coping With Relationships During The Moving ProcessHeading to a new place can be an exciting time; however, this is going to have an impact on someone’s relationships with family members and friends. The idea of relocation can be stressful for these emotional attachments. This can cause some hesitation as individuals and families adjust to living in a new place.

These are a few tips that everyone should keep in mind.

Keep In Touch

Of course, one of the most important tips for coping with the move is to keep in touch. This doesn’t mean that these relationships need to die. Simply arrange ways to talk with each other.

This starts with phone calls, video chats, and emails. This is a great way to stay involved in the lives of close friends and family members. Once the move has settled, invite them out to take a look at the new place. It is exciting to move to a new city and this is an opportunity to share some hospitality with loved ones.

Memories Of Loved Ones Are Important

Be sure to take souvenirs, mementos, and reminders of the old home. Pictures are the easiest way to do this. Be sure to display these photos in conspicuous places in the new home. This will ensure that these relationships aren’t forgotten.

In addition to pictures, paperweights, trinkets, postcards, and other items make great mementos and can serve as decorations in the new home. Display these on a shelf or ledge where they can be seen. This will help someone adjust to living in a new place.

Explore The New City

It is important to move forward. In order for someone to truly be happy in a new place, they need to give this location a chance. Get out of the house and explore everything the new city has to offer. Check out the bars, shops, restaurants, community spaces, and people. This is extremely important. Try to make new friends and create a solid support structure in a new place.

While it is important to maintain old relationships with family members and friends, they will want you to be happy in your new home as well. Therefore, branch out and explore. This will make coping with the move easier. 

If you are in the market for a new home or interested in listing your current property, be sure to contact your trusted real estate professional.

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How to Buy An Investment Property

Posted in Real Estate by Michigan Real Estate Expert on February 25th, 2020

How to Buy An Investment PropertyIt is important for everyone to take steps to diversify their assets. While many people take this to mean holding multiple stocks, bonds, and mutual funds in the market, this also includes branching out into the real estate industry. The real estate industry is far more stable than the stock market and provides a fantastic opportunity to generate reliable returns. At the same time, there are lots of options to choose from when it comes to investment properties.

Here are a few tips everyone should keep in mind.

Buying And Renting

One option is to purchase a single-family home as a second building and then rent it out. On the other hand, it is also possible to purchase a multi-unit property and rent out each individual unit. One of the biggest factors to keep in mind is that the owner is going to be responsible for collecting deposits, checking the backgrounds of potential tenants, conducting repairs, and completing maintenance tasks. 

If the property is located in a desirable area, it is possible for someone to collect enough rent to cover the cost of the mortgage and more. At the same time, it is also possible that someone might end up spending a considerable amount of time managing the property. It might be a solid idea to hire a property management company; however, this will eat away at the revenue. These are a few of the key factors to think about.

Flipping Houses

Another option real estate investors can consider is flipping houses. In this process, someone buys a home (which is often in a state of disrepair and inexpensive), repairs it, and then sells the home for a profit. It is also possible that someone might end up spending a significant amount of time and money renovating the home, which might eat away at any financial gains. Be sure to know exactly what repairs and renovations the home is going to need before buying.

A Real Estate Investment Trust

Sometimes, it might be too much for someone to buy individual properties. One possible option is called a real estate investment trust (REIT). This is a company that owns numerous big properties that generate incomes. Therefore, these trusts are often compared to mutual funds in the stock market but for real estate. Different REITs specialize in different areas, so there are lots to choose from.

If you are interested in buying a new home or purchasing an investment property, be sure to consult with your trusted real estate professional.

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What’s Ahead For Mortgage Rates This Week -February 24th, 2020

Posted in Financial Reports by Michigan Real Estate Expert on February 24th, 2020

What’s Ahead For Mortgage Rates This Week -February 24th, 2020Last week’s scheduled economic reporting included readings on builder confidence in housing markets, housing starts and building permits issued and sales of previously owned homes. Weekly readings on mortgage rates and first-time jobless claims were also released.

NAHB: Builder Confidence Remains Strong Despite Challenges

February data from the National Association of Home Builders indicated strong builder confidence in housing market conditions overall, but February’s index reading was one point lower at 74. Readings over 50 indicate that most builders have a positive outlook on housing market conditions.

Homebuilder outlook remained positive, although building materials and buildable lots remained costly. Demand for affordable single-family homes was high due to short supplies of existing homes for sale. Homebuyers turned to new homes to find more options. Low mortgage rates and strong job markets contributed to high builder confidence readings.

Housing Starts Fall in January as Building Permits Rise to 13-Year High

Commerce Department data on housing starts showed that the pace of housing starts slipped  3.60 percent from 1.626 million starts in December to 1.567 million starts in January. Housing starts are calculated on a seasonally-adjusted annual basis; analysts said that January’s housing starts were markedly lower after an unexpected rise in housing starts in December 2019.

Building permits rose by 9.60 percent in January with 1.55 million permits issued as compared to 1.420 permits issued in December and an expected annual pace of 1.453 million housing starts for January.

Ongoing shortages of available single-family homes can only be resolved by building more homes, but home builders face obstacles in obtaining necessary zoning  approvals. January’s increase in permits issued is expected to help ease persistently slim inventories of homes for sale.

Sales of previously-owned homes dipped in January due to short supplies of homes for sale and fewer options for would-be home buyers. Pre-owned homes sold at a seasonally-adjusted annual pace of 5.46 million sales as compared to December’s reading of 5.53 million sales.

Mortgage Rates Mixed, New Jobless Claims Rise

Freddie Mac reported little change in average mortgage rates last week. Rates for 30-year fixed-rate mortgages rose two basis points to 3.49 percent; the average rate for 15-year fixed-rate mortgages also rose two basis points to 2.99 percent.

The average rate for 5/1 adjustable rate mortgages fell by three basis points to 3.25 percent. Discount points averaged 0.70 percent for 30-year fixed-rate mortgages and 0.80 percent for 15-year fixed-rate mortgages. Discount points averaged 0.20 percent for 5/1 adjustable rate mortgages.

New jobless claims rose to 210,000 claims filed, which matched expectations. The prior week’s reading showed 206,000 first-time claims filed.

What’s Ahead

This week’s scheduled economic reports include readings on home price trends from Case-Shiller and the Federal Housing Finance Agency and readings on new home sales and consumer sentiment. Weekly readings on mortgage rates and new unemployment claims will also be released.

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5 Benefits of Using A Real Estate Agent When Buying Or Selling A Home

Posted in Real Estate by Michigan Real Estate Expert on February 21st, 2020

5 Benefits of Using A Real Estate Agent When Buying Or Selling A HomeIt may come as a surprise for some people to learn that not everyone uses a real estate agent when buying or selling a home. Whenever someone is looking to move, it is critical to rely on the experience of a real estate agent. There are a few benefits that everyone should keep in mind.

Tips For Price Guidance

The price is one of the most challenging aspects of either buying or selling a home. A trained real estate agent spends his or her days looking at the prices of homes that are bought and sold in the local area. 

Therefore, real estate agents can help someone sell a home both quickly and at the right price. If homes are left on the market for too long, prospective buyers might think that something is wrong with the house. This may make the home harder to sell.

Networking In The Real Estate Industry

Next, hiring professional real estate agent is important for accessing the professional network. Real estate agents typically have access to appraisers and inspectors who will be able to do a quick, easy, and cost-effective evaluation of the home. This will help the homeowner determine whether or not any repairs are necessary to get the house ready to sell.

Appropriate Financing Options

A real estate agent can also guide a prospective buyer through the financing options. There are lots of options when it comes to purchasing a home. A real estate agent can help someone review his or her options, helping a client find the right financing option for them.

Exposure For A Home Sale

One of the major benefits of working with a real estate agent is access to something called the Multiple Listing Service. This is a service where the vast majority of real estate agents list homes that are for sale. This will help any house being sold gain more exposure. The more exposure, the more potential offers, helping a house sell for a higher price.

Handling The Paperwork

One of the most often overlooked benefits of working with a real estate agent is help with the paperwork. The paperwork required to buy or sell a home can be significant. A real estate agent knows how to get through this paperwork quickly, efficiently, and accurately.

If you are in the market for a new home or interested in listing your current property, be sure to consult with your trusted real estate professional.

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NAHB: Home Builder Confidence Near 1999 High

Posted in Market Outlook by Michigan Real Estate Expert on February 20th, 2020

NAHB Home Builder Confidence Near 1999 HighThe National Association of Home Builders reported a housing market index reading of 74 in February; the index reading was one point lower than for January and was only two points below the highest reading of 76 reported in December. Readings over 50 indicate that most builders consider housing market conditions to be positive.

Factors contributing to builder confidence included strong housing markets and low mortgage rates; job growth and higher wages also boosted builder confidence.

Low Inventory Influences Home Prices

Low inventories of available homes continued to drive demand and rising home prices. Homebuyers faced with low supplies of existing homes turned to new home developments for additional options. First-time homebuyers faced obstacles including affordability and student loan debt that negatively impacted the ability to save for a down payment and qualify for home loans.

High costs of building materials and lots contributed to homebuilder expenses and higher home prices. Analysts noted that environmental and zoning issues also presented challenges for builders and limited their ability to meet the rising demand for affordable single-family homes.

Composite indices used to calculate the Homebuilders Housing Market Index slipped one point in each category. Builder confidence in current market conditions for newly-built single-family homes fell to an index reading of 80 and builder confidence in market conditions over the next six months dipped to 79. Buyer traffic volume in new housing developments dropped to 57, but buyer traffic readings of 50 or more were historically rare until recently.

Analysts identified correlations between the Housing Market Index and readings on consumer sentiment. The University of Michigan’s Consumer Sentiment Index and the Conference Board’s Consumer Confidence Index readings trend close to the NAHB Housing Market Index but are reported one month behind the Housing Market Index.

Regional Builder Confidence Mixed

Homebuilders reported mixed confidence in housing market conditions throughout the U.S. Market Conditions improved in the Northeast where homebuilder confidence was five points higher at 67. The Midwestern region reported a builder confidence reading of 62, which was five points lower than January’s reading. Homebuilder confidence in the South rose two points to an index reading of 79; homebuilder confidence fell four points in the West to 82.

Regional builder confidence levels reflect local economic conditions and events impacting housing markets.

 

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5 Essential Questions Real Estate Investors Should Ask Before Making An Offer

Posted in Real Estate by Michigan Real Estate Expert on February 19th, 2020

5 Essential Questions Real Estate Investors Should Ask Before Making An OfferReal estate investing is not only a great way to diversify assets but can also be used to generate both income and capital appreciation. While this is a fantastic opportunity, it is also important to choose investment projects carefully. It is critical to ask the right questions before making an offer on an investment property.

Why Is The Building On The Market?

There is a reason why the property is on the market. It is important to know the answer to this question. Sometimes, the house is on the market purely because the owner is moving for job or family purposes.

On the other hand, there might be an issue with the integrity of the structure. Be sure to figure out the true nature of the building before making an offer.

What Are The Other Offers?

It is important to know the competition when purchasing an investment property. Those who are trying to get the best deal possible need to know what they are up against. Asking about whether a cash offer will sweeten the deal is a great way to garner some additional insights.

What Is The Recent Maintenance?

One of the most common hidden costs in the world of real estate comes in the form of deferred maintenance. If nothing has been done on the property recently, these maintenance costs are going to be passed on to the buyer, hurting any potential ROI. Be sure to ask about any recent repairs or replacements. It’s not unusual for someone to spend a third of the building’s value on repairs.

What Is The Seller Interested In?

Be straightforward and ask what is important to the seller. Some sellers want a quick close. Other sellers want to rent the property back. There are even some sellers who want to leave the furniture behind as well. Ask what the seller needs to offload the investment property.

How Long Has It Been On The Market?

Always check and see how long the building as been on the market. If the building has been on the market for a while, figure out why it hasn’t sold. On the other hand, if the building just landed on the market, there might be more room to negotiate.

If you are in the market for a real estate investment property, your trusted real estate agent will be one of your very best assets. Be sure to make contact as soon as you are ready to start looking!

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What’s Ahead For Mortgage Rates This Week -February 18th, 2020

Posted in Financial Reports by Michigan Real Estate Expert on February 18th, 2020

What’s Ahead For Mortgage Rates This Week -February 18th, 2020Last week’s economic reporting included releases on inflation, retail sales, and consumer sentiment. Weekly readings on mortgage rates and first-time jobless claims were also released.

Inflation Hits Highest Growth Pace Since 2018

Consumer staples including rent, prepared food and medical expenses caused inflation to rise 0.10 percent from December to January, which was the smallest month-to-month growth in four months. Rents drove month-to-month inflation with a growth rate of  0.40 percent.

Year-over-year inflation grew from 2.30 percent to 2.50 percent, which was the highest year-over-year growth rate since Fall 2018. Analysts said that inflation remained low according to historical data and that no sharp inflationary growth was expected.

The rapid acceleration of rents and home prices continued to create obstacles for renters and homebuyers, who faced prices rising faster than the overall inflation rate and wage growth,

Retail Sales Dip in January

The Commerce Department reported an 0.30 percent drop in retail sales for January, which matched expectations, but was half the growth rate of 0.60 percent posted in December. January’s lower reading was largely attributed to clothing stores, which experienced a 3.10 percent decline in sales after the holiday season.

Analysts expected retail sales to grow at a pace fast enough to support economic growth throughout 2020.

Mortgage Rates and New Jobless Claims Rise

Freddie Mac reported higher rates for fixed-rate mortgage loans last week; rates averaged 3.47 percent for 30-year fixed-rate mortgages and were two basis points higher. Rates for 15-year fixed-rate mortgages averaged one basis point higher at 2.97percent.

Rates for 5/1 adjustable-rate mortgages rose an average of four basis points to 3.28 percent. Discount points averaged 0.70 percent for 30-year fixed-rate mortgages, 0.80 percent for 15-year fixed-rate mortgages and 0.30 percent for 5/1 adjustable-rate mortgages.

First-time jobless claims rose to 205,000 new claims filed but fell short of an expected reading of 211,000 new claims filed. The prior week’s reading for new unemployment claims was 203,000 claims filed.

The University of Michigan reported higher consumer confidence for February; the Consumer Sentiment Index rose to 100.8 from January’s index reading of  99.8. Analysts predicted no change for February’s reading.

What’s Ahead

This week’s scheduled economic news includes readings on NAHB Housing Markets, Housing starts, building permits and sales of previously-owned homes. Weekly readings on mortgage rates and new jobless claims will also be released.

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Investment Property Down Payments: How Much Will You Need?

Posted in Mortgage by Michigan Real Estate Expert on February 14th, 2020

Investment Property Down Payments: How Much Will You NeedInvesting in real estate is a great way for someone to diversify his or her assets; however, there is a common hurdle that almost all real estate investors face. This comes in the form of a down payment. 

It can be a challenge for someone to come up with enough cash to fund the down payment on a home or piece of land, let alone multiple properties. At the same time, how big of a down payment does someone really need? There are a few factors that someone is going to need to consider.

The Conventional Mortgage

There are plenty of investors who like to stick with a conventional mortgage for their investment properties. This makes sense because this is a format they are familiar with. For a conventional mortgage, the down payment is going to fall between 10 and 25 percent.

When taking out a conventional mortgage for an investment property, the lender is typically going to want a larger down payment. For a single-family property, most lenders are going to expect at least 15 percent of the purchase price. This number can be as high as 25 percent of those who are investing in an apartment building, condo structure, or any multifamily unit.

Those who are looking to put down a smaller down payment will need to finance the investment property as a second home. While this might be an interesting thought, anyone looking to purchase an investment property as a second home will need to spend at least some of their time at this location. For a second home, someone might be able to get away with a 10 percent down payment.

A Smaller Down Payment For Multifamily Buildings

There is another way that someone might be able to successfully apply for a smaller down payment. FHA mortgages tend to have higher fees; however, they require smaller down payments. For example, even a multifamily property may only require a 3.5 percent down payment with an FHA loan.

In this example, someone could purchase a multifamily building for $600,000 and only have to put $21,000 down. Those who are willing to stomach higher fees might want to check out the possibility of an FHA loan.

If you are interested in purchasing an investment property, be sure to consult with your trusted real estate professional.

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