Archive for December, 2020

Moving This Winter? Here Are 5 Relocation Tips That Will Help Ease the Stress of Moving

Posted in Real Estate Tips by Michigan Real Estate Expert on December 31st, 2020

Moving This Winter? Here Are 5 Relocation Tips That Will Help Ease the Stress of Moving Moving is not exactly enjoyable at any time of the year, but it can be especially stressful in the winter. Moving all of your items when it is snowing and blowing outside makes things a lot tougher. However, if you prepare accordingly and have the right attitude, you’ll find that your move will go much smoother. Here are five relocation tips that will help ease the stress of a move.

Do not Pack Your Winter Supplies

When you are moving in the wintertime, you should keep your winter supplies, such as a snow shovel and salt, in the car with you. For example, let’s say you get to your new place and there is a lot of snow on the ground. If you have your shovel nearby, you can dig out a path from the driveway to the front door. If you see ice on the ground, you can sprinkle salt on it to prevent falling and hurting yourself.

Pay Attention to the Weather

It is a good idea to watch the weather reports the day of your move. If they are predicting a big snowstorm or other dangerous conditions, it may just be best to reschedule your move to a different day.

Hire Movers

Hiring movers will cost some extra money, but it will be well worth it. If you hire professional movers to move your belongings, you will not have to worry about carrying heavy furniture in the snow and ice. They have the experience to get your items moved in a timely manner.

Get Your Car Serviced

If you are moving a long distance, you should get your car serviced beforehand. Take it to a trusted mechanic and have him check your tires and brakes. If you let a professional look at your car before your move, you will be less likely to break down on the road.

Protect Your Entryways

When you move in the winter, you can bring in a lot of snow and salt from the outside, damaging your floors. That is why you should place cardboard or plastic on your flooring before you start the moving process. It will prevent snow, ice and other particles from ruining your floors.

Moving during the winter is not exactly pleasant, but it does not have to be impossible. If you follow these helpful tips, you will have a much easier move. If you have any more questions, you should contact our trusted real estate professional today.

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Remove The Flood Insurance Risk From The Closing Process

Posted in Real Estate by Michigan Real Estate Expert on December 30th, 2020

Remove The Flood Insurance Risk From The Closing ProcessMany homeowners do not realize that the risk of a flood is a significant factor that plays a role in not only homeownership but also the closing process. Even though flooding is a major risk, many homeowners do not carry enough coverage. Without proper flood insurance, homeowners risk losing millions of dollars. Therefore, it is prudent for those who are looking for a home to factor flood insurance into their home search. This can streamline the closing process down the road.

Exploring Options For Flood Insurance

When homeowners think about flood insurance, they are often directed to the National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP). While this is one option, there are also private options available that could provide better prices and more favorable terms. Private options exist in all 50 states in addition to the Washington DC area. They can be used to satisfy the requirements of banks, credit unions, and lenders at the time of closing.

Calculate The Risk Of Flooding

While a flood can happen at any time, some homes are in riskier locations than others. Therefore, homeowners need to take a look at the individual risk of flooding at a specific property in which they might be interested. In some cases, homes might be located in high-risk areas where flood insurance still might not be required. Homeowners need to make sure that they understand the risk of flooding of a potential property and protect it accordingly. Homeowners’ insurance usually does not cover flood events, so a separate policy is typically needed.

The Requirements Of The Lender

There are some situations where homeowners might have their closing process delayed purely because they did not realize that the lender required flood insurance. During the preapproval process, it makes sense for homeowners to ask the lender if they require flood insurance. That way, homeowners will be able to factor the cost of flood insurance into the search process and expedite their closing later.

Invest In Quality Home Insurance

For many homeowners, their home is the most valuable investment they will ever make. Therefore, it has to be protected appropriately. This includes flood insurance. Check out flood insurance options ahead of time to streamline the closing process later.

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Purchase The Right Amount Of Home Insurance

Posted in Real Estate by Michigan Real Estate Expert on December 29th, 2020

Purchase The Right Amount Of Home InsuranceFor most people, their home is the most valuable investment they will ever make. Therefore, it needs to be protected. This is where homeowners’ insurance is critical. At the same time, buying the right amount of homeowners’ insurance can be a bit of a challenge.

A home that is underinsured leaves the homeowner vulnerable to situations involving fires, floods, and theft. On the other hand, nobody wants to throw away money unnecessarily by over-insuring the home. How can everyone purchase the right amount of homeowners’ insurance?

Review The Coverage Every Year

First, people’s needs are going to change from year to year. Therefore, everyone should review their policy annually. For example, actual cash value only reimburses someone based on the current condition of the home. For example, if a home was built ten years ago, the actual cash value will only provide someone with the depreciated value of the home and not the original value. While this might be enough at the beginning, it may not be enough ten years from now. Everyone has to make sure they purchase enough insurance to cover the cost of rebuilding the home, excluding the cost of the land.

Overlooking Valuables And Liability

Another common mistake that people make when it comes to homeowners’ insurance is overlooking issues such as valuables and liability. Most people have enough insurance for the structure of the home. Most people do not have enough insurance to cover liability claims and valuables. Liability claims might arise if someone gets hurt on the property and the homeowner gets sued. Valuables are important if the home burns down or if someone steals something from the home. All homeowners must have enough homeowners’ insurance to protect themselves against potential liability claims (such as someone slipping and falling in the home) and the loss of valuables (such as electronics and jewelry). Everyone has to make sure they document these valuables appropriately.

Purchase The Right Amount Of Homeowners’ Insurance

Make sure you include everything to purchase the right amount of homeowners’ insurance. Review current construction costs as part of the process. Finally, review the fine print of the homeowners’ insurance policy every year to avoid being underinsured or over-insured.

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What’s Ahead For Mortgage Rates This Week – December 28, 2020

Posted in Financial Reports by Michigan Real Estate Expert on December 28th, 2020

Last week’s economic news included readings on sales of new and previously-owned homes and consumer sentiment. Weekly average mortgage rates were also released, but readings for jobless claims were not released due to the Christmas holiday. Single-Family Home Sales Fall in November Sales of new and previously owned homes were lower in November. Fear of rising covid-19 cases and the usual slump in home sales during the winter holidays contributed to fewer home sales. Rapidly rising home prices cooled buyer interest; short supplies of pre-owned homes for sale drove prices of new homes higher as demand increased. Inventory of new homes increased by 14 percent as the median price of a new single-family home rose to $335,000, which was five percent higher year-over-year. George Ratiu, a senior economist with Realtor.com, said that would-be homebuyers were dealing with an increased divide between their home-buying preferences and affordability. Rising materials costs continued to drive new home prices up; builders faced challenges in constructing affordable homes due to higher materials costs and lower profit margins. November sales of previously-owned homes were lower with 6.69 million sales reported on a seasonally-adjusted annual basis as compared to October’s reading of 6.86 million sales. Short inventories of available pre-owned homes caused a dip in sales as buyers competed for fewer available homes. Shortages of available homes are expected to persist into 2021 and to drive home prices higher. Affordability will challenge many buyers even as mortgage rates remain at or near record lows. Mortgage Rates Lower Rates for fixed-rate mortgages dipped last week according to Freddie Mac. The average rate for a 30-year fixed-rate mortgage was one basis point lower at 2.66 percent; rates for 15-year fixed-rate mortgages averaged 2.19 percent and were two basis points lower. The average rate for 5/1 adjustable rate mortgages was unchanged at 2.79 percent. Discount points averaged 0.70 percent for 30-year fixed-rate mortgages, 0.50 percent for 15-year fixed-rate mortgages, and 0.20 percent for 5/1 adjustable rate mortgages. The University of Michigan reported a lower index reading of 80.7 for December as compared to an expected reading of 81.0 and November’s reading of 76.9. A post-Thanksgiving surge in Covid-19 cases caused consumer sentiment to fall. What’s Next This week’s scheduled economic readings include Case-Shiller’s Housing Market Indices, pending home sales, and weekly readings on mortgage rates and jobless claims. Last week’s economic news included readings on sales of new and previously-owned homes and consumer sentiment. Weekly average mortgage rates were also released, but readings for jobless claims were not released due to the Christmas holiday.

Single-Family Home Sales Fall in November

Sales of new and previously owned homes were lower in November. Fear of rising covid-19 cases and the usual slump in home sales during the winter holidays contributed to fewer home sales. Rapidly rising home prices cooled buyer interest; short supplies of pre-owned homes for sale drove prices of new homes higher as demand increased.

Inventory of new homes increased by 14 percent as the median price of a new single-family home rose to $335,000, which was five percent higher year-over-year. George Ratiu, a senior economist with Realtor.com, said that would-be homebuyers were dealing with an increased divide between their home-buying preferences and affordability.

Rising materials costs continued to drive new home prices up; builders faced challenges in constructing affordable homes due to higher materials costs and lower profit margins.

November sales of previously-owned homes were lower with 6.69 million sales reported on a seasonally-adjusted annual basis as compared to October’s reading of 6.86 million sales. Short inventories of available pre-owned homes caused a dip in sales as buyers competed for fewer available homes. Shortages of available homes are expected to persist into 2021 and to drive home prices higher. Affordability will challenge many buyers even as mortgage rates remain at or near record lows.

Mortgage Rates Lower

Rates for fixed-rate mortgages dipped last week according to Freddie Mac. The average rate for a 30-year fixed-rate mortgage was one basis point lower at 2.66 percent; rates for 15-year fixed-rate mortgages averaged 2.19 percent and were two basis points lower. The average rate for 5/1 adjustable rate mortgages was unchanged at 2.79 percent. Discount points averaged 0.70 percent for 30-year fixed-rate mortgages, 0.50 percent for 15-year fixed-rate mortgages,  and 0.20 percent for 5/1 adjustable rate mortgages.

The University of Michigan reported a lower index reading of 80.7 for December as compared to an expected reading of 81.0 and November’s reading of 76.9. A post-Thanksgiving surge in Covid-19 cases caused consumer sentiment to fall.

What’s Next

This week’s scheduled economic readings include Case-Shiller’s Housing Market Indices, pending home sales, and weekly readings on mortgage rates and jobless claims.

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How Are Different Mortgage Lenders Handling Student Loans During the Pandemic?

Posted in Real Estate Tips by Michigan Real Estate Expert on December 24th, 2020

How Are Different Mortgage Lenders Handling Student Loans During the Pandemic?The coronavirus pandemic has had a massive impact on everyone. This pandemic has led to massive economic issues as well. Given the ongoing crisis as it relates to student loan debt, many students are wondering how the pandemic is going to impact their student loans and how their student loans are going to impact a potential mortgage payment. There are a few points to keep in mind.

Freddie Mac

In general, loans backed by Freddie Mac are going to use the student loan payment that is marked on the credit report. If this amount is $0 or unknown, then the lender is going to use 0.5 percent of the outstanding loan balance. This should also be reported on the credit report. Then, the lender will provide the borrower with information on possible mortgages.

Fannie Mae

When it comes to loans that are backed by Fannie Mae, students might still be on an income-driven repayment plan. In this case, the monthly payment might be zero and the lender may qualify a potential borrower with this $0 payment. On the other hand, if the loans have been deferred or are in forbearance, then the lender may calculate a payment that is equal to approximately 1 percent of the remaining balance on student loans. 

FHA Loans

For individuals going through FHA, the lender is going to run a few calculations. The lender may look at one percent of the remaining balance on the loan, the monthly payment that is reported on the credit report, or the actual documented payment as long as the borrower provides ample evidence. The lender will likely use the greater of these amounts in calculations. 

Why Do These Student Loan Payments Matter?

Credit reports are an essential part of the home-buying process. It is critical for everyone to understand what their student loan payments are and how they might impact their credit report. Furthermore, their student loan payments are also going to have an impact on the monthly mortgage payment they can afford. Therefore, it is important for everyone to make sure the information documented on their credit report is accurate when it comes to their student loans.

 

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Home Values Are Impacted By School Zones: Is The Move Worth It?

Posted in Real Estate Tips by Michigan Real Estate Expert on December 23rd, 2020

Home Values Are Impacted By School Zones: Is The Move Worth It?If you are looking for a home, then you probably have a budget in mind. You also need to know about the most common factors that influence the price of a home. One factor that always seems to play a role in the price of a home is the quality of the school system. This makes sense. After all, a lot of people who are looking for a home have children (or are planning on having children) and want to make sure they have access to a quality education. At the same time, is it truly worth the price increase to have access to a better school district?

The Quality Of The School District And The Price Of The Home

Numerous surveys have consistently shown that the majority of homeowners are willing to go over their budget price for the perfect and home and the location certainly plays a role. In this manner, the quality of the school system absolutely factors into the right location.

When people think about going over budget, they often think about a higher monthly mortgage payment; however, other costs are going to increase as well. For example, you might need to pay a higher down payment, pay more in home insurance to protect the home, and pay more in property taxes. Therefore, is this truly worth it?

This Is A Subjective Decision

In the end, the answer to this question is always going to be subjective. Therefore, you need to decide what matters most to you and your family and compare this to the premium that is put on the home. For example, the school rankings and test scores are certainly important factors. At the same time, they only tell one small part of the story.

For example, you also want to see how much money the school district spends on each of its students. The more money they spend, the more they care about their students. You also want to think about the diversity of the school district as well, as this is closely correlated to the overall quality of the education each student receives. Compare these factors to your budget to see if it is worth the price of living in that school district.

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Getting A Lower Interest Rate During A Refinance

Posted in Real Estate by Michigan Real Estate Expert on December 22nd, 2020

Getting A Lower Interest Rate During A RefinanceThere are a lot of people who have spotted the record-low mortgage rates right now and are wondering if they can refinance successfully. While many people apply for a refinance of their current home loan, not everyone will be approved. Furthermore, a home refinance is not the best option for everyone. Those who want to qualify for record-low refinance rates need to keep a few key points in mind.

Be A Strong Refinance Candidate

First, homeowners need to make sure that it is actually worth their time to refinance to a lower home mortgage rate. In general, homeowners want to make sure they are able to save at least three-quarters of a percentage point when compared to their current home loan to make a refinance worth their while. If they cannot save this much money on their home loan, then they may end up spending more money on the refinance in closing costs.

Act Quickly

The real estate market is volatile right now. Therefore, home refinance rates are often moving targets. As a result, the interest rates that are published this week could change in the span of a few days. By the time loan packages are returned to the lender, the rates might not even be accurate anymore. Therefore, all homeowners need to be willing to act fast. Have pay stubs, bank statements, and tax returns ready to go when the lender asks for it.

Have The Money For Closing Costs

One of the most common reasons why homeowners lose out on the best interest rates is that they do not have the money ready to pay closing costs. By the time the homeowners get the money together, the refinance rate might have passed them by. Usually, closing costs fall somewhere between two percent and five percent of the total loan amount and this amount is usually due at signing.

Qualify For The Best Mortgage Rates During A Refinance

With mortgage rates falling to record lows, now is a good time for many homeowners to refinance. On the other hand, homeowners need to set themselves up to qualify for the lowest mortgage rates. Following these steps can place homeowners in a position to be successful when they apply for a refinance.

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What’s Ahead For Mortgage Rates This Week – December 21, 2020

Posted in Financial Reports by Michigan Real Estate Expert on December 21st, 2020

What's Ahead For Mortgage Rates This Week - December 21, 2020Last week’s scheduled economic reporting included readings from the National Association of Home Builders and a statement from the Federal Reserve’s Federal Open Market Committee. Weekly readings on mortgage rates and jobless claims were also released.

NAHB: Builder Confidence Falls In December

Homebuilder confidence in market conditions for single-family dropped by four points in December to an index reading of 86.  December’s reading was the second-highest on record after November’s reading. Component readings of the Housing Market Index also dropped. Builder confidence in current market conditions fell to 92 as confidence in single-family home sales within the next six months fell to an index reading of 85. Homebuilder confidence in buyer traffic in new single-family developments dropped to 73; buyer traffic readings rarely exceeded 50 until recent months.

Regional Housing Market Index readings were also lower than in November. The Northeast, Midwest, and South reported readings three points lower than in November. The Western region’s reading dipped by two points month-over-month.

Fed Holds Key Rate Steady

The Federal Open Market Committee of the Federal Reserve announced no change to the current federal funds rate range of 0.00 to 0.25 percent. Citing severe economic challenges caused by the Covid-19 pandemic, the FOMC statement indicated that economic forecasts would be subject to the course of the virus and related impacts on public health, the economy, and labor markets.

The Committee stated its monetary policy would be flexible in response to the pandemic and the Federal Reserve’s dual mandate of achieving maximum employment and an inflation rate of two percent. The inflation rate has fallen short of the Fed’s objective of two percent; FOMC members amended the inflation rate goal to two percent or higher to compensate for the impact of repeated readings under the two percent mandate.

Mortgage Rates Hit Record Low; Jobless Claims Mixed

Freddie Mac reported new record lows for average mortgage rates last week. Rates for 30-year fixed-rate mortgages averaged four basis points lower at 2.67 percent. Rates for 15-year fixed-rate mortgages averaged 2.21 percent and were five basis points lower. The average rate for 5/1 adjustable rate mortgages was unchanged at 2.79 percent. Discount points averaged 0.70 percent for 30-year fixed-rate mortgages, 0.60 percent for 15-year fixed-rate mortgages, and 0.30 percent for 5/1 adjustable rate mortgages.

New jobless claims rose to 885,000 first-time claims filed as compared to 862,000 new claims filed the prior week. 5.51 million ongoing jobless claims were filed; last week’s reading was lower than the prior week’s reading of 5.78 ongoing jobless claims filed.

What’s Ahead

This week’s scheduled economic news includes readings on sales of new and previously-owned homes, inflation, and consumer sentiment. Weekly reports on mortgage rates and jobless claims will also be released.

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First-Time Condo Buyer? What to Expect from Your New Homeowners Association

Posted in Home Buyer Tips by Michigan Real Estate Expert on December 18th, 2020

First-Time Condo Buyer? What to Expect from Your New Homeowners AssociationEvery owner of condominium property automatically becomes a member of a homeowners association, otherwise referred to a “HOA” throughout the United States or a “Strata” in Canada. With that membership come certain rights and responsibilities. The primary right that the owner has is to vote at HOA meetings and elect board members. Responsibilities include payment of condo fees and assessments, compliance with association by-laws and rules, and maintaining a condo unit in conformity with those by-laws and rules.

Let’s take a quick look at various other terms you may hear about from your new HOA.

Declaration of Condominium and By-Laws

The declaration of condominium establishes the existence of a condominium property. It gives the precise location of the property through a legal description and describes each individual unit in the development along with the various common elements.

Individual Units

Ownership of an individual condominium unit is defined by the declaration of condominium and ordinarily consists of the interior walls and everything within the interior walls of a dwelling unit. Anything outside of that unit is usually considered to be a common element, such as the entryway, the swimming pool, the tennis courts, the parking lots and more.

Common Elements

This is property both inside and outside of buildings that the individual condo owner has an undivided interest in. It would include any common hallways, garages, parking lots, recreational facilities and open space on the property described by the declaration of condominium. If for example, there are 100 units in a condominium development, each individual unit has an undivided one percent interest in the common elements.

Running a Homeowners Association

Homeowners associations tend to operate like a small democracy. When matters are brought up at meetings to be voted on, each condo unit has one vote. Each HOA has an elected board of directors. They’ll meet once a month to decide on association business and make decisions on behalf of the HOA. The unit owners are permitted to be present at these meetings.

Owners’ Responsibilities Inside Their Units

Owners are responsible for any repairs within the walls of their dwelling unit. They might be responsible for damage to other units from leaks or flooding from a burst pipe. Depending on the by-laws, the unit owner might be responsible for maintenance or repairs of any pipes or electrical wires running behind their walls. The association is responsible for anything on the common elements.

Don’t let the purchase of your next home get derailed. If you’re thinking of getting started on condo shopping, your trusted, reputable and highly experienced real estate professional will guide you through your condominium purchase.

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Easy Repairs To Do At Home

Posted in Real Estate by Michigan Real Estate Expert on December 17th, 2020

Easy Repairs To Do At HomeDuring the past few months, many people have been stuck at home. Whether this involves working from home or going to school from home, many home appliances are receiving more use than usual.There might be more breaks, clogs, and leaks than most families are used to dealing with.

Many families are tired of spending money on technicians and mechanics and might be looking for a more cost-effective way to deal with home repairs. There are a few key home repairs that homeowners can handle on their own.

Stopping A Leaky Faucet

Leaky faucets are among the most common issues homeowners deal with. There are two shut-off valves under the sink that need to be turned off first. Then, make sure there is nothing coming out of the faucet. Remove the handles from the faucet using a screwdriver and look at the cartridge, ceramic disc, and ball underneath. Remove these parts and replace them with new parts (in the reverse order) and the faucet should stop leaking.

Repair The Window Screen

If there is a tear in a window screen, this is a great way to let bugs in the house. The screen is usually held in place by tension springs or small clips. Remove the screen and locate the cord that runs on the outside of the screen, which is called the spline. Pry the spline up using a screwdriver. Then, remove the old screen. Finally, cut a new piece of screen that is slightly larger than the frame and secure it in place by pushing the spline back into place.

Unclog A Drain In The Bathroom

If the water level keeps rising during the shower, then this can be concerning. While many people are tempted to use chemical cleaners to unclog the drain, this could be dangerous for the pipes themselves. Instead, use a reliable hair snake (which looks like a zip tie with edges) to pull out the gunk. To access the drain, you may need to remove the stopper or unscrew the drain itself. Pull out the material with the snake and discard it.

Handle Repairs At Home

These are a few easy home repairs that homeowners can handle themselves. This can save a lot of time and money.

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