Archive for Home Buyer Tips

Do You Need Mortgage Insurance Even If It’s Not Required By Your Lender? Let’s Take A Look

Posted in Home Buyer Tips by Michigan Real Estate Expert on February 19th, 2021

Do You Need Mortgage Insurance Even if It's Not Required by Your Lender? Let's Take a LookFinding a proper mortgage loan and understanding the processing procedures behind the loan is the basis of good research. The down payment on a mortgage loan is typically significant when dealing with mortgage insurance.

Most loan applications with less than 20% down payment are required to include mortgage insurance with the loan. However, mortgage insurance may still be required even if it’s not typically required by your lender.

Underwriting Requirements

Most home mortgage applications undergo a strict set of standards for approval. These standards are known as underwriting and make up the bulk of time spent on a mortgage application. Unique situations in employment or credit history may require an additional down payment percentage to avoid PMI or private mortgage insurance.

Most underwriting requirements require adequate information on the borrower’s credit and employment history for complete application. Self-employed individuals or those with alternative forms of credit may need a few additional hoops to jump through when dealing with mortgage insurance requirements.

Lender-paid Mortgage Insurance

Lender-paid mortgage insurance is a popular option with potential homeowners that seek to avoid the cost of a PMI or FHA-backed insurance on a home loan. Most lenders incorporate payment of private mortgage insurance in exchange for a slightly higher interest rate.

This is one example of the points system on a mortgage application that eliminates the cost of PMI. The increase in interest rate may or may not warrant the need for a lender-paid mortgage insurance arrangement.

What’s Involved With Risk Assessment?

Strict lending requirements and banking policy now limit the number of mortgages with zero down payment options. Conventional mortgages and FHA both require private mortgage insurance if it is less than 20% down payment. However, FHA loans can be more flexible with the initial down payment requirements with adequate credit. FHA mortgage costs are now for the life of the loan. Lenders will look at mortgage insurance as risk protection.

The risk protection process may or may not require mortgage insurance in your home loan. For example, VA and USDA loans do not usually require mortgage insurance if the borrower’s credit and employment history are adequate.

Conventional loans have a reduction in risk once there is at least 20% equity in the home compared to the principal of the mortgage. Don’t hesitate to contact your trusted mortgage professional about potentially dropping mortgage insurance in the future to reduce overall loan costs.

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Making The Offer: 4 Ways To Craft An Offer That Will Catch The Seller’s Attention

Posted in Home Buyer Tips by Michigan Real Estate Expert on February 18th, 2021

Making the Offer: 4 Ways to Craft an Offer That Will Catch the Seller's AttentionIt can take a time and effort to find the perfect home to purchase. After you have found that home, you need to convince the seller that your offer is the one they want to choose. There may be multiple offers made at the same time, and you may be in a situation where you are competing for the home.

Even if your offer is the only one the seller receives, there is no requirement that they must accept the offer you make. Crafting an effective offer that will catch the seller’s attention is important, and you may be able to accomplish this by following a few tips.

Offer Close To The Asking Price

One of the first things most sellers will look at when they receive an offer is the price you are offering to pay. You may feel as though the seller is asking too much for the home, and your agent may advise you to offer a lower price. On the other hand, there may be multiple offers, and you may feel as though you need to offer a price higher than what is being requested. With your real estate agent’s advice in mind, consider that a seller will be more inclined to accept an offer if it is close to what they are asking. If your offer is too low, they may decline it without looking at the other merits to your offer.

Request A Quick Closing

When you prepare your offer, one of the factors that you will have control over is the requested closing date. Sellers generally want to close quickly, but this is not always the case. Each market is unique, but a general rule of thumb is to offer a closing date that is 21 to 28 days away, contingent on mortgage approval. You may work with your real estate agent and mortgage company to determine when a reasonable closing date is. However, offering a quick closing generally shows that you are a motivated buyer.

Choose A Shorter Option Period

A sales contract has an option period, which allows the buyer to back out of the deal for any reason. This may be a time when you get your third party reports, such as the property inspection, completed. A shorter option period may be preferred by sellers. This is because the buyer is generally locked into the contract contingent on mortgage approval after the option period has expired.

Offer A Higher Non-Refundable Good Faith Amount

When you make an offer, you will also give the seller a good faith or earnest money deposit. The amount of the deposit will be disclosed in the contract, and you will typically hand it off after the offer has been accepted. This is the amount of money that you stand to lose if you do not follow through on the terms of the contract. A higher good faith or earnest money amount shows that you are serious about buying the home.

There are many factors that a seller is thinking about when reviewing an offer. While the entire offer will be reviewed fully, the fact is that these factors are generally given significant weight in most seller decisions. You can work with your real estate agent to structure the best offer possible.

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Common Mistakes The Experienced Homebuyers Tend To Make

Posted in Home Buyer Tips by Michigan Real Estate Expert on February 12th, 2021

Common Mistakes The Experienced Homebuyers Tend To MakeWhen people are looking at buying a home, there are a few common mistakes that first-time homebuyers make; however, there are mistakes that seasoned homebuyers make as well. What are the most common mistakes that people make when they are looking for a new home for the second or third time? There are a few key examples to keep in mind. 

Trying To Rush Through The Process

The first mistake that experience homebuyers make is that they try to rush through the process. They feel like they understand exactly how it is going to work because they bought a home the first time. Therefore, they end up rushing, making a few key mistakes in the process. Remember that this is an important financial decision and it is important to take the time to get it right. Nobody should try to rush through this process when they are looking for a new home. 

Not Thinking About Traffic Patterns

Lots of people try to figure out exactly how far they are going to be from school or work when they are looking for a home. On the other hand, people also need to think about traffic patterns. Just because a home is within a few miles of school or work doesn’t necessarily mean that the commute is going to be easy. Think about the traffic patterns before making a decision. 

Not Thinking About The Future Of The Neighborhood

Lots of people who are buying a home for the second or third time are planning on being in that home for decades. Therefore, it is important to think about the future of the neighborhood. What is going to happen in the local area? How is that going to impact property values? These are important questions that should be answered before signing on the dotted line. 

Think About These Mistakes Ahead Of Time

When experienced home buyers are looking for a new home, it is important to think about these mistakes ahead of time. When they take the time to think about these mistakes, they ensure they avoid them down the road. That way, they make sure that they end up with the right home at the best price possible.

 

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Buying Your First Home? Here’s Why You’ll Need to Ensure You Have a Proper Home Inspection

Posted in Home Buyer Tips by Michigan Real Estate Expert on February 10th, 2021

Buying Your First Home? Here's Why You'll Need to Ensure You Have a Proper Home InspectionThere’s a whole lot to learn when buying one’s first home, an investment that can bring joy, but sometimes, grief. A competent real estate agent can assist in locating those homes that meet the home buyer’s needs and can advise on factors such as market value of the home and neighborhood services. The agent will help the buyer through the negotiation and purchase process. But the buyer should take responsibility to make sure that the steps below are taken.

Home Inspection Contingency Included in Purchase Offer

At the point where the buyer finds a home and decides to make an offer, the contract should be written contingent on an acceptable inspection. If serious issues are found, the buyer has the options of requesting certain items to be fixed, to be compensated for the costs of repair, for a lower purchase price or to cancel the contract. Without this contingency, the buyer is bound to the contract without these options and may suffer huge costs.

Selecting the Home Inspector

Reputable and successful home inspectors may be recommended by the real estate agent or friends. The buyer should talk with prospective inspectors and ask for references. Another indication of competency is an affiliation with professional groups such as the American Society of Home Inspectors (ASHI) or the National Association of Home Inspectors (NAHI).

Inspecting the Home

There are potentially many problems in homes that are not visible to the eye. The home buyer that engages a professional home inspector can be assured that major problems will be identified. As an added value, by accompanying the home inspector and asking questions, the first-time buyer can learn about proper maintenance and of possible problems that will not go into the report.

What Will the Home Inspector Do?

The home inspector examines the entire home, both outside and inside, and checks for safety, defects, replacement or repair needs, and potential problems that should be monitored closely. The inspector will then produce a report covering the findings. The inspection generally takes two to three hours and costs between $200 and $500.

What Will Be Inspected?

External inspections will cover the roof, exterior walls, foundation, grading, garage, and may include sprinklers, lawn, porch lights, walkways and driveways as well. Interior inspections will examine the plumbing and electrical systems, HVAC (heating, ventilation and air conditioning), the water heater, kitchen appliances, laundry room, fire safety and bathrooms.

Taking this optional step of completing a home inspection, even with a new home, will be well worth the time and additional cost. It will provide a basis on which to make a more realistic offer and give the buyer the peace of mind of having in-depth knowledge about the house being purchased.

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Have You Outgrown Your Current Home? Here Are Five Easy Ways to Tell if It’s Time to Upgrade

Posted in Home Buyer Tips by Michigan Real Estate Expert on February 5th, 2021

Have You Outgrown Your Current Home? Here Are Five Easy Ways to Tell if It's Time to Upgrade Your home is your castle, your own little piece of the American dream. But lately, your little corner of the world has been feeling cramped and you find yourself eyeing those larger homes. Is it time to pull up stakes and move on from your starter home?

Growing Family

If you’ve added to your family in recent years, you may have more bodies than bedrooms. A two-bedroom home may have been a great idea when it was just you and your spouse, but with two kids, you’re starting to have turf wars over the play area.

Overflowing With Stuff

From an overflowing toy chest to closets packed so tightly with shoes and coats you risk an avalanche every time you open the door, your home just doesn’t have the space to keep all your things. You may have even had to move some things off-site, spending money to rent storage space to keep that antique dresser your grandmother left you or the set of state spoons you carefully collected during your college years.

No Rest For The Weary

You’d love to spend an afternoon soaking in the tub, but before the warmth of the water can take you away, there’s a banging on the door of the only bathroom in the house and a chorus of “hurry up” invading your quiet time. And the man cave you dreamed of? Those visions of a big screen television were shattered by the realization you needed somewhere for the kids to sleep.

No Room For Extras

When you first moved in, the two-car garage doubled as your woodworking shop. Now, the equipment has been sent to storage to make room for the family’s second car. You’d love to take up organic gardening, but your tiny yard barely has room for a grill and a lawn chair. You’d love to host your friends visiting from out of state, but there is hardly room for their luggage, much less them.

Changes In Career

You may have opted for a starter home when you first entered the market because you had a smaller income. Now, thanks to changes in careers or promotions at work, you can afford a home with greater square footage and room for your growing family that will provide the space you need for many years of happy memories.

Home prices across the country are starting to rise. Contact your local real estate agent today and take advantage of the opportunity to give your family the most space at the best price now.

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Buying a New Home in the City? The Pros and Cons of Buying a Home on a Busy Street

Posted in Home Buyer Tips by Michigan Real Estate Expert on January 20th, 2021

Buying a New Home in the City? The Pros and Cons of Buying a Home on a Busy Street Finding the perfect property is an exciting feeling, but its relative location can leave a lot of room for worry. Buying a home in the city is a venture that comes with an entire assortment of advantages and disadvantages. While the location might be close in proximity to businesses, services, and other people, it’s easy to worry about the other aspects of city living. What are the great and not-so-great facets of living on a busy street?

Pro: Access to Businesses and Schools

The chances are high that anyone living in a busy area is within walking distance of any store, shop, or service. Likewise, children have a range of options for education in busier areas; there are often multiple schools to choose from in any given busy area.

Pro: Access to Many Internet/TV Providers

In highly populated areas, a large number of internet and TV providers can co-exist. This means residents have a number of options when the time comes to choose providers. Luckily, it’s often difficult for providers monopolize densely populated areas.

Pro: Sense of Community

Many people that live in busy areas will be quick to share that they adore the sense of community. In fact, a large population is often one of the biggest reasons that people choose to move to bigger areas.

Con: Noise Level

As a street sees more activity, there’s no doubt that the noise level will also be a bit higher than usual. Residents that own homes on busy streets not only hear lots of noise from outside traffic, but they also often hear police sirens, animals, conversation, and more.

Con: Higher Price

It’s no secret that busy areas are a bit more expensive to live in. As anyone would expect, the convenience of city living comes with a higher price. Expect to hand over quite a bit more for a property in a highly populated area.

Con: Parking

Depending on the location of the neighborhood, parking can also be a problem. If street parking isn’t allowed, a resident in a big city might have to sacrifice their vehicle or park it a long distance from the property. This can be off-putting for many buyers.

If you’re on the fence about purchasing a property on a busy street, get more information from your trusted real estate agent before making a decision. A professional agent can provide valuable information about the property, neighborhood, chances for resale in the future, and much more. Don’t proceed any further without an agent’s advice!

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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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Looking for Luxury? How to Upsize Your Next Home Without Upsizing Your Costs

Posted in Home Buyer Tips by Michigan Real Estate Expert on December 11th, 2020

Looking for Luxury? How to Upsize Your Next Home Without Upsizing Your Costs Size matters when you are buying a new home. Whether you plan to expand your family, need more room for your stuff, or are concerned with resale value, you want to get the most space for your money. Also, if you want to add a feel of luxury to your home, one of the best ways to do it is to create open spaces rather than cramming all your furniture in rooms so tiny you can barely walk around without knocking something over.

Traditionally speaking, the larger a home is, the more it costs. If there are two newly built houses side by side in a subdivision, the bigger one is likely to cost more. However, there are some tricks to finding spacious houses that are affordable.

Choose Emerging Neighborhoods

Houses in this year’s trending neighborhood are at their peak prices. Clever buyers look for neighborhoods that are in the process of being gentrified, buying at the bottom rather than the top of the market, to get more house for their money.

Fix It Up

Houses in perfect condition, that show well, sell for a premium. If you want to get more house for your money, choose something that needs a bit of TLC. A house that has pink walls and orange shag carpet might appear just too ugly to consider when you first view it, but it might just need a few coats of paint and some new carpet to become a spacious dream home.

Do Some Finishing

Unfinished areas such as attics and basements can be finished to create additional living spaces. The basement could become a family room and the attic an extra bedroom or study. An unfinished space can become the extra bathroom you need to make morning more manageable.

Consider an Addition

Contractors can add rooms to a house. If you have a large lot, you can build an extra wing. With a one story ranch house, it may be possible to raise the roof and add a second story.

The more stuff you have, the smaller your home appears. Reduce clutter and invest in smaller condo size furniture to give even the smallest home the appearance of spaciousness. Call an experienced real estate professional if you want to find your spacious luxury home at a bargain-basement price.

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First Time Buyers: Understanding How Property Taxes Work and What You Can Expect to Pay

Posted in Home Buyer Tips by Michigan Real Estate Expert on November 20th, 2020

First Time Buyers: Understanding How Property Taxes Work and What You Can Expect to PayAre you about to buy a house or condo for the first time? Congratulations! Owning your own piece of real estate is a liberating experience and one that will provide you with the foundation to build your personal wealth and equity. Once you own your own home you’ll be responsible for a variety of new costs, including property taxes which are assessed by your local government to pay for municipal services. In this blog post we’ll share how property taxes work and what you can expect to pay when you buy your new home.

It All Begins with a Local Property Tax Assessment

As mentioned above, local governments assess property taxes as a means for paying for police officers, fire fighting services, road maintenance and the other various costs that come with running a town or city. Whether you’re buying a house, a townhouse or a condo, the property that your home sits on is inside of an area known as an “assessment area”. When the local government determines what your local tax levy or tax rate will be, they will assess your home based on the real estate market value of similar homes in the area. You can multiply your tax rate by the assessed value of your home to determine how much you’ll owe in property tax.

Property Taxes as Part of Your Closing Costs

When you close on your new home you’ll have to pay property taxes, and your real estate agent will help you to understand how much these taxes will be and how they will be paid. In most cities and counties you’ll pay a pro-rated amount of property tax that covers the time span from the date you purchase the home until the end of the year, after which time you’ll be paying your full assessed rate.

Don’t Forget Your Overall Tax Picture

Finally, don’t forget that property taxes can be factored in to the rest of your overall tax picture. Check with your accountant or another financial professional to determine whether or not you can write your property taxes off against your income tax to save some additional money. There are numerous tax benefits to owning a home, so it’s best to start using them from day one.

As with all other taxes, property taxes are a fact of life that every homeowner faces. When you’re ready to buy a new home and to learn more about how property taxes will affect your purchase, contact your local real estate agent today.

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The 3 Minute Guide to Real Estate “Flipping” and How to Get Moving Today

Posted in Home Buyer Tips by Michigan Real Estate Expert on November 13th, 2020

The 3 Minute Guide to Real Estate If you’ve been thinking about investing in a real estate project you may have considered buying a distressed house or two at a steep discount in order to fix them up and sell them at a higher price. This is known as “flipping”, and in today’s post we’ll share a quick guide to flipping homes and how to get started with this type of real estate investing.

Assessing Your Budget and Tolerance for Risk

We’ll start by stating the obvious: when you buy real estate with the intent of flipping it, losing money is a very real possibility. You’ll need to assess your own tolerance for risk and decide how much you want to invest in your real estate venture.

If you’re new to buying homes it’s a great idea to start small – an inexpensive “fixer upper” house or a condo – and work your way up from there. Spend some time crafting a budget to assess how much you’ll be spending to acquire the home and in repairs or renovations, and what you expect to receive when you sell.

Shopping for Suitable Houses and Condos

Once you’ve got your budget prepared and your finances are in order you’ll need to start looking for a suitable home. The ideal listing is one that is priced at a discount to all of the other homes in the neighborhood as the home is in some state of disrepair or has certain issues that need to be fixed up. Spend some time browsing through local property listings which are sorted by price and note which options are the least expensive. This is where you’ll want to start.

Scale Things Up by Finding a Partner

After you’ve bought, repaired and sold a home or two you’re likely going to want to scale things up. Consider bringing on a partner who can help shoulder some of the workload or one that may want to invest capital so that you can buy homes in a higher quantity. Remember, this is business; if you work with someone else you’ll want to formalize your arrangement with a written contract.

As with any business venture, there’s a bit of a learning curve that you’ll need to overcome when you begin flipping houses. As long as you’re patient and ready to move when you find the perfect home, you’ll soon find success with your real estate investments. 

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