3 Questions to Ask Before You Buy Your First Home

Posted in Real Estate by Michigan Real Estate Expert on March 8th, 2019

3 Questions to Ask Before You Buy Your First HomeHunting for your new home can be a confusing process. There are countless factors you need to take into account to ensure your new location fits your family’s lifestyle and preferences. In their excitement, first-time home buyers can easily overlook some essential points about their potential property.

When you’re searching for your new residence, ask these questions to get exactly what you’re looking for.

Am I Financially Ready For A New Home Purchase?

It takes more than money to find the right home. Your credit rating is an important factor in your ability to secure enough funding to finance your dream. Check out your credit score before you buy to make sure you won’t have to settle for less.

Some of the things you have the greatest control over include:

  • Payment history
  • Credit utilization ratio
  • Debt-to-income ratio

Even with a large down payment, having a questionable credit history can endanger your chances of qualifying for mortgage loans. Spend some time shining up your credit report for the best results. Getting a pre-approved home loan is a great way to find out how much house you can afford before you start shopping.

Is This The Right Neighborhood For Me?

No matter how beautiful the structure itself is, your house won’t seem like a home unless you’re comfortable with the surrounding neighborhood. Take a walk around your potential block to assess the area and compare it to your needs.

  • For families with children, are there high-quality schools in the area?
  • Do your neighbors’ homes seem well-kept?
  • What amenities (dry cleaner, grocery stores, parks, etc) do you want in your community?
  • How do the roads and sidewalks look?

Before committing to a purchase, visit the home at different times of the day to get an idea of what you might have to live with.

Am I Ready To Settle Down?

Align your home purchase with your future goals. If you know you’re planning to move out-of-state in the next several years, take that into account when shopping for a home. Will you be able to sell quickly enough before you leave? Or do you plan to retain ownership of the home and rent it out while you’re away?

Think about the directions your life might take in the next 5 to 10 years. By looking ahead, you can make a better plan for the best home you can afford which will accommodate you and your family in the years to come.

Buying your first home is a major decision. Knowing your goals, desires, and abilities before agreeing to a purchase a home will make you the most comfortable moving forward.

One of the best partners in your home search will be your trusted real estate professional. Be sure to make contact as soon as you are considering a new home purchase.

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8 Ways To Maintain A Great Credit Score

Posted in Mortgage by Michigan Real Estate Expert on March 7th, 2019

8 Ways To Maintain A Great Credit ScoreHaving an excellent credit score is very useful. The following are some tips on how to maintain a superb credit score.

Open Credit Accounts When You Do Not Need Them

If you don’t have any credit accounts, you will have a low score. The best time to open them is when you do not need them. Keep a small balance on them and pay it all off at the end of each month to avoid paying interest.

Charge Up To Half The Credit Limit Then Pay It All Back Within A Few Months

If you must use a credit line, only use half of it and pay it back quickly.

Buy Big Ticket Items With A Credit Card For Cash Back And Points

Even if you can pay cash for a big ticket item, you may find it beneficial to buy it with a card that gives a reward for making a purchase like cash back or rewards points. Then pay off the balance as quickly as you can.

Ask For An Increased Credit Line

For credit accounts that you have been paying on time, call the customer service department and tell them you are thinking about buying something that is slightly above your credit limit. Ask them if they can extend the limit. This usually works even if you do not actually buy something.

You can attempt to raise your credit limit this way about once per year. As you increase your available credit capacity while maintaining all accounts in a “paid as agreed” status, your credit score should go up.

Move Credit Balances To A New Card With Zero Interest

Many credit card companies offer a zero-interest period for transfers of credit card balances from another card. After doing this, transfer this balance, once again, to another card that has a similar offer before the zero-interest period expires.

Close Old Accounts When New Ones Are Open

Having too many credit card accounts can lower your score. Keep about half a dozen cards. Close the ones that you transferred the balance from to zero interest cards.

Use Automatic Payments To Make Sure Bills Are Paid On Time

Never miss a payment or pay late. You may want to use automatic bill payment systems to make sure you never let a bill slip by.

Monitor Credit Card Activity For Unauthorized Use

Monitor all credit card activity in real time. Immediately take action if you notice an unauthorized charge. Monitor your credit history file on the three credit bureau services of Equifax, Experian, and Transunion.

If you are interested in buying a new home or selling your current property, be sure to enlist the help of your trusted real estate professional.

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Going Tankless: Energy-Efficient Tankless Water Heaters

Posted in Around The Home by Michigan Real Estate Expert on March 6th, 2019

Going Tankless Energy-Efficient Tankless Water HeatersThere are so many ways in which you can green up your home and make it more sustainable these days. Many people are considering tankless water heaters. While this can certainly be the right option depending on the space you have and the type of water you use, here are some things to consider before you decide to invest in the switch.

Maximizing Your Space

One of the biggest issues with a traditional water heater is the amount of space it takes up, whether it’s a side closet or a closed-off area in the basement. Fortunately, one of the benefits of tankless water heaters is that they can be wall-mounted almost anywhere in your house so they won’t need their own separate space. The traditional water heater may be bulky and require an area of its own, but your tankless water heater will not have to work around the needs of the rest of the house!

Heating What’s Needed

While a traditional water heater stores water and will be able to supply hot water at a quicker rate, a tankless water heater works more slowly. Because it is heating the water as it’s being used, it’s only using the energy it needs to in order to provide the water required. While this will have a positive impact on your energy costs over time, it can also mean waiting on hot water a little longer than expected. In order to go tankless, you’ll require a minimum water flow amount.

Do You Have Hard Water?

A tankless water heater can be more efficient when it comes to space and energy, but if you have an issue with hard water, the tankless option may not be the way to go. Because a tankless heater essentially warms water within the tank, it is vulnerable to scale build-up, which can cut into its overall efficiency. While a traditional water heater does not experience this issue, a tankless water heater working with hard water may end up being less useful due to this build up.

There are a number of benefits associated with a tankless water heater, but it’s important to determine if this option will be truly energy efficient for you before you decide to invest.

If you’re preparing to put your home on the market, contact your trusted real estate professionals to learn about which home improvements can bring you the best return on your investment.

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Bold Wallpaper Makes A Statement In 2019

Posted in Around The Home by Michigan Real Estate Expert on March 5th, 2019

Bold Wallpaper Makes A Statement In 2019From a sophisticated couch to a stunning art print, there are plenty of ways that you can dress up your living room and instantly change its vibe. You may not realize it, but wallpaper is back in fashion and becoming another popular way to instantly revamp a room.

If you’re contemplating ways that wallpaper can benefit your space, here are some options you may want to try out.

Add An Accent

A brightly colored accent wall may still be a popular trend, but a way to bring your wall into current fashion can be to add wallpaper. In addition to a fun print, wallpaper can instantly add elegance without overpowering the look of your living room.

Cover The Closet Doors

If you’ve come across a wallpaper pattern you like, try applying it to the front of the closet doors. It will be an easy way to dress up your doors without adding a coat of paint and will add a subtle effect that will go with your room’s decor.

Add In Some Personality

With wallpaper making a comeback, there are so many options that allow you to personalize your wallpaper and make the room your own. Posters of your favorite rock band may be a thing of the past, but unique wallpaper can be a great way to inject your own passions into your favorite room.

Make It Your Wall Art

Many homeowners struggle with how to dress up their walls appropriately, but choosing wallpaper can be a great means of avoiding this dilemma. Instead of an art piece, you can choose strips of wallpaper to provide visual interest or paper a whole wall that will act as the focal point of your room.

Upgrade Your Coffee Table

It’s often the case that people buy oversized books to decorate their coffee table, but you may want to utilize wallpaper if you have a glass surface on your table. Instead of leaving your table neutral, add a patch of wallpaper under the glass for an instant designer look.

With wallpaper making a comeback, there are plenty of ways to dress up your room for little cost that will make a huge difference in the look of your space.

If you’re currently in the market for a new home, contact your trusted real estate professional for more information.

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What’s Ahead For Mortgage Rates This Week – March 4th, 2019

Posted in Financial Reports by Michigan Real Estate Expert on March 4th, 2019

What’s Ahead For Mortgage Rates This Week – March 4th, 2019Last week’s economic reports included readings from Case-Shiller Housing Price Indices and Commerce Department reports on housing starts and building permits issued.

Readings on pending home sales and consumer confidence were released along with weekly reports on mortgage rates and initial jobless claims.

Case-Shiller Home Price Growth Slows to Lowest Rate in Four Years

Home prices continued to grow in December but reached their slowest pace since November2014. Seasonally-adjusted annual home price growth reached 4.70 percent in December as compared to growth of 5.10percent year-over-year in November.

Analysts cited high home prices, and slim inventories of available homes, although demand for homes eased in some metro areas. Affordability and accessibility to mortgages sidelined low and moderate-income buyers; some buyers allegedly gave up on buying homes.

Building more homes is necessary for relieving the housing shortage; real estate pros, mortgage lenders and home buyers rely on home builders to provide enough housing for first-time buyers and existing homeowners to transition from renting to owning and for existing homeowners to move up to aspirational homes. 

Housing starts fell short of expectations in December with a seasonally-adjusted annual rate of 1.078 million starts. Analysts expected 1.28 million starts based on November’s reading of 1.214 million housing starts. Construction was affected by winter weather and higher costs for building materials.

Pending Home Sales Rise in January

Pending home sales increased in January; sales with signed purchase contracts rose 4.6- percent as compared to December’s negative year-over-year reading of -2.30 percent. The National Association of Realtors® said that all four U.S. regions reported higher readings for pending home sales. The Northeast reported 1.60 percent more pending sales, Midwest and Southern regions reported increases of 2.80 percent and 8.90 percent, and the Western region reported 0.30 percent more pending home sales.

Mortgage Rates, Hold Steady New Jobless Claims Rise

Freddie Mac reported no change in 30-year fixed mortgage rates, which averaged 4.35 percent. The average rate for 15-year fixed rate mortgages dropped one basis point to 3.77 percent; mortgage rates for 5/1 adjustable rate mortgages were unchanged at 3.84 percent. Discount points averaged 0.50 percent for fixed-rate mortgages and 0.30 percent for 5/1 adjustable rate mortgages.

First-time jobless claims matched expectations of 225,000 claims filed as compared to 217,000 first-time claims filed the prior week. The University of Michigan Consumer Confidence Index rose to an index reading of 131.4 and exceeded the expected reading of 124.7.

January’s reading was 121.7. Rising consumer confidence may compel would-be home buyers to enter the housing market during peak buying season in spring and summer.

Whats Ahead

This week’s scheduled economic reports include readings on January housing starts, construction spending, and new home sales. Weekly readings on mortgage rates and new jobless claims will be released along with labor-sector reports on public and private sector jobs and the national unemployment rate.

 

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5 Financial Terms Every Real Estate Investor Should Know

Posted in Real Estate by Michigan Real Estate Expert on March 1st, 2019

5 Financial Terms Every Real Estate Investor Should KnowThe success of your real estate ventures depend on your ability to navigate the financial world. Learn these terms to make it easier to understand what’s going on with your real estate investments.

Cash Flow

Contrary to popular belief, cash flow isn’t just the amount of liquid assets you have available. Your cash and unused lines of credit are an essential indicator of your ability to complete projects and pay the cost of ongoing operations. However, these factors don’t tell the whole financial story.

Your actual cash flow is the difference between your gross income and your financial obligations. You can have a large cash reserve but still have a negative cash flow if you aren’t making enough to cover your obligations.

Gross Yield

When evaluating potential properties, it’s helpful to understand the gross yield. To calculate gross yield, divide the annual income you expect the property to produce by the property’s price. This number comes in handy for comparing properties and narrowing down your options.

Amortization

Lending institutions offer a variety of loan structures to fit your goals and financial standing. An amortized loan features a set amount of interest. This amount is integrated into each monthly payment. That means that borrowers are paying on the loan’s principal and paying down their interest liabilities from the very first payment.

Amortization is an excellent way to quickly build equity. This enables real estate investors to use existing properties to fund other projects without having to sell off their holdings.

Carrying Costs

Flippers and other short-term real estate investors need to keep a close eye on their carrying costs. These are all the expenses incurred after the initial purchase and before the property is sold for profit. Carrying costs include mortgage and interest payments, utility bills, taxes, and insurance.

The best way to limit carrying costs is to flip your property as quickly as possible. However, sudden changes in the market, illness, and other unexpected factors can prolong your need to make monthly payments. In this event, investors should carefully monitor their cash flow to ensure they don’t end up losing their entire investment.

Double Close

Wholesale home buyers often already have an exit strategy before signing on new properties. In this case, a double closing allows the wholesaler to purchase the property and sell it to a new buyer in a single transaction. This is also sometimes called a back-to-back closing.

Knowing these terms will make it easier for you to manage the financial details of your real estate investments. And partnering with a trusted real estate professional will make it easier for you to find just the right investment property. 

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11 Simple Ways To Save Money Toward The Purchase Of Your New Home

Posted in Real Estate by Michigan Real Estate Expert on February 28th, 2019

11 Simple Ways To Save Money Toward The Purchase Of Your New HomeIf you find it difficult to make ends meet, these tips will help you save money in ways that are easy to do and create substantial savings over time.

Declutter

Get rid of stuff you do use or need by having a garage or yard sale or by putting things for sale on eBay or Craigslist.

Make Your Own Coffee

Do you really want to make that billionaire richer by buying coffee for $5+ a cup? Make your own gourmet coffee that costs around 50 cents per cup for the same thing.

Bring Your Own Lunch

Making your lunch the night before to take to work the next day will give you more time to enjoy lunch. You will save the money that is wasted when driving to fast-food restaurants or going to pricey lunch places.

Grow Some Food

Everyone should have a garden, even if it is only a window garden for herbs. If you have some room for pots, you can grow tomatoes and other vegetables. If you have a back yard or a front yard you can grow tons of stuff.

Buy In Bulk And Use Coupons

For the things that you use on a regular basis, stock up when the items are on sale. Buy things at discount stores. Buy bulk things like rice and pasta at wholesale prices in co-ops. Coupon clipping is a hobby that pays for itself in savings. Just be careful not to buy things you do not really need or use.

Change Home Lighting

If you have not yet changed out all your incandescent bulbs to compact fluorescent bulbs, what have you been doing? Change those bubs right away because you are burning up money on wasteful lights.

Install Smart Home Technology

Making a home run with more energy-efficiency is reduces your bills and helps the planet too. Smart home technology monitors comfort zones and turns things off when they are not needed.

Cut The Cable

An expensive monthly bill for cable TV is something many can do without. There are plenty of less expensive alternatives and tons of free content to view online.

Make A Change Jar

Every time you come home, put all the change you have in a change jar. You will be surprised how much money builds up over time and you will hardly even notice it is missing.

Walk Instead Of Drive

Do you have to drive your car everywhere? Try walking short distances instead. Not only will you save money on gas; walking may improve your health.

DIY Projects

Instead of paying others to do simple jobs around the house, do them yourself. There are plenty of do-it-yourself (DIY) guides on YouTube that show how to do just about anything. You will save the expensive labor cost for simple home repairs that can be up to $75 per hour.

Are you inspired? OK. Put some of these ideas into action. Ready, set, save!

Your trusted real estate professional is a skilled negotiator. Be sure to utilize this savvy resource as soon as you are considering a new home purchase.

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Case-Shiller: December Home Price Growth Slowest in 4 Years

Posted in Real Estate by Michigan Real Estate Expert on February 27th, 2019

Case-Shiller: December Home Price Growth Slowest in 4 YearsCase-Shiller Home Price Indices reported the slowest rate of U.S. home price growth since November 2014. According to the 20-City Home Price Index, Home prices grew by 4.20 percent year-over-year and were 0.20 percent higher in December as compared to November. The 20-City Home Price Index fell short of analysts’ expected gain of 4.80 percent year-over-year. Case-Shiller’s National Home Price Index reported home prices increased 4.70 percent in the fourth quarter of 2018.

While home price growth is sluggish, home prices continued to rise faster than wages. This creates obstacles to affordability for many would-be home buyers. Fears about rising mortgage rates and inflation, also concerned would-be home buyers seeking affordable homes.

20-City Home Price Index: Home Price Growth Rose In Only 5 Metro Areas

Las Vegas, Nevada led in home price growth for December with a year-over-year increase of 11.40 percent. Phoenix, Arizona home prices rose 8 percent year-over-year, and Atlanta, Georgia home prices increased by 5.90 percent. Home prices in west coast cities including  San Francisco, California and Seattle, Washington grew at a slower pace than in prior years, which could indicate that high-demand metro areas are approaching peak home prices.

December home price growth surpassed November readings in five cities tracked in the 20-City Index. Three cities reported no change in month-to-month home prices growth. David M. Blitzer, Chair of the S&P Dow Jones Index Committee, acknowledged that year-over-year home prices continued to fall despite the prior assertion that housing markets were not approaching “bubble” conditions seen in the Great Recession.  

Serious Headwinds Face Prospective Home Buyers

According to data compiled by the National Association of Realtors®, 27 percent of prospective home buyers surveyed at the end of 2017 believed that they would face fewer challenges to finding and buying a home in 2018. Prospective buyers surveyed in late 2018 who planned to buy within the next year decreased from 24 percent to 13 percent. Combined impacts of high home prices, potential increases in mortgage rates and strict mortgage requirements discouraged some would-be buyers, but whether this is a short or long-term trend will depend on factors including inflation, wage growth and inventories of homes for sale.

Market conditions can vary by location. Please be sure to consult with your trusted real estate professional to find out about market specifics in your area.

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Sound Advice From Successful Home Sellers

Posted in Real Estate by Michigan Real Estate Expert on February 26th, 2019

Sound Advice From Successful Home SellersThe real estate market and all the things involved in selling a home can seem complicated, and it can be very hard to know which tips to trust. While there’s plenty of great advice to go around from many knowledgeable sources, here are some of the best tips from home sellers who have made a successful sale.

Research Your Local Agents

When considering an agent that will meet your home-selling needs, it can be tempting to go with someone familiar or recommended through a friend who seems like a safe bet. However, it’s important to do some of your own research. Create a list of agents you’re impressed by and take note of their sales and agent fees. Keep in mind that you may want to lean towards an agent who has expertise in your neighborhood.

Get A Second Opinion On Price

Before you have an agent appraise the value of your home, it’s worthwhile to do some research on your end to determine the approximate value of your property. Once you’ve arrived at a figure, bring in the agents you’ve selected to appraise the value of your property. If one price is significantly higher than the other, it may be a sign that an agent is trying to win over your business. Most agents are in tune with the current market and should be able to guide you toward the most appropriate market price. 

Be House Ready At All Times

Having potential buyers view your home will certainly make the idea of selling it real, so make sure that it is ready for viewing at any time. If a potential buyer cannot view your property or has to work around your schedule constantly to arrange viewings, there’s a pretty good chance that you may lose out on some good home offers. Instead of missing out, provide a set of keys to your real estate agent so they can show people around your home when you’re not around. This should automatically increase the likelihood of an offer on your home.

Heading into the real estate market can be a matter of trepidation if you’re not sure what to do, but by doing some research and being prepared you’ll increase your chances of success. As soon as you begin to consider putting your home on the market, be sure to contact your trusted real estate professionals for more information and expert guidance.

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What’s Ahead For Mortgage Rates This Week – February 25th, 2019

Posted in Financial Reports by Michigan Real Estate Expert on February 25th, 2019

What’s Ahead For Mortgage Rates This Week – February 25th, 2019Last week’s economic news included readings on homebuilder confidence in housing market conditions, minutes of January’s Federal Open Market Committee meeting, and existing home sales reported by the National Association of Realtors®. Weekly readings on mortgage rates and new jobless claims were also released.

NAHB: Home Builder Confidence Rises to 4-Month High

Homebuilder confidence rose for the second consecutive month in February and four points higher to an index reading of 62, which exceeded analyst expectations of a one-point increase in builder confidence.

Components of the NAHB Housing Market Index also rose. Builder confidence in current market conditions rose three points to 67; builder confidence in market conditions over the next six months rose five points to 68 and builder confidence rose four points to an index reading of 48. Index readings over 50 are considered positive, but readings for buyer traffic are typically lower than the benchmark of 50.

Real estate and mortgage lending pros consider the Housing Market Index and its component readings as an indication of future home building pace. During times with few available homes and high buyer demand, industry leaders rely on builders to provide more homes.

Fed Holds Off on Raising Key Interest Rate

Minutes of the Fed’s January meeting of its Federal Open Market Committee indicated a divide in members’ positions regarding raising or holding the current federal funds rate steady. The current rate of 2.25 to 2.50 percent was unchanged as Committee members considered global economic uncertainty and domestic concerns including trade policies. On a positive note, the Fed lowered its expected reading for long-term national unemployment from 4.50 percent to 4.40 percent. Strong labor markets encourage would-be home buyers to consider buying homes.

Sales of Pre-owned Homes Fall to Three-Year Low

The National Association of Realtors® reported the lowest level of previously-owned home sales in three years. Sales were 1.20 percent lower than their three-year low in December and were 8.50 percent lower year-over-year. 4,94 million pre-owned homes were sold on a seasonally-adjusted annual basis; analysts expected 4,99 million sales and 5.00 million pre-owned homes were sold in December.

The national median home price was $247,500 in January, which was 2.80 percent higher year-over-year; this was the slowest rate of home price growth since 2012.

Home prices may have peaked in high-demand metro areas where prices are unaffordable for most residents. First-time home buyers lost market share in January and comprised 29 percent of all sales as compared to a long-term market share of 40 percent. Concerns over affordability, supplies of homes for sale and potential increases in mortgage rates sidelined first-time and moderate-income home buyers.

Mortgage Rates, New Jobless Claims Lower

Freddie Mac reported lower mortgage rates last week; rates for a 30-year fixed rate mortgage fell two basis points to 4.35 percent. Rates for a 15-year fixed-rate mortgage averaged three basis points lower at 3.78 percent.

Rates for a 5/1 adjustable-rate mortgage averaged four basis points lower at 3.84 percent. Discount points averaged 0.50 percent for 30-year fixed rate mortgages, 0.40 percent for 15-year fixed rate mortgages, and 0.30 percent for 5/1 adjustable rate mortgages.

First-time jobless claims were lower last week with 216,000 claims filed as compared to expectations of 229,000 new claims filed and the previous week’s reading of 239,000 first-time claims filed.

Whats Ahead

This week’s scheduled economic reports include Case-Shiller Home Price Indices, new home sales, and Commerce Department readings on housing starts and building permits issued. Data on consumer confidence is expected along with weekly readings on mortgage rates and new jobless claims.

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