4 Things You Should Know About Easements, Right Of Ways

Posted in Real Estate by Michigan Real Estate Expert on September 21st, 2018

4 Things You Should Know About Easements, Right Of WaysRobert Frost once wrote that “Good fences make good neighbors.” The poet was not referring to people bonding over the task of mending fences. Rather, defined boundaries are an important facet of neighborly relationships.

Without clearly defined property lines and rights, otherwise good people too often become embroiled in land disputes. That’s why a basic knowledge about easements and right of ways can help property owners maintain a working friendship with people whose land abuts yours.

These are four of the important elements about easements and right of ways you should know.

1: Types of Easements

An easement allows another person the right to access a property for a specific purpose. There are two basic types. Negative easements prevent an owner from using their property in a certain fashion. This might preclude building another floor on a home that would block a water view. A positive easement might allow someone access to land for the purpose of clearing timber or driving over it. The right to passage over a property remains the most common.

2: How Right Of Ways Differ

A right of way is, in fact, a type of easement. The general difference is that it is often accompanied by a defined road or pathway that one party uses to cross over. Hunters often establish right of ways with property owners and landlocked homes generally have driveways running over another person’s land.

3: How Easements Are Created

There are several ways an easement may be legally created. The first is generally called a “permissive easement.” This basically means you give permission to another party to use your land in a specific fashion. Again, driving over it to reach their property is the most common.

A key element of a permissive easement is that, in most states, it cannot become permanent without the property owner’s express authorization. In other words, allowing someone to drive over your land does not give them the right to continue forever. You can decide at any time to revoke permission.

Another way that easements are formed is by adverse possession. This tends to lead to hostilities between neighbors because one party asks the courts for a legal right to use your land based on prior usage. The lawsuit generally offers little or no compensation. It’s basically a land grab.

The more amicable way to create an easement is by granting an abutter the right to use your land. This generally entails creating a land-use agreement in which the property owner receives reasonable compensation.

4: Easements May Have Time Limits

An easement does not necessarily last forever. Some are granted with a defined expiration date. Others are recorded with the deed and are passed on from owner to owner. When buying a home, a title search should be performed that provides detail about existing easements and right of ways. This is an important part of purchasing a property because land disputes can be financially and emotionally taxing.

If you have concerns about any type of easement on a potential property, be sure to discuss it with your trusted real estate professional.

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3 Things to Know About Winterizing Your Home

Posted in Real Estate by Michigan Real Estate Expert on September 19th, 2018

3 Things to Know About Winterizing Your HomeTemperate fall weather means it’s time to put summer vacations behind you and start planning for winter weather.

Switching coveted leisure time to home chores can be a difficult challenge. More than a few homeowners want to keep kicking back on weekends. But autumn winds mean all hands on deck. Homeowners who procrastinate could find their properties vulnerable to seasonal changes. These are some things to keep in mind about winterizing your home.

Fill The Cost Gaps

Arguably the single biggest waste of money is allowing heating and cooling loss. The small gaps where doors, windows and other material meet can be a conduit for migrating air. Drafts cause utility bills to increase with homeowners reaping zero benefit. Consider addressing these areas.

  • Windows: It’s important to remember that window caulking has a limited life span. As it cracks, shrinks and expands, its efficiency diminishes. Check it annually and don’t hesitate to replace it.
  • Weather Stripping: If you live in a frigid region, weather stripping can save a boatload of cash. Most home stores carry products that act like tape and fill the seams around doors. It’s an easy DIY project that can more than pay for itself.
  • Door Guards: Similar to weather stripping, door guards are designed to eliminate drafts under the doors. There are permanent and temporary products that can address this issue.
  • Flues Need Support: Many chimneys allow mass amounts of air to flow freely into homes. You don’t need to call a mason and rework the hardware to fix this draft. Try inflating a balloon inside it to cut off air circulation. Just remember to remove it before lighting a fire.

Gutter Avoid Disaster

A common problem homeowners overlook is the gutters. When these become clogged with leaves, twigs and other material, water can back up and impact the outer walls of a home.

Water penetrations remain the single greatest danger to homes and homeowners. Moisture behind walls and under floor boards can spur dangerous mold growths. Certain molds can cause critical health conditions, particularly among our valued elders and young children.

If you live in an area that frequently suffers freezing temperatures, gutters can fill, freeze and break. Better to clean them out now than buy new ones in the spring.

Insulation Matters

When people think about insulation, the pink stuff in the attic usually comes to mind. While that remains an excellent product to mitigate energy loss, let’s talk about another type.

Water lines can be negatively impacted by cold weather. Frozen pipes can crack, burst and cause a flood. Check for areas that are exposed. It only takes one sharp cold snap to damage water lines and a home’s interior. The time and cost of wrapping exposed pipes could prove far less expensive than hiring a plumber and remediation contractor.

When preparing a home for winter, think in terms of air and water. Those are the culprits that will cost you money and jeopardize your family. 

Maintanence is a wise way to protect one of your largest investments. If you are looking to add to your portfolio or put your current home on the market, be sure to contact your trusted real estate professional.

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It’s Pumpkin Spice Season: Plan A Neighborhood Potluck

Posted in Real Estate by Michigan Real Estate Expert on September 18th, 2018

It's Pumpkin Spice Season Plan A Neighborhood PotluckFall is the time to get back into a comfortable routine, but it’s also a great time to incorporate social events into weekend work parties, and gather friends to offer neighbors a helping hand — or just moral support — to spruce up their property.

While building a new sense of community may be a side effect, it can’t be denied that giving homes in need of minor repairs a little TLC is good for the dollar value of the neighborhood as well as for the soul. REALTORS agree that the overall appeal of a neighborhood adds value to individual homes.

Police departments and security companies also note that cohesive communities are less prone to crime than neighborhoods where residents don’t really know one another.

A Community Work Day

While it’s not uncommon for some subdivisions to sponsor periodic get-togethers, or hold multi-family garage sales and social events, the idea of a day to share work and expertise to tidy up individual homes is less common. But it represents an ideal solution for residents who could use a helping hand to accomplish minor upkeep and repair projects.

Especially if you live in a neighborhood with some older residents, planning a coordinated “home improvement day” can be a unique and wonderful way to bring different generations together. Community work days are a great way to complete seasonal maintenance projects before the weather turns bad. It’s also a way to make light work out of required tasks and to have some fun as well.

Here are some ideas on how to do it right — the results can be greater than expected.

  • Talk the idea up with your neighbors: Set a tentative date and divide up the planning tasks.
  • Start a checklist of neighborhood skills. Chances are you’ll find engineers, carpenters, painters, and neighbors with plumbing and electrical skills among the residents. And there are also apt to be artists and craftspeople, master gardeners and children who love to rake leaves or pull weeds!
  • Plan block party, potluck dinner or homemade ice cream social for the culmination of the workday or weekend, and get as many people as possible involved.

A weekend work project is reminiscent of old-fashioned barn raisings. It’s also a way to build a new sense of community, as well as to add neighborhood appeal and value. The food and the fellowship are bonuses!

There are, however, some cautions: Help should be freely offered, and readily accepted. But leave costly or complicated repairs to professionals. This kind of event should be strictly for easy DIY labor needs.

Done right, this kind of ongoing community effort can become a lasting and honored tradition. It’s worth a try, right? In the end, the entire neighborhood wins.

If a sense of neighborhood community is a priority to you when looking for a new home, be sure to tell your trusted real estate professional.

 

 

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What Are The Housing Market Projections For 3rd Qtr 2018 — And Beyond?

Posted in Real Estate by Michigan Real Estate Expert on September 12th, 2018

What Are The Housing Market Projections For 3rd Qtr 2018 -- And BeyondThe National Association of Realtors (NAR), in its ongoing analysis of home sales statistics, believes that prices will continue to rise during the third quarter, but that uncertainty over elections could be a factor during the second half of the year.

However, NAR’s report noted that in July, a typically lackluster month, home prices rose by about nine percent, and days on market decreased significantly, perhaps signaling a strong start for the third quarter.

National statistics don’t necessarily tell the whole story, however. In addition, what will happen in the fourth quarter is, at this point, a bit more difficult to predict. Assessments about how home prices and real estate will end the year differ from one part of the country to another.

Looking Ahead

In 381 of 500 markets that were tracked, homes stayed on the market for fewer days in July 2018 than the median time on market the previous year, even in the highest price markets, typically a sign that demand is still outpacing supply.

Dallas-Fort Worth area mortgage lenders report a noticeable slowdown over the past several months, and the inventory of homes on the market has grown. But another Texas town, Midland, ranked as the nation’s hottest market for the second month in a row in July, based on continued high demand and the speed at which homes have been selling.

The list of fast-moving markets, compiled by by Realtor.com, also places Columbus, Ohio, Boston and Fort Wayne, Ind., at the top; Dallas-Fort Worth, interestingly, ranked 17th of 20 hot markets in the Realtor.com survey.

Potential Benefits

Some housing analysts note that even slight slowdowns in select markets, coupled with rising mortgage rates, may signal a wider downturn in sales nationally, adding that it is not entirely unexpected. Many real estate and mortgage professionals, however, view any potential “adjustment” as a good thing, with the explanation that the double-digit appreciation is unsustainable over the long term.

Prevailing wisdom is to take a wait and see approach leading up to midterm elections. Pollsters and pundits have widely variant opinions and, to date, trends are not sufficiently clear. In addition, the housing industry is seemingly healthy at this point and, barring unexpected major interest rate increases, demand for housing is likely to remain strong.

As one researcher at Texas A&M University explains, even a modest slowdown will likely only bring the real estate market down to 2016 levels and, in retrospect, that was a very good year! Other analysts are more positive, saying that an expected slowdown is positive and will prevent “a new bubble.”

As always, contact your trusted real estate and mortgage professionals to discuss the current situation in your local market.

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Want To Buy A Home? Here’s How You Can Save Your Own Down Payment

Posted in Real Estate by Michigan Real Estate Expert on September 7th, 2018

Want To Buy A Home? Here's How You Can Save Your Own Down PaymentBurdensome student loan debt and a penchant for purchasing new electronics by 20- and 30-somethings can make saving up for a down payment on a home seem impossible. But Millennials and other potential home buyers may be surprised to discover that previous generations had money-saving challenges of their own.

Consider for a moment that many of our valued elders did not have the level of opportunity to attend college and earn a high-paying job. Look further back and you may realize that the Greatest Generation suffered through the Great Depression only to fight World War II.

Somehow, these outstanding Americans found a way to save money and become homeowners. So can you. By employing these money management techniques, you can cull together a down payment and still enjoy the latest gizmo.

Do The Math On Savings

It doesn’t make a great deal of sense to mindlessly squirrel money away without a comprehensive savings plan.

First steps should include discussing your pre-approval limit with a mortgage professional. By knowing your mortgage threshold, you will be able to work backwards and calculate a down payment amount.

One tried-and-true savings approach remains the 20-30-50 financial disbursement method. Structure your spending so that 20 percent of your earnings are going directly into debt reduction or savings. Approximately 30 percent should cover rent and the other 50 percent can be allotted for incidentals.

Make certain the 20 percent consistently finds its mark each month. Once you have cleared out the debt and are going full-bore on saving for a down payment, it can be motivating to watch your goal become a reality.

Eliminate High-Interest Debt

According to reports, the average American carried upwards of $6,375 in credit card debt during 2017. Folks, that is simply too much to effectively save money for a home down payment.

The high interest rates everyday people incur from credit card debt remains a significant impediment to saving money. If you have several cards with high balances, there is no quick fix to this problem. It will fall on you to be disciplined and methodical about paying them off.

Start with the card that charges the highest interest rate and work diligently to eliminate its balance entirely. Once you clear out the worst interest-rate offender, move on to the second worst. As these debts fall, you will have an opening to shuffle funds into your down payment savings account. We call that winning.

Pick Up Part-Time Gigs

The down payment effort can be accelerated by creating an additional revenue stream.

A few years back, the idea of the “gig economy” was trending. Stringing together a series of short-term and part-time jobs was considered cool. Although the so-called gig economy may have been the byproduct of a business sluggishness, such is no longer the case.

These days, unemployment is at record lows and employers are chomping at the bit to hire people. Consider picking up a few hours each week doing something you enjoy. It could entail anything from bartending to working as a coffee house barista. Make it fun and make certain the money goes only toward your home down payment. Talk about a win-win.

With strategic financial planning, people of all walks of life can earn the American homeownership dream. It’s time to stop thinking about the generational obstacles. Adapt, overcome and make it happen.

Your trusted real estate agent is skilled at finding great real estate investments. Be sure to use this valuable resource when you are ready to find the home of your dreams.

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Creative Storage Tips When Downsizing Your Home

Posted in Real Estate by Michigan Real Estate Expert on September 6th, 2018

Creative Storage Tips When Downsizing Your HomeDownsizing at any stage of life can offer multiple benefits. Less square footage may come with a smaller price tag and usually means less space to clean. However, when downsizing a home, there’s usually the question of what to do with everything. That’s when creative storage ideas become essential. 

Before Downsizing, Take Stock

Before selecting the best storage options, it’s important to first take stock of all personal items, from furniture to clothing, kitchen gadgets, and keepsakes. Sort into items to keep, donate, discard, and place in long-term storage. Long-term storage may mean investing in a self-storage unit to hold things like seasonal decor. Less stuff can mean less storage space needed in a smaller home.

Maximize Closet Space

It doesn’t need to be a walk-in closet to have the capacity to store an array of personal items. Maximize any closet’s storage space with a few tricks. Install a second tier hanging rod and rely on an expandable shoe rack to keep the floor clutter-free. Reduce the number of hangers used by layering outfits on a single hanger — blouse, sweater, and necklace or dress shirt, tie, and jacket. Store seasonal clothing, linens, and pillows in space-saver bags that remove bulk.

Rely On Under-the-Bed Storage

Even in homes with expansive square footage, under the bed often is an under-utilized space. Shoes, books, and other items are shoved out-of-sight, collecting dust and remaining unorganized. When downsizing, every space should have a purpose. Depending on the bed height, consider flat storage boxes ideal for clothing, blankets, and other items. Storage boxes with rollers can make it easy to access and act like an additional set of drawers.

Choose Space-Saving Furniture

The popularity of tiny houses and the number of people downsizing has created a boom of innovative space-saving furniture options. For the living room there are ottomans that open to reveal storage space for pillows, blankets, or video cases. Consider a couch with built-in drawers that slide out. In the bedroom, there are multiple bed choices that have built-in drawers and storage, perfect if the room doesn’t have dresser space. 

Open Shelves Provide Functionality Plus Style

Whether in the kitchen, bedroom, or main living area, open shelves offer great functionality in a smaller space while providing style to the home’s decor. Use them as storage for books, collections, and artwork. They’re ideal when there isn’t space for large bookcases or a coffee table. In the kitchen, open shelves can hold everything from dishes to glassware and potted herbs.

When downsizing a home, trust a local real estate professional to find the right space to fit lifestyle and budget needs.

 

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4 Things To Know About Homestead Exemptions

Posted in Real Estate by Michigan Real Estate Expert on September 5th, 2018

4 Things To Know About Homestead ExemptionsHomeowners are well aware that peripheral costs swell over time and can put a strain on incomes. Utility bills increase, home insurance creeps up annually and taxes rise with the cost of schools and road repair.

That’s why many communities have enacted homestead exemptions that can help stabilize and even lower tax bills in some cases. Although these exemptions are not well publicized, knowing how they work and how to apply could save you a good deal of money.

Understanding The Homestead Exemption

A homestead exemption helps homeowners lower and/or fix the amount you pay in local taxes. Qualifying property owners can have a portion of the assessment excluded from taxation. That allows your tax bill to be calculated at a lower rate than non-exempt properties. In some communities, full-time residents can set their annual tax bill at time of purchase or when they are granted the exemption. This has been a national trend to help our valued elders on fixed incomes such as Social Security.

Protection From Civil Lawsuits

Many states have homestead exemptions in place that protect residents from displacement. For example, if a resident has a civil judgment leveled against them, a homeowner may claim the homestead exemptions as a reason their property cannot be seized to offset the debt. In most cases, the exemption is dependent upon the amount of equity a person has accumulated. In some places, homestead exemptions set aside properties from the probate process in the event of a death. Simply put, homestead exemptions can act as a financial safeguard.

Homestead Exemption Eligibility

The exemption is generally a benefit only for the mortgage holder of a primary residence. The majority of states limit this benefit to full, free-standing homes. Some allow condominium and mobile home owners to also claim the exemption. Non-traditional homes may be limited to certain groups, including, disabled people, our valued elders or those who served in the military. The total exemption may also vary depending upon the type of property and class of citizen. Again, states recognize the need for economic stability for people on fixed incomes.

How To Claim An Exemption

Homestead exemption applications vary from state to state. In Illinois, for example, a reported fixed deduction is automatically given to all homeowners who reside in the state full time. Other states require residents to reapply each year. The process may include providing proof of ownership, full-time residency and exemption group status. The reapplication process can be tedious and serves as a deterrent against fraud. Most states require one-time application approval with simple updates, generally during assessment years.

Although homestead exemptions are generally not well known, check your local and state website for information. If you are planning on buying a home, consider homestead exemptions as a long-term cost-saving benefit. 

If you have questions about your current or future real estate investment, your trusted real estate professional is ready and available to help.

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Millennial Home Buyers: What You Need To Know

Posted in Real Estate by Michigan Real Estate Expert on August 31st, 2018

Millennial Home Buyers What You Need To KnowIn the past, you’ve likely read about how the Millennial generation is opting to rent rather than buy property. While this still holds true for many Millennials, the fact is that a growing number of this generation is making the leap into buying.

In fact, according to Inc., Millennials today represent the largest demographic of new home buyers, responsible for about 35 percent of all real estate purchases. (For comparison’s sake, Gen X’ers are responsible for about 25 percent of the buyer’s market.)

What’s more is the Millennial home buyers have been trending upwards for about four years now, and this trend is expected to continue beyond 2018. Noting this, it makes sense to get to know the Millennial generation and what they’re looking for in a home.

Here’s a closer look:

Straight To The ‘Forever Home’

Hampered by the Great Recession, it’s no secret that Millennials opted to rent, rather than buy, at the tail end of the 2000s. But now Millennials are ready to buy, and they’re not necessarily going for the starter home. No, they’re going right for the forever home.

This is largely because they’re now spending the money that they accrued from saving in rent or from living with their parents for all these years. Many have also moved beyond entry-level positions.

The Connected Home

It’s estimated that more than 13 million Americans currently work from home, a trend that emerged with the Millennial generation and is likely to continue. Noting this, Millennials tend to like the concept of the “smart home.” That is, they desire fast Internet service, smart thermostats and appliances, and energy-efficient features. Young professionals increasingly are working out of the home, so they want their homes to work better for them.

Low Maintenance

What else do Millennials look for in a home? Low maintenance is key. Young professionals are typically very busy starting out their careers, so much so that they don’t necessarily have time to take on a fixer upper. That said, they want a house that is close to move-in ready, has newer appliances, and updated kitchens and bathrooms.

Online Appeal

It’s estimated that up to 95 percent of Millennials rely on the Internet to view listings during the home buying process. Further data states that about 65 percent of buyers walked through a home after viewing it online, and more than 75 percent at least drove by a home after seeing the online listing.

Bottom line: If you’re selling your home these days, make sure that it shows well online. Take pictures with a quality camera and make sure you’re doing it in the right lighting for the best results.

If you are looking to buy a new home or sell your existing property, your trusted real estate professional is ready and willing to help you every step of the way.

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New Home Construction Boom Expected

Posted in Real Estate by Michigan Real Estate Expert on August 30th, 2018

New Home Construction Boom ExpectedThe housing market has been trending in a positive direction and economic indicators point to new home construction going vertical.

Following the housing bubble and sluggish post-recession economy, construction companies largely turned their attention away from new homes. Diminished values, high regulatory and materials costs served as deterrents to home-building.

But the economic revival the country is experiencing – coupled with a housing shortage – has builders poised to jump back into the single-family home game. Here are three reasons new home construction is expected to boom.

1: First-Time Buyer Lifestyles

Consider that the last big new construction boom occurred 12-16 years ago. Those so-called “new” homes are well lived in these days. The trickle of actual new homes since cannot come even close to meeting the demands of Millennials entering the housing market. This demographic also tends to look for vastly different things than the traditional buyers before them.

Millennials grew up immersed in technology. Smart-home and Green features rank high on their check list. Items such as solar panels, automation and being able to manage a living space from a phone app simply were not part of the previous housing boom equation. Simply put, young first-time buyers want a type of home that fits their life experience.

2: New Home Economics

The inventory shortage has driven many people to rent. Many would rather invest that monthly housing cost into equity and gain tax write-off benefits. Also, a high number of military service members are returning to civilian life as the War on Terror winds down. That means you have a growing number of people with the ability to secure friendly VA mortgages that require no down payment.

Stateside, tech and career schools are turning out graduates that are entering good paying jobs. This all adds up to a large number of first-time homebuyers with the economic temerity to reach above traditional starter homes.

3: Rising Mortgage Rates Matter

Some economists forecast economic shrinkage when the Fed raises rates. The president recently voiced his displeasure over the move.

But the rate increase remains a natural phenomenon in an economy enjoying historic positive measures. Record-low unemployment and a GDP that posted 4.1 percent growth are touchstones that everyday Americans are doing better and can afford a little more.

While naysayers may claim the modest interest rate increase will result in economic contraction, it could have exactly the opposite effect in the new construction market.

Consider that home-builders who shifted to other niche markets see a window for improved revenues given the tight home inventory. The uptick in rates means that people will likely be prompted to buy sooner, rather than wait for the next hike. That could be another reason a new construction perfect storm is brewing.

The winds appear to be blowing in the right direction for construction companies to jump back into the new home game. These homes are likely to sell quickly, and builders could see tremendous pre-sale interest. If you are interested in buying a newly built home or one still on the drawing board, your trusted real estate professional is sure to be one of your very best assets.

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4 Reasons Millennials Should Buy A Retirement Home First

Posted in Real Estate by Michigan Real Estate Expert on August 29th, 2018

4 Reasons Millennials Should Buy A Retirement Home First There’s an idea running through marketing and business circles that anything that is popular, the opposite will likely be popular as well.

Consider that sugar and caffeinated beverages such as Coca-Cola have seemingly opposite products like Coke Zero. That product, in turn, is offset in the marketplace by high-sugar, high-caffeine energy drinks such as Monster and Red Bull.

In the housing industry, reverse living homes enjoy popularity. Basically, the bedrooms are downstairs while the kitchen, living room and other gathering spaces are upstairs. This concept of doing the opposite brings us to the idea about buying a first home.

The vast majority of potential buyers focus on starter homes as they build financial success. Some think about how that first home could be expanded to grow a family or sold when marriage and young ones come along. But Millennials enter the housing market may want to consider doing the opposite. What if you bought your last home first?

Consider these reasons for starting with your retirement home.

1: Lifestyle Suits Renting First

Millennials are flooding the job market and beginning to earn wages that prompt them to make major life purchases. But Millennial jobs tend to be different from the traditional ones of previous generations. Tech companies are trending in hip cities across the country and places with excellent weather. That means these first-time home buyers would either find themselves commuting through rush-hour traffic from the suburbs or paying urban real estate prices. Young Millennials may be better off renting and investing in property elsewhere.

2: Rent Out Your First Home

By taking your initial down payment and investing in a rental property, Millennials can make money or maintain a zero-expense real estate buy.

By purchasing your future retirement home in a vibrant community with a relaxed environment, it can pay for itself while strengthening your economic portfolio. The equity building in that first property will position you for a second home to live near work or build a family. That retirement rental may even put a few extra dollars in your pocket.  

3: Pursuing Career Opportunities

Whether you are fresh out off college, completed military service or rising in a company’s ranks, Millennials on the younger end of the spectrum can benefit from agility. Being able to seamlessly relocate to pursue emerging career opportunities or take a promotion in another city or state can help maximize your earning potential. Having a home is certainly nice, but you will be faced with a decision to sell and buy a new one or pass on an opportunity. Those are not necessarily the best considerations during prime earning years.

4: Downsizing Matters

The trend of valued elders is to downsize family homes as the enter their golden years. Ironically, many purchase the same type of starter homes all over again. The value of buying a retirement home first is that you will be able to cash out of any other property and apply that revenue to living expenses. In all likelihood, the initial real estate buy will be paid off. In the end, doing the opposite of common trends can prove to have improved long-term benefits.

If you are looking to buy a home to live in or for a long term investment, contact your trusted real estate agent to help you find your dream property.

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