Archive for May, 2011

Five Mistakes Sellers Make When Choosing a Southeast Michigan Real Estate Agent

Posted in Homes for Sale Southeast Michigan by Michigan Real Estate Expert on May 30th, 2011

One of the most important decisions you’ll make when either buying or selling a home is selecting a Southeast Michigan real estate agent.  Picking the right agent for you can save you time, effort, aggravation and money.

Lee Morof is a southeast Michigan real estate agent and attorney

Here are five mistakes to avoid when choosing your Southeast Michigan real estate agent:

1. Going about it backwards.  Many people start by finding a home for sale they want to visit and then calling about that home.  Instead, select your real estate agent first.  Your agent will help you identify what you want in a home, and will then find homes that meet those criteria.  You’ll save time and frustration by visiting only those homes that fit your needs.

2. Using an agent who represents both you and the other buyer or seller.  This is called dual agency.  A listing agent who also represents the buyer is a dual agent. Dual agents must treat both the seller and the buyers equally.  Which would you prefer, an agent who works exclusively for your best interests or one who has to consider both the seller’s and the buyer’s best interests?

3. Hiring the first agent you meet.  Yes, it takes time to interview at least three real estate agents,  but it’s worth it.  You’ll save that time and more in the long run when you find a knowledgeable agent you enjoy working with.  Making an impulsive decision by saying yes to an agent as soon as he’s finished his presentation is never a good idea.  Take the time to visit with multiple agents, compare their credentials and styles and only then make your selection.

4. Choosing an agent because he’s the only one who agrees with your selling price.  That lone agent who agrees with you may not have done the research needed to set the best price or he may just be telling you what you want to hear.  If multiple agents state that your selling price is wrong, listen to them.  You’re looking for the best advice, not a yes man (or woman).

5. Skipping the reference check.  Even if you’re a great judge of character, take the time and effort to check agents’ references before hiring them.  Ask for at least three references from recent real estate transactions the agent has completed, then follow-up by calling those references.  Ask the clients how they felt about their experience with the agent, if they’d use the agent again, what the best thing was about their experience and what the worst thing was about their experience.

If you’re looking for a Southeast Michigan real estate agent in Oakland County Michigan, I’d be honored to have an opportunity to interview for the job.  Please give me a call today at 248-514-2640 or email me at to schedule an interview.

Lee Morof
Associate Broker/Certified Distressed Property Expert/Attorney
RE/MAX Showcase Homes, Birmingham, Michigan
Call:  248-514-2640


5 Reasons Why Now is a Good Time to Invest in U.S. and Bloomfield Hills Real Estate

Posted in Bloomfield Hills Real Estate by Michigan Real Estate Expert on May 26th, 2011

The availability of Bloomfield Hills real estate and real estate throughout the U.S. is tremendous. Whether you’re looking for investment real estate or a vacation home, you can get great deals when buying U.S. real estate.

investing in U.S. and Bloomfield Hills real estate

Here are 5 reasons why now is a good time to invest in U.S. and Bloomfield Hills real estate:

REASON #1:  More for your money.

With the decline in the value of the U.S. dollar, foreign investors get a lot more for their money when purchasing U.S. real estate.  For example, on April 21, 2011, if you had $250,000 Canadian dollars to invest in real estate it would purchase an American home worth $262,109 U.S. dollars.

REASON #2:  The average American home price has dropped.

With the days of inflated prices for American real estate gone, so is the worry of huge losses when the market falls.   The American real estate market has reached an equilibrium allowing it to once again be a safe long term investment.

REASON #3:  America is diverse.

From ski slopes to desert dunes to ocean waves, America has it all.  Whether you love warm sandy beaches or rolling hills lined with grapevines, the choices are numerous.  Not your style? Try Brooklyn’s delicious diners or California’s Rodeo Drive.

REASON #4:  Earn income from your U.S. real estate.

Purchasing American real estate opens up the opportunity to gain rental income.  There are many property management companies that can oversee the day-to-day operations of your property in your absence.

REASON #5:  Sun and fun all year long.

If you live in Canada or other cold-weather areas, you can escape the long winters when you purchase real estate in warm-weather areas like Arizona, Florida, New Mexico, Texas or California, to name a few.  Year-round golf and warm beaches can make any winter worth looking forward to.

If you’d like more information on purchasing Bloomfield Hills real estate, give me a call today at 248-514-2640 or email me at

Lee Morof
Associate Broker/Certified Distressed Property Expert/Attorney
RE/MAX Showcase Homes, Birmingham, Michigan
Call:  248-514-2640


5 Little Repairs that Make a Big Difference to Your Royal Oak Michigan Home for Sale

Posted in Royal Oak Michigan Homes for Sale by Michigan Real Estate Expert on May 23rd, 2011

With the overabundance of properties for sale these days, your Royal Oak Michigan home for sale needs to stand out from the crowd.  One of the easiest things you can do to make your home shine is to finish all the basic repairs you’ve been putting off.

4628 Rosewold Royal Oak Michigan home for sale

Here are 5 little repairs that make a big difference to potential buyers who visit your Royal Oak Michigan home for sale:

  1. Perk up the exterior: As we all know, first impressions are crucial.  Give your picket fence, mailbox and front door a fresh coat of paint.  Missing roof shingles and hanging gutters frighten potential buyers, so fix them.  Give buyers the opportunity to think, “Where’s the best place for our couch?” rather than “Oh no, there’s a problem with the roof!”
  2. Fix dripping faucets: A dripping faucet calls attention to itself, but it’s not difficult or expensive to fix.   While you’re fixing that dripping faucet, why not replace the fixtures.  It’s a minor expensive that gives your bathroom or kitchen a major facelift.
  3. Cover wall cracks: Hairline wall cracks that appear above windows and doors are caused when framing lumber dries out and shrinks or the structure settles.  Although they typically are not signs of structural problems, they may scare away potential buyers.  Cover them with spackling or adhesive-backed fiber mesh drywall tape.
  4. Repair floors: Replace chipped or cracked tiles, and clean or replace the grout.  Refinish hardwood floors.  Steam clean or replace carpets.
  5. Restore baseboards: If you’re like most people, you haven’t thought about your baseboards for years.  During that time, pets, children and vacuum sweepers beat-up your baseboards making them dirty, scratched eye sores.  Take the time to repair the scrapes by sanding them smooth or filling in dents with spackle.  Then, repaint the entire baseboard from end to end.

If you’re ready to put your Royal Oak Michigan home up for sale, I can help.  Give me a call today at 248-514-2640 or email me at for more information.

Lee Morof
Associate Broker/ Certified Distressed Property Expert /Attorney
RE/MAX Showcase Homes, Birmingham, Michigan
Call:  248-514-2640


Southeast Michigan Real Estate Tax and Homeowner’s Insurance: To Escrow or Not to Escrow?

Posted in Southeast Michigan Real Estate by Michigan Real Estate Expert on May 19th, 2011

When you own a home, you have to pay your homeowner’s insurance and the tax on your Southeast Michigan real estate.  Depending on the state in which you live and your lender, you may be required to make monthly payments into an escrow account so your lender can pay your taxes and insurance, or you may have the choice to pay them yourself.

Buying Southeast Michigan Real Estate

Escrowing homeowner’s insurance and Southeast Michigan real estate taxes has advantages and disadvantages.  If you have a choice, here are several things to consider when deciding whether to escrow or not to escrow your real estate tax and insurance.

Advantages to Escrowing

  • No lump sum to pay.  The biggest advantage to escrowing your real estate tax and insurance is knowing that the money is there when it’s needed.  Your monthly mortgage payment includes 1/12 of your property taxes and homeowners insurance premium.  By paying this expense monthly, you don’t have a mountain of debt facing you at the end of the year, at a time when finances are tight for many people.
  • Lenders like it.  If a lender is unsure if your home has sufficient homeowner’s insurance coverage, they can purchase insurance to cover their investment at your expense. A lender’s insurance policy is expensive and only protects their interest in your home. With the insurance in escrow, the policy is sent directly to your lender eliminating any confusion on the coverage provided.
  • Lower closing costs.  You don’t have to pay your homeowner’s insurance and real estate taxes as part of your closing costs.  Unfortunately, you do still have to pay them, just not as part of your closing costs.

Disadvantages to Escrowing

  • Closing costs are higher.  Lenders collect money at closing for your escrow account. That way, they have your money to pay the tax and insurance bills when they arrive.
  • Errors can occur.  For example, if your insurance company cancels your homeowner’s policy, the insurance company sends the cancellation notice to the lender.  Unless the insurance company or the lender lets you know, you have no idea that your policy was cancelled.
  • Mortgage payments may vary.  If you have an escrow account associated with your mortgage, your monthly mortgage payment will adjust periodically.  If your homeowner’s insurance or real estate taxes increase, your monthly escrow payment will need to increase to cover the added cost.

Both options have advantages and disadvantages, in the end you have to decide which is best for you and the protection of your Southeast Michigan real estate.

If you’re thinking of buying Oakland County MI real estate, I can guide you through all the complex details including whether to escrow or not to escrow.  Give me a call at 248-514-2640 or email me at for more information.

Lee Morof
Associate Broker/Certified Distressed Property Expert/Attorney
RE/MAX Showcase Homes, Birmingham, Michigan
Call:  248-514-2640

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Fix Up Your Mother’s Southeast Michigan Real Estate this May

Posted in Southeast Michigan Real Estate by Michigan Real Estate Expert on May 16th, 2011

Almost every home could use some remodeling here and there.  If your mother’s home could use some fixing up, here are a few remodeling projects that give a good return on investment – either in selling price or in the speed of the sale.  One of these might make a great Mother’s Day gift, even if your mother isn’t considering selling her Southeast Michigan real estate in Oakland County.

fixing up southeast Michigan real estate

  • Flooring – If your mother’s Southeast Michigan real estate has hardwood floors, it’ll be worth the investment to get the floors refinished. If she only has carpet or tile, make sure it’s in great shape. If not, replace the flooring with new carpeting or tile in a neutral color.  Buyers don’t want to worry about replacing flooring in the near future.
  • Kitchens – Update countertops. Granite is great, but most markets still put a lot of value on nice, updated laminate counters. Also, consider freshening up the cabinets. If they’re old and tired looking, refinish them with new stain or paint. If nothing else, a few dollars worth of new hardware, such as drawer pulls, will go a long way.
  • Paint and wallpaperRemove wallpaper. Many people do not like wallpaper, and those who do like wallpaper have personal opinions on which wallpaper is attractive.  Also, make sure every room looks freshly painted.  Buyers want a finished house, not a bunch of to-do projects.
  • Roof – Consider replacing the roof, if it needs it.  Buyers will likely move on from homes needing large repairs.
  • Exterior – Patch cracks in the cement, plant some flowers and replace the door hardware, if it’s dated. These are all inexpensive fixes that will pay off.

If you need help deciding the priority of quick fixes for your mother’s Southeast Michigan real estate, call me at 248-514-2640 or email me at I’m happy to help.

Lee Morof
Associate Broker/Certified Distressed Property Expert/Attorney
RE/MAX Showcase Homes, Birmingham, Michigan
Call:  248-514-2640


How to Prevent Your Southeast Michigan Real Estate from becoming a “Flop”

Posted in Southeast Michigan Short Sales by Michigan Real Estate Expert on May 12th, 2011

Flopping is a short sale scam in which investors hire brokers to assess southeast Michigan real estate for less than its market value and convince lenders to sell the home for far less than market value.  Then, the investors quickly turn around and sell the property for a profit to a buyer they already have lined up.

This type of “flopping” is on the rise, and it is costing lenders millions of dollars.  The greater the losses for lenders, the more difficult it becomes to make new mortgage loans available.

Here are the basics you need to know to prevent your southeast Michigan real estate from becoming a southeast Michigan short sale flop:

What makes flopping a scam?

The crime is in the fact that the lender was not made aware of the other, better offers.  Instead of the lender getting a higher price for the southeast Michigan real estate, the difference in the short sale price and the resale price is divided between those involved in the flop.

Can I get tied up in this flopping mess and not even know it?

In most cases, the homeowner has no idea that this illegal activity is going on.  However, in some cases, the homeowners themselves can be part of the southeast Michigan short sale scam.  That is, the broker involved in the flop convinces the homeowner it is a faster way out of the present situation or that it is a way they can get a few thousand dollars to help with expenses.  Brokers involved in flopping scams are not going to tell the homeowner that it is illegal.

How can I protect myself from a short sale flopping scam?

The best way to protect yourself from this type of scam is by educating yourself.  Most importantly, make sure you are dealing with an honest real estate agent.  Interview agents before choosing one, get referrals and references and don’t be afraid to ask questions.  Remember this is your financial obligation.

Are you behind on your mortgage and thinking about a short sale?  As a Certified Distressed Property Expert and attorney, I can help you navigate a Southeast Michigan short sale to keep you from making a terrible mistake.  Give me a call today at 248-514-2640 or email me at

Lee Morof
Associate Broker/Certified Distressed Property Expert/Attorney
RE/MAX Showcase Homes, Birmingham, Michigan
Call:  248-514-2640


Answers to Your Questions about Southeast Michigan Short Sales

Posted in Southeast Michigan Short Sales by Michigan Real Estate Expert on May 9th, 2011

There’s a lot of confusion surrounding southeast Michigan short sales, so I thought I’d answer some of the questions I’ve received from clients, owners of southeast Michigan real estate and blog readers.

Q:  What is a short sale?

A:  A short sale is when a lender agrees to accept less than what is owed on a home.  For example, you owe $300,000 on your home loan, but your lender will allow you to sell your home for $250,000.

Q:  Who makes up the difference between the short sale price and the amount owed?

A:  In the past, the owner of the home would receive a 1099 income statement at tax time.  The “forgiven amount” would then be counted as income subject to income tax.  This left homeowners in debt to the federal government for the tax owed on that amount.  Now, with the passing of the Mortgage Forgiveness Debt Relief Act and Debt Cancellation, the short fall on a primary residence is not counted as income.  This eases the financial hardship of those who are already struggling.

Q:  Does a short sale impact your credit the same way as a foreclosure?

A: No, the impact of a southeast Michigan short sale is milder on your credit than a foreclosure. Short Sales usually reduce your score by about 80 to 250 points and only stay on your record for around 5 years.  Compare that to foreclosures which reduce your score approximately 250 to 400 points and remains on your record for 10 years.

Q: How do I qualify for a southeast Michigan short sale on my home?

A:  Contact your lender as soon as you know you are in financial trouble.  Government programs, particularly the Home Affordable Foreclosure Alternatives (HAFA), are designed to make short sales more attractive to lenders by giving them incentives for allowing a short sale over a foreclosure.  However, if you allow your loan to become delinquent (more than 60 days), lenders are less likely to grant a short sale.

Q:  Can I sell my home as a FSBO and still qualify for a short sale?

A:  No.  Lenders rely on “broker opinion” as to what the home is worth at this time.  You need to hire a real estate professional that has experience with short sales.  Short sales take longer to close and properly handling the sale can make a difference in getting an offer accepted by your lender.

If you are facing the possibility of foreclosure, let me help you discover the options that are available to you. I’m a Certified Distressed Property Expert and an Attorney. You can reach me at 248-514-2640 or by email

Lee Morof
Associate Broker/Attorney
Certified Distressed Property Expert
RE/MAX Showcase Homes
Birmingham, Michigan
Call:  248-514-2640


Renovating Bloomfield Hills Real Estate Investment Properties: Do It Yourself or Hire It Done?

Posted in Bloomfield Hills Real Estate by Michigan Real Estate Expert on May 5th, 2011

Sometimes, when buying – or even thinking about buying – Bloomfield Hills real estate for investment purposes, you’re faced with the need to fix up the property.  The question then arises: Should I fix it up myself or hire it done?  Unfortunately, no one can give you the right answer.  However, there are a few questions that you can ask yourself to help decide the issue:

Bloomfield Hills real estate investment property

1.  Do I have the time?

Time is an issue that many people forget about, but it should be one of the deciding factors.  Some renovations, such as handles, hinges or kitchen hardware can take very little time to do.  Others, like retiling a bathroom, can take hours, or even days to accomplish.  If you don’t have the time to do these things personally, you’ve already answered the question.

2.  Do I have the money?

Obviously, money is as important a factor as time.  Often, if you don’t have the time, you do have the money to hire someone.  However, if you have neither the money nor the time, you may need to reassess whether you can really afford the Bloomfield Hills real estate you’re thinking of buying.  You may want to continue looking to find something that needs fewer repairs or that you can get at a lower price.

3.  Do I have the know-how?

Granted, there is a lot of do-it-yourself information out on the Internet.  However, if you don’t have the necessary knowledge to understand what they’re saying, you’ll either have to research more, or hire someone.  Being knowledgeable on what you’re doing may not be so important when, say, you’re painting the living room, but it’s incredibly important if you need to rewire a room or want to knock down a wall.

The main key when deciding on what southeast Michigan real estate property to buy, what renovations need to be made and whether to do it yourself is simple:  Be realistic.  Be honest with yourself.  Can you really do this?  Can you really afford it?  Remember, if the answer is “no,” it could just mean “not right now.”

Don’t be afraid to wait until you have everything in place before picking your investment properties.  If you’re careful with your time and money management, you may find yourself able to buy that dream Bloomfield Hills real estate investment property.

Let me help you find the perfect southeast Michigan real estate investment property for you.  Call me today at 248-514-2640 or email me at

Lee Morof
Associate Broker/Attorney
Certified Distressed Property Expert
RE/MAX Showcase Homes
Birmingham, Michigan
Call:  248-514-2640


Southeast Michigan Real Estate Glossary: What is a Homeowners’ Association?

Posted in Southeast Michigan Real Estate by Michigan Real Estate Expert on May 2nd, 2011

When you buy southeast Michigan real estate in a subdivision, co-op or planned unit development, you may be subject to a host of rules and regulations as established by the Homeowners’ Association (HOA) governing that development. 

You’ve most likely heard of HOAs, but you may not know exactly how they operate and how they can impact you and your southeast Michigan real estate.  In this article, you’ll get information on some of the broader issues that you should be aware of when moving into a community governed by an HOA.

What is a Homeowners’ Association?  

It is a corporation formed by real estate developers to market, manage and sell homes and lots within a development.

Does the southeast Michigan real estate developer retain control of the HOA forever?  No.  After a predetermined number of homes or lots are sold, the control is turned over, first, to a handpicked group of homeowners.  Later in the process, elections are held once a year within the development to choose board members.

Can anyone be a board member?

As long as you’re a property owner in the development governed by the HOA, you can campaign for the position.  Elections are held once a year.  It is not a paid position; board members volunteer their time.

What is the primary function of the HOA?

The primary function of an HOA is to maintain the rules and restrictions that were put in place by the developers and to maintain the community’s common areas.

Common areas include streets, parking lots, parks or green areas, pools and buildings used by the owners like a clubhouse or fitness center.  If your southeast Michigan real estate is an attached condo unit, this would include the exterior of your unit as well.

Can I elect not to join the HOA?

No, HOA membership is written into the pros and cons of buying a home when the development is formed.  No matter how many times the property changes ownership, the HOA requirements remain with it. 

You’re also required to pay HOA fees, which are used to maintain the common areas.  If you do not stay current on the fees, the HOA can put an assessment lien on your southeast Michigan real estate.

Before buying into a development with an HOA, read and understand the CC&Rs.  Also, take the time to talk with some of the other homeowners in the development to find out how they feel about their HOA.

If you’re interested in buying southeast Michigan real estate, with or without an HOA, I can help.  Please give me a call at 248-514-2640 or email me at

Lee Morof sells North Woodward Homes in Oakland County Michigan RE/MAX Showcase Homes 

Lee Morof
Associate Broker/Attorney  
Certified Distressed Property Expert
RE/MAX Showcase Homes
Birmingham, Michigan
Call:  248-514-2640