Archive for May, 2021

Family Matters: How to Choose the Perfect Home for a Large or Growing Family

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

Family Matters: How to Choose the Perfect Home for a Large or Growing Family Selecting the right home to purchase for a family is a monumental task, and this process can seem even more challenging for those with a large or growing family. A common goal may be to give everyone ample space to stretch out and feel relaxed, but some home buyers may also be focused on other factors like location, cost and even the general style of the home. While choosing the perfect home for a large or growing family is not easy, the process can be simplified by focusing on a few points.

Focus On Storage Space

There are few things that can make home life more miserable in the coming years than a lack of storage space. When a large family does not have adequate storage space in closets, the attic, the garage and cabinets, their items will likely find a home on the counters, on the floor and in other undesirable locations. Home buyers can consider looking for a home that has more storage space than is needed right now to ensure that the new home can accommodate growing needs over the years.

Think About Function Over Size

Many people who are looking for a new home will focus on finding a home that has a specific minimum square footage or a minimum number of bedrooms, but function is generally more important. For example, if a home has bar-style seating at the kitchen counter, the family may not need as large of a breakfast room to accommodate its needs. The family may also get more use out of a home that has a second living area, such as a game room, rather than a formal dining room that may rarely be used.

Choose The Right Floor Plan

In addition, consider reviewing the floor plan of the home carefully. Many prefer to have the kids’ rooms away from the master room, a study placed away from the kids’ game room or an open area where the kitchen and family room are connected so that a parent can oversee the kids while making meals. Home buyers should consider how they live and their likes and dislikes about their current space to determine which floor plan is best for them.

Deciding which home to purchase is rarely easy to do, but your trusted real estate professional can assist home buyers with this process. Those who are searching for a new home for a large or growing family can call their local real estate agent for further assistance.

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What’s Ahead For Mortgage Rates This Week – May 17, 2021

Posted in Financial Reports by Michigan Real Estate Expert on May 17th, 2021

What's Ahead For Mortgage Rates This Week - May 17, 2021Last week’s economic reports included readings on inflation, core inflation, and the University of Michigan’s  Consumer Sentiment Index. Weekly readings on mortgage rates and jobless claims were also released.

April Inflation Rate Hits 13-Year High

The federal government’s Consumer Price Index rose by 0.80 percent in April as compared to the March reading of 0.60 percent. Analysts expected inflation to increase by 0.20 percent in April. Core inflation, which excludes volatile food and fuel sectors, rose by 0.90 percent in April. Analysts expected core inflation to grow by 0.30 percent in April which would have been unchanged from the March reading of 0.30 percent Core inflation rose month-to-month at the fastest pace in forty years and grew by three percent year-over-year, which was the highest growth rate since September 2008.

Consumer gas prices surpassed $3.00 per gallon for the first time since 2014; last week’s shutdown of Colonial Pipeline’s main transmission line was expected to drive gasoline prices higher. Prices of used cars and trucks rose 10 percent in April and contributed to a 21 percent increase in used vehicle prices year-over-year. Costs for shelter rose 2.10 percent year-over-year and were 0.0 percent higher month to month. Analysts noted that high inflation rates are caused in part by the low pace of inflation reported during the pandemic. Inflation Growth percentages are higher than they would have been if inflation had not slowed during the pandemic.

Mortgage Rates, Jobless Claims, and Consumer Sentiment Fall

Freddie Mac reported lower average mortgage rates last week. Rates for 30-year fixed-rate mortgages averaged 2.94 percent and were two basis points lower. Rates for 15-year fixed-rate mortgages averaged 2.26 percent and were four basis points lower; the average rate for 5/1 adjustable rate mortgages dropped by 11 basis points to 2.59 percent. Discount points averaged 0.70 percent, 0.60 percent, and 0.30 percent respectively.

First-time jobless claims were lower last week with 473,000 initial claims filed as compared to the prior week’s reading of 507,000 new jobless claims filed. Continuing jobless claims were also lower with 3.66 million ongoing claims filed; 3.70 million continuing jobless claims were filed in the prior week. The University of Michigan’s Consumer Sentiment Index reading was lower in May with a reading of  82.8 as compared to the expected reading of  90.1 and April’s index reading of 88.3.

What’s Ahead

This week’s scheduled economic news includes readings from the National Association of Home Builders on housing markets, data on sales of previously-owned homes,  and Commerce Department readings on housing starts and building permits issued. Minutes of the Fed’s most recent Federal Open Market Committee meeting will be released along with weekly readings on mortgage rates and jobless claims

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How to Become a Homeowner: First Time Home Buyer Guide

Posted in Real Estate Tips by Michigan Real Estate Expert on May 14th, 2021

How to Become a Homeowner: First Time Home Buyer GuideBecoming a homeowner for the first time is exciting. However, for many potential buyers, the process can also be confusing. Below is an overview of the steps you need to complete in order to buy your first home. 

Work Out The Finances

The first step in buying a home is deciding on a price range. This price range will be determined by your income, as well as your own comfort level with home prices and monthly payments. Consider all of these factors to determine the maximum amount you are willing to spend on your new home. 

In most cases, you will be required to pay the downpayment and closing costs upfront, even if you are financing the rest of the home’s purchase price.

In general, most lenders will expect a downpayment equal to 20 percent of the home’s purchase price. Otherwise, you may be required to pay mortgage insurance. Before buying a home, set enough money aside to cover these expenses. 

For most homeowners, the next step in the home buying process involves looking into different mortgage options. Unless you have enough money to purchase your home for cash, you will need a mortgage. Be sure to compare quotes from different lenders before making a choice to be sure you are getting the best deal.

Once you have chosen a lender and a specific type of mortgage, ask for a preapproval letter that you can attach to any offers you make so that you will be a more reliable and attractive buyer. 

Hire An Agent 

When searching for the perfect first home, hiring a real estate agent to represent you throughout the process is highly recommended. Your real estate agent will act as a buyer’s agent, which means they will have your best interests at heart. When you don’t have a buyer’s agent, you will be dealing only with the seller’s real estate agent instead. Because this individual has been hired to represent the seller, they will always put the seller’s needs above yours. 

Find The Right Home

Once you have a qualified agent to represent you and a preapproval letter from your lender, it is time to start looking for your new home! Your real estate agent will help you comb through listings and choose the properties you want to see. Next, you will walk through each home until you find the one that is right for you. After you have chosen a home, your real estate agent will help you prepare and submit an offer to the seller. 

The process of buying your first home may seem overwhelming at first. However, by following these steps, you can simplify the process and become a homeowner with ease. 

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Why Green Homes Are Gold In Your Pocket

Posted in Real Estate by Michigan Real Estate Expert on May 13th, 2021

Why Green Homes Are Gold In Your PocketIf you’re selling a home today, you know that it’s a seller’s market in many areas throughout the country. What you may not know, though, is that there are still things you can do to make your home even more desirable. From adding SMART home features to properly staging a home, there are plenty of things you can do to drive up the price and create a frenzy of bidding activity for your home. One of those things is to add green features to your home.

What Are Green Home Features?

Adding green features to your home doesn’t mean you’re painting the walls green or going for some odd decor. Instead, it means you’ve added one or more environmentally friendly features to your home. The following are a few green features you can add to your home that will add incredible ROI when the time comes to sell your home.

  • Landscaping with native plants.
  • Water conservation features in kitchens and bathrooms.
  • Energy Star appliances.
  • SMART thermostats, lights, and garage door openers.
  • Recycled countertops.
  • Radiant floor heating.
  • Alternative energy systems such as geothermal or solar energy.

Why Do Buyer’s Desire Green Home Features?

Buyers today are savvier than ever when it comes to the plight of the planet and are constantly seeking changes they can make to reduce carbon footprints and conserve resources. Homes that provide these types of features allow them to do precisely that. More importantly, they don’t have to adjust their lifestyles or even think about making these changes because they’re already made.

Giving Buyers What They Want?

At the end of the day, when you install certain green features in your home, you’re giving prospective buyers the personal satisfaction of knowing they’re purchasing a planet-friendly home, without forcing them to do the work for themselves. It’s a win for those who have grandiose intentions for saving the planet to actually follow through on those intentions.

Will Green Home Features Help You Sell Your Home Faster?

That depends on the local market in the area where you’re selling. However, in many areas across the country, it is a winning proposition. Work with your real estate agent to see if adding one or more of the green features listed above can help you sell your home faster or for a higher price.

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Buying a Classic Older Home? Three Upgrades You’ll Need to Make Immediately

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

Buying a Classic Older Home? Three Upgrades You'll Need to Make ImmediatelyWhile some home buyers only want to live in a brand new home and will custom build a home to their specifications, others are drawn to the historic character and charm of a classic home. Older homes may have incredible architectural detail and special features that you simply do not want to change. However, there are some essential features that should be upgraded as soon as possible after you take ownership of your classic home.

The Electrical Panel

Many older homes were built at a time when electricity use was at a minimum, but the reliance on electricity has increased over the years. Older homes may commonly have an electrical panel with 50 amps or less, but your current needs may require you to have a panel with at least 200 amps. It may be good to have an electrician inspect the electrical panel as well as the wiring in the home to determine if an upgrade is needed in your new home.

Re-Plumbing the Pipes

A quick plumbing inspection will tell you if the home has copper, steel or other materials used with piping. The best material is copper because it is resistant to leaking, corrosion and rusting. Steel pipes generally should be replaced with copper as soon as possible. Other materials, such as cast iron, may be acceptable to keep in place. However, sections may need to be replaced if the pipes are more than 50 years old.

Firestops in the Structure

The good news about the structure of older homes is that older homes generally are better built than newer homes. However, most lack the critical feature of a firestop. A firestop essentially can minimize how fire travels through a home. Adding firestops to an older home can improve safety for the home’s occupants in the event of a fire and can minimize fire damage.

It is understandable that you may want to retain the historic character and charm of your older home. These may have been the features that you fell in love with when you bought it. However, you also want to ensure that the home has modern features that will make it comfortable and safe for you and your family to live in. These are all important improvements that you will want to make now that ultimately could improve your experience throughout the entire time you live in your home.

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The Potential Pitfalls of Buying a Second Home for Income

Posted in Real Estate Tips by Michigan Real Estate Expert on May 11th, 2021

The Potential Pitfalls of Buying a Second Home for IncomeAside from owning a business, owning rental property has been one of the top investment choices for people, most commonly done through buying a second home. Handled right, income properties can generate significant gains for investors, both in terms of real estate appreciation as well as monthly income from tenants. However, it’s not sure a surefire approach to financial success. There are a lot of ways that a budding real estate investor can go sideways with an investment property home purchase as well.

Watch Out for the Seller-Renter

Many times people will sell a home but then offer to rent it from the buyer, essentially trading their home title for ready cash but not really moving out. These situations come up a lot where someone wants to stay where they are but doesn’t want to deal with a mortgage anymore and would rather rent. They are also frequently listed as buyer-direct home sales versus using a traditional route through a real estate agent and broker. The big risk here is that the seller is able to unload the home on the buyer, and then stop paying the rent a few months in. The deal allows them to avoid foreclosure but then it becomes the landlord’s problem to actually evict. By the time the legalities are done and eviction is finally achieved, many landlords have taken a loss on the property and end up selling again. It’s better to have a clean sale with no further obligation between the parties and start with brand-new renters altogether.

Have a Good Strategy Ahead of Time

There are different ways to make a net profit from a rental property. Depending on the cost of financing, down payment and expectations of holding a residential property the driver for profit can be different. Some expect to make a gain both from rental income as well as equity growth. Some realize with the cost of financing, the better plan is to use rental income to pay for the mortgage as much as possible and make the net gain on the property equity appreciation over time. How long a property will be held can come into play as well. Knowing going in what one’s strategy is can help avoid mistakes once a commitment has been made or being surprised if the market has a downturn etc.

Tax Benefits are Different

An income property doesn’t get the tax same deduction benefits of a first home. The mortgage interest deduction, one of the biggest tax benefits possible for an individual is not possible with a rental income property. However, if you are operating your rental property purchased as a business, many of the expenses of running that business can be deducted through the Schedule C form process with an income tax return. Check with a tax advisor or attorney to be sure for your specific situation and interests.

Owner Responsibilities

Just because you rent the property doesn’t mean you’re off the hook. As a new buyer and owner, you’re still responsible for the property taxes due, HOA assessments, utilities and other costs tied to the property. Unless you contractually make the renter responsible, the tax, HOA and utilities will address the property in your name as the owner. Some forget this fact and get a nasty surprise in the mail with a tax or assessment lien on their property.

In short, buying a second home as an income property has the potential for significant investment gain, but it doesn’t operate on auto-drive. You need to still be involved quite a bit and watch whom you rent to when protecting your property interest.

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3 Things You Must Do after Inheriting a Home

Posted in Real Estate Tips by Michigan Real Estate Expert on May 10th, 2021

3 Things You Must Do after Inheriting a HomeThere can be a lot of excitement when it comes to the realization that you’ve inherited a home, but simply because it’s an inheritance doesn’t mean there aren’t a few strings attached. Whether you’re expecting to be gifted with a home in the future or you’re currently going through this process, here are a few things you may need to watch out for.

The State Of The Mortgage

Once a home has been effectively handed over to you, it’s important to determine the status of the mortgage with the lender and if anything is still owed. While you have the option of taking over the mortgage in a lot of cases, in the event that there’s a reversible mortgage or you’re choosing to rent it out as a second property, you may not be able to transfer the mortgage. While this can often be a rather seamless process, if money is owed there can be other factors to consider.

Determine If You Want It

If you already have a first home and don’t want to take care of your second property as a rental unit, it’s important to realize that keeping the home may not be the best decision for you. While you have the option of organizing a short sale if you’d like to get it off of your hands, you can also contact a real estate agent who will be able to provide you with advice on how to proceed if you’re unwilling (or unable) to take control of the property.

Is It In Good Condition?

Whether you want to keep the home or not, there can be cases where it’s not even a question if it’s a home that you’re going to end up investing money into without much return. In the situation that a lot of money is owed on the house or there are serious issues with its general condition, you may want to release yourself from the inheritance and move on with your financial situation still intact.

There can be an instant feeling of acquired wealth in the event that you’ve inherited a home, but a home in bad condition or that you don’t want to take care of can end up being more of a headache than anything else. If you’re currently considering your options when it comes to a home inheritance, contact your local mortgage professional for more information.

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Stimulus Checks And Your New Mortgage

Posted in Real Estate by Michigan Real Estate Expert on May 7th, 2021

Stimulus Checks And Your New MortgageMost of the focus on stimulus checks has been on “when” they will arrive, but if you are in the market for a new home (and mortgage) you should know how that payment will impact your financing. Part of the latest Covid 19 relief package includes payments and protections for existing borrowers and renters, but what about those who are looking to buy? According to the IRS, here are a few things to know about how your stimulus impacts your upcoming mortgage. 

Stimulus Money Is Not Taxable

Any funds you are qualified to receive are not taxable; this is important to know as you move forward with your purchase because it allows you to properly anticipate your tax burden for the coming year. 

Stimulus Money Is Not Income

While funds from the stimulus can be used however you’d like, including as part of your downpayment, they are not considered income. If you currently qualify for an income-based mortgage incentive or program, having a one-time boost in income could work against your housing plans. If those extra funds counted as income, some families could find themselves no longer qualifying for programs and loans that have income guidelines. 

Stimulus Money Can Be Used For Your Mortgage

Whether you use it for your down payment, pay points to reduce interest, or even pay off remaining debts to improve your ratios, this money can benefit your home buying plans. 

Every debt you pay regularly impacts the amount of money you can afford to borrow for your mortgage — using a stimulus payment to eliminate one or more credit cards or even car payments can increase the amount of monthly payment you can afford. Making these payments can also improve your credit score, which could qualify you for a better rate. 

Since the current stimulus program can benefit home buyers in several key ways, there is no better time to buy than now. Use your stimulus to maximize your buying power and get the best possible mortgage terms and you’ll be able to access a wider variety of homes.

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What to Do With Spot When Buying a Home

Posted in Real Estate Tips by Michigan Real Estate Expert on May 6th, 2021

What to Do With Spot When Buying a HomeBuying a home in another location far away can be challenging in terms of logistics as well as moving, but it becomes additionally harder for pet owners who may not be able to take their bigger animals with them right away.

Oftentimes folks may have to prepare a newly-bought home for a pet, make multiple moving trips or might not be able to take the new pet to the location at all for a while. All of these situations can be frustrating and difficult for both the pet and owner. Some available solutions can make some sense depending on the situation.

Family or Friends

Ideally, if a person has a family member or friend whom the pet can stay with for a temporary duration, that can be an advantage. If doing so, make sure your pet is already good around other people as it will have anxiety being left in a new place with unknown people for a long time and missing you. Also, make sure whom you leave the pet with has had experience with animals. Folks who have never had a big dog for a pet, for example, may hit you with a surprise when they suddenly can’t care for your pet being overwhelmed a day or week into the favor.

Short-term and Long-term Kennel Services

Alternatively, kennel and animal boarding services can help. Keep in mind you get what you pay for. Low cost kennels will likely keep your animal in a basic unit, often cement, with few amenities aside from water and food and an hour of exercise time. It’s a bit like prison for an animal. Better services focus on care for animals lodged, give them exercise and socialization time, keep their cages or containers clean, and interact with the animals when feeding. These facilities cost more, but they tend to keep the pet mentally healthier during the stay.

Permanent Separation

In some cases, a home buying move may require one to give up their pet completely. The first step should always be to try to give the pet to family or a friend who will take care of the pet right and wants to take on the pet willingly. These are the best situations, and the pet likely may know the person already. It will still be depressed for a while, but the pet will transition better.

If you don’t know anyone willing and a separation is a must, don’t immediately resort to the local pound or animal control as they unfortunately end up having to euthanize animals they can’t adopt out. There are multiple rescue groups based on specific breeds who will take the pet and try to adopt it out to a willing and vetted family and new home that can handle the breed. These groups work nationwide through networks and move former pets to new homes regularly.

Separating from a pet is no fun and often painful, but there are options to provide care temporarily or long-term versus just leaving a pet with local animal control. Planning and some research will typically produce multiple choices locally, and they could very well make your move and new home transition easier.

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How Does the Escrow Process Work when Buying a Home?

Posted in Real Estate Tips by Michigan Real Estate Expert on May 5th, 2021

You Ask, We Answer: How Does the Escrow Process Work when Buying a Home? When you purchase a new home, escrow is a word that you will hear numerous times from different parties. There are several types of escrow accounts that will be established, and you may be wondering where your money will go when placed in an escrow account or how it is applied to your transaction. By taking time to learn more about the escrow process, you can be a more informed buyer.

Your Initial Escrow Deposit

Within a short period of time after your offer is accepted by the buyer, you will be required to make an escrow deposit to the title company. Typically, you will write a check for the escrow deposit, and your title agent will hold the funds in a non-interest bearing account. These are funds that will be applied to your down payment at closing, and they serve as a good faith of your interest to proceed to the seller.

In the event you back out of the contract after the option period has passed, the escrow deposit may be handed over to the seller and would not be refunded to you.

Escrows for Taxes and Insurance

In addition to this type of escrow deposit, you may also hear about an escrow account for your property taxes and insurance. Setting up this type of escrow account may be a requirement by your lender, but it is not always required. Essentially, this is the account that your property taxes and homeowners insurance will be paid out of. You will pay a specified amount of money into the escrow account to establish a balance at closing, and a portion of your monthly payments will be applied to taxes and insurance as well.

The amount of money that is required at closing will be dependent on the month that you close as well as the annual costs for taxes and insurance.

Essentially, escrow accounts are established to pay for specified expenses that you are required to pay for as a buyer. The initial escrow deposit for the sales contract is a short-term type of escrow account, and the property tax and insurance escrow will remain intact until your mortgage is paid off in most cases.

Now that you know more about the escrows that you will be required to contribute money to as a buyer, you will be a more informed buyer when making your real estate purchase.

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