Archive for May, 2021

Photography Tricks To Watch Out For When Buying A Home Online

Posted in Real Estate by Michigan Real Estate Expert on May 28th, 2021

Photography Tricks To Watch Out For When Buying A Home OnlineWith COVID and social distancing keeping people apart, buying a home in person has become a real challenge. Digital tools and online presentations of homes for sale have ramped up in response, making it possible to see properties with both static images/photos and with “360 degree” views or interactive walkthroughs. However, these are not real-time images of the home itself. They are professionally-developed representations of a property, and a lot of software work goes into making those images marketing ready.

Photographic Tools of the Trade

If a listing has included images created by a professional photographer, he or she will have used a number of resources to produce what a consumer sees. First, the camera will be a high-grade, professional unit with enhanced features in it for different lighting aspects. It may be likely that 20 to 30 individual shots were taken and possibly merged to get the “right” image.

Once the raw image set is identified, the photographer will then use processing software to enhance the image. This includes features like further lighting changes, straightening of vertical and horizontal levels in the image, color saturation and vibrancy, and spot or mistake fixing. In short, the room or home in the image won’t be the actual, exact room seen in real time. Additional work can be applied on clouds and background, such as seen in external property photos, and mask layers can even be applied to add in elements that were never in the original photograph when snapped.

Spot-fixing is a frequently-used digital effect that hides blemishes otherwise visible in a photograph. It’s very easy to do, and the matching by the software blends the targeted image part with surrounding material, so the end result looks natural and unedited. This can cover up wall stains, dents or sagging, cracks, carpet blemishes and a lot more.

Videos Aren’t Much Better

Another typical photo-based display of homes tends to be video. Folks often believe videos are more accurate and better than photographs in judging a property. However, keep in mind there is an extensive set of tools for digital video editing available, and most film professionals know how to apply similar lighting, color, and changes to film as well as how to edit and present the best image versus cropping out and removing snippets of questionable coverage. The big problem with video is how much of it can be changed with multiple video shots streamed together to look like one view or one time period.

Photographs Hide Staging

Another big issue with newly-built homes as well as used homes for sale is staging. Photographers work with sales teams to stage and present a what-if view of a home for sale that can be very different from the actual product received once the escrow is completed. Unless you see the photographs in raw form, you really don’t know what you are buying without physically visiting the property.

Bottom line, try to avoid buying a home without seeing it in person. If you do need to purchase remotely, use a third party you can trust to obtain independent images that are not professionally altered, or you may be unhappily surprised with the difference between a listing’s marketing images and your actual new home.

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How Does A Change In Mortgage Rates Impact A Family’s Housing Budget?

Posted in Real Estate Tips by Michigan Real Estate Expert on May 27th, 2021

How Does A Change In Mortgage Rates Impact A Family's Housing Budget?

The housing market is extremely competitive right now because mortgage rates are still near record lows. While mortgage rates are rising this year, the rates are still attractive to many individuals and families who are looking to buy a home. At the same time, when mortgage rates change, families need to re-evaluate their budgets. A change in mortgage rates will impact the monthly mortgage payment, so families need to know what they can afford.

Furthermore, because the market is so competitive, sale prices are going up as well. As mortgage rates and home prices rise, families need to determine what their monthly budget is. Even a small increase in the mortgage rate can make a big difference.  

Families Must Do The Math To Figure Out Their Monthly Mortgage Payments

Families need to figure out what monthly mortgage payment they can afford before they make an offer on a home. The factors impacting the monthly mortgage payment are the loan amount, the interest rate, and the repayment period. Many homeowners take out a 30-year mortgage; however, borrowers might be able to adjust the term to meet their specific needs. A few important points to remember include:

  • If the number of years over which the loan is paid back goes down, the monthly payment will likely increase
  • If the interest rate on the loan goes up, the monthly payment will increase
  • If the loan amount goes up, the monthly payment will increase

Families can adjust all of these factors to find the right monthly payment for their budgets.

There Are Ways To Reduce The Interest Rate On A Loan

Finally, there are steps that families can take to reduce the interest rate on their loans. For example, families might be able to put more money down to qualify for a better interest rate. This could reduce the monthly payment, keeping the loan amount within the family’s budget. Or, families might be able to pay down other types of debt such as credit card debt or car loans. If families have a lower debt to income ratio, they might qualify for a better interest rate. This could help families afford a larger house without having to spend more money.

Reevaluate

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Pantone Colors: Should You Repaint Before You Sell?

Posted in Home Selling Tips by Michigan Real Estate Expert on May 26th, 2021

Pantone Colors: Should You Repaint Before You Sell?Pantone is a universal language of color that you can use to select beautiful colors to paint the home. Interestingly, each year, Pantone selects a color of the year that embodies what’s happening in society. 

In 2021, the Pantone color of the year was awarded to two colors, Illuminating 13-0647 and Ultimate Gray 17-5104. These two colors highlight how two different elements can come together and support each other. This is the thought behind selecting them based on what has occurred over the last year. 

The bold yellow and deeper gray capture feelings of promise, friendliness, and thoughtfulness, which may be a great reason to add those colors to a home. Should homeowners repaint their home in these colors, though, before they sell?

When Psychology Matters, Remember Pantone’s Color of the Year

Pantone’s color of the year is normally the start, or continuation, of a yearly color trend. That can make it an excellent color to incorporate into your home, especially if you are selecting the color based on its meaning. 

However, most people don’t use Pantone colors to completely repaint before selling their homes. Instead, they use the Pantone color of the year to add pops of color or a touch of the modern color palette before putting the home on the market. 

How Can You Incorporate the Pantone Color of the Year?

For example, if a home is already based on a neutral color scheme in grays or blues, adding a pop of the color Illuminating draws the eye. Using yellow as an accent color is a great way to draw attention to impressive parts of the home.

For brighter spaces, toning down the room with a cooler, relaxed gray is a good way to make the space welcoming to those who love color as well as to those who have a more traditional approach to home decorating.

Repainting an entire home in the Pantone color of the year is an option if homeowners need to repaint anyway, but if they don’t, then it could be an expensive option. To reach the most buyers, the better bet is to choose a neutral palette that potential buyers can envision in their own preferred color scheme. 

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In The Current Housing Market, Prospective Buyers Must Remain Patient

Posted in Homebuyer Tips by Michigan Real Estate Expert on May 25th, 2021

In The Current Housing Market, Prospective Buyers Must Remain PatientThe housing market has been through many ups and downs during the past 12 months. Now, buyers are facing a unique challenge as they try to find the right house in the perfect seller’s market. Right now, real estate is extremely competitive, as low inventory has continued for several months.

As mortgage rates remain low, more people are looking for homes, increasing the competition. Some people are reluctant to sell because they know they will face the same challenges of trying to find a new home themselves. As a result, the housing market has record-low inventory making it difficult for buyers to find the right house in their budget.

Builders Have Not Constructed As Many New Homes

While a reluctance to sell is one reason why the housing market has become competitive, it is not the only one. There has also been a lack of new homes built during the past decade. From 2000 to 2010, builders constructed more than 12.6 million new homes, creating more inventory for those looking to buy. From 2010 to 2020, only 6.5 million new homes were constructed.

This number is significantly lower than the rate of new household formation, which has continued to go up. The result is an extremely competitive market for anyone looking to purchase a house in the current market. While builders are working hard to keep up with demand, it will take some time for them to catch up.

Buyers Must Remain Patient During This Challenge Time

Because the housing market is so competitive, many buyers find themselves facing bidding wars, where multiple buyers make offers on the same home. This drives up the sale price of the house, increasing property values in the surrounding area. This simply makes it more competitive for those still looking to buy.

Therefore, buyers need to remain patient. Low inventory will not remain at a low forever, and builders continue to construct new homes. It takes between four and eight months to build new homes, and more houses will come on the market as families consider moving in the wake of the pandemic. Patience is the key to finding the right home in the current market.

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What’s Ahead For Mortgage Rates This Week – May 24, 2021

Posted in Financial Reports by Michigan Real Estate Expert on May 24th, 2021

What's Ahead For Mortgage Rates This Week - May 24, 2021Last week’s economic reporting included readings from the National Association of Home Builders, data on sales of existing homes, and reports on housing starts and building permits issued. Weekly readings on mortgage rates and jobless claims were also released.

NAHB: Home Builder Confidence Unchanged in May

The National Association of Home Builders Housing Market Index reading for May was unchanged from April’s reading of 83. Readings higher than 50 indicate that most home builders were positive about housing market conditions.

Component readings for builder confidence in housing market conditions in May were mixed; builder confidence in current market conditions was unchanged with an index reading of 83; builder confidence in market conditions in the next six months rose one point to 81 and builder confidence in buyer traffic in new single-family housing developments dropped one point to 73. Readings for buyer traffic rarely exceeded 50 before the pandemic.

Robert Dietz, NAHB’s chief economist said that costs of land, labor, and building materials were expected to rise throughout 2021 and would drive home prices higher. Lower interest rates, shortages of pre-owned homes for sale, and interest in relocating to less congested suburban and rural areas continued to increase demand for single-family homes against severe shortages of homes for sale. Rapidly rising home prices squeezed first-time and moderate-income home buyers out of the market and caused some sales to fall through.

Sales of previously-owned homes fell in April and supported concerns about shortages of available homes. 5.85 million homes were sold on a seasonally adjusted annual basis, which was lower than the expected reading of 6.02 million sales and the March reading of 6.01 million sales of previously-owned homes. Rising home prices and short supplies of homes for sale continued to create high demand for homes.

Housing Starts Fall in April; Building Permits Issued Rise

The Commerce Department reported a sharp decrease in housing starts in April with 1.57 million starts on a seasonally-adjusted annual basis. March housing starts were revised downward to 1.73 million starts, but this did not affect April’s reading being the highest pace of housing starts since 2006. Housing starts fell in the Midwest and South and rose in the Northeast and West.

Building permits held steady in April at a seasonally-adjusted annual pace of 1.76 million permits issued. Analysts expected 1.77 million building permits issued.

Mortgage Rates Rise; Jobless Claims Mixed

Mortgage rates rose last week as rates for 30-year fixed-rate mortgages rose by six basis points to 3.00 percent on average. Rates for 15-year fixed-rate mortgages averaged 2.79 percent and were three basis points higher. Rates for 5/1 adjustable rate mortgages were unchanged at an average rate of 2.59 percent. Discount points averaged 0.60 percent for 30-year fixed-rate mortgages, 0.70 percent for 15-year fixed-rate mortgages, and 0.30 percent for 5/1 adjustable rate mortgages.

New jobless claims fell to 444,000 initial claims filed last week from the previous week’s reading of 478,000 new claims filed. Continuing jobless claims rose to 3.75 million claims filed as compared to the prior week’s reading of  3.64 million ongoing jobless claims filed.

What’s Ahead

This week’s economic reporting includes readings from Case-Shiller Home Price Indices, data on new and pending home sales, and the University of Michigan’s Consumer Sentiment Index. Weekly reports on mortgage rates and jobless claims will also be released.

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Top 8 Things New Homeowners Need

Posted in Real Estate by Michigan Real Estate Expert on May 21st, 2021

Top 8 Things New Homeowners NeedMoving into your first home is an exciting experience, but it can also be overwhelming. To manage the move properly, you need a wide variety of tools you may never have considered before. You may not realize you should have purchased a certain item until you need it. 

To prepare for the move into your new home, make sure you have all of the items listed below. 

Storage For Documents

As a homeowner, you will need to keep and organize a variety of documents, including receipts, warranties and even your mortgage papers. Consider buying a fireproof box or cabinet to store these items.

Fire Extinguisher

Every homeowner should have at least one fire extinguisher on hand. Make sure your fire extinguisher is stored in a location that can be accessed easily in the event of a fire. 

Extension Cords

Extension cords can be useful in a variety of situations, from plugging in appliances that are too far from an outlet to decorating your home for the holidays. Be sure to buy multiple cords in different lengths so you can use them for different purposes. 

Smoke Alarms

If your home is not already equipped with working smoke alarms, you need to purchase and install them as soon as possible. Be sure that you check your alarms every four months and change the batteries as needed. 

Cleaning Supplies

Another important purchase for every new homeowner is cleaning supplies. While some of these supplies may be used on a daily basis, others may be used less frequently. Nonetheless, it is a smart idea to have all of these items on hand. Examples of cleaning supplies you may need include window cleaner, toilet brushes, brooms, mops, sponges and paper towels. If you have carpet in your new home, you may need to buy a vacuum cleaner as well.

A Basic Tool Kit

Every new homeowner will need some basic tools. Purchasing these tools in advance will make both small and large tasks easier. Be sure your toolkit includes a utility knife, flashlight, measuring tape, screwdrivers, wrenches and hammers. Having some different kinds of tape on hand is also a wise idea. 

Exterior Door Locks

When moving into a new home, it is always a good idea to change the locks. Although the previous owner is asked to turn over all the keys to the home, it is impossible to know whether other keys exist. Buying your own door locks will protect against break-ins and give you peace of mind. 

Lawn Equipment

If you will be responsible for maintaining your own lawn and landscaping, you will need to invest in the proper lawn maintenance equipment. Examples of items you may need include snow shovels, sprinklers, rakes, shears, shovels and water hoses. You may also need a lawnmower. 

You may still need to make additional purchases after you have everything on this list. However, this list covers many of the basic things you will need to begin life successfully in your new home. 

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Boost Your Home’s Curb Appeal and Get a Quick Sale with These 3 Tips

Posted in Home Seller Tips by Michigan Real Estate Expert on May 20th, 2021

Summer's Coming! Boost Your Home's Curb Appeal and Get a Quick Sale with These 3 Tips Curb appeal is important in the home sales process, and this is because it will impact the overall first impression that potential home buyers have about the property. Some homeowners can easily spend a small fortune and a considerable amount of time improving curb appeal, but others may be looking for faster and easier results. The good news is that boosting curb appeal is easy and affordable to do when these three tips are followed.s

Spruce Up The Front Door

The front door and patio area are focal points for those driving by the home, and this area receives even more scrutiny by those home buyers who walk up to the home to take a tour of the interior. Re-staining or re-painting the front door can be highly beneficial to dressing up the look of this focal area, and this can give the impression that the home is well-maintained and stylish. In addition, consider replacing the front door mat and hardware on the door for improved results and added aesthetic appeal.

Power Wash The Exterior Of The Home

Beautification efforts for the front of the home would not be complete without spending time cleaning up the space, and one of the best ways to clean the exterior of a property thoroughly is by power washing it. Power washing the exterior may include cleaning the exterior siding material of the home, the patio, the driveway, the sidewalk and even the fencing. This can give the entire area a fresher and more appealing look.

Add Color To The Flower Beds

Some homeowners may not have funds or time available to fully revamp the landscaping, but showing the flower beds some attention can pay off. After weeding the flower beds, add some fresh, brightly colored blooms to the area to dress up curb appeal. Homeowners can finish off the look by spreading a new layer of mulch across the flower beds after the flowers have been planted.

Curb appeal is vital to selling a home quickly and for top dollar. Enhancing curb appeal can cost a small fortune and could take weeks to do, but even these small and affordable efforts can give homeowners great results with minimal time and money required. Homeowners who are thinking about selling their property soon can contact a real estate professional for personal assistance with their staging and home improvement efforts.

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Buying a Home Where Someone Passed Away

Posted in Real Estate by Michigan Real Estate Expert on May 19th, 2021

Buying a Home Where Someone Passed AwayA key factor that often drives the sale of new homes versus existing ones tends to be cultural. Rather than being financially-driven or associated with location factors, many homebuyers will steer clear of existing homes where someone has passed away. The primary fear tends to be concerns about a leftover spiritual residual in the home that could affect the new homeowners. Despite the abundance of TV shows about ghost-chasers and similar, the stigma of a dead person’s home has been around for centuries and is still alive and well today.

Understanding Property History

While sellers of existing homes will tend to try to limit or omit discussion about the former occupants, focusing on the property description and details instead, it is never a bad idea to have a grip on the history of a home and the related surrounding location. This applies heavily to homes in older neighborhoods that have been around for decades and may have had already more than one long-term owner. Local news and property records can be searched easily online, providing a basic review of whether anything newsworthy happened at the location, most notably crime.

Crime-affected properties are probably the most challenging given that crimes don’t just close neatly. Details could be hidden that can trigger new investigations decades later and would be very disruptive to the homeowner finding them after a sale. The issue isn’t so much that someone died as the law enforcement process ripping apart everything again looking for evidence. Avoidance is probably a good idea in these cases.

Sickness or Age are Common Cases

The high majority of homes with someone passing away, especially older homes when people passed away with families present, tend to be the usual situation. In these cases the big factor is to make sure you’re comfortable with the home personally. In most cases the house has been emptied, cleaned out, restored and make salable again, so the stigma is not really physical but more about personal preference and comfort. While this article won’t tread into the realm of arguing whether spiritual presence is real or not, how comfortable you are in the home with a past is really what matters the most.

Homes Aren’t the Only Locations With History

Note as well, homes are not the only places with history. If you’ve ever stayed in older hotels, apartments or condominiums, you’ve likely stayed or lived in a location temporarily that may have had an assortment of activity in it before you arrived. Homes have a stigma because it involves a long-term commitment in one place, but people regularly stay in rental locations and vacation spots where life just happens on a regular basis, including someone passing away.

Existing Homes Are Not Perfect, But They Have Character

At the end of the day, if there is a presence in a home you’re uncomfortable with, choose a different location to buy. Trust your gut when walking through a home if you feel something off; chances are you may be picking up something with your senses versus logic and sight. On the other hand, if you like history, an existing home could be an interesting adventure into a life before yours to explore, find out about, and learn more about your community as well. And it could be a rewarding pastime to chase.

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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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