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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Don’t Miss Out On How To Handle Common Home Buying Pitfalls

Posted in Home Buyer Tips by Michigan Real Estate Expert on May 4th, 2021

Don't Miss Out On How To Handle Common Home Buying PitfallsThe process of buying a home can be riddled with obstacles. However, you can avoid many of the most common home buying pitfalls with some advanced preparation. Below are some of the most frequent problems home buyers face, as well as tips for avoiding them. 

You Can’t Qualify For A Mortgage 

Nothing is more frustrating than learning that, even though you make enough money to afford your dream home, you cannot qualify for the mortgage you need. This may happen because your credit score is low or because you cannot verify your income in a way that satisfies your lender. To avoid this pitfall, investigate lenders’ requirements before you begin the application process and make sure you meet them all. 

You Discovered Problems With The Home After You moved In

In some cases, a home may seem perfect at first glance, but problems may be hiding in plain sight. You may move into the home and find that it has a pest problem, leaks, or a broken furnace. The best way to guard against this pitfall is to ask for a home inspection before you buy the property. 

The Appraisal Amount Isn’t High Enough 

Some homebuyers make an offer on a property and hope to get a mortgage to cover the purchase price, only to learn that the property doesn’t appraise for the amount of the requested mortgage. This is more likely in cases where the homebuyer is rolling closing costs into the mortgage. When this occurs, you can either pay the difference, ask the seller to lower the purchase price, or cancel the sale altogether. You can avoid this pitfall by investigating home values before you make an offer, or by saving up a large downpayment that would allow you to pay the difference. 

You End Up With Bad Neighbors 

Chances are that sellers will not be upfront about any problems they may have with neighbors, since these problems could potentially cause you to pass on the home. For this reason, it is always wise to do your own research before you move into any neighborhood. Consider driving by at night to look for any activity that might make you unwilling to live next door. 

The Closing Takes Too Long

It can be incredibly frustrating when it takes weeks or even months to close on the property you love. In some cases, this pitfall may be unavoidable. However, you can reduce the risk of a long closing by having all of your loan documentation ready in advance and avoiding the purchase of homes that may have an extra-long closing process, such as real estate owned properties and short sales. 

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Boosting Your Credit Score To Qualify For Better Rates

Posted in Real Estate by Michigan Real Estate Expert on April 30th, 2021

Boosting Your Credit Score To Qualify For Better Rates

The better your credit score, the better the mortgage interest rate for which you should qualify. That can mean thousands of dollars saved over the life of the mortgage. If your credit score needs improving, get started prior to your search for a new home.

Pay Bills On Time
The simplest way to boost your credit score is by ensuring your bills are always paid on time. Nothing harms a credit score more than late payments.

Check for Credit Report Errors
Check your credit reports for any errors. These issues are not uncommon, and can really impact your score. Each of the three major credit card reporting bureaus –Equifax, Experian, and TransUnion –will provide you with a free annual report.

Credit Utilization Rate
Look into your credit utilization, or CU, rate. The CU rate is another big credit score consideration. Your CU rate is the amount of credit authorized versus the amount you use. It’s one reason maxing out your credit cards is not a wise move.

Never allow your CU rate to exceed more than 30 percent of your available credit. In simple terms if you have $1,000 in available credit, never use more than $300. High CU rates are a red flag, as they indicate someone with potential financial problems. For best results, keep your CU rate as low as you can.
Calculate your CU rate by adding up the credit limits on all cards, as well as the balances. Divide the total balances by the total credit limit, then multiply by 100. That amount is your CU rate percentage.

Reduce Your Debt
If you carry credit card debt, pay it down as much as possible. That also helps lower your CU rate.

Avoid Opening New Credit Card Accounts
Do not open new credit card accounts while trying to boost your credit score.   A new account lowers the age of your accounts, affecting your credit history and lowering the CU rate.

Do Not Close Unused Credit Card Accounts
Do you have credit cards you never use? You might think closing them would boost your credit score, but that is not how it works. When you close the account, the amount of credit you have drops. That triggers a CU rate increase.

Refinancing Credit Card Debt
If you have substantial credit card debt, consider refinancing all of it with a personal loan. You should receive a lower interest rate with your balances now merged into a single monthly payment. This also causes your CU rate to go down.

How Long Will It Take?
How long it will take to improve your credit score depends on the severity of your credit problems. Those with serious credit issues may find it takes years to raise their scores significantly, but most people should see improvement within a few months. Then it is time to think about mortgage shopping!

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Looking at Home Mortgage Refinancing in 2021

Posted in Real Estate by Michigan Real Estate Expert on April 20th, 2021

Looking at Home Mortgage Refinancing in 2021In 2019 many people expected that the home lending market was going to eventually grow more expensive. Instead, 2020 spent its entire 12 months becoming more affordable when it came to financing a personal home, moving in the opposite direction of what was expected. Not only did the loan cost drop break previous records, but it also presented an additional opportunity for homeowners to reposition and take advantage of lower borrowing costs again.

The General Advantages of a Home Loan Refinance

The refinancing of a mortgage has traditionally been three-fold. First, it is a chance to renegotiate the loan on a home purchase for a lower interest rate, which means more of the borrower’s payment goes to the loan and less to an interest charge. Second, it gives people an option to change the interest rate charged to a shorter payment period, which can also save considerable money. A borrower will pay dozens of thousands less on a 15-year loan versus a 30-year mortgage. Finally, refinancing allows a borrower to tap into home equity to use that cash value to consolidate debt, pay for other big costs, or make renovations to the home without paying out of pocket for them.

Why 2021 Provides a Good Window

By the time 2020 ended, mortgage rates overall were running at all time lows on a conventional 30-year fixed mortgage, an amazing opportunity for the cost of borrowing and probably the lowest possible in 50 years. The dip won’t last forever, as many people have been trying to project, and eventually what goes down also goes back up. Some amount of rising rates is a firm prediction from the National Association of Realtors® for 2021 which has already occurred, and that loan interest rate cost is expected to eventually go somewhat higher by the end of the year if the economy speeds up again. So, the 2021 window for a valuable refinancing opportunity is clearly the beginning half of the year.

Comparing Current Status to “What If”

Obviously, just chasing a mortgage refinance for minimal gain is silly. The amount paid in closing costs can be expensive. However, when the shift can easily be a percentage point difference or more, then it is worth considering. Many people locked in homes at higher rates in the past and are still paying that amount, especially on an adjustable-rate mortgage. Grabbing a fixed mortgage refinance in the current rate environment is definitely worth the work and time, potentially paying for itself in a handful of years or by consolidating higher cost debt into the home loan.

There is no perfect formula that applies to everyone, but 2021 has already shaped up to be the year that the majority of homeowners can definitely benefit from, especially given the need for financial reserves and a bit of personal finance reorganization after 2020.  As always, consult with your professional mortgage advisor for details on your personal situation.

 

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Buying a Home While Relocating is a Smarter Choice

Posted in Real Estate by Michigan Real Estate Expert on April 8th, 2021

Buying a Home While Relocating is a Smarter ChoiceThe idea of buying a home is challenging enough as the process requires a lengthy approval validation, paperwork, financing, and the actual move with logistics. However, when one really looks at what typically occurs with relocation, buying versus renting can start to make more sense over time.

Finances Have to be In Order

Buying a home more than once every ten years requires a good amount of discipline on one’s personal finances. Most of the initial decisions and approvals will depend heavily on keeping one’s debt versus income ratios in line and viable. That also means saving up a lot to have sufficient cash flow for fees and your down payment. It also means not letting credit cards get out of hand or taking on other significant debt unless necessary as both weigh against one’s ability to obtain new financing for the next home purchase.

Renting Versus Owning

Renting or leasing tends to be the go-to option during a relocation because it tends to be easier upfront, has fewer requirements to achieve, and involves less of a significant commitment financially. After all, what happens if there is another relocation just a year later? However, most relocations are fairly defined in time. Anything under a year would make sense for renting, but when one starts getting beyond a year, buying starts to become far more appealing.

First, all the dollars one pays in rent are a sunk cost. If one buys, some of that money goes into home equity. Second, many companies and organizations who relocate their people often have connections for quick purchasing and residential needs, leveraging corporate interests for their employees. This allows for the rotation of homes from one employee to the next and makes buying easier for longer-term stays.

Third, a purchase for a shorter-term stay doesn’t have to be a full-scale home. Smaller units that cost much less are easier to close and can work just as well for temporary living. Relocating buyers should really consider a wide range of housing options in a buy versus just a strict replacement of what they had before.

Finally, market costs in the target location have to be considered. Some markets are very affordable and might be cheaper than renting month to month but others are astronomical, and it simply doesn’t make sense to buy in these regions for a short-term stay.

The Bottom Line

Understand with renting everything paid is gone and won’t be recovered in any form at all. It’s a lost expense. That can be thousands of dollars after one year alone. Buying will have fees, but the money spent on the mortgage each month buys equity which can be recovered in a sale, plus a possible gain as well down the road. Buying doesn’t work in every situation where one is relocated, but it can be a viable option in affordable markets and when one is staying longer than a year.

As always, check with your local real estate professional for the best advice on your relocation and your personal financial situation.

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Why A Carpet Change Can Boosts Your Home Sales Price

Posted in Real Estate by Michigan Real Estate Expert on April 2nd, 2021

Why A Carpet Change Can Boosts Your Home Sales PriceWhen selling a home, it is rare for folks to see in bold big letters, “new carpet just installed”. However, on a practical level, replacing the carpet in a home just before selling can go a long way to helping the deal close.

A Brutally-Beaten Leftover

In just about every used home, the carpet has taken a beating. Even if the home has only been owned for a few years, carpets have taken a tremendous amount of traffic, walked-in dirt, funky smells, and dust that build up over time. That not only changes the color of the existing carpet, it also impacts the air in the house as smells are permanently trapped in that same carpet. And, if the existing homeowner had or has pets, the issues can be ten times as strong.

A Sure Formula

By replacing the existing carpet with a new one that is a neutral color and just installed, it adds perceived value to the home and comes a lot closer to competing with new homes in the area. Everybody buying a home wants to have a sense of newness when entering the home. If it’s an existing home, replacing the carpet will be almost a given for the new homeowner before moving in. So, combining a new carpet with the sale saves the buyer the headache and becomes far more attractive right off the bat.

Removing Embarrassing Conversations

The worst situation to be in is having to explain stains and torn carpet or worn-out patches. Letting them stay practically begs a prospective buyer to argue for a lower price to even disengage. Of course, this issue doesn’t apply so much when it’s a seller’s market and homes are being bid on unseen with high demand. But that isn’t always the case. Rather than handing an argument to a buyer free, adding the carpet could reverse the situation and give you support for a higher sales price.

Case by Case

Your real estate agent will have the best idea of how much a new carpet will apply to your local market for home sales, so start with him or her first. If the current market is looking for lots of quality improvements in a home for sale, you can expect that a new carpet would be to your advantage. And you don’t need to break the bank doing so. Follow the example of builders; use a base level carpet at an affordable price. It will look new, do the job, and help sell your home without paying a premium and cutting into your sale profit.

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Five Places Mold Could Be Hiding In Your Home

Posted in Around The Home by Michigan Real Estate Expert on March 31st, 2021

Five Places Mold Could Be Hiding in Your HomeEven the most aesthetically pleasing homes can have mold issues. A type of fungus that thrives on moisture, mold can trigger symptoms such as itching eyes, asthma attacks and bouts of sneezing or coughing.

As a result of the possible health issues, mold is the sort of problem that should be dealt with prior to listing a home, and people who are in the market to buy a home would do well to have a licensed professional conduct a mold test on any home they’re seriously interested in buying.

What follows is a rundown of five places in the home where mold could be hiding.

The Unwanted Basement Tenant

If climate control measures are not implemented, basements can end up becoming breeding grounds for mold. Most basements get little or no direct sunlight, are often more humid than other areas of the house, and get scant ventilation, which can pose a problem should water somehow get into the basement.

Mold can go undetected for years in such spaces since it can grow behind walls, baseboards and insulation. Fortunately, detecting mold is possible not only by sight, but also by scent. A moldy or musty smell should not be ignored since it could be evidence that there is a mold problem.

The Air Conditioner’s Chilly Reception

Unfortunately, mold can take root in places that people cannot easily access and monitor such as on the inside of their air conditioner units. Mold can grow on the coils and, when moisture enters into the picture, a small problem can become a big one quickly.

People who find themselves coughing or sneezing whenever they turn on their air conditioners ought to be suspicious since mold could be the culprit.

Not On The Kitchen Menu

Leaving leftovers in the fridge for too long can create conditions where mold thrives. The mold can then get into crevices where it will have even more places to grow. The problem can become even more serious if contaminated food and appliances transfer the mold to other areas in the kitchen.

Furthermore, kitchens that are insufficiently ventilated can also have negative implications as far as food safety is concerned,

The Chimney: Where There’s Smoke…

Leaky chimneys can cause mold problems that, if not fixed, may end up infecting other areas of the house. In a leaky chimney, moisture can seep into crevices and create mold areas that may eventually make their way down to the walls. Therefore chimneys that are in need of repair should be fixed promptly so that problems don’t pop up later.

If Walls Could Talk

One of the most common places for mold to form and grow is behind walls. Humid air behind the walls can be problematic, particularly if water finds its way back there as a result of things like flooding.

It’s also possible for mold to form behind wallpaper. People can determine whether or not they have mold behind their walls by having an inspector come in and check.

Mold is no laughing matter. Before listing, it wouldn’t be a bad idea to address any mold issues. People who are planning to buy a home should have an inspector conduct a test to ascertain if there are any problems.

Taking the proper steps will help to remedy any mold situation that may be present. Whether you’re looking to sell or looking to buy, the right real estate agent can make all the difference. Call your trusted real estate professional today for more information on how to deal with mold when buying or selling a home.

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Moving Can Lead To A Major Emotional Lift

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

Moving Can Lead To A Major Emotional LiftThis past year has been stressful for everyone involved. A lot of people have had to spend more time in their house than they ever have in the past. When this is combined with trying to conduct work and school from home, it is easy to see why people are so eager to get out of their house. 

Even though a lot of people are spending more time outside, it might be better to consider moving entirely. The reality is that a lot of people are currently associating their home with a lot of bad memories. Therefore, moving may be a smart idea. What should people consider when moving? 

Think About The Weather In The New Location

First, it is important for everyone to think about the weather. Of course, the first factor is the average temperature. People should look for a location that isn’t too cold or too hot. Ideally, this new home should have a bit of a variety. New experiences can go a long way toward improving people’s emotional health. 

Then, it is smart to take a look at the precipitation level as well. Nobody wants to go an entire year without seeing rain; however, if it rains all the time, this may make it hard to spend time outside. Look for a location that has mostly clear skies with an average precipitation of around 60 inches or so.

Consider the Population Level of the Location

With a general location in mind, it is time to take a closer look at some options. Usually, these are broken down into three separate categories: Urban, suburban, and rural. Largely, this is a personal decision. Individuals who are younger may be looking for a more urban area that has more “stuff” to do. Those children may be looking for a suburban area with more opportunities to play safely outside. The location is also going to dictate housing prices, which will help homebuyers set their budgets. 

Consider Moving For An Emotional Lift

Ultimately, moving can be just the emotional list that people need. It is critical to think about these factors during an upcoming move. That way, everyone can make the right decision to meet their needs.

 

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Moving On Up: Should You Buy Or Sell First?

Posted in Real Estate Tips by Michigan Real Estate Expert on March 3rd, 2021

Moving On Up: Should You Buy Or Sell First?It’s exciting to be able to move into a new home. But there are some tricky details to navigate when you already own a home and you’re ready to buy a new one. Should you buy or sell first? Don’t worry. There are viable solutions.

Should You Sell First?

Think about how selling your home first will impact your family. On the one hand, you’ll be in a better financial position. You’ll have cash in the bank. You may be able to negotiate better terms on your new house by putting more down. However, selling first may mean moving into temporary housing while you find a new house to buy. You might need to store your furnishings. In other words, you may need to move twice.

Should You Buy First?

Buying first gives you more stability. You can stay in your own home until you’re able to move into the new house. When you do move, there won’t be a big rush. You could move over the course of a week or even more. The downside to buying first is that you might be responsible for paying two mortgages for a month or more. There’s no guarantee that your home will sell in a predetermined length of time. And, there’s no guarantee you’ll get the amount of money for your old home that you need to be financially secure.

Viable Solutions No Matter What You Do

Thankfully, there are solutions no matter how you decide. If you sell your home first, you could ask your buyers for a later closing date so that you have time to find a new home. You could even ask them if you can lease your old home on a month-to-month basis so that you have time to buy a new home.

If you buy a new home first, you could get a bridge loan, that helps you pay the second mortgage until you sell your old home. You could also rent out your old home to help offset your mortgage payment.

As you can see, there are ways of making both scenarios work. Whether you decide to buy first or sell first, your real estate agent can help you make it happen.

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What Homeowners Must Do When Behind On Mortgage Payments

Posted in Real Estate by Michigan Real Estate Expert on February 23rd, 2021

What Homeowners Must Do When Behind On Mortgage PaymentsThere are lots of homeowners who fall on rough times from time to time. For example, some people may be in the midst of changing jobs. Other people might be going back to school. When this happens, it can be hard for homeowners to keep up with their mortgage payments. Even though they might be thinking about waiting for the bank to do something, this would be the ultimate mistake.

There are ways to handle late mortgage payments as long as homeowners reach out to the lender to discuss their options. What should homeowners do if they start falling behind on their mortgage payments?

Let The Lender Know Why They Are Falling Behind

If lenders do not hear anything from the homeowners, they are not going to know what is going on. Therefore, they may end up taking drastic action. The first thing that homeowners need to do is to let the lender know that they are falling behind on their mortgage payments. That way, the lender understands that the homeowner knows he or she is behind on the mortgage. Then, let the lender know why the mortgage payments will be coming in late. For example, there might be an unexpected medical expense that took the mortgage payment that month. Or, the homeowner might be looking for a new job. These are all understandable reasons why the mortgage payments might be late. 

Ask The Lender To Go Over The Options

Next, the homeowner also should discuss with the lender all of the options when it comes to late mortgage payments. There are lots of options available. If there is a one-time unexpected expense, the lender might simply break up that payment and spread it out over the upcoming payments without charging any extra interest. Or, the lender might be willing to simply add a few months to the mortgage in exchange for not charging a late fee. These are a few of the many options the lender has at his or her disposal.

Do Not Ignore Late Mortgage Payments

The only mistake that homeowners can make with late mortgage payments is not communicating with the lender. As long as the lender understands what is going on, homeowners should have options at their disposal.

 

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