Predictions for 2018's Housing Market

The Michigan real estate market is no exception, 2018 is projected to be a strong year in real estate.  Here are some pros and cons of buying and selling your home in the Michigan real estate market in 2018.

 

Mortgage Rates are on the Rise

Although rates are projected to increase in 2018, they are only projected to slightly rise. This means now more than ever is a great time to buy as they will only continue to rise over the next year or so, and you can still get a great rate!

Rent Prices Increase

Millennials are reaching the point in their life where they are having to make the decision of continuing to rent or becoming a homeowner. As rent prices rise it is becoming increasingly affordable to take on a mortgage. Many renters are finding they are able to take on a mortgage for the same, or at times, a cheaper monthly payment!

Low Inventory on the Market

Low housing inventory will continue into the new year, which will make it a great time for sellers. This trend will result in homes to selling quicker at a higher price. It's more important than ever for buyers to have a real estate agent working for them. Having an agent will get you the quickest access to homes once they're on the market.

Housing Prices on the Rise

As the demand for houses remains higher than the supply, many home prices will rise. Housing will become less affordable which will hurt Millennials and those that are renting the most. It's always best to work with a trusted real estate agent to best determine the listing price for your home. An experienced real estate agent has the knowledge and experience in your market and will be able to guide you to reach top dollar for your home.

The market for 2018 is really at a stage that can work well for both sellers and buyers.  Since rent prices are on the rise and mortgage rates are slowly increasing as well, now is a great time for renters to become homeowners!  with motivated buyers on the market and low inventory now is a great opportunity for sellers to get multiple offers on their home. If you are looking to buy, the first step is to consult an experienced real estate agent and get pre-approved for a mortgage.  Sellers will want to consult with a real estate agent for expert advice on their home value and the current market!

 

Oct. 25, 2018

LED Bulbs: Saving Money and the Environment

In most residential settings the most commonly used light bulbs are CFLs and LEDs. LED lights are not only about 80% more efficient than the traditional fluorescent or incandescent lights, but are also currently the most cost efficient as well. The piece within the bulb that actually creates the light in an LED is surprisingly only the size of a fleck of pepper and through the use of a mix of blue, red, and green LEDs the bulb manufacturing companies are able to create the white light that we see. 

These LED light bulbs release such a small amount of heat that they are often cool to the touch, even after hours of use. While incandescent and fluorescent bulbs release over 80% of their energy as heat. When you compare the two the LED bulbs are using almost 75% less electricity and will last up to 25 times longer! If everyone were to start using these bulbs there would be a huge drop in the amount of energy used within the community from day to day. 

The Math

Here are a few calculations that were done in order to show that those who purchase and use the LED lights will not only be using less energy but will also be saving money. When compared to a traditional 60 watt bulb, the 12 watt LED bulb outshines them all. Since these bulbs use about 75% less energy it would only cost $1.00 to use each for two hours every day for a year. The bulb life is approximately 25,000 hours, compared to roughly 1,000 hours for the traditional bulb. So if the energy costs were to remain stable over the next 13.7 years and you were running 50 bulbs in your house for 5 hours a day it would cost you about $125 per year for 13.7 years. However if you were to use the traditional incandescent light bulbs over this same amount of time it would cost $600 each year not including the costs of replacing the bulbs every 6.57 months.

 

 

Posted in Home Maintenance
Oct. 16, 2018

How to Stick with your New Home Furnishing Budget

Once you are in the process of buying a home and your closing is coming up quick you may begin to realize that the furniture you currently have might not be anywhere near enough furniture for this new space. It's very common that home buyers will go out right away and start buying furniture prior to the closing. Of course you're excited to close! However, it is extremely important not to begin buying furniture until after closing because you can have your loan approval revoked. Making these large purchases effects your debt to income ratio, as well as your credit score, and your cash reserves. All of which are determining factors in determining your loan value. Once you've closed and your loan has closed as well you now have the green light to go out and purchase that new furniture! However, before you do here are a few tricks to help you stick with your home furnishing budget. 

  • Have a true budget. It's easy to walk into a store and lose all sense of self control. Before going out shopping you need to determine how much you can really afford. Be extra cautious if you are planning to use credit because if you can't afford your payment it will result in you suffering a lot more in the long run.
  • Know how your space will function. Each piece of furniture that you buy should work into the flow of your space. Once you have the flow of your living areas figured out it will make it all that easier to know what to purchase while you're out looking, rather than buying pieces ahead of time that really don't fit into the whole picture. 
  • Keep an eye out for sales. Many stores will have regular sales, especially for big holidays such as President's Day or Memorial Day. You can also search for any "open box" furnishings. These will often be returned because of very minor problems that will likely occur if you were to buy something brand new. There's nothing better than getting a discount while you're on a budget. When in doubt you can always save money by checking local retail stores and thrift shops as well. 

 

Posted in Buying a Home
Oct. 5, 2018

7 Steps to Prepare for a Natural Disaster

Are you ready? Natural disasters can include anything from floods to hurricanes. Although we always assume nothing like that would ever happen where we live, there is always a possibility that it can. Waiting until the last minute to try and get ready for a natural disaster is a very risky game. When you prepare before the disaster it will be a lot easier, since you won't be rushing around the stores as all your neighbors do the same. Instead of waiting until the last minute here are 7 steps to help keep you prepared for the next emergency situation. 

  1. Understand what local disasters occur in your area and what to do when they occur. There are some things that you probably already know, such as the fact that if there's a tornado your job is to get to the basement. However, it is important to educate yourself on these procedure and learn as they may be updated over time. There are also many other natural disasters that could occur other than a tornado and it is important to gather more information about these as well. 
  2. Be aware of how your insurance covers the many things a natural disaster could lead to. If you haven't reviewed your insurance coverage's in a while it may be a great idea to call and make an appointment to do so. You can ask your agent many different questions, including how your house is covered if there was a flood or even how your car is covered if a tree were to fall on it in a storm.
  3. Know who to contact at all stages of the event. Something that is great to create and have before any emergency situation is a list of numbers that would include family, your children's school, as well as you and your spouses' workplace. This list should also include the number of your insurance agent and a great handy man for the aftermath.
  4. Have an emergency plan that includes your pets. Your emergency plan should be well known and practiced by everyone in your household. This plan should include what steps your are going to take to stay safe as well as how you will handle your small children and pets. 
  5. Practice, practice, practice. When you are put in the moment where a natural disaster occurs you will typically freeze up or forget something. Everyone does, that's why it's so important that you practice your emergency plan so that you can get to safety quick and easy without forgetting something important on your list.
  6. Keep a stock of supplies. This doesn't need to be a stock to last many months but something small to get you by. Make sure that you are checking the expiration dates regularly and switching out the food as necessary. It is also smart to have extra lumber laying around so that you will not need to battle through the crowds at the home improvement stores.
  7. Keeping an emergency fund is also a very important step in this process. Just adding in $10 dollars a month will help you in saving a little bit extra for a rainy day.
Posted in Home Maintenance
Sept. 13, 2018

A Few Tips to Help You Find a Home Inspector

The time will eventually come when your realtor will call you asking who you plan to use for your home inspection. If you don't know the answer, that's okay, we have tips that can help make this process easier for you! If you don't already have a relationship with an inspector your realtor will typically recommend a few to you. Their recommendations will usually be people that they typically use and trust, as well as people who are easy to work with! Within the time period given to you to complete the inspection you will need to find the inspector that is best for you. Not every inspector can be an expert in every type of construction or neighborhood! Here are a few helpful tips for you while you look for someone that best fits your purchase.

  • First check that all of the potential inspectors are members of the American Society of Home Inspectors. The members of this group are required to completer 250 inspections to be considered certified. That means that your chance of getting someone who is willing to do the work and go the extra mile is high. 
  • Get informed of what inspections they perform. Some inspectors will do general home inspections and others could have a specific expertise because after all, home inspectors do come from all over the construction industry. 
  • Find out if they have inspected any houses like yours before. An inspection on a house built in the 1900's is different than an inspection on a newer built home. If you have an older home and an inspector that is not experienced with older homes they may flag things wrong with the home that are actually very typical for a home of that age.
  • See if your home inspector includes photos of the potential problems they find wrong so that it is easier for you or someone else to fix when the time comes. Photos will make the process a lot easier to get things fixed accurately and quickly.
  • How soon can they come out? When you are working in a limited window of time to ask for repairs this question doesn't seem as silly. The sooner you can get your inspection completed the better. 

 

Posted in Buying a Home
Sept. 11, 2018

Upgrading Your Closet Storage System

Whether you are blessed with a large closet or you have just a simple one, it always seems to be crammed full. However, closet storage systems will help tremendously with making it seem like you have more space. Getting organized is a lot easier than just tossing extra clothing, shoes, and accessories in the corner and then going digging when the day comes that you need one of those items. 

When it comes time to take your next trip to the home improvement store you'll be overwhelmed when you find more than enough DIY closet options to choose from. The wide range of products will include metal kits, laminated wood kits, and even just the basic wire shelving. So many options that you will begin to have so many questions about. Asking yourself about not only what you need but also what you may want. So now is the time to take a step back and create a budget before buying, so that you will be sure to buy not only what you need but what you can afford as well.

Let the planning begin..  start with sketching out your closet and its dimensions so that you can figure out how much space you have and how to divide it up between the various things you want to incorporate. The dimensions will help you figure out how much rod space you have, if you'll need another lower rod, if you'll have enough room for drawers in your closet, where you will put shoes and hampers, and also how the space will be divided if the closet has more than one persons belongings. Remember that you can not buy cabinets bigger that the provided space, if you attempt to buy a cabinet to large it will not fit. 

How to properly hang your rods..  

Double hung rods. You should place the bottom rod about 42 inches off the ground so that is about waste level and then place the top rod about 84 inches from the ground. This will provide you with the same vertical hanging space for each level. 

Long rods. A long rod is used for items that are too long to be hung on the double hung rods such as dresses or overalls. Due to the length of the items that hang on this rod, it should be about hung about 70 inches off the floor. 

Medium hang rods. Items that are about knee length will hand good on this rod. Hang them about 60 inches off of the floor and free up some space on your long rod.

Pants rods. Install these around 54 inches off the floor to hang the pants in your closet.

One last tip to remember is that closet rods will need support at least every 3 feet. However, you can create a much more stable rod by providing support every 2 feet. The more secure the shelves are, the more they will be able to support and hold. 

Posted in Home Maintenance
Aug. 28, 2018

How to Choose the Right Pressure Washer for You

The best tool for cleaning up the summer mess around the outside of your home is a pressure washer. Cleaning the siding, sidewalks, decks, and other areas is made a lot easier when you have a pressure washer. However not just any pressure washer will do the trick, there is a lot to consider before making this purchase. Believe it or not pressure washers can be dangerous. Although it seems that a it's just a high powered garden house, pressure washers can send water out at 3,000 PSI or possibly more. Even professionals using pressure washers can make mistakes the can result in a damaged surface or even a sliced boot. Always be cautious when operating this machine. 

Time to Shop.. Now that you know that a pressure washer is capable of doing damage its time to learn about how you pick the one that will work best for you. Know that the more water coming out at a higher pressure rate will do the job faster. However, you do need to make sure you find a balance because there is such thing as a machine that is too much for the task at hand.

Here are a few of the top tips for choosing a pressure washer that's best for you.. 

1. Get informed before you buy. Whether you are getting information from reviews online or borrowing a pressure washer from a friend it is important to learn about the machine and the experiences that other people have had with the product you are buying. When buying items like this that are bigger and more expensive you should make sure you are buying a good quality product. Reading reviews will help tell you if others have had problems with this machine or if they love it and they are sure you will too. 

2. Always be cautious. When you are out shopping for tools you normally want to buy the tools with the widest functions. However with a pressure washer it is smart to buy a less powerful washer and spend just a little more time working. Instead of jumping into a super industrial model, consider a higher end homeowner model and save yourself and your family from the possibility of a possible injury. 

3. Go mobile. Buying a pressure washer with wheels is always the better choice. It will be a lot easier to pull it behind you as you move around rather than dragging around one without wheels. In the end it will not only save you time but the energy as well.

4. The choice between electric and gas. Most of the lower end units are meant for easy jobs around the house and are typically electric. However, if you choose one of these you will most likely be lugging around the long extension cord as well. That being said, the heavier duty models will almost all be gas powered, which means you will have to maintain them just like your lawnmower. However, you wont need to carry the cord around with you on the move. 

Posted in Home Maintenance
Aug. 21, 2018

How Your School District Affects Your Home's Value

Home values are determined from many factors that not only include the quality of the home itself but also the prices of previously sold homes nearby and where the home is located in relation to shopping, highways, and of course the school district your home is located in. In fact, studies show that your  school district will definitely effect the value of your home; the better the school the higher the value. One study shows that higher-quality school districts will increase each home price value well above the value of the home itself. If you then compare the schools that were below average for quality you'll see that the value of the home itself is not affected at all at all. The National Association of Realtors reports that 26 percent of all buyers choose their house based on school district quality. 

How much more will you pay?  Although school district quality does affect the price of the house it can be hard to find the exact value because it can be difficult to measure such a non concrete idea. You may have one idea of how much a house located within a certain school district is worth but someone else may counter with their idea of the value of that same home. For example homes are frequently sold for more than their listed price because someone out there has to have that home in that exact location right now. 

Compromises.  A survey from 2013 shows that buyers were making major compromises to get their kids into a great school district. Giving up parks, trails, extra rooms, highway access, and shopping accessibility. Home buyers are willing to give up all of these things so that they are able to live in a great school district. This shows the importance of school district to home buyers as they are looking at your house.        

Posted in Selling Your Home
Aug. 20, 2018

What to Know About the Radon Levels in Your Future Home

If you have found a home you love that just happens to have a radon problem don't worry, fixing a radon gas problem is a lot easier than it seems. Radon is a radioactive gas that you can't smell, see, or taste but is the second leading cause of lung cancer. Exposure to radon will increase the chance of cancer overtime if the radon issue in the house is left alone. Here are a few things that you should know about radon in homes.

It's easy to test for: There are a few different types of tests that you can perform (short-term, long-term, and continuous) to test the levels of radon in a building. The most common type of radon test is the short-term test that are active charcoal-based. Theses will only take about a week to complete and are done most commonly by radon inspectors. 

It's everywhere: As the radioactive elements break down in the environment radon will occur. So because of the elements breaking down in many places radon will typically be in those various areas in small amounts. Although it doesn't become a major problem until you're exposed to high concentrations of the gas at once. Smokers are at an even higher risk of radon-related lung cancer. Just because radon is everywhere doesn't mean that you have to live with it.

Mitigating radon in any home is possible with enough money and effort. Radon mitigation systems are great at removing large amounts of radon from any home.  It is important to test your home because 1 in 15 homes has an unacceptably high radon level. This can be a DIY job however if you aren't familiar with your homes construction methods, radon gas, and sampling procedures than you should be aware that you can make the radon levels higher than before doing the process incorrectly. If your walls are radiating radon more than normal you will definitely need an expert to help you through the process.

 

 

 

Posted in Buying a Home
Aug. 16, 2018

What to Consider Before Starting Your Master Bath Remodel

Remodeling your bathroom can be a great investment, especially if you have just purchased a beautiful home that is in need of a little TLC. Although remodeling your bathroom doesn't always return the total cost of the improvement in the end Remodeling Magazines show that bathroom remodels will typically reap around a 70 percent in return. You may think a 70 percent return wouldn't be worth the investment, but when you compare that percentage to the percentage of a whole master suite remodel (between 50 percent and 60 percent in return) a bathroom remodel isn't to shabby. To ensure that you get the most for your hard work do lots research to see what you like and dislike so that you can came up with a new bathroom plan that will work best for you. It may seem like the research is becoming very time consuming but it is necessary for you to get the best possible results. 

The idea of a remodel can be very exciting but it is important to keep a level head so that you don't end up spending a boat load of money and only gaining a small fraction back. After you have cleared you head here are a few questions you can ask yourself before starting your master bathroom remodel:

  • How does the existing bathroom work for me?

Although you may not like the style of the bathtub it could still be placed in the right area of the bathroom in your eyes. However you could hate where other items, such as the toilet, are placed. Keep notes of how the placement of your existing bathroom arrangement works and and how it does not so that you can then start arranging the new parts properly. 

  • What are my goals for this bathroom?

This is an odd question, but you may use this bathroom in different ways than the previous owner. For example, decide if you will want more wall space or even more plugs. This decision also includes deciding if you want to ditch the wallpaper or change up the flooring materials. 

  • How long will this project take?

Any remodeling project can be very time consuming and take a while to complete. This project will more than likely take you longer than a just a few weeks to complete if you're doing everything on your own. If you plan on hiring a contractor they should be able to get the job done quicker. Even if it is a massive remodel it can be done in just a couple months or less!

  • What is this project going to cost me?

It can be difficult predicting the exact cost of your master bathroom remodel as some remodels will cost $19k and others will cost as much as $61k. There are many factors that can alter the price dramatically such as the size of the bathroom and how much you plan to move the plumbing around. Keeping your plumbing where it is will save you a great amount of money in the end. 

Posted in Home Maintenance
Aug. 6, 2018

A Few Tips for Your New Backsplash

Installing a new backsplash is not exactly a small job, but is definitely a straightforward process. Once you have decided you are ready for this process it's time to choose your materials. There are a lot of different ideas you'll see that may look really cool but make sure that you choose the material that will be most effective.  Keep in mind that your backsplash will be exposed to high heat, water, steam, and most likely food splatter. Make sure that the material you choose to use is one that can be easily cleaned and withstand what it is exposed to. 

Prep..  Changing out a backsplash and replacing it with a new one isn't a very hard process but if the old material was tile it can be messy. Always prepare your kitchen by moving appliances out of the way and picking up a few heavy drop cloths to protect your appliances and masks so that you don't breathe in all of the dust that will be made. You should now make sure the power to the kitchen is off and start removing the tiles from the wall. You can do this by slipping a putty knife under the tile and twisting it back and forth. Continue this process until you have taken off all tiles. You will know that your kitchen wall is fully prepped when there is no left over material from the old backsplash. Make sure that this is the case whether it means you need to sand it down a bit or apply a thin coat of white mastic for consistency. The quality of the project will depend on how much effort you put into prepping. 

Planning..  There are a lot of projects where planning makes the process much easier. Planning for a project like this will help you make sure that you don't find yourself with a Pintrest fail on your hands. There are a few things you should consider when planning for a backsplash. Keep in mind the grout color you choose; it may look great with the color of the tile however you need to make sure it ties together into the whole kitchen as well. A second thing to make sure of is that all the material you have chosen will fit properly. Measure the area several times to be sure, some materials are hard to cut down and can change the pattern if the proper measurements weren't made. Now you need to consider where each piece of material will be placed, numbering each piece can really help you keep on track and avoid mistakes. Remember that no matter what material you choose to use always take your time putting together your backsplash so it will turn out as perfect as you had planned.

 

Posted in Home Maintenance