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!


Nov. 29, 2018

Finding A Smart Security Camera

Home security devices are very common. They are both inexpensive and can be used for all types of different things around your home, whether it be keeping an eye on your dog while you're away or just checking in to see who's knocking at your front door. With modern technology you can even keep an eye on vacation homes or empty rentals while you are away from them. If there is anything you want to see a modern smart security camera can almost always help you out! There are several different security camera brands, however it's not so much the brand that matters as much as it is the features that the camera has to offer. There are also many different cameras that all fit under the security camera category. Here are a few of the categories offered. 


Webcams: These cameras allow you to view a live feed of whatever you are pointing them at. This is perfect for checking in, but won't alert you of movements and unusual sounds.


Video Doorbells: With this type of camera you are offered a decent view of the porch area. This is a great solution if you order a lot of packages. You can interact with people who ring the bell and when placed properly, the camera will alert and record quite a bit of activity within its field of vision. 


Indoor Security: When buying a true security camera, you should be able to customize it to your exact needs. Most of the security cameras can even move in all directions to give you a better idea of just what is going on in that room or living area. 


Outdoor Security: Outdoor security cameras are much like the indoor ones, except that they have more durable housing and may be powered using things like solar panels to keep the maintenance to a minimum. Attach it, point it and forget it until it wakes you up at 2 am because someone is walking their dog down the street in front of your house.

--Think about this--

After you have chosen the camera you have been looking for, it is time to consider all of the several valuable features that are bundled with the camera. Before you buy, consider these important points:


Power Source and Connectivity:  Some cameras will need to be plugged into power while others don't. Another option that security cameras offer is connection to WiFi. Regarding connectivity, cameras can also run off of your cellular network. 


What’s the App Like? Each camera company will have an app that’s slightly different. Check them out in your Android or Apple store before choosing a camera. It’s important that you can use this software without a lot of headaches.


Feed Type: There are generally two types of feeds that come with smart home security cameras: live or triggered. The live feeds will always be available to show you what is happening when you decide to check it. Triggered feed will only record when it detects a movement or sound, providing you only with a picture of what was happening during that time. Many devices offer both, but if your eye is on a camera with a single option, choose the one you think you’ll use more.


Posted in Home Maintenance
Nov. 27, 2018

A Few Things to Consider Before Buying a Vacation Home

Imagine waking up to the sounds of the waves crashing on the shore outside your very own home. You don't have to worry about calling ahead for reservations, asking anyone for a key, or having an exact time to check out by when you decide that it is time to leave. This house is all yours to do whatever you want with, it's your very own vacation home. However, before you get too caught up in any fantasy consider some of the pros and cons of owning a home away from home.


Vacation Home Aren't for Everybody 

There are many financial pressure that the real estate market responds to. Most people are just waiting for their favorite vacation spot to experience a market correction. If you're one of these people, don't jump into the vacation home market without really considering what you are doing. Of course it would be cool to own a vacation home, but if you never use the home it could be the wrong call. Here are a few points to consider when buying a vacation home. 


What can you afford?

Many vacation homes will be on the market for several times the price that your personal home is worth. Due to this big increase in price, many buyers will try to pool their assets together with family or friends to purchase a vacation home. Doing this might seem like the right plan but buying a vacation home with anyone that you are not married to can result in a long term problem. There can be many problems that arise when you try to pool your assets with a friend such as a disagreement on location or even your co-borrower having poor credit and being unable to pay part of their down payment. Once you've bought the property the question of who pays for what repairs could arise as will. Make sure that you get a lawyer to draw up a maintenance and payment agreement that you both sign to get everything on paper and make it official. 


Buying a vacation home on your own can still be complicated.

When you buy a vacation home, you’re almost always going to use a conventional mortgage. Make sure that you have great credit, debt to income ratio and, most importantly, a lot of cash. Being a owner of a secondary home can been seen as very risky to the banks. 

They should still lend to you, but they’ll want to see that you have anywhere from two to 12 months of funds already in an account somewhere that are equal to a certain number of months’ worth of payments for both of your homes. This also includes anything wrapped into your payment due to escrow, like homeowners’ insurance and taxes.


Off-season care and maintenance 

If you have friends or family that live near by your vacation home, you are probably all set when it comes to off-season care and maintenance. However if this inst the case this is something you should think about before purchasing a vacation home. This plan should consider the problems that develop overtime as the wear and tear happens when no one is looking. Since your property is a vacation home, it will also require more expensive insurance coverage, as well as specialty insurance if it’s in an area where floods, hurricanes or earthquakes are common.


Selling can be difficult and costly. 

For every one of the real estate experts who claim that buying a vacation home is a great way to make money, there are experts who realize that the market is unpredictable and you may find that you don’t love that vacation home as much as you thought in a few years.

After spending two years dealing with short term renters, you may decide it’s easier for you to go back to renting a nice hotel for your vacation stay, rather than owning a headache of a property. That’s a good idea, until you find out that not only has the market bottomed out, but you can’t even get enough money out of the place to cover the mortgage and your closing costs.

If you still think that a second home is still for you after looking over this list, proceed with caution. Avoid buying a project house unless you have someone else to do the work so that you can relax and enjoy your vacation home to the fullest when you come to stay.

Posted in Buying a Home
Nov. 20, 2018

A few things to know about your smoke detector

Smoke detectors can be incredibly loud and awful to hear, although the truth is that smoke detectors save lives. Remember to always check and replace the batteries so that your smoke detectors will be ready to do their job if something goes wrong. Here are a few things that you should know about smoke detectors:

  • Smoke alarms will give you additional escape time in the case of an actual fire. Around 40% of home fire deaths from 2009-2013 were due to a lack of functioning smoke alarms. When a smoke alarm fails it is typically due to missing or disconnected batteries.
  • When installing smoke alarms you should make sure that you put them in the right places. The best areas are in each bedroom, in halls outside of bedrooms, and in every major living area. When doors are closed this can slow the spread of smoke resulting in more time passing before it is noticeable.  
  • On the market you can find interconnected smoke alarms which are currently the safest option. These alarms are connected to each other so when one alarm goes off they will all begin to sound. This can seem like a bit much when something simple in your home sets off the alarm, however when it's a real fire all that noise will save your life.
  • Your smoke detectors need maintenance too. Check the batteries monthly to make sure they are still in good condition. It is also recommended that you change the batteries twice a year to insure the best performance. Another quick maintenance tip is to make sure that you dust off the debris a few times a year as well.
Posted in Home Maintenance
Nov. 1, 2018

What to think about before remodeling your kitchen

Image result for kitchen remodelRemodeling your kitchen always sounds like a great idea, however it can become quite the hassle. A brand new, shiny kitchen is always amazing and will provide you the amount of space you need rather than keeping you trying to force your current kitchen space to work. There's a lot to think about when you are getting ready to rip out one of the most important and complicated rooms in your home. Leaving a big area of your home unable to use for a good amount of time like this can be very inconvenient. Although the biggest factor to consider before beginning this remodel is how much it is going to cost. Once you figure out an estimate of just how much it will cost, then you need to think about the future and if this remodel will reap a good return in a few years if you were to sell your home.

Estimating the price of a kitchen remodel can be very messy and frustrating because there are so many factors to consider. Since there are so many factors, your best bet in order to get an accurate estimate would be to get a quote from an experienced contractor. If a remodel is just an idea you are considering it may be helpful to know that the national average cost for this project is about $22,768. However, this price actually can range anywhere between $12,554 and $34,104 depending on the size of your kitchen and the extent of the remodel.

Your largest portion of your budget will go towards cabinets and hardware. In total this will make up about 30% of your total budget. Keep in mind that you can save money by repairing and repainting your old cabinets if they are still in good condition. Another great way to save money on this project is looking for great deals on appliances. 

Will this remodel reap a good return? In most remodeling cases you will not get the entire amount you spent back. Instead of focusing on getting all your money back, focus on getting the best return that you can. There are many remodels you can do that will increase the value of your home once it is sold later on down the road. 


Posted in Home Maintenance
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