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!


Jan. 11, 2019

The benefits of hiring a real estate agent when you are searching for your next home!

Whether you are just thinking about buying a home or you are already on the search, the one person you need is a great realtor. You may feel that as a potential buyer you can go at this house search alone, but there are many things that you may not be considering. A buyer's agent would represent you throughout the whole transaction, always keeping your best interest in mind. Many potential buyers are under the impression that if they hire a buyer's agent they will have to pay an extra fee for their services. However, the commission is almost always covered on the sellers side. Hiring an agent will not only help you find houses that are best for you but also help your purchase go smoother all together! Here are a few things that a buyers agent will do for you throughout the process: 


1. An agent will know the market inside and out. There’s only so much you can learn about your housing market from looking at houses online. An experienced agent can tell you more about the areas that you are searching in. Helping you find the perfect home that suits your wants and needs. Typically realtors are active members of the areas they service and know a lot about the community.  


2. Find you the right house, not just any house.  Great realtors will understand their clients wants and needs. Your agent will be searching all over for houses that are in your criteria while you are going to work and having a life. Making a list of homes that fit into what you are looking for and taking you shopping. It is their job to keep searching until the right house appears, no matter how long it takes. Having a buyer's agent will save you hours of time that would have otherwise been occupied by searching for a home. 


3. Be there to ease the stress of the buying process. Buying a house can be emotionally draining. A buyers agent will always be there to answer any questions that you have along the way and make the process as easy as they can for you. From home shopping to the closing table a buyer's agent will be there for you when you start to panic or stress.


4. Give you advice on creating a reasonable offer.  Most agents have typically written many offers throughout their career, some that were accepted, some that were not. You can take advantage of their professional experience and ask for help creating an offer that will have a better chance of getting accepted. 

5. Protect you and your rights throughout the buying process. They are basically a human shield that stands between you and all the worst things in the market. It is their job to handle all of the negotiating in a deal from start to finish. Through the whole process your agent will have your best interest as their first priority. 


6. Keep in touch after closing. Buyer’s Agents don’t just drop you once they’ve cashed their checks. They’re around for you no matter what it is that you need help with, real estate-wise. 


Posted in Buying a Home
Jan. 7, 2019

Preventing your basement from flooding

All homes have their quirks that require some special care and consideration, but when it comes to homes with basements, it’s a whole different ball game. Your basement is more than just a cement-lined hole in the ground, it’s a big part of your home. Although the basement, unlike many other rooms in a house, can develop problems with water, either coming in from outside or coming down from the floor above. Water in a basement can result in higher humidity levels, musty odors and the growth of mold.

Your basement isn't meant to be holding water, so if you start to see a problem its time to find the source so you can fix it for good. Even a little bit of water seeping into your basement on the regular is cause for concern. Besides the mold and foul smells mentioned above, that water helps encourage pests that live in moist environments. Don’t encourage the mold and bugs. Instead, try these easy ways to keep water out of your basement:

1.Check the grading around your house. From year to year you can expect some erosion because the water has been flowing around your home's foundation. If you find that there is only a little bit of erosion it is usually not a big deal, but as time goes on make sure that you are monitoring it because as time goes on it is possible that it will get worse. Eventually, you may even end up with a negative grade, essentially a grade in your yard that diverts water to your house rather than away from it. 

2. Ensure that all gutters and downspouts are in working order. Water that spills over the sides of your gutters is water that can go anywhere it pleases. That’s why clean gutters are so important to keeping water out of your basement. Try to clean out your gutters at least twice a year, especially during the months after the leaves have fallen. If you are having trouble seeing if there are any leaks or problems, water from the garden hose can help you figure out where problems exist. Other add-ons like splash blocks and downspout extensions further redirect water once it’s on the ground.

3. Check the plumbing. It may be unpleasant to consider, but if that water isn’t coming from outside, then it has to be coming from inside. Leaky toilets and shower drains are always suspect, but any part of the plumbing system could have a small persistent leak. If you can find it, you can fix it and stop any potential damage that could be happening overhead, too.

4. Examine your furnace air handler. When your run your air conditioner, room air is pulled into your furnace or air handler, run across something called an a-coil (due to its shape) and pushed back out much colder than when it started. In the brief moments that the room air is above the a-coil, it drops a significant amount of water into a pan below as it rapidly changes temperature. From there, the water goes away through a condensation line. This is what happens in a perfect world. However if you don't maintain your condensation line it can get plugged up causing the pan in the furnace to overflow onto the floor. 

These tips should help solve your basement water problem, but if it continues to reoccur, waterproofing or installing a sump pump may be warranted. Generally, if your water issue is more than a small puddle, it’s better to just to go ahead and call in a professional rather than to continue to beat your head against the problem.


Posted in Home Maintenance
Dec. 11, 2018

Making your Relocation Easier

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There are many reasons that you could need to relocate throughout your life. Whether it be because of a job or because of family, relocating leaves you with a big move ahead of you and there is a lot to think about before even starting this process. Moving away from home can be a very positive experience, even if it is a crazy process. This process can be a stressful time, but these tips should help you in surviving the experience:


#1 Have plenty of money available. There will be a few payments that you will have to make up front, such as the payment on the housing and a down payment to turn on the utilities. However, there often will be additional expenses that you'll need to cover that were not originally thought of. A good example of a payment you may not have originally planned on making would be the expenses of stopping at a hotel over night over the course of your trip.

Plan for your known expenses, then add as much as you can to the pool in case of an emergency. The more money you have to work with, the less you will stress if an emergency were to occur.


#2. Make sure that everybody is on the same page. Moving to a new place can give the average person plenty of room to let their imagination run wild. It’s important that you and your family get on the same page with respect to the details of your move and stay focused on it. Do this by having a family meeting and writing down what everyone realistically hopes to get out of the move. Once you have this all laid out you can draw up a plan so that everyone will know the details and there will be less room for a misunderstanding to occur. 


#3. Give yourself twice as much time as you think it’ll take for pre-moving tasks. If you’re not planning on hiring a mover and doing your own packing to help the cost of the move, it’s important that you give yourself plenty of time. Decluttering can be difficult when you’re trying to figure out just what you will be able to fit on the moving truck. Depending on how quickly you need to move, there are different companies that will come pick up your used items that you don't need. Plan your time and stick to the plan.


#4. Visit your family doctor one more time. Having a final visit with your doctor gives you an opportunity to discuss anything that has been problematic for you, as well as getting your medicine refilled so you’ll not run out before you find a new PCP. This is a great time to ask about getting copies of your records, too! Make sure to do the same for your children and pets.


#5. Stop by the shop. While you’re getting your own check up, don’t forget about the vehicle or vehicles that you’re taking with you. Drop in at your local mechanic, the one you use for everything and trust to do the job right, and have them inspect and repair anything that looks like it needs to be addressed. Ask if you need new tires, spark plugs or a tune-up. There’s nothing as stressful as getting into a car that’s fully packed and full of kids or pets only to discover that your car has a bunch of symbols on the dash lit up that were never lit up before.


#6. Keep your eye on the prize. Preparing for a move when you have to do it all in one go can be amazingly stressful on body and soul, which is why it is super important that you remember why you are doing it all. You’re moving for a better opportunity, good schools, a chance to use your degree for once — whatever your reason, it’s yours and it’ll help if you keep positive thoughts on your mind.


Nov. 30, 2018

Winterizing your Home this Winter

Image result for winter homeThe holiday seasons have arrived, with the holidays comes the cold, the ice, and the snow. The coming weather is capable of causing significant damage to your home if you aren't prepared. There are many different ways of winterizing your home depending on where you live. For example, in warmer areas you won't even really realize that winter has come. However in colder areas like New Jersey people go all out making sure that anything holding water is emptied, heated, or insulated. Here are a few things you should check before the first freeze comes to ensure that this winter doesn't bring any significant damage to your home. 


#1 Trim Trees and Empty Sprinklers

While you’re out cleaning up the yard, trim any overhanging branches from your trees so that accumulating ice and strong winds won’t bring them down onto your house, car or garage. If you have a sprinkler system and haven’t emptied it yet, now is the time to disconnect the water and blow it out according to your system’s design.


#2. Check Your Gutters 

Cleaning out you gutters after the autumn leaves have fallen is always a great idea. Gutters are one of the big causes of ice dams, which can cause water to back up into your attic. If this is a repeating occurrence it can become damaging, so to be safe, check those gutters again and clean out anything you missed or that has accumulated since your last round of cleaning.


#3. Cover Your Outside Faucets

Buying a cover for each of your outdoor faucets, even if they’re frost free, can be very beneficial in the long run. You should have already removed any hoses as soon as the nighttime temperatures started to dip. Some people wrap their faucets with pipe insulation, but for the long run, the styrofoam caps can’t be beat. They’re easy to install, hold tight all winter and are easy to store until the next year.


#4. Wrap Your Pipes

Homes with crawl spaces are especially susceptible to frozen pipes during the winter. First, make sure your foundation vents are closed to keep cold wind from blowing into the space, then get a little more hands on with the pipes. Anything on an outside wall should be wrapped with pipe insulation, heat tape can also be installed for pipes that are more likely to freeze. Taking these extra precautionary steps will save you in the long run to help you prevent your pipes from bursting. 


#5. Caulk and Weatherstrip Doors and Windows

Check your windows and doors finding where you can replace any dried up or loose calk.

Make sure that you push the new caulk into the opening as you dispense it. Angling the tip so you can move across a section of trim with a single motion to create an uninterrupted bead.

This is also the right time to check your weatherstripping. Between your doors and windows cold air and drafts will be likely to sneak in. If you are replacing this weatherstripping take a sample of what you need to the hardware store, as the selection is very large. 


#6. Have You Had That Chimney Checked?

Checking your own chimney is not only a bad idea but it can be very dangerous as well. A quick check by a chimney sweep is an affordable alternative to a chimney fire. The thing is that what you can see from the hearth isn’t much, a lot of chimney fires start further up.

If you have a wood stove with a double or triple walled flue, you may have better access to the entire length of the chimney, but don’t ever take a chance on anything that burns as hot as a wood stove or fireplace. This is one item in your house that can have disastrous results if you don’t maintain it regularly. 


Posted in Home Maintenance
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