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How to Amp Up Your Home’s Curb Appeal for Less

by The Jamey Kramer Group

Roof inspection checklistAre you interested in selling your home?

Picture this, a young couple drives by your home. They notice the for sale sign and right away, they fall in love with your house. There is something about the home that is drawing them in. They decide that they have to stop and see the house. You happened to have an open house that day. As the young couple strolls through your home they realized that it is just as beautiful on the inside as it is on the outside. They love it and they are ready to buy it.

It is going to be a beautiful day in Northville, Michigan today with temperatures in the low to mid 70s and sunny all day. It’s a perfect day for house hunting.

Today, we are sharing all about curb appeal. Curb appeal is the buyers’ first impression and with a little investment, it can make all the difference.

Investing into curb appeal doesn’t have to break your bank. It is one of the easiest ways to add a wow factor to your home. Here are a few ways that you can amp up your home’s curb appeal for less.

1. Clean Up

The first one is practically free of cost. Let’s just start with cleaning up the outside of your home. Putting bikes away, pulling weeds, and cleaning off sidewalk chalk. This first step seems simple, but you would be surprised how much this can put your home ahead in the competition.

2. Paint

A bucket of paint and additional address numbers will add that something extra to your home. Add a fresh coat of paint to your door to stand out. Don’t forget to check your mailbox to see if it needs a fresh coat as well. Also make your the address numbers on the house and in top shape and don’t be afraid to purchase some new ones if you need to.

3. Planting

I know, it may sound unpractical to plant flowers when you are planning on moving. However, this investment if done right will be inexpensive for you and will bring more people to your front door.

Zillow.com has this to say about planting when selling your home,

“Plant some flowers along your front walkway or add planters by your front door. Window boxes are another great way to add color and interest to your home’s exterior. Just be sure you tend to your flowers after you plant them. Wilted or dying pansies will not do much to enhance your home’s appeal.”

 

Purchasing container plants can add up quickly, so don’t be afraid to get your hands in the dirt and add some color to your yard. Remember that a welcome mat and some all-weather art can you a long way.

I personally and highly recommend sprucing up your curb appeal. It might make all the difference.

When you found your dream home, what was the first thing you noticed about the home?

Invisible Nightmares to Look For When Buying a House

by The Jamey Kramer Group

Roof inspection checklistDo you know what to look for when buying a home?

Is something holding you back from buying your dream house?

I sat across from a young lady who was about 27 years old. She sat there with her cup of coffee while handing her toddler an organic apple snack. She along with her family wanted to move to Novi, Michigan, but something was holding them back.

This family felt they were throwing their money away by renting and had the money to put down on a house. They were excited, but very hesitant. As a real estate agent, I was thrilled to work with them because they were in the perfect spot to purchase a home and they had already picked a great location.

When I asked her what she was hesitant about, she said that committing to a home and all the invisible nightmares kept her up at night. She said when you own a home there is no maintenance department to call when something needs to get fixed. I smiled at her because this is a common hesitancy of many potential buyers these days. I reassured her that there are a few things to look for in a house to reduce the risk of having invisible nightmares. She smiled back at me and said “good because I would love to own a house”.

Today, I’m sharing those same invisible nightmares to look for with you.

Mold Nightmares

Let’s start off with one of the scary ones. Mold is often hidden and you don’t notice it right away. Once you’ve found a home that you love, the best thing you can do to prevent a mold nightmare is to have a professional come in. They will inspect every inch of your future dream home.

Foundation Nightmares

Take the time to examine basement walls as well as the outside foundation for any cracks. Don’t forget to look for termite or carpenter ant damage. Get Rich Slowly, a personal finance company, recommends that a potential buyer should check to see if the home inspector will ensure that the house will be free from infestation for one year or more.

Door and Window Nightmares

This one is easy. When looking at the home, go around to each door and window and perform little experiment. Open and close each one.

Roof Nightmares

When looking through the home, spend time outside looking at the roof. Make sure you don’t see any missing or cracked shingles. If you do, you may have a hidden opportunity. According to Get Rich Slowly,

“If you’re willing to get up on the roof, a home with a poor roof may present an opportunity to get a credit during the bidding process (with a recommendation from an inspector) that is worth the price of a professional doing the job. You can then turn around and buy the materials and do it yourself, while pocketing the remainder of the money to apply towards your loan or other projects.”

 

For more hidden nightmares check out an article written by the Huffington Post, Hidden Home Problems To Look Before Buying A House. If you have any concerns about what to look for when purchasing a house, please call 248-348-7200 and ask for Jamey Kramer.

Choosing the Right Novi Area Real Estate Agent

by The Jamey Kramer Group

A real estate agent provides an important service to you, involving the exchange of a significant sum of money, and you need to completely trust the individual whom you rely on for information and advice concerning the purchase or sale of you Novi area home.

Sometimes people feel in a sensitive position when initially consulting a Realtor, due to the fact that they are not as familiar with the current market as a Realtor is – they rely on a Realtor's knowledge, integrity and experience. It helps to be aware that there are many strategies that can put you ahead when you are
searching for a Realtor. Arming yourself with information can make you feel more confident and at ease in your real estate ventures. 

  • Do your homework - There are many ways that you can acquire information on given Realtor, and you should familiarize yourself with the real estate market in your area before meeting with a Realtor to discuss your needs. Find an agent who knows the market, and local communities inside and out. You can also acquire information on professional licensing and disciplinary actions taken against a Realtor through the National Association of Realtors and other licensing boards in your area. 
  • Shop around - Meet with some Realtors before deciding who you will hire. This is your opportunity to discuss your personal situation with them. Find out about what that agent can offer you and what array of services they provide. Ask about their years of experience, credentials, specialties, and get to know their personality and communication style. 
  • Word of mouth - You probably have a friend or acquaintance in your area who has recently bought or sold a property, and they might be able to recommend a  Realtor to you. Accolades from someone you know and trust are a comforting source of advice when you are shopping around for a Realtor, so ask your friends and family if they are familiar with any of the Realtors doing business in your area. 

Make sure you carefully consider the options available to you before deciding on a Realtor, and understand the value of carrying out real estate transactions with a highly-skilled, experienced professional in whom you feel complete confidence. If you take the proper amount of care, and invest sufficient time in researching your Realtor's professional background, you will without question find a knowledgeable and dependable real estate authority to work with while carrying out your real estate purchase or sale.

Fannie Mae Releases Good News/Bad News GDP Estimate

by The Jamey Kramer Group

In July, the Federal National Mortgage Association, better known by its pseudonym Fannie Mae, scaled back its formerly optimistic prediction for the United States gross national product (GDP) in 2012. In its official announcement, Fannie Mae cited the unstable employment market and the seemingly interrelated factor of relatively anemic consumer spending for its abrupt backpedaling away from its original prognostication of a 2.2 percent growth in the GDP. The revised estimate was scaled down to a modest 2 percent increase.

The economists employed by Fannie Mae to calculate and subsequently disseminate this kind of data describe their findings over the recent months as a good indication of a downward skewing or decelerating growth in the United States economy as a whole.

The news coming out of Fannie Mae was not all negative, however. The association's Chief Economist, Doug Duncan, provided a silver lining by pointing out that the housing market has managed to sustain its upwardly mobile direction, even in the nation's currently impossible-to-predict economy, referring to it as a bright spot that is providing a “rare upside boost.”

During the same time frame in 2011, the mortgage and finance company reported that home sales jumped up by 9 percent, with “single-family housing starts” showing a 20 percent increase. Once again, Fannie Mae was careful to place this data into its proper perspective by providing the caveat that levels remain consistently below what it considers a healthy norm.

Fannie Mae also offered mixed reviews concerning the overall state of residential investment, saying that this area will very likely show positive growth by the end of the year, even though it is starting from a comparatively low base. Additionally, it expects this market to deliver a positive contribution to the nation's economy, which it has not been able to do since 2005.

Consumers who took part in Fannie Mae's National Housing Survey in June provided an indication that their overall confidence in the housing market is improving for two reasons: low interest rates and the belief that home prices had likely dropped about as low as they are going.

Short Sale Bill Would Make Process Even Shorter

by The Jamey Kramer Group

A recently proposed bill entitled the “Fast Help For Homeowners Act” is designed to make the humbling, painstaking and nerve-wracking process involved in attaining the approval for a short sale a bit less of an ordeal.

The framework that makes up this proposal, which was introduced by U.S. Rep. Jerry McNerney, contains provisions that are intended to speed up short sale transaction approval.

One method by which it proposes to accomplish this task is by way of a clause written into the bill explicitly stating that 45 days is the maximum amount of time allotted for subordinate lien holders to respond to both the consumer and primary lender with their answer to a short sale request.

If the bill passes, it would essentially mean that if the primary, secondary or subordinate, and other possible lien holders fail to make and subsequently communicate their decision on a short sale within the established time period guideline of 45 days, the transaction is automatically, so to speak, given the stamp of approval on the 46th day.

The Fast Help for Homeowners Act (sometimes referred to as simply the short sale bill or FHHA) has garnered enthusiastic support from a large number of state and national real estate trade organizations and associations, including the National Association of Realtors (NAR). The proposed short sale bill carries with it the same sense of urgency that tends to accompany most of the transactions it seeks to improve. Real estate agents and the field's trade publications have continued to report on the frustrating, even bewildering, length of time it takes some lien holders to respond to a short sale request, if they respond at all.

In addition to McNerney, the short sale bill has a number of other Congressional co-sponsors.

Detroit Metro Real Estate: FREE Help to Avoid Foreclosure

by The Jamey Kramer Group

Home Values Rise

by The Jamey Kramer Group

Trying to determine the health and direction of the housing market is no easy task, considering the veritable mountain of data out there all sorts of things. Fortunately, some reliable data-crunching is available on the Internet. One of the good ones can be found on Zillow.com, specifically the Zillow Home Value Index (ZHVI).

At the national level, Zillow's Home Value Index is determined using data derived from more than 80 million homes, with locations in about 3,000 of the nation's counties, including more than 400 core statistical areas. The index is primarily focused on a specific geographic location and articulated using dollars.

The Zillow Home Value Index was the benchmark used to determine that the housing market in United States had hit its bottom in terms of home values in July, 2012. This information, which on the surface might look like bad news, is actually good news because it was determined after the Zillow Home Value Index began – finally – to rise. This is the first time since 2007 that the index has shown an upwardly mobile trend!

Zillow released information and statistical data on this elevation in the data via its Real Estate Market Reports, which described a 0.2 percent rise in the value of homes in the United States that had occurred over four consecutive months. Zillow's Real Estate Market Reports aggregates data collected from a variety of public resources and through several different providers of relevant data. It has employed a number of these providers for 276 core-based statistical areas dating back to 1996. Out of the 167 metropolitan areas that the Real Estate Market Reports covers, 53 of them reported annual home value increases in the second quarter of the year.

The news was especially good for the Detroit metro area, which registered a 2.1 percent increase on the Zillow Home Value Index.

Some Homeowners Face New Tax Hit on Forgiven Mortgage Debt

by The Jamey Kramer Group

There is an old cliché that states, no situation is so bad that it can't get worse. Chances are pretty good that if you are a homeowner who may have to lean (or already are leaning) on a short-sale solution, or if you are facing foreclosure, your finances are not in tip-top shape. Now comes the news that unless Congress swoops in to save the day, you will incur a federal income tax charge on any part of your loan that was previously forgiven.

To figure out how this whole situation came about, you need to travel back in time to the year 2007. It was then that the United States Congress passed the Mortgage Debt Relief Act. What this meant for the countless number of homeowners who needed to transact a short sale, reconfigure their mortgage, or deal with a foreclosure was that they were able to have a portion of the principal balance forgiven without having to pay income tax on it.

Now, after five years of providing coverage to those folks, the Mortgage Debt Relief Act has one metaphorical foot in the metaphorical grave, with the other foot poised to fall at the end of the year, when the act will expire.

In order to give you an example of this works, let's create a hypothetical scenario. Let's say that the act is allowed to expire at the end of this year. It is now 2013 and you are a homeowner who decides to transact a short sale on your home for $120,000, and your home has an appraised value of $150,000. Upon completion of this short-sale transaction, you will receive a bill from the federal government in the form of income tax owed on the phantom $30,000 worth of forgiven debt. This is because without the Mortgage Debt Relief Act, the federal government now considers that $30,000 income and it is therefore taxable. 

Hope is on the horizon, however, for those who want the act to remain in place. One of the loudest voices proclaiming its benefits and shouting, as it were, for it to be maintained is the National Association of Realtors (NAR). Their team of lobbyists is endeavoring to convince Congress to extend the Mortgage Debt Relief Act beyond the 2012 expiration date. Apparently their efforts, and no doubt the efforts of other like-minded people, are doing some good because a number of legislators in both the Senate and House of Representatives have already introduced bills that would extend the tax relief. It’s certainly something to keep an eye on for those involved in short-selling their properties.

Economy Stinks, but Housing Remains Sweet

by The Jamey Kramer Group

The housing market's fate is intrinsically dependent upon the overall fate of the economy of the United States as a whole. Makes logical sense, right? You could probably say the same thing about the retail market and the vehicle market and, really, about any market in which money is exchanged for goods and services. This doesn't necessarily mean, however, that these individual markets' fate will always mirror that of the overall U.S. market.

As we all know, America is in the midst of a multi-year economic slog. The reasons, justifications and rationalizations for the steep and sudden downturn are complex and confusing – so much so that even the country's professional economic brain wizards disagree on many of the finer points. When it comes to the real estate market, let’s just acknowledge that there was and likely still is an economic recession and look at the housing market's situation.

Some economic experts indicate that it was the inherent volatility of the housing market that played, if not the biggest, then certainly one of the biggest roles in creating the recession in the first place. Others say that the housing market's crash was collateral damage sustained by virtually every individual market that make up the nation's economy as a whole. The arguments will undoubtedly go on for years.

Whatever brought on the recession is essentially water under the bridge now, other than as a learning tool for what not to do. Regarding the future, economists are analyzing today's data and making educated, if cautious, predictions about the future of the nation's economy and its various markets. The reports of their findings are guardedly positive in some areas, including those coming from housing market analysts.

As the larger economy continues to struggle, the housing data is showing that the worst may be over. Data from July 17th underscore this view as home builders’ confidence showed the largest monthly increase in almost a decade.

The National Association of Home Builders indicated that its housing market index increased to 35 in July – the best since March of 2007. This also represented a rise of six points over June 2012. According to Cooper Howes of Barclays, “2012 is expected to be the first year since 2005 in which residential investment will provide a positive contribution to GDP growth.” 

Could it be that the U.S. housing market could be changing from a drag on the economy to a source of strength? Time will tell, and it’s unclear considering the overall struggles that continue in the economy, but it’s great to see housing trending positively.

Displaying blog entries 121-129 of 129