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Home-buying Couples: Top 5 Biggest Conflicts

by The Jamey Kramer Group

Home-buying Couples: Top 5 Biggest Conflicts

Buying a home can be one of the most exhilarating, and stressful, times in the life of any person. Multiply the stress, expectations, anxiety, and preferences by 2 and you’ve got potential trouble brewing.

It’s true. We see couples on HGTV finding the home of their dreams all the time. All that conflict is edited out. A new survey from LendingHome makes clear the biggest areas of stress home buying makes on a relationship.

Here are the top 5 biggest conflicts for home-buying couples:

#1: Longevity of the Relationship

If you have been with your partner for less than five years, it might be time to re-think buying a house right now. This survey studied millennial and Gen X couples buying their first home together. It found that couples who have been together for 5 years or longer disagreed only 14% of the time during the process.

The sad part is, the amount of disagreement more than doubles for couples who have been together for 4 years: they argued 30% of the time. That’s only one more year, but apparently, it’s the golden year in terms of peaceful home-buying experiences. In addition, the survey found that 60% of home buying couples said they disagreed occasionally, frequently or a lot during the process.

#2: Amount of Debt

Money, of course, is a big problem for many couples, aside from home buying. It’s not a surprise that money concerns are huge when you are making this huge decision together. A big chunk of your income will go to this dwelling every month you may have different priorities when it comes to housing.

49% of couples disagreed - according to this survey - with how much debt to take on. This was the single biggest disagreement in the whole survey. How can anyone avoid it?

  • Both partners have to be clear on your current financial situation - especially if you don’t share a bank account.
  • Both partners need to know the full amount of debt already in each name and have plans for paying it down.
  • Both partners have to have a realistic picture of how much more you’re willing to take on and a plan to pay for that as well.

Remember - these questions are just the starting point. You might still disagree once you have all these nailed down, or you might find that nailing these down makes your priorities as a couple clear.

#3: Style of House

Right up there with debt is style. Who doesn’t have a style of home and an ideal neighborhood picked out in his or her mind? The survey found that 46% of couples disagreed about what style of home to choose. Interestingly, it also showed that women generally preferred a traditional or cozy home in the suburbs or established neighborhoods and men generally preferred a modern home in a city setting.

Before you start the search process, take some time to sit down together and talk about why you are buying this home. Is this a starter home, hopefully on your way to something bigger and better down the road or after you have kids? Is this your forever home with room to grow? What things will you need near you if you do have kids? What things are you willing to give up? What other goals or milestones do you have coming up and how will living in this house affect that?

#4:  Size of House

The survey found that 45% of couples disagreed over the size of the house they were going to buy. One word of advice to any first-time home buyer (or maybe even subsequent home-buyers...we don’t always learn from our mistakes, do we?).

It’s not a good idea to max out your budget, even if you can afford it. Buying a new home almost always ends up being more expensive than you think - in terms of moving costs and other small extra fixes that can add up along the way. If you are one of those couples disagreeing over the size, think about all of your other priorities first to help you iron out that issue. You might find that there are amenities available with a smaller home that will make up for missing space indoors.

#5: Whether to DIY

With Do It Yourself shows on HGTV exploding in popularity over the last 10-15 years, it’s no surprise that couples would fight about this. The survey shows 43% of couples disagree over this issue.

If you are the partner dreaming to DIY a concrete countertop (because it’s not really in the budget and Chip makes it look so easy!), make sure you do your research. Most of the time, unless you are highly experienced (and even then), all DIY projects take a lot more money, time and patience than you are truly willing to dish out.

You might be set on a fixer-upper, but it’s always a good idea to have a contractor come with you to look at a potential new home. You may find that having a realistic picture of how much it will cost and how much time it will take will help make your decision for you. Just don’t make the mistake of assuming you can do it in a week.

Takeaway

Good news: more than 60% of couples said the process didn’t affect the overall health of their relationship and they felt more committed than ever after they bought their house together. So, even though there may be disagreements, there’s a really good chance it’ll all be worth it.

With any home buying decision, it is critical that you have the right people by your side. Please give us a call. We would be honored to help.

248-348-7200

 

 

 

Sump Pumps: What Homeowners Need To Know

by The Jamey Kramer Group

Sump Pumps: What Homeowners Need To Know

Is it a good idea to buy a house with a sump pump?

This question was opened for discussion on Trulia. Let’s take a close look at what prospective and current homeowners should know.  

Michigan is the land of many lakes. Whether you live in a flood-prone area or have basement issues you’re trying to solve, a sump pump might be a homeowner’s best friend. In fact, sump pumps are very common in Southeast Michigan.

It is a good idea to take some time to familiarize yourself with how a sump pump works and what kinds of sump pumps are out there. In addition, if you don’t have a sump pump but you need a long-term solution for your basement to keep your stuff safe from destruction, here’s your guide.

Sump Pump Basics

  • Sump pumps don’t keep water from accumulating. If you are having significant issues, other outlets include having the grading of your yard examined and changed and repairing any noticeable leaks or broken pipes.
  • Some homes have sump pits built right into the basement floor. However, if you have an older home, it might not have one. If you have a pit, all you need is the pump. If not, contact a drain expert or contractor to see if your basement or crawlspace can be retrofitted with a sump pit.
  • A sump pit is just a hole with a gravel base - 2 feet deep and 18 inches wide - dug in the lowest part of your basement or crawlspace. The pit will fill with runoff water and the pump turns on, moving the water out of the pit through pipes running away from your home to a spot where it can drain away from the home’s foundation. There is a one-way valve at the pump end designed to keep water from flowing back into the pit.
  • Sump pumps usually turn on automatically using a float activator arm or pressure sensor to tell the pump there’s water there.

Types of Sump Pumps

  • Water-powered - the least powerful of the types, they run on city water pressure instead of electrical power, thus no need for electricity to keep them running. You can see the advantage here. No power, bad storm...still a dry basement. However, they can’t be used if your city’s water pressure is low or if you have an independent well.
  • Pedestal - also called a column or upright sump pump. It has an open motor supported on top of a column attached to the pump casing. The motor sits outside the sump and above the basement floor and is not designed to be submerged.
  • Submersible - this is a watertight motor designed for immersion. This kind kicks on when it senses it is submerged. The motor is coupled to the pump casing and is hidden within the sump.

Most sump pump systems have a primary pump, an emergency backup battery or water-powered pump and an emergency backup pump alarm. The emergency backup works when the power goes out, to help the primary pump with extra water or when the primary pump fails. The alarm lets you know the backup pump has had to be used, so you can attend to any failure before the next storm.

Should I Get a Sump Pump?

Installing a new sump pump can be an expensive and disruptive job. However, if your house experiences regular flooding or you live in a storm-prone area, installing a sump pump just might make the difference in saving your valuables and retaining the value of your home.

Prospective Buyers

If you are interested in purchasing a home that has a sump pump, you can rest assured that it is a good thing. It can help avoid water problems if properly maintained. Additionally, it is recommended that you have a battery backup on the sump pump in the event of a power outage.

 

New Countertops Equal Instant Equity

by The Jamey Kramer Group

New Countertops

New countertops are often on the minds of homeowners. If it’s not because you are longing for that high-end granite you see on HGTV remodeling shows, it might be because you are hoping to sell your home and want to add equity and sell-ability with one fix. Or maybe you recently had new countertops installed and are anxious to care for them the right way.

Fear not! New countertops are one of the best ways to add equity to your home. If you don’t have the budget for granite but are tired of your same-old kitchen, there are plenty of stylish options out there.

Popular Countertop Options

Here’s a rundown of some of the most popular kinds of new countertops.

Granite

While some home remodelers are saying granite isn’t as much in favor anymore as it was ten years ago, granite is still one of the most beautiful and durable surfaces you can use as kitchen countertops and it’s still very popular. It’s a natural material, which means no two kitchens covered in granite will be the same color or have the same markings. You can choose a bold pattern to make a statement or a relatively uniform pattern to complement the other finishings in your kitchen.

Quartz

Quartz countertops are making a surge forward in popularity right now. It also goes by the name engineered stone because of its construction. Quartz is a man-made blend of quartz chips and resin and has a more uniform look than granite. It can be found in many colors and patterns, which may appeal to those wanting a wider range of choices than what can be found in a natural stone. Quartz is very durable and almost as attractive as granite.

Butcher Block

Want the beauty of a natural element without the high cost of granite? Wood can offer all that, with do-it-yourself options abounding on Pinterest and the like. If you are not the do-it-yourself kind, commercial butcher block options are available at a much lower price point than granite or quartz. Like granite, if butcher block tops are treated right, they can last a lifetime. They need to be oiled to be waterproof once a year.

Concrete

Another versatile and surprisingly gorgeous surface is concrete. For those who love an industrial look, concrete can be tinted, honed, polished, and aged to look almost any way you want. Be aware that they are very heavy, and although you could relatively cheaply do-it-yourself, pouring and leveling concrete - ensuring there are no bubbles - is an art better left to those who are practiced. It also has to be sealed often or it will crack.

Marble

Marble is surprisingly affordable and very classy. This soft stone is vulnerable to chips, cracks, and staining which makes it less than ideal. However, some homeowners enjoy the wine stains and small scratches that show a life well-lived. Some really like the exceptional baking surface it provides. If this is you, a new marble countertop might be in your future.

Soapstone

Another softer tile, soapstone offers an unusual look, feel, and color compared to marble or granite. A dark gray color that darkens over time, soapstone will need to be oiled frequently in order not to crack, but the value and interest it adds will be well worth the work it takes. This is an especially good option for older homes to keep a feeling of your home’s period.

Solid Surfacing

This material is also known as Corian®. It’s made of polyester and acrylic and it comes in a wide range of colors. It is easily installed and requires almost no maintenance. Flaws can be sanded out. The downside is that it does look much more artificial than natural materials.

Takeaway

Changing your countertops will not only benefit your kitchen now, it will add equity to your home should you choose to sell. One of these options can add beauty and value to your kitchen all by itself.

 

How to Paint Your House to Sell

by The Jamey Kramer Group

Luxury kitchen

We all have our favorite colors. Dark cranberry accent walls have been popular in a number of houses in recent years. I see accent walls with geometric shapes in different colors all over the Internet, paired with super modern furniture and hanging plants.

The truth is, when it comes to the decorative arts, people have all different styles. What’s right for your home might not be what a potential buyer has in mind, or it might just not be neutral enough for some people to picture themselves living in your home.

The good news is, you can fix that inexpensively and go for a color that is sure to make buyers want to make an offer.

To make the biggest impact, you will need to paint your home its new color before your realtor comes to take pictures. Those pictures are what will make buyers want to make a showing appointment, so strongly consider taking down your U of M decor and painting over those bright yellow walls.

Colors That Help Homes Sell

According to a Zillow study which analyzed over 32,000 listings, there are colors that do best and colors that don’t.

Blue: You may be surprised to learn that blue is on the top of the list. But it’s not exactly what you would expect. Blue kitchens and blue bathrooms are beating out yellow kitchens and white bathrooms.

Zillow reports that light blue to soft gray-blue kitchens helped homes sell for $1809 more. The light blue often highlights white cabinets and countertops, which are very popular right now. On the flip side, straw yellow to marigold kitchens in homes sell for $820 less on average.

Powder blue or light periwinkle bathrooms helped sell homes for $5440 more on average, and white or off-white bathrooms sold for $4035 less on average.

Blue, in the form of navy, on a front door or in a dining room sold for more - up to $1900 more - than a red or terracotta dining room (which sold for $2000 less). Light indigo or dark cadet blue also helped sell in the bedroom: $1800 higher. As opposed to pink - light rose, antique rose - which made homes sell for $200 less on average.

Where did blue not do well? Surprisingly or not, blue did not do well in the living room. Neutral colors are appreciated in living spaces: light beige, pale taupe, oatmeal, and the like. Homes painted this color sold for $1809 higher than average. Blue living spaces sold for $820 less on average.

Greige: yes it’s a new word for gray/beige, but it carries a powerful impact for would-be decorators. If you want something that says move-in ready, opt for a greige exterior. There is no better way to update the look of your home than to paint that dark brown color a nice, fresh gray or gray/beige.

If you think about it - brown homes sold for $1970 less on average and greige homes sold for $1526 more on average – you are getting $3500 more for your house with this one simple step.

Takeaway

Whether or not you’re a big fan of all these colors, there’s no arguing that they can influence a house sale - particularly for those buyers who have a hard time picturing themselves in homes that aren’t painted in colors they like. Take some of the guesswork out of selling and paint your house in fresh, light neutrals before you put your house on the market.

In addition, having an experienced real estate agent by your side is imperative. If you are interested in selling your house, we would be happy to help. Please give our office a call today.

248-348-7200

 

 

Pros and Cons of Owning a Swimming Pool

by The Jamey Kramer Group

inground swimming pool

Pros and Cons of Owning a Swimming Pool

If you are thinking about buying a house with an inground swimming pool or having one  installed, chances are you are trying to gauge whether this will be a good investment.

Of course, in the summer when pool season is at its peak in the Midwest, your eyes - or more likely your kids’ eyes - may light up at the idea of having a pool right outside your door. But then you may start to think about the expenses and upkeep involved. You may wonder whether you should go ahead and get that house with the pool.

Here are some things to consider as you are making your choice.

Pros of Owning a Pool

  • You will be the cool family with the pool and everyone will want to come to your house. It’s true! Think about how often you went to spend hours with the friend whose house had a pool when you were a kid.
  • It’s the perfect place for parties. If you like to entertain and want your space to be open for people virtually all the time, it’s the perfect kind of investment for you. You can host kids’ birthday parties, keep your teens at home, and have a relaxing soak under the night sky any time you want.
  • It’s relaxing. You now have the perfect spot for a vacation-like atmosphere all the time. Especially if you integrate your pool with beautiful landscaping to make it look exotic.
  • It’s a perfect way to stay in shape. It can get laborious to gather up all your gear and your kids to go swim laps at the local pool, but if you have your own you can take a quick early-morning dip to stay fit almost every day without all that hassle.
  • Depending on what part of the country you live in, an outdoor pool may increase your home’s value.

Cons of Owning a Pool

  • The return on investment is not 100%. Houses with pools may be more expensive, but if you are the person installing the pool, be aware that you aren’t going to see all that money back when you sell your house. You have to have a bigger motivation than a return on investment.
  • Safety is an issue. We’ve all heard the horror stories of toddlers drowning in the backyard pool, so you will have to invest in security gates and pool covers and you will have to be vigilant. It also increases the cost of insuring your house because of all the people it attracts. You will want to be covered in the event of accidents, so secret pools are a big no-no.
  • Maintenance costs. Even if you are not the one building the pool, the expense of maintaining it is something to think about. You will need to keep it clean, repair it, and keep all surrounding areas like decks and gates under repair as well.
  • Your utility bills will go up. Obviously, this depends on how much you use your pool, but with all that extra water use, the pumps, and filters requiring energy you will be shelling out more every month in energy costs.

Takeaway

You may decide that having a pool makes the risks and financial costs worth it. However, it is a good idea to take stock of what building or acquiring a pool will involve so you won’t be surprised by what you’re taking on.

 

 

10 Tips to Make Moving Day Less Stressful

by The Jamey Kramer Group

Tips to Make Moving Day Less Stressful

Are you joining the ranks of the hundreds of people moving this summer? You might even now be in the throes (or woes) of closing on your new house and making that master to-do list. You may be looking around your house wondering how it’s ever going to all get on a truck and put in your new home.

Here are your ten tips to getting you and your family into that new house you’ve been visualizing for months.

#1: Purge First

This may seem like a no-brainer, but don’t trust that you’re going to sort everything after it’s in your new space. Do yourself a favor and sort everything before you pack - even if you plan to hire a professional packing and moving company.

  • Sort all of your things by type. In other words - don’t try to sort your whole bedroom in one day. Pick one day and sort all of the books in your house. Then sort all of the clothing, and so on. Set aside items to donate, sell, and toss. The rest will get packed.
  • Schedule a pickup. You might be surprised at the volume of stuff you don’t need and plan to give away. This is probably not the time to hold a garage sale. You can schedule a pickup at your home through Goodwill or nearly any resale store of your choosing. Simply leave the boxes of unwanted items on your porch.
  • Sell unneeded valuables. If there are a few items you know you can get a little money for, take an hour to list them all on eBay or take them to a consignment store. The point is to clear your home of all the clutter you’ve accumulated and not look back. If you find you can’t make the bucks you thought, donate, and move on. Don’t waste your precious time haggling.

#2: Research Moving Companies

There are so many options out there it will make your head spin. A professional moving company can definitely make your life, and your move, much, much easier. Just make sure you do a little research and find a licensed and insured company - not the first four-star rated one you find on Google and not someone looking to make some extra bucks.

#3: Create a Master Schedule

You need to clear your head of all the little nagging tasks and chores surrounding a move. Sit down and make a master list and include every little detail. What about that outlet cover in the hallway that needs to get fixed? Put it on the list. Once you have all your chores listed out - or as many as you can remember - put them on the calendar. Once you have delegated to-do items to their own days, the list won’t seem as intimidating.

#4: Locate Supplies

Of course, boxes are big on everyone’s mind. If you want to go green and save the paper, try calling the night manager at a big box store and ask them to save boxes for you. If calling around and adding to your to-do list is too much, U-haul offers a 100% buy back on all unused boxes. Plus, they’re designed for multiple uses. If you’re not planning to move again anytime soon, why not sell the gently used boxes in a bundle at a discounted rate? Neighborhood apps and Facebook Marketplace make this easier than ever. Don’t forget packing paper and bubble wrap.

#5: Make One Big Run to the Hardware Store

This will be surprisingly simple once you’ve purged and made your master list. You’ll be happy you’ve done this when you’re halfway through moving and suddenly need duct tape. You always need duct tape.

#6: Schedule Disconnect/connect Times Ahead of Time, and Change Your Address One week Before Move-in Day

Don’t wait until you’ve been at your new house for two weeks and start wondering why you are not getting any mail. Make the transition seamless by scheduling with your utility companies when to disconnect here and connect there. You will be happy you spent the time when your Wi-Fi is up and working in your new house.

#7: Send the Schedule Early to Your Helpers

Let your friends and family know what they’re in store for. They are taking time out of their busy lives to help you move. Honor their kindness by giving them a clear schedule and sticking to it.

#8: Pack Necessary Items Ahead of Time

  • Cleaning supplies - bring a cleaning kit to your new house first. This is the only chance you’ll get to scrub everything down before your stuff goes in. Even if you get the new house cleaned, it’s a good idea to have this on hand just in case.
  • Put immediately needed items in a clear bin to take in first. Ibuprofen, other medications, a first-aid kid, reading glasses, portable stereo, you name it. If it’s something you won’t want to dig to find, put it in the kit.
  • Bedding - Keep all your bedding handy to make the beds first thing. At the end of a long moving day, the last thing you’ll want to do is dig through boxes to find sheets and blankets. Make the beds as soon as they’re in place so you have a soft, familiar place at the end of the day.

#9: Create a Labeling System for Your Boxes

There are ways to make this as detailed as you want to get, including number or color-coded boxes corresponding to written lists. But the best thing you can do for yourself is clearly label exactly what’s in every box. That way, when you inevitably don’t unpack everything at once, you will not have to dig through 10 boxes to find the blender.

#10: Pack Correctly

Save yourself the grief of broken stuff.

  • Pad and then stack your dishes vertically inside their box. U-Haul sells a complete dish packing kit.
  • Use your baskets and suitcases instead of trying to pack them. Use light baskets for sheets and pillowcases. Suitcases can hold your off-season clothing.
  • Cover toiletries with plastic bags to avoid spillage en-route
  • Use small boxes for heavy items. There’s nothing like trying to carry a huge box full of books up or down a set of stairs.
  • Use packing tape for your boxes instead of folding the tops. It’s safer for your stuff and keeps your boxes nicer for resale or reuse.
  • Designate a foreman for move-in day. There should be one person who knows the answer to all the questions about where things go. Friends and relatives - not to mention strangers you hire - won’t want to make decisions. They’re just there to carry boxes.

Takeaway

Moving is stressful. Follow these ten steps to make the process simpler and easier to manage. Hang in there! Your dream house awaits you!

Michigan Housing Shortage Unlikely to Change in 2017

by The Jamey Kramer Group

Michigan housing market

There is no getting around the fact that the number of homes for sale in Michigan this year is way down. According to an Associated Press analysis, here’s the breakdown of comparison between 2016 and 2017 by county for the Metro Detroit area:

  • In Macomb County, average prices increased 5.4 percent, listings dropped 54.8 percent, and days on the market before sale decreased 4 percent.
  • In Oakland County, average prices jumped 9.3 percent, listings fell 39.7 percent, and days on the market are down 14.5 percent.
  • In Wayne County, excluding Detroit, average prices rose 14.7 percent, listings were down 45.1 percent, and days on the market decreased 17.3 percent.

We know these things are happening, and we know it can be difficult at this time to be a home buyer, but what are some of the reasons behind this?

The main reason is, of course, the recession. Mainly, repercussions of the recession that began in 2008.

  • Homeowners lost a lot of equity in their homes during the recession. Homeowners who have been eager to get out of their homes in the past may start to think again now that the market is coming back. Home values are starting to rise again and if homeowners think they can recoup some of their losses, they want to try to keep their homes.
  • The recession saw an increase in homeowners staying put and putting money - and sweat equity - into remodeling. They want to stay put. This is especially true of the older generation of homeowners: baby boomers. Many of them have refinanced or are taking advantage of their low interest rates and are working longer. They aren’t ready to downsize.
  • The market crash led to an almost complete shutdown of new home construction. It’s building back up, but it takes time.
  • Investors and homeowners who bought foreclosed properties in the lowest point of the recession might be waiting to sell until they can get a bigger return on their investments. The market is up, however, they think there’s still room to grow.
  • Homeowners may not trust that it’s real. After all, the recession was a huge deal for everyone. No one knows that better than homeowners in the Detroit metropolitan area. It takes a long time for homeowners to feel trustful again and that’s not an easily quantifiable thing.

Another big factor may be a psychological one. It’s a seller’s market, but sellers will quickly become buyers once they sell their home. Many - if not most - properties will not sit on the market for longer than 30 days. Many of them are selling within hours.

In addition, cash offers and bidding wars are the norm right now. If a potential seller can’t find the perfect home at the perfect price before selling, which is tough in this tight market, they won’t be confident enough to sell. Perhaps the tight buyer’s market is keeping potential sellers from putting their homes on the market.

Takeaway

It’s a crazy seller’s market out there and an even crazier buyer’s market. The recession hit everyone pretty hard, so it’s going to take some time for potential sellers to finally move on to that bigger dream home. 

If you are thinking about buying a new house or selling your current one, it is important to have an experienced real estate agent by your side. Please give us a call today.

248-348-7200

New Building Forecast for 2017 - Novi and Lyon Township in Top Ten

by The Jamey Kramer Group

New construction

The real estate market has hit 10-year highs in Southeast Michigan. This is news to celebrate for anyone buying or selling a home in the area. One of the main problems we see everywhere is the lack of enough inventory for more home buyers. If you are one of those buyers, have faith!

Here are some stats published by the Southeast Michigan Council of Governments (SEMCOG) on new home permits.

Last year, 9,925 new residential buildings were authorized last year, including single-family homes, condos, and apartments in the 9 counties surrounding Detroit. In addition, new construction is up 11 percent so far in 2017. This time last year, the increase was only 7 percent.

We had a healthy economy in 2016, with only a 5.2% average unemployment rate and a 2% growth rate in jobs overall in Michigan.

Low Inventory of Homes

The four county areas - Wayne, Oakland, Macomb, and Livingston - have had the lowest inventory of homes and been most active in the SEMCOG data. Meaning, more people are looking to buy and sell homes in these areas. Houses in many communities are spending an average of 35 or fewer days on the market.

Novi had 232 new single-family homes built there last year. One of the builders doing work in Novi is Toll Brothers, building in four different communities around the city.

Lyon Township had 312 new residential units in 2016 and more development is in the works. One project at Erwin’s Orchard may be starting up this year.

Other counties on the top 10 list for new construction according to SEMCOG:

  • Commerce Township - 266
  • Brownstown Township - 266
  • Shelby Township - 282
  • Rochester Hills - 372
  • Canton Township - 505
  • Macomb Township - 516
  • Ann Arbor - 545
  • Detroit - 1,098

According to the Home Builders Association of Michigan, 2017 is looking like the best year since 2006 if it continues the way it has. While this does not return us to pre-recession highs, it is a steady upward trend. The forecast is good through the fall, which means if you’re looking right now and haven’t found something, you should keep looking. There may be more housing available as the summer progresses.

The other thing to keep in mind is that, while there are more single family homes being built, the net gain of new condos being built is 44%. Condo living is actually very attractive for many buyers - with single floors and wide doorways and many amenities the single-family detached home doesn’t have.

Take Away

The new home forecast is looking great for 2017 as job market conditions continue to improve. New home construction looks like it will continue through the summer and fall in some of most sought-after areas in Metro Detroit.

If you are looking for a new house in Northville, Novi or the South Lyon areas, please give us a call. We would be honored to help.

248-348-7200

 

 

How to Know If You Have an Exceptional Buyer’s Agent

by The Jamey Kramer Group

Buyers agent

Buying a home is stressful. The prospect of moving is stressful - even when it’s exciting most of the time. Relocating from one state to another is super stressful. It always means a change and even when you’re making a change for the better, new homes and neighborhoods bring new challenges. The buying experience can bring new challenges even for families who have moved more than once.

You know what’s really stressful? It is a buyer’s agent who isn’t motivated. You may have experienced this if you’ve had an agent who showed up to open doors and write the offer, but that was about it. Maybe you didn’t know your agent could do more than that. An exceptional agent will take the stress out of finding a house and will make you feel like you have an ally in your move.  

It’s all up to the agent, of course. Some real estate schools will stress to buyer’s agents that they minimize their legal risks by being less involved. Some of them take that advice too much to heart and won’t even give much-needed advice.

Gone are the days when buyer’s agents were the information wardens on the real estate market. Technologies used with online sites like Trulia and Zillow have done away with that. Now most buyers have access to a lot more information about the homes on the market. It may leave you questioning whether you should employ a buyer’s agent. What it should make you question is whether your buyer’s agent is working for you.

Information

Trulia can’t make you an expert. Of course, a few night courses can’t make your agent an expert either. However, many agents have hundreds or thousands of deals under their belts. Their experience can be your greatest asset.

A diligent agent will also have up-to-date information on housing searches. Zillow is often not up-to-date and many times buyers have been disappointed to find their favorite homes aren’t on the market anymore. The right buyer’s agent will know his or her region and will listen to your needs closely. He or she will know things the Internet does not.

Besides this, buyer’s agents have their finger on the pulse of current market conditions. Your agent should be able to - gently - readjust your expectations if needed. He or she should also do his or her best to find a way to meet as many needs as possible within your budget. If you are stuck on one particular set of requirements, an attentive agent can help you see how your needs might be met with a different set of features than you had originally planned.

Negotiation

Buyers often underestimate how much time and energy it can take to successfully negotiate for themselves. A conscientious buyer’s agents will:

  • Prepare forms.
  • Help buyers locate good sources of loans.
  • Negotiate the terms of loans.
  • Work with your lender effectively.
  • Talk you through making an offer including often adding an addendum to provide protections you wouldn’t otherwise get.
  • Arrange and oversee inspections, including inspecting for things you might not think of like scoping the sewer line or testing for meth.
  • Help you understand HOA documents or title commitments.
  • Make sure you receive all the right documents or any additional documents they know, from experience, are necessary.
  • Represent your interests at closing. This often means coordinating between many different interests: the lender, the title company, and the sellers. If this is not coordinated efficiently, it can mean last-minute nightmares for buyers.

Personal

The best buyer’s agents are there for you. When it comes down to it, many people could do the jobs listed above. However, the ones who go out of their way to be there for you are the ones who will succeed because they will get your attention.

A good agent will know he or she has to be available to you after work hours and will answer your call or get back to you as soon as he or she can, even at night or on the weekends. He or she will suggest a strategy for making an offer but let you know it’s totally up to you how you want to proceed.

In addition, he or she can suggest how you would make needed repairs on the property and help you read your inspection results. And many great agents go out of their way in many ways: some of them prepare a dossier on schools and great places to eat for families who are new to the area. Some of them can use their connections to help people find jobs. Some of them offer to help you get out of your lease early by finding a new renter.

Take Away

It shouldn’t be a question in your mind whether you should employ a buyer’s agent. If you’re questioning it, maybe it’s time to find a new one because an exceptional buyer’s agent will make all the difference. Please call the Jamey Kramer Group today.

248-348-7200

 

How to Make a Cash Offer - Or Compete Without

by The Jamey Kramer Group

How to Make a Cash Offer - Or Compete Without

If you’ve been looking for a house this season, especially if you’re a first-time buyer, it’s rough going out there. A lot more people are looking for first homes than there are first homes to be had.

Many of the properties on the market are foreclosures, not especially ready to move into, and banks don’t have any emotional attachments to the homes they are trying to offload.

This all makes it a tough market. And that’s before we get into the dreaded cash offer buyers. You know what I mean: you’ve fallen in love with a house, you’ve got your offer ready to go, it’s a strong offer, and you’re very hopeful.

Then your realtor tells you there was a cash offer on the table and you figure your offer has no chance. Who is making all of these cash offers? And how can regular home buyers ever hope to compete?

Depending on what area you’re looking in if it’s an area experiencing fast growth or a lot of new construction, the cash offers most likely are made by investors. It could be your area is about to experience a facelift or it could be investors hoping to rent homes after a quick renovation. With a market on the upswing and interest rates predicted to rise, investors are also eager to take advantage of the situation.

So how on earth can a regular person come up with $100,000.00 plus in cash?

Of course, if you receive an inheritance or have equity from a previous home, real estate is a good investment and you can certainly put that cash into a cash offer. But most people in this position don’t have those things. Here are a couple of ideas:

  • Short-term borrowing. One thing you can do is borrow from a family member or close friend for a short-term loan. You can always obtain a mortgage on the house once you’re in possession and use it to repay your family.

  • There are ways to borrow short-term from your retirement accounts penalty-free. If you have an IRA, look into short-term borrowing and paying it back with the above-mentioned method.

However, remember that not all offers are genuinely cash offers. It’s not everyone who has the funds in the bank, certified, and non-refundable earnest money to prove they have a cash offer. What this sometimes means is that the buyer’s offer is one without a financing contingency. Here are some ways to compete against cash offers:

  • Remember that a cash offer is often lower. They are looking for a bargain and to make a quick turn-around to sell or rent that house. Put your best foot forward in any way you can. You can ask your lender to write not only a pre-approval letter but include any financial information you are comfortable with them sharing that would make you a more attractive buyer. Have your lender go through as much of the loan process as you can without actually buying the house. Send the lender a preliminary title report, if you can. Fill out any condo or HOA questionnaires ahead of time. Then let the seller know you’ve done those things.

  • Shorten the loan approval time as much as you can by asking the lender for a quick appraisal, or ask for an appraisal in advance. If you’re working with a smaller lender, this can sometimes be done.

  • Do a quick inspection - in and out right away - and let the seller know you won’t be asking for repairs for anything minor. Or, even better, that the sale will not be contingent on the inspection.

  • Don’t try to get a deal. Now is not the time to bargain. Know your limits, yes, but be willing to put your best offer on the table up front. If you need time to amass a bigger down payment, that might just do the trick.

  • Find out what the seller needs or wants, in terms of time concerns, closing dates, title companies and more. To the best of your ability, give the seller what he wants.

  • Personalize your offer. It might not make a difference if you’re buying a bank foreclosure, but homes are emotional for people. If that older couple has the chance to sell to a young family wanting to raise their kids in that house rather than an investor who’s going to tear it down or remodel it right away, they might just take notice. In any case, a letter introducing yourself can’t hurt. It might be the one thing making you stand out if you don’t have 100K on hand.

Take Away

You might be able to think creatively about offering cash. Take a minute to look at the assets you have available to you. But you also might not need to offer cash in order to beat out a cash offer.

If you have any questions, please give us a call. We would be happy to help!

248-348-7200

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