Title Insurance, Who Needs It?
02/08/2017 12:19 PM

Investing in title insurance can save buyers and lenders from possible future headaches related to unforeseen contract disputes. Here is how it works and what it can cover.

How it Works

Title insurance works in reverse—it covers problems that occurred before you purchased a home rather than after an acquisition, including late discoveries. A buyer must obtain title insurance before the property transaction, and there is only a one-time payment. Refinancing may require a new policy—otherwise, it is for the life of the homeowner's loan.

When a title search is completed, any issues discovered are presented to the seller, who is then given an opportunity to resolve them. If the seller declines to settle any concerns, it is up to the buyer to accept the deal as is or walk away. Consulting with a real estate agent at this time can help clear up any confusion.

What Title Insurance Covers

Title insurance coveries forgeries, such as a deed that is not true or accurate or contains fabricated signatures. Non-legally binding signatures include those of minors, illegal immigrants, or mentally disabled individuals. Unknown heirs, unpaid taxes, or child support liens are fairly common and must also be resolved with the help of a real estate agent. A simple error can cause property rights to be challenged, resulting in an expensive endeavor, even when resolved in your favor.

There are Two Types of Policies—Owners and Lenders.

When buying a home, standard owners’ policies protect buyers against encumbrances on the title, such as legal liabilities, easements, or fraud. This guarantees the title is marketable and legally worthy for resale. Standard owner policies cover the amount of the original purchase price and do not include increases in property value. An inflation rider is available to bridge that gap to prevent loss or damages of future higher assessments. Lenders insurance, also known as the mortgagee policy, protects the lender against such things as hidden liens or second mortgages. It covers only the at the time of purchase. When in the process of buying a home, consult your real estate agent about whether or not you may need title insurance.

Lenders insurance, also known as the mortgagee policy, protects the lender against such things as hidden liens or second mortgages. It covers only the market value of the home at the time of purchase. When in the process of buying a home, consult your real estate agent about whether or not you may need title insurance.

Pros and Cons of Getting Ahead on Mortgage Payments
02/08/2017 11:46 AM

The premise behind prepaying a home mortgage is to pay off debt faster to avoid paying interest. Many people have a goal of paying off a mortgage before retirement, but it may be possible to pay it off even earlier.

Investment Comparison

By making larger initial payments to pay off a loan early, one can save money that would usually get funneled into interest. Once the mortgage is paid, the homeowner can then use those savings to invest wisely. Alternatively, instead of waiting to pay off a loan, homeowners can invest money that would go toward a portion of their loan into the stock market. This can be risky to do while still paying off a loan because there are no guarantees on returns with the stock market.

Potential Disadvantages with Accessibility

Investing elsewhere instead of prepaying a home mortgage can be more convenient because the funds will be more accessible. Money tied up in home equity is locked up and unavailable in an emergency, but accessing money invested in the stock market, for example, would be easier. Whether investing or putting money toward the equity of a home, keeping a separate savings account can help in case of an emergency.

Checking Terms

Most lenders do not penalize homeowners for prepaying, but it's wise to read the small print before deciding to prepay a mortgage. Common terms stipulate not paying off more than 20 percent of a loan balance in a year. A borrower that exceeds this amount might receive a penalty fee equal to 80 percent of six months of interest.

Amount to Prepay

Determining the amount to pay depends on how much is affordable and how much interest a homeowner wishes to save. Prepayment calculators can assist with determining prepayment costs. Even increasing a home mortgage payment by $100 each month can have a significant impact on the duration of the loan and the interest paid over the life of the financing.

Some experts advise to pay off early, while others caution consumers also to pay attention to retirement savings and to add to this balance as well. Before proceeding, consult a financing expert to make an informed decision.

The Importance of Choosing the Right Real Estate Photos
09/19/2016 01:24 PM

Photo Of A Couple With A House For Sale - Matt Dejanovich Especially in today's online world, real estate photos make the difference between potential buyers scrolling past a listing or clicking for more information. Just like modeling photos, even the most beautiful subject can look quite different depending on angle, lighting, equipment, and framing. Whether in print or online, homes for sale are put into a package, and it's important to consider the presentation. When discussing real estate photography with a realtor, these factors are imperative to highlight both the home’s strengths as well as the professionalism of the realtor or agency.

It's All In the Details

Professional photographers utilize nuanced photography to capture the real-life feel of the home, sometimes employing 360 views or aerial shots to give a sense of the size, layout, and lot. Homeowners should start thinking about photography by having a conversation with their realtors. From there, it is easier to see what materials should be rearranged or removed, as well as how many shots to take and from what angles.

A meeting with your Realtor to discuss highlights any repairs or cleanings that should take place before a photo shoot, even little things can make a big difference in how a home is perceived in photographs. The homeowner's preferences and favorite parts of a home can bring some insight to an especially dynamic deck, or beautiful natural lighting in the side yard at dusk. If the current homeowner is taken by it, chances are potential buyers might feel the same way.

Remembering the Investment

Regardless of the listing price of a home compared to other homes for sale in the area, investing in high-quality real estate photography is no less important than investing in choosing an experienced Realtor. Is it worth investing in an aerial drone video lasting only a few seconds? It is if it adds significantly to the list price and puts it into escrow within a month.

When it comes to real estate photography, it’s smart to attend to the details while thinking of the big picture.

Save Green Going Green: Upgrade Your Home's Sustainability
09/19/2016 01:06 PM

Photo Of A Couple With Floorplans - Matt Dejanovich

 

Conscientious homeowners are proud to maintain their house and yard for functional and aesthetic purposes. Most homeowners also practice energy-saving habits, such as powering down electronics and turning off lights when not in use. However, when considering upgrades and renovations, it pays to think green as often as possible. When realtors list homes for sale, most find that green upgrades will have not only lowered monthly bills but also raised the value of a home.

Saving Energy

There are many options for incorporating green energy into a house. Homeowners might install solar panels, which greatly reduce dependence on carbon-powered electricity. Installing a programmable thermostat will help to prevent wasted energy while at work or asleep. Energy-efficient options also usually offer extra durability and protections. For example, flooring like cork is durable, low emissivity (Low-E) windows cut down on UV exposure, and insulation sealing windows and doors can prevent leakage of hot or cold air. Roofing that reflects heat rather than absorbing it, such as metal, allows one to keep his or her house cool with less energy.

Saving Water

Small steps such as installing low-flow toilets and shower heads and large-scale greywater systems reduce water and electricity use. Investing in high-efficiency and solar water heaters greatly reduces cost, keeping water hot longer than traditional water heaters. Believe it or not, simply maintaining the landscaping can help by protecting the foundation from erosion, filtering pollutants, blocking runoff from stormwater, and even cutting down on carbon monoxide emissions.

Before making any upgrades, it's also wise to get an energy audit from a professional in addition to your home inspection to be sure that all aspects of efficiency are addressed. Realtors with homes for sale often advertise such upgrades, which is a great way to get an idea of where a particular house stands in the local market.

Remodeling Benefits Both Homeowners and Buyers
08/18/2016 05:51 PM

When selling your home, you want it to look as appealing as possible to prospective buyers. Many people opt to perform specific remodeling projects to ensure that their residence has features that will motivate buyers to make an offer. Even if you plan to stay in your house for any length of time, you can enjoy a number of benefits by performing some renovation work to the interior or exterior of the house.

Specific Benefits of Remodeling

Even if you are not selling your home, making improvements has advantages. Remodeling has a direct correlation with the enjoyment people experience from their homes. In fact, 64 percent of people interviewed indicated that performing this work resulted in greater enjoyment in a residence. Upgrading worn surfaces and materials not only improves the living experience, it often adds new features that homeowners will appreciate and enjoy.

A sense of accomplishment is another benefit that many people have after finishing this type of project. This satisfaction can be especially pronounced for people who completed the work themselves.

Most Beneficial Projects for Homes

Some renovation projects have more advantages with a higher return on the investment. Realtors explain that kitchen and bathroom upgrades usually result in a high return on investment for homeowners. When prospective buyers tour a residence and see upgraded features and appliances, they often respond positively. New wood flooring is another appealing and beneficial renovation project. Both flooring and kitchen/bathroom renovations not only resonate with prospective buyers, but they also have the potential for providing enjoyment for homeowners who plan to stay in their homes for the foreseeable future. On the exterior of a residence, renovations such as new roofing, siding, and windows often appeal to buyers, and these projects also enhance a house for homeowners.

If selling your home, check out some tips for staging your house for prospective buyers.

 
A Brief Overview of Neighborhood Areas in Ann Arbor
06/28/2016 02:10 PM

Ann Arbor, Michigan is one of the most desirable communities in the Midwest. Whether you are relocating for work or just want to experience a great quality of life, each area of the city has its own unique draw for prospective residents.

Photo by Wystan

Southwest

The southwestern area is filled with modest one and two story homes. One neighborhood, Dicken, is home to several small parks and a nature area that are perfect for young families to enjoy the great outdoors. Among these parks is the popular Las Vegas Park with soccer fields and playgrounds. Also an option is the Greenview Park where dog walkers and picnickers tend to visit. Dicken Woods is a wooded area adjacent to an elementary school that offers abundant opportunities to explore and enjoy wildlife. Residents in this area send their students to Slauson for middle school and Pioneer for high school.

Southeast

The southeastern area includes a wide variety of housing options. The neighborhood of Bryant Pattengill is named for the two elementary schools that service the area. Homes around Bryant offer some of the most affordable housing for families just starting out. The school in this area serves children in kindergarten through second grade. Pattengill has somewhat larger, more expensive homes. The elementary school here begins at third grade and ends at fifth. This mixture of housing styles also includes many multi-family units.

Central

Neighborhoods in the center of the city are the first choice for those who want to be close to the University, and in some areas families and college students live in close proximity. In the lower eastern area of the central section is Burns Park elementary school. Houses in the historic Burns Park neighborhood are set on tree-lined streets and are within walking distance to the University of Michigan central campus. Students living in this area go to Tappan for middle school. However, the district splits them for high school, going to either Huron or Pioneer, depending on their address.

Northeast

The northeastern area includes neighborhoods with some of the oldest homes in the city as well as areas with much newer construction. Northside is a very community-centered neighborhood. Many find this area appealing due to its close proximity to the Northern Campus for the University of Michigan, which includes the schools of art, music, and theater. Residents enjoy beautiful Northside Park year round. Younger students attend either Clague or Tappan middle schools and then matriculate to Skyline or Huron for high school.

Northwest

The northwest area of town includes everything from large homes on rolling, wooded lots off of Newport Road in the Wines area to more traditional neighborhood settings like Haisley. This family friendly pocket is filled with Cape Cod and ranch style houses. Residents can enjoy a peaceful wooded environment by visiting the Miller Nature area or engage in a wide range of activities available at Veterans Memorial park, which includes multiple baseball diamonds, a swimming pool, and a nationally recognized skatepark. Middle school students attend either Slauson or Forsythe before graduating to Skyline High.

Homes for Sale in Ann Arbor: The Market Is Hot!
03/25/2016 09:55 AM

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Buyers and sellers in Ann Arbor, Michigan are enjoying another record setting year in the local housing market. A combination of high demand, attractive mortgage rates, new construction projects, and an influx of homes for sale have contributed to the most dynamic market in Michigan.

A number of factors have contributed to the positive real estate trend now shaping the region's housing market. As new construction in an area is an important factor when considering both short-term and long-term trends, local economists have examined the number of permits applied for and the number of new construction projects scheduled to begin throughout the area. Current numbers for the end of 2015 indicate that permits within the city increased by 11 percent from two months earlier, and projections for 2016 predict that new projects will increase by 12 percent over the course of the year—which could result in the highest number of new construction projects the region has seen since 2007.

With the current increase in prices of single-family homes for sale in Washtenaw County, the market has moderately tightened for buyers. Recently, bidding wars have erupted as a number of potential buyers vie for the same dream homes. However, the construction of new properties should help to relieve this shortage by building up the inventory of available homes, making buying a house less stressful as mortgage rates and prices begin to stabilize.

With a great deal of activity and interest in the lower price ranges of homes for sale, the Ann Arbor real estate market is moving quickly. Sellers who price their houses well shouldn’t have a problem finding buyers willing to bid, and buyers who work with an agent with strong expertise in the local market can come out on top in a multiple bid scenario.

Top 5 Reasons to Move to Ann Arbor
03/22/2016 11:47 AM

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Choosing a city in which to live is a major decision. Michigan residents have many reasons for choosing Ann Arbor as their hometown. Buying a home in this region could be the right decision for a variety of reasons.

The University of Michigan

With the vibrant energy of over 40,000 students attending the University of Michigan, Ann Arbor is a bustling city teeming with activity. This city is sophisticated enough to appeal to those with a passion for cultural pursuits, while also small enough to feel homey and safe. This college town regularly makes it onto the lists of top cities for a variety of reasons, including student-to-resident ratios, school presence, and livability.

Cultural Opportunities

Culture, music, and art are alive and well in this Michigan city. Theater and performing arts opportunities are plentiful, including the Arthur Miller Theatre on the University of Michigan campus and the Ann Arbor Symphony Orchestra, which performs at the Michigan Theater regularly throughout the year. It's not difficult to find houses located within a short distance to impressive museums and performance venues, including the University of Michigan Museum of Art, Hill Auditorium and the Power Center for the Performing Arts.

Universal Appeal

People of all ages feel right at home in Ann Arbor, thanks to the diverse activities that fill the city’s calendar. Buying a home here means that kids can attend educational and recreational programs at any of the community centers serving the area. Boy Scout and Girl Scout troops and 4-H clubs are also active in this community. Gen X and Millennial residents find the community equally rich with entertainment and literary offerings, and retirees also don’t lack for engaging cultural and recreational activities.

Dining Options

Anyone interested in food will be impressed by the restaurant options in this area. In fact, the restaurant-to-resident ratio in Ann Arbor is higher than in many of America's more famous foodie cities. Regardless of personal taste or budget, it’s possible to find a memorable meal in this location, from seafood to deli fare to Mediterranean cuisine.  The area also enjoys an abundance of grocery options across the range of national and local grocers like Whole Foods, Trader Joe’s, Kroger and Plum Market as well as many smaller shops covering the gamut of ethic and specialty foods.

The Great Outdoors

When the outdoors beckons, this area receives top honors. Numerous golf courses, parks, gardens, and natural areas are located conveniently nearby. The Leslie Science and Nature Center offers 50 acres of land for exploration, filled with a wide variety of animals and plants. The nearby Waterloo Recreation Area boasts over 20,000 acres of land with campgrounds, beaches, nature trails, equestrian trails, and a discovery center.

When searching for a suitable city for buying a home, Ann Arbor deserves a close look.

Tips for Preparing a Home for a Successful Open House
09/30/2015 04:47 PM

a boy cleaning the floor for an open house - Matt Dejanovich An open house allows a homeowner and their real estate agent to show their home to a large audience of potential buyers with the hopes of receiving an offer. These tips will help homeowners prepare their property for a successful open house.

Improve Curb Appeal

The first thing potential buyers will see is the outside of the home, so homeowners should make the exterior more attractive. Planting some flowers, mowing the lawn, and trimming the shrubs can make a world of difference. Adding a patio table and chairs to the backyard can make this space look more inviting and usable as well.

Reduce Clutter

Next, clutter should be removed from the inside of the home to allow prospective buyers to picture their own belongings in each space. Family photos, racy artwork, and political or religious items should be put away temporarily. Any decor that stays in the home should be neutral in order to appeal to the widest audience.

Make Small Repairs

The homeowner should next walk through the home with a critical eye, jotting down the biggest problem areas in order to prioritize what to fix or replace. It may not be feasible to address every issue, but spending a small amount of money to make improvements for the open house could mean the home spends less time on the market. All minor repairs should be made so potential buyers don’t see any issues. If the homeowner’s budget allows, replacing damaged carpet and making other major repairs can pay off. Rooms should be painted neutral colors to help other families envision themselves in the home, and light fixtures should be updated for a modern look. For more recommendations on improving the interior, homeowners should consult their real estate agent.

Allow Full Access

Every area of the home should be accessible to buyers. Even if the garage is being used to store the family’s belongings, buyers need access to every space before making an offer. The homeowner should store their belongings elsewhere in order to make every room as inviting as possible.

Leave Your House

On the day of the open house, the seller should not be present at the home. Buyers likely won’t feel comfortable expressing their opinion of the home when the seller is present. Resident pets should also be away for the day, with their litter boxes or food bowls hidden. For a few finishing touches, the homeowner should set out freshly cut flowers to add color to the home, adjust the thermostat to a comfortable temperature, and make sure the home is well-lit with all the curtains opened.

By following these tips, the homeowner and real estate agent can increase their odds of receiving an offer on the home after the open house.

Homes Inspections Are Worth The Investment
09/30/2015 04:37 PM

home for sale - Matt DejanovichA house can look great at first glance, but it's important to know all the important details about a residence before proceeding with a real estate transaction. Home inspections have important benefits for both buyers and sellers. A real estate agent will guide parties through the process of buying or selling a house, ensuring that everyone gets all the information they need to make an informed decision.

Everything on the surface of a home can look beautiful and inviting. People who are not experts in home construction or maintenance may not recognize serious issues though, such as plumbing problems, moisture damage, a leaking roof, or insulation issues. Not knowing how to identify these potential issues could lead to challenges with the purchase of a residence for buyers if they make an offer on a residence with problems, and sellers if they try to sell a house with faults.

Advantages for Sellers

It's advantageous for sellers to purchase a home inspection. A real estate agent will explain the many benefits of one to show sellers why this is a good move. Buyers can be cautious about a house, especially when they don't have all the information they want.  When a seller purchases an inspection, people who could be interested in the residence will have important details about the house such as confirmation of its structural integrity and new roof, as well as assurance that serious issues such as a leaky basement are not present. Knowing the precise condition of a structure also provides important negotiating power. When an offer comes in, the seller will know with certainty whether they should hold firm or come down in price.

Benefits for Buyers

Buyers also stand to gain significantly with this purchase. A helpful real estate agent will explain all the advantages for people searching for a house. If an inspection turns up information about imperfections, people can work to have problems such as electrical issues or a faulty furnace resolved as part of the transaction. Sometimes the price can be adjusted to allow for work to be completed prior to the sale. Other times, the parties may negotiate a lower price to enable the buyers to resolve the issues after the sale. Knowing all of these important details provides potential buyers with confidence about the residence. Planning for future work and repairs becomes an easier matter after an inspection.

Home inspections do come at a price, but consider it an investment. Anyone interested in buying or selling a house should check with a professional real estate agent for guidance and assistance with scheduling a home inspection.

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