Tuesday, December 16, 2008
Sunday, December 14, 2008
Friday, December 5, 2008
Monday, December 1, 2008
Saturday, November 29, 2008
There's plenty of early snow in Northern Michigan already, with more on the way, so you may want to plan an earlier trip this year to enjoy some skiing, snowmobiling or sledding! The ice is starting to form on many area lakes as well, so it looks like we may have a nice long season in the shanty! Happy Holidays!
Wednesday, November 26, 2008
Friday, November 21, 2008
The news during the week on inflation pointed to lower future levels. The October Consumer Price Index (CPI) inflation report showed a large monthly decline in the overall index due to lower oil prices. The core rate, which excludes food and energy, saw its first monthly decline in over 25 years, and the annual rate fell to 2.2% from 2.5% in September. Oil prices have continued to move even lower this month, which will be reflected in the November data. Lower expected inflation is almost always a good thing for mortgage rates. In the housing sector, October Housing Starts fell to a record low, and Building Permits, a leading indicator, fell 12%. These were weak numbers, but a decline in new home building will reduce the number of unsold homes on the market, which should help to stabilize home prices sooner. The recent decline in home prices has one bright spot. Combined with relatively low mortgage rates, homes have reached their highest level of affordability in four years, according to the National Association of Home Builders (NAHB). The NAHB index compares the cost of paying for a home, based on average home prices and mortgage rates, to the median household income. Increased affordability allows more people to participate in the housing market and should boost demand. For more information or for free mortgage advice please email me at email@example.com.
Friday, November 14, 2008
Tuesday, November 4, 2008
The failure of some of the nation's largest banks and a very volatile stock market had most of our once active buyers sitting on the sidelines for the month of September and a lot of October. As the election has neared however, many of those once active buyers have returned to the market with a host of new buyers to take advantage of end of the season deals on great Northern Michigan Properties. We just closed a very nice log home sale on The AuSable River and have four other offers in play on waterfront properties as I write this entry!!! Gas prices have fallen dramatically, the Dow is approaching 10,000 again and the election results should be in late tonight. That all adds up to more stability and more people having confidence to make long term financial decisions. If you've been considering the purchase of property up north, now is a terrific time to buy. It's also important to note that financing is readily available for anyone with solid credit and some down payment funds. I'm not sure where all the media reports have come from that, "no one will be able to get a loan," but we're just not seeing that to be accurate.
Friday, October 24, 2008
Another important development was a decline in Libor rates during the week. Libor rates are viewed as a primary indicator of credit market conditions. They are also an important benchmark for setting the rates on many consumer loans, including adjustable-rate mortgages. Libor rates shot higher during the credit crisis when financial institutions became reluctant to lend money to each other. The broad series of recent government actions brought Libor rates down closer to more normal levels. A series of government officials made statements during the week, including Fed Chief Bernanke, former Fed Chief Greenspan, Treasury Secretary Paulson, and FDIC Chairman Bair. The common theme is that the government is ready to take further actions as needed to support the economy and financial markets. Broad support was seen for a second fiscal stimulus package. The decline in the housing market was a key factor in causing the credit crisis, and many proposals are under consideration to help stabilize the housing market and prevent foreclosures. The bottom line, though, is that it will take some time for economic conditions to improve. For more information or for free mortgage advice please email me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Wednesday, October 22, 2008
Friday, October 17, 2008
In a speech Wednesday, Fed Chief Bernanke suggested that the key tools to "confront and solve" market problems are now in place. He emphasized, though, that financial markets and the economy may take months to recover. Many investors had expected that the rescue plan and other government actions would have a larger immediate impact. Now the general outlook is for economic growth to remain weaker than normal until at least the middle of 2009. Bernanke added that he expects the inflation rate to decline due to a slowing economy and lower energy prices, which would be good news for future mortgage rates. The inflation data released during the week supported the view that inflation rates are slowing. The September Consumer Price Index (CPI) remained flat from August, and the core rate, which excludes food and energy, rose only 0.1% for the month. The Producer Price Index (PPI) reflected an even greater impact from lower energy prices with a substantial decline. For more information or for free mortgage advice please email me at email@example.com.
Tuesday, October 14, 2008
WASHINGTON — First-time homebuyers should begin planning now to take advantage of a new tax credit included in the recently enacted Housing and Economic Recovery Act of 2008.
Available for a limited time only, the credit:
Applies to home purchases after April 8, 2008, and before July 1, 2009.
Reduces a taxpayer’s tax bill or increases his or her refund, dollar for dollar.
Is fully refundable, meaning that the credit will be paid out to eligible taxpayers, even if they owe no tax or the credit is more than the tax that they owe.
However, the credit operates much like an interest-free loan, because it must be repaid over a 15-year period. So, for example, an eligible taxpayer who buys a home today and properly claims the maximum available credit of $7,500 on his or her 2008 federal income tax return must begin repaying the credit by including one-fifteenth of this amount, or $500, as an additional tax on his or her 2010 return.
Eligible taxpayers will claim the credit on new IRS Form 5405. This form, along with further instructions on claiming the first-time homebuyer credit, will be included in 2008 tax forms and instructions and be available later this year on IRS.gov, the IRS Web site.
Friday, October 10, 2008
Thursday, October 9, 2008
Wednesday, October 8, 2008
In the shadow of the debate over the rescue plan, the economic data released during the week continued to highlight the weakness in the economy. The monthly Employment report showed that the economy lost -159K jobs in September, worse than the consensus forecast of -105K. The economy has lost jobs for nine straight months, which is the worst performance since the period following 9/11. The Unemployment Rate remained at 6.1%, which was up from 4.7% one year ago. Exports have been a source of strength this year, but economic weakness around the world has hurt in this area as well. It is hoped that the rescue plan will be a strong first step in boosting the economy, and other actions are also expected to help. Falling oil prices and low wage inflation have eased inflationary pressures. This will allow the Fed more flexibility to cut rates and stimulate the economy. Investors have priced in a half-point cut in the Fed Funds rate by the end of the year. For more information or for a free mortgage consultation please email me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Monday, October 6, 2008
Perhaps more impressive is the fact that we sold 4 of the 6 most expensive properties on the river to date during 2007 and 2008 including sales of $750,000, $640,000, $624,000 and $600,000. When other markets are tumbling, there is a strong demand for prime riverfront property. For those looking for a stable place to put their investment dollars, The Ausable and other prime Northern Michigan rivers should definitely be at the top of the list for consideration. Get in touch if you'd like more detailed informaition on market statistics for AuSable River Real Estate or any other segment of the market in Northern Michigan.
Wednesday, October 1, 2008
Because of our success, we've been receiving calls from property owners all over Northern Michigan who would like us to represent their properties. One of the keys to our success has been the fact that each agent or broker within our company services a specific geographic area. We carefully selected each agent because of their knowledge base in those areas. Thank you to all of those potential buyers who contacted us this year in search of property in areas that we do not currently service. I'm sorry we had to refer you to other firms, but hopefully in 2009 we'll be able to put you in contact with one of our own agents who can provide the level of service that we pride ourselves on.
Many segments of our market have maintained their value even in the face of the current economic conditions. In other areas, prices have come down to make it very attractive for well qualified buyers to be able to get into a waterfront property that just a few years ago was out of reach. There are some terrific opportunities to buy in Northern Michigan Real Estate and we'll do our best to ensure we can service any interested buyer. Thanks again for all the support and kind comments we've received over the past year. We look forward to a strong finish to 2008 and to expand our dominance into other waterfront markets throughout Northern Michigan in 2009.
Homewaters, L.L.C. is one of only a handful of companies that receives a data feed into our website from The MOM Board which allows our website users to view all the available properties for sale in Mason Oceana and Manistee Counties. The new feed coming from SWMRIC will provide listing information for every property in Southwestern Michigan from participating brokers. This means much more information available on our site and an expansion of our service area! For our sellers, it means every Realtor in any one of the other 7 boards of real estate will now receive the data about their property for sale when conducting searches for potential buyers. This should go a long way to driving more buyers to that area and increasing demand. The change is to take place on or around February 1, 2009, so check in early next year if you've been looking for property near The Lake Michigan shoreline in Central and Southern Michigan.
Tuesday, September 30, 2008
As is often the case, the real estate market often follows the stock market. In recent weeks, we've had a solid number of buyers looking to take advantage of good end of the season buying opportunities. With the news over the past week, however, most of those buyers have decided to wait and see how the stock market reacts to the legislation that eventually comes out of congress. Almost without exception, most analysts feel that the forced debate over the scope and structure of the recovery legislation will help to ensure it's something that will actually help the american tax payer and have longer lasting positive impacts. Like most of you, we're going to watch the news to make sure our elected officials do what they were sent to Washington to do and put together legislation that actually addresses a real problem. Once everyone is confident that has been accomplished, we'll likely see those same tentative buyers get back in the game and make a move to acquire a late season deal in beautiful Northern Michigan.
Once we have an opportunity to review the legislation that actually gets voted into law, we'll be sure to provide analysis to you from leaders in the real estate industry to help make sure you can make the most well informed decision possible. It's been quite a news cycle with all the economic headlines as well as the very important upcoming presidential election. We'll do our best to help you determine how all of this news may affect the world of real estate.
Friday, September 26, 2008
There are also indicators that things are beginning to show signs of turning as well. Fewer homes are being built, which means there will be less inventory and many of the homes that have been on the market for a long while will be able to sell. Other sellers have decided to just hold on to their properties and be happy with what they have which will also help to reduce inventory. It's all supply and demand. We haven't lost too much on the demand side, but the supply side was making it difficult. As the supply drops, prices are likely to come back up. If I'm a seller right now that doesn't have to sell, it might make sense to wait until after the election and until we have a better gauge on the impact of the "rescue" legislation to decide whether to sell or not. If I'm a buyer, I see a combination of circumstances that makes it pretty tough for me not to take advantage and buy at the bottom!
Either way, the colors are rapidly starting to change and it's getting awfully pretty here in Northern Michigan. Take a drive along the lakeshore, a walk through the woods or paddle any number of spectacular rivers, but get out and enjoy the spectacular fall season. Let us know if we can help while you're in town.
Thursday, September 4, 2008
We've also seen a very interesting trend with all this available information and self education of buyers. They are much less likely to seek out a solid agent to represent them in the process. Even though it is possible to find detailed accurate information on listings and do your research on geographic location and characteristics of the neighborhood, it is impossible to replace the knowledge of a professional Realtor. Don't get me wrong, not all Realtors are created equal. Many either don't have the knowledge base or character to truly represent their client's interests over their own. This is the biggest way we separate ourselves from the competition. We're a small firm for a very specific reason. Each and every professional involved with our firm treats our business as a profession and not just a sales job. We recognize that the single largest financial decision most people will make in their lives is the real estate they choose to purchase and we take our role in that transaction very seriously.
Best of all, we work for free for buyers. It costs absolutely nothing to contact us and tap into our extensive experience in the market. We can help make sense out of the puzzle of why one property may be worth more than another when on paper, the opposite seams true. We have already weeded through the lenders to determine those that are most likely to get you the best terms and conditions. We work daily with the title companies to insure the property is free and clear of any liens and have built relationships with those companies who go to great lengths to make our customers happy. Perhaps most importantly, we understand the legalities surrounding the purchase of real estate and all the other issues that go along with that such as easements, deed restrictions, zoning ordinances, D.E.Q. concerns and other information that the average buyer couldn't possibly be expected to know. This is our profession and we do it better than anyone else. All of these services come at no charge to you, the buyer, so next time a question pops into your mind as you're looking online, drop us an e-mail or pick up the phone and give us a call. We look forward to helping you sort out all the information you've gathered and help to make sure the decision you make is right for you.
Friday, August 15, 2008
Prior to the age of computers and the internet this information was complied into printed books and distributed weekly to the members who were signed up with a MLS. Starting in 1996, some property information from the MLS was placed on the web. The MLS continued to expand and improve. The printed books gave way to the internet age.
The reason why the MLS works for home sellers is that being placed in the MLS expands a home seller's sales force; numerous real estate agents diligently comb the MLS to find properties for their clients who want to buy. Any one of them could sell your house to their buyers. In essence, all those agents are working for you exposes the property to a larger pool of prospective home buyers, and creates more demand for the property. The higher the demand, the more pricing power to the homeowner and potentially a home will sell quicker.
The reason why the MLS works for homebuyers is that it is convenient considering that most people have computers and access to the internet. Additionally, it does not cost a penny to buyers. And if the buyers don't find a property on any given visit on the internet, the agent will continue to look on the MLS for more homes to show them next time.
Sunday, August 3, 2008
Here’s ten steps that you’ll want to take before buying a home. No need to tell you that this may be the one of the largest purchases you’ll be making in your life time. It is critical that you prepare and do some initial research. The more you work on these preliminary steps the easier and smoother the home buying process will go.
1. Study the home buying process.
Do some homework and learn the home buying process in advance. Home buying lingo may be new to you, so be sure to read through a few home-buying glossaries, especially the mortgage terms.
2. Obtain your credit report.
Mortgage lenders will review your credit, you should do the same. Get a copy of your credit report and review it for errors. Check everything from the administrative information to the credit history. You can get copies from all three credit bureaus at once by visiting www.AnnualCreditReport.com.
3. Fix credit errors.
If you find an error on your credit report, go to the company's website where the report came from. It can take time to clean up an erroneous credit report, so get started as soon as you see an error.
4. Check your debt-to-income ratio.
Check your debt-to-income ratio. Mortgage lenders prefer your overall debt to be no more than 20% of your net monthly income. If your debt is more, pay it down as quickly as possible before applying for a mortgage loan. If you do, you'll have an easier qualification process and will likely qualify for a better rate.
5. Determine your budget.
Use an online mortgage calculator to get an idea how various mortgage amounts translate into monthly payments. This will give you a budget to work from, and eliminate the homes that are beyond your means.
6. Start saving cash.
This is one of the best things you can do before starting the home buying process, for a couple of reasons. Mortgage lenders like to see that you have some cash reserves on hand, and you'll need some dollars if unexpected fees or costs that might arise.
7. Get pre-approved for a loan.
Pre-qualification is an informal review of your finances by a mortgage lender. During pre-approval, a mortgage lender will review your credit, finances, debt and conditionally determine a certain amount of mortgage. Sellers will take you more seriously if you have a pre-approval letter, and the process also helps identify any problems with your credit or other qualifying factors.
8. Avoid new lines of credit.
Avoid new lines of credit. Don't sign up for new credit cards or make any large credit purchases while you're "under review" by a mortgage lender. Try to keep your financial situation as stable and favorable as possible. It's a good idea to pay down some debt and to save up some cash.
9. Validate the price.
It's called an "asking price" for a good reason. In real estate there's room to negotiate. So don't accept an asking price as being reasonable until you validate it through careful research. Compare it to recent sales in the area. Your agent should be expert at this.
10. Get a home inspection.
A house is a sizable investment, and the last thing you want is to discover problems after you've taken ownership. Home inspections are very affordable, and well worth the nominal fee.
Thursday, July 31, 2008
Wednesday, July 23, 2008
Who do you take with you on your hunt? First off, I would suggest your experienced and professional real estate agent. They have previewed many of the homes that you have only seen on the net and they are a wealth of information not just about homes, real estate issues, local lenders, but about the community as well.
If you’re married, you take your spouse. You might find something perfect and you will want your spouse in on the discussion from the start. If you’re a couple, then take your partner.
If you’re single and buying on your own house using your own money, you can take a friend for company, but someone who is supportive. The decisions are ultimately yours.
You may want to think twice about widening the circle of people you want to take on the house hunt. Lots of people in your entourage will mean lots of opinions. Could be confusing. The worst thing that could happen is that you miss out on the house of your dreams because someone else didn’t like it for one reason or another. Keep in mind who’s going to live in it; the answer is you.
First impressions, I talked about that before: do you like the house or don’t you? If you don’t like it, move on. If you like the exterior of the home it’s worth a look around inside. Go from room to room and try to imagine yourself living there. Does it have the features you want? Overlook décor that can be easily changed out like carpeting, paint color, window treatments.
Walk the property. Is it what you had in mind? This is especially important when looking at river or lake properties. Is a good view critical or is it unimportant to you? Also you may want to check out the existing landscape and the immediate adjacent properties.
A bit of good advice: tell your agent why you didn’t like a property. Otherwise, in the future the agent may continue to show you houses that you aren’t interested in. Your agent wants to know specifically what you like and don’t like.
How many houses should you look at? Obviously that’s up to you. But if you gave your real estate agent good guidelines there will be a limited number of homes that will fit your needs and wants. Plan on looking at several houses per appointment. Here “Up North", properties can be far apart. Do not expect to see 20 plus on a given day, it can be done but I assure you that it will be exhausting and you won’t remember specific details about any of them.
If the first preview went well and you like a specific house, you may want to go back and take a second look. Do you still think this is the house for you? Use your checklist, make notes, and take photos. Feel free to ask more questions.
This is it. The ideal house for you! Make an offer… the adventure is just beginning.
Tuesday, July 8, 2008
What type of property do you prefer?
Waterfront: River or Lake (all sports or no wake)
Acreage: how much and preferred location
How close must the home be to these amenities:
Recreational Activities (for example: golfing, fishing, skiing, etc…)
What architectural style(s) of homes do you prefer?
Would you like a one-story or two-story home?
How many bedrooms must your new home have?
How many bathrooms must your new home have?
Do you prefer a new home or an existing home?
If you’re looking for an existing home, how old of a home would you consider?
How much repair or renovation would you be willing to do?
Do you have special needs that your home must meet?
Garage (____ cars)
Spa in bath
Monday, June 30, 2008
Tuesday, June 10, 2008
A REALTOR® can help you determine how much home you can afford. Often a REALTOR® can suggest ways to accrue the down payment and explain alternative financing methods.
A REALTOR®, in addition to knowing the local money market, also can tell you what personal and financial data to bring with you when you apply for a loan.
A REALTOR® is already familiar with current real estate values, taxes, utility costs, municipal services and facilities, and may be aware of local zoning changes that could affect your decision to buy.
A REALTOR® can usually research your housing needs in advance through a Multiple Listing Service--even if you are relocating from another city.
A REALTOR® can show you only those homes best suited to your needs--size, style, features, location, accessibility to schools, transportation, shopping and other personal preferences.
A REALTOR® often can suggest simple, imaginative changes that make a home more suitable for you and improve its utility and value.
A REALTOR® is sensitive to the importance you place on this major commitment you are about to make. Look for a real estate professional to facilitate negotiation of a win-win agreement that will satisfy both you and the seller.
Monday, June 2, 2008
Saturday, May 31, 2008
After four weeks in an upward trajectory, Freddie Mac reports that long-term mortgage rates are falling again (Source: Chicago Sun-Times (05/23/08).
The average interest on a 30-year fixed loan settled at 5.98 percent this week, down 0.03 percent from the prior week. Rates on 15-year fixed mortgages, meanwhile, slipped 0.5 percent for the week to an average of 5.55 percent.
Borrowing costs drifted slightly higher, however, on adjustable-rate products. Five-year ARMs bumped up 0.04 percent to 5.61 percent, while one-year ARMs moved up 0.06 percent to 5.24 percent.
Banks Still Want Buyers
Some would-be buyers in today’s market might think that mortgages just aren’t available to them in today’s tighter lending climate, but buyers who are reasonable credit risks have more financing options than they might think.
For starters, Federal Housing Administration loans are back. According to NAR (National Association of Realtors) data, FHA loan originations saw nearly a 60 percent increase in 2007, and in 2008, the program’s loan limits have been increased.
In addition, tax law changes have made private mortgage insurance more attractive. PMI premiums have been deductible on federal taxes since 2006, and last year, Congress enacted a three-year extension on PMI deductibility. This helps buyers who would otherwise be financing with piggyback loans, which are harder to get in today’s market.
All of this is good news for the person who is seeking real estate opportunities in Northern Michigan. At Home Waters, we understand that your dream of owning the ideal “Up North” property is much more than real estate. You’re pursuing a lifestyle that you and your family will enjoy for generations to come. Let us help you realize that dream. With selection at its peak, great financing and our expertise; the time is right to make that dream come true.
Wednesday, May 21, 2008
They’re getting bigger and bigger and sometimes extend off the back and wrap around one side. Many also are designed as a transition between the indoors and a landscaped yard. Decks and patios also are getting up-scaled, the equivalent of outdoor rooms with sophisticated furnishings and all the bells and whistles.
Here’s how to get these outdoor spaces the attention they deserve:
Boost Curb Appeal
Outdoor spaces have become a bigger part of the curb appeal that attracts buyers and can even increase a selling price. More than one-third of buyers want a patio or terrace (a space level with the ground) while 21 percent desire a deck (constructed above the ground), according to the NATIONAL ASSOCIATION OF REALTORS®’
Choose Features Wisely
To get the greatest enjoyment and best return on dollars invested, home owners should study examples in design publications, drive through favorite neighborhoods to see possibilities, and ask themselves pertinent questions, such as how the desk will be used, when, and what activities will take place there.
Here are other factors to consider:
Style. Most designers recommend a style compatible with the home’s architecture. “The greatest opportunity for a successful look is for the space to be seamlessly integrated with the house rather than resemble an afterthought,” says Bob Hursthouse, a landscape architect. The style also should blend into the landscape.
Materials. More buyers seek materials that require little or no maintenance and can withstand inclement weather. In addition to perennial favorites such as brick, bluestone, and Western red cedar, materials that are gaining popularity today are recycled plastic composites; dense renewable tropical hardwoods such as vinyls that have the look and feeling of wood; and Trex, made from reclaimed wood and plastic.
Color can make a difference. Lighter materials reflect more sunlight and can be hotter. Stains can change the color and protect wood from moisture, mold, and algae growth.
Size. While shape and size should be proportional to the home, the deck or patio also needs to be large enough to accommodate all uses and users comfortably. Outdoor furniture is one-third larger than comparable indoor pieces. To accommodate multiple uses and add visual interest, more decks are built on several levels.
Placement. Where the deck or patio is situated should depend on views available.
Safety. Any deck or patio needs to meet local safety codes with the correct height of railings and spacing between and correct number of steps.
The extras. Among today’s favorites for decks and patios are fireplaces and pits, gourmet kitchens, sound systems, water features, high-end furnishings, storage, gazebos, colorful awnings, space heaters, and decorative and energy-efficient lighting.
Don’t Forget the Landscaping. An outdoor room is best accessorized with plants either permanent plantings or in seasonal containers.
Tuesday, May 20, 2008
Sunday, May 4, 2008
What a Home Inspection Should Cover
Home inspections will vary depending on the type of property you are purchasing. A large historic home, for example, will require a more specialized inspection than a small condominium. However, the following are the basic elements that a home inspector will check. You can also use this list to help you evaluate properties you might purchase..
Structure: A home’s skeleton impacts how the property stands up to weather, gravity, and the earth. Structural components, including the foundation and the framing, should be inspected.
Exterior: The inspector should look at sidewalks, driveways, steps, windows, and doors. A home’s siding, trim, and surface drainage also are part of an exterior inspection.
Roofing: A well-maintained roof protects you from rain, snow, and other forces of nature. Take note of the roof’s age, conditions of flashing, roof draining systems (pooling water), buckled shingles, loose gutters and downspouts, skylight, and chimneys.
Plumbing: Thoroughly examine the water supply and drainage systems, water heating equipment, and fuel storage systems. Drainage pumps and sump pumps also fall under this category. Poor water pressure, banging pipes, rust spots, or corrosion can indicate problems.
Electrical: Safe electrical wiring is essential. Look for the condition of service entrance wires, service panels, breakers and fuses, and disconnects. Also take note of the number of outlets in each room.
Heating: The home’s heating system, vent system, flues, and chimneys should be inspected. Look for age of water heater, whether the size is adequate for the house, speed of recovery, and energy rating.
Air Conditioning: Your inspector should describe your home cooling system, its energy source, and inspect the central and through-wall cooling equipment. Consider the age and energy rating of the system.
Interiors: An inspection of the inside of the home can reveal plumbing leaks, insect damage, rot, construction defects, and other issues. An inspector should take a close look at walls, ceilings and floors, steps, stairways, and railings.
Ventilation/insulation: To prevent energy loss, check for adequate insulation and ventilation in the attic and in unfinished areas such as crawlspaces. Also look for proper, secured insulation in walls. Insulation should be appropriate for the climate. Excess moisture in the home can lead to mold and water damage.
Fireplaces: They’re charming, but they could be dangerous if not properly installed. Inspectors should examine the system, including the vent and flue, and describe solid fuel burning appliances.
10 Questions to Ask Home Inspectors
Ask these questions to prospective home inspectors:
1. Will your inspection meet recognized standards? Ask whether the inspection and the inspection report will meet all state requirements and comply with a well-recognized standard of practice and code of ethics.
2. Do you belong to a professional home inspector association? Insist on members of reputable, nonprofit trade organizations; request to see a membership ID.
3. How experienced are you? Ask how long inspectors have been in the profession and how many inspections they’ve completed. They should provide customer referrals on request.
4. How do you keep your expertise up to date? Inspectors’ commitment to continuing education is a good measure of their professionalism and service. Advanced knowledge is especially important in cases in which a home is older or includes unique elements requiring additional or updated training.
5. Do you focus on residential inspection? Make sure the inspector has training and experience in the unique discipline of home inspection, which is very different from inspecting commercial buildings or a construction site.
6. Will you offer to do repairs or improvements? Some state laws and trade associations allow the inspector to provide repair work on problems uncovered during the inspection. However, other states and associations forbid it as a conflict of interest.
7. How long will the inspection take? On average, an inspector working alone inspects a typical single-family house in two to three hours; anything significantly less may not be thorough.
8. What’s the cost? Costs can vary dramatically, depending on your region, the size and age of the house, and the scope of services. The national average for single-family homes is about $320, but customers with large homes can expect to pay more.
9. What type of inspection report do you provide? Ask to see samples to determine whether you will understand the inspector's reporting style. Also, most inspectors provide their full report within 24 hours of the inspection.
10. Will I be able to attend the inspection? The answer should be yes. A home inspection is a valuable educational opportunity for the buyer. An inspector's refusal to let the buyer attend should raise a red flag.
Wednesday, April 23, 2008
Second-Home Sales Accounted For One-Third of Transactions in 2007. One out of every three homes in the United States today was bought as a second home. We're in the midst of a second-home ownership boom, fueled by such factors as the shrinking American family, older and wealthier households, and new technologies for working from home.
And now you're thinking about taking the plunge. Maybe you're looking for an alternative to other investments and will rent or resell the house. Or maybe a cabin by your favorite lake or river is calling to you. And if you're thinking ahead toward retirement, you may want to find a manageable, well-located home now.
The combined total of vacation- and investment-home sales declined with the overall market in 2007, but still accounted for 33 percent of all existing- and new-home sales, which is close to historic norms, according to the National Association of Realtors®.
Lawrence Yun, NAR chief economist, said the findings suggest different cycles for each of the sectors over the past two years. “Investment-home sales declined sharply in 2006 as speculators disappeared, leaving the market to serious buyers, with the pattern continuing in 2007,” he said. “Vacation-home sales rose to a new record in 2006 because there was a pent-up demand from buyers who couldn’t find a property as a result of tight supplies in preceding years.”
Yun said lifestyle factors and strong demographics remain positive for the vacation home market. “Investment considerations are secondary for vacation-home buyers, so there is some dormant underlying demand,” he said. “A peak of population is moving through the prime years for buying recreational property. It is welcoming to see investment sales returning to pre-boom sales activity.”
Curious About Your Fellow Second-Home Buyers? NAR’s 2007 Investment and Vacation Home Buyers Survey revealed the following information:
The median price of a vacation home was $195,000 in 2007, down 2.5 percent from $200,000 in 2006.
Fifty-nine percent of vacation homes purchased in 2007 were detached single-family homes, 29 percent condos, 7 percent townhouses or rowhouses, and 5 percent other.
Sixty-five percent of vacation home buyers and 71 percent of investment home buyers purchased existing homes, while the remainder purchased new homes.
The typical vacation-home buyer in 2007 was 46 years old, had a median household income of $99,100, and purchased a property that was a median of 287 miles from their primary residence.
Most second-home owners are married couples; 83% of vacation-home owners, and 75% of investment-home owners.
In listing the reasons for purchasing a vacation home, 84 percent of buyers wanted to use the home for vacation or as a family retreat; 30 percent to use as a primary residence in the future; 26 percent to diversify investments; 25 percent to rent to others; 16 percent for the tax benefits; 14 percent for use by a family member, friend or relative; and 6 percent because they had extra money to spend.
Vacation-home buyers plan to keep their property for a median of 10 years; 38 percent plan to keep their vacation home for 11 years or more. Investment buyers plan to hold their property for a median of four years, with 29 percent planning to keep for six years or more. However, 10 percent of investment buyers plan to sell in one year or less.
Buyers must be enjoying the second-home experience. 21% of vacation-home owners go on to buy one or more additional vacation homes, and 34% of investment-home owners go on to buy additional investment properties.
Eight in 10 second-home buyers consider it a good time to invest in real estate, compared with 59 percent of primary residence buyers. Forty-four percent of vacation-home buyers and 57 percent of investment buyers said they were likely to purchase another property within two years.
NAR’s 2007 Investment and Vacation Home Buyers Survey, conducted in March 2008, includes answers from 1,965 usable responses. The survey controlled for age and income, based on information from the larger 2007 National Association of Realtors® Profile of Home Buyers and Sellers, to limit any biases in the characteristics of respondents.
Monday, April 7, 2008
This terrific home began as a charming little cabin, but the current owners did a wonderful job with a major addition and renovation and created an fantastic year round residence. Stainless steel appliances, modern electrical and heating systems and a sweeping view over The North Branch of The AuSable River all make this a terrific blend of modern amenities and up north charm. Currently listed at $389,000. Click the photo for more detailed information. E-mail Mark Bear with questions on this listing.
Wednesday, March 26, 2008
Ever been to The Platte River? This charming stream is within easy reach of the amenities of Traverse City and offers some great fishing for not only trout, but seasonal runs of salmon and steelhead. 3.5 acres with 366' on the river for only $87,500. E-mail Chad Brown with questions or click on the image for more details.