Livingston MI Real Estate

Household Mortgage Debt

Some homeowners have recently done a “cash out” refinance and have taken a portion of their increased equity from their house. Others have sold their homes and purchased more expensive homes with larger mortgages. At the same time, first-time buyers have become homeowners and now have mortgage payments for the first time.
These developments have caused concern that families might be reaching unsustainable levels of mortgage debt. Some are worried that we may be repeating a behavior that helped precipitate the housing crash ten years ago.
Today, we want to assure everyone that this is not the case. Here is a graph created from data released by the Federal Reserve Board which shows the Household Debt Service Ratio for mortgages as a percentage of disposable personal income. The ratio is the total quarterly required mortgage payments divided by total quarterly disposable personal income. In other words, the percentage of spendable income people are using to pay their mortgage.
Today’s ratio of 4.44% is nowhere near the ratio of 7.21% during the peak of the housing bubble and is instead at the lowest rate since 1980 (4.38%).
Bill McBride of Calculated Risk recently commented on the ratio:

“The Debt Service Ratio for mortgages is near the low for the last 38 years. This ratio increased rapidly during the housing bubble and continued to increase until 2007. With falling interest rates, and less mortgage debt, the mortgage ratio has declined significantly.”

Bottom Line

Many families paid a heavy price because of questionable practices that led to last decade’s housing crash. It seems the American people have learned a lesson and are not repeating that same behavior regarding their mortgage debt.

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Boomerangs Ready To Buy

According to a new study from Lending Tree, Americans who have filed for bankruptcy may be able to rebuild enough credit to qualify for a home loan in as little as 2-3 years.
This is in stark contrast to the belief that many have that they need to wait 7-10 years for their bankruptcies to clear from their credit reports before attempting to apply for either a mortgage or a personal or auto loan.
The study analyzed over one million loan applications for mortgages, personal, and auto loans and compared borrowers who had a bankruptcy on their credit report vs. those who did not to find out the “Cost of Bankruptcy.”
The study found that 43.2% of Americans who filed bankruptcy were able to repair their credit back to a 640 FICO® Score in less than a year. The percentage of those who achieved a 640 FICO® Score increased to nearly 75% after 5 years. The full breakdown of the findings was used to create the chart below.
Boomerang Buyers: Most Qualify for Financing in 2-3 Years | Keeping Current Matters
Americans who were able to repair their credit scores to a range of 720-739 within three years of filing were able to obtain the same financing options as those who had never filed bankruptcy.
According to Ellie Mae’s latest Origination Insights Report, 53.5% of those who were approved for a home loan had FICO® Scores between 600-749 last month. This is great news for Americans who are looking to re-enter the housing market.
Boomerang Buyers: Most Qualify for Financing in 2-3 Years | Keeping Current Matters
Raj Patel, Lending Tree’s Director of Credit Restoration & Debt-Related Services had this to say:

“People may think that filing a bankruptcy would put you out of the loan market for seven to ten years, but this study shows that it is possible to rebuild your credit to a good credit quality.”
“LendingTree’s research found that very few bankruptcy filers have a harder time [obtaining a mortgage] than those who have not filed for bankruptcy.”

Bottom Line

If you are one of the millions of Americans who has filed for bankruptcy and think that you have to wait 7-10 years to make your dream of returning to home ownership a reality, meet with a local real estate professional who can help you find out if you qualify now.

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Experts Agree: Home Prices WILL Continue to Rise

Some believe that the combined effects of the new tax code and rising mortgage rates will have an adverse impact on residential real estate prices in 2018. However, the clear majority of recently surveyed housing experts believe that home values will continue to rise this year.

What is the Home Price Expectation Survey?

Each quarter, Pulsenomics surveys a nationwide panel of economists, real estate experts and investment & market strategists. Those surveyed include experts such as:

  • Daniel Bachman, Senior Manager, U.S. Economics at Deloitte Services, LP
  • Kathy Bostjancic, Head of U.S. Macro Investors Service at Oxford Economics
  • David Downs, Real Estate Finance Professor at VCU
  • Edward Pinto, Resident Fellow at American Enterprise Institute
  • Albert Saiz, Director at MIT Center for Real Estate

Where do these experts see home values headed in 2018?

Here is a breakdown of where they see home values twelve months from now:

  • 21.6% believe prices will appreciate by 6% or more
  • 71.6% believe prices will appreciate between 3 and 5.99%
  • 5.7% believe prices will appreciate between 0 and 2.99%
  • Only 1.1% believe prices will depreciate

Bottom Line

Almost ninety-nine percent of the top experts studying residential real estate believe that prices will appreciate this year, and over 93% believe home values will appreciate by at least 3%.

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Upsizing Your Home

Unfortunately, our homes don’t always grow with us. What may have initially worked fine for a single person, a young couple’s starter home, or a family with a newborn can quickly become too small as families expand and multiple generations live under one roof.
Remodeling and adding to your home is one option for creating more space, but it can be costly, and the size of your property may be prohibitive. That’s when moving to a bigger home becomes the best solution.
WHERE DO YOU NEED MORE SPACE?
The first thought when upsizing your home is to simply consider square footage, bedrooms, and bathrooms. But it’s important to take a more critical approach to how your space will actually be used. If you have younger children (or possibly more on the way), then focusing on bedrooms and bathrooms makes sense. But if your children are closer to heading off to college or starting their own families, it may be better to prioritize group spaces like the kitchen, dining room, living room, and outdoor space—it’ll pay off during the holidays or summer vacations, when everyone is coming to visit for big gatherings.
MOVING OUTWARD
If you need more space, but don’t necessarily want a more expensive home, you can probably get a lot more house for your money if you move a little further from a city center. While the walkability and short commutes of a dense neighborhood or condo are hard to leave beyond, your lifestyle—and preferences for hosting Thanksgiving, barbecues, and birthdays—might mean that a spacious home in the suburbs makes the most sense. It’s your best option for upsizing while avoiding a heftier price tag.

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5 Criteria for Pricing a Home

When you decide to put your home up for sale, one of the best ways to determine the asking price is to look at comparable sales. There’s rarely a perfect apples-to-apples comparison, so a pricing decision often relies on comparisons to several recent sales in the area. Here are five criteria to look for in a sales comparison.

  1. Location: Homes in the same neighborhood typically follow the same market trends. Comparing your home to another in the same neighborhood is a good start, but comparing it to homes on the same street or block is even better.
  2. Date of sale: It varies by location, but housing markets can see a ton of fluctuation in a short time period. It‘s best to use the most recent sales data available.
  3. Home build: Look for homes with similar architectural styles, numbers of bathrooms and bedrooms, square footage, and other basics.
  4. Features and upgrades: Remodeled bathrooms and kitchens can raise a home’s price, and so can less flashy upgrades like a new roof or HVAC system. Be sure to look for similar bells and whistles.
  5. Sale types: Homes that are sold as short sales or foreclosures are often in distress or sold at a lower price than they’d receive from a more typical sale. These homes are not as useful for comparisons.

Homes compete with other homes!  Since Location is ALWAYS of primary consideration while buyers are comparing your home to others on the market, understanding the local dynamic of properties is also key  –  Age, builder, yard size, updates, deferred maintenance, traffic, environmental factors and yes schools.  Data alone does not tell the whole story so location of the agent should also be a primary concern hen requesting a competitive market analysis.  For best results, keep it local!

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Investments for Home

Best Financial Investments for Your Home

Over the last couple of years, rehabbing TV shows have become increasingly popular. In these shows, people fix or introduce new features to their homes while adding substantial market value to the house in the process. If you own a home, you can make many of these types of fixes or additions to increase the value of your home, too. You can also enjoy these changes for as long as you live there. Some of the best financial investments you can make to your home include:

Major Problem Fixes
The first high-return investment you should make in your home is to correct all major problems. If your home has serious issues, such as a broken air conditioner or a pipe leak, fixing those issues should be priority No. 1. Repairing or replacing the roof and siding can be a great investment, and potential buyers will generally factor in both the time and cost of having to fix it. Problems like these are always easier to fix when they’re small than later after having put them off.
Exterior Improvements
Investing in the facade of a home can also bring great returns. Replacing garage doors is one of these investments. If your garage door looks new, your house will look new, as well. Painting the outside of your home is another good investment in the exterior. If you don’t want to take the time and money to fully repaint your home, pressure-washing can be a quick way to make the outside of your home look much more presentable.
Entryway Improvements
Another good investment is to invest in a new entryway door. Like the garage door, the front door is important in making a good first impression on a potential buyer. Replacing your front door with a steel door can also make your home safer; increasing the safety of your home can be another great selling point for a potential buyer. Replacing windows is another way to make the outside of your home look better, as well as improve the home’s energy efficiency.
Fixes and additions to the inside of your home can be a great financial investment. A fresh coat of paint to the interior can add value by making the home look cleaner and brighter.
Update Bathroom, Kitchen and Appliances
Improving your home’s bathroom, particularly visible elements such as vanities, lighting, toilets and tubs, can create a high return. For bathroom improvements, you may obtain a better return on investment by spending your money on items in the bathroom that a potential buyer would see, instead of completely gutting the bathroom.
Kitchen remodels can be another way to significantly improve the value of your home. For kitchen remodels, you’ll want to spend money on functional items such as cabinets, drawers, pantry doors and appliances. Appliances such as refrigerators don’t have to be completely new, but they should keep up with current trends. Kitchen remodels should also suit the home. A kitchen that looks like it belongs in a $300,000 home will feel out of place in a $150,000 home.
Adding high-efficiency appliances to a home can modernize it and also save you money on electricity. Some states and cities have tax programs that could reduce your taxes if you buy and use high-efficiency appliances that require less electricity.
Overall, you should research the investment potential of your home before making any purchase. If you are trying to increase the value of your home, you need to make sure your fix or addition will increase the value of the home not only for you, but also to potential buyers.
This article is intended for informational purposes only and should not be construed as professional advice. The opinions expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the position of RISMedia.
Posted on Nov 22 2017 –  RisMedia Housecall, By Craig Middleton
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Howell Branch, New

New Office in Historic Downtown Howell, now 5 locations for Coldwell Banker Town & Country. Very excited to find the perfect downtown location for our new office. We are looking forward to seeing you at our grand opening near the end of November at 211 E Grand River Ave. Call or email us today for free market analysis on your current home and up to the minute new listing info.
The Gerardi Group are all Howell area residents ready to serve you. 855- GERARDI or SOLD@GerardIGroup.com  
#GerardiGroup #HowellHomes#ColdwellBanker

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Go it alone, or use a Realtor

6 Reasons You Should Never Buy or Sell a Home Without a Local Agent

It’s a slow Sunday morning. You’ve just brewed your Nespresso and popped open your laptop to check out the latest home listings before you hit the road for a day of open houses. You’re DIYing this real estate thing, and you think you’re doing pretty well—after all, any info you might need is at your fingertips online, right? That and your own sterling judgment.
Oh, dear home buyer (or seller!)—we know you can do it on your own. But you really, really shouldn’t. This is likely the biggest financial decision of your entire life, and you need a local Realtor® if you want to do it right. Here’s why.
1. They have loads of expertise
Want to check the MLS for a 4B/2B with an EIK and a W/D? Real estate has its own language, full of acronyms and semi-arcane jargon, and your Realtor is trained to speak that language fluently.
Plus, buying or selling a home usually requires dozens of forms, reports, disclosures, and other technical documents. Realtors have the expertise to help you prepare a killer deal—while avoiding delays or costly mistakes that can seriously mess you up.
2. They have turbocharged searching power
The Internet is awesome. You can find almost anything—anything! And with online real estate listing sites such as yours truly, you can find up-to-date home listings on your own, any time you want. But guess what? Realtors have access to even more listings. Sometimes properties are available but not actively advertised. A Realtor can help you find those hidden gems.
Plus, a good local Realtor is going to know the search area way better than you ever could. Have your eye on a particular neighborhood, but it’s just out of your price range? Your Realtor is equipped to know the ins and outs of every neighborhood, so she can direct you toward a home in your price range that you may have overlooked.
3. They have bullish negotiating chops
Any time you buy or sell a home, you’re going to encounter negotiations—and as today’s housing market heats up, those negotiations are more likely than ever to get a little heated. You can expect lots of competition, cutthroat tactics, all-cash offers, and bidding wars. Don’t you want a savvy and professional negotiator on your side to seal the best deal for you?
And it’s not just about how much money you end up spending or netting. A Realtor will help draw up a purchase agreement that allows enough time for inspections, contingencies, and anything else that’s crucial to your particular needs.
4. They’re connected to everyone
Realtors might not know everything, but they make it their mission to know just about everyone who can possibly help in the process of buying or selling a home. Mortgage brokers, real estate attorneys, home inspectors, home stagers, interior designers—the list goes on—and they’re all in your Realtor’s network. Use them.
5. They adhere to a strict code of ethics
Not every real estate agent is a Realtor, who is a licensed real estate salesperson who belongs to the National Association of Realtors®, the largest trade group in the country.
What difference does it make? Realtors are held to a higher ethical standard than licensed agents and must adhere to a Code of Ethics.
6. They’re your sage parent/data analyst/therapist—all rolled into one
The thing about Realtors: They wear a lot of different hats. Sure, they’re salespeople, but they actually do a whole heck of a lot to earn their commission. They’re constantly driving around, checking out listings for you. They spend their own money on marketing your home (if you’re selling). They’re researching comps to make sure you’re getting the best deal.
And, of course, they’re working for you at nearly all hours of the day and night—whether you need more info on a home or just someone to talk to in order to feel at ease with the offer you just put in. This is the biggest financial (and possibly emotional) decision of your life, and guiding you through it isn’t a responsibility Realtors take lightly.
For more info, visit Realtor.com.

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5 Smells That Sell Houses

What’s that smell? The sense of smell is the strongest of all the senses to connect buyers to a home. While a bad smell can really deter buyers, a good smell can tempt buyers to a sale. From “green” scents to seasonal scents, discover the right smells for triggering positive emotions and home sales.
Clean Smell
Most of us associate “clean” with strongly scented cleaning products and disinfectants. It can even make buyers nostalgic. But remember, a little goes a long way. You should dilute your cleaning solutions so buyers don’t get overwhelmed.
Citrus
Using actual fruit is one way to get a clean smell without all the cleaning products. Lemon, orange and grapefruit scents are best. One great tip is to grind up lemon or orange rind with a few ice cubes in the garbage disposal. This will freshen up the kitchen, one of the most important rooms in the house.
Natural Smell
Sometimes the best scent is no scent at all. Try using “green” cleaning supplies, baking soda and other non-scented products that neutralize odors. The idea is that simpler is better, so you want to avoid complex, artificial smells from potpourri, sprays and plug-ins, which can actually distract buyers and turn them off.
Baked Goods
Nothing can make a house smell more like home than freshly baked goods, but be sure to stick to simple smells like vanilla, cinnamon and fresh bread. You don’t have to really bake anything. One trick is to boil some water and throw in a few cinnamon sticks an hour before a showing.
Pine
Don’t we all love that fresh pine scent? Especially with the holidays around the corner, it’s a great scent to greet buyers when they walk in the door. If you don’t want to put up a live tree, you can simply hang a wreath of tree trimmings or some fresh garland. You can’t go wrong with setting a holiday mood to inspire a sale.
There’s a lot that goes into the sale of a home. Make sure a great smell is at the top of the list. And to increase its value even more, add an American Home Shield® Home Warranty to every transaction.
For more articles like this, please visit the American Home Shield Blog at ahs.com/home-matters.

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Home Appraisals

What Is a Home Appraisal Based on?

A home appraisal is a complex procedure for determining the value of a home, which is an important number for homeowners and potential buyers alike. Trained and certified appraisers look at several factors to determine a home’s value, including its permanent fixtures and the land it sits on. As homes change hands and values change over time, there’s always a need for new, accurate appraisals.

Physical Factors
Many of a home’s physical features help determine its value in an appraisal. Simple facts such as the age of the home, its square footage and the number of bedrooms or bathrooms can have a major impact on appraisal value. Homes that need significant improvements, such as a new roof, siding or driveway, will appraise for a lower value than those that don’t need as much work. The quality of the construction and the value of fixtures, including floor coverings, plumbing and appliances such as the furnace, air conditioner and water heater, also play into an appraisal.
Location
To an appraiser, a home’s location may be as important as its physical characteristics. Most appraisals include a CMA, or comparative market analysis, which uses the sale price of similar nearby homes to help determine the fair market value of the home being appraised. Homes in more desirable neighborhoods–because of a better public school system, the perception of safety or the level of economic opportunity in the region–are likely to earn a higher appraisal than similar homes elsewhere. Other location features such as the views from a home and the degree of privacy from neighbors also play a role in the appraisal.
Markets
Housing markets are constantly changing as home values rise and fall. This happens because of the law of supply and demand as well as factors such as mortgage interest rates and the general condition of the economy. Appraisers factor economic conditions into their work. This means that a home with a low appraisal value may be a good investment opportunity if the appraisal is low as a result of the housing market and not because of any particular problems with the house itself.
Purpose
Home appraisals have several different purposes. For homeowners looking to sell, they give an indication of what price the owner can expect to sell for, which may determine the entire marketing strategy for the owner and real estate agent. A buyer can use the appraised value of homes to compare the value of different neighborhoods and shop for a house only within a certain price range. Appraisals are also part of the home equity lending process, with lenders appraising homes to determine how much money the owner can borrow against the equity in the home.
Assessments
Assessments are similar to appraisals but have a very different purpose. The process uses similar factors to determine a home’s value. However, whereas an appraisal is performed by a private appraiser for commercial purposes, an assessment is done by an agent of a local government for tax purposes. State and local governments use assessments to levy property taxes based on the value of taxpayers’ homes and real estate holdings.
…OK, a real world example in English please!
Consider a home with 2,000 square feet built 15 years ago, in an wide area of very similar homes in size and age. Average cost for these homes is $120/foot.  Now consider that one home is updated recently and has many upgrades that make it outstanding compared to the other homes in that area.  A kitchen update may cost $7,000, but this homeowner decided on a remodel that cost $25,000. Similarly they spent $12,000 on the master bath and $8,00 on hardwood floors. So we have ~45,000 spent on a home surrounded by homes with an average value of only $240,000.  Does that make this home worth $285,000?  More importantly, can an appraiser give this home a value far beyond the area’s market value. In short, it would be very hard to get this appraisal through underwriting.
This scenario is rather common and the sellers wonder why they cant get much more than their neighbor.  The key ingredient is “location” as it pertains to very similar homes.  The key to building value in updates is to understand the value of the updates WHERE YOU LIVE.  With the right current market information, you can determine what updates are appropriate for your home. Not unlike buying direct from a builder, taking a home remodel company’s word for it may be a little bias. To make the most of your investment, get real world local market data from your professional realtor.
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