Livingston MI Real Estate

New Home Construction

Thinking of Building your “new” home?

Buying a new home is exciting. You get to build your dream from the ground up, choosing your lot, your model, interior finishes and upgrades. But like any home purchase, buying new construction is serious business, an expensive transaction with many financial implications – current area comps, long-term value, lot position, area utility, “included” features and upgrades that add Value (& ROI), loan options and more all require consideration.
That’s why it’s a good idea to obtain representation from a Realtor® when considering a new home purchase to answer your questions objectively and protect your interests.
Builder sales reps represent the builder.
Most often builders have their own agents on site to answer questions, assist people who walk in, and ultimately help with a purchase. Builder reps provide a valuable service: They can explain differences between models and floor plans and share information about financing options, upgrades and specials. But it’s important to remember that builder reps represent the builder, as they are contractually obligated to do.
Realtors are trusted local resources for real estate information and can help home buyers navigate the increasingly complex home-buying process,” said National Association of Realtors President Gary Thomas. “The buyer agency agreement ensures the buyer that his or her Realtor will represent the interests of the buyer alone and not the seller.
Common Misconception:  “Going to the builder will save you money”
In most cases this is not only incorrect but may have the reverse results, and actually cost you money.  All builders factor in marketing and commission expenses (if they wish to stay in business).  In fact, many depend on local agents to bring their buyers.  Even when they have an in house sales team the motivated buyers in the market are typically working with an agent.
A Local realtor will know the local comps and be skilled at discussing how the  new construction home will measure up over time based on current trends. Additionally, your Realtor will be a voice of reason when selecting options and upgrades that may or may not bring long term value to your home at time of resale.  Regardless what HGTV says, those upgrades are tied intimately to the norm of the area comps – that is to say that a $50,000 kitchen may be overboard for the area and return a street & an appraisal value of ~$10,000 when you go to sell. See my post regarding appraisal factors – http://gerardigroup.com/home-appraisals/
Some builders offer a hook to “save” you money
One of the less discussed scenarios a builder may use to avoid working with Realtors is that they either own their own brokerage or partner with an agency to list your current home at a “discount”.   What’s worse is the sell it or we buy it scenario – like Las Vegas, the cards are stacked for the builder.  If it is a discount on sales commission you are seeking, many local realtors will offer you a break on selling your home if you buy a new home with them. Why is this important:  are they builders or realtors, and is it simply a shell game to distract from the core issue = how much does the new home cost and what is it worth in today’s market?
Another tactic is using their lender…
Of course, what could be easier than buy direct from the builder, visit a hopped up model, drink their cool-aide and … (drum roll) use their lender.  These should send the hair up on the back of your neck and launch all the red flags in your brain as it is a distraction away from the price.  Why is this an important:  While the appraisal process is supposed to be arms length, the builder’s lender has skin in the game and the only thing between the buyer and the closed sale is the appraisal… the one that may be at least partially bias.
Bottom Line, you need ALL the info you can get your hands on
The cost of building is going up in both materials and labor.  Buying a home is the most important financial decision most people will ever make.    A local professional realtor can assist you with understanding the value of your investment before you take the plunge. Since Realtor fees are paid by the seller (in this case by the builder), consulting a Realtor should be a first step.  And when it comes to selling your home, note that 3% of the commission typically goes to a buyer agent – this is true with builder broker’s taking on your home. So, what do you really save?   Without all the data available to you, you may be risking more than a point or 2 in commission.
For additional information, contact Sam @ the Gerardi Group for market analysis, return on investment values and current trends.

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Selling This Fall

Here are five reasons listing your home for sale this fall makes sense.

1. Demand Is Strong

The latest Buyer Traffic Report from the National Association of Realtors (NAR) shows that buyer demand remains very strong throughout the vast majority of the country. These buyers are ready, willing, and able to purchase… and are in the market right now! More often than not, multiple buyers are competing with each other to buy a home.
Take advantage of the buyer activity currently in the market.

2. There Is Less Competition Now

Housing inventory is still under the 6-month supply that is needed for a normal housing market.
This means that, in the majority of the country, there are not enough homes for sale to satisfy the number of buyers in the market. This is good news for homeowners who have gained equity as their home values have increased. However, additional inventory could be coming to the market soon.
Historically, the average number of years a homeowner stayed in their home was six, but that number has jumped to an average of almost nine years since 2008. There is a pent-up desire for many homeowners to move, as they were unable to sell over the last few years because of a negative equity situation. As home values continue to appreciate, more and more homeowners will be given the freedom to move.
The choices buyers have will continue to increase. Don’t wait until this other inventory comes to market before you decide to sell.

3. The Process Will Be Quicker

Today’s competitive environment has forced buyers to do all they can to stand out from the crowd, including getting pre-approved for their mortgage financing. This makes the entire selling process much faster and much simpler as buyers know exactly what they can afford before home shopping. According to Ellie Mae’s latest Origination Insights Report, the time to close a loan has dropped to 43 days, after seeing a 12-month high of 48 days in January.

4. There Will Never Be a Better Time to Move Up

If your next move will be into a premium or luxury home, now is the time to move-up! The inventory of homes for sale at these higher price ranges has forced these markets into a buyer’s market. This means that if you are planning on selling a starter or trade-up home, your home will sell quickly AND you’ll be able to find a premium home to call your own!
Prices are projected to appreciate by 5.0% over the next year according to CoreLogic. If you are moving to a higher-priced home, it will wind up costing you more in raw dollars (both in down payment and mortgage payment) if you wait.

5. It’s Time to Move on With Your Life

Look at the reason you decided to sell in the first place and determine whether it is worth waiting. Is money more important than being with family? Is money more important than your health? Is money more important than having the freedom to go on with your life the way you think you should?
Only you know the answers to the questions above. You have the power to take control of the situation by putting your home on the market. Perhaps the time has come for you and your family to move on and start living the life you desire.

That is what is truly important.  So contact your local real estate professionals at the Gerardi Group to help you better understand your options in today’s market.  We look forward to assisting you!

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Study: FSBOs Net ‘Significantly’ Lower Profits

The study examined the price differences between homes sold through traditional agents versus those sold by FSBOs from 2016 to the first half of 2017.
Some homeowners may be tempted to try to avoid commission costs to a broker and try to sell the home on their own. But that can backfire and turn into a much lower sales price, the study found.
Even successful FSBO sellers achieve prices “significantly below” those from similar properties sold more traditionally via REALTORS®, the study found.
The authors found that the differential in selling prices for FSBOs when compared to MLS sales is “remarkably close to average commission rates.” A FSBO sale, on average, nets nearly a 6 percent lower price than an MLS sale for a similar property.
“Assuming that both buyers and sellers pay the commission, one might have expected something less than this average,” the researchers note. “It appears that many sellers are avoiding commissions while netting home prices less than they would with an agent-represented MLS sale. They are avoiding commissions at any price, even one that exceeds a commission rate.”
NAR | DAILY REAL ESTATE NEWS | FRIDAY, AUGUST 18, 2017
Source: “Saving Real Estate Commissions at Any Price,” Collateral Analytics Research (Aug. 16, 2017)
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Sell This Summer?

Five reasons listing your home for sale this summer makes sense.

  1. Demand Is Strong The latest Buyer Traffic Report from the National Association of Realtors (NAR) shows that buyer demand remains very strong throughout the vast majority of the country. These buyers are ready, willing and able to purchase… and are in the market right now! More often than not, multiple buyers are competing with each other to buy a home. Take advantage of the buyer activity currently in the market.
  2. There Is Less Competition Now Housing inventory is currently at a 2.8-month supply, well under the 6-months needed for a normal housing market. This means, in the majority of the country, there are not enough homes for sale to satisfy the number of buyers in that market. This is good news for home prices. However, additional inventory could be coming to the market soon. There is a pent-up desire for many homeowners to move, as they were unable to sell over the last few years because of a negative equity situation. Homeowners are now seeing a return to positive equity as real estate values have increased over the last two years. Many of these homes will be coming to the market this summer. Also, builder’s confidence in the market has hit its highest mark in over 11 years. Experts are predicting that new construction of single-family homes will ramp up this summer. The choices buyers have will continue to increase. Don’t wait until all this other inventory of homes comes to market before you sell.
  3. The Process Will Be Quicker Fannie Mae anticipates an acceleration in home sales that will surpass 2007’s pace. As the market continues to strengthen, banks will be inundated with loan inquiries causing closing-time lines to lengthen. Selling now will make the process quicker & simpler. According to Ellie Mae’s latest Origination Insights Report, the time to close a loan has dropped to a new low of 42 days, after seeing a 12-month high of 48 days in January.
  4. There Will Never Be a Better Time to Move Up If you are moving up to a larger, more expensive home, consider doing it now. Prices are projected to appreciate by 4.9% over the next year, according to CoreLogic. If you are moving to a higher-priced home, it will wind up costing you more in raw dollars (both in down payment and mortgage payment) if you wait. You can also lock in your 30-year housing expense with an interest rate around 4% right now. Rates are projected to increase in the next 12 months.
  5. It’s Time to Move on with Your Life Look at the reason you decided to sell in the first place and determine whether it is worth waiting. Is money more important than being with family? Is money more important than your health? Is money more important than having the freedom to go on with your life the way you think you should?

As for buying, the interest rates have gone down again after a winter increase. Rates are hovering around 4% having been at historic lows for the past 2 years. This gives you strength in buying and provides a great scenario for selling – and for your home’s buyers. Before you invest in updates and upgrades in your current home, it would be wise to learn what your home is worth today and how the expenditures in upgrades might (or might not) increase your home’s value.  Information on whether to move or improve would be best delivered when you understand the current market better. Get a home evaluation and compare that to homes you might like that already have what you are seeking.
Only you know the answers to the questions above. You have the power to take control of the situation by putting your home on the market. Perhaps the time has come for you and your family to move on and start living the life you desire. That is what is truly important.

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Move or Improve – Update

Five reasons listing your home for sale this summer makes sense.

  1. Demand Is Strong The latest Buyer Traffic Report from the National Association of Realtors (NAR) shows that buyer demand remains very strong throughout the vast majority of the country. These buyers are ready, willing and able to purchase… and are in the market right now! More often than not, multiple buyers are competing with each other to buy a home. Take advantage of the buyer activity currently in the market.
  2. There Is Less Competition Now Housing inventory is currently at a 2.8-month supply, well under the 6-months needed for a normal housing market. This means, in the majority of the country, there are not enough homes for sale to satisfy the number of buyers in that market. This is good news for home prices. However, additional inventory could be coming to the market soon. There is a pent-up desire for many homeowners to move, as they were unable to sell over the last few years because of a negative equity situation. Homeowners are now seeing a return to positive equity as real estate values have increased over the last two years. Many of these homes will be coming to the market this summer. Also, builder’s confidence in the market has hit its highest mark in over 11 years. Experts are predicting that new construction of single-family homes will ramp up this summer. The choices buyers have will continue to increase. Don’t wait until all this other inventory of homes comes to market before you sell.
  3. The Process Will Be Quicker Fannie Mae anticipates an acceleration in home sales that will surpass 2007’s pace. As the market continues to strengthen, banks will be inundated with loan inquiries causing closing-time lines to lengthen. Selling now will make the process quicker & simpler. According to Ellie Mae’s latest Origination Insights Report, the time to close a loan has dropped to a new low of 42 days, after seeing a 12-month high of 48 days in January.
  4. There Will Never Be a Better Time to Move Up If you are moving up to a larger, more expensive home, consider doing it now. Prices are projected to appreciate by 4.9% over the next year, according to CoreLogic. If you are moving to a higher-priced home, it will wind up costing you more in raw dollars (both in down payment and mortgage payment) if you wait. You can also lock in your 30-year housing expense with an interest rate around 4% right now. Rates are projected to increase in the next 12 months.
  5. It’s Time to Move on with Your Life Look at the reason you decided to sell in the first place and determine whether it is worth waiting. Is money more important than being with family? Is money more important than your health? Is money more important than having the freedom to go on with your life the way you think you should?

As for buying, the interest rates have gone down again after a winter increase. Rates are hovering around 4% having been at historic lows for the past 2 years. This gives you strength in buying and provides a great scenario for selling – and for your home’s buyers. Before you invest in updates and upgrades in your current home, it would be wise to learn what your home is worth today and how the expenditures in upgrades might (or might not) increase your home’s value.  Information on whether to move or improve would be best delivered when you understand the current market better. Get a home evaluation and compare that to homes you might like that already have what you are seeking.
Only you know the answers to the questions above. You have the power to take control of the situation by putting your home on the market. Perhaps the time has come for you and your family to move on and start living the life you desire. That is what is truly important.

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4 Things NOT to Do When Putting Your Home on the Market

So you’ve decided to put your home on the market. Congratulations! Hopefully, you’ve brought a rockin’ REALTOR® on board to help you list your spot, and together you’ve done your due diligence on what to ask for. As you start checking things off your to-do list, it’s also important to pay mind of what not to do. Below are a handful of things to get you started.

Don’t over-improve.

As you ready your home for sale, you may realize you will get a great return on your investment if you make a couple of changes. Updating the appliances or replacing that cracked cabinet in the bathroom are all great ideas. However, it’s important not to over-improve, or make improvements that are hyper-specific to your tastes. For example, not everyone wants a pimped out finished basement equipped with a wet bar and lifted stage for their rock and roll buds to jam out on. (Okay, everyone should want that.) What if your buyers are family oriented and want a basement space for their kids to play in? That rock-and-roll room may look to them like a huge project to un-do. Make any needed fixes to your space, but don’t go above and beyond—you may lose money doing so.

Don’t over-decorate.

Over-decorating is just as bad as over-improving. You may love the look of lace and lavender, but your potential buyer may enter your home and cringe. When prepping for sale, neutralize your decorating scheme so it’s more universally palatable.
Don’t hang around.
Your agent calls to let you know they will be bringing buyers by this afternoon. Great! You rally your whole family, Fluffy the dog included, to be waiting at the door with fresh baked cookies and big smiles. Right? Wrong. Buyers want to imagine themselves in your space, not be confronted by you in your space. Trust, it’s awkward for them to go about judging your home while you stand in the corner smiling like a maniac. Get out of the house, take the kids with you, and if you can’t leave for whatever reason, at least go sit in the backyard. (On the other hand, if you’re buying a home and not selling, then making it personal is the way to go, especially when writing your offer letter. Pull those heart strings!)
Don’t take things personal.
Real estate is a business, but buying and selling homes is very, very emotional. However, when selling your homes, try your very best not to take things personally. When a buyer lowballs you or says they will need to replace your prized 1970s vintage shag carpet with something “more modern,” try not to raise your hackles.
Posted Dec 29 2016 – courtesy of Zoe Eisenberg

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Location, Location, Location.

Livings County MI Map

Livingston County MI Map

Location, Location, Location. Long held as the three most important words in real estate. And with good reason. The value of a home to the home owner, and the value of the home to others is largely dependent on Location. But, why use these words 3 times to make the point?
“Location” three times for emphasis, or is it really three parts? First, we typically consider the top level concerns such as a state, county & community. Depending on our goals, we may already be living in the state where we wish to focus so we typically turn to surrounding counties to meet our personal needs – financial concerns aligning with top level goals of affordability, proximity to work, environment for raising their family, etc.
“Location” number 2 is the neighborhood of the community. By examining the most important aspect of home we would find what matters most to the home owner – proximity to schools, shopping, transportation, employment, etc. This is what YOU want. That seems fairly straight forward, but adding the next dimension may help dial in with better clarity why the second Location is vital. For some it is a stretch, but it is pretty simple.
“Location” number 3 is for emphasis is what others want. Your home’s ultimate value is often realized when you go to sell it some time later. When selecting a home imagine the drawbacks that you are willing to accept and justify for the cost value of a home to you. But, will others justify this cost value similarly? An example is the high profile destination community where everybody who is anybody lives. Two similar homes in age and quality of the identical floor plan are available where one is on a cul-de-sac in the rear of the community – quiet and backing to the edge of the sub or woods. The other is near the entry of the sub and backs to the busy main road offered at 10-15% less than the former home. Do you take the lower priced home acknowledging that you may be unique and willing to run into trouble selling the home later?
In all three purposes as presented here, the whittling down of what is important to you will ultimately be important to others in the future when reviewing your home for purchase. How will this choice hold up over time, and will others see in this home all that you saw. Sometimes this is simply a value call & a risk that we are willing to take. But there is one way to minimize the risk…can you guess what that way is?
Utilize a local professional Realtor. It is not enough that the agent is licensed for a long time, or even that they are a full-time career agent or part-time. It matters most that they are a local expert. Where do they live, how long have they served the local community, do they have ties to the community, where is their office location. While most agents can write an offer and conduct fiduciary tasks with competency, NOTHING replaces local expertise in assisting a buyer with making a decision about where to call home. Local agent is a key component to choosing the best location.

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2016 Sales Stats

2016 sales stats are in and available for your review. Livingston county continues to experience an inventory shortage and quicker than average sales compared to other markets in Michigan.  Sales are seasonally affected to be highest in the late spring through early fall as shown in the graph below. The shape of this graph is pretty typical. What is different this past year is the impact the low inventory had on the volume. At the peak in 2016, we had an inventory of ~920 single family homes. Today – January 7 – the active inventory has reached a low of 427 listings!  Where low inventory typically helps prices rise, it also has the affect of keeping buyers at home as seeing one home at a time is for motivated buyers only.  This has been a problem for nearly 24 months making pent up demand a huge factor for a great spring in real estate.  So, if you are thinking of making a move it is a good idea to start planning now.

 

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WHMI: Keep It Local

All of our agents live, shop, and volunteer in Livingston County.  Now, the Gerardi Group at Coldwell Banker Town & Country Real Estate keeps it local with advertising on WHMI.

WHMI Livingston Radio

           WHMI – Livingston voice of Local Radio


The message is clear – real estate in Livingston is selling fast and values have returned in most cases to pre-recession prices.  Today more than ever it is important to understand our home’s value as the most important asset most of us will ever hold.  Your local Livingston County professionals are best suited to understand the this value well beyond the raw data out of area agents may use to declare your home’s value.
We offer a free, no-obligation market analysis of your current home and the homes/areas of value that you may wish to purchase helping to give you the timely and accurate data you need to make an informed decision. Call or email us today:

1-855-GERARDI  or  SOLD@GerardiGroup.com

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Seller’s Market…

Home Prices Are Up, Supply Is Down—Expect Bidding Wars
It’s getting more expensive to buy a house. Prices rose 6% in the fourth quarter of 2014 as buyers competed for fewer and fewer available homes for sale, according to new data from the National Association of Realtors®.  The NAR report shows most cities (86%) are experiencing rising prices, with fewer available homes to choose from. Just 24 cities, or 14%, recorded Read More

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