5 Essential Home-Buying Considerations

(TNS)—Buying a house is a life-changing process that requires lots of upfront financial planning.

When looking for a home, keep certain factors in mind, including your financial situation, types of available loans, your credit score, the price of the house and your down payment so you can navigate the process smoothly.

Your Financial Situation
Before you buy a house, make sure that your monthly budget can handle such a large expense. Unless you’re one of the few people who can pay cash for a home, you’ll likely be paying it off for 15 or 30 years, depending on the length of your loan.

In addition to the mortgage payment, you’ll want to factor in expenses like property taxes, homeowners insurance and routine maintenance.

Types of Mortgages
When buying a home, you have a few options for the type of loan you want to use. Two of the most common mortgage types are fixed-rate and adjustable-rate mortgages.

The interest rate on a fixed-rate mortgage stays the same over the life of the loan, with payments divided up into equal amounts that you pay on a monthly basis. The longer the loan term, the less you have to pay each month; however, you’ll likely pay more in interest than you would with a shorter-term loan.

An adjustable-rate mortgage, or ARM, has a fixed interest rate for an initial period, followed by a period when the lender may periodically adjust the interest rate. For example, a 5/1 ARM has an introductory rate of five years. After that five-year period, the interest rate can change annually. With an ARM, you need to consider how much your monthly payment could increase and your ability to pay if it does go up.

Your Credit Score
You also need to review your credit score before buying a house. Your credit score helps creditors determine your creditworthiness. Borrowers with credit scores of 740 or higher generally qualify for the best mortgage deals.

It’s still possible to buy a house if you have bad credit. You likely will have to accept a higher interest rate on your mortgage, which could cost you hundreds of dollars extra per month.

If your credit score drops too low, though, you might not qualify for a mortgage at all. Consider improving your credit score first before trying to buy a house.

The Price of the Home
The higher the price of the house you want to buy, the more you can expect to pay on a monthly basis. When looking at houses, consider your budget and how much you can afford to spend.

Remember to consider your needs, too. Do you have a new addition to the family and need the room? Have your kids moved out and you want a smaller home?

Also, take a look at the price range of the houses available in the area where you want to buy. Compare the prices you find to your budget and determine what home you can afford.

The Down Payment
A large down payment represents one way to reduce the monthly cost of your mortgage. As a matter of fact, a down payment of 20 percent gives you access to better interest rates and prevents you from having to pay private mortgage insurance. So, in addition to lowering the amount you owe initially, a down payment also can get you a lower interest rate, making a house more affordable. There are also mortgages that require no down payment or a small one.

©2017 Bankrate.com

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$119,000 :: 48725 CELESTE, Update MI, 48051

3 beds, 2 baths
Home size: 1,800 sq ft
Lot Size: 0 sq ft
Added: 10/31/17, Last Updated: 10/31/17
Property Type: Single Family
MLS Number: 468947
Community: Chesterfield Twp (50009)
Status: Sold

Listed with Century 21 Town & Country-Clinton

Brought to you by Janet Hull and Thomas Bush, Real Estate One, Inc.. Call me today at 1-855-Janet-Tom, or visit my website at www.JanetandThomas.com!

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$138,000 :: 53774 TRADITIONAL, Chesterfield Township MI, 48051

Property Photo

3 beds, 2.1 baths
Home size: 1,766 sq ft
Lot Size: 0 sq ft
Added: 08/25/17, Last Updated: 10/30/17
Property Type: Condo/Townhouse/Co-Op
MLS Number: 217076941
Community: Chesterfield Twp
Status: Sold

Great Opportunity on this 3 bedroom, 2.1 bath home in Chesterfield Township. Nice two story Heritage Commons Condo Unit #88, conveniently located close to shopping, schools and commuter roads. Home features an open floor plan with wood flooring in spacious living area with neutral color decor, roomy master suite with bath, full basement and garage offer plenty of extra storage room.

Listed with Realty Executives Main St LLC

Brought to you by Janet Hull and Thomas Bush, Real Estate One, Inc.. Call me today at 1-855-Janet-Tom, or visit my website at www.JanetandThomas.com!

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$104,900 :: 48617 WHEATFIELD, Update MI, 48051

3 beds, 1 bath
Home size: 1,000 sq ft
Lot Size: 0 sq ft
Added: 10/30/17, Last Updated: 10/30/17
Property Type: Single Family
MLS Number: 367186
Community: Chesterfield Twp (50009)
Status: Sold

Listed with Century 21 Associates

Brought to you by Janet Hull and Thomas Bush, Real Estate One, Inc.. Call me today at 1-855-Janet-Tom, or visit my website at www.JanetandThomas.com!

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Ask the Expert: How Should I Prepare a Home to Sell in the Fall?

Today’s Ask the Expert column features Dan Steward, president of Pillar To Post Home Inspectors.

Q: What are your top tips for preparing to sell a home in the fall?

A: First and foremost, use the beauty of the season. If you’re lucky enough to live in a region that experiences changing seasons, take advantage of everything the season has to offer by incorporating autumnal flowers, plants and floral arrangements into the mix. Whether it’s colorful mums or adding intense color and drama to the home’s exterior with perennials, feature a variety of fall floral arrangements both inside and outside the home.

Next, be sure to check the roof and gutters. While a roof’s drainage system diverts thousands of gallons of water from a home’s exterior and foundation walls, it’s important to keep the process moving in order to avoid water damage. In addition to taking the time to unclog and clean the gutters, now is also a good time to inspect the roof from top to bottom. In addition to looking for damage to metal flashing in and around vents and chimneys, check ridge shingles for cracks and wind damage.

While outside, take the time to check driveways, walkways and steps for any noticeable damage. Fixing any problem areas during the fall is critical in order to prevent little problems from becoming expensive headaches down the line. Look for cracks that are more than 1/8-inch wide, uneven sections and loose railings on steps.

Before the bitter temperatures of the winter season move in, take the necessary steps to ensure that outside faucets and in-ground irrigation systems don’t freeze and burst. Close any shut-off valves serving outside faucets, then open the outside faucet to the drain line. If you don’t have shut-off valves, or freeze-proof faucets, you can buy faucet covers at your local home improvement store.

Moving inside, check the home for air leaks, as gaps in caulk and weather-stripping can account for 10 percent of a home’s heating bills, according to the U.S. Department of Energy. While weather-stripping is the most cost-effective way to control heating and cooling costs, it should be checked and replaced as needed every six months.

And last, but not least, bring in a professional to inspect the home’s heating system to ensure it’s working properly before the cold weather arrives.

For more information, please visit www.pillartopost.com.

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$182,000 :: 46881 SUMMERTIME, Update MI, 48047

3 beds, 7 baths
Home size: 1,800 sq ft
Lot Size: 0 sq ft
Added: 10/29/17, Last Updated: 10/29/17
Property Type: Single Family
MLS Number: 640250
Community: Chesterfield Twp (50009)
Status: Sold

good looking colonial.just finnished.minutes tolake.steel seawall.door wall to patio.door wallto balcony.att.garage.all carpeted.fireplace.seller is licensed real estate agent.

Listed with North America 1 Realty Corp of

Brought to you by Janet Hull and Thomas Bush, Real Estate One, Inc.. Call me today at 1-855-Janet-Tom, or visit my website at www.JanetandThomas.com!

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$264,900 :: 49781 MAURICE Drive, Chesterfield Township MI, 48047

Property Photo

4 beds, 2 baths
Home size: 2,450 sq ft
Lot Size: 7,840 sq ft
Added: 10/28/17, Last Updated: 10/28/17
Property Type: Single Family
MLS Number: 217097293
Community: Chesterfield Twp
Tract: STONEHENGE # 03
Status: Active

Come see this beautiful home! Nice open floor plan with large picture windows in great room. Big kitchen with lots of cabinets, all appliances stay. Bay window with french doors that leads to seasonal room. First floor laundry, finished basement with custom bar and pool table. Great for entertaining. Basement is already plumbed for bathroom. Close to expressway and shopping for convenience.

Listed with MHR Real Estate LLC

Brought to you by Janet Hull and Thomas Bush, Real Estate One, Inc.. Call me today at 1-855-Janet-Tom, or visit my website at www.JanetandThomas.com!

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How to Sell a Vacant Home in the Off-Season

Editor’s Note: This was originally published on RISMedia’s blog, Housecall. See what else is cookin’ now at blog.rismedia.com:

There’s a reason that spring and summer are the major seasons for selling houses. Most people want to move at a time that allows them to be settled by the fall, when kids go back to school and daylight shortens.

However, you might find yourself having to sell a vacant home in the off-season. The home might be empty because the seller had to move on for reasons of work or had to move into a house he or she was paying for.

There are really two issues here. The first is selling a vacant house. The second is selling a house in the off-season. Here are some tips on how to do both:

Selling a Vacant House

Keep Up Maintenance and Repair – Even with no one around, surfaces need to be dusted and kept clean. Once people move out, minor items needing repair, like a leaky faucet or a burned-out light bulb, might not be noticed. It’s your job to notice, though, because signs of even minor disrepair or lack of maintenance can quickly turn off prospective buyers.

Clean the house or hire someone to clean it at least once a month. Surfaces need to be dusted, for example, and floors mopped or vacuumed. Do a walkthrough looking for repairs once a month, or hire a property manager to do it.

Make Sure the House Doesn’t Look Vacant A vacant property shouldn’t look vacant for two reasons: First, it’s uninviting to see an empty property. It’s less likely that a buyer will see themselves in the space; second, it’s an open invitation to thieves, vandals and even squatters. You don’t want to open the door one day and see that vandals spray-painted all over the walls.

Develop a plan. Pick up mail if the seller isn’t having it forwarded. Place lights on timers so that they go on automatically in the evening, just as they would if someone still lived there. Many have remote apps that make this easy.

Turn Heat or Air Conditioning on Regularly Don’t leave the heat or air conditioning off for long periods of time. Lack of heat can cause pipes to freeze or burst. Lack of air conditioning may make it difficult to cool the house properly when it comes time to show it. In addition, lack of proper ventilation can make the house smell musty and unused.

It’s best to run the heat and air conditioning at regular intervals while the house is vacant.

Focus on Curb Appeal Don’t skimp on curb appeal just because the house is vacant. If anything, making the house look inviting becomes even more critical if no one lives there. Keep the grounds and garden in the same pristine condition as the house. Paint the door a vibrant color. Place small trees on either side to frame it.

Stage the Interior When prospective buyers come, they need to see an interior that looks welcoming, and that allows them to visualize themselves in the house. They may not be able to do that fully if the house is completely empty.

On the other hand, completely furnishing an empty house may not be practical. What you need to do is stage the interior. Put focal pieces in each room, for example. You don’t need to create a functional room; you just have to give clients a sense of how the room would look if they lived there. In other words: a fireplace with wood, a lamp and a sofa in the living room might be enough. No need for matching armchairs and two more lamps!

Selling in the Off-Season

Price to Sell While you likely won’t attract the maximum number of buyers in the off-season, some people do look in the fall and winter. To move the house, the most prudent move is to price it to sell. If you’re in a hot market, that may be at a market price. If demand is a tad sluggish, price it slightly under. For most sellers, it’s better to sell at a price slightly under the asking price in October than to wait five more months, especially if they’re carrying the mortgage.

Sweeten the Offer Sweetening the offer may also help sell the house in the off-season. Nicely enough, sweeteners abound, depending on the property. Does a patio look as if it may need replacement in the next five years? See if the seller will replace it as a sweetener. Do the same with any major appliance that may go in five years, such as water heaters.

The other sweetener strategy is to wait for buyers to suggest things. Some may want a reseeded lawn or pruned trees. Entertain these offers if they look likely to result in a sale.

It can be more challenging to sell a vacant home in the off-season, but by utilizing these tips, you’ll place yourself at a strategic advantage in moving a house in the off-season.

For the latest real estate news and trends, bookmark RISMedia.com.

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$164,899 :: 48117 MALLARD, CHESTERFIELD Township MI, 48047

Property Photo

3 beds, 1.1 baths
Home size: 1,324 sq ft
Lot Size: 21,780 sq ft
Added: 10/27/17, Last Updated: 10/27/17
Property Type: Single Family
MLS Number: 58031334233
Community: Chesterfield Twp
Status: Active


Listed with Advantage Realty

Brought to you by Janet Hull and Thomas Bush, Real Estate One, Inc.. Call me today at 1-855-Janet-Tom, or visit my website at www.JanetandThomas.com!

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4 Home Staging Horror Stories to Haunt You This Halloween

Man hiding in closet

By Jessica Santina, guest contributor from MoneyGeek.com

As little ghosts and ghouls appear on every corner, how about settling in for a few scary stories of home staging horrors?

The following tales of botched staging jobs, homeowners from hell, and nightmarish décor will likely give you some real-life shivers.

The Scary Screamer

Lori Matzke, owner of CenterStageHome.com, is a home staging expert in the Minneapolis area. As a new stager in 1999, she encountered a horrifying homeowner.

“Unfortunately, at that time, staging had a really bad rap,” Matzke says. “People were so offended if a [an agent] wanted a stager to come into their home — the perception was that you must really live in a pit if you needed staging.”

That was the case with this job. Matzke received a call from a real estate agent asking her to do a staging consultation on a home that was going on the market. Matzke agreed to meet the agent at the home that Sunday morning.

She arrived on time and knocked on the door, only to be greeted by a furious homeowner.

“What do you want?” he barked at her. When she explained who she was and why she was there, he replied, “Oh, yeah, you’re the one who’s coming to criticize our house.”

Matzke politely explained that she only wanted to help them to sell it. The man’s wife came to the door, apologized for her husband, and invited Matzke in. Once she was inside, the man slammed the door so hard that three items fell off the wall.

The agent was running late, so Matzke proceeded to do a walk-through of the home. But every suggestion she made, including the need for a neutral paint color to replace the dark gray, was met with intense hostility.

“He went crazy and started cursing me out,” she says.

Over the course of the next 90 minutes, Matzke feared for her safety as the man repeatedly hurled personal insults at her, screaming, and slamming doors until — at long last — she was able to make her getaway.

Since then Matzke has made it a policy to warn clients not to take offense of her staging suggestions.

“It’s not personal; it has nothing to do with the homeowners’ taste. It’s just about the buyer experience,” she says.

The Body in the Closet

Photo credit: Shutterstock.com

Another time, Matzke was asked to meet an agent at a home for a staging consultation. The two of them walked through the empty home, which Matzke thought was quite nice and needed only a little editing — things like moving furniture around a bit.

The consultation with the agent went on for some time, and she thought it was going well until suddenly, to their extreme shock, the hall closet door swung open and the homeowner jumped out.

“He’d been waiting there a long time in that closet, wanting to hear what people said about his house when no one was there!” Matzke says.

As if this weren’t bad enough, Matzke heard later the house had remained on the market for a long time, mostly because the homeowner had a nasty habit of jumping out of closets and startling visitors.

“The moral of the story is, you can’t be hanging around,” Matzke says. “Some sellers take it very personally when people come to view their homes, but it makes buyers very uncomfortable” for you to be there (especially if you’re hiding in a closet).

Hall of Severed Heads

Photo credit: Shutterstock.com

Nothing kills a sale like a room full of dead heads. That’s what Matzke suggested to one client whose small house was packed with at least 20 taxidermied animals, including a giant moose head.

“You literally couldn’t walk into the kitchen or you’d be gored by an antler,” she recalls.

Of course, as an experienced stager, Matzke recommended removing the heads to make the home more appealing to potential buyers, and reminded the homeowners their new home would have plenty of space for these treasures. They reluctantly agreed, and when Matzke returned the next week to paint and finish the job, the heads were gone.

“It looked beautiful, like a totally different space,” she says.

Matzke arranged to have a friend go take pictures of the home a few days later so she would have photos for her portfolio. But when the photos arrived in her email, Matzke made a horrific discovery: “The first photo I opened, there was that giant moose head again!”

Nightmare Décor


Photo credit: Shell Brodnax, Real Estate Staging Association

In this age of DIY reality shows, many people fancy themselves as amateur home stagers, says Shell Brodnax, CEO of the Real Estate Staging Association.

“We love HGTV, and they’ve definitely shined a light on staging,” she says. “But it also leads homeowners to believe they can do stuff on their own. But, like anything else, you need a professional to make it look professional.”

Brodnax has seen some truly frightening faux pas as a stager — forlorn tableaus like card tables set up in the middle of empty rooms, or armchairs and throw blankets stuffed into awkward spaces.

Or this head scratcher: “I saw one where people just put a pile of throw pillows on the floor. We’re not sure why, but it was bad,” she says.

Don’t leave staging to hobbyists, she cautions. Instead, collect bids from at least three stagers, check out their professional portfolios, and call references. Even in the staging world, you get what you pay for.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Jessica Santina is a freelance writer, editor and contributor to the mortgage and home buying channel at MoneyGeek.com. She is an award-winning arts and culture, travel, food, and lifestyle writer and blogger whose work has been published in numerous local and regional publications.

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