October Home Maintenance List

Need some help remembering what tasks you need accomplish before the winter months hit?

We’ve got you covered…

  • Check your roof for broken or missing shingles
  • If you have vinyl siding, check the corners for missing or broken pieces
  • Clear out gutters after the leaves have fallen and check your downspouts
  • Check insulation, weather stripping, and caulk around windows and doors
  • Swap your screens for storm windows
  • Clear the hose of excess water and put it into storage
  • Store paint, caulk, and other liquids in a warmer area – not an unheated garage or shed
  • Trim any tree limbs away from your roof and windows
  • Reverse your fan blades to the winter setting
  • While you’re setting the clocks back, check your smoke alarms

As always, if you have any questions about your home, feel free to contact The Tierney Team!

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Better Credit, Better Options

The Tierney Team

Your credit score has a large impact on what type of financing and interest rate you will be offered for your Mortgage.
For this reason, you should spend time thinking about and investigating your credit score. The difference between one interest rate bracket and another can mean thousands of dollars…So any work you put into maintaining a high credit score will pay off in a big way when you apply for a loan.

Here are some tips for managing your credit score effectively:

  1. Be aware of your credit history. Pulling your own credit score is called a ‘soft pull,’ whereas inquiries made by a lending agency are known as ‘hard pulls.’ Soft pulls have no effect on your credit score, and should be done annually so that you will never be surprised by something a lender finds on your report when you are applying for a loan. Finding these surprises…

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“SELLER DISCLOSURE” How Much Should You Disclose?

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The Home Seller Disclosure Laws in the State of Michigan require the Seller to disclose any latent defects of the property they are selling in writing. An actual “Sellers Disclosure Form” is provided by the state of Michigan to be completed in totality by the Seller and should be provided to any interested buying party at the very first opportunity.

This form is very specific about the items that are absolutely required by law for the seller to disclose.

There are a few reasons that a Seller should make proper disclosure to any interested potential buyer…

First and foremost… it’s the right thing to do for a myriad of reasons.

Second…It’s the Law!

Third…If done properly and thoroughly it will significantly reduce a Sellers Liability in a buy and sell transaction.

Further, beyond the items a Seller is required to disclose by the State of Michigan what else…

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Home Owner Resources We Want to Share….

White House Rolls Out 3 Foreclosure Prevention Efforts

Daily Real Estate News | Tuesday, April 09, 2013

The Obama administration announced the extension or debut of three programs aimed at helping distressed home owners avoid foreclosure. The three initiatives are:

Increasing outreach in the Making Home Affordable Program: The U.S. Department of Treasury is partnering with NeighborWorks America as well as the National Foreclosure Mitigation Counseling program to increase support for struggling home owners who seek assistance through the Making Home Affordable Program, which includes the Home Affordable Modification Program (HAMP). HAMP reduces monthly payments by more than $540 each month, on average. “Through the new initiative, housing counseling agencies will help struggling home owners successfully complete and submit application documents to their mortgage company free-of-charge,” according to the White House blog.

Informing the unemployed about programs: The Department of Labor will be encouraging American Job Centers to inform unemployed home owners about federal foreclosure prevention options that are available to them. For example, there is unemployment forbearance through HAMP that allows qualifying home owners who are unemployed to reduce or suspend their mortgage payments for up to 12 months.

HUD’s new Housing Counseling Office: The Department of Housing and Urban Development has launched a Housing Counseling Office, which offers at-risk home owners free or low cost information about foreclosure prevention and loan modification programs. It also offers general information on buying or renting a home, handling foreclosures, and how to avoid scams. The office is made up of a network of 2,500 HUD-approved housing counseling agencies.

“While we are encouraged that the housing market is on the path to recovery, our job is far from finished,” according to the White House blog. “There are still many struggling home owners who need assistance. By connecting eligible home owners with existing foreclosure prevention programs, our new counseling initiatives will enable more borrowers to remain in their homes and go a long way in ensuring a brighter economic future for these families.”

Source: The White House Blog

Contact “The Tierney Team” Anytime – We’re happy to help! (517) 853-6397

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Home Inspections and Home Inspectors…What to do?

Whenever you are making a home purchase you should always make the offer contingent upon a Home Inspection with the results being satisfactory to you. You are making the largest purchase of your life (more than likely) and you should invest in an education on the product you are about to purchase.

I highly recommend that you hire a professional Home Inspector that is a member of either NAHI (National Association of Home Inspectors) or ASHI (American Society of Home Inspectors). These Inspectors agree to abide by a Code of Ethics and adhere to uniform Standards of Practice. I have found throughout my career that the most effective Home Inspectors are also Licensed Builder Contractors as well.

Your Home Inspector should provide you with their unbiased, accurate, and informative opinion of the condition of the property they are inspecting for you.

Your goal through obtaining a Home Inspection should be to become thoroughly educated about the property you are potentially going to purchase. You should shadow the Home Inspector throughout the entire inspection to get firsthand information on every area of the inspected property. Upon completion of the home inspection your inspector should provide you with complete detailed report of their findings as well as summary of the highlights of the inspection. Further you should receive a written reference resource manual on how to further maintenance and care for the inspected property.

Once your home inspection has been completed you should have a good understanding of the current condition of the property and know if indeed the condition is what you had originally expected. If for some reason/s it is not you should have a very good idea what items need to be addressed with the seller or in extreme cases if you should not move forward in the transaction due to the results of the home inspection. So make sure you hire a reputable and professional Home Inspector and let them educate you thoroughly on your potential investment.

Contact “The Tierney Team” Anytime – We’re happy to help! (517) 853-6397

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Housing Prices Are Rising…Should I Buy Now or Wait?

To maximize your total Buying experience in the market we are currently living and the direction it is projected to go in, I believe you really need to be working with a very diligent real estate professional. Houses in this current market are selling fairly quickly and for the most part at or near the full listing price. Several homes for sale are actually receiving multiple offers. You really need to be working with a real estate professional that is going to get you thoroughly prepared to make a buying decision put you in position to write a qualified offer quickly if needed and get you in the door ASAP so you will potentially have a first offer advantage and hopefully an opportunity to negotiate.

You may not have the luxury of being able to go through a bunch of homes and then take the time to go back through a short list of favorites a little later to decide which one to write on without jeopardizing your opportunity to negotiate and ending up in a multiple offer situation or losing the home to another buyer altogether. Take your time making good notes when you go through the first time and thoroughly look through each home so you will not need to take the time to have to take a second look. To compound the Buyers efforts right now there is a shortage of homes available on the market, hence less options for the Buyer.

I know all of this sounds like a real bummer for the Buyer, however, this is exactly how the market is behaving right now…It is really slanted toward the Seller in these respects.

The good news for the Buyer who is in the market to buy now is that the interest rates are still hovering the 3.5% mark (by this time next year they are predicted to be at 4.5%) and buyers should take advantage of them. More good news is that homes can only appreciate as fast as market appraisals will let them and right now that is keeping the appreciation of homes at a manageable level. A year from now, there will be more closed sales at higher sales prices for appraisers to work with and pricing will continue on an upward pace….So let’s do the quick math…

If you currently qualify for a $100,000.00 Mortgage at a 3.5% interest rate base on just your Principal and Interest payment, and you maximized that mortgage amount and bought a home today you would own a home that appraised at fair market value for that amount….If you were to wait for a year to make that purchase and the interest rates as well as home pricing increase at their projected pace, then a year from now based on approximately a 4.5% interest rate you will then qualify for only about and $88,000.00 Mortgage, and that same home will have increased in value and would then cost you approximately $105,000.00…I say all that to say this…You as a Buyer are better off paying full listing price for a home today (it will have to appraise for fair market value…that protects you) and feel great about it…then you will be to wait and see what the future will  bring and being sorry you decided to wait!…So you can Buy Now or Pay “MORE” Later!

Contact “The Tierney Team” Anytime – We’re happy to help! (517) 853-6397

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“SELLER DISCLOSURE” How Much Should You Disclose?

The Home Seller Disclosure Laws in the State of Michigan require the Seller to disclose any latent defects of the property they are selling in writing. An actual “Sellers Disclosure Form” is provided by the state of Michigan to be completed in totality by the Seller and should be provided to any interested buying party at the very first opportunity.

This form is very specific about the items that are absolutely required by law for the seller to disclose.

There are a few reasons that a Seller should make proper disclosure to any interested potential buyer…

First and foremost… it’s the right thing to do for a myriad of reasons.

Second…It’s the Law!

Third…If done properly and thoroughly it will significantly reduce a Sellers Liability in a buy and sell transaction.

Further, beyond the items a Seller is required to disclose by the State of Michigan what else should the Seller disclose to a potential buyer? Well, that could be a wide range of items from how the Seller arrived at the total square footage of a home to how old the water heater is.  For me the Litmus test is quite simple…If you are selling your home and you were the Buyer what else beyond the State required disclosure items would “You” want to know before moving forward in a purchase transaction.

Just remember…The more disclosure the better! Do not worry about scaring a buyer away because you disclose a specific item you may feel is sensitive…what may concern one buyer and even keep them from moving forward in a purchase transaction will many times not affect another buyer in any way, shape, or form…So disclose, disclose, disclose and you will maximize your chances of having a successful purchase transaction without any repercussion!

Contact “The Tierney Team” Anytime – We’re happy to help! (517) 853-6397

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“Appraisals…Is There a Problem?”

Low appraisals are becoming a bigger problem for many would-be buyers and sellers. Appraisals are based on recent sales prices of comparable properties. In rising markets (as we are currently entering into in our locale) those comparable sale prices might not be high enough to support the newest deals.

If your real estate professional has done their homework properly and educated you on current home values and you have listened to them and priced your home according to their recommendations you should not have a problem with your home appraising for the final agreed upon sale price on your home. Your real estate professional should be able to support that sale price if there is any question about value from the appraiser.

Listening to your real estate professional about value and setting the asking price on your home is critical for three reasons…First, you need to have realistic expectations on a final sale price which will allow you to have the proper information to strategize with regard to your next step whatever that is…Second, by getting the proper pricing in place from the start will allow you to maximize your final sale price and minimize your time on the market which will get you where you want to go quicker… and Thirdly, Even if you were able to get a buyer to agree to a higher sale price and the appraiser cannot support that sale price with an appraisal you will more than likely not be able to consummate the sale (the bank will only lend up to the appraised value) and you will need to lower your sale price at that point anyway and or maybe even have to start over.

The best thing a homeowner can do to get the highest appraisal possible is make sure they have all the important features of the home readily available for their real estate professional and the appraiser when that time comes.

If you’re going to do renovations, start with your kitchen and bathrooms as these areas will yield the highest return on your investment. Floor covering improvements, fresh paint, tasteful relevant décor’, and attention to landscaping for a smaller investment will have a large impact on both marketability and value as well.

Neat and clean helps as well both inside and out…Make sure you have uncluttered and thoroughly cleaned your home as well as having trimmed and spruced up the yard and exterior.

If you’ve put money into the house, prove it…”Before-and-after photos, along with a well-defined spreadsheet of what was spent on each renovation, should persuade an appraiser to turn in a number that exceeds what he or she would have first put forward. Also, don’t forget to highlight all-important structural improvements to electrical systems or heating and cooling systems which are harder to see, but can dramatically boost an appraisal. Keep your receipts and produce them for an appraiser if needed or asked for.

If you are home at the time of the appraisal…don’t follow the appraiser around like a puppy…”It’s a major red flag for the appraiser that there may be a problem with the home”…Give them their space.

And while you’re at it, make the appraiser’s job as pleasant as possible by giving your home a pleasant smell. At a minimum, clean out the litter box. Baking some fresh cookies and offering him one or two probably won’t sway your appraisal, nor should it. But it couldn’t hurt.

Contact “The Tierney Team” Anytime – We’re happy to help! (517) 853-6397

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“BITS and PIECES” Some things to consider…

You may have heard that low mortgage rates won’t last forever. But they should be around in 2013.cache_2911201404

The rate on the 30-year fixed mortgage is expected to remain below 4 percent through the first half of the year, according to the latest finance forecast by the Mortgage Bankers Association. As rates gradually increase, the 30-year may reach 4.4 percent by year’s end, according to the MBA.

Eighty three percent of REALTORS® nationally reported constant or higher prices in January compared to a year ago.

Median “days on market” for all sales was reported at 71 days this January, compared to 99 “days on market” a year ago in January.

Thirty-one percent reported “time on market” at less than 1 month when the property went to contract.

Ninety-one percent of REALTORS® nationally reported that they expect constant or higher prices in the next 12 months.

Distressed sales were recently reported at 24 percent of market, down from 40 percent in March of 2011.

REALTORS® generally expect to see improving prices for the next 12 months, according to the January REALTORS ® Confidence Index.

Several states in the West, as well as Texas, Florida, North Dakota, and Michigan are in the group of states where the median price expectation is from 4.0 to 7.5 percent. Price trends vary, but low inventory and falling foreclosure rates are generally pushing prices upward.

…After some serious consideration…It is a great time buy and a great time to sell!

Contact “The Tierney Team” Anytime – We’re happy to help! (517) 853-6397

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If I Buy A Home Will It Be A Good Investment?

The Rent vs. Buy debate continues…Here is our take on the matter:

If you choose to buy a home as your principle residence, you are not taking available dollars away from another investment. You are simply exchanging one living expense (monthly rent) which has zero ability for any return on investment with another (monthly mortgage payment) which indeed gives you an opportunity for a return. Yes there has been research that has shown that over the past number of years renting has been less expensive than owning. Also, if you would have invested that entire difference between the rent payment and mortgage payment you could potentially have done better financially (in the past)… However there are a couple of problems with this thought process. First, in today’s nationwide market it is generally more costly to be a tenant than it is an owner of a home so the difference we spoke of goes the other way. Also, history tells us that the majority of tenants do not invest (or save for that matter) nearly as much as home owners.

Home ownership by its very nature (cause and effect) forces one to unconsciously save money and create wealth in the process. As you make your monthly mortgage payment you automatically begin to pay down your principle balance which creates a positive difference in what you owe and the current value of what you own (Savings). Beyond this, as time goes by, your home increases in value which will create an even greater positive difference in what you owe and the value of what you own (further Savings). Anytime you combine Savings with Further Savings, you are on your way to creating and building wealth.

There are also a couple of major tax benefits as well with regard to home ownership. The first being a “Mortgage Interest Deduction” (if of course you have a mortgage – most homeowners do). This benefits you every year as long as you have an interest bearing mortgage. Secondly, are the Principal Residence Capital Gains Tax Laws…Which for most people in most situations will keep them from having to pay capital gains taxes when they sell their principal residence. Try that with Gold and Silver or Stocks and Bonds. You will want to contact your CPA or Tax Advisor regarding these two benefits so you thoroughly understand them and make sure they are applied to your situation correctly.

With that said…We’ll let you decide if home ownership is a good investment!

If you have any questions regarding any of the information above, or if you’d like to look further into home ownership we’re just a phone call or email away!

Contact “The Tierney Team” Anytime – We’re happy to help! (517) 853-6397

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