Category Archives: Home Buyers

Understanding Property Taxes in Washtenaw County

Property Tax CalculationUnderstanding Property Taxes

“In this world nothing can be said to be certain, except death and taxes.” Even back in 1789, Benjamin Franklin understood that taxes are here to stay. Before purchasing a property, educate yourself on how property taxes are assessed your area, how they might change after your purchase, and how you or your bank might be paying them. Here are a few tips for buyers in Washtenaw County:

  1. Property taxes are based on the taxable value of the property and the current millage rate for the area, all of which is public information. You can find taxable values for properties in Washtenaw County here, and 2016 millage rates for the state of Michigan here. The state of Michigan also has an online calculator for property taxes.
  2. Keep in mind that both taxable values and millage rates are subject to change, but taxable value increases are limited to the percent change in the inflation rate or 5%, whichever is less.
  3. The exception to this rule is during the year after you purchase a property. For properties sold during the past year, the cap is removed and the current year’s taxable value becomes the State Equalized Value (SEV) of the property. The SEV is based on 50% of a property’s market value.
  4. In Washtenaw County, Summer tax statements are sent by July 1 and are due on September 14. Winter tax statements are sent by December 1 and due on February 14. Penalties apply for late payments. On March 1 of each year, any past due tax balances are sent to the County as delinquent.
  5. Be sure to look for any special assessments that may apply to the property you are considering for purchase, and include who will be responsible for them in the sales contract. Will the current seller pay them off, or will the buyer be responsible for payments going forward? One example of this is the 10-year Scio Road Assessment that was implemented in 2013 and is payable in $85 installments each year.
  6. If you own and occupy a property (it’s your principal residence), you may qualify for a principal residence (homestead) exemption from a portion of local education taxes. Check with your city or township for additional information.
  7. If you obtain a mortgage to purchase a property, your bank will likely collect your property taxes from you in your monthly PITI payment (principal, interest, taxes, and insurance). You will pay 1/12 of your annual property tax due each month. The taxes and insurance will be held in an escrow account, and then the bank will pay your property taxes when they come due.

If you are thinking about buying a home and need help navigating property taxes in our area, call Ann Arbor’s Real Estate Specialists at The Bouma Group at 734-761-3060. You can also email us at info@bouma.com. Start your new home search here!

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9 Moments All New Home Buyers Experience

You’re armed with your pre-approval letter, your wants and needs list, and your knowledge of the real estate market. Now comes the fun part: searching for homes! Like any part of buying a home, the home search has its ups and downs. But once you’re living in your new home, spending weekends shopping for furniture and décor, and enjoying all the amenities of your new location, you know you wouldn’t trade the experience for anything. Here are the moments only home buyers understand.

home buyers searching for homes

1. When You Hit “Search” for the First Time

You put your price range, number of bedrooms, and a couple of must-have features into an online home search tool, then hold your breath while the results page loads. Look at all those listings! Your new home is just a click away!

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Ann Arbor Real Estate Market Update – December 2016

Lack of Listings Drive Ann Arbor Real Estate Prices Upward

Ann Arbor Real Estate Statistics for December 2016

As has been the trend for most of the year, new real estate listings are down, sales are steady, and prices are up. According to the Ann Arbor Area Board of Realtors, new Ann Arbor home listings decreased by 12% when comparing December of this year to December of last year. Home sales decreased slightly from 84 in 2015 to 81 in 2016. And, the average sale price rose 8%, from $362,452 in ’15 to $390,381 in ’16.

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The Top Real Estate Resolutions (And How to Keep Them)

How to Keep Your Real Estate Resolutions

Want to visit the gym more? Finally complete the home improvement project you’ve been working on? Save money for that new watch/car/house/vacation? January 1 is the perfect time to jump start your goals. If you’re like most people, according to Money Magazine, you probably have “stay fit,” “spend less,” or “enjoy the most out of life” on your list of New Year’s resolutions.

Did a few real estate goals make it on your list, too? You’re not alone. Here are a few of the most popular home-buying or home-selling goals, and a few tips on how to achieve them.

Buy Your First Home

Making Real Esate Resolutions Happen - New HomeownersYou’re ready to take that first step to home ownership in the New Year. You likely already have an area or neighborhood in mind, and you have a few features that you’d like in your new home.

How to keep it: Buying a home is a major project. It may be easier for you to achieve this goal if you set smaller, more manageable goals, such as putting aside money every month for a down payment, reviewing your budget, and researching reputable lenders. Continue reading

How 2016 Technology Has Changed Your Home Search Forever

scrolling through mobile phoneWhen was the last time you hopped in your car to start your home search? Most home buyers today just pick up their phones to instantly view properties all around the country — no car required.

Each year, new technology changes the way we interact with the world. Here are just a few of the ways 2016 tech has changed the way buyers find real estate.

You Can Access Anything On the Go

Your home search doesn’t stop while you’re out and about. Today’s technology has made it easier to access information when you need it. While you’re waiting in line at the store or idly scrolling through your phone, you can find articles about the home buying process on social media, see listings on a mobile search app, or check commute times from homes you’re considering.

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Selling Your Home in 2017? Here are the Latest Market Predictions

notebook with new year's goalsIt’s that time of year: Many homeowners are looking to the New Year and planning their 2017 real estate resolutions (sell the house, move to the suburbs, buy that dream vacation home, etc.).

If you’re planning your own New Year’s real estate resolutions, you might be researching 2017 housing market predictions to figure out when you should sell your home and what tomorrow’s home buyers are searching for. After all, you’ve invested your time and money into your property. Don’t you want to see your hard work pay off?

Here are a few real estate predictions for 2017 that may come into play when you sell your home.

Buyers Want the Best of Both Worlds

If you live in a suburban community that’s surrounded by urban amenities, chances are good that your location will be a selling point for buyers. MarketWatch predicts that buyers want “surban” homes just steps from shops, restaurants, schools, and parks.

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Downsizing Your Home? Use These Tips to Plan Your Move

kitchen and dining roomMaybe the thought of moving to a smaller, low-maintenance home has only briefly crossed your mind, or maybe you’re seriously considering downsizing. But before you trade your too-large house in for, say, a cozy condo downtown, there are a few things to consider.

Downsizing requires quite a bit of planning: You may need to figure out what to keep and what to discard, choose between the love seat and the sofa for your new living room, and determine which furniture pieces can serve multiple functions.

Here are a few downsizing tips to help you prepare to sell your current home.

Start Reducing Your Possessions Now

The sooner you are able to get rid of furniture, household items, and knickknacks you no longer use or need, the better off you’ll be. When you do decide to sell your home, you will thank yourself for spending a few hours a week decluttering now rather than waiting to do everything all at once.

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Ten Tips for Maintaining Your Septic System

Outhouse in the WoodsTen Tips for Tanks

Moving to the countryside or the deep woods can have many advantages – nighttime skies full of stars, peace and quiet, and open spaces. But if you’ve been a city slicker your whole life, moving away from an urban area can present a new experience in the way of septic tanks. A septic tank, usually found underground, is a tank that collects sewage from your household and uses bacteria to break down the solids before moving the waste to a septic field to filter back into the environment. The tank, field, and related pipes are collectively referred to as a septic system. Review these ten tips for the care and maintenance of your septic system to guarantee frustration-free flushing for years to come.

  1. Have a professional inspect your septic system annually. As the saying goes, “An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.”
  2. In addition to regular inspections, you should have your tank pumped out by a licensed contractor every 2 – 5 years depending on usage. You should also call immediately if you suspect any problems.
  3. Make sure that everyone in your household and anyone who might do work at your property knows where the septic field is located, and try to stay clear of the area as much as possible.
  4. Keep the septic field clear of plants, trees, cars, concrete, etc. No building or driving should take place on the field. Planting grass will prevent erosion and absorb excess moisture.
  5. Do not attempt tank maintenance yourself. The anaerobic bacteria breaking down your household solids produce toxic methane gas, which can cause skin and lung irritation, nausea, vomiting, and even death.
  6. Before installing a garbage disposal, check with your septic professional or local building codes. You need to be sure your septic system can handle the extra food-based waste. Avoid using the disposal for fats and oils which can clog your system, harm the bacteria that maintain the system, and be detrimental to local waterways after expulsion to your septic field. Consider a septic-safe disposal, which utilizes an extra cartridge of enzymes to help break down food waste. Many professionals will advise you to avoid a garbage disposal altogether.
  7. Avoid a muddy mess by keeping gutter, pool, and sump pump water away from the septic field.
  8. Do not flush diapers, sanitary products, cat litter, or paper towels down the toilet. Do not pour leftover cleaning products and other hazardous chemicals down the toilet or sink drain.
  9. Maintain detailed records regarding the care and maintenance of your septic system. This is both for your benefit and the benefit of future potential buyers of your property.
  10. Conserve water so as not to overload the system. Use low-flow showerheads and toilets, install high-efficiency appliances, and repair leaky toilets and pipes. Spread out your laundry use over the week and use the smallest load size for the amount of laundry you have.

If you are considering the purchase of a property with a septic system, call the experienced exclusive buyers agents at The Bouma Group, Realtors to guide you through the process. They have local knowledge and professional contacts who can ensure you aren’t flushing money down the drain. Call 734-761-3060 or email info@bouma.com today!

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The Essentials for Entertaining Big in a Small Home

homeowner setting dining tableWith the holiday season approaching, many homeowners are starting to plan get-togethers with friends or family. While entertaining can be more of a challenge in a smaller home, it’s not impossible to host a memorable dinner party with your loved ones if you’re working with limited space.

Here are a few tips for throwing a large dinner party in a small area.

Before Guests Arrive, Clean and Clear Your Home

You don’t have to put as much effort into cleaning and decluttering as if you were selling a home; the basics will do.

Put away any unnecessary furniture, home décor, and kitchen appliances before the dinner party. Clean and dust the rooms that guests will visit: bathrooms, the kitchen, and the dining area. If you have pets, don’t forget to vacuum upholstery and stash toys or the litter box out of sight.

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6 Ways to Save Money for Your First Home

savings jar filled with coinsFor many first-time home buyers, the idea of a 20% down payment is terrifying. It’s one of the biggest obstacles to homeownership. Maybe you want to own a home some day, but the thought of saving up thousands of dollars for a home purchase has deterred you from seriously considering it.

Believe it or not, it is possible to save enough money for a down payment and make your dreams of homeownership a reality. Here are just a few of the ways that you can start saving.

1. Track How Much You Spend Now

When saving for your first home, you’ll need to stick to a budget. Awareness of how much you spend can help you figure out where you can cut your costs. Consumer.gov outlines a few tips for creating a budget here.

2. Determine What You Can Afford

home buyer tracking financesEven if you don’t plan to buy a home for a few years, figuring out how much you can afford will make your savings goal more concrete. Don’t forget to include taxes, insurance, utilities, and maintenance in your monthly payment calculations. Here is an affordability calculator to help. Continue reading