Category Archives: Home Buyers

How to Make a Wants Vs. Needs List for Your Home Search

It’s spring, which means home buying season has officially arrived! If you’re on the hunt for a new home, chances are you’ve already thought about the features you’d like to have.

However, one important part of searching for homes is making a distinction between your needs and your wants. Needs are amenities or features you can’t live without, while wants are things that you’d like to have (but they ultimately wouldn’t affect your home buying decision too much).

Two-story suburban home with a large garage and grey shutters.Ideally, you’ll want to come up with this list of needs (e.g. 3 bedrooms, under $200k, close to schools) and wants (e.g. fiber internet connection, stainless steel appliances, walk-in closets) before you start looking for homes. This will save you time along the way as you browse dozens, maybe hundreds, of homes online or in person.

Here’s a guide for distinguishing between your wants vs. needs:

Your Needs

To begin, come up with a list of priorities. What are some features or amenities that are non-negotiable? Do you need a home with a certain number of bedrooms? Maybe it has to be in a specific location — close to public transit, near a popular attraction, or within a local school district.

Write your priorities down on paper or in a smartphone app to better visualize what you need in a home. Here are some things to consider: Continue reading

Costly Mistakes to Avoid After You Buy Your First Home

A single-level ranch-style house with a front porch, two-car garage, and well-maintained front yard.First Home Mistakes to Avoid!

You’re smart. You’re doing your research about home buying and homeownership (like you are right now!), so you feel like you’re prepared to avoid common home buying pitfalls. But you’ll soon find that once you’ve moved in, there is a whole new list of common problems that plague unwary first-time homeowners.

To help you make the best buying and ownership decisions possible, we’ve outlined some of the the biggest blunders that first-time buyers make after closing on their home.

Investing in Too Many Upgrades

Not every home improvement project is worth the money or effort. Many first-time homeowners make the mistake of not considering a project’s return on investment, at least until it’s time to sell the house down the road.

If you want to know which home improvements are worth the investment, talk with a real estate agent or get a market report for your neighborhood. Give us a call at 734-761-3060 and we’ll send one to you.

Ignoring “Minor” Maintenance Issues

Water dripping out of a long kitchen faucet and into the sink.As your home ages, seemingly minor issues may arise. But be careful: A dripping faucet, crumbling caulk, or slanting floors could spiral into much bigger headaches if you don’t take care of them quickly.

To avoid shelling out hundreds or even thousands of dollars down the road, tackle these maintenance issues as soon as you can.

We’re happy to provide local vendor recommendations if you need maintenance work. Just contact us!

Choosing the Cheapest Repair Option

Quality comes at a price, especially when it comes to making repairs. Whether it’s picking up a cheap tool set or going with the lowest bid for a service provider, many first-time homeowners make the mistake of sacrificing quality for cost.

Contact us and we’ll be happy to recommend a high-quality local service provider.

Trying to DIY a Complicated Project

A large bathroom with white countertops, a white standing tub, white bidet, frameless glass shower, and orange walls.Some things can be done yourself. Think painting, hanging up shelves, or sprucing up the front entry.

But when it comes to stuff like plumbing, electricity, or structural engineering, think again. Hiring a professional will save you time and money — and keep you from starting a project you don’t know how to finish.

Need to talk to a contractor? Call us and we’ll give you recommendations.

Not Preparing for the Unexpected

A sudden job change, severe weather damage, or major maintenance problem can throw a wrench in your plans. Be sure that you budget accordingly for unexpected expenses as a homeowner.

We’re Happy to be a Resource

As local real estate experts, we have a wealth of information that can help you avoid many of these first-time home buying and homeownership mistakes. Contact us at The Bouma Group, Realtors at 734-761-3060 or email info@bouma.com to learn more.

What’s Your Style? 5 Popular Architectural Styles to Consider for Your Dream Home

5 Popular Architectural Styles

Dream homes around the country have one thing in common: amazing architecture. From Greek Revival to Modern, we’re breaking down the most popular architectural styles in America to help you discover your own dream home.

A two-story Greek Revival plantation home with tall columns, wrap-around porches, and a grassy lawn.

1. Greek Revival Homes

Popular during the 1820s, ’30s, and ’40s, Greek Revival takes inspiration from the ornate temples of ancient Greek cities.

In America, you’ll find this architectural style sprinkled in cities throughout the country. Picture the magnificent columns and symmetrical design of historic Southern plantation homes, monuments like the Lincoln Memorial, and the White House itself, and you’re thinking of Greek Revival.

This architectural style exudes elegance and sophistication, which is why Greek Revival is one of the most popular housing styles in the United States. Many Greek Revival homes feature:

  • neutral exterior colors, particularly white
  • gabled roofs with a cornice
  • tall columns, either fluted or smooth

The Painted Ladies in San Francisco, a row of tri-colored Victorian houses with the San Francisco skyline in the background.

2. Victorian Homes

Fans of Full House will instantly recognize these colorful Victorian homes in San Francisco. The Victorian architectural style made its debut in America during the reign of Queen Victoria in the 19th century, popping up in small towns and big cities alike.

Victorian homes are often asymmetrical and ornate, and they typically include some or all of the following features:

  • bright, bold exteriors instead of neutral tones
  • elaborate trim and rooflines
  • towers with pointed roofs
  • bay windows

Two Tudor-style buildings, the one on the left with black timber in a criss-cross pattern and the one on the right with red timber in a criss-cross pattern.

3. Tudor Homes

In the late 19th century and early 20th century, homes started to take on the look of medieval European castles and inns.

The Tudor, or Tudor Revival, style is best recognized by the decorative timbers on the exterior of the house, but homes with this architectural style also feature:

  • steep gabled roofs
  • dormer windows
  • large decorative chimneys

A two-story brick Colonial house with dormer windows on the roof and two brick chimneys flanking both sides of the house.

4. Colonial Revival Homes

Arguably the most popular architectural style in the United States, Colonial Revival first came on the scene between the 1880s and 1950s. Dutch Revival and Georgian Revival are considered subcategories of the Colonial Revival style.

Like Tudor homes, Colonials often feature dormer windows and gabled roofs, but they can also have:

  • simple rectangular windows
  • symmetrical exteriors
  • covered center entrances

Frank Lloyd Wright's Fallingwater House, a Modern three-story home with a stone chimney that is surrounded by trees.

5. Modern Homes

Also known as Mid-Century Modern, this architectural style was popular during the 1930s, ’40s, ’50s, and ’60s and valued simplicity over showy design. Frank Lloyd Wright’s Fallingwater House is a great example of this popular home style.

Since Modern houses were also designed as a way to connect with nature, these properties tend to feature:

  • open floor plans that flow to outdoor spaces
  • large windows and sliding glass doors
  • ranch or split-level layouts

No Matter Your Style, We Can Find Your Dream Home

Have your heart set on a certain architectural style? We’ll help you find (or build!) your dream home with the look and feel you want. Our Ann Arbor Neighborhoods contain all of these popular styles and more. Contact us today at The Bouma Group, Realtors at 734-761-3060 and let’s talk. Get started with your home search here!

Do You Know What These Crucial Real Estate Acronyms Mean?

A man standing on a flat field and juggling apples.Acronyms are tossed around like crazy in the real estate world, which can be confusing to even the most veteran home buyers. But don’t worry — it doesn’t take long to learn the language.

Here’s a quick list of the most widely used home buying acronyms and what they actually mean. Of course, if you’d like to know even more real estate terminology, don’t hesitate to call us.

MLS: Multiple Listing Service

The multiple listing service is a massive database of available properties that is split up into hundreds of different regions. If you’ve ever heard someone refer to a home as “on the market,” it means that the home is available on the MLS.

Buyers can search for properties that are on the MLS by using a real estate agent’s website (like ours!), but that’s not the only way to find homes. Your agent can send you updates whenever new properties hit the market.

Want to get these email updates? Call us at 734-761-3060 and we’ll set them up for you! Continue reading

The Bouma Group Welcomes Trevor McIlwaine to their Real Estate Team!

Trevor McIlwaine, Buyer's Agent for the Bouma Group RealtorsWelcome Trevor McIlwaine!

Trevor McIlwaine was born and raised in Ann Arbor, attending Wines Elementary, Forsythe Middle, and Pioneer High Schools. He studied hospitality management at Mercyhurst University in Pennsylvania and proceeded to work in luxury hotels and restaurants throughout Michigan and Chicago. Passionate about customer service, real estate was a natural fit. With encouragement from family and friends, Trevor obtained his real estate license in October 2014 and has been helping clients with their real estate needs ever since. In his free time, he likes to golf, dance and is a football fanatic. Trevor is excited to be working with The Bouma Group and such a great team of real estate professionals.

Martin Bouma and The Bouma Group have been servicing the real estate needs of Washtenaw County for more than 32 years and bring a unique, personal touch to each transaction. Thorough market knowledge, exceptional follow-through, and cutting edge marketing are the hallmarks of the Bouma Group’s continued success and have consistently made them the #1 real estate team in Ann Arbor. To find out more about home and condo buying opportunities in Washtenaw County, contact The Bouma Group at 734-761-3060 or visit their website at www.bouma.com.

2017 Year End Review for Washtenaw County Real Estate

Washtenaw County Real Estate Report for 2017Washtenaw County Annual Real Estate Report for 2017

2017 was another very competitive year for the real estate market in Washtenaw County.  Continued strong employment growth which creates demand, along with historically low interest rates and a shrinking inventory has fueled an increase in average sales price for the 8th year in a row.  Average sales prices in Washtenaw County bottomed out in 2009 at $182,287 and since then have increased in value by 66% to $303,087.   Meanwhile, the average sales price for a home in Ann Arbor increased to $422,667, a 7.8 % increase over last year.

In spite of the low inventory, we have begun to see some mixed signals.  While active listings remain in short supply, we are seeing a decrease in the pace of sales, a reluctance by buyers to enter into multiple offer situations, a lack of over list price offers, buyer’s remorse after an offer is bottom-lined, and buyers negotiating very hard after the building inspection.  Because buyers are paying top dollar, they become very intolerant of any problems that may arise during the building inspection.  The market also remains susceptible to wider changes in the economic landscape, with slowly increasing interest rates, new construction coming to the market, key tax plan changes, and the anxiety that comes from 8 years of strong price increases and buying at the top of the market. Continue reading

6 Ways to Save for Your Down Payment

A 20% down payment is a significant chunk of change. But with enough time to prepare and a little bit of creative budgeting, you’ll be able to save up for your new home sooner than you think. Follow these helpful budgeting tips to get started!

Break Down Your Budget

Closeup of the black and white number keys on a basic calculator.While it’s never a bad idea to start saving for a down payment, it’s an even better idea to analyze your budget before you consider a home purchase. This will help you set realistic expectations and concrete goals.

First, make a list of all of your necessary monthly expenditures — rent, power, water, phone service, student loans, etc. Add these expenditures up and subtract them from your monthly take-home pay. Then, look at everything that is left over and consider what to cut back.

After you’ve taken a look at your spending, determine what home price range (and, consequently, a 20% down payment) you could comfortably afford based on your current monthly budget. Our handy mortgage payment calculator might help! Continue reading

Thinking About Buying? Know Your Credit Score!

Do You Know Your Credit Score?

Calculation Your Credit Score when buying a home

Knowing your credit score or getting a recent copy of your credit report is one of the first steps that you can take toward knowing how ready you are to start the home buying process.

Make sure all the information listed on your report is accurate and work to correct any mistakes. The higher your credit score, the more likely you will be to receive a better interest rate for your mortgage, which will translate into more ‘home for your money.’

Many potential buyers believe that they need a 750 FICO® Score or higher to be able to purchase a home. The truth is that according to Ellie Mae’s Origination Report, over 53% of loans were approved with a FICO® score under 750 last month!

Continue reading

What You Need to Know About Low-Maintenance Communities

fallen leaves on a lawn in the winterPicture this: It’s winter. It’s freezing. You still need to clear the last of the leaves from your lawn, but you’re finding every excuse to stay huddled inside your warm home and out of the cold, biting air. More than ever, you’re wishing your yard work would just do itself.

Sound familiar? Maintenance and lawn care can be tedious and exhausting chores, especially on the coldest or hottest days of the year. But there are types of residential developments that take care of these chores for you.

The Many Faces of Low-Maintenance Living

Low-maintenance communities, in general, are neighborhoods that provide services such as lawn care and exterior maintenance through an association fee. In a maintenance-free community, especially, little — if any — maintenance is required on the homeowner’s part.

As is the case with any neighborhood, different communities offer different amenities, especially when it comes to low- or no-maintenance living. So to give you a better idea about what to look for in a low-maintenance home, we’ve come up with a quick guide.

Low-Maintenance Townhome Developments

properties along a wide streetIf you want all the space of a single-family home but don’t mind sharing a wall, a townhouse is a great option for low-maintenance living. Though the amenities many vary from community to community, townhome developments typically provide common area maintenance and landscaping.

Low-Maintenance Condominiums

Think of condos as upgraded rental apartments: you have your own space, you can access community amenities, and you can count on someone else to take care of the most mundane chores.

It’s important to note that condos are a type of ownership: when you own a condo, you own everything within the walls of your home. Unlike with townhomes, you aren’t required to care for the exterior.

In addition, condo associations typically maintain the common areas and provide services like trash removal and pest control. Depending on the association, the community may also provide utilities, phone service, and cable or Internet.

No-Maintenance Residential Communities

house common in a maintenance-free communitySome communities, like 55+ communities, take care of more than just the common areas. True maintenance-free communities may also take care of your home’s exterior maintenance, lawn care, landscaping, and services like trash or snow removal.

Real estate options in these no-maintenance communities can include condos, townhomes, and/or single-family homes.

Where to Do Your Research

If a community has an association, check the rules and regulations to learn about what services the association provides. Not sure where to look? It never hurts to ask a trusted real estate agent.

Want to Buy a Low-Maintenance Home? Let’s Talk

We’re familiar with the types of homes and communities found throughout our area, so we’re more than happy to answer any questions you have. Just give us a call at The Bouma Group, Realtors today at 734-761-3060 or email info@bouma.com. Want to start looking now? Check out our real estate search tool here!

Save

Whose Mortgage Are You Paying?

Renting vs Buying…Either Way, You’re Paying Someone’s Mortgage

Man Paying Someone Money for Rent or Mortgage

Should you be renting vs buying? There are some people who have not purchased homes yet because they are uncomfortable taking on the obligation of a mortgage. Everyone should realize that, unless you are living with your parents rent-free, you are paying a mortgage – either yours or your landlord’s.

As Entrepreneur Magazine, a premier source for small business, explained in their article, “12 Practical Steps to Getting Rich,”

“While renting on a temporary basis isn’t terrible, you should most certainly own the roof over your head if you’re serious about your finances. It won’t make you rich overnight, but by renting, you’re paying someone else’s mortgage. In effect, you’re making someone else rich.”

Christina Boyle, Senior Vice President and head of the Single-Family Sales & Relationship Management organization at Freddie Mac, explains another benefit of securing a mortgage vs. paying rent:

“With a 30-year fixed rate mortgage, you’ll have the certainty & stability of knowing what your mortgage payment will be for the next 30 years – unlike rents which will continue to rise over the next three decades.”

As an owner, your mortgage payment is a form of ‘forced savings’ which allows you to build equity in your home that you can tap into later in life. As a renter, you guarantee the landlord is the person with that equity.

Interest rates are still at historic lows, making it one of the best times to secure a mortgage and make a move into your dream home. Freddie Mac’s latest report shows that rates across the country were at 3.94% last week.

Bottom Line

Whether you are looking for a primary residence for the first time or are considering a vacation home on the shore, now may be the time to buy. Let’s get together and talk about your options and see if buying is better than renting for you! 734-761-3060 or info@bouma.com. Start your home search here!