Category Archives: Home Buyers

14 Conveniences You Don’t Want to Forget in Your Home Search

You have it all planned out. You know exactly which shopping centers and conveniences you want to live near, you know which amenities you need within a few miles of your community, and you have a general idea of where your workplace, grocery store, and soon-to-be-favorite hangouts are located.

When it comes to searching for the right home, many buyers like you have “the perfect location” at the top of their must-have lists. But what exactly is “the perfect location”? And have you considered all of the conveniences you need near your next home?

Shops and Services That Buyers Take for Granted

You know where the basic conveniences are located near your home search location — shops, restaurants, grocery stores. But how about the services and places that you take for granted? As you’re trying to decide where to live and which home best suits you, use this list to determine which amenities you can and can’t live without. This will help you settle on the perfect location — and your ideal home.

bananas at a supermarket1. Specialty Grocery Stores or Farmers’ Markets

You likely already know how far the closest grocery store is from your home search location. But if you love cooking and trying gourmet recipes, you may also want to live near shops that offer the ingredients that traditional grocery stores don’t.

2. Medical Facilities That Take Your Insurance

While you’re searching for homes and determining your ideal location, call around to the doctors, dentists, optometrists, chiropractors, and other medical professionals that you are considering. Find out which insurance providers these places accept to help you decide whether you need to change your location or your provider. Continue reading

7 Signs You’re Ready to Buy a Place of Your Own

Are You Ready to Buy a Place of Your Own?

Living in an apartment or rental home does have its perks: You can test out different neighborhoods and locations, you have the flexibility to move, and you have access to great amenities like a gym or pool. But there’s a reason that owning a home, rather than renting one, is a highly desired achievement.

Maybe the thought of having your own place has crossed your mind only recently, or maybe you’re regularly saving a chunk of your paycheck for that future down payment. No matter where you are in the process of considering home ownership, here are the unmistakable signs that you’re ready to buy your first home.

new friends hanging out

1. You Want to Get to Know Your Neighbors

Because renters don’t tend to live in one apartment for very long, it can be difficult to meet people who live in your building. But when you buy a home and are more invested in your community, it’s easier to forge lasting friendships.

homeowner customizing his house Continue reading

3 Home Buying Mistakes That are Far Too Easy to Make

How to Avoid These Home Buying Mistakes

potential buyers staring at a house

This time of year is ideal for looking for homes. Since springtime is a popular home selling season, you have plenty of choices when it comes to finding listings in your preferred location, in your ideal price range, and with your favorite features. With all of these options, it’s going to be a breeze buying your perfect home… right?

There are some common mistakes to be aware of when searching for and buying your next home. But with the right resources and a team of professionals on your side, purchasing a home should be hassle-free.

1. Letting Your Emotions Get the Best of You

Buying a home is an emotional experience. While you’re touring a home, you can’t help but feel an emotional connection as you imagine hanging your photos and decorations in the living room, cooking dinners in the kitchen, and making precious memories with your friends, family, and new neighbors.

But be careful; if your feelings cloud your judgment, you may find yourself overpaying for your dream home, jumping in too quickly to make an offer, or low-balling and risk losing your favorite home.

home buyer tracking financesHow to Avoid This Home Buying Mistake

Arm yourself with facts and objective advice, such as your list of wants and needs, to keep you from making any emotional home buying mistakes. Continue reading

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!

sign pointing to home for sale Continue reading

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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