Category Archives: Home Ownership

6 Reasons Why Owning a Home is Awesome

Owning a Home IS Awesome!

From personalizing your living spaces to turning a profit when you sell, there are dozens of reasons why first-time home buyers can’t wait to find a home and make it their own. Though there are plenty of benefits of owning a home, here are the six benefits that stand out from the rest.

decorated room in a home

1. You Can Customize Your Space

Whether you want to invest in the latest high-tech home features or paint your walls neon green, owning a home gives you the freedom to do just about anything you want.

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10 Autumn Upkeep Tips for Your Home and Yard

10 Autumn Upkeep Tips

10 Autumn Upkeep Tips Photo of Fall Leaves

Fall is here! As the temperatures become cooler, it’s a great time to start thinking about autumn maintenance in and around your home. The last thing you want is to be trying to finish home improvement projects outside as the snow starts to fly. Here are 10 autumn upkeep tips that you should consider doing now so that you’ll have more time to prepare for the holidays later.

  1. SEPTIC TANK – In addition to regular inspections, you should have your tank pumped out by a licensed contractor every 2 – 5 years depending on usage.
  2. INDOORS – Replace screens with storm windows if applicable. Reverse your ceiling fan to spin clockwise for fall and winter to pull cool air up and warm air down. Pull out your quilts and comforters to make your home more cozy.
  3. DÉCOR – Why wait until it’s cold and snowy to hang holiday lights? Get the job done now while it’s warm and sunny, and then just plug them in when the time is right. Be sure to test everything before hanging and pick up extra bulbs if needed.
  4. HVAC – Have you changed your furnace filter lately? Consider scheduling your annual furnace inspection now before they book up. Have venting cleaned and/or inspected.
  5. FIREPLACE – Have your chimney cleaned and inspected prior to using your fireplace for chilly fall evenings. Have firewood delivered or find a reliable source.
  6. INSULATION – Add attic and/or wall insulation to lower heating bills over the winter. Purchase insulating film and window air conditioner covers if you plan to use them. Weather-strip windows and doors and install storm windows and doors if applicable.
  7. ROOF – Inspect your roof for damage or dampness and make or schedule repairs if needed. Clean out and inspect gutters. Consider installing heating cables if you have sustained damage from ice dams in the past.
  8. WATER – Turn off outside faucets and ensure that all related pipes have been drained to avoid bursting. Direct downspouts far away from your foundation to avoid flooding during spring thaws.
  9. OUTSIDE – Put away patio furniture, grills, and yard implements. Cut back perennials and clean out annuals. Winterize your lawn mower and have your snow blower readied for use. Purchase a new shovel before the stores run out after the first snow. Have salt and/or sand ready for your sidewalk and driveway.
  10. FINANCES – While this could be done any time of year, “earn” a little extra money for holiday shopping by calling your alarm, cable, and insurance companies to ask if there are any new promotions or discounts that might apply to you, especially if you have been a long-time customer. Doing a little research beforehand, such as calling a competitor for a bid, could result in significant savings from what you’re currently paying.

If you think you might be ready for a new home to improve, call us today and we’ll match you with a seasoned exclusive buyers agent at The Bouma Group, Realtors to guide you through the process. They have local knowledge and market experience and can help you find your new home for the holidays. Call 734-761-3060 or email info@bouma.com today!

Where Are Home Prices Heading in The Next 5 Years?

What Experts are Saying About Future Home Prices

Steps Heading in an Upward Direction depicting Home Prices in the future
Today, many real estate conversations center on home prices and where they may be headed. That is why we like the Home Price Expectation Survey.

Every quarter, Pulsenomics surveys a nationwide panel of over one hundred economists, real estate experts, and investment & market strategists about where they believe prices are headed over the next five years. They then average the projections of all 100+ experts into a single number to better depict the results. Continue reading

Should You Hire a Professional or DIY on Those Home Repairs?

equipment for a do-it-yourself home repairsTo DIY or not to DIY? That’s the question on many homeowners’ minds when there are home repairs or home improvement projects on their to-do lists. The good news is that you can do plenty of things on your own. But for other projects, you’re better off hiring a licensed contractor, plumber, or electrician to do the work for you.

When undertaking a home improvement project, whether you’re buying or selling a home, you want to strike a balance between saving time by hiring a professional and saving money by doing it yourself. So here’s how to know when to hire a professional and when to go DIY.

Replacing Hardware — Do It Yourself

Need an upgrade from tarnished doorknobs, outdated cabinet pulls, or boring light switches? Pick up new hardware from a local home improvement store and go for it. Replacing hardware is a fairly simple fix that any homeowner can do on their own.

roofer's tool belt on top of a houseReplacing Roof Shingles — Hire a Professional

Unless you have significant roofing experience (and aren’t afraid of heights), you’re better off leaving this job to the professionals. Contractors can repair your roof in significantly less time — and save you risk of injury. Be sure to get a few quotes to ensure the best price. 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.

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Say “Hello” to Warmer Weather: Spring Home Décor Tips for 2017

Stay on Top of the Trends with Your Spring Home Décor

vase of flowers in a homeNothing says spring quite like a bouquet of fresh flowers sitting on the coffee table and the sun streaming through the windows. Homeowners love any excuse to freshen up their home décor and welcome the new season, and if Pinterest is any indication, people love to bring the latest trends into their living spaces. Flowers, plants, and cheerful colors are traditional staples of springtime, but 2017 has a few unexpected twists for interior decorating. Looking for inspiration for your own home? Here are just a few home décor ideas to try.

Decorate Your Home with “Greenery”

Pantone’s Color of the Year is a vibrant, nature-inspired hue called “Greenery,” and it’s sure to liven up your living spaces.

Showcase Soft Textures

Velvet, cotton, and plush yarns are textures of choice this year. Bringing these soft, luxurious textures into your home, either with new furniture or decorations, will make you feel even more cozy and comfortable.

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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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Beat the Winter Blues with Colorful Home Décor

The winter holidays and New Year’s have come and gone, and so have all the decorations. With no twinkling lights or festive ornaments brightening up its main living areas, your home can start to look a little bare. Not to worry! Here are a few winter home decorating ideas that can cheer you up and bring back the holiday sparkle. And if you’re planning to sell your home this season, these tips will also help you impress potential buyers with your warm, welcoming home.

seasonal wreath on doorKeep the Wreath on Your Front Door

A splash of color in your entryway can bring a smile to your face even on the gloomiest winter mornings. Add sprigs of holly, frosted pine cones, or a colorful bow to an evergreen wreath and hang it over your door for a fun and festive winter look. (Plus, home buyers pay special attention to your entryway, so a seasonal wreath is key to creating the best first impression.) Continue reading

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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