Category Archives: Home Ownership

End of Winter Projects to Get Ready for Spring

Get Ready for Spring!  Frozen Fence Waiting for Spring to Come

The groundhog appears to have been right and it’s hard to believe that spring will ever come. Now is the perfect time to finish some final winter projects so you’ll be ready when the flowers start to bloom. Consider working on these during your last few (hopefully) cold days to get ready for spring:

  • Have your lawn mower blades and other tools sharpened, pick up some extra spark plugs and smoke alarm batteries, change the furnace filter, and check your garden hose for leaks.
  • Take advantage of the end-of-season sales to buy next year’s winter gear for your growing kids.
  • When you’re planning next week’s meals, make a couple of double batches and freeze the extras for reheating later. When summer comes and you want to spend all of your time outside, you’ll be thankful you planned ahead and already cooked dinner.
  • After trudging in with dirty boots every day, your carpets, rugs, and upholstered furniture might need a little TLC. Schedule a professional cleaning to leave your entire house feeling clean and fresh.

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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

Jumpstart the New Year: 3 Goals for Your Home

A 30-day calendar with the number 18 circled in red marker.We’re at the end of January, but it’s not too late to develop goals for your home in 2018.

Now is the perfect time to jump right in and start fresh in your current home! Need ideas? Here are a few real estate goals that you can achieve this year.

Fix Those Pesky Maintenance Issues

Maybe it’s a leaky faucet. Maybe it’s a drafty window. Maybe it’s a clogged shower drain. You can probably think of one or two issues off the top of your head that you haven’t gotten around to addressing yet. The New Year is the perfect time to get those problems fixed. Continue reading

A Quick Guide to Tax-Deductible Donations in Your Home

Coffee cups protected by paper in a cardboard moving box.In the season of giving, many local organizations and businesses often accept donations of clothing, household goods, and other gently used items to help those in need.

Homeowners looking to downsize or preparing for a move (or just clearing up some space at home) can not only pay it forward by donating to a local charity, they can also take advantage of tax deductions. We’ve created this handy guide to tax-deductible donations in your home.

Belongings and Household Items That You Can Donate

Most organizations have guidelines about the specific items that they accept, but in general, you can donate these kinds of items to local charities:

  • furniture, such as beds, desks, tables, and chairs
  • clothing, such as shirts, shoes, and new underwear
  • appliances, such as heaters, working TVs, and A/C units
  • vehicles, such as cars or boats
  • building materials, such as doors, windows, and wood flooring

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12 Month-by-Month Organizing Goals for Your New Home

A beige couch in the middle of an open living room.‘Tis the season — for goal planning, that is! Many people spend December reflecting on the year and creating a list of goals to aim for in the New Year, and recent home buyers are no exception.

If you’re thinking about ways to preserve that “new-to-you” feeling in your home and keep the clutter at bay throughout the year, follow our handy month-by-month home organization planner.

January: Clear Out Any Cluttered Spaces

Decluttered spaces can keep your home looking and feeling like new (even if it isn’t). While you’re putting away holiday decorations, take some time to tackle any clutter that has begun to accumulate in catch-all spaces, such as closets, the garage, and any rooms that are still full of half-unpacked moving boxes.

February: Create a Home Organization Plan

A list of things to do each day of the week.Detailed planning is a great way to stay on top of your New Year’s home organization goals. Outline a list of tasks to complete daily, weekly, and monthly. This list can include indoor and outdoor maintenance as well as fun tasks like decorating.

Be sure to pin your home organization plan in a conspicuous space, such as on the refrigerator. You can also lighten your workload by divvying up the tasks to other members of the household. Continue reading

5 Simple Ideas for a Low-Maintenance Indoor Garden

Winter is Coming – Cheer Up with an Indoor Garden

a small potted plant on a living room tableMany homeowners find gardening is an enjoyable outdoor activity with several additional benefits: enhancing curb appeal, creating bright pops of color, and even providing homegrown ingredients for meals.

But outdoor plants need just the right amount of sunshine, space, fertile soil, and maintenance to be able to flourish.

You don’t need to abandon your dream of having a garden if you don’t have the space or it’s not the right season — bring the garden indoors! Here are a few ideas to spice up your home with easy-to-maintain indoor plants.

Grow Herbs on Your Kitchen Windowsill

Cooking can be a breeze when you have fresh herbs within easy reach. Choose a spot in your home with a lot of natural light, plant your favorite herbs in a container with good drainage, and you’ll be all set. Continue reading

Transform Your Home with These Timeless Seasonal Color Schemes

rainbow of colors on paint swatch samplesNothing can transform a home quite like a simple seasonal color palette. Whether you want to embrace the fall foliage, some holiday whimsy, or a little winter coziness, you can do all that with a few coats of paint and some well-placed splashes of color.

The best part of all? Not only are these color schemes great for seasonal home decorating, they work wonders when staging your home to sell, too! Here are a few irresistible color schemes you can blend into your home this fall and winter.

Down to Earth: Rust Red and Terra Cotta

Connect with nature in the fall season using rich tones of red and brown. For an added touch of earthiness, incorporate natural elements like wood to really pull the look together. 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!

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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!

The Truth About Homeowner Equity

What is the Truth About Homeowner Equity?

Which Road to Choose, What is the Truth?
A recent article from a reputable news source was titled: Here’s why some homeowners still can’t sell. In the opening bullets of the article, the author claimed, “Negative equity is one of the main reasons why there are so few homes for sale.”  The article then goes on to soften that stance, but we want to bring better clarity to the equity situation.

A recent report from CoreLogic (which was quoted in the article) revealed that over 80% of all homes now have “significant equity,” which means the home has over 20% equity. That level of equity allows the homeowner to sell their home if they so desire. (There was no reference to significant equity in the article.) Continue reading