What to Do Before Applying for a New Mortgage
The Ann Arbor real estate market is starting to heat up. Spring is here, interest rates are low, and there are still many great deals to be had. With the tumultuous past few years the mortgage industry has gone through, the guidelines for new mortgages have become very stringent. Here are a few tips that can significantly increase your chances of getting a loan approved for an Ann Arbor home.
- Clean up your credit now. The better your credit score, the better your interest rate. Your credit score must be at least 680 to obtain a prime loan and over 720 for the best rate. There are many online sites to get copies of your reports. Know what’s on there and what you can do to improve your score before applying for a loan. Continue reading
Thinking of Appealing your Property Taxes?
If you are a Washtenaw County property owner, within the last 2 weeks you should have received a Notice of Assessment, Taxable Valuation, and Property Classification letter from the city or township where your property is located. This letter states what the taxable value and the assessed value are for your home for the current year 2011 and the past year 2010. After reviewing this information, you may not agree with the current assessed value of your home and the taxes you are required to pay, based on recent home sales in your neighborhood. If you feel that your property assessment is too high, here is some important information that may help you protest your assessments at your local board of review.
The date for filing Property Tax Appeals is quickly approaching. Here are some helpful dates to keep in mind:
- October 1, 2009-September 30, 2010: This is the sales study period. Assessors use home sales from this time frame to calculate 2011 property values.
- December 31, 2010: Tax day for 2011 assessments and 2011 property taxes. No sales after September 30, 2010 will be used to calculate home values (except in special circumstances).
- March 2011 Beginning the Tuesday after the first Monday: This is when the Boards of Review will be meeting with homeowners to discuss appeals. You must make an appointment. Check your Notice of Assessment for the phone number to call and the exact dates they will take appointments. Keep in mind that this date changes based on municipality so please check with your jurisdiction.
- May 1, 2011: This is the last day for Homeowners to file a PRE, Principle Residence Exemption form. You can read more about it on the Michigan Taxes website.
- July 31, 2011: The deadline for filing residential appeals to the Michigan Tax Tribunal. You must have already protested your tax assessment at the local review board in order to take it to the MTT.
- December 31, 2011: Tax day for 2012 assessments and 2012 property taxes.
The Bouma Group can help you avoid Ann Arbor Foreclosure!
Chances are that you or someone you know in the Ann Arbor area is facing the possibility of foreclosure. Please understand that you/they are not alone. Today, 1 out of every 10 homeowners in America is behind on their mortgage payments. These are tough and frustrating times. Now more than ever, it’s important to identify your options. Foreclosure can be avoided, your credit can be saved, and your financial future can be salvaged.
Through my experience handling distressed properties at The Bouma Group, I’ve found that homeowners today have more questions than answers about their circumstances. We have created a website www.avoidannarborforeclosure.com to help you understand the possible solutions to foreclosure, as well as provide a detailed explanation of short sales, which may be the best course of action for some homeowners. On the website, I’m offering you a FREE Report to explain your options and help you decide on a course of action. The idea of losing a home can be overwhelming, and I feel it is vital for you to have all the facts necessary to make an informed decision. Continue reading
We head into 2011 feeling much better than we did one year ago. We are not seeing major increases in Ann Arbor area property values, however today I would define recovery as being the end of continuing price declines. For the first time in 5 years, we are seeing slight property value increases in most Washtenaw County areas. With historically low interest rates and unbelievable home prices, housing is more affordable today than it has been for decades. I believe that 2011 will be the peak year for buying Washtenaw County real estate.
Washtenaw County Property Values
Looking at the year end MLS reports, there are promising statistics to report:
- the average sales price inched up by 1%
- closed volume for residential sales increased by 4.0%
- closed volume for condominium sales increased by 25.6%
- number of residential sales increased by 2.98%
- number of condominium sales increased by 26.36%
- new listings decreased by -5.6%
As exciting as some of these statistics are, it is important to understand that real estate is local. Here is a chart that shows what is occurring in each school district in Washtenaw County.
Thinking of going it alone to save time and money?
But you’re saying to yourself, ‘All of the information is right there on the internet; the home buyer’s checklists, the mortgage rates, hundreds of real estate websites with all of the search functionality ever needed to find my dream home’. Oh it’s possible to do it yourself, but not recommended if you really want to save time and money.
Reason #1: It’s FREE. As a home buyer, you do not pay for your Realtor services. In the business of real estate, the home seller compensates both agents in the transaction, the agent the home is listed with and the agent that brings the buyer.
Reason #2: Knowledge. Savvy Realtors know the local market and individual neighborhood trends. They have toured many homes in many areas and can help pinpoint those that fit your exact needs and rule out those that don’t, saving you time and energy. Their expert skills can determine what a home is really worth and what price you should reasonably expect to pay for it. A real estate website can’t do that, it doesn’t know the nuances of a neighborhood and all of the factors that lead to a home’s actual value.
It May Already Have.
Washtenaw County home buyers trying to time the real estate market today may think they have it down to a science. It’s all over the news, in the papers; they hear that prices are dropping, and assume the bottom hasn’t arrived. So they wait.
But, there is just one problem. The bottom for interest rates, and possibly Ann Arbor home prices, appears to be gone. And it just so happens that interest rates are a very powerful determinant of how much home you can afford and what you’ll pay each month – even more powerful, in some instances, than the price you pay for the home.
Conforming 30-year mortgage rates are on the rise, averaging 4.85% for the third week of December. This is consistent with the Mortgage Bankers Association’s (MBA) prediction that the average rate on the 30-year loan will increase to 5.3% in the first half of 2011, and is expected to reach 5.5% by the end of the year. Meanwhile, the Michigan Association of Realtors reports that the average home price increased 8.59% year-to-date in October 2010 when compared to October 2009, and is forecasted to remain steady, while the U.S. economy will enjoy stronger than expected growth in 2011.
Friday night, Ann Arbor‘s sixth annual Deals of the Year awards dinner (hosted by AnnArbor.com Business Review) brought area business leaders together. They noted that local successes are helping lead Michigan out of the recession. They were also optimistic that Ann Arbor will continue to serve as an example of economic vibrancy for the region, state, and country. The event highlighted business decisions that have had the most impact in the region over the previous year.
As he opened the awards portion of the program, Stephen Forrest, University of Michigan’s vice president for research, recalled how 18 months ago, the “economy of this nation was in a free fall.” He noted that in Michigan, the “economy was limping along, to say the least. Eighteen months later, we are seeing recovery here.” He credited local entrepreneurs as the primary drivers for that recovery.
“Michigan,” Forrest reminded the crowd, “really did build the American economy in the 20th century. “It can do it again, and I think it’s on this path.” Continue reading
Chelsea, located in Washtenaw County, offers Ann Arbor residents a location with small town charm and easy commuting to all of southeast Michigan’s major areas. Chelsea is home to the Daimler Chrysler Proving Ground and Chelsea Milling Company’s “Jiffy Mix.” The latest addition to the area’s unique business offerings is the Chelsea Antique Mall, home to 27 antique and collectible vendors, located at 1178 S. Main Street.
Owners Ed and Kathy Greenleaf purchased the space in the Chelsea Lanes building, which had stood vacant for two years, and opened 3,000 square feet at the front of the building to vendors. When that space quickly filled, Greenleaf expanded to the back of the building, hosting 10 more booths. This has created a total of 4,100 square feet of vendor space with booth sizes ranging from 5 by 8 feet to 9 by 12 feet. Continue reading
Buying a condominium in Ann Arbor can be a very different experience from buying a single-family home. Single-family homes may be part of neighborhood associations. Condominiums are always part of a specific, preexisting community, and as such, purchase considerations must include both the individual unit and the overall condominium project. Informed purchasers will view a condominium in terms of both their day-to-day comfort, as well as potential resale value. Buyers should know both the condition of the individual unit they’re contemplating purchasing, and the conditions (both financially and in terms of governance) of the entire community of which that unit is a part. Here are some of the specific questions that you should ask when considering the purchase of a condominium unit:
What is the monthly condominium fee, and what does it cover? Condominium fees can range widely. They generally include a variety of things and purchasers need to know exactly what they are. The fees are derived from such things as the number, age and condition of units, annual expenses to maintain common areas, and management (is it professionally, or self-maintained?).
Looking for fun and unique things to do to celebrate Halloween in Ann Arbor this weekend? The Bouma Group has gathered the following eclectic listing of events occurring tomorrow and Sunday. Whether you’ve got kids, or you’re looking for grown-up fun, pick a few, get out of the house, and enjoy Ann Arbor’s beautiful foliage and cool temperatures!
Saturday and Sunday
- 9:00pm at Goodnite Gracie – 102 S. First Street: Toppermost, Michigan Beatles tribute band, hosts “Halloween With The Beatles.” Costumes strongly encouraged, and prizes will awarded.
- 5:00pm – 8:00pm at Camp Munhacke (20120 Bartell Road): The Haunted Woods gets scarier as night goes on. Admission is $7 per person. Spook stations, ghost stories, crafts, and refreshments will be provided.