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Tuesday, May 16, 2006

Home Inspections

Every now and again there are news stories and articles about the validity and usefulness of home inspections. At this time there is no regulatory body that supervises home inspectors in Michigan. However, there certainly are inspectors that try to hold themselves to a higher standard in an effort to build and maintain a reputable business.

Just like any other service provider - feel free to call several home inspectors to find out how much it will cost, what will be covered in the inspection, if there is any warranty involved, what kind of documentation will you get, etc. It also doesn't hurt to ask what their qualifications are. Once again, since there isn't a 'test' you have to take to become a home inspector - it is definitely worth asking all of these things and more.

Keep in mind that there are some invaluable services that can be performed by either a good home inspector or by trained contractors - depending upon what you would like inspected. For instance, I think it's a great idea to have your furnace checked out to make sure it doesn't leak carbon monoxide or have any other defects not visible with the naked eye. For services like this you can either have a home inspector check it out or hire a heating & cooling technician to do a thorough job. Also, depending upon what city your are looking in - some have services available for city inspectors to test the basic utilities of the house (and some municipalities require it).

If you have any specific questions on this topic or any others - feel free to email me at blog@michiganhousehunter.com .

Mortgages and your money...

Many of my customers come to me after they've already spoken to a mortgage rep. Sometimes they will even have a 'pre-approval' letter from the lender to show me and let me know that they are ready to buy a home. This is all well and good, but the thing that many people really don't think about is getting multiple quotes. Just like with car insurance, homeowner's insurance, or getting new windows - it is imperative you get quotes from multiple lenders to make sure you're getting the best deal.

Now that I have your attention, keep in mind that we're talking about a lot of different things. When comparing different lenders - you will want to compare rates, closing costs, and other terms of the loans that you are interested in. The trick to this process is actually making an "apples to apples" comparison of all of the information. I recommend asking each lender you speak to for a "Good Faith Estimate". This estimate should contain a breakdown of all of the charges you should be expected to pay as well as what the current rate would be. Now, there are two other factors you need to keep in mind:

1.) Each lender will want to base the "Good Faith Estimate" on a specific property - so give them one. Feel free to print out one of the homes you've been looking at or would like to buy in order to get a good idea of what the costs actually are. However, make sure you provide each lender with the same house to make sure that the information is the same.

2.) Any rates they quote you will be subject to change. Mortgage rates are not fixed until you are ready to buy a home and ask your rep to 'lock' in your interest rate. So make sure you contact multiple lenders the same day in order to keep your comparison fair and valid.

At the end of the day, your mortgage payment is probably going to be a large commitment that shouldn't be taken lightly. It shouldn't be a decision you make without doing your homework first.

If you have any thoughts on this or questions - email me at blog@michiganhousehunter.com & I will be happy to post a reply to your question.

Thursday, November 03, 2005

Get All Of The Facts!

The most important thing you can do for yourself in any transaction is to get all of the facts. This doesn't matter if this is your first home, second home, investment property, etc. The biggest complaint I hear from clients that have worked with other agents, mortgage reps, and title companies is that they weren't given a clear picture of their closing costs or future payments.

When you sit down with your mortgage rep. for the first time - MAKE SURE you get a good faith estimate with a clear picture of what that institution's closing fees will be. You should also ask if they hold an escrow for you to pay your future property taxes, and how many months they hold at a time. You should also know 'UP FRONT' if there are any points associated with your mortgage, or if there is a pre-payment penalty (among other questions). Armed with the above information - you can have your agent help you assemble an rough 'Buyer's Net Sheet' to give you a fairly clear idea of just how much money you will need to bring to close. Often times it isn't the amount of money that someone has to bring to close that is alarming, it's the surprise of finding out at the last minute.

This is especially true if you are selling a home. Absolutely have your agent draw up a few possible selling prices and show you what you would net at the different prices.

When buying a home, many people don't factor in the costs of services that typically are incurred before the closing. Examples include a home inspection, the appraisal, and homeowner's insurance. If you're buying a home (not a condo where the exterior insurance is covered by an association fee) you may need to purchase a 1 year policy and bring a paid receipt for this policy to your closing. Depending upon the size of your home - this can range from several hundred to several thousand dollars. Don't forget though - you should DEFINITELY shop around for your homeowner's insurance to get the best deal possible. Sometimes you get the best deal from the provider you get Automotive Insurance from as you'll get a multiple policy discount, but that's not always the case. A useful tool on the michigan.gov site is the following link:

Tuesday, October 11, 2005

Welcome!

Welcome to the Michigan Real Estate Web Log (BLOG) brought to you by Michiganhousehunter.com! All of the subjects below are taken from real situations, and may contain just the answers you are looking for. If one of the subjects below doesn't fully answer you questions, or if you have a question on something not discussed here yet - feel free to ask. These posts will be constantly updated, and are a tool to help educate and inform buyers and sellers of Michigan Real Estate.

Thank you for visiting & come back often!