Monday, September 07, 2009

First Time Homebuyer Tax Credit Filing

Did you buy your first home this year?

If you've haven't already done it, you'll want to file for the tax credit using IRS form 5405. The tax credit is ten percent of the purchase price to a maximum of $8,000.

Even if you filed your 2008 taxes, you can file an amended return to receive the credit in the form of a check from the IRS.

Still looking for the perfect home? There's still time, but the clock is ticking. New home purchases must be completed by November 30, 2009 to qualify for the first time homebuyer's tax credit.

Thursday, March 19, 2009

February 2009 Southeast Michigan Market Report

Hard to believe, but we're nearly done with the first quarter of 2009 and the Spring selling season is upon us.

The good news is home sales in 2009 continue to outpace 2008 levels. February sales in Wayne County were up 18.4%, Oakland 12.3%, Livingston 27.9% with an overall increase across the MLS of 16.5%.

Another good piece of news is that the inventory of homes and condos is way down. Last Summer I had "Search over 70,000 homes..." on my website. Today when I checked the MLS, there were less than 50,000!

Average days on the market has also fallen. However, the market remains a challenging one for sellers, which helps explain why there are fewer homes on the market. A fascinating chart by Standard & Poor's graphically shows home prices nationally have dropped 26.7%. Many values in the Metro area are at pre-2000 levels.

Hopefully with increased demand and decreased inventory, our market will start stabilizing and begin recovery. Much of that depends on our local jobs picture, and hopefully Michigan's portion of the federal stimulus will provide a boost.

The upside is that with the recent cut, interest rates are at their lowest point in more than 35 years! However the mortgage process is a bit challenging right now with all the political scrutiny of banks. I recently had a situation where the lender went out of business 3 days before our closing date!

The $8,000 credit for first time buyers has helped stimulate a strong buyer's market. Bottomline, with historically low interest rates, there may never be a better time to buy or invest.

Saturday, March 14, 2009

MI Real Estate Answers: How Can I Get What My Home Is Worth?

Q. I want to move to a bigger house but every agent I talk to tells me I won't get what I want. It's not that I "want" it, I need it be able to make a move.

A. If you're serious about selling, better to price where the market is selling rather than 'chase the market down', by continuing to reduce your price. This usually results in a longer time on the market plus a perception by buyers that there is something 'wrong' with your house because it has been on the market so long.

That said, you can ask whatever you want for your home. The rub comes after you've found a willing and able buyer ready to pay your price because your home needs to appraise for the selling price. Appraisers will use the very same comparable homes that the agents have shown you.

Remember, the beauty of this market is that although you'll take a hit on your home, you'll also be paying a lower price for your new home!

Thursday, March 12, 2009

Listen Up 1st Time Buyers...Free $$ and Details on the $8,000 Tax Credit

If you've been renting an apartment or leasing a home for awhile in Northville, Plymouth or the surrounding area, this might be the perfect year to buy your first home.

In addition to the low interest rates and great deals out there right now, the big advantage to buying before the end of 2009 is the $8,000 tax credit enacted by Congress this year to stimulate the housing market. Unlike the 2008 credit, the 2009 tax credit does not have to be paid back.

Here's a great video about the First-Time Home Buyer Tax Credit with answers to a lot of questions you might have:

Plus here's a matrix outlining the tax credit. And if you'd like to explore your housing options further, give me a call!

Sunday, March 01, 2009

2614 Brookfield St, Canton MI 48188 | Just Listed For Sale

AWESOME LOCATION IN BACK OF SUB WITH WOODED VIEW! Updated Colonial With Oak Cabinets, Family Room With Gas Fireplace, Ceiling Fans, Newer Tear-off Roof, Vinyl Windows & Pergo Flooring * 13' x 11' 3-Season Room To Enjoy Overlooking Fenced Backyard With Shed Backing to Beautiful Protected Woodlands * Community Park in Sub For Recreational Activities.

Property information ~~ $174,000
1,421sf, 3 Bedroom, 1.1 Bath Colonial

January 2009 Market Report

I know, its the first day of March, but better late than never.

The January statistics issued by our local MLS Realcomp indicated home sales continued their upward trend. In fact, sales increased 25.7% over January 2008.

Most home sellers who don't have to sell are staying put or leasing until things start to recover. Most homes on the market are well priced and inventory is down 21.1% over January 2008.

The first-time home buyer market remains strong and should continue with the recent passage of the $8,000 credit for first time buyers, which unlike the 2008 credit, doesn't have to be paid back. That's a nice incentive, which should hopefully spur more sales enabling move-up buyers to make their moves.

With changes every day, it's hard to keep up, but here are a few interesting stories I've come across:
  • Freddie Mac to let residents rent homes after foreclosure
  • MSNBC FirstRead's explanation of the Homeowner Afforability and Stability Plan
  • A blog post with several resources for laid off workers
  • Detroit Free Press article with advice for tax appeals
By the way, if you know anyone Michigan homeowners struggling to make their mortgage payments who might be facing foreclosure, please have them visit Save The Dream operated by the Michigan State Housing Development Authority (MSHDA). Their toll-free number is 866-946-7432 and directs homeowners to a foreclosure prevention counselor in their county.

MI Real Estate Answers: HUD home or Fannie Mae?

Q. If you had a choice between buying a home owned by Fannie Mae or HUD, which one would you choose, all things being equal?

A. What is most important is finding a home you're crazy about in an area you like that is mechanical sound. That said, however, the advantage of HUD is that they are offering a $2,500 owner occupant incentive which is applied toward your either your closing costs, tax prorations & repairs to the home. If all other things are equal, that's pretty nice incentive.

When you couple that with the $8,000 tax credit given to first time buyers through the end of December, 2009 is a great time to jump into the housing market!

Tuesday, February 24, 2009

From Colonials to Cape Cods...Classifying Real Estate in SE Michigan

Not sure of the difference between a colonial style house and one that's called a cape cod? Can't describe what classifies a home as a Victorian versus a Craftman? Don't feel bad, you're not alone.

Thankfully, you can visit to view a slideshow showing examples and explaining the differences.

For more renovating ideas, click on their related links to tour a remodeled Craftsman-Style Foursquare or a beautifully renovated Cottage-Style home.

Monday, February 23, 2009

MI Real Estate Answers: Westland City Inspections

Q. I'm interested in a Westland MI home that's a short sale. Who pays for real estate city inspections and how do I know if one has been done?

A. Unless specifically negotiated in the purchase agreement, it's the seller's responsibility to schedule and pay for the inspection, which is $180 for a single family residence. A City inspector reviews the major mechanical systems, health & safety items, and any issues that violate the Property Maintenance Codes.

Call the City of Westland Building Department at (734) 467-3210 (Google any "City State Building Department") to see if the inspection has been completed. If it has, you can go into their office and review the report. If it hasn't, I'd have your agent call the listing agent to find out when they plan to do it.

Since it's a short sale, if there are any issues that need to be addressed from the inspection, the seller may not have the funds to address the issues. Because the inspection period can take 3-4 weeks, it's important that it be done ASAP so that the bank is aware of any issues that need to be addressed to sell the property.

Sunday, February 08, 2009

32564 Benson Ct | Westland MI 48185 Just Listed For Sale

Great Location on Low Traffic Cul-De-Sac with Livonia Schools

Bay Window & Spacious Cathedral Ceiling in Living Room & Bedroom * Newer Furnace, Central Air, Roof & Some Newer Windows * Great Breezeway Adjoining 2.5 Car Garage & Patio Overlooking Backyard Surounded by Privacy Fence * Closing & Commission Subject To 3rd Party Approval

Property information ~ $125,000
1,710sf, 4 bedroom, 1.1 bath tri-level

Monday, February 02, 2009

Foreclosure Sales Hit the Skids in Wayne County

Wayne County Sheriff Warren Evans has stopped all foreclosure sales because there is no way to know which homes are covered under TARP, the Troubled Asset Relief Program passed by Congress which supercedes Michigan foreclosure law.

Last week Evans sent a letter to Michigan's Gov. Jennifer Granholm requesting she declare a state of emergency in Wayne County to address the growing home foreclosure crisis.

Today Evans announced that to proceed with sales not knowing whether the homeowner has had an opportunity to modify their loan would put him in a position of violating federal law.

Evans says his office will work with both homeowners facing foreclosure and their lenders to ensure they are able to exercise their rights according to the law. Additionally, he's urging sheriffs throughout Michigan to join the foreclosure moratorium.

If you or someone you know is having difficulty making their mortgage payment, visit the Wayne County Mortgage Prevention Program's website for guidance and assistance.

Creative Commons License photo credit: respres

Sunday, February 01, 2009

Eating Out On A Dime

How often do you eat out? If you're like most Americans, the answer is more often than you'd like to admit.

Check out to purchase discount coupons for local restaurants. Purchase a $10 gift certificate for $3, or a $25 certificate for $10. Certain restrictions apply. Plus you can subscribe to to receive discount codes for special offers.

Also check out Sponsored by Valassis (the company that provides the coupon inserts for Sunday's newspapers), the site provides amazing deals on grocery, entertainment, travel, clothing and more.

Answers to "How Long Does That Last?"

Did you know that dryers have a life expectancy of 10-25 years? Or that it costs $7,500-10,000 to convert a hot water boiler heater to a forced air furnace?

The Pillar To Post website offers a great tool showing the estimated life of appliances and major systems and components in a home. They also estimate the cost of replacing them, as well as the cost of home repairs.

Once you have the page open, click on the left-hand side to "Expand All" so you can view the details...Did you know metal roofs last 60 years?

Friday, January 30, 2009

Southeast Michigan December 2009 Market Report

Market ReportsResidential sales ended 2008 up 19% higher than 2007 with December's strong finish. In fact, according to Realcomp, every county in the entire MLS showed increased sales and pending sales, which bodes well for 2009.

Sales for the entire MLS during December 2008 were up 31.6% over December 2007, reflecting the 12th straight month of growth.

Strong 2008 starter home sales (those priced under $125K) were up 61% over 2007 due in large part to affordable home prices and low interest rates.

Even though December's inventory was down over 18% over December 2007, the supply of homes remains greater than the demand. Therefore homes selling in this buyer's market are priced to sell.

Market activity has started strong this year. It's still a wonderful time for first time homeowners to take advantage of low interest rates and values.

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Plymouth MI Ice Festival Wrap Up

The 2009 Plymouth International Ice Sculpture Spectacular is a wrap!

Warmer weather on Friday probably worried organizers, but cold weather was back on Saturday....and so were the crowds!

The local economy had an impact as there were fewer ice sculptures, particularly in front of local merchants. Also missing this year were the live reindeer.

Here's some photos showing the highlights:

This Saturday, January 31st is Northville MI 4th Annual Fire & Ice Festival running from Noon to 4 PM.

Thursday, January 22, 2009

Get Set for the Plymouth MI Ice Sculpture Spectacular

If it's going to stay as cold as it is this year, we might as well enjoy an event that celebrates it. The Plymouth MI Ice Sculpture Spectacular comes to Kellogg Park in Downtown Plymouth this weekend.

Starting at Noon on Friday, January 27th and running through Sunday, January 29th, the event features ice carvers from local high schools, colleges, and professionals from around the United States and some from as far away as Japan.

Over 100 sculptures are expected to be carved, mostly from single blocks of ice weighing over 300 pounds. Several sculptures will be constructed using between 5-100 blocks of ice, and you can watch the carving process from the beginning of stacking the blocks of ice to the finished works of art.

Besides the ones filling Kellogg Park, the customized sculptures standing outside the local merchants were some of my favorites last year. From whimsical, like one on the left outside Compari's (my favorite restaurant) to corporate, there's surely a sculpture to please everyone.

One of the most popular places to visit will be "Fantasyland" with entertainment and education for the younger crowd. Each day's events include competitions and an evening light show at dusk.

For recommendations on where to eat during the festival, check out the Plymouth Living blog. Then check out the schedule of events, print out a downtown walking map, and plan to be impressed.

It's an experience you won't soon forget!

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

Morning in America

I watch every inauguration because I'm a pomp and circumstance freak. But as I watched history unfold with millions of other Americans yesterday, I couldn't help but be awestruck by the occasion on so many levels.

Watching the sea of Americans on the Mall witnessing history made me wish I was there, and reminded me of an earlier family trip we made to Washington DC.

Besides the many monuments we visited, Arlington National Cemetary was our destination on Memorial Day where President Clinton was to lay a wreath at the Tomb of the Unknowns and give the annual address. It was thrilling to see our President up close and in person on this solemn day.

The multitudes of people on the Mall yesterday will forever cherish their memory of being there when history was written.

Photo courtesy of Prince Roy, used with permission

Sunday, January 11, 2009

From Motor City to Motown...Detroit is in the News

This is a big news month for Detroit, and no, I'm not talking about the 'auto bailout'.

With Motown's 50th Anniversary celebration and the North American International Auto Show coming to town, the City of Detroit will be front and center.

Beginning Monday, January 12th and continuing for the next year, Motown Records will celebrate their 50th anniversary. The Motown Historical Museum is a blast from the past and a must see for any music lover. When we visited back in 2000, it was hard to imagine that all the musical talent and hits could come from such a small space!

But before Motown, there was the Motor City. Ever since Henry Ford invented the Model A in the early 1900s, Detroit and the automobile has been synonymous.

This week the North American International Auto Show at Cobo Center will debut nearly 60 new vehicles and host more than 700,000 attendees, including nearly 7,000 from the international media.

The Show opens to the public from January 17-25th so check it out if you want to get a glimpse of what is the latest and greatest in auto transportation.