Thursday, October 31, 2013

Top 9 Indoor Autumn Maintenance Tasks

Round numbers are overrated when it comes to home maintenance chores that need to be done.  Really, who wants to do the Top 10 Tasks, when 9 will get to job done?  We want to help make prepping your home for winter, as easy as possible!

Ready?   Here we go...

1) Check your attic. Make sure that vents are clear and there are no signs of leaks or unwelcome guests (the furry or feathered kind).

2) Clean your vents and ducts. This includes dryer vents, cold-air returns, and baseboard heaters.

3) Test your detectors. Both the smoke and carbon monoxide detectors should get new batteries twice a year and be tested monthly. The whole unit should be replaced if it is more than ten years old.

4) Mind your flue. Make sure the fireplace is clean and that the damper opens and closes properly.

5) Sweep behind your refrigerator. Vacuuming behind and under your fridge can improve efficiency. Make sure you clean the vent located either on the top or bottom of the appliance, too.

6) Clean your humidifier. Make sure to check the manufacturer's instructions and thoroughly prep the unit before using it for the first time this season.

7) Change your filter. Switching out your furnace filter assures that you're not recirculating dust and allergens throughout your home; and it will help your furnace run efficiently.

8) Test your pump. Make sure your sump pump is ready for the autumn rain and winter.. precipitation (this is mid-Michigan, you never know what you're going to get). Double check your back-up system as well.

9) Inspect your seals. Check the weatherstripping around all your doors and windows and make necessary repairs.

Pretty simple and straight forward, right? Remember that properly maintaining your home now can save on costly repairs in the future and have a huge impact on the resale value of your home. Don't skip it!

Tuesday, October 29, 2013

Real Estate 411

411.pngWhen you’re buying or selling, the obvious source to get your real estate question answered is your agent but where do you go the rest of the time?  As a homeowner for many years to come, you’ll need reliable help and solid suggestions.

Our business goal is to have a select group of our friends and past customers who consider us their lifelong real estate professional. We want to earn that trusted position so they’ll enthusiastically refer their friends to us.  Our plan to achieve this is simply to help these people with all of their real estate needs not just when they buy or sell but for all the years in between.

Throughout the year, we offer reminders and suggestions by email and social media that benefit your homeowner experience.  When we find good articles to help you be a better homeowner, we’ll pass them along.  You’ll discover new ways to maintain your property, minimize expenses and manage debt and risk.

We want to be your “Go-To” person for everything to do with real estate.  If we don’t have the answer you need, we’ll point you in the right direction to find it.

We’re here for you and your friends…now and in the future.  Please let us know how we can help you.

Thursday, October 24, 2013

Park Place Perks: We Are Your Community Experts

Midland was recently named the number one Michigan city by Real Estate blog Movolo. Of course we were not surprised, but we appreciate the title anyway. Movolo ranked cities based on amenities, cost of living, crime rate, education, employment, and home value- categories in which Midland scored very well. But we pose the question- what good is a great community if its residents don't realize all the assets at their fingertips?

From fun family activities to quality local businesses, Midland is a gold-mine of opportunity and resources. As REALTORS we pride ourselves on being community experts. Many of our REALTORS grew up in the tri-city area or have lived in the region for years. They are active in a variety of local clubs, groups, organizations, and teams. We also have a vast knowledge of local professionals. Do you have a question about making improvements to your home? We can help you decide what needs to be done and refer you to a trusted business person who can get the job done. From carpet cleaners to roofers, septic professionals to interior decorators we can point you in the right direction.

Our mission at Park Place Homes is to make your home ownership dream a reality; and we know that extends far beyond helping you buy or sell a house. As your REALTORS we are here to help with any of housing needs and community questions. You can give us a call any time or check out the "Links" tab our website. There is a page for local entertainment, activities, city information, and even restaurants. You can also visit our Business Partners page for a list of local professionals we recommend.

We are at your disposal, so please don't hesitate to put our expertise to work!

Tuesday, October 22, 2013

Why Borrowers Pay Different Rates

interest.pngLenders, like any business, have to make a profit.  The cost of acquiring the funds, the operating costs to service and the expected profit margin are easily identified.  The variable in pricing is the type of mortgage and the credit worthiness of the borrower. 

A loan with a 3.5% down payment is riskier than a loan with 20% down payment.  If the lender has to take the property back to recover their expense, the margin is greater between what is owed and what the property is worth on an 80% mortgage. 

Credit scoring is a risk-based pricing method that allows a lender to be competitive in the market for the best loans from different borrower groups.  Individual lenders set their own levels for what they consider “A” credit which is reserved for the best rates.  If good credit is approximately 710 to 740, scores below that are considered higher risk and will have higher rates.

Risk must be assessed for both the borrower and the property that collateralizes the loan.  The borrower’s credit history and income stability are strongly evaluated by the lender but if a default should occur, the property must secure the loan to avoid a loss to the lender. 

Mortgage pricing.png

The challenge for some buyers is they are unaware of what their credit score is and how it will affect the interest rate offered by the lender.  It is to the buyer’s advantage to be pre-approved by a reputable lender prior to starting the process of looking for a home.  In some cases, the lender can actually improve the borrower’s credit score to help them qualify for a lower interest rate.

Contact me for a recommendation of a trusted mortgage professional -

Friday, October 18, 2013

Spotlight Listings: 3855 N Alamando

  Rarely do you find a custom built home with over 3,000 square feet of living space (not including a finished basement) on over an acre of property at a price like this- just $227,900 $215,000! Expansive ceiling heights, custom cabinetry, beautiful trim work, and an open floor plan are just a few of the eye-catching features that you will find inside 3855 N Alamando.

  The front entry brings you into a spacious living area. Open to the dining area and kitchen, this living space is filled with natural light and is as perfect for entertaining numbers of guests as it is for daily life. The gas fireplace is surrounded in beautiful tile and makes for a warm focal point in the large room.
  Fabulous tile work continues in the kitchen where both floors and backsplash are done in a beautiful neutral-colored porcelain tile. Details such as built-in appliances and electronically operated blinds are further evidence of the quality custom-design.
  In addition to the main floor's open living area, a family room is located on the upper level just off the dining area.  This large space offers beautiful views of the lower level as well as views of the large backyard- accessible through the french doors you see in the picture below.  Also through the french doors is a back deck with even more room for lounging and entertaining.  And a little extra treat- there's a tunnel slide from the deck to the yard.

  The main floor master suite boast 9ft ceilings, a generous walk-in closet and gorgeous en-suite master bath. This space will make you feel as if you've stepped into your own private spa complete with tile-surround garden tub.

  The high-end amenities continue throughout this amazing home.  Main-floor laundry, finished basement, home office, extremely spacious bedrooms, 2.5 car garage, security system, and a top of the line heating and cooling system- everything you've looked for in your dream home is waiting for you at 3855 N Alamando.  Call Angela Mira at Park Place Homes today to schedule your own private showing.

Tuesday, October 15, 2013

Lower Anxieties/Improve Marketability

Home inspection.jpgOne of the anxiety highpoints during the sale of a home is waiting for the buyer’s home inspection report.  Most sellers willingly disclose what they know about their home to any potential buyers.  The concern stems from the inspector finding something that they’re totally unaware of and that it will either cost them a lot of money to correct or the buyer will simply use it to void the contract.
If the inspection does reveal some unknown problem with the home, it’s probably as big a surprise to the buyer who is not as emotionally or financially invested as the seller.  It is human nature to fear what you don’t understand and when a report identifies defects, they may simply opt-out of the home.
The solution to the situation may be for the seller to have the home inspected prior to putting it on the market.  There is still a risk of becoming surprised by an unknown defect which at that point, would have to be disclosed to potential buyers or repaired by the seller.  The advantage is that it creates a baseline to compare discrepancies that may arise when a future buyer has the home inspected.
If the seller’s inspection report is made available during the marketing process, it could give buyers a sense of confidence about the home even though they may still choose to have the home checked by their own inspector.
The cost of the inspection, possibly $500, keeps some sellers from taking this initiative when selling their home.  In an effort to minimize their expenses, they forego getting valuable, disinterested 3rd party advice that could help sell their home.  On a $175,000 home, the fee for the inspection will probably be less than 3/10 of one percent of the sales price.
Another option to the seller to increase marketability of the property and bolster buyer confidence in the home would be to offer a home protection plan.  Generally, the seller doesn’t incur cost for this coverage until the home is sold and there may even be some coverage for the seller during the listing period.  The benefit to the buyer is avoiding unanticipated expenses for specific items that are covered during their first year of ownership.
Contact Park Place Homes for recommendations of home inspectors or home protection plans.

Friday, October 11, 2013

Protect Your House and Home!

Did you know that there were over 364,000 residential structure fires in 2011 resulting in over 6 billion dollars in damages?  Three out of five home fire deaths occur in homes without smoke alarms or without functioning smoke alarms.  Taking simple steps toward fire prevention can save both your home and your family.

With the help of the American Red Cross we've compiled a very basic fire safety checklist:

  • Turn portable heaters off when you leave the room or go to sleep.
  • Stay in the kitchen when frying, grilling or broiling food. If you leave the kitchen for even a short period of time, turn off the stove.
  • Install carbon monoxide alarms in central locations on every level of your home and outside sleeping areas.
  • Install smoke alarms on every level of your home, inside bedrooms and outside sleeping areas.
  • Teach children what smoke alarms sound like and what to do when they hear one.
  • Once a month check whether each alarm in the home is working by pushing the test button.
  • Change smoke alarm batteries at least once a year. Changing them when you change your clocks for daylight-savings is a great way to remember.
  • Replace all smoke alarms every 10 years as they may become unreliable or ineffective after that time.
  • Never disable smoke alarms or carbon monoxide detectors.
  • Ensure that all household member know two ways to escape from every room of your home.
  • Make sure everyone knows where to meet outside in case of fire.
  • Practice escaping from your home at least twice a year and at different times of the day.
  • Remember to GET OUT, STAY OUT, and CALL 9-1-1.
  • Never open doors that are warm to the touch, use your second way out.
  • If smoke, heat or flames block your exit routes, stay in the room with doors closed. If possible, place a wet towel under the door and call 9-1-1. Open a window and wave a brightly colored cloth or flashlight to signal for help.
Make an escape route, practice it, talk about what would happen if there were to be a fire in your house, and be prepared!

Tuesday, October 8, 2013

Rating Your Best Friend

dog.jpgMan’s best friend enjoys many of the benefits of his master’s home besides food and shelter and a comfortable place to live and play.  In return, dog owners expect companionship and possibly, protection; after all, even a small dog can bark to signal intruders.

Few people doubt that most dog owners love their pets and treat them well.  The costs associated with having a dog can include medical and dental that rivals human expenses, premium food, toys, grooming and license fees.  However, one of the expenses not anticipated by pet owners is a higher homeowner’s insurance premium.

There are almost five million dog bites a year with children being the main victims.

“Dog bites accounted for more than one-third of all homeowner’s insurance liability claim dollars paid out in 2012, which amounted to more than $489 million,” said Peter Robertson, representing the Property Casualty Insurers Association of America, testifying against the bill at a hearing of the Committee on Financial Services.  He said, “The total cost of dog bite claims increased by more than 51 percent between 2003 and 2012.”  It is now estimated that dog bites cause losses of over one billion dollars a year.

Some insurance underwriters have denied or canceled coverage or increased the premium of the owner’s liability insurance based on the homeowners’ specific breed of dog such as Pit Bulls, Dobermans, Akitas, Mastiffs, Malamutes and even German Shepherds.  The aggressive nature of certain types of dogs combined with specific training or lack of training, abuse or neglect are identified by insurer’s refusal to provide liability coverage.

If you are considering what insurers identify as a high-risk pet, you might want to visit with your insurance agent prior to acquiring your new best friend to see if it affects your rates.

Tuesday, October 1, 2013

Four Fall Activities for the Family!

   Autumn is a breathtaking time of year in the Great Lakes Bay region- especially Midland. It’s the perfect time to get out of the house and enjoy our community before we get snowed-in once again. To help you make the most of this fall we've compiled a list of a few family-friendly activities that will allow you to take in the season’s beauty!
   Of course we have to start with the Fall Parade of Homes. The Home Builders Association of Midland is hosting the free of charge event October 5,6,12, and 13. Homes will be held open from 1pm till 5pm. Click here for a parade map.
   Happening on the same days as the Parade of Homes is the Autumn Color Tour River Sail on the Appledore IV. The two hour sails leave from Wenona Park in Bay City and takes passengers on a sail up the Saginaw River. You can enjoy hot cider, chili and cornbread while enjoy the colorful view. For details and sail times visit Bay Sail
   Also on October 5th is the Fall Harvest Festival at Chippewa Nature Center. This one day event offers programs featuring the traditions of 19th century Americans including cider making, woodworking, and more! Crafts, games, and fun activities like candle dripping are available all day long for the kids. The event starts at 10am and runs till 4pm and concessions will be available.
   On October 17th Grandma’s Pumpkin Patch and Downtown Midland will host the 2013 Pumpkin Festival. Get the whole family dressed up- including your pets- and head on down for pumpkin rolling, donut eating contests, pumpkin decorating, hayrides, Trick or Treating, and free Popcorn & Cotton Candy. Lou E. Loon will be there along with professional Bike Jumpers. The event starts at 6pm and ends at 7:30pm so don’t be late for this evening full of Fall activities. More information about the night can be found on Downtown Midland’s website. 
   Finally, we want to remind you of some of the beautiful ways to enjoy a simple day or evening. Why not head over to Baynes Apple Farm for one of the best caramel apple’s you can find. Or you could wander through Dow Gardens and admire the gorgeous autumn leaves. And remember that the Midland Farmer’s Market closes down for the season on October 30th; so make sure you snatch up your local goodies before then!
Enjoy the leaves!

Don't Do It!

iStock_000004411494XSmall(er).jpgYou’ve seen lists telling buyers what to do to find the right home but knowing what not to do can be just as important.  After finding the right home, negotiating a contract, making a loan application and inspections, buyers, understandably, start making plans to move and put their personal touches on the home.

In today’s tenuous lending environment, little things can derail the process which isn’t over until the papers are signed at settlement and funds distributed to the seller. Verifications are made by a lender at the beginning of the loan process to determine if the buyer qualifies for the mortgage. The verifications are usually done again just prior to the closing to determine if there have been any material changes to the borrower’s credit or income that might disqualify them.

Simply stated:

1. Don’t make any new major purchases that could affect your debt-to-income ratio
2. Don’t apply, co-sign or add any new credit
3. Don’t quit your job or change jobs
4. Don’t change banks
5. Don’t open new credit accounts
6. Don’t close or consolidate credit card accounts without advice from your lender
7. Don’t buy things for your new home until after you close
8. Don’t talk to the seller without your agent

Your real estate professional and lender are working together to get you into your new home. It’s understandable to be excited about one of the biggest decisions you’ll make and that you feel you need to be getting ready for the move.

Planning is smart but don’t do anything that would affect your credit or income while you’re waiting to sign the final papers at settlement.