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Prepare Your Home for the Holidays with these Decorating Tips!

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The holidays are approaching. Today, we thought we'd do something a little different and share this festive video on holiday decorating tips from HGTV. Designer Angelo Surmelis shares several great ideas to spread holiday cheer throughout the home. Here are some of our favorites.

  1. Pay attention to the mantle. If you don't have some already, buy some kind of garland to drape over the mantle. Next, use leftover ornaments and candles to add light and texture. When choosing ornaments and candles, ensure they are in the same color-palette. This helps make your mantle a great focal point! 
  2. Use smaller Christmas trees. Every house has their main Christmas tree. In addition, you can also purchase smaller, inexpensive, eco-friendly trees to place throughout the home. Decorate these trees with strips of fabric from a T-shirt in holiday colors to save money for the main tree.
  3. Use what you have. Be resourceful. Adding a plate charge and place mat to your everyday dining set adds some jazz to your table. Fresh-cut flowers and candles will help finish the look. You don't need grand, expensive candles -- a little candlelight goes a long way!

As you can see, it doesn't take much to make your home feel more festive. If you have any questions, give us a call or send us an email. We would be happy to help you!

Happy Thanksgiving!

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We just want to take a quick moment to let you know how appreciative we are of our friends, our family, and our clients. We hope you have a safe and happy Thanksgiving!


We will be saying a prayer of thanks this Thanksgiving. We want to wish health, wealth, happiness to you and yours!

We look forward to seeing you soon!

20 Fall Maintenance Tips for Your Southeastern Michigan Home

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Today I have 20 different home maintenance tips for you as we head into the fall of 2015. I've divided them into 5 different categories, and these should make it easier for you to maintain your property.

Preventative maintenance:
- Check for peeling paint or cracked caulking and seal any breaks to protect surfaces.
- Check your weather stripping and replace or repair it on entry or garage doors.
- Seal driveway cracks.
- Seal gaps between your house and any solid surface like a driveway or patio.
- Caulk or seal any gaps where pipes or wires enter the house through the foundation, siding, windows, etc.
- Clean out your gutters to prevent ice damming as we head into the winter.



Furnace and Central AC tips:
- Have your furnace checked and cleaned by a reputable HVAC contractor.
- Turn your humidifier on for the winter
- Reverse the dampers on your ductwork to get the most efficient airflow. Ideally you want to heat the lower levels of your home more than the upper levels.
- Change the filters on your furnace and humidifier.
- Change the direction of your ceiling fans so they spin clockwise in the winter and counter clockwise in the summer.
- Put a board on your AC unit to prevent snow and ice from getting inside and damaging anything.

General safety tips:
- Make sure your fireplace is in safe working order. Hire a reputable company to check it for deficiencies.
- Test and change the batteries in your smoke alarms and carbon monoxide detectors.

Lawn maintenance:
- Winterize your sprinkler system by the end of October. I recommend hiring a professional to do this for you.
- Drain your hoses and exterior spigots by shutting them off from inside.
- Make sure your snow blower is functioning properly.
- Assure a proper, positive grade around your home so that melting snow is drawn away from your home.
- Late fall is a great time to prune plants and trees. Ideally, any branches or stems should be 3 feet away from your home.

If you have any questions or would like to know more about any of this, please don't hesitate to contact me!

I look forward to hearing from you!

How Can You Stage on a Budget?

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If you are looking to sell your home, your goal is to get the most money possible in the shortest amount of time. One of the best ways to add value and appeal to your home is through home staging. There are a lot of options for how you want to go about it. You could hire a professional staging company, but that comes with a hefty price tag. Most of the time, a few simple fixes is all it takes to transform a living room.

Today, I want to share a video from HGTV that can help you stage your home when you go to sell. Tiffany Brooks recommends her favorite inexpensive home staging tips for you. We hope these will help you save both time and money when it comes time to sell your home.

A fresh coat of paint is always a good idea. Neutral, warm colors work best for highlighting the natural light in your home. This will make it easier to punch up the room with some colorful accessories and pull everything together.

A common design problem facing many homeowners is that they have no real entry way, as their front door opens up to the living room. To fix this, you can add a table, some lighting, and a rug to "fake a foyer" and make it feel like the living room and entryway are two different spaces.

A patterned rug, some pillows, or bright curtains add a ton of texture and an eclectic layer to the space, which is essential to a well-designed room.

In some cases, a "make-under" is just what you need. In the case of most fireplaces, taking some accessories and clutter away enhances the look and feel of the room greatly.
You could spend well over a few thousand dollars with a staging company, or you could do these fixes yourself for around $500. That's a small investment considering the value that you add to your home by adding those pieces.

If you have any questions for us about staging your home or anything else real estate related, give me a call or send over a quick email. I'm always here to help, and would love to hear from you!

What Is Most Important When Renovating Your Home in Southeast Michigan?

Plan Ahead When Renovating
 
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Today, I want to share a video from HGTV to discuss how you can plan ahead when it comes to home renovations. Renovating your home can be an exciting process, but it's important that you don't get ahead of yourself. You can't just go willy-nilly into a major project and expect it to go perfectly. Planning properly for these types of projects can assure a smooth project, and one that may even cost less!

HGTV’s Amy Matthews recommends making a very detailed timeline of your project, including potential things that could go awry and making backup plans in order to prevent these things from happening. Putting your plan onto paper is a good way to start this process.

 

Another major step is choosing a good team of contractors that you can communicate with. If they don't know what you want done, they can't do it.

Just remember, there is no such thing as too much planning! If you plan on renovating your Southeast Michigan home, please contact us. We know great contractors and could also give you advice on what projects will bring you the highest return on your investment.

We look forward to hearing from you!

How Can You Save Thousands of Dollars on Your Southeast Michigan Home?

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Today we're going to be speaking about the difference between a 15-year mortgage and a 30-year mortgage. 

Let's say you have a loan amount of $250,000 that does not take into account taxes, insurance, or other fees. The monthly payment on a 15-year loan would be around $563 more than the 30-year loan, but an additional $317 would be going towards the principle.

As you can see by looking at the graphs, by paying a little more in a 15-year loan, you actually pay $60,000 less in interest, and you also have a home that's paid for! 

Fifteen years into a 30-year loan, you would have paid $126,000 in interest, but you would still owe $161,000! That is a pretty substantial difference.


A lot of people also say that you can write off interest in your taxes, so a 30-year loan is fine when compared to a 15-year loan. However, when we look at the numbers we can see that there is only a $500 difference in tax benefits, and you're paying $2,000 extra for the 30-year loan. 

Before securing a home loan, assess your financial position, goals, and be sure to look at things with a long-term perspective. Tightening your monthly budget and forgoing luxuries now may be the right decision to provide more financial freedom and less stress down the road.

With all this being said, I am not an accountant and cannot offer you advice on this topic, but I just wanted to show you the difference between what happens in a 30-year loan compared to a 15-year loan.

If you have any questions, please don't hesitate to contact me!

Why Do You Need Title Insurance?


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Today I'm going to speak about title insurance because a lot of viewers have been asking about it. It's a very important thing to have, so I'll be explaining it to you. 

Title insurance is an insurance that protects buyers and lenders against title claims that previous owners might bring against a current owner. It's important because it will protect you against liens that don't show up in a title search. Title insurance will protect you against dozens of financial problems that will not show up in a title examination of the property. You'll be protected against forgery, estate issues, bankruptcies, and past lawsuits, among others; it's the only thing that's going to protect your title to the property!

The expense for title insurance is very minimal when you consider the fact that purchasing a home will likely be the biggest financial investment you make. Title insurance is a one-time charge that has the potential to save you thousands of dollars down the road. While the price varies by state, it is always worth it to protect yourself and your property!

Essentially, title insurance makes sure that you're buying the home from the rightful owner. Title insurance is relatively inexpensive and it's easy to get coverage. There really is no reason why you should not be using it!

What Home Buyers Are Looking for in Southeast Michigan

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The weather is finally warming up here in Southeastern Michigan, and with it we're starting to see activity in the real estate market pick up. We have seen much of what we have expected so far in 2015, but inventory is still a little low right now, and we have a lot of demand from buyers that are looking for different kinds of homes. 

Here are some homes that buyers are looking for right now:
  • Ranches, or homes with a 1st floor master bedroom valued above $250K
  • Large lots that offer privacy
  • Homes with open floor plans
  • Buyers seem to be more concerned with the finish of a house, rather than the size, so we need more quality homes in this market
  • Location is also important, so please contact us if your home is centrally located
The point is that we need more homes listed in our market right now, and I firmly believe that sellers will have much less control over the market next year, so now is the time to sell and get top dollar on your home if you're serious about it. Please contact me if you are interested in selling this spring.

I also want to take a moment to thank all of our valued customers, and to thank HOUR Magazine for naming me a Real Estate All Star for the fourth year in a row. It's tough to be in the top 1% of real estate professionals nationally, but it's important work and I enjoy what I do. None of this would would be possible without all of my wonderful clients.

As always, refer to me with any of your Southeastern Michigan real estate needs. I'm always here to help!

Simple Remodels On Your Home to Improve Its Value

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We're expecting to see record levels of remodeling in 2015, and this is because we're seeing a lot of move up buyers taking advantage of low interest rates. These move-up buyers have been investing in their homes over the years, so much so that the average spent on remodeling per year is at $1,900 dollars.

Remodeling and staging go hand-in-hand, and we feel very strongly that these are two very important avenues in which you can get more money for your home. To see some examples of the work we've done and the results we've seen, please go to www.stagingresults.com

In a recent study, 53% of real estate agents said that their buyer clients would pay up to 20% more for a newly remodeled and properly staged home. The areas you need to be focusing on are living rooms, kitchens, and bathrooms. Buyers absolutely love to see remodeled kitchens and bathrooms, so investing money in those places is a wise choice because you'll probably see a large return. These things can usually be accomplished for $3,000 or less depending on the size of your kitchen, and you could usually expect to see an extra $7,000 in exchange. That's a 230% ROI. 

The same goes for new paint. It can really change the feel of your home, and for $20 per can you could add up to $2,000 to the value of your home. We prefer using light and bright colors because they make the home feel more roomy and they tend to make potential buyers more comfortable inside. 

If you're selling your property in Southeast Michigan and aren't quite sure how to spruce it up for extra cash at closing, then please do not hesitate to contact us. We have the resources and the know-how to get your home sold for more money and in less time.

Thanks for watching, and as always, please refer to us with any questions you may have about the real estate market in Southeast Michigan.

Southeast Michigan Real Estate Market Update


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Today I'm starting a video blog to educate you as buyers and sellers in the Southeast Michigan real estate market. It's always best to be informed when entering the market, and so I'll be sending out two video blogs a month with useful information for you. Today we're going to speak about the Southeast Michigan market and at the end of the video you'll have a chance to win a free copy of How to Sell Your Home for Top Dollar in Any Market Anywhere! 
  • There was a 19.6% increase in the average sales price in 2014. This number may climb down this year, but increases of 20% just aren't sustainable, so this is not a bad thing. We don't want to enter a bubble.
  • Average days on market fell just below 50.
  • Many renters are set to purchase homes this year, which will set this already-hot market ablaze with competition. I also expect sellers to come out and list their homes as we recover from the financial crisis a few years ago.
  • You can probably expect a shortage of inventory, but nothing so low that you won't be able to find a good home. 
  • Interest rates are historically low. Despite price increases in the area, these low rates will still allow buyers to afford better homes
  • Growing employment rates will also help our Livonia real estate market and bring out more buyers and sellers.
So, if you're thinking about buying or selling be sure to contact us soon so you can beat out the people who are going to come out in the spring and flood the market. Now is a really excellent time to buy or sell, so get into contact with my team and we can get you headed in the right direction.

Also, if you'd like a free book about home selling, simply text the word 'book' to (248) 923-4663

Stay tuned for more!