Wayne, Washtenaw, Oakland and Livingston County Real Estate News

May 28, 2019

Starting the Search for Your Dream Home? Here Are 5 Tips!?

In today’s real estate market, low inventory dominates the conversation in many areas of the country. It can often be frustrating to be a first-time homebuyer if you aren’t prepared.

In a realtor.com article entitled, “How to Find Your Dream Home—Without Losing Your Mind,” the author highlights some steps that first-time homebuyers can take to help carry their excitement of buying a home throughout the whole process.

1Get Pre-Approved for a Mortgage Before You Start Your Search

One way to show you are serious about buying your dream home is to get pre-qualified or pre-approvedfor a mortgage before starting your search. Even if you are in a market that is not as competitive, understanding your budget will give you the confidence of knowing whether or not your dream home is within your reach.

This step will also help you narrow your search based on your budget and won’t leave you disappointed if the home you tour, and love, ends up being outside your budget!

2Know the Difference Between Your ‘Must-Haves’ and ‘Would-Like-To-Haves’

Do you really need that farmhouse sink in the kitchen to be happy with your home choice? Would a two-car garage be a convenience or a necessity? Could the ‘man cave’ of your dreams be a future renovation project instead of a make-or-break right now?

Before you start your search, list all the features of a home you would like and then qualify them as ‘must-haves’‘should-haves’, or ‘absolute-wish list’ items. This will help keep you focused on what’s most important.

3Research and Choose a Neighborhood You Want to Live In

Every neighborhood has its own charm. Before you commit to a home based solely on the house itself, the article suggests test-driving the area. Make sure that the area meets your needs for “amenities, commute, school district, etc. and then spend a weekend exploring before you commit.”

4Pick a House Style You Love and Stick to It

Evaluate your family’s needs and settle on a style of home that would best serve those needs. Just because you’ve narrowed your search to a zip code, doesn’t mean that you need to tour every listing in that zip code.

An example from the article says, “if you have several younger kids and don’t want your bedroom on a different level, steer clear of Cape Cod–style homes, which typically feature two or more bedrooms on the upper level and the master on the main.”

5Document Your Home Visits

Once you start touring homes, the features of each individual home will start to blur together. The article suggests keeping your camera handy to document what you love and don’t love about each property you visit.

Making notes on the listing sheet as you tour the property will also help you remember what the photos mean, or what you were feeling while touring the home.

Bottom Line

In a high-paced, competitive environment, any advantage you can give yourself will help you on your path to buying your dream home.

 
Posted in Buyer News, News
May 28, 2019

Dual-Eligible Beneficiaries: Some Seniors Qualify for Both Medicare and Medicaid?

A great deal of confusion surrounds Medicare and Medicaid. They’re often mistaken for one another, but they are two very different programs that provide health care benefits for Americans. While many people believe that participation in these programs is mutually exclusive, the truth is that some seniors do qualify to receive both Medicare and Medicaid coverage. When a Medicare beneficiary also qualifies for Medicaid, they are deemed a “dual-eligible beneficiary” and are entitled to enhanced benefits.

 

Medicare vs. Medicaid

Medicare is a federal health insurance program for seniors age 65 and over and younger individuals who are disabled or have certain chronic illnesses. Americans pay into Medicare through payroll taxes.

Medicaid, on the other hand, is a joint federal and state means-based program that helps low-income individuals with limited resources afford health care. Unlike Medicare, Medicaid can differ widely from state to state. Both Medicare and Medicaid are administered by the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS).


How Dual Eligibility Works

Logically, there is some overlap between these two programs. A significant number of senior Medicare beneficiaries do not have substantial income or retirement savings to fund their health care and long-term care. Once a Medicare beneficiary has nearly exhausted their financial resources and meets strict state-specific income and asset limits, they may apply for full Medicaid benefits. These individuals are known as full-benefit dual-eligibles.

A senior may also become a dually eligible beneficiary by qualifying for one of four Medicare Savings Programs (MSPs) offered by their state’s Medicaid program to help pay Medicare premiums and sometimes coinsurance and copayments. These benefits are not as comprehensive compared to the combination of Medicare and full Medicaid, but MSPs feature higher asset limits and more flexible income limits. Individuals who qualify for MSPs are known as partial-benefit dual-eligibles.

How a Dually Eligible Beneficiary’s Medical Bills Are Paid

Medicare continues to be a dually eligible beneficiary’s primary payer. They are free to seek care from any provider that accepts Medicare. However, Original Medicare (Parts A and B) offers coverage that is limited in scope. For this reason, many beneficiaries who can afford it choose to purchase a Prescription Drug Coverage Plan (Part D), a Medicare Supplement Insurance Policy (also known as Medigap) or a Medicare Advantage Plan (Part C) to fill these gaps in coverage. (Keep in mind that Part C is simply a different way of receiving Original Medicare, so it will always function as the primary payer.)

For example, if a full-benefit dual-eligible beneficiary has Original Medicare and a Medigap Plan, then Medigap will function as the secondary payer. Essentially, Original Medicare will pay up to the limits of its coverage and then the secondary payer will pay the remaining costs up to its coverage. Medicaid would then function as the tertiary payer and cover any qualifying expenses that Medicare and Medigap do not.

Exploring Medicare and Medicaid Coverage

Many seniors are not aware that Medicare and Medicaid can work with each other to help lower health care costs. This is especially important since Medicaid covers different types of long-term care services that Medicare alone does not. For assistance exploring all health insurance options and methods for reducing health care costs, contact your local Area Agency on Aging (AAA). Each AAA offers free counseling through the State Health Insurance and Assistance Program (SHIP) to help seniors understand Medicare and Medicaid benefits.

Bruce Webb is a Senior Real Estate Specialist (SRES) and has an extensive network of senior related referrals.

Posted in News, Senior News
May 28, 2019

Competition is Coming, Are You Thinking of Selling Your Home??

The number of building permits issued for single-family homes is the best indicator of how many newly built homes will rise over the next few months. According to the latest U.S. Census Bureau and U.S. Department of Housing & Urban Development Residential Sales Report, the number of these permits were up 7.4% over last year.

How will this impact buyers?

More inventory means more options. Lawrence Yun, NAR’s Chief Economistexplained this is good news for the housing market – especially for those looking to buy:

“This rise in single-family housing construction will help tame home price growth, and the increase in multifamily units should continue to help slow rent growth.”

How will this impact sellers?

More inventory means more competition. Today, because of the tremendous lack of inventory, a seller can expect:

  1. A great price on their home as buyers outbid each other for it
  2. A quick sale as buyers have so little to choose from
  3. Fewer hassles as buyers don’t want to “rock the boat” on the deal

With an increase in competition, the seller may not enjoy these same benefits. As Chief Economist Nela Richardson, added:

“Because existing home inventory has been so low for so long, new construction is taking a larger share of the market…Builders meet the buyers and see the demand firsthand.”

Bottom Line

If you are considering selling your house, you’ll want to beat this new competition to market to ensure you get the most attention for your listing and the best price. Give me a call so we can discuss your options!

Posted in News, Seller News
May 27, 2019

New Research Shows Housing Is Affordable For First-Time Buyers?

Home prices have been on the rise for the last seven years, leading many housing market analysts to conclude that first-time homebuyers are being shut out of the market due to affordability concerns.

New Research Shows Housing Is Affordable For First-Time Buyers | MyKCM

Home prices have been on the rise for the last seven years, leading many housing market analysts to conclude that first-time homebuyers are being shut out of the market due to affordability concerns.

The National Association of Realtors (NAR) reports on the percentage of First-Time Home Buyers (FTHB) on a monthly and yearly basis. Their latest report shows that FTHB’s made up 33% of buyers in March, which matches their reported share in 2018.

NAR uses survey data from their members to come up with this statistic, so their results do not include every transaction completed. Rather, they only show the transactions reported by members who complete the survey.

The other entity that reports on FTHB share is the American Enterprise Institute (AEI). The AEI uses data from mortgage applications that define an FTHB as “any borrower who did not have a mortgage for the preceding three years.”

This means the AEI measurement also includes former homeowners who transitioned out of a home they previously owned and re-entered the market after at least 3 years. The latest FTHB share data from AEI shows that first-time buyers made up 57.5% of all mortgages in August 2018. NAR’s data shows a 31% share for the same time period.

New research from the New York Federal Reserve shows that these traditional reports on FTHB share have been unable to give an accurate depiction of this group’s involvement in the market.

The NY Fed was able to take consumer credit data and identify when a mortgage payment entered a consumer’s credit report to determine when a first-time home purchase was made. Using this data, they were able to show that AEI’s reported FTHB share was consistently 10% higher. The NAR reports were right on par with their findings until 2010, when NAR’s share dropped to the 11% gap seen today.

So, what does this all mean?

First-time home buyers have not disappeared from the market as many analysts had believed. Buying a home is very much a part of the American Dream for younger generations, just like it had been for their parents and grandparents.

This also means that rising prices have not scared buyers away from the market. Many first-time buyers are making sacrifices to save their down payment and make their dream a reality.

Bottom Line

If you are one of the many renters who is scrolling through listings on your phone every night dreaming of buying your own home, there are opportunities in every market to make that dream a reality! Give me a call and we can discuss your options. We would love to help you become a first time home buyer!

 
Posted in Buyer News, News
May 27, 2019

Make the Front Porch a Selling Point?

The front porch is making a comeback. More builders are adding them back into new home designs too.

The front porch was once a mainstay in home designs in the early 1900s. But over the years it has gotten swapped out for those street-facing garages. Also, homeowners sought more privacy and started favoring decks in their backyards than expansive front porches facing their neighbors.

Now, we’re seeing those iconic front porches coming back.

And the younger generation is bringing a different spin to this idea of “porching.” There’s this growing movement called “Porchfest.” This is where neighborhoods across the country are holding events, like music festivals or even a speaker series, right from homeowners’ front porches.

So if the listing you’re staging has a front porch, make sure to take advantage. Add some rocking chairs, a porch swing, or outdoor furniture–complete with cushions and pillows–to show it off as a place to sip lemonade, relax, and mingle with neighbors on a warm summer day.

Look at how some of these designers on Houzz used the front porch to boost a home’s curb appeal.

Photo by Designstorms LLC – Browse porch ideas

Photo by Highland Homes, Inc. – Discover porch design ideas

Photo by Dalrymple | Sallis Architecture – More porch ideas

Photo by Siemasko + Verbridge – Discover porch design ideas

Photo by Rethink Design Studio – Browse porch photos

Photo by The Cobalt Companies, LLC – Search porch pictures

 

May 27, 2019

10 Ways to Save on Utility Bills During the Summer Months?

Summer means baseball and swimming and ice cream! But unfortunately, it also can mean high energy bills, thanks to air conditioning and having the kids at home. Click through to learn how to lower your utility bills and save money this summer.

The summer heat is often the culprit behind jumps in electricity costs during the summer months, so do what you can now to conserve energy and avoid additional costs as the weather heats up. If you're looking to cut back on your spending throughout the summer, your utility bills are great places to start when making changes to your everyday life. 

Here are 10 ways to save on utility bills during the summer months, adopt an environmentally friendly lifestyle and avoid overspending on household expenses this year. 

  1. Switch Off the Lights When You Leave a Room – Turning off the lights when walking out of a room is a great way to curb your energy consumption in the summer.  
  2. Use Rain as a Free Water Source – Collecting rainwater in buckets during a storm is an active way to cut down on your water usage while taking care of your yard this season.
  3. Close Your Blinds and Curtains During the Day – Keeping the heat out on bright, sunny days is an effective way to control your energy expenses this summer. 
  4. Keep Doors and Vents Shut – Closing off parts of your house where you don't spend much time is a convenient way to limit cooling costs while at home during the summer. 
  5. Spend Your Free Time Outside – Going out every day to embrace the warm weather and enjoy the great outdoors is a smart way to use less energy in the summertime. 
  6. Find Creative Ways to Cool Down – Drinking ice-cold beverages and taking cool showers are small ways to save money on utilities while making the most of the summer. 
  7. Put Wet Clothes Out on a Clothesline – Using the hot summer sun to dry your clothes after washing them is an effortless way to reduce utility bills and spend time outside. 
  8. Monitor the Temperature on Your Thermostat – Setting a default number for your air conditioning is a simple way to keep your energy bills from rising when it's hot outside. 
  9. Opt for Fans Instead of Air Conditioning – Circulating air throughout your home with fans is an economical way to cool down your living space while using less energy.
  10. Unplug Electronics That Aren't Being Used – Pulling out their cords when you're not using your electronics and chargers is an easy way to limit your energy usage this summer. 

These 10 ways to save on utility bills during the summer months will keep you from breaking the bank when the weather gets warmer this year. Whether you're focused on using less water, running your air conditioning on a lower setting or another method, it's possible to cut back on power usage and save money in the process.

Posted in News
May 18, 2019

New Study Reveals One Surprising Reason for the Inventory Shortage?

There has been a great amount written on millennials and their impact on the housing market. However, the headlines often contradict each other. Some claim this generation is becoming the largest share of first-time home buyers, while others claim millennials don’t want to own a home, blaming them for the dip in homeownership rate.

 

New Study Reveals One Surprising Reason for the Inventory Shortage | MyKCM

While it is true that millennials have achieved milestones like getting married, having kids, and buying homes later in life than their parents and grandparents did, they are not solely to blame for today’s housing market trends.

Freddie Mac’s Insight Report explored the impact of the Silent and Baby Boomer Generations on the housing market.

If millennials are unable to find a home to buy at a young age like their predecessors, then who is living in those homes?

The answer: Seniors born after 1931 are staying in their homes longer than previous generations, instead choosing to “age in place.”

Freddie Mac found that,

“this trend accounts for about 1.6 million houses held back from the market through 2018, representing about one year’s typical supply of new construction, or more than half of the current shortfall of 2.5 million housing units estimated in December’s Insight.

Older Americans prefer to age in place because they are satisfied with their communities, their homes, and their quality of life.”

According to the National Association of Realtors, inventory of homes for sale is currently at a 3.5-month supply, which means that nationally we are in a seller’s market. A ‘normal’ housing market requires 6-7 months inventory, a level we have not achieved since August 2012.

“The most important fundamental in today’s housing market is the lack of houses for sale. This shortage has been identified as an important barrier to young adults buying their first homes.”

Bottom Line

If you are one of the many seniors who desires to retire in the same area you’ve always lived, you’re not alone. Will your current house fit your needs throughout retirement? If you have any questions about demand for your house, let’s get together to discuss the opportunities available today!

Bruce Webb is a Senior Real Estate Specialist (SRES) and has an extensive network of Senior related Referrals.

May 18, 2019

How to Marie Kondo Your Kitchen?

You may have heard of the Marie Kondo method for organizing, and we're here to tell you that it works. Click through to learn how you can make simple changes to your kitchen that will fill the space with joy.

Want to fill your kitchen with joy? There's only one woman for the job: Marie Kondo. But if you can't get her to come to your house and coach you through the process like she does on her hit TV show, use these tips instead. If you want to get your kitchen organized and spark joy, these are the Marie Kondo-approved tips you need.

Keep only the kitchen gadgets you use

Sometimes our kitchens can get crowded with all sorts of kitchen gadgets, from pasta makers to salad spinners — you probably don't need all of those items. Take out all the kitchen gadgets you own and look them over. Ask yourself how often you use each item, and if the answer is seldom, then you should consider donating it. However, if you are an avid cook and use many of the kitchen gadgets you own, keep them! As long as these items are getting used and enriching your life, they can stay.

Use drawer organizers 

Kitchen drawers can often get out of control. You might think that by putting something away in a drawer, it's organized, but that's not the case if your drawers are jam-packed and you have to remove everything just to find one spoon! Kondo suggests drawer organizers to divide up the space. This way, you have serving spoons in one area, tongs in another and smaller utensils in their own place. 

Store items based on frequency of use

Another secret to keeping your kitchen organized is to store things based on how frequently you use them. Keep bowls and glasses that you use daily on a lower shelf for ease of access. If you use your slow cooker weekly, keep it where it is easy to reach. This will save you from having to use a stepladder every time you need your salad bowl or from having to take out other items just to get to it.

Create a joyful eating area

Keep your kitchen table clean and clear. A messy, disorganized table has a negative impact on your eating habits. If you have bags of potato chips and cookies lying out on your table, you are more likely to eat them. Keep everything in its place and make your kitchen table an area that fills you with joy.

Thank your kitchen

As Marie Kondo suggests to all the families she works with on her TV show, thank your kitchen and what it has given you. Expressing gratitude will help you appreciate the space you have, and if you respect your kitchen, you will be more inclined to keep it tidy. 

Note: Marie Kondo is not affiliated with the publishers of this newsletter.

May 18, 2019

Renters Paying Substantially More While Owning Costs Less?

In a recent Insights BlogCoreLogic reported that rent prices have skyrocketed since 2005. Meanwhile, the typical mortgage payment has actually decreased.

Renters Paying Substantially More While Owning Costs Less

 

“CoreLogic’s national rent index was up 36% in December 2018 compared with December 2005, while the typical mortgage payment was down 4% over that period.”

Renters Paying Substantially More While Owning Costs Less | MyKCM

Why the difference between the costs of renting versus owning?

It makes sense that rents have risen. However, how did mortgage payments decrease? CoreLogicexplained:

“It’s mainly because mortgage rates back in December 2005 were significantly higher, averaging 6.3% for a fixed-rate 30-year loan, compared with 4.6% in December 2018.

The national median sale price in December 2005 – $190,000 – was lower than the $220,305 median in December 2018, but because of higher mortgage rates in 2005 the typical monthly mortgage payment was slightly higher back then – $941 – compared with $904 in December 2018.”

Additionally, a recent report by the National Association of Realtors (NAR) showed that purchasing a home requires less of your monthly paycheck.

According to the Economists’ Outlook Blog, NAR’s February 2019 Housing Affordability Index showed that the “percentage of income needed” to pay the typical mortgage has decreased the last three months.

  • November – 17.3%
  • December – 16.9%
  • January – 16.2%
  • February – 15.9%

Bottom Line

What does this all mean to the current housing market? We think First American said it best in a post last week:

“The mortgage rate-driven affordability surge has arrived just in time… Rising affordability has already benefited home buyers and, if the lower rate environment persists, we’re in for a great spring home-buying season.”

Posted in Buyer News, News
May 18, 2019

Need a Break from Caregiving? Avoid Burnout, Find Respite Care

Millions of family caregivers throughout our country are putting in long, unpaid hours and coping with very difficult elders with little to no help. Sadly, this is a prevalent issue and a guaranteed recipe for caregiver burnout. If family members won’t get on board and you don’t have much money to spare, how can you get a break?

 

Consider giving yourself the gift of respite, or a temporary reprieve from your caregiving duties. If you can manage it financially, there are elder care resources available that can help you take a break and recharge your batteries.

Senior Living Communities Offer Respite Services

Many senior living facilities, such as assisted living communities, memory care units and nursing homes offer short-term care for an elder so that their family caregivers can take a break, go on vacation or just enjoy freedom from their responsibilities for a bit. Often, the senior living facility will care for your elder for a day, weekend or a couple of weeks, without further obligation to move in or sign on for any other services. Your loved one will get a nice place to stay, meals, routine care, the opportunity to socialize, full access to the community’s amenities and even the ability to participate in special events and activities. Depending on how the senior living community charges for temporary residents, you may be able to pay by the day, weekend or week. Regardless of whether you are a part-time or full-time caregiver, you deserve a vacation now and then, just as everyone does from any other job. Find a way to take it. There is no need for guilty feelings.

 

Adult Day Care Services

Adult day care centers are another excellent source of more regular and more affordable respite care. The cost is often reasonable, though it varies a great deal among states and regions. Adult day care centers offer various services and levels of care to meet seniors’ unique needs. Do some research to see what kinds of local adult day programs are available.

Financial Support for Respite Care

If you don’t have the money to pay for respite care at a facility, it is possible to apply for a respite care grant or scholarship. Elder care providers and charitable organizations commonly offer financial assistance to families who are caring for loved ones with conditions like Alzheimer’s disease and related dementias. Contact local adult day care centers, in-home care companies, senior living communities as well as local chapters of larger non-profit organizations to inquire about respite opportunities.

Many national, state and local organizations offer grants, volunteer services and other resources to help family caregivers obtain even small amounts of respite care. It’s likely that you’ll have to do some research to see what options are available to you based on where you live, your financial status, your loved one’s health conditions, etc. If you can’t get a scholarship, or the wait to see if you get it is too long, consider using free or low-cost networks of support, such as church or religious groups, volunteer organizations, or family and friends. Others may not offer to give you a break but may be very willing to do so if you just ask. If you normally get holiday gifts from family, why not ask for the funds to get respite care instead?

Overcome Feelings of Guilt

While no one can take care of an aging loved one the way you can, others are quite capable of giving you some relief. If your own family is unable or unwilling to help, then your only option is to turn to outside sources. This may take some work, but it’s worth the effort. If you need to give yourself an excuse because you feel you “should” be available around the clock for an aging loved one, think about loving yourself enough to allow yourself to rest. A break can recharge your batteries and help you keep going on the journey ahead. If you continue forging on providing 24/7 care, it is only a matter of time before caregiver burnout sets in and your mental and physical health begin to fail.

A lot of difficult feelings arise while providing care for an aging loved one. If you’re feeling depressed, anxious, resentful or just plain numb, do NOT feel bad for feeling this way. No one should feel guilty about needing to take time off. The first step is recognizing you need help and the second step is finding and implementing the support systems you need. Making an appointment with your doctor or a mental health care professional is another good idea. Take care of you!

Many caregivers suffer from burnout. While you can’t change your aging loved one’s condition, you can do things for yourself. In addition to seeking out respite care, search for caregiver support groups and try one out. It can be a big relief just to share the everyday burdens with other people who understand the pressure you’re under because they’re feeling it, too. These groups are also excellent sources of information on respite resources you may not have considered before.

Bruce Webb is a Senior Real Estate Specialist (SRES) and has an extensive network of Senior related referrals.

Posted in News, Senior News