We want to help you have the best experience if you are buying a home in Grand Rapids or any area of the country. If you or a friend or family member are purchasing a home in another area we would love to connect you with an amazing agent anywhere in the country or even Canada!
Did you know that it is possible to purchase real estate with your IRA?
Recently, there has been many articles posted about Grand Rapids being an amazing place to own rental property. This is due to the increasing rents and affordable real estate. These articles are convincing and you may have been considering getting into the game yourself! I am a huge fan of investment real estate as a vehicle to reach many goals such as long term appreciation and short term cash flow.
You may not have been aware that you can use the funds in your retirement account by using what they call a “self-directed IRA” to buy investment properties. The basic concept is that instead of using retirement funds to buy stocks, bonds and mutual funds and have those investments grow to provide for your retirement, you use the money from your retirement account to invest in real estate. This is very possible to do, but must be done very carefully and with a provider that is set up to handle it correctly so that you don’t endanger your tax protected status.
1) The IRA owns the real estate and must benefit from it – not you. You can’t use it for your primary residence or a vacation home.
2) You can never personally touch the money. The money to purchase the property must come from your IRA and any proceeds must go into the IRA.
3) Although there are ways to manage the property yourself, it is must simpler to use a property management if you are holding the real estate for rental purposes. All monies must be made out the the IRA, never to your name personally.
1) The benefits differ depending on if you use a traditional IRA or a Roth IRA, but with either there are all the benefits of tax deferral that you enjoy with the more common mutual fund investments.
2) Control. Often the returns that real estate experiences exceeds that of other investments if managed properly. Managed properly being what I want to emphasize here. You can choose the home, the tenants, the improvements, and many other decisions to make sure that your asset is performing to your expectations in a way that you aren’t able to do with stocks and bonds.
To Sum Up:
To find out more, please give our office a call. We would love to talk to you about if this would be the right avenue for you to become a real estate investor!
Putting a home up for sale can be stressful, and some owners have a hard time making objective decisions when it matters most. Here are some essential tips for sellers and aspiring home buyers. And of course, we are always here to help for additional insight and guidance. Our goal is make your transition as smooth and stress free as possible.
Price it Right
We perform a detailed current market analysis. We look closely at the sales of similar homes that have closed in the last 90 days and take the number of available listings into account when agreeing to an asking price.
Take Advantage of your Market Debut
Pricing your home competitively from the get-go increases the odds of a quick sale. New listings are “hot” for a reason- buyers get excited about them (Note, that showings cool off noticeably after the first 2 weeks on the market). In a market like ours with limited inventory, you are more likely to get your best price by pricing it at or slightly below market value and attracting multiple offers and then a bidding atmosphere. It is not unusual at all for homes to sell above list price if they are priced right in the beginning.
- Homes that have failed to attract a buyer in a reasonable period of time are most likely overpriced.
- It doesn’t pay to set the price too high; most buyers will need financing and the bank will generally use an appraisal based on recent sales to justify the loan amount.
- We often recommend that you perform repairs to correct visible flaws- or even suggest staging your home so that it feels more spacious and potential buyers can picture themselves living there. This time of year we are very busy doing pre-listing consultations. Please contact us if this would be valuable for you!
Whether or not you are considering selling, let us know if you would like a market analysis done for your home. We are always here to help.
In this market where we are experiencing low inventory, more people are looking to build their new home, rather than buying an existing one. New construction raises the question, “do I need a realtor if I’m going to be building?” I think the answer to that is yes because of the mistakes that I have seen my clients make in the past. There are quite a few things that we can help you with:
1) Financing. This can be a little trickier with new construction as financing depends on the type of builder and project that you’re doing. We can help you choose which financing option makes the most sense for your situations.
2) Upgrades. When building your own home, upgrades are attractive and can add up quickly. The only problem with that is when you over-improve the home, it will not appraise at the end of the project. We can help advise you on what upgrades are wise to invest in.
3) Builders. We would love to help you find the right builder and help you interview them. We have worked with many builders in the past and know their reputations so we can help you find a good fit. It’s easy to go into houses and fall in love with the surface upgrades, which doesn’t mean the house is well constructed. Also, often times the model home includes upgrades that you may not realize when you first walk through. This results in the price being a lot higher than you initially expected. We can help to clarify what is in the base price and what items are upgrades.
4) Negotiating. Builders are more negotiable than you think. They are very aware that they are building their own comps so negotiating may not be on the price, but on other things such as upgrades or the landscape.
5) Clarity. Just like we do when buying an existing home, we can make sure that you understand the contracts. When you hire a real estate agent during new construction you can rest assured that you have someone who is negotiating for your best interest. It is important to have somebody who has been through this process before, knows what to expect, and can help you along the way.
If you’re thinking about building a home or a know a friend or family member who is, we would love for you to send them our way. Building a new home is exciting and we would hate for you or anyone you know to have a negative or frustrating experience.
Since a home is often the largest investment the most people will make in their lifetimes, it’s important to make sure that it stays in great condition. A well-maintained home is not only more livable, it may also fetch more money at resale. This month we have provided you with a two-sided checklist that details the maintenance activities to tackle in each season of the year.
What is mold?
Mold is found throughout indoor and outdoor environments. Outdoors, mold plays an important role in helping to break down dead leaves, wood, and other things found in nature. Indoors, mold can damage property and should be removed.
How does mold grow?
Mold produces spores, very tiny particles that cannot be seen by the naked eye. Spores are the “seeds” of mold and are common in every home. They can grow into new mold when they land on a wet surface or on food.
How can I tell if I have a mold problem in my house?
You can find a mold problem by using your eyes to see it and nose to smell it.
If you see:
- signs of moisture or water damage such as water leaks, standing water, water stains, discoloration on walls or other surfaces
- white, gray, brown, black, yellow or green growths with a cottony, velvety, granular, or leathery texture
- musty or earthy odors
you can assume you have a mold problem.
To find mold growths, you may need to look underneath flooring, behind furniture, near stored items, or you may need to make an opening in a wall. If you have not had an obvious water leak or high moisture problems in your home and you do not see mold growing in your home, you likely do not have a mold problem.
Can exposure to mold affect my health?
Exposure to mold does not always result in health problems. The average healthy person’s immune system usually provides protection from the harmful effects of mold. Most health problems caused by mold are from allergic reactions to it. People with special health concerns (infants, children, and adults with respiratory conditions or weakened immune systems) may be more sensitive to mold than the general population.
Exposure to mold can occur from:
- breathing in mold spores that have been released into the air
- eye contact with mold spores that have been released into the air
- eating food that has become contaminated with mold
- touching the eyes, nose, or mouth with mold-contaminated fingers
How can I prevent exposure to mold?
The best way you can prevent exposure to mold is to control moisture and prevent mold from growing. Here are some tips to prevent exposure:
- Throw out moldy food.
- Promptly attend to leaking pipes, flooded basements, roof leaks, ice dams, and other source of water infiltration.
- Run exhaust fans in showers, baths, indoor pool areas, and cooking areas to allow moisture and steam to escape outdoors.
- Not all moisture problems are the result of leaks, condensation, or floods. Humidity levels above 60% can promote mold growth. In humid months, try using an air conditioner or dehumidifier to keep the humidity in your home below 50%.
- Humidifiers increase the moisture in your home. If you use a humidifier, be sure that it is set properly to prevent excessive humidity.
- Be sure your clothes dryer is vented outdoors. Avoid drying clothing indoors on drying lines or racks.
- Clean bathrooms with mold-killing products.
- Insulate pipes and install chimney lines to limit condensation.
- Use storm windows to limit window condensation.
- Ventilate crawlspaces to prevent moisture build-up.
- Use area rugs that can be washed often. A vapor barrier (like plastic sheeting) may be necessary if carpet is installed over concrete.
- Have your heating and cooling systems inspected and serviced regularly.
How can I clean up mold?
- Locate and fix the water leak or moisture problem.
- Wear disposable rubber gloves, goggles that don’t have ventilation holes, and a respirator available at your local hardware store to reduce your exposure to mold spores. If you have respiratory problems or the area is large (over two square feet), check with your doctor before starting cleanup or have someone else do the cleanup.
- Be sure the area is well ventilated. Open windows and doors and use fans to create a path of fresh air from the cleanup area to the closest door or window leading to the outdoors. Avoid blowing mold spores through the rest of the house.
- When mold is growing on porous material (ceiling tiles, leather, cloth, drywall, paneling) remove, bag, and discard the material. When removing drywall, cut at least 12 inches beyond the area of visible mold. Hard (non-porous) material such as glass, plastic, or metal does not need to be thrown out. It can be cleaned and disinfected.
- Use non-ammonia soap or detergent in hot water to scrub non-porous areas. Use a stiff brush or cleaning pad on block walls or uneven surfaces.
- Thoroughly since the area with hot water. Using a wet-dry vacuum is an easy way to pick up excess water. Remove the filter so that it doesn’t get wet, creating a place for mold to grow.
- Disinfect the area with a solution of 1 part household bleach to 10 parts water. To avoid skin, eye or lung irritation, do not mix bleach with ammonia or other chemicals. Do not use straight bleach – it will not be more effective. Avoid the bleach solution runoff. Wear old clothing as bleach can ruin clothes.
- Allow the area to dry completely. This can take two or three days. Raising the temperature and running a dehumidifier in the area will help.
- Vacuum your home thoroughly with a HEPA or filtered vacuum.
- If you still have mold odors after cleaning and ventilating, it is possible the mold is hidden within walls or behind wall coverings. It is important that these sources are found and cleaned.
- If you have mold damage caused by sewage or other contaminated water, call in a contractor who has experience in cleaning buildings damaged by sewage or contaminated water.
- If you choose to hire a contractor to do cleanup, make sure the contractor has experience in cleaning up mold. Check the contractor’s references. The State of Michigan does not certify or license contractors for mold removal.
Information provided by the Michigan Department of Community Health
Ice Damming: Causes and Solutions
One major problem that many homes face during the winter months is ice damming. Although the weather has been unseasonal this year, the snow will soon be accumulating. Snow on your driveway is a pain the back, but snow on your roof can lead to leakage (even if your roof is new) due to ice damming.
What causes ice damming?
Heat loss from inside the house causes accumulated snow on the roof to melt in spots. Then the water runs down the roof until it reaches an unheated area at the edge of the roof. The snow then stops the water and it re-freezes. After a while, a dam of ice forms on the roof above exterior walls. The dam causes water to form a small pool that can back up under the edges of the shingles. Once under the shingles, the water can leak into the ceiling and walls, causing damage to structure and interior finishes.
Inspectors, appraisers and other building professionals can often get clues from the house about its ice dam history. Water stains on ceilings or around windows in rooms below valleys or other vulnerable areas and condensation stains or mold in the attic are both potential indicators of ice damming.
How to prevent ice damming
- Keep the house warm and the attic cool: Keeping the roof cold enough to prevent the snow from melting is one of the obvious solutions.
- Insulation: In a house with little insulation, heat loss will cause snow to melt. Luckily, upgrading insulation in attics and roof spaces is often easily done. Attic doors also need to be insulated and weather-stripped. Foam board and foam weather-stripping work well.
- Heat registers: Ductwork that travels through an attic must not help snow on the roof. Attic ductwork should be air-sealed and insulated. For air vents in ceilings, the joint between the ducting and the ceiling should be caulked.
- Ceiling fixtures: Ceiling mounted electrical devises like lights and bathroom fans should be sealed at their boxes. Be careful with this. Some electrical devises, such as pot lights, generate lots of heat and you don’t want to cause a fire. This is a job for a specialist.
The cost of taking these preventative measures – either by doing them yourself or hiring a professional – is relatively small in comparison to the potential water damage repair costs, especially if the problem re-occurs or results in a decrease in property value due to obvious water damage.
Once the warm air is kept inside the rooms where it belongs, the existing level of attic ventilation will often by sufficient to keep the attic and roof spaces cold enough to prevent ice dams.
Sources: http://www.slideshare.net/johnhelfrich/johns-nov-dec-2011-newsletter, http://desertluxuryrealty.com/december-2013-newsletter/, http://www.thisoldhouse.com/toh/article/0,,1131314,00.html
Lawn Care Tips by Jason Tieri of Weed & Feed Lawn Care LLC
What a season we have had so far! I was going to talk about the best tips for your lawn during the summer heat, but since we have had this abnormal weather, that doesn’t really apply right now. As of writing this, we are on the cusp of one of the coolest days in July on record. With all the rain and night time humidity over the past few weeks, we are experiencing some conditions on the lawns that are not usually seen this time of year. When we have these rainy and humid conditions, lawns can develop one or more of the following problems.
1) A lot of diseases. Red thread and dollar spot are running rampant right now. If you do have these diseases, the best way to get rid of these issues is by using more fertilizer. Also make sure that you are not watering your yard at night. The lawn only takes what water it needs and the rest needs to evaporate. When water sits on the lawn at night, it causes diseases.
2) Pale Lawns. When we get a lot of rain, natural the fertilizer doesn’t last as long. One of the best things you can do to keep your lawn looking green is to return your clippings back into the grass. The clippings usually contain up to 4% nitrogen, 2% potassium and .5% of phosphorous. Returning the clippings also saves you time, money, and labor involved in caring for your own. Using a mulching mower is the best way to return the clippings.
3) A lot of weeds! When lawns contain a lot of water, the weeds love to germinate. To combat the weeds, we recommend having your mower height set at 3-3.5 inches. When you mow shorter than 3 inches, it exposes the wee seedlings to the sun and they love sun and water!
For more information on these and other topics, please visit Weed & Feed Lawncare LLC’s website at www.weedandfeedlawncare.com
Hiring a real estate professional is not only the easiest way to sell your home, it’s also the smartest.
Now that winter is finally coming to an end and spring is here, the busiest time of the year for home sales is upon us. It’s natural for any homeowner to focus on maximizing profit when it comes to putting his/her home on the market. One tactic many prospective sellers consider is to cut out the “middleman” and sell the property on their own instead of hiring an agent.
Trust me – I get it. When we sold our house a few years ago I had friends of neighbors knocking on my door and I was motivated to save a commission by selling it before it went on the market. (Check back at the end of this post to see how my transaction ended up.)
The reality is: Selling your home yourself is not the money-saving solution you think it is. The dollars you might save on commissions are often a wash when you consider the higher sales prices that an experienced agent – with pricing expertise, negotiating skills, connections/relationships, and access – can bring to the table. Real estate professionals have the resources to get top dollar for your home, and they can secure an accepted offer more quickly and get the deal closed on time.
Still skeptical? Well, the numbers don’t lie. Statistically, a home on the market listed “For Sale By Owner” (FSBO) takes longer to sell (and eventually sells for less) than its real estate pro–represented counterparts. According to data from the National Association of Realtors, FSBOs accounted for 9% of home sales in 2013. The typical FSBO home sold for $184,000, compared with $230,000 for agent-assisted home sales. You do the math.
Here are five key points that prove why you should always work with a real estate professional:
The most essential component to getting your house sold is to price it correctly. Price too high, and your home simply sits on the market, becoming a stale listing. The longer your house sits on the market, the more people start questioning what is wrong with your house. If you price it too low, then you lose money. Home sellers have an emotional connection to their homes and tend to think they are worth more than the market will bear. An experienced agent knows the nuances of your local market, how to price based on those specifics, and then justifies the price of your home to potential buyers.
Selling your home is a major business transaction. There are three significant negotiations in the sale process: the initial offer, the counteroffer, and the post-offer period that includes inspections, assessments and requests for concessions. We can’t stress this enough: You need a skilled and objective negotiator on your side during those discussions.
You want your home to get the maximum exposure to the greatest number of potential buyers. Not only will a professional prepare all the marketing materials, coordinate the online marketing, and host open houses, he or she will also network regularly with other agents who may have interested buyers.
4. Buyer perception
This is a major one that many people people considering a FSBO don’t realize. The vast majority of potential buyers are going to be represented by an agent of their own. FSBO deals can often deter those agents who prefer to work with another real estate professional or who worry about receiving their own half of the commission.
And if, as the seller, you do plan to pay a buyer’s agent commission, you’re really saving only 3%, not 6%, on the sale.
5. Smooth sales process
A professional real estate agent has the experience to work through the sale process efficiently, stepping in when there are financing problems, dealing directly with buyers’ objections and complaints, keeping everything on track, and facilitating the contracts and escrow to a successful, smooth close.
So, let’s travel back to when I sold my house. I made a decision to put my money where my mouth was and we listed our house on the multiple listing service (MLS) and had results that exceeded my expectations. I ended up getting competing offers that drove the price up and we received $10,000 over what we had been listed for. The power of marketing to get exposure to as many buyers as possible was extremely effective!
Information provided by: http://www.trulia.com/blog/reasons-to-work-with-a-real-estate-agent/
First of all, let me just say that I completely get it. When we recently sold our house I had friends of neighbors knocking on my door and I was motivated to save a commission by selling it before it went on the market. But I made a decision to put my money where my mouth was and we listed our house on the multiple listing service (MLS) and had results that exceeded my expectations. I ended up getting competing offers that drove the price up and we received $10,000 over what we had been listed for. The power of marketing to get exposure to as many buyers as possible was extremely effective!
Recently I had a family that I had met with and they were so nice and were the first to admit they didn’t know much about selling property. However, they had friends of neighbors knocking on their door and they had a financial need to net as much as possible out of the sale of their home. (This is my goal as well!) I can’t blame them for having this reaction as this is the same reaction that I had! However, I still deep down believe that using the services of our team not only makes for a smoother transaction that is much more likely to actually close, but it also nets them more money.
The potential buyer didn’t end up wanting to purchase within the time frame that they needed and so they went ahead and listed their property and I was able to put theory into action. We put their home on the market for as close to market value as we could figure. We had significant traffic over the next couple of days and ended up receiving an offer for 7% over list price. I am almost positive that the would be buyer their neighbor knew was not planning on offering full price (because they also wanted to save the agent compensation). So, it wasn’t just a statistic, it was a realty. They lived the statistic researched by the National Association of REALTORS® that homes sold with an agent sells for 9% more than homes sold by owner.
I know that I had a lot of bias, it’s just that I’ve seen this so often. I can fully appreciate wanting to net as much as possible from the sale of your home, and I deeply and strongly believe that using our services is the way to do that!