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Patti Mullen's Blog

By Patti Mullen | Agent in Northville, MI
  • Wading Through An Ocean of Real Estate Listings

    Posted Under: Home Buying  |  August 10, 2012 12:00 PM  |  34 views  |  No comments

    It’s a vast ocean out there. With a veritable sea of real estate listings at your fingertips, starting your home search can be overwhelming. As a home buyer searching online home listings for the first time, the task of navigating listing after listing can seem daunting. It needn’t be so. There are ways to make the process quick and efficient, floating relevant listings to the surface for perusal and leaving the rest for other buyers.

    The first step to an effective search is fishing in the right place. It’s key to go to the most comprehensive and up-to-date site. Before the days of the World Wide Web, Realtors would perform a Multiple Listings Service or MLS search to help find potential homes for clients. The MLS is a database comprised of Realtor listings nationwide--a lot of information in one place, but certainly tricky to navigate without experience.

    The next step is searching wise. Trawling for listings by entering broad search parameters can be time consuming and frustrating. Grab a pen and paper, and write down exactly what you are looking for in a home. It’s okay to be specific—you can always modify your searches if you need to.

    Start with a specific location, and assign a preferred radius in miles. What other towns does that cover? Satellite-enabled online mapping tools, such as the maps feature at 
    Google.com, can be a great resource throughout your search. Keeping the site open in a separate tab while you are perusing listings allows you to toggle between the sites quickly if you need to map a location. You can also create and save maps if you want to view multiple locations at once (to gauge the distance between a property and a school, for example.)

    Now, write down your desired price range. Then, your absolute max price range if you found “the one”. Speaking of which, jot down the approximate square footage, bedroom and bath count in your perfect home. This list will be helpful when you are searching listings.

    Upon entering a Realtor’s site, there will likely be a broad-spectrum search, such as by state, readily available. Avoid this, and look for the link to the Advanced Search tool. Here is where the sea becomes manageable, and Moby Dick becomes a lot less elusive.

    Enter your desired information first. Everything you wrote down you’d like to see in a home. If this yields no bites, then start adjusting in increments. Move your location radius out five miles. Move your desired price up by five thousand. Not too absolute on size? Omit the square footage, bed and bath count. This method of incremental searching keeps the net holes small. You have eliminated wading through pages of irrelevant listings, which can take most of the time, and leave the searcher frustrated before even viewing a listing.

    Before long, there’s a few good potential listings in the net. A few good photos inside and out are a good sign. The more information the better: Age of the home, lot size, systems description, history. Some listings even include neighborhood information, such as school ratings and proximity to shopping, which can be very helpful to those who are searching from outside the area. Utilizing 
    Google.com to locate a town’s public web site can help give even more statistical and recreation info about the area.

    Zillow.com and Trulia.com are handy tools once a few good listings have been located, and many Realtors are also present on these sites. They are databases that keep information such as sales/rental history, taxes, assessment value, and neighborhood trends on individual homes. Simply enter the address, and whatever info they have will be brought up in an easy to peruse format. Sometimes they even yield an extra photo or two.

    The last step is the most important. Always seek the guidance of a Realtor as a Buyer's Agent. A Realtor is privy to more information, has the right experience, and can ultimately get you the most home for your money. They may also know about newly-available properties that haven’t even been advertised yet.

    Performing an online MLS search is extremely helpful because it gives you an idea of the market, produces leads, and gives your Realtor an idea of what you are looking for. With the information you provide, they can captain the ship for you, expertly navigate the squalls and shoals of real estate listings and lead you to the best possible home for you and your family.

  • Up and Down: The Price of Buying Real Estate in Michigan

    Posted Under: Home Buying  |  July 16, 2012 1:05 PM  |  43 views  |  No comments

    Michigan, particularly southeast Michigan, has a cyclical economy and a cyclical real estate market. Metro Detroit, perhaps more than any other urban area its size in America, is a single industry town. It is dominated by the automotive industry and by the parts suppliers and financial institutions that serve the car companies. When the big three are doing well, southeastern Michigan flourishes and home values soar. When the economy is down and nobody is buying new cars, then Metro Detroit real estate values drop. 

    Real estate in Detroit has had dramatic upturns after World War II, in the late 1970s, in the late 1980s, and in the late 1990s and early 2000s. Home prices took a dive during the most recent economic downturn. Now, they’re on their way up again. It’s a good time to grab a deal before prices soar. Of course, the key is choosing the right house in the right community. The properties in some Michigan neighborhoods will always hold most of their value.

    The key is to think ahead. With energy and gas becoming more expensive, the older neighborhoods with the smaller homes may be more and more in demand. They tend to be closer to work, and it's not necessary to take the car everywhere. On the other hand, newer houses tend to be more energy efficient and may be cheaper to heat and cool per square foot.

    The Detroit area is full of beautiful homes and vibrant communities. There’s something for everyone. There are traditional, walkable neighborhoods and shiny new subdivisions; charming town centers and huge and exciting big-box retail malls. Stable and attractive communities like Northville will always be good places to invest in property. The inner ring suburbs and the city, with their charming homes and cozy neighborhoods, are full of potential. Commuter towns offer small town charm with increasingly luxurious housing options. 

    Greater economic diversity is coming to our area. The favorable tax climate, large population of well educated workers, affordable land and buildings, and low cost of living make it an attractive place for existing businesses to locate and for new businesses to set up shop. Detroit has the physical and cultural infrastructure it needs to grow and prosper. 

  • As Temperatures Rise, So Do Household Pest Sightings

    Posted Under: Home Buying, Home Selling  |  May 25, 2012 11:41 AM  |  62 views  |  No comments

    As temperatures rise and we open our doors and windows to summer, there’s something else we may be opening our homes up to that homeowners should be aware of, especially those hoping to sell or buy a home: household pests. Extermination and whole-house treatments are often needed to ensure pests don’t return.

    In Michigan, common house pests are ants, mice, and bedbugs. As you can imagine, all of these are major turnoffs for prospective buyers viewing homes. It’s important that a buyer can see themselves living in a new home, and no one wants to see themselves living with bugs or rodents. Signs of infestation, like chewed-up wood, tunnels, cracks, and droppings, are just as bad. Smells created by insects and rodents are also problematic, and can taint a buyer’s positive impression of your home.

    The spring and early summer, especially when they are as warm as ours have been this year, are when many homeowners first realize they have a pest problem. But just because pests only appeared when the weather got warmer doesn’t mean that they aren’t present during the colder times. You could have a nest in your home, and only be seeing them for the first time when they come out of hiding. Ants are a very common pest, but are often only discovered in the spring when they come out to explore sources of food and water in your home.

    Buyers should always get a thorough home inspection for structural issues and for pests, to ensure that they aren’t purchasing an infested home with expensive problems. As mentioned before, just because you don’t see pests doesn’t mean they aren’t there–so an expert inspection is crucial.

    Have a safe holiday weekend, and don’t let any pests join the party!

  • So You've Bought Yourself A Fixer-Upper

    Posted Under: Home Buying  |  September 9, 2011 7:15 AM  |  43 views  |  No comments

    Just bought a foreclosed property/fixer upper that needs some work? Depending on how much work needs to be done, this can be an extremely intimidating project to take on. And if you’re doing it in a new town, where you might not necessarily know your way around yet, it can be even more challenging. I’ve put together a quick post on getting started with your home improvement projects in and around Northville. Comment with any ideas, suggestions, or reviews of local businesses you’ve used in the past for your own renovation efforts.

    First of all, the Township of Northville offers a home improvement loan program that you might want to check out before you get started on any ambitious projects. There’s also an energy efficient home improvement tax credit in the state of Michigan. Consider energy-efficient and green options for your home if you can—not only are tax credits involved, but it could save you headaches and alleviate your conscience in the long run. And finally, take a look at the HUD (U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development) site for more info on the 203(k), a program that assists those who wish to finance the renovations on their home.

    So, you’ve bought the home. It’s been appraised and you have an idea of what kinds of projects you’re looking at and what needs to happen first. What now?

    First, go through your list of all the renovations you need to make and decide what you can (or are willing) to do yourself and what you can’t. You may or may not need permits to carry out your projects depending on what they are—this is a good resource for figuring out whether you’ll need one or not. Then, call a contractor for the tasks you won’t be taking on yourself. Angie’s List has reviews and information on contractors in the area, as well as The Contractors Directory.

    This is where it starts to get technical. I’m not a builder or contractor, so I can’t walk you through each individual project. But, I can point you in the direction of more resources that I think will be helpful for you. Check out Hometown Junk Removal for waste and recycling options, Northville’s website, and HGTV’s site which is chock full of tutorials and informative articles.

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