Negotiating a East Lansing Short Sale this Winter

A  short sale is a transaction in which the amount paid is not sufficient to cover the existing mortgage or property liens. Once the lender agrees to accept the lesser amount, the short sale succeeds, the lender calls it even with the seller, and all parties can move forward.
It’s a good thing to ‘unfreeze’ a property, yet short sales in East Lansing can be tricky to close. In the worst-case scenario, a buyer and would-be short seller can be put on ice for a full year or more before the short sale succeeds. As is evident to anyone who has been through the process, a local real estate agent with short sale experience is essential for leading the way through the negotiations and closing.
In addition to working with a knowledgeable agent, it’s good to also approach a situation which might turn into a short sale by understanding the general precepts that influence those who will make the decisions. Usually, the mortgage-holding bank publishes how they wish to be contacted. Often, it’s through the “Loss Mitigation” Department (or a title to that effect). That language tells you all you have to know to explain why their attitude may be less than enthusiastic.
Like any commercial business, the bank’s decision-makers seek to minimize the time and man-hours needed to gain the best result. If you come to them with what is an obviously unreasonable offer, they are no more likely to react positively than any other seller. For this reason, researching the market value of nearby properties–enough so that it’s easy to show that your offer is based on a reasonable discount from those prices—is the best way to be taken seriously.
Although you shouldn’t be surprised if even a reasonable offer is turned down at first, don’t be afraid to counter with a second offer.
Depending on the circumstances, I sometimes advise my clients to decide on a viable time frame in which to either close the deal or move on. Not only will this prevent your wasting time, but it can motivate a loan officer to truncate what might otherwise become long-winded negotiations.
Short sales in East Lansing are still to be found for motivated and patient buyers. If you are looking to buy a home in the coming year, now is the right time to call me to start your search!

One Decision Dewitt Home Sellers May Not Even Consider…

When you put your home on the market, one of the decisions it’s easy to overlook is whether to engage a local home stager. Especially if you know you have a good eye for décor or have experience in the visual arts, it may not seem necessary to call in a heavy-duty home staging pro to get your place in shape to sell.
It’s certainly not a requirement for listing, but using a professional home staging company can be invaluable for a number of practical reasons:
Your home is lived-in
That does give it a warm, comfortable feeling, but that’s seldom as saleable as a home that presents itself as open and slightly under-furnished. Prospective buyers react favorably when they can easily picture their own belongings in the living spaces. A local home stager is expert at knowing how to achieve a clean, less lived-in atmosphere with a minimum of disruption.
Save on unnecessary repairs and renovations
Most are necessarily so close to the product (their home) that it’s next to impossible to see it with fresh eyes—the way the prospects will. One of the costly fallouts can be decisions to make repairs and renovations that don’t increase the home’s value by as much as they cost. Some such improvements (like over-painting interior or exterior areas) actually comprise décor choices best left to the future owners. A professional stager has field experience and a good sense for which updates are cost-efficient—and which could be counter-productive.
You stand to earn back more than you spend
Engaging a Dewitt home stager can cost anywhere from hundreds to thousands of dollars. That might seem like an iffy decision since you can’t know that it will ultimately pay off…but it’s tempting when you realize that successful pros are in business because of their track record of making local houses look great—great enough t become worth more money to buyers!  
 Using a professional home stager is just one of the ways we create successful home sales.  If you are looking to list your Dewitt home in the New Year, do give me a call to get started!Image

Lansing Real Estate Reflected Overall 2013 Uptrends

It’s time for this Lansing real estate observer to tackle the New Year’s roundup of the Year in Real Estate (along with the traditional disclaimer that, since the actual statistics won’t be tallied until 2014, this has to be a lot more sizzle than steak!) But this is one time in the year when we Lansing residents get to take pause to relax, perhaps put a bottle of bubbly in the fridge for later on, and take a sweeping view of the general direction of things across the land.
If you’ve been reading here throughout the year, you already know that 2013 Michigan real estate activity might easily justify chilling a superior vintage champagne: it’s been a pretty darn good year! A smattering of last week’s press reports confirms it:
From the East Coast to Oahu (where there was a “1 in 3 chance” that if you sold a house, it was for more than the asking price), reports were of steadily rising prices.
The Business Insider reported that the Big Apple “managed to shatter several real estate records in 2013.” One of the records was a tidy listing for a modest little 62,000 sq. ft. private coop residence. Sure, $130 million may sound a little steep to us here in Lansing, but that might be because so few of our digs have 82-foot swimming pools or tennis courts…at least not indoors, inside our five-story apartment atop a skyscraper.
More down to earth might be NAR’s assessment that “Housing prices rose faster than expected” — with a lot of credit given to the fact that “affordability remained high.”
Another factor: “More first-time buyers” were entering the market due to “rising rents and pent-up demand.”
Following suit, the Dallas News was touting a local home market that “came roaring back in 2013;” one that had “builders rushing to keep up with demand for new houses.”
The Realtor® web awarded credit for the strong real estate year to “Low mortgage rates, all-cash buyers, and tight inventories” that sustained the housing market recovery. Our Lansing real estate saw much of the same.
There was one notably bleak spot: “ACT real estate hit hard by election” the Times reported. “Uncertainty” about election politics had created “subdued performance during the year” and some “negative house price growth.” The best news: this was the Canberra Times – and the country was Australia!
So let’s wish those Down Under a quick turnaround; then, after a relaxing day watching the Rose Parade and a bowl game or two, let’s get ready to charge into an equally dynamic 2014.
Happy New Year, everyone!

Lansing Holiday Season Brings Memories of Past, Joy to Present

This year, the first early signs of Lansing holiday season didn’t seem to arrive too early, maybe because Christmas rushed in so soon after Thanksgiving (which somehow also landed smack dab at the start of Hanukkah).

Still, by now the familiar holiday music has been being played long enough that it’s hard to believe there is a man, woman or child left who hasn’t had at least one moment when some familiar chord didn’t summon up a sudden flood of memories. Whether those memories were of a family gathering just last year, or of one from the distant past, the holiday season means something unique and special to all of us.

However your family celebrates their holiday season: be it Christmas or Hanukkuh or Kwanza or simply the Holidays, you have to agree there is something about this corner of the year that borders on magic. Little kids don’t have to be reminded of that: just mention the word “December” any time between April and November, and the eager chatter about presents, or visiting plans, or Santa (or presents again) are bound to erupt. December without the decorations, the cheerful colored lights, the cookies (thanks everyone, for those cookies!), the candy canes and gatherings of family and friends…without those, December would be just another month.

Even when the shopping and traveling and all the other sometimes too-frenetic preparations threaten to drive us half to distraction, I for one have to admit this time of year serves as a replenishing break from the relentless march of everyday. And whether it results in a spiritual moment or a festive celebration (or both!), it also creates an occasion when families allow themselves a special pause to just be together — if events allow, at the same table — or even if not, in spirit…an likely, also on the jammed-to-capacity cell phone and internet circuits!


New Home Choices Benefit from Rethinking Basics

As you begin any search for a new home in Greater Lansing, it’s worthwhile to take a step back — to take a momentary time-out to consider widening the range of possibilities.

For many families, the kind of home they are looking for is a foregone conclusion. Either they want a customized house in a new development, or a new home that they will build themselves, or they may be pointed toward an existing house in an established neighborhood.

It’s a worthwhile exercise to look at the assumptions behind those fundamental housing preferences. After all, this is a very basic choice that will greatly affect every family member’s quality of life for a very long time. As you would expect, most of the time such evaluations result in confirming the original direction: people who prefer a sparkling new home will wind up checking out the new developments; those who gravitate toward stately, tree-lined streets will point toward existing homes in established neighborhoods.

No surprise there. But there is value in understanding the root causes why one direction has more appeal than another. Understanding those reasons can tell you what qualities are really most important in your new home. It can clarify what you should be looking for in your search.

 If you have become a true do-it-yourselfer who takes satisfaction in presenting a distinctly individualistic personality to the world, a model home in a sparkling new development might now hold less appeal than it did previously. But if your new promotion has made for a more high-energy, career-centered lifestyle, time factors alone might make the advantages of a turnkey new home in a development decisive.

What turns out to be as important as anything else is whether your current living situation has changed enough that a new kind of home choice might be worth considering. Especially when you are about to embark on as important a project as finding a new home in Greater Lansing, take a moment to be sure that more than momentum lies behind your basic direction. Then I’ll be ready, willing and able to help you find a new home that fills the bill! 

#greaterlansinghomes, #firsttimehomebuyers, #buysmart, #midmichiganhomesales


Dewitt Home Sellers Bolster Results by Attention to Minor Details Small Details Like Grout Can Make Mid-Michigan Home Sellers’ Day! One Unlikely Detail That Dewitt Home Sellers Should Cure

Although the housing market continues to improve, it’s not quite time for the next wave of Mid-Michigan home sellers to reserve the moving vans. Especially for home sellers who are on the verge of listing their property, it is time to pay attention to the smaller details that would seem inconsequential, but which can nonetheless determine a prospective buyer’s level of enthusiasm (hence, the size of their offer!).

One of the humblest details that can go unattended is grout. Honestly. A flawlessly tiled shower or kitchen splashboard can go unnoticed if the grout looks as if has gone bad. The do-it-yourself fixes are relatively easy to handle, so before that first open house is imminent, here is the way DIY experts tell us we can eliminate the issue entirely:

Use a hammer and chisel to chip away at the questionable grout. When doing this, aim the tool directly into the grout so you do not damage the tiles. This is the part where you must take your time: rushing now could mean to re-tile.

Have a vacuum handy. Once grout has been removed, use it to thoroughly clear away the debris. You’ll need a clean area before re-grouting begins.

Always wear gloves during the re-grouting. You should also use a grout float (available at any of your local area hardware stores) to make sure the grout is spread and removed easily. Spread the grout into any gaps where they appear, and press it down firmly into the corners using your fingers.

Finish using a grout sealant, and be sure to give it time to cure. The momentary inconvenience will more than pay off when you see the final result.

As The Wall Street Journal points out, “Deals can fall through at the last minute for a variety of reasons.” While crumbling grout is unlikely to actually cause a deal to fall apart at the last minute, home sellers find that details like sparkling, well cared-for tiling can help land that deal in the first place!  Dewitt home sellers — it’s time to call me if you’re ready to list this holiday season!