Welcome Friends!

Welcome to the home of the TheFunnyAgent.com.  I hope you take some time to explore my blog with something for everyone.  If you are a buyer, seller or just looking for a good laugh I am happy you are here.  If you ever need any assistance in your home sale or search I would LOVE to help you out.  You can reach me at (734) 730-7061 or email me at Dan@AAHouses.com.   You can view my over 100 positive reviews on Zillow here Dan’s Zillow Reviews.   I can’t wait to hear from you and I always promise “a standing ovation every time.”

Anyone have some quarters?
Anyone have some quarters?

BUYERS: 10 Mistakes that Home Buyers Make That Can be Avoided

one Using the wrong loan type and not taking advantage of local grants and programs. Make sure you talk to an experienced Realtor that will set you in the right direction. Not all lenders are licensed or qualified to take advantage of local programs. Of course they will not tell you there is a better product out there so do your research.
two Waiting too late to start their home search. You need to give yourself 3-4 months before the end of your lease or start of new job to make sure that you have enough time to find the right home at the right price.
three Not understanding closing costs. Buying a home is more than just a down payment so make sure you understand all the costs and fees involved in purchasing. See this blog post: http://aahouses.com/real-home-purchasing-costs/
four Skipping a home inspection to save money. Never a good idea.
five Hiring an inexperienced Realtor or mortgage lender out of obligation to a friend or family member. This can be a tough decision but it’s probably the most important financial decision of your life. Ask your friend or family member for a referral so they can be part of the process and share in your experience.
six Buying a home that’s simply too far away. This is a mistake I see far too often. Make sure you think about your future when buying a home because there is one thing you cannot put a price on and that’s… time. If you have to travel over an hour to work and you have a family think about those 2 hours a day and how important they are.
seven Buying a “starter home.” Back in 2005 many people thought they were going to buy a starter home (including myself) and when the bottom dropped out they were stuck. I give every buyer the same advice; “Do not buy a home that you wouldn’t be happy in for 10 years.” There are no guarantees where the market and home prices will go so make a smart decision.
eight Spending the maximum amount on their preapproval. Your purchase should be made on the monthly payment and not the final purchase price of the home. Don’t leave yourself “house poor.”
nine Not starting the pre-approval process early enough. If you are unsure of your credit circumstances and savings make sure you start working with a reputable mortgage lender early in the process. Many credit issued can be resolved in just a few months but don’t wait until it’s too late.
ten Having unrealistic expectations. I have buyers that have been looking for over 3 years for the “perfect home.” In those 3 years they have spent over $30,000 on rent and could have made that home that wasn’t quite perfect more than adequate. Be realistic with your wants, needs and expectations so you don’t drive yourself crazy!

BUYERS: Why you need to work with a Buyer’s Agent

In most real estate transactions there are typically two Realtors, one representing each party. The “Listing Agent” represents the seller and their interests and the “Buyers Agent” represents you as the buyer.

A good Buyers Agent is like a well-trained Sherpa that will guide you through the rocky terrain and to the peak of home ownership.

Here are just a few ways a Buyer’s Agent can have your back:

  1. Help you find the right lender and introduce you to loans and programs you may never had heard of otherwise.
  2. Protect ALL of your interests as a buyer. From your financial interests to your family interests and future resale. Buyers agents are focused on protecting you and your investment.
  3. Negotiating the best price and terms. We will run comparable sales in the neighborhood and make sure you are not over paying or getting yourself into a sticky situation.
  4. A great buyer’s agent will help you win multiple offer situations.
  5. Research, research, research. We have access to tax records, permit applications and data that is not available to the public.
  6. Home inspections. We have access to the best home inspectors and contractors that will identify major issues on your home and local issues such as flooding, foundation, radon much, much more.
  7. We will set up private viewings and use our expertise to help you choose the right home and area that fits your needs.
  8. We have access to the local MLS and homes that may be coming on the market or not yet listed.
  9. We are here to answer all your questions or help you find the right answers.
  10. We will be your guide through the entire climb from looking for homes to writing offers and even after closing. Even after their home has closed we are always there for our clients from helping them find great contractors to assisting their friends and family members and beyond.

BUYERS: The real costs involved in purchasing a home no one told you about

So you have all the money you’ve been saving for a down payment and you’re ready to buy a home. Congratulations! Then you get your final statement (called a closing disclosure) and you need an additional $8,000. What!! Well, this scenario should never really happen if you’ve been well prepared by your lender and REALTOR® but it’s still something that happens all too often.

In this blog post I will break down all of the costs of actually purchasing a home and some things you may not have even considered. Overall, it is extremely important that you work with a lender and REALTOR® that educate you and keep you well prepared throughout the process. Don’t lose the home of your dreams out of an obligation to work with a friend who just got their real estate license or lender that sounded nice over the phone. This is your money and the biggest purchase you will ever make so educate yourself!

The exact amount you will need for closing is not actually calculated until about a week before closing so expect some fluctuation. All of the money you will need to buy a home plus down payment is called the “closing costs.” I have broken these down into 3 categories: Upfront costs, Title Insurance and Mortgage Fees. The typical closing cost is 3% – 5% of the purchase price plus the down payment but it can vary greatly.

Upfront Costs – This is the money that all goes directly toward the purchase of the home. These are not fees but money you are paying toward the home, taxes and insurance.

Down Payment – This is the number everyone is familiar with. FHA loans require 3.5% down but there are options for zero and 1% down
Earnest Money Deposit (EMD) – This is not a fee but money you will need up front to secure the home. $1,000 is typical earnest money but could range higher if you are in a multiple offer situation. This is held in an escrow account and applied to your “closing costs” which include your down payment. This is not a fee but you will need it up front. If the sale does not go through for a variety of reasons this is typically returned as spelled out in the sales contract. Consult your agent for more details on this.

Homeowner Insurance – Most loans require a year worth of homeowner insurance up front which in the Ann Arbor and Ypsilanti market typically runs from $1000 – $1400.

Prorated Property Taxes – As a homeowner you will be responsible to pay the up front property taxes to the municipality you are purchasing or reimburse the seller that has already paid these. (Note: In some municipalities the taxes are paid at the end of the year).

Homeowner Association Dues and Start-Up Fee – This only applies to homes and condos that have a homeowner association. Some of them have a startup fee or require 2 months to be paid up front.

Home inspection – Every buyer should have a private home inspection before purchasing. These run from $400 – $600 and cover a visual inspection of the home. There may be some other specialized inspections you may want to have including pest, radon, sewer line or any other issues that may be unique to your geographic area or recommended to you by the home inspector.

Title Insurance – This protects you and the bank against any defects of title. The title company will perform a search and make sure that there are not any liens on the title such as unpaid contractors or outstanding loans. You will be guaranteed a clear title by the company and issued a Title Policy. If something comes up in the future that was missed during the search you will be protected by this policy. In Michigan the sellers typically pay the Owners Policy and the buyers pay the Loan Policy. These amounts are fixed and can be found here: http://vgtitle.com/rate/

Recording Fees, Document Preparation and Flood Certificates – These are all nominal fees which add up to less than a few hundred dollars but every dollar counts!

Closing Fee – The cost to close the transaction. Typical cost is $250 – $350.
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Mortgage Fees – These fees are all related to your loan and vary significantly based on the loan officer you have chosen.

Appraisal Fee – This is for the bank to determine the true value of the home and in some cases if any repairs (usually safety related) need to be made. The fee is usually $375 – $450 and is non-refundable. If you do not purchase the home this is an out of pocket expense that you will have to absorb. Some lenders make you pay up front and some roll into your “closing costs.”

PMI – Private mortgage insurance. If you are putting less than 20% down on the purchase you will be required to pay for this private mortgage insurance. It may be called by a different name i.e. Mortgage Insurance, lender paid mortgage insurance or PMI. This is a protection for the bank in case the home is foreclosed on. In many cases this fee will drop off after you have 20% equity in the home but with FHA and other loans it will be on for the lifetime of the loan. Some loans require a year worth of PMI up front which could run up to a few thousand.

Origination Fee – What you are paying the lender to generate the loan. $1,000 – $2,000

Application Fee – What some lenders charge to process your application. Check with your lender for estimate.

Credit Reporting Fee – Nominal charge to generate your credit report.

Survey Fee– In some cases a survey of the property may be required.

fool-gfe

BUYERS: 7 Things No One Tells You Before Buying A Condo — That you MUST know!

So you’ve decided that condo living is right for you. Before you take the plunge and sign that contract here are a few things you should check out.

1. Understand the associations financial situation and how it is governed

When you buy a condo you become a “co-owner.” This means you share an ownership interest with everyone else in the condominium complex. As a group you are responsible for the financial operations, governing and even the maintenance of the entire property. No this doesn’t mean you will have to mow the lawn or trim the hedges a few times a year. The condo association will typically hire a management company to oversee items like that.

It is important that before you buy a condo that you verify the condo associations yearly budget and latest financial statement. Make sure that the reserves are at least 20% of the total operating budget and that they are not operating with a loss. If they are operating at a loss guess who has to make that up? You will in the form of an assessment.

Sometimes this information is not easily acquired so make sure that any offer you make to purchase a condo allows you to review and approve this information.

2. Read the bylaws

How boring right? Don’t be intimidated by that huge book of legal jargon there are really only a handful of pages that actually would affect your day to day living. These are the most important part of the bylaws to know and understand:
a. Know what the association covers and what you are responsible for. Beyond the basics of grounds maintenance and snow removal you should know what you are responsible for. Do they replace windows, take care of the deck, etc.?
b. What utilities are you responsible for paying? Many associations cover water and some cover gas as well. Know what’s covered.
c. What are the rules regarding pets? Do you have large dogs over 25 pounds? 3 cats? Know the weight limits and rules.
d. Know the rules regarding renting and subletting
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3. Is the condo FHA approved?

If you are an FHA buyer this is one of the most misunderstood and frustrating issues in purchasing a condo. This is really where you need to lean on the experience of your Realtor so you do not end up in a heap of trouble. If you want to view a list of condos in your area that are FHA approved the link is here: https://entp.hud.gov/idapp/html/condlook.cfm If you really love a condo and you are an FHA buyer I would explore some other loan options such as a 3% or 5% down conventional. Just make sure the property is warrantable before you go down that road.
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Because a complex is not FHA approved doesn’t mean that it’s a bad buy. There is a lot of paperwork that the condo association has to complete in order to get approved and many do not have the resources to keep up with this which is required every 2 years.

4. Do they allow rentals and is there a maximum number?
If you are an investor or plan on keeping your condo as a rental unit this is essential information to understand. This is also the biggest mistake amateur investors make which gets them into a lot of trouble and ends up costing thousands.

The majority of condo complexes have strict rules on renting out the units because as co-owners they do not want the complex to become apartment complexes or short stay hotels. As a co-owner that occupies the property as a primary residence you will learn to appreciate these rules.
The most common rules you will find regarding renting out the condo are: Leases must be at least one year in length and approved by the association (there also may be a fee that applies for this), the condo must be approved for rental by the local government (Township, City, etc.), all tenants must follow the same rules and bylaws as co-owners, a cap on rentals in the complex or building of 25% or 50%.

The last one is the most important if you are an investor. If you purchase a unit with a 25% cap and that cap has been met than you will have to go on a waiting list to rent out the unit. I have seen waiting lists as long as 5 years.

One last note on this: The rental rules can change at any time! If you buy a condo to live in for a few years and then plan on renting it out understand the bylaws can be amended at any time and this may significantly alter your plans. This is a very common practice in the Ann Arbor area where I work. Many medical residents or graduate students come to the University of Michigan or Eastern Michigan University to live for a few years. Once they see how high the rental rates are a condo purchase is a no-brainer. For many it turns out to be a great investment but it’s important to understand the risks.

5. What’s the noise factor
Many buyers spend only a few hours between showings and inspections in a home or condo before spending tens of thousands of dollars. Don’t be afraid to ask the other residents and neighbors what they like or dislike about the condo complex. If you are living on a lower unit and your upstairs neighbor loves tap dancing or has a rock band this could be an issue. If there’s attached garages that your unit sits over maybe open and close them to see how loud it is. If you have a neighbor that likes to come home at 2:00 am every night this could be an issue.

6. Are there any pending assessments?
Condos require just as much work as a home such as new roofs, driveways, roadways, pool repair, etc. Part of your association dues go to cover these improvements but sometimes there is poor budgeting or an unforeseen repair that needs to be made. If there is a budget shortfall and an improvement that needs to be made this will be divided up between all the owners in the form of an assessment. Make sure that as part of any offer you are made aware of any pending assessments to the property.

7. Warrantable vs. Non-Warrantable
A Warrantable condo is a development that can be financed by Fannie Mae or Freddie Mac. What does this mean to you? If a condo is non-warrantable then most lenders will not finance the property and it could be very difficult to sell in the future. There are several reasons why a condo may be non-warrantable including: Over 50% of units are rentals, one owner owns more than 10% of the units, more than 15% of owners are delinquent on their association dues and several more.
As an investor a non-warrantable condo is not necessarily a bad purchase if you plan on holding it long term. If you only plan on living in the condo for a few years than you should probably stay away from non-warrantable condos.

Dan’s bottom line: Condo living is easy, comfortable living for many people. Not having to worry about all of the maintenance and repairs that come with a single family home is a great benefit. Educate yourself before you buy and enjoy the condo lifestyle!

BUYERS: 6 GREAT loans/grants you NEED to know about before you buy – must read!!

Even with interest rates at historic lows, it seems to be getting harder and harder for first time homebuyers or people with credit blemishes to get a home loan. Higher student loan payments, rents and overall cost of living are keeping people in Ann Arbor, Ypsilanti and all over the country from buying their first home. Well, you have come to the right place to learn about some awesome home loans that your lender may not tell you about or even know about.

When I get a call from a first-time home buyer, sometimes they have a pre-approval and other times they do not. Even though I am not a lender myself, I have a network of lenders that provide an assortment of products that may be unique to your situation.

Often times I will tell them about a program and their response is “why didn’t my lender tell me about that?”

There is a good chance that their lender did not go through the training necessary to implement the program or that their company simply does not offer that product. This is why it is so important to use a well-established local Realtor.

USDA Rural Development Loan
This is a zero percent down loan sponsored by the United States Department of Agriculture. It is designed to assist low to moderate income families in designated areas. There are many areas around Ann Arbor and Ypsilanti that qualify for Rural Development (also called RD) loans.

To qualify, the home must be located in an RD eligible area. Here is the link to the map.
The maximum income for RD eligibility in Washtenaw County is $92,000. Call me today for a certified RD lender to help in your home search.

Michigan State Housing Development Authority (MSHDA) Programs
There are a couple great loan programs offered from the State of Michigan which include: MSHDA Down Payment Assistance. This is a one percent down loan with a $7,500 zero interest loan to assist in down payment and closing costs. My parents were able to buy their first home in 1980 using this very program. As a Realtor, I am so grateful for this program because every year I have sold at least 20 homes to deserving families that otherwise would not have been able to purchase a home.

Most national lenders and brick and mortar banks do not offer this loan so it is one of the best kept secrets in the Ann Arbor area. Here is a link www.michigan.gov/mshda
There are other variations of this program called MI Next Home DPA and MI First Home DPA. Credit requirements above 640 and income limits do apply, so contact me today for a great lender recommendation.

BONUS!! Most lenders and agents do not know you can actually combine the Rural Development and MSHDA Programs for a zero percent down loan with $7,500 down payment assistance.

LiveYpsi Homebuyer Program
This is a cool program for Employees of Eastern Michigan University and the Eastern Michigan University Foundation. This program is designed to keep employees of EMU in Ypsilanti and areas of Ypsilanti Township. It is a $7,500 loan that is 20% forgiven each year you live in the home and pay the taxes. Stay in the home for 5 years and it’s like getting a FREE $7,500 toward your purchase.

Doctor, Dentist and Resident Home Loans
Are you a Resident coming to the University of Michigan or Ann Arbor area in need of a great Doctor Loan or home buying option. There are a variety of loans especially for Doctors, Dentists and Residents that offer zero percent down, no PMI and options for those saddled with student loan debt. Call or email me for some great lenders looking forward to assisting you.

FHA 203K Rehabilitation Loan
This is a great way to buy a foreclosed home or a home that most lenders wouldn’t touch because it is in need of some TLC. This loan will allow you to borrow the money to fix up the home and make repairs or improvements. Some lenders even allow you to choose your own contractors! The loan covers a lot of great things including roofs, flooring, windows, lead paint removal, furnace, plumbing, structural, etc. Don’t be discouraged because a home seems to need a lot of work and definitely consider this loan.

Portfolio Loans
When you have a nice down payment, but your credit is borderline or you have non-traditional work and have heard “No” from every lender, it’s time to look at a portfolio loan. These loans are offered by some banks at the same interest rates and underwriting requirements, but with private funds. This means the banks can overlook the short sale or bankruptcy you had a few years ago and make their own determination on your ability to repay. If you have saved some money and every bank has told you “No” it’s time to give me a call and I will get you set up with the right people.