* Create terrifying tombstones. Set the stage before trick-or-treaters even hit the front door. Use wood, cardboard or thick Styrofoam to create tombstones that you can put in your front yard. After cutting out the desired shape, use a matte gray spray paint to cover the surface, and then use black paint to write creative epitaphs such as “Dare to Disturb” or “Happy Haunting.”
* Get creative with pumpkins. Everyone enjoys a good jack-o-lantern, but why not choose to think outside the box when decorating with pumpkins this year? Instead of carving, try spray painting or using your favorite Halloween candy to decorate pumpkins in fun, spooky patterns. Plus, this is a project that even the littlest witch can enjoy.
* Download a haunted playlist. Nothing is quite as spooky as the sound of doors creaking or ghosts shrieking. Put together a haunted playlist that you can listen to while guests arrive, or stick speakers near an open window to entice the nearby trick-or-treaters to stop by for some candy.
* Serve spine-chilling treats. Use your free time on Halloween to make these simple but yummy treats designed to look like spiders. Serve them when guests arrive to kick-off the scary festivities.
Reese’s(R) Peanut Butter Pumpkin Spiders
6 Reese’s (R) Peanut Butter Pumpkins
1/4 cup Hershey’s (R) Milk Chocolate Chips
Large pretzel twists (2 -1/2 to 3 inches)
12 yellow Reese’s Pieces (R) Candies
Line tray or cookie sheet with wax paper. Remove wrappers from peanut butter pumpkins and place alongside each other on tray leaving 1 inch of space between each peanut butter pumpkin. For each spider, cut 8 matching curved sections from pretzels which will form the legs. Set aside remaining pretzels pieces.
Place milk chocolate chips in small microwave-safe bowl. Microwave at medium 30 seconds; stir. If necessary, microwave at medium an additional 10 seconds at a time, stirring after each heating, until chips are melted and smooth when stirred. Transfer to small heavy duty plastic food storage bag. Cut off one corner of bag about 1/4 inch from the tip.
Attach pretzel legs and yellow candy “eyes” to spider with melted chocolate; place dot of melted chocolate on each eye. Allow chocolate to set before moving spiders.
Think You’re Ready To Make A Successful First-Home Purchase in Oakland County MI?
It’s very exciting — and perhaps a bit overwhelming — given the expense, time and the number of steps it takes to make a successful first-home purchase in Oakland County MI today. You’ll certainly face many decisions along the way, and there’s plenty to do before you achieve your goal of your beautiful first home in Oakland County MI. Relax! It may take a few weeks to get it all together, but buying your first home in Oakland County doesn’t have to be a difficult process if you take it step by step — and have me along as your guide.
Here’s an easy-to-follow summary of the process you’ll go through in buying your first home in Oakland County Mi. Keep it handy as you proceed, and be sure to ask me any questions you have along the way.
- Select An Experienced Oakland County Mi Real Estate Professional As Your Buyer’s Agent
A buyer’s agent is a real estate professional that is contracted to look out for the interests of the buyer rather than the seller. Signing me as your buyer’s representative means I can not only help you find your first home, but I can help negotiate price and contract terms on your behalf and provide information about a home, the sellers, and even previous offers and counteroffers, among other services. In most situations, buyer’s agents are paid from the sales commissions offered by sellers.
- Check Your Credit
Be sure to check your credit before applying for a mortgage. You’ll want to ensure all the information in your report is accurate — and correct any information that isn’t — to get the credit score you’ll need to qualify for a mortgage at the best interest rates available today. -By law, credit reporting agencies must provide you with a free copy of your report once every year — if you ask for it. To request reports from the three major credit reporting agencies — Equifax, Experian and TransUnion:
- By phone, call toll free (877) 322-8228.
- Online, visit www.AnnualCreditReport.com.
- By mail, write to Annual Credit Report Request Service, P.O. Box 105281, Atlanta, GA 30348-5281.
TIP: Credit reports do not include your credit score. Although you can obtain a free copy of each credit report annually, finding out about your credit score will cost you a few dollars.
- Investigate Mortgage Programs
There are lots of mortgage options available, all with different down-payment requirements, interest rates, terms and conditions. I will be happy to help you sort through your choices to find the best fit based on your financial situation and goals.
- Interview Reputable Lenders
Once you’ve decided on the loan options you’re considering, contact several lenders in Oakland County Mi to find out what they can do for you. You’ll want to know about their interest rates, loan costs, terms, etc. I will be happy to provide you with a list of lenders who have helped our clients in the past.
- Get Pre-Approved For A Loan, Not Just A Pre-Approval Letter
Pre-approval means the lender has reviewed your income/debt ratio, assets and credit profile and determined the amount of money they would be willing to lend you providing various conditions are satisfied by the particular home you decide to purchase — such as a supporting appraisal, clear title, etc.Here’s how loan pre-approval can help you:
- Knowing exactly how much money you can qualify to borrow will ensure you don’t waste your time looking at homes you can’t afford.
- Based on your loan pre-approval, you’ll know in advance what contract terms you’ll want to negotiate with sellers — for example, seller-paid points, closing costs, inspections, etc.
- If you find a particularly good deal on a home, you’ll be able to jump on it, without worrying about whether you’ll get the financing you need.
- Your pre-approved loan gives sellers confidence that their contract with you is more likely to go to settlement/closing –and get there more quickly — than would contracts from competing buyers who have yet to secure financing approval.
- Develop A “Needs And Wants” List
Include the type of home — single-family, townhome, condo, etc. — number of rooms, size, location in Oakland County Mi and any other amenities that are important to you in your first home. Be sure to distinguish between minimum requirements (“needs”) and items you could do without (“wants”), if need be. Remember, you may not be able to afford your dream home as your first home, but making a smart choice will allow you to live in it comfortably and sell it when you’re ready.
- Search Available Properties
I can pull all the homes on the multiple listing service (MLS) in Oakland County MI that match your needs and budget. Of course, you can view many properties online to sort out those that look like what you hope to find.
- Tour Homes
This is where the real home shopping takes place — in person with your agent. Your personal visits to homes in Oakland County MI gives you a clear sense of their location, condition, amenities and overall “feeling,” none of which comes across accurately online. Be sure to drive and walk the neighborhood surrounding your top choices.
- Pare Down Your Choices Using Your “Needs And Wants” List
It’s useful to go back to your original wish list to help you focus on selecting that one property in Oakland County MI that’s just the right combination of amenities to be your first home.
- Write A Purchase Offer For The Home Of Your Choice
I will help you design a purchase offer to get you the best deal on the home you want in Oakland County Mi- and consider contingencies to protect your interests. I will submit your offer with your deposit (earnest money) to the seller or seller’s agent.-An earnest money deposit shows the seller that a buyer is serious about purchasing a property. When the transaction is finalized, the funds are put toward the buyer’s down payment. If the deal falls through, the buyer may not be able to reclaim the deposit.
- Negotiate The Contract
Faced with an offer, sellers have several options — rejecting it or letting it lapse, accepting it as is, or making a counteroffer. Most contracts go through several rounds of back-and-forth negotiations (counteroffers) before both parties agree to the sales contract. I will put my many years of proven negotiating experience to work for you, so you’ll feel like a winner when you sign the bottom line of the contract to buy your first home in Oakland County MI.
- Submit Your Contract To Your Lender
Your lender will need some more information and documents than were required for loan pre-approval. Staying in touch with your loan officer and responding to requests quickly will help keep your financing on track and on time.
- Purchase A Homeowner’s Insurance Policy
Your lender will require proof that you’ve purchased homeowners insurance (also “hazard insurance”) — shop various insurers to find the best deal.
- Schedule And Attend Home Inspections
Hiring a professional home inspector is a smart move in Oakland County MI, especially when buying your first home. The inspector will provide you with a full report on the condition of the home’s systems, appliances and structure — and even more information if you’re available when the inspection is conducted (old clothes are recommended). You may also want to order specialty inspections to check for problems such as pests, radon gas, mold, etc.
- Negotiate Defects Found During The Home Inspection
With a home-inspection contingency in your contract, you’ll be able to back away from the deal if the inspector finds problems the seller is unwilling to fix and you’re unwilling to buy. Ideally, though, you’ll negotiate with the seller to resolve problems so your home purchase can go forward.
- Prepare For The Move To Oakland County MI
At this stage, you’ll be wrapping up things at your old home and getting ready to move into your new one — disconnecting utilities and services, setting up accounts for your new home, getting rid of items you’d rather not move, hiring movers or lining up boxes and friends, etc.
- Conduct A Final Walk-Through Of The Home
Shortly before closing/settlement, you’ll conduct a walk-through inspection of the home to ensure that the property’s condition hasn’t changed and meets your contract’s requirements.
- Attend Closing/Settlement
With your agent’s help, you’ll check all final documents for accuracy, sign the necessary documents, pay the buyer-assigned closing costs and pick up the keys to your first home. Just one step left — move in and celebrate!
When it comes to pricing your home to sell in Greater Oakland County, you’ll find lots of “experts.” The neighbors may want you to set a high price, thinking it will make their homes more valuable. Your company may encourage you to set a lower price so the home will sell quickly and you can move to your new assignment. You might be thinking in terms of what you paid for your home, how much you’ve spent on it, or how much profit you want from it.
But who sets the price? When you put your house on the market in Greater Oakland County, you set the asking price. But it is the market that determines the selling price. If the asking price is set correctly, the house is likely to sell fairly quickly. If set too high, the house may languish on the market, unseen by the right buyers.
Pricing It Right
A correct asking price is crucial to a timely sale. That’s where we come in. But how do we know how to advise you on price?
- First, we look at the prices brought by similar homes recently sold in the area, and compare their features to those in your home.
- Then we survey the competition, seeing what homes are currently on the market, how they compare to yours and how long they have been up for sale.
- Next we look at how the number of buyers compares to the supply of homes for sale.
- We take stock of the direction of the market. Are prices rising or falling? Are homes selling quickly for the asking price?
- Finally, we look at the incentives other sellers are offering, such as paying some closing costs, and what conveys with the property, like draperies or washer and dryer.
As you noticed, neither how much you paid for your home nor how much money you wish to profit from the sale affect the market value of your home.
Avoid “Testing The Market”
Many times, sellers are tempted to price their homes a little high in hopes of getting more money from the sale. But often the opposite happens, and they sell – after a long time on the market – at a price below what the home would have sold for if it had been priced correctly at first. This is because most buyers look only at homes they can afford.
- If a home is overpriced, many potential buyers don’t bother to consider it because the asking price is above what they can afford to pay.
- Buyers who do tour the overpriced home see that it doesn’t measure up to others in the same price range.
- By pricing the home close to market value, on the other hand, the sellers make the most of their best opportunity to sell to the home’s true market during the highest traffic period – the first weeks after the new listing comes out. That’s when real estate agents call in the buyers they have been working with to see what’s new on the market.
“The best game plan is to price your home over market to give yourself room for negotiation if offers come in low.”
REALITY: Most homes sell within 5% of what similar neighborhood homes have recently brought. Pricing your home too high will actually scare buyers away. They’ll assume you are unrealistic and likely to be difficult to deal with. In addition, buyers who believe your home is out of their price range won’t even look at it.
The best way to deal with a low offer is by making a counteroffer or rejecting the contract outright. Having an experienced real estate agent in your corner will help you price your home to sell quickly, while netting you the best possible return.
For a 100% FREE INSTANT Home Value Report
When it comes time to buy your next home in Oakland County Michigan, your decision will be based on dozens of criteria. If you’re like many home buyers, good schools will be at the very top of your list. Even buyers without children are often concerned about the quality of schools. They know property values in Oakland County Michigan often reflect the reputation of local schools-both public and private-and that a home near good schools may be easier to sell later on.
Tips For Locating The Right Schools
It pays to look at schools early in the house-hunting process so you can narrow your focus to particular neighborhoods. Consider the following approaches and available resources for determining whether a school or school district is right for you and your children.
Define Your Idea Of “Good”
The first step is taking an honest look at your child’s educational needs. Is he or she average, exceptional, or is there a learning disability to consider? What are the student’s interests and natural abilities? Cerebral? Artistic? Athletic? It won’t matter that a school is tops in math and science if your child’s educational focus is in language and fine arts. Identifying your child’s individual needs will help determine the types of programs and educational approaches you’re looking for in a school.
Get An Overview
You can tap the resources of several organizations to find out what schools are available in a particular area and how they rank compared with others in the system, the state and the nation.
Take a look at the programs that would most interest or benefit your children. Is the local public school strong in those areas? If not, there may be good private-school alternatives in the vicinity.
Keep in mind that what you see on paper may not provide a complete picture of the school, its resources and the capabilities of its educational staff.
Identify The District
It’s easy to find out what public school district a house is in-the information is nearly always included in the MLS listing, available through your Realtor. Note, however, that school boards frequently re-draw districts. To help ensure a home is likely to remain in a particular district, you may want to find out how close it is to district lines-being central to a district increases your chances of staying there. Contact the local board of education to obtain a district map.
Go To The Source
Bring along books or games to help your kids through the “I’m bored” stage. If you’ll be driving for extended periods, bring some audio books or favorite music.
See For Yourself
Make plans to visit the schools you are interested in. Schedule appointments with the principal and some of the teachers in your child’s grade. Inquire about school policies and procedures. Discuss your child’s strengths and weaknesses, asking how the school would handle them.
Interview The Neighbors
Perhaps the best way to investigate a school is to talk with parents whose children attend. Visit neighbors in the area and ask them to be candid about what they like and dislike about local schools.
Let Me Get You Started
I’ll be happy to provide the phone numbers and website addresses of the schools and districts in our area. Be aware, however, that complying with fair housing practices, we may not be able to provide you with all the information you seek. Discussing school quality can be construed as “steering” buyers to or away from particular neighborhoods, which could be viewed as discrimination-even if unintentional.
That being said, we’ll do everything we can to support your efforts to locate the right home and the right schools to meet your family’s needs.
The School Hunters
American School Directory: (800) 444-4488. P.O. Box 7003, Murfreesboro, TN 37133-7003. Web. E-mail. With over 108,000 individual websites, provides every K-12 school in America (public and private) a free Internet presence and identity. Includes pictures, maps, art, information, calendars, etc
National Association of State Boards of Education:(703) 684-4000. 277 S. Washington St., Suite 100 Alexandria, VA. 22314. Web. E-mail. Offers quick reference state profiles for basic education information and data taken from U.S. Department of Education statistics. Includes statistics to allow comparisons between a state and the national mean.
School Match:(800) 992-5323. 5027 Pine Creek Drive, Westerville, OH 43081. Web. E-mail. For a fee, you can receive a report card on any public school or one of thousands of private schools in the U.S. At an additional cost, they will list up to 15 schools that match your criteria identified by their questionnaire. They also assist families with special-needs children and those moving overseas. All reports are confidential. If you are making a company move, your company may pay for School Match’s assistance.
Downsize, Right Size Or Cross Size…That’s the question when it come to retirement. Many baby-boomers are getting set to do just that, Retire! It is an exciting thing, but also big decisions that come along with it when it comes to downsizing your home. Some situations mean that the home is too big or the yard is too much to maintain or yo just want to move somewhere warmer. No matter what the reason these steps should help you make the best situation that is right for you.
Even if you’ve never thought about your retirement plan, the desire to move can arise when your kids leave home, when a grandchild is born—or when maintaining (and paying for) the old place becomes too much. No matter if you’re near retirement age, retired already, left work behind long ago—or know someone who has—all sorts of reasons can trigger the need to downsize, right size or make a cross-ways move in today’s market.
Consider All Your Possibilities
If it has been years since you last moved, know that our local market has changed…a lot. To avoid costly missteps, retired home sellers need to revisit the basics of real estate, plus some unique issues while looking for your retirement dream home. With careful research, you’ll be less likely to make a relocation choice you’ll regret later.
STEPS 1 & 2: Get On The Right Path—Right From The Start
If you’re currently a homeowner, STEP 1 is to keep reading to bring a plan for your dream home into focus. Then (STEP 2) call us to determine how much cash you’ll likely pocket from your home’s sale. We’ll conduct a comparative market analysis to determine your home’s current value and listing price. Then we’ll help you crunch the numbers to find out how much walk-away cash you’ll have to apply to the purchase of your new home in your retirement destination.
STEP 3: Select Your Dream Location Carefully
Your may love our area, but moving somewhere with a lower cost of living can be a critically important decision. Carefully consider the tax consequences of moving to various states (or countries!) and how taxes will impact your investments and income.
Perhaps living closer to children and grandchildren will make both your life and their lives easier. TIP: Be sure to ask family members’ opinions about you moving closer to—or further away from them before you take such a step.
For the locations you’re considering, determine the predominant age range, lifestyle and mindset of the population. Will you fit in? Or, will you feel like an outsider, even after living there for some time? Do you prefer to live in a community for those 55 and better, or in a traditional setting with a mix of ages? TIP: One advantage of new construction projects is all the neighbors are new.
STEP 4: Visualize Your Dream Home
It’s easy to say you want a condo or a single-family home for retirement, but there are many inside-the-home elements to consider. Items on your must-have list may include: no stairs at all; an elevator; one, two or three extra bedrooms to accommodate guests and/or office space; first floor location or upper floor with a view preference; reserved parking space or covered parking; extra storage areas; aging in-place features such as wide doorways and low countertops; etc.
Once you determine your immediate needs, it will be easier to locate and select homes to visit. And, you can narrow down the communities you’re interested in as well. TIP: Identify features of your current home that are bothersome and you’d like to change, as well as those things you love and want to duplicate.
STEP 5: Preparation Smooths Every Transition
No life transition is ever easy. Be as open-minded and flexible as you can while still meeting your needs. We are happy to answer all the real estate and relocation questions you have along the way and are always available to work with you locally. Through our trusted network of relocation specialists, we can refer you to top-quality real estate professionals in other locations around the state, across the country or even abroad.