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Monday, May 15, 2017   /   by Paul Wolfert

SLAM Method for Comparing Houses for Sale in Michigan

By: Paul Wolfert

I call it SLAM: an easy to remember abbreviation that can help any of my Michigan house hunters quickly rip through listed houses for sale. Any house that scores high in each area is investigated on a deeper level (we go check it out with our eyeballs).
The four parts of the SLAM list:
Schools. The eventual resale value of a candidate property isn’t usually given much consideration early on—but should be. A major issue when it comes to resale is the neighborhood’s school district rating. Schools head the SLAM list because—especially for those who don’t have school-aged children—the quality of a property’s school district is easy to overlook. It can also be an indicator of other community quality issues.
Location. It’s the key element that can’t be adjusted, improved upon, or glossed over—and it’s the reason why “location location location” is the cliché that won’t go away ...

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Thursday, April 20, 2017   /   by Paul Wolfert

Thinking “Michigan Real Estate”? Think “Tax Advantage”

By: Paul Wolfert


As this season’s controversies swirl through Washington, one of them seems likely to wind up being at the top of the heap: federal income taxes.
Whether or not they will be simplified (hopefully) or lowered (ummm—probably?) will be sorted out in due time, but one detail is a lead pipe cinch: when the dust clears, the real estate tax advantage will remain.
If any politician is thinking about eliminating the real estate tax advantage, he or she is wisely being very quiet about it. For good reason: that’s an idea that would probably lead to a quick retirement from public life courtesy of many displeased voters. Certainly, that’s likely to be the case as far as Michigan homeowners and home buyers are concerned.
I don’t provide financial or tax advice, but some of the long-standing real estate tax advantages are well-known and detailed on Uncle Sam’s public sites. The headline tax benefits of homeownership explains their widesp ...

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Wednesday, April 19, 2017   /   by Paul Wolfert

Really Thinking Outside the Box: Shipping Container Homes

By: Paul Wolfert


I don’t know about you, but when I used to hear the term “affordable housing” I’d think of value-priced Michigan condominium listings, some of the nicer area mobile home parks, or maybe fixer-uppers likely to be snatched up by professional house flippers (ultimately to become slightly less affordable housing).
When I heard “affordable housing,” I did not think “packing crate.” Nor did I think, “steamer trunk” or “storage unit.” That turns out to be entirely appropriate; nobody is volunteering to live in those.
Where I missed the boat was that I did not think, “shipping container.”
But that was then—this, as they say, is now. Those simpler days are behind us. Shipping containers, it turns out, are the latest in affordable housing. And I must say there are some real possibilities for tricked-out shipping container homes.
Before dismissing the idea out of hand, first, con ...

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Wednesday, March 29, 2017   /   by Paul Wolfert

Experts Shocked About Increase in New Home Sales

 By: Paul Wolfert


Michigan home sales do usually respond in the same seasonal pattern that’s common in most other areas.


Spring and summer lead the way for weather-related, financial, school scheduling and other family-related reasons. From now into well past July (and sometimes even August), home sales activity here in Michigan and beyond can be counted on to peak.


Those are the normal expectations.


But when any segment of U.S. house sales numbers quadruple expectations even before spring bulbs see daylight, that’s worthy of special attention.


That was the case last Thursday when the Commerce Department reported that in February, purchases of newly built homes rose by more than 6%. Since The Wall Street Journal’s panel of experts had forecast 1.4%, it drew headlines.
In fact, this was the second month in a row for sharp rises in U.S. new home sales—and what could be a bright sign for Michigan’s own prospects as the spri ...

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Monday, March 27, 2017   /   by Paul Wolfert

Pricing Any Home in Michigan from Each Side

 By: Paul Wolfert



When it comes to the reality of pricing a home in Michigan, it’s natural that buyer’s and seller’s points of view reflect their different roles and objective.


In a way, they’re mirror images of each other.


From the seller’s point of view, pricing their Michigan home starts out from the reality check of the “comps”—the prices registered in recent comparable neighborhood sales. From there, the pricing decision revolves around the tradeoff between maximum asking price versus the desire for a speedy sale.


Even if there's no time pressure at all, serious sellers will still set the asking price below a level that indicates disregard for current market realities. Rather than communicating “this place is worth more than what people are willing to pay,” overpricing only serves to needlessly put off buyers and their agents.


If time pressure is an issue, experienced sellers will peg t ...

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