Thursday, March 26, 2009

Keller Williams Plymouth Office Expands

Keller Willians Plymouth Canton adding agents in a down market- Congratuations Leslie Aiello, team leader at the Plymouth-Canton Keller Williams market center.

From Metromode: This might be the worst real-estate market in generations, but you can’t tell from the way Keller Williams Plymouth-Canton is growing.

The firm recently added 21 new people to its staff and opened a new office in downtown Plymouth. The company also has big growth plans in the near term, which could mean lots of new jobs.

"That's our big goal," says Lesley Aiello, team leader and broker for Keller Williams Plymouth-Canton. "We're at a total of 89 agents right now. We'd like to be at 110 by the end of this year and 150 within three years."

Sunday, March 22, 2009

First-Time Homebuyer Credit IRS form 5405

First-time home buyer credit Tax Forms Available - IRS form 5405 is available from the website: Download Form 5405 First Time Home buyer Credit. Interesting reading if you are a first time home buyer considering purchasing a home or purchased one recently.

Appealing your Ann Arbor Property Taxes - ten things to know

Ann Arbor home market values are falling and there has been a large interest in making sure homeowner's taxable values are adjusted downward as well. Here are ten things to consider if you are interested in appealing your tax assessment:

1. The Ann Arbor City Board of Review meets the third week of March for 4 days. You must make our appeal during this time. So, while you missed it for 2009 you can set your sights on 2010! Mark your calendar now - March 1st - watch for tax assessment notice from city! The State of Michigan establishes the appeal process and it is your right to take advantage of the process.

2. Notices of Assessment and Taxable Value are mailed the first week of March each year. Read carefully and contact the Assessor's Office if you have questions. Appearances before the board are by appointment and you must complete appropriate appeal forms which will be provided upon request.

3. You must provide evidence indicating the assess value is in excess of 50% of the true cash value to have a good basis for appeal. What is good evidence? Sale price of neighboring similar homes (within the last year) - did they sell for less than twice the Assessed Value (SEV)? WEV's of similar homes to yours in the neighborhood - are they significantly different? Condition of the property, is the property in poor condition? Have estimates for the cost of repairs to justify why the property may be worth less. A professional appraisal of your property can be valuable if you file an appeal; however, unless substantial tax savings result from the appeal, the cost of the appraisal might be more than your tax savings. You might also review current Ann Arbor real estate listings for sale on the MLS.

4. Your assessment and property data is available on line. You can research the sale prices and market values of all Ann Arbor Homes on line at City of Ann Arbor's Tax data site. Read the disclaimer on this page, scrool to the bottom and click the link "continue to online tax data", then select property and land search.

5. Members of the Board of Review are citizens appointed by the Mayor, with Council approval, and are not employees of the City of Ann Arbor.

6. You can appeal the Board's decision to the Michigan Tax Tribunal. You must file your appeal witht eh MTT by July 31t for residential property. Residential propeties are required to first protet before the local board in order to appeal to the Michigan Tax Tribunal.

7. Your Taxable value may not go down along with your SEV. So, protesting your sev may not change your tax bill. Your taxable value is capped and goes up based on the Inflation Rate Multiplier. Which for 2009 is 1.044. Assessed Value, Taxable Value, Capped and Taxable Value are explained here.

8. History of Assessed and Taxable values: The Total assessed value and taxable value of Ann Arbor real estate has increased every year from 1990 to 2007! While the City of Ann Arbor has not posted the number for 2008 2009. This says a lot about the strength of real esate as an investment - however, there has definitely been a correction in 2008, and 2009 and you can get a drecrease in your tax bill if you research and appeal it with supportiing data. See the chart here.

9. The city does not appraise each property. It does an annual sales study, by neighborhood whcih looks at the the previous year (in a declining market)only. The study was from Octover 2007 to September 2008. If there are recent sales in your neighborhood they may be 10 percent or more below these values. Using very recent sales if they are available may help you present a strong case.

10. If you don't review the data, and present your case, nothing will happen. The system is set up for citizens to use. the board sits through 100's of cases - about 80 per day and many taxable values are lowered.

As an Ann arbor Realtor, I have been contacted by many of my clients for opinions about whether they should appeal. I am happy to provide supporting neighorhood comparible sales and other data to help with your case. Even if you are not a past or present client, I am always available to talk real estate - just pick up the phone or email me anytime.

For a good read on the Board of Review in action, read the Ann Arbor Chronicle article, Lower My Property Assessment Please

Image courtesy Flickr - RubyJi

Saturday, March 21, 2009

Ypsilanti Township Great Deal Alert

Looking for a large affordable Ypsilanti Township Home? This Pulte built bank owned - foreclosure listing in Partridge Creek North at 8329 Hummingbird, Ypsilanti MI 48197, may be the perfect thing. Listed at $132,900 with 4 bedrooms, 2 /12 baths, full basement and 2422 square feet of living space this home has plenty to offer and at an incredible price. Broker says, bank will look at all offers.

Oh, one minor detail. It needs a new kitchen, seems that the original one is missing. Most likely this home is still on the market because it doesn't qualify for conventional financing. Ask us about special financing for homes that need repairs.

(broker: Clark Brown, Ehman and Greenstreet)

Current Ypsilanti Township homes for sale in Parttridge Creek North - the Preserve:

Friday, March 20, 2009

Ann Arbor area Mortgage Update

Ann Arbor area real estate mortgage update. In addition to all the buzz about the $8000 first time home buyer credit, there are other good things happening for people looking to borrow for a home purchase - particularly the Rural Development Loan programs which offer some really great terms for borrowers.

HomePath Mortgage
This wonderful program is for buyers who are purchasing a property owned by Fannie Mae. No appraisal is required, credit score requirements are low, seller contributions up to 6% are allowed and here’s the best part – there is NO PMI. And here’s the second best part – this is available for primary and vacation homes as well as rental properties and the buyer may own up to 10 financed properties. Go to to see if the property you plan to sell is eligible.

Coming May 1 – HVCC
You may have heard about the Home Valuation Code of Conduct. What that means for you and me is that we will have no control over the appraiser for our transaction. A non-related third party will be ordering all appraisals. This action meets the secondary market concerns regarding appraiser independence.

FHA Reminder
New loan limit for Washtenaw County is $345,000 and the credit score requirement for FHA loans has changed to a minimum of 620 effective tomorrow.

Rural Development Loans
I’ve been hearing that some lenders are out of RD money. We still have plenty of these funds to lend. Don’t think that the property necessarily has to be rural in order to qualify for this zero down loan. All of Livingston County is eligible and most of Washtenaw qualifies except for the cities of Ann Arbor and Ypsilanti.

Mortgage update thanks to Peggy Willson of Huron Valley Financial

Thursday, March 19, 2009

Ann Arbor First-Time Homebuyers have Options to Maximize Tax Credit

Ann Arbor area First Time Home Buyers Tax Credit Options. The IRS Newswire edition of Mach 18th, 2009 outlines options for first time home buyers as part of the Treasury Departments consumer outreach effort. This email newsletter is printed below.

I wish they would have told us where to find the specific tax forms and instructions publication for this tax credit! If you know where to find these please send me a note.

Issue Number: IR-2009-027
First-Time Homebuyers Have Several Options to Maximize New Tax Credit
WASHINGTON — As part of the Treasury Department’s consumer outreach effort and with the April 15 individual tax filing deadline approaching, the Internal Revenue Service today began a concerted effort to educate taxpayers about additional options at their disposal to claim the new $8,000 first-time homebuyer credit for 2009 home purchases. For people who recently purchased a home or are considering buying in the next few months, there are several different ways that they can get this tax credit even if they’ve already filed their tax return.

The Treasury Department encourages taxpayers to explore these options to maximize their credit and get their money back as fast as possible.

“The new credit can get money in the pockets of first-time homebuyers quickly,” said IRS Commissioner Doug Shulman. “For people who recently purchased a home or are considering buying in the next few months, there are several different ways that they can get this tax credit even if they’ve already filed their tax return.”

First-time homebuyers represent a significant portion of existing single-family home sales. The expansion in the first-time homebuyer credit will make it easier for first-time homebuyers to enter the housing market this year.

Under the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009, qualifying taxpayers who purchase a home before Dec. 1 receive up to $8,000, or $4,000 for married individuals filing separately. People can claim the credit either on their 2008 tax returns due April 15 or on their 2009 tax returns next year.
The filing options to consider are:
  • File an extension — Taxpayers who haven’t yet filed their 2008 returns but are buying a home soon can request a six-month extension to October 15. This step would be faster than waiting until next year to claim it on the 2009 tax return. Even with an extension, taxpayers could still file electronically, receiving their refund in as few as 10 days with direct deposit.
  • File now, amend later — Taxpayers due a sizable refund for their 2008 tax return but who also are considering buying a house in the next few months can file their return now and claim the credit later. Taxpayers would file their 2008 tax forms as usual, then follow up with an amended return later this year to claim the homebuyer credit.
  • Amend the 2008 tax return — Taxpayers buying a home in the near future who have already filed their 2008 tax return can consider filing an amended tax return. The amended tax return will allow them to claim the homebuyer credit on the 2008 return without waiting until next year to claim it on the 2009 return.
  • Claim the credit in 2009 rather than 2008 — For some taxpayers, it may make more financial sense to wait and claim the homebuyer credit next year when they file the 2009 tax return rather than claiming it now on the 2008 tax return. This could benefit taxpayers who might qualify for a higher credit on the 2009 tax return. This could include people who have less income in 2009 than 2008 because of factors such as a job loss or drop in investment income.
The IRS reminds taxpayers the amount of the credit begins to phase out for taxpayers whose modified adjusted gross income is more than $75,000, or $150,000 for joint filers. Taxpayers can claim 10 percent of the purchase price up to $8,000, or $4,000 for married individuals filing separately. provides more information, including guidance for people who bought their first homes in 2008. To learn more about the overall implementation of the Recovery Act, visit

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

U-M Museum of Art Reopening March 28th with Free 24-Hour Event

The University of Michigan Museum of Art on State Street in downtown Ann Arbor is set to open on March 28th with a free 24-hour public opening event.  UMMA Director, James Steward says "our aim is to be a bridge to the campus and community, breaking down traditional barriers between the museum space and the life that surrounds it."

After years of planning, fundraising, construction and reinstallation of artwork, from its 18,000 piece colleciton, UMMA will be open for 24 hours to the public from 6pm March 28 to 6 pm March 29th.  

The renovated museum is amoung the largest and most innovative of university museums in the country.  The new space, called the Maxime and Stuart Frankel Family Wing, isi named for the project's lead benefactors.

The $41.9 millian transformation more than triples the number of works from the collections on view, offers multiple classroom and event spaces, and creates an expansive venue for special exhibitions.

Read more at the University Record Online

Image:Flickr - by Articulate!

U-M Museum of Art reopening March 28th

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

Governor Granholm announces 2600 new jobs

Governor Jennifer M. Granholm today announced that the Michigan Economic Development Corporation (MEDC) is helping nine companies grow in Michigan and is backing two brownfield redevelopment projects. Combined, the 11 projects are expected to create and retain 2,755 jobs (146 jobs retained) and generate over $177.8 million in new investment in the state. "We are working the most aggressive economic plan in the nation to diversify and grow our economy and bring new jobs to Michigan," Granholm said.

"The scope of these projects, including four IT companies choosing to expand in Michigan, shows that our plan to diversify the state's economy continues to produce results."

Based on the MEDC's recommendation, the Michigan Economic Growth Authority (MEGA) board today approved a state tax credit valued at $7.1 million over 10 years.

Read the story at

Saturday, March 14, 2009

Mortgage Update

Markets, Mortgage Rates Improved:
Maybe it was the "daylight savings time effect"; perhaps it was just that a single good day in the stock market is enough to lend at least some optimism, serving to help form other good days. Of course, it could be just a "bear market bounce" for stocks. Whatever the case, major stock indexes flared higher this week, gaining back for the moment declines incurred since late February.

Mortgage rates managed a little dip downward. The Federal Reserve's program of buying up mortgage-backed securities from Fannie Mae, Freddie Mac and Ginnie Mae (FHA) is serving to keep rates fairly stable even as the government continues to issue considerable volumes of new debt to cover its various stimulus and spending programs. Any declines in mortgage rates could be the result of some minor increase in investor appetite for such investments, but we think it's more likely that demand-generated pricing premiums are easing as earlier cascades of refinancing requests have passed. In times of unmanageable volumes, lenders may increase rates somewhat in order to temper demand or to enhance the potential profitability of making a loan. After all, there's little reason to cut prices when the store is full of customers already.

If you are looking at Ann Arbor Condos, or planning to buy Ann Arbor real estate now is the perfect time - Interest rates are at historic lows, prices have declined to very affordable levels, and the government stimulus package offers $8,000 for first time home buyers. It's the perfect storm for purchasing real estate.

Courtesy Rick Richter, Goldstar Financial

Thursday, March 12, 2009

We Are Growing - Now Hiring - Ann Arbor and Canton Buyer's Agents is hiring talented and highly motivated real estate buyer agents:

Come and join our team. We are hiring Ann arbor real estate agents and Canton real estate agents. We are interested in talking with you if you are an experienced Realtor with excellent customer service skills, high ethical standards and the ability to work with all groups of people. Your success will depend on your ability and desire to connect with and convert inquiries into appointments.

We have the ability to supply you with highly qualified leads - individuals who want to speak with and work with agents who are knowledgeable and passionate about real estate.

We are part of the Keller Williams Realty team and live by the Keller Williams Belief System:

Win-Win - or no deal
Integrity - Do the right thing
Commitment - In all things
Communication - Seek first to understand
Creativity - Ideas before results
Customers - Always come first
Teamwork - Together everyone achieves more
Trust - Starts with honesty
Success - results through people

Find out about the value we can add to your real estate career. For a completely confidential interview, please contact Andy Piper at 734-604-8242 directly or through the website.

Which house belongs to the environmentalist?

From Take a look at the houses below and guess which one belongs to the environmentalist?

Tale of Two Houses

House #1

A 20 room mansion (not including 8 bathrooms) heated by natural gas. Add on a pool (and a pool house) and a separate guest house, all heated by gas.. In one month this residence consumes more energy than the average American household does in a year. The average bill for electricity and natural gas runs over $2400 per month. In natural gas alone, this property consumes more than 20 times the national average for an American home. This house is not situated in a Northern or Midwestern 'snow belt' area. It's in the South.


House #2

Designed by an architecture professor at a leading national university. This house incorporates every 'green' feature current home construction can provide. The house is 4,000 square feet (4 bedrooms) and is nestled on a high prairie in the American southwest. A central closet in the house holds geothermal heat-pumps drawing ground water through pipes sunk 300 feet into the ground.

The water (usually 67 degrees F) heats the house in the winter and cools it in the summer. The system uses no fossil fuels such as oil or natural gas and it consumes one-quarter electricity required for a conventional heating/cooling system. Rainwater from the roof is collected and funneled into a 25,000 gallon underground cistern. Waste water from showers, sinks and
toilets goes into underground purifying tanks and then into the cistern. The collected water then irrigates the land surrounding the house. Surrounding flowers and shrubs native to the area enable the property to blend into the surrounding rural landscape.

HOUSE #1 is outside of Nashville , Tennessee ;
it is the abode of the 'environmentalist' Al Gore ..

HOUSE #2 is on a ranch near Crawford ,
it is the residence of the Former President of the United States ,
George W. Bush .

Monday, March 9, 2009

Updated Ann Arbor Condos Page at

Updated Ann Arbor condominiums page at  Map search for condos by development.  All active mls listed condos in Ann Arbor listed by community.  Your Ann Arbor real estate team

Wednesday, March 4, 2009

Dexter real estate for sale -3221 Eastridge in Westridge Subdivision

New listing in Westridge - Walk to the village of Dexter - 3221 Eastridge, Dexter - Virtual Tour. 3 bedroom, 2-1/2 bath with full basement pre-plumbed for an extra bath. Dexter community schools. Convenient to Downtown Dexter with easy access to Ann Arbor and highways. First floor master bedroom. Vaulted ceiling, Beautiful Windows & Views in Extra-Large Family Room. Fireplace with Custom Mantel in the Great Room. Hardwood Floors welcome you in the Foyer through to the Hall, Kitchen & Nook/Dining Area. Search for Dexter homes for sale at
  • Hardwood Floors
  • Gorgeous Great Room w/Fireplace
  • Extra-Large Family Room
  • Landscaping, Deck & Views!
  • Close to Dexter, Ann Arbor, Saline, Chelsea

  • Dexter Schools

Downtown Ann Arbor Homes - Near University of Michigan Central Campus

Morning view of Downtown Ann Arbor homes on Hill Street viewed from the intersection of Packard and State streets in Downtown Ann Arbor Michigan. These houses are typical (larger than average) of student housing available off campus. Older single family homes converted into multi unit properties or rooming houses. This area is adjcent to the University of Michigan main campus and is accross the street from one of my favorite lunch spots - BTB Buritto (formaly big ten buritto). Ann Arbor real estate for sale
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Sunday, March 1, 2009

Ann Arbor Area Mortgage Update

Important mortgage and financing updates courtesy of Bob Yopko at First Equity Residential Mortgage. By now most everyone has heard about the much improved first time home buyer tax credit. Here is a summary:

The stimulus bill replaced the $7500 home buyer tax credit with a much better $8000
tax credit that does not have to be repaid (unless the homeowner moves out or sells
within first three years). The credit is for people who purchase between 1/1/09 and
11/30/09 and have not owned a principal residence in past three years. The credit is
for individuals who make less than $75,000 or married couples who make less that
$150,000. The credit is capped at 10% of purchase price, and can be claimed on 2008 returns.

Ann Arbor area condos that are not on the FHA approved list will require larger down payments and additional points -

FNMA recently announced a 3/4 point pricing adjustment for all condo loans over 75% loan to value. That means that there is a price add on for purchasers of condominiums with less than 25% down on FNMA loans. This add on amounts to 3/4 point (or $750 per each $100,000 of loan amount). FNMA also specifically directed servicers to charge this fee on Michigan site condos, which is a change in previous policy. Some Freddie Mac investors are not charging this fee on site condos, but be aware your condo and site condo buyers may face higher pricing on their financing.

Since we are seeing more and more potential buyers with foreclosures or bankruptcies in their past, I thought I would review current policies for loan qualification. Note these are agency policies and some investors are enforcing more restrictive rules.
Bankruptcy (7) 4 Years 2-3 years 12 months**
Bankruptcy (13) 2 Years payments 2 years payments 12 months**
Foreclosure 5-7 Years* 3 Years 12 months**
Short Sale 2 Years Case by Case 12 months**
Note-After bankruptcy or foreclosure borrower must reestablish good credit. Chapter 13 payment history must be perfect. *Fannie and Freddie will allow a purchase of primary residence 5 years after foreclosure with minimum down payment of 10% and credit score of 680. After 7 years there are no restrictions. Multiple bankruptcies extend the waiting period. There are exceptions for extenuating circumstances, but qualifying is very very difficult. If borrower was hit by a car and in a coma for 9 months and his home was foreclosed, he can buy a home 3 years later instead of 5.
**RD says there is no waiting period after foreclosure or BK, but require a 620 minimum credit score. RD Investors require 12 months and must have a very good narrative.

In mid-2008 FNMA dropped their maximum number of loans per person from 10 to 4.
This inconvenienced borrowers buying and refinancing investment properties. FNMA has announced it's intention to raise that limit back up to 10 loans for borrowers with strong credit profiles.

In President Obama's speech last week he announced that starting March 4th, Fannie and Freddie will begin accepting refinances on current Fannie and Freddie loans without requiring new appraisal. The idea is that since they are already on the hook, if the borrower is lowering their payment and not raising the loan amount, it makes sense for everyone to let it go through. This is good news in that a number of homeowners will be able to get out of ARMs, balloons and high rate mortages, which should cut down on foreclosures. It is bad news, in that if the program works well, refinance mortgages will swell, slowing an already overburdened
underwriting system. Expect more delays in approval of your purchase loans.

First Equity offers RD loans with escrows for repairs. Escrows are limited to $10,000 or 10% of loan amount, whichever is less. This allows 100% financing on homes that need some repairs, allowing more of your clients to bid on bargain homes. Call for details.

First Equity is offering a proprietary Doctors Loan Program in Michigan. The loans are available up to 95% loan to value with no PMI for purchase or refinance. Loan amounts are available up to $650,000 with no pricing adjustment for jumbo loan size. Deferred students loans are not counted in debt ratios. If you are a doctor looking for a downtown Ann Arbor condo or a condo near the University of Michigan consider this program and give us a call.

Thanks to Bob Yopko for the updates and clarifications.

30-Year Mortgage Rates Inch up

Low Mortgage rates and lower home prices are failing to spur housing demand as of yet. With rates and home prices at historic lows, home sales are at their lowest pace since July 1997 and prices are off 10.9 percent from their high set in April of 2007.
Freddie Mac reports an increase in the 30-year fixed mortgage rate to 5.07 percent for the week ended Feb. 26.

Rates rose slightly, from 5.04 percent the prior week.

"Mortgage rates were little changed this week amid mixed data reports of a slowing economy," said Frank Nothaft, Freddie Mac vice president and chief economist.

He said that lower house prices and affordable mortgage rates have yet to spur housing demand. For instance, house prices declined by 8.7 percent for the 12 months ending in December 2008 and were down 10.9 percent from their highs set ion April of 2007, according to the Federal Housing Finance Agency's purchase-only monthly home price index.

Meanwile, existing home sales fell 4.7 percent in January to 4.05 million units, the slowest pace since July 1997, he said.

The five-year adjustable-mortgage rate rose to 5.06 from 5.04 percent over the same period, while the one-year ARM bumped up to 4.81 percent from 4.80 percent.

However, the 15-year fixed mortgage rate held steady at 4.68 percent.

Source: Freddie Mac