5 Simple Ways to Stage the Exterior of Your Home Before an Open House

Editor’s Note: This was originally published on RISMedia’s blog, Housecall. See what else is cookin’ now at blog.rismedia.com:

If you’re selling your home, chances are good you’re familiar with the concept of staging your home. Real estate agents recommend your home look its best to prospective buyers, and home staging is a great way to ensure you receive top dollar.

Did you know you should stage the exterior of your home, too? Failing to update the look of your home’s exterior can cause buyers to get a bad first impression when they initially arrive to view your home. Whether your target is luxury homebuyers or you are selling your starter home, staging the exterior will have a major impact on the sale of your home. If you want to put exterior home staging to work, here are five elements you should consider tweaking.

Clean Your Exterior Windows and Screens
Nothing says poor maintenance like dirty windows and window screens. If your windows are caked with dust or muck from the last rainstorm, open house visitors are going to wonder what other maintenance jobs you haven’t attended to. Don’t give visitors the opportunity to question whether your home has been properly maintained or not; clean those windows and screens before hosting an open house.

Refresh Your Gardens and Walkways
Just like dirty windows are a real estate faux pas, so are unkempt flower beds. Weeds and overgrown bushes tell visitors you can’t be bothered with the small stuff. Spend a day removing weeds and trimming flowers, or hire a professional landscaper to refresh your gardens. It is amazing what a refreshed garden can do to your home’s curb appeal.

Refresh Your Home’s Siding
No, you don’t have to replace your home’s siding prior to an open house. A quick power wash could be all it takes to remove years of dust and grime. You can attempt this task yourself, but it might be worth your while to hire a professional—some homeowners have been known to damage their home’s siding by using too forceful a water stream.

Update/Clean Door Fixtures and House Address Signage
Something as simple as a new door knob or address signage can give your home a refreshed look. You needn’t spring for a new door; just update the face plate and/or door knob. Purchase new address numbers from the local hardware store and you’ll have tweaked the look of your home’s exterior in just a few minutes.

Clean Patio Furniture
Whether you have chairs on your front veranda or a dining set on your back deck, tired patio furniture can cost you big dollars when it comes time to negotiate with a potential homebuyer. Dilapidated patio furniture instantly gives a bad impression and can cause potential homebuyers to request replacement furniture as part of their deal. Spruce up your existing furniture with a quick power wash, or replace it if it is beyond cleaning.

Simple tweaks to the exterior of your home can have a big impact on your home’s final selling price. By spending just a few days improving the look of the outside of your home, you can increase the amount buyers are willing to offer and make your home the cleanest real estate listing on the block. Will you be trying these exterior home staging tricks when you list your home for sale?

Charles Muotoh is the owner of dcrealestateguru.com, a full-service real estate firm focused on leveraging digital marketing strategies to serve buyers and sellers of real estate in the Washington D.C. area.

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The Best Way to Invest Money You May Not Ever Need

(TNS)—Having money sitting in an individual retirement account that you won’t need to spend anytime soon—or maybe you’ll never want to spend—is a First World retirement problem.

Yet financial advisers have answers for the well-heeled retirees who find themselves in this fortunate situation.

If you are in that lucky group, consider these strategies on the best way to invest with your IRA or other retirement accounts when you don’t really need the money.

Take a Bigger Risk
If your primary goal is maximizing what you leave behind to your heirs or charity, you have more freedom than most.

If you don’t need the money right away, you can be more aggressive with your investing, says Jamie Hopkins, a professor at The American College of Financial Services and co-director of the New York Life Center for Retirement Income.

While the conventional wisdom for retired investors is to stick to a mix of about 60 percent bonds and 40 percent equities, if you won’t need to spend the money, Hopkins advises putting 80 percent in stocks and 20 percent in bonds.

If your money is in a target-date fund with a target set at the year you retired or were scheduled to retire, at this point it is probably mostly invested in bonds. If you like the set-it-and-forget aspect of a target-date fund, Hopkins suggests that you simply move your money to a target date 2050 fund, which will have a bigger allocation to stocks.

Consider a Roth Rollover
Beginning at age 70, the IRS requires you to take required minimum distributions, or RMDs, from your traditional IRA and pay taxes on the money. Instead, consider converting your traditional IRA to Roth IRA, on which RMDs aren’t required.

Do it over a five- to eight-year period, says certified financial planner Leon LaBrecque, CEO of LJPR Financial Advisors in the Detroit area. “You’ll still owe the IRS taxes when you convert, but you’ll have more strategies to manage—and lower—the bill.”

If a Roth conversion doesn’t seem like the right idea for you, LaBrecque suggests that you ask your accountant to estimate how much you’ll owe in RMDs over the next five to 10 years and invest that amount conservatively, so you’ll have it when you need it. Then you can safely be more aggressive with the remainder.

“After you have dedicated money to the RMD, I’d invest the rest in equities,” LaBrecque says.

Choose a QLAC
Qualified longevity annuity contracts, or QLACs, can be purchased within an IRA or other tax-advantaged retirement fund. These are a type of deferred annuity that will provide you with a regular income later in retirement. You don’t have to start taking the money until you are 85, and, in the meantime, the amount used to purchase the QLAC is sheltered from RMDs.

“I like them,” says Hopkins. “Put $125,000 (the maximum allowed by the IRS) in a QLAC, and you are protected from RMDs for the next 15 or 20 years (until you turn 85).”

What if you don’t make it to age 85? “Buy it with a return of premium so if you die earlier than expected, your heirs get the money back. It’s a good longevity hedge,” Hopkins says.

The return on investment isn’t great, he adds, but wealthy people tend to live longer than others, making it a better investment for them.

Think Really Long-Term
When determining the best way to invest money you don’t think you’ll need, consider the risks that everyone else needs to worry about: inflation and longevity.

“You might be retired for longer than 30 years,” says Maura Cassidy, vice president of Retirement at Fidelity Investments. “You have to keep ahead of it; you need inflation coverage.”

In other words, someday you may need that money. Cassidy says that while you might invest less cautiously than some people whose margins are thinner, you shouldn’t go crazy.

If you have more than you need, consider delaying the day when you invest more conservatively, she says.

“Our research indicates that retirees should be at 60 percent bonds, 40 percent stock allocation at age 65. That’s a good allocation for 15 or 20 years. Then you should sell off even more equities, so that by the time you are 80, you’re at 80 percent bonds and 20 percent equities.”

But if at age 80, you still don’t need the money, she says, “Slow it down. You might wait until age 90 to go to 20 percent equities.”

Visit Bankrate online at www.bankrate.com.

©2017 Bankrate.com
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$175,900 :: 47234 VANKER AVE, Shelby Township MI, 48317

Property Photo

3 beds, 1 bath
Home size: 1,000 sq ft
Lot Size: 11,325 sq ft
Added: 07/12/17, Last Updated: 08/15/17
Property Type: Single Family
MLS Number: 21319747
Community: Shelby Twp (50007)
Tract: UTICA ESTATES
The price of this listing was last reduced on 7/12/2017 by 2%
Status: Sold

Welcome Home! This 3 Bedroom, 1 Bath, 1000 Sq Foot Ranch Style Home in the highly sought after Utica Estates Subdivision. Updated eat-in kitchen with granite counter tops, plenty of counter and cabinet space, brand new appliances included and door-wall. Open and spacious living room with large picture window and lots of natural lighting. All bedrooms are spacious with nice size closets. Updated Full bath. Separate laundry room/storage room area. New carpet throughout.Entire house has been completely remodeled. Nice size deck off the back of the home overlooking the large fenced in yard. 2 car attached garage with direct access to the home. Great family home and neighborhood! Great location! Close to area shopping, freeways and restaurants. Award Winning Utica Schools. Don’t miss out on this incredible ranch! Call Today!

Listed with Keller Williams Rochester


Brought to you by Janet Hull and Thomas Bush, Real Estate One, Inc.. Call me today at 1-855-Janet-Tom, or visit my website at www.JanetandThomas.com!


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Are You Checking Email on Vacation?

(TNS)—How does the U.S. stack up when it comes to taking vacation time?

As vacation spending in the U.S. surpasses $1 billion, people are definitely getting away more—but what is the quality of that vacation actually looking like?

An Ipsos Global poll looked at the way the world vacations and found that more and more people are spending time away from home, but fewer are fully disconnecting while gone.

Six in 10 respondents in the 25 countries surveyed said they have spent or would spend at least one full week away from work.

The three countries where the most people take a vacation away from home are India (80 percent), Great Britain (72 percent) and China (70 percent). There were just three countries where a majority said they would not be taking time away from work and home life: Hungary, South Korea and Japan.

In the U.S., 61 percent said they would likely spend a week or more on vacation.

Across all countries, 65 percent of travelers said they use all of the vacation time that they are given; however, this number has fallen over the past decade, declining the most in China, Japan, Italy and Australia.

While people are taking more time away from home, that doesn’t mean they are disconnecting. Less than half of respondents say they don’t check work emails when on vacation. This was slightly better in the U.S., where 52 percent say they don’t check their emails while away.

Since 2009, the number of those who check work messages increased across almost all countries surveyed.

Where are people staying the most connected? Vacationers in Italy, Japan, Spain and Belgium can’t seem to put their phones and laptops away while they are away. There are just two countries where the number of people staying in touch with work has decreased: Mexico and Brazil.

Overall, a strong majority of Americans have or plan to take time off this year. What we really need to work on is putting the phone down when we do.

©2017 Travelpulse
Visit Travelpulse at www.travelpulse.com
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Want to Save for a Down Payment? Skip the Pre-Wedding Shenanigans

Zillow_Bachelor_Party

Would-be homeowners can easily plunk down savings for a home—if they forgo their friends’ one last hurrah before the big day.

A recent report by Zillow reveals the cost of destination bachelor or bachelorette parties can equal up to one-third of a down payment on a median-priced home. With attendees spending an average $1,106 (for destination bachelorette parties) and $1,532 (for destination bachelor parties), according to The Knot, partaking in just nine pre-marriage celebrations—or three each year for three years—would total 34 percent, or $13,788, of a 20 percent down payment on a median-priced home.

Without question, the amount of parties needed to rack up one-third of a down payment varies by market:

Bachelor and bachelorette getaways are just one of several stereotypically “millennial” spending choices called into question as of late. Earlier this year, one real estate developer singled out avocados, telling Australia’s “60 Minutes”: “When I was buying my first home, I wasn’t buying smashed avocado for 19 bucks and four coffees at $4 each.”

“Buying a home is one of the most expensive purchases someone will ever make, and for most first-time buyers, that means years of saving money to afford a down payment,” says Jeremy Wacksman, CMO at Zillow. “Attending your friends’ bachelor or bachelorette parties can be a trip of a lifetime. While everyone’s budget and priorities are different, big-ticket expenses like vacations can add up surprisingly quickly—a lot faster than a $19 avocado toast.”

For more information, please visit www.zillow.com.

Suzanne De Vita is RISMedia’s online news editor. Email her your real estate news ideas at sdevita@rismedia.com.

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$512,900 :: 8838 Softail Lane, Shelby MI, 48316

Property Photo

4 beds, 3 baths
Home size: 3,050 sq ft
Lot Size: 10,454 sq ft
Added: 08/11/17, Last Updated: 08/12/17
Property Type: Single Family
MLS Number: 31328166
Community: Shelby Twp (50007)
Tract: Black Hills
Status: Active

ACADIA HOME BUILDERS PRESENTS BLACK HILLS ESTATES, SHELBY TWP. NEWEST UPSCALE COMMUNITY. OUR 3050 SF. 4 BEDROOM COLONIAL HAS SO MANY CUSTOM FEATURES WE CAN’T LIST THEM ALL BUT I’M GOING TO TRY: PREMIUM ELEVATION WITH 2 STORY STONE FRONT PORCH. STONE ACENT CORNERS. COVERED SIDE ENTRY INTO MUD ROOM. STAINLESS STEAL PREMIUM WHIRLPOOL BUILT IN MICROWAVE, GAS COOK TOP, AND DISHWASHER. RAISED SNACK BAR AT ISLAND, TILE BACKSPLASH. FLOOR TO CEILING STONE FIREPLACE IN GREAT ROOM. MUD ROOM W/ UPPER & LOWER LOCKERS. STEP UP CEILING IN MASTER BEDROOM. MASTER BATH WITH LARGE SOAKER TUB & HUGE SHOWER. BAY WINDOW IN DEN. FLARED STAIRCASE TO 2ND FLOOR WITH WITH BOXED NEWEL POST AND FALSE ENDS. CROWN MOLDING EVERYWHERE. DID I MENTION THE LARGE COVERED PATIO OFF THE NOOK? THIS HOME IS 60 DAYS AWAY FROM COMPLETION AND NORMALLY WOULD RETAIL FOR $576,900. DON’T MISS OUT ON THIS EXCELLENT OPPORTUNITY !! BUYER TO PAY BUILDER DOC FEE OF $125.00

Listed with RE/MAX Suburban, Inc.


Brought to you by Janet Hull and Thomas Bush, Real Estate One, Inc.. Call me today at 1-855-Janet-Tom, or visit my website at www.JanetandThomas.com!


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$494,900 :: 54662 DEADWOOD LANE, SHELBY Township MI, 48316

Property Photo

3 beds, 2 baths
Home size: 2,450 sq ft
Lot Size: 10,018 sq ft
Added: 08/11/17, Last Updated: 08/11/17
Property Type: Single Family
MLS Number: 58031328120
Community: Shelby Twp
Tract: Black Hills
Status: Active

ACADIA HOME BUILDERS NEWEST SUB IN SHELBY “BLACK HILLS ESTATES” 2450 SF. SPLIT RANCH (MASTER BEDROOM ON ONE SIDE KIDS ON THE OTHER). THIS HOME HAS SO MANY CUSTOM FEATURES WE CAN’T LIST THEM ALL BUT I’M GOING TO TRY: FLOOR TO CEILING STONE FIREPLACE. HAND MADE BEAMS IN GREAT ROOM CEILING. OPEN KITCHEN TO GREAT ROOM. STEP UP CEILING IN KITCHEN. STAINLESS STEAL PREMIUM WHIRLPOOL BUILT IN MICROWAVE, GAS COOK TOP, AND DISHWASHER. RAISED SNACK BAR W/TILE BACKSPLASH, DROP ZONE OFF MUD ROOM HALL, MUD ROOM W/ UPPER & LOWER LOCKERS. STEP UP CEILING IN MASTER BEDROOM. BAY WINDOW IN MASTER BEDROOM. MASTER BATH WITH LARGE SOAKER TUB & HUGE SHOWER. CROWN MOLDING EVERYWHERE. DID I MENTION THE LARGE COVERED PATIO OFF THE NOOK? THIS HOME WOULD RETAIL FOR $559,900. BUYER TO PAY BUILDER DOC FEE OF $125.00

Listed with RE/MAX Suburban, Inc.


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5 Benefits of Choosing a Suburban Life Over City Living

Editor’s Note: This was originally published on RISMedia’s blog, Housecall. See what else is cookin’ now at blog.rismedia.com:

Choosing the right house for you and your family can be a very daunting process. One thing to note, however, is that the type, style and square footage of your abode are all secondary to location. Location is the one property feature that homeowners can never alter. You can redecorate, upgrade, and add on to a home, but its location will always remain fixed. As you decide whether or not you and your loved ones want to be city dwellers or suburbanites, you should consider these five benefits that can be gained from a commitment to suburban living.

  1. Get More Square Footage for Your Money
    When compared to the average city home, a house in the suburbs will usually provide far more square footage for the money. People living in rural areas enjoy large tracts of land that are sufficient in size for accommodating back, front, and even side yards. Moreover, many suburbs have only recently evolved from areas that were once heavily wooded, which means that they’re often still surrounded by active wildlife and plenty of trees.
  1. Less Noise and Less Pollution
    For some people, there’s nothing like falling asleep to the sound of trains, freeway traffic, and outside conversations. For these individuals, a short jaunt to visit family in the country can be downright maddening. They find it harder to drift off to the sounds of chirping crickets, or even deep and heavy silence. The suburbs are ideal for couples and families who enjoy quiet nights, fresher, cleaner air, and far less nighttime foot traffic near their abodes.
  1. Top-Rated Schools
    Whether or not you have or intend to have kids, it’s important to look for property in neighborhoods with top-rated schools. Not only will this provide better educational opportunities for minor residents living in your household, but it will also increase the marketability of your property and its resale value. For instance, some of the very best places to live in Minnesota are suburban areas with nationally ranked schools. Comparatively, schools in the suburbs are far higher in quality than inner city schools. They also tend to have better standardized test scores and a lesser likelihood of overcrowding.
  1. Enjoy Living in a Tight-Knit Community
    Cities often provide a much broader range of housing options than most suburbs. City residents can live in apartments, condos, family homes, townhouses, and more. There’s also a much higher number of renters in cities than there are in suburban areas. This means that both units and neighborhoods tend to have higher turnover rates, and that residents have much less opportunity to forge long-lasting bonds and establish a strong sense of community. This is hardly the case in the suburbs. Historically, suburban children have the chance grow up together given that many suburban homeowners retain their properties throughout most or all of their lifetimes.
  1. Take an Active Role in Community and Government
    If you love democracy and want to start taking a more active role in the development and maintenance of your community, the suburbs are probably perfect for you. With fewer people living in the region, it’s much easier for residents to assume roles within local government, and to voice their opinions and be heard. This benefit additionally gives property owners a greater ability to take part in decision-making processes for issues that could positively or negatively impact their property values.

While the suburbs lack the high energy and excitement of a bustling metropolis, they do have a number of important amenities for ensuring optimally high qualities of life. Residents can find a wonderful array of restaurants, grocery stores and entertainment venues, right within their own neighborhoods. Best of all, they can enjoy these things while still managing to escape the noise, pollution, and ongoing stresses of living in a densely populated area.

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12 Ways To Add Color To A Room Without Paint, According To An Etsy Expert

Back away from the paint brush.

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How to Give Your Bathroom a Tropical Vibe

Editor’s Note: This was originally published on RISMedia’s blog, Housecall. See what else is cookin’ now at blog.rismedia.com:

Looking to redo your bathroom? Adding a tropical twist is all the rage these days. From lush houseplants to rich hues, now you can have a mini vacation every time you use the toilet. Here are a few tips to boost your island vibes.

Lush Plant Life
The No. 1 tip for a tropical vibe in your bathroom is to add indoor plants. Whether you train a creeping vine to travel across the wall or tuck a potted philodendron into the corner, plant life is key for that jungle vibe. Try lining succulents along the window, a rubber tree on the floor, or even add an orchid or shade-loving fern to your shower.

Natural Colors
For cabinetry, choose a rich brown to pair with your white walls and lush flora. Try a natural slate floor or slate tiles for your bathtub or shower.

Minimize
Clean lines and open space are popular with tropical-themed bathrooms. Tuck toiletries into the cabinets and leave the walls bare. The only thing you can’t have too much of in a tropical bathroom is tropical plants.

Need more tropical bathroom inspo? Turn to Pinterest, of course!

Zoe Eisenberg is RISMedia’s senior content editor. Email her your real estate news ideas at zoe@rismedia.com.

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‘Soft’ Credit Checks: Do They Hurt Your Credit Score?

(TNS)—Lenders use your credit score to determine whether you are eligible for a loan and to decide what terms they are prepared to offer. Credit bureaus keep track of when companies check your score, regardless of the outcome, and checks designated as “hard inquiries” may lower your score.

Understanding what constitutes a hard check versus a “soft” check makes it easier to plan how you intend to apply for new credit lines, thereby minimizing the risk of harming your credit score.

Soft Credit Checks Are Listed on Your Credit Report

A soft credit check, otherwise known as a soft inquiry or soft pull, is any kind of credit report check that doesn’t affect your credit score. Soft inquiries are background checks rather than checks occurring as a result of new loan applications; in some cases they happen without your knowledge or consent.

Common soft inquiries include:

  • When you check your own credit report
  • When a potential employer checks your credit history to determine your reliability and financial status
  • When a financial institute you patronize checks your credit
  • When credit card issuers check your credit to send you a preapproved offer

You can see all of the soft inquiries on your credit report, which lists each check along with the name of the organization that made the check.

Soft Credit Inquiries vs. Hard Credit Inquiries

Unlike soft inquiries, hard inquiries may have an impact on your credit score. Prospective lenders make hard checks when they are making a lending decision, with common examples including:

  • Applying for a new credit card
  • Taking out a loan for a new car
  • Applying for a mortgage

Hard inquiries stay on your credit report for two years, so you should always think carefully before making any kind of loan application as it can lower your credit score.

Be Smart About Applying for Loans

A good credit score is an essential part of getting approval for a new line of credit, and it also improves your chances of getting the best rates. It’s important to know what kind of activity has the potential to lower your score.

Many companies check your credit history, but only hard checks made to verify your eligibility for a new line of credit have a direct impact on your credit score. To maintain your credit score, apply only for loans when you really need them. If you are shopping for the best rates, make all of your applications within a short time frame.

©2017 Bankrate.com

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How to Stay Cool and Save Money

Staying cool can be difficult during uncomfortable summer spikes and dreaded heatwaves.

According to fan manufacturer Lasko, an average homeowner spends nearly $2,000 annually on energy bills, with 25 percent of that consumed by air conditioning. By simply turning the A/C thermostat up, and adding fans to any space, consumers can still stay comfortably cool while saving money.

Lasko reminds consumers they can also keep cool by:

Creating a refreshing party space. Summer is the season for entertaining, so keep cool air moving by strategically placing a fan with a head that tilts fully back—like an 18-inch pedestal or “tornado” model—to create ongoing airflow throughout multiple rooms.

Turning the thermostat up. Day and/or night, simply raise the thermostat a few degrees and add one or more fans for up to 10 percent home energy savings without sacrificing comfort. Consider a portable, lightweight fan that can go from room to the room with ease.

Staying in summer shape. If you’re working out at home, save more with a small fan in your workout area to keep body temps in check from warmup to cooldown. An oscillating high-velocity fan (with wireless remote) is a perfect workout partner.

Moving in and cooling out. Students gearing up for next semester or entering the working world need to stay on budget. Every dorm room, campus home, or first “after college” pad—with or without A/C—can benefit from fan cooling, saving more money for necessities and activities.

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$185,000 :: 7635 AMBASSADOR DR, Shelby Township MI, 48316

Property Photo

2 beds, 2 baths
Home size: 1,250 sq ft
Lot Size: 0 sq ft
Added: 06/19/17, Last Updated: 08/05/17
Property Type: Condo/Townhouse/Co-Op
MLS Number: 21310244
Community: Shelby Twp (50007)
Tract: AMBASSADOR VILLAGE CONDO
Status: Sold

Beautiful, just like new, first floor ranch condo. Brand new carpet installed and just painted throughout. Very open and bright with 9 ft ceilings and a squared cathedral ceiling in the living room. Kitchen features a snack bar, large, deep stainless sink, granite counter tops. All appliances stay. Extra cabinets installed in the laundry room for plenty of storage, and washer/dryer are included. Very large master bedroom with a walk in closet, soaking tub and a separate shower. Attached 2 car garage. 4 ceiling fans. This condo is in excellent condition and seller is the original owner. You don’t need to do a thing other than move in!

Listed with RE/MAX Defined


Brought to you by Janet Hull and Thomas Bush, Real Estate One, Inc.. Call me today at 1-855-Janet-Tom, or visit my website at www.JanetandThomas.com!


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$284,900 :: 4028 SANDY CREEK Drive, Shelby Township MI, 48316

Property Photo

4 beds, 2 baths
Home size: 2,250 sq ft
Lot Size: 20,037 sq ft
Added: 08/04/17, Last Updated: 08/04/17
Property Type: Single Family
MLS Number: 217069424
Community: Shelby Twp
Tract: COUNTRY LANE ESTATES # 02
Status: Active

Welcome home to this one of a kind sprawling ranch home in Shelby Township. This stunning 4 bedroom home features a modern open concept design perfect for entertaining, a natural fireplace, Silhouette Blinds and all new wiring in 2003. A sunroom off the back of the house, complete with a gas stove to ward off the chill, offers an additional 360 square feet of living space, for a total of just a hair under 2600 square feet! There is also a 7 x 7 work room off the garage. Tons of storage, in the house and the garage. The backyard is fully fenced and private. Beautiful landscaping and a circular driveway make you feel like the king of your castle. Schedule your appointment today because this one won’t last!!!

Virtual Tour: http://www.propertypanorama.com/instaview/nocbor/217069424

Listed with Century 21 Sakmar & Assoc


Brought to you by Janet Hull and Thomas Bush, Real Estate One, Inc.. Call me today at 1-855-Janet-Tom, or visit my website at www.JanetandThomas.com!


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Real Estate Q&A: What Happens When the Home You’re Buying Can’t Get Insurance Coverage?

(TNS)—Q: We are buying a home and had a “four-point” inspection done for the homeowner’s insurance. The insurer declined to cover the house due to the brand of the electrical panel fuse box. What gives? -Dan

A: Most insurance companies require a “four-point” home inspection before insuring a property. The inspection focuses on the four main causes of most insurance claims: HVAC (heating, ventilation and air conditioning); electrical wiring and panels; the roof; and plumbing. This inspection doesn’t concern itself with cosmetic or other issues outside of the four listed systems.

Certain brands of electrical panels, particularly those installed before 2000, have been found to cause problems and not perform as they should. A fuse is supposed to trip when there is a problem in order to prevent a much larger problem. Many home fires are caused when fuses or panels malfunction.

If the insurer is denying coverage due to a suspect panel, the worst solution, in my opinion, would be to try a different insurer. Just because another company will give you the coverage doesn’t make the panel any safer.

If you are faced with this situation, speak to the seller about replacing the panel before the deal goes any further. If the seller won’t budge, your best bet is to find a different, and safer, home.

Gary M. Singer is a Florida attorney and board-certified as an expert in real estate law by the Florida Bar.

©2017 Sun Sentinel (Fort Lauderdale, Fla.)

Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC

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5 of the Best Cities to Flip Houses In

Flipping a house can be a profitable endeavor—especially in cities where flips thrive. The best cities, according to recently released findings from a study by WalletHub, boast a combination of a desirable quality of life, cost-effective renovation expenses and prime market potential.

The following cities, based on those criteria, are best for flips:

  1. El Paso, Texas
    El Paso earned the No. 1 ranking in WalletHub’s study, with a total score of 69.6. El Paso has the third-lowest bathroom remodeling costs, on average, of the 150 cities evaluated.
  1. Sioux Falls, S.D.
    Sioux Falls earned the No. 2 spot in the ranking, with a total score of 69.52.
  1. Fort Wayne, Ind.
    Fort Wayne earned the No. 3 spot in the ranking, with a total score of 67.38.
  1. Peoria, Ariz.
    Peoria earned the No. 4 spot in the ranking, with a total score of 66.6. Peoria has the fourth-lowest whole-home remodeling costs, on average, of the 150 cities evaluated.
  1. Oklahoma City, Okla.
    Oklahoma City earned the No. 5 spot in the ranking, with a total score of 66.56. Oklahoma City has the fifth-most real estate agents per capita of the 150 cities evaluated.

Source: WalletHub

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Common Overlooked Expenses of Owning a Home

Zillow_Costs_Owning

Homeowners spend an average $9,080 each year on common, yet often overlooked expenses associated with owning a home, including maintenance and utilities, according to a recent analysis by Zillow. The breakdown is as follows:

  • Homeowners Insurance/Property Taxes/Utilities – $6,059
  • Professional Home Maintenance – $3,021

(Note: Homeownership costs vary considerably by location—see chart below.)

“Determining how much a home will ultimately cost you each year and what you can afford is one of the most challenging aspects of home-buying, especially for first-time buyers,” says Dr. Svenja Gudell, chief economist at Zillow. “Before starting a home search, take a good look at your finances to determine a monthly payment range you can comfortably afford. While that big backyard or larger home may be appealing, it is important to consider how much maintaining those spaces could cost you.”

“While it may be tempting for homeowners to think they can cut costs by doing home maintenance projects themselves, hiring a trained professional to take them on can save them time, anxiety and most likely money in the long run,” says Lucas Puente, economist at Thumbtack, which also conducted the analysis. “Across the U.S., buyers should be prepared to spend at least a few thousand a year in home maintenance costs.”

For more information, please visit www.zillow.com.

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Home Safety: Best Places to Put Security Cameras

Editor’s Note: This was originally published on RISMedia’s blog, Housecall. See what else is cookin’ now at blog.rismedia.com:

If you’ve decided to put up security cameras for your home for the first time or are considering widening your safety net, knowing the proper way to place and angle your cameras is vital to keeping your home as safe as it can be. Not only can proper camera placement catch important details of possible crimes in your area, simply placing them properly can deter a crime from happening in the first place.

The most important factor in judging where to place a camera is simple: Your home is your home. You know what the layout is, you know where the most important rooms are, and you may be in the unfortunate position of knowing how someone entered your home without your permission in the past. Before you begin placing any equipment, consider some basic questions about your home’s surveillance needs. Some questions to consider include:

  • What parts of your home are you most concerned about?
  • If someone has broken into your home before, even before you owned it, where did that occur?
  • Are there any spots on my property that aren’t plainly visible to the street or my neighbors?
  • Do you need to keep any local camera placement laws in mind?

Though you may come to a variety of conclusions and potential diagrams for your home security systems, consider the usual entry points for potential burglars when casing a home. Knowing the most common routes of entry can take a large portion of the workload off of you simply by observing recorded statistics. With over 80 percent of burglars entering a home through the first floor, whether through door or window, it’s especially important to keep the entirety of your property’s entryways covered. At the same time, trying to cover low locales, such as your doors and windows, may leave cameras in easy reach of criminals, thus completely negating their usefulness.

If you find you have a lack of safe places to place a camera, consider looking into protective caging for your equipment to protect it from being knocked out of order while you aren’t looking. This is also a good time to contemplate what special tools you may need to complete your installation, so ensure you check your camera system to see its recommended outfitting requirements that might need special preparations.

While losing a camera can mean losing important evidence to help identify vandals or thieves, there are clever ways to keep yourself safe that might goad a criminal into making a misstep. Placing a dummy camera in obvious sight not only deters crime by showing you keep your home under tight watch; it also gives an easy target to a potential burglar that can distract them from hidden cameras that catch them in the act. As an added bonus, dummy cameras are far cheaper to replace than expensive professional models.

Most importantly, you must consider the features of each camera when placing it. Cameras cannot focus on multiple ranges and angles at once, so if you want to catch a trespasser’s facial features, mounting your camera up too high can blur distinctive features, but a raised camera may have a better time picking up a car’s license plate when placed overlooking your driveway.

In the end, even poorly-placed cameras will offer better home security than not having any at all, but there’s no reason to leave proper home security to chance. Knowing how to place your first line of defense can keep you safe before and after any crime, and knowledge is always your best weapon.

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Ranked: 10 Affordable Towns With High-Rated Elementary Schools

Communities with sought-after schools often command a premium for homebuyers. Realtor.com® recently uncovered 10 towns where not only public elementary schools earn high marks, but also home prices make the grade—in affordability.

1. Aurora, Ill. (60503)
Schools: Homestead Elementary School (rating 10/10 on GreatSchools), The Wheatlands Elementary School (8/10), Wolfs Crossing Elementary School (10/10)

The 2017 median household income in Aurora is $114,118 with a 2017 median listing price of $259,900. Aurora is 45 percent more affordable compared to its surrounding metro area, and 47 percent more affordable compared to the U.S. overall.

2. Stone Mountain, Ga. (30087)
School: Wynbrooke Elementary School (9/10)

The 2017 median household income in Stone Mountain is $71,678 with a 2017 median listing price of $218,950. Stone Mountain is 38 percent more affordable compared to its surrounding metro area and compared to the U.S. overall.

3. Hampton, N.J. (08827)
School: Union Township Elementary School (8/10)

The 2017 median household income in Hampton is $118,810 with a 2017 median listing price of $297,000. Hampton is 60 percent more affordable compared to its surrounding metro area, and 37 percent more affordable compared to the U.S. overall.

4. Royersford, Pa. (19468)
Schools: Brooke Elementary School (9/10), Evans Elementary School (8/10), Limerick Elementary School (9/10), Spring-Ford Intermediate School 5th/6th (9/10), Upper Providence Elementary School (9/10)

The 2017 median household income in Royersford is $83,264 with a 2017 median listing price of $246,125. Royersford is 21 percent more affordable compared to its surrounding metro area, and 32 percent more affordable compared to the U.S. overall.

5. Kingwood, Texas (77345)
Schools: Deerwood Elementary School (9/10), Greentree Elementary School (10/10), Hidden Hollow Elementary (9/10), Shadow Forest Elementary School (10/10), Willow Creek Elementary School (10/10).

The 2017 median household income in Kingwood is $123,201 with a 2017 median listing price of $323,750. Kingwood is 46 percent more affordable compared to its surrounding metro area, and 32 percent more affordable compared to the U.S. overall.

6. Rosemount, Minn. (55068)
School: Shannon Park Elementary School (10/10)

The 2017 median household income in Rosemount is $93,743 with a 2017 median listing price of $299,900. Rosemount is 30 percent more affordable compared to its surrounding metro area, and 32 percent more affordable compared to the U.S. overall.

7. Bowie, Md. (20715)
Schools: Whitehall Elementary School (8/10), Yorktown Elementary School (8/10)

The 2017 median household income in Bowie is $107,865 with a 2017 median listing price of $345,350. Bowie is 29 percent more affordable compared to its surrounding metro area, and 27 percent more affordable compared to the U.S. overall.

8. Huntington Woods, Mich. (48070)
School: Burton Elementary School (8/10)

The 2017 median household income in Huntington Woods is $120,265 with a 2017 median listing price of $400,000. Huntington Woods is 15 percent more affordable compared to its surrounding metro area, and 27 percent more affordable compared to the U.S. overall.

9. Stow, Mass. (01775)
School: Center School (8/10)

The 2017 median household income in Stow is $139,622 with a 2017 median listing price of $504,750. Stow is 45 percent more affordable compared to its surrounding metro area, and 23 percent more affordable compared to the U.S. overall.

10. Chandler, Ariz. (85226)
Schools: Kyrene De La Mirada School (9/10), Kyrene De La Paloma School (8/10), Kyrene De Las Brisas School (9/10), Kyrene del Cielo School (10/10), Kyrene Traditional – Sureno Campus (9/10), Paragon Science Academy K-12 (9/10)

The 2017 median household income in Chandler is $80,130 with a 2017 median listing price of $324,155. Chandler is 30 percent more affordable compared to its surrounding metro area, and 20 percent more affordable compared to the U.S. overall.

“When searching for a new home, finding something affordable in a good school district with family-friendly features, such as large backyards, tops the list of homebuyer priorities,” says Javier Vivas, manager of Economic Research for realtor.com. “These markets offer strong public schools and affordable homes, making them a great fit for homebuyers with elementary school-age children.”

The ranking was determined by identifying ZIP codes within the top metropolitan areas in the U.S. that contained at least one public school ranked eight out of 10 or higher by GreatSchools, then calculating affordability by factoring in the ZIP code’s median income and median-priced home with monthly mortgage payment and other cost data.

For more information, please visit www.realtor.com.

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$724,900 :: 54498 Carrington, Shelby Township MI, 48316

4 beds, 6 baths
Home size: 3,900 sq ft
Lot Size: 20,473 sq ft
Added: 07/29/17, Last Updated: 07/29/17
Property Type: Single Family
MLS Number: 31326883
Community: Shelby Twp (50007)
Tract: Carrington Manor
Status: Active

Absolutely stunning custom built four bedroom home with the BEST resort style backyard. Large secluded lot on quiet street in Carrington Manor sub. Updates galore including windows (17) two furnace (16) HWH (16) two A/C units (16). Landscaping professionally redone (15), pool heater (15) and new roof (10). Custom wood craftsmansship in professionally finished walkout basement leading to professionally designed backyard with large (44×22) Anderson designed Gunite Pool. Home features include walkin kitchen pantry, Jenn Air cooktops, imported tile, large island w/pull out drawers. Beautiful mahogany deck off entry level overlooking pool, home office with rich custom woodwork and built in shelves/cabinets. Central vac, intercom and alarm system throughout home. Motorized foyer chandelier for cleaning. Oak pool table plus all appliances included. 3.5 heated car garage with new wood like doors.

Listed with Coldwell Banker Weir Manuel-Macomb


Brought to you by Janet Hull and Thomas Bush, Real Estate One, Inc.. Call me today at 1-855-Janet-Tom, or visit my website at www.JanetandThomas.com!


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