Realtors Step Up in Wake of Hurricanes Across the South
Real estate professionals across the country are rushing to help victims of Hurricane Harvey pick up the pieces after devastating floods struck the Texas coastline, submerging Houston and other areas in more than 50 inches of water. These practitioners are making temporary housing arrangements for displaced families, offering resources to repair flooded homes, raising funds, and coordinating supplies to be sent to those in need.
Some real estate pros are on the ground in ravaged communities, helping to provide direct assistance to storm victims. Among them aremembers of the Collin County and MetroTex associationsin Texas, who coordinated a large effort to bring emergency supplies to Houston. Other pros have even risked their lives to save stranded homeowners.George Huntoonof eXp Realty in Austin, Texas—which also has offices in Houston—sprung into action when floodwaters started rising. A former Marine, Huntoon navigated the floodwaters in his personal boat for more than five days, rescuing families trapped in flooded homes. He estimates he has taken part in more than 100 water rescues since Harvey slammed into Texas.
The devastation has been a life-altering experience for Huntoon. “It is heartbreaking. I have rescued poor people, rich people, black, white. Most are in clinical shock and are just moving in slow motion. This is a disaster unlike any other. The damage to property is astronomical.” He adds that he’s received several messages from displaced clients who are desperately in need of rentals.
Nicole Lopez, a team leader at Intero Real Estate Services in Houston, and her fiancé, Heath Cummins, volunteered with the Houston Police Department, using a high-water rescue vehicle to bring stranded families to safety. Lopez, who is featured in NAR’s latestVoice for Real Estatevideo about the recovery efforts, and her colleague,Katie Maxwell, vice president at Intero, also started a Facebook group calledHousing After Harvey. The group, which has more than 1,500 members, allows real estate professionals and investors to post reduced-price or rent-free homes for displaced flood victims. Dozens of homes and rooms for rent have already been posted.
Make a Donation to Help Harvey Victims
The National Association of REALTORS® isaccepting donations to the REALTORS® Relief Foundation to support storm victims. The RRF donates 100 percent of the funds to provide mortgage and rental assistance to those affected by disasters. Launched in 2001, the RRF has raised more than $26 million for housing-related aid. Since Harvey hit Texas, the foundation has received more than $550,000 in donations and nearly $600,000 in additional commitments from associations. But more support is needed; the foundation board has committed $1.75 million to Hurricane Harvey relief.
Priyanka Johri, broker-owner of Woodlands Eco Realty in The Woodlands, Texas, has offices about 28 miles outside of the flood zone. She was quick to offer up 10 rooms at her real estate office as a place for displaced families and their pets to take shelter. “I offered offices for families with a pet when we heard shelters were not accepting pets,” Johri says. (Many shelters have since begun allowing pets.) She also is housing 40 dogs left behind by storm victims and has given her contact information to Houston animal shelters as a resource in case they reach capacity.
Johri is already working with insurance companies to help clients who were affected by the floods find temporary housing. As of Aug. 29, they’d placed three families and were in the process of preparing more properties for occupancy. In the coming weeks, she says she’ll be helping families start the process of getting their homes repaired, and she’s already fielding calls from clients who plan to sell their damaged homes as they are. “All of us can do a little bit so someone does not have to do a lot,” Johri says of her volunteering efforts. “I am just doing my part.”
Other real estate professionals posted on social media about their harrowing efforts to save lives in Houston. Ryan Bokros, managing partner at JLA Realty in Humble, Texas, wrote on Facebook of the conditions he faced while rescuing families. “Another long day out ... running the roads of Houston on a boat, trudging through water with oil slicks and gasoline from flooded and abandoned cars, floating ants, sticks, branches, and God knows whatever else beneath that couldn’t be seen through the chest-deep water.
“I practically carried a pregnant woman 300 yards out of an apartment building. I had little children’s fragile arms wrapped around my neck. I tried to comfort bawling teenagers. I pushed a boat loaded with people through a rough current when it was too shallow for the motor to trim down."
Real estate brokerages big and small banded together to collect donations for storm victims. Keller Williams Realty’s charity arm,KW Cares, sent three 18-wheeler trucks to Houston, packed with generators, nonperishable food, diapers, cleaning supplies, wheelbarrows, flashlights, and additional supplies. Keller Williams counts 17 of its market centers and 4,400 of its associates that were in Harvey’s path
The homes of more than 300 Keller Williams associates have been impacted by the floods, says Darryl Frost, a spokesman for the brokerage. He says they expect that number to rise as the waters recede and the extent of the damage becomes more apparent. As of Aug. 30, KW Cares had issued $150,000 in grant money to cover food, rental cars, and additional expenses for affected agents, and will be assisting in the repair of their homes over the next few weeks.
The Houston Association of REALTORS® recently launched theREALTORS® Helping Houston TexasFacebook page to post the needs of the community. HAR offices were closed for nearly a week. “Houston REALTORS® are standing strong to help those that have suffered immeasurable losses, even though they themselves have suffered,” a post on the page reads.
Mortgage Process Consumer Satisfaction -- Not so Great!
According to a recent J.D. Power study, the 2016 U.S. Primary Mortgage Origination Satisfaction Study:
Overall satisfaction scores have increased year over year, but a high percentage of home buyers are remorseful about their mortgage lender selection, according to the J.D. Power 2016 U.S. Primary Mortgage Origination Satisfaction Study,SM released today.
The study shows that 21% of customers purchasing a home express regret over their choice of lender, and 27% of first-time home buyers regret their choice. Among customers who regret their decision, there are two distinct situations.
The first situation is customers having a poor experience (overall scores below 600 on a 1,000-point scale), which includes an above-average incidence of problems, lack of communication and unmet promises. While this group’s responses aren’t unexpected, they are often vocal about their displeasure, making an average of 9.0 negative comments, compared with the study average of 0.7.
The second situation is more unexpected because satisfaction among these customers is high. This group tends to be very price-focused and frequently obtains multiple quotes. Among customers who regret their lender selection, 72% indicate they were pressured to choose a particular mortgage product. Their final lender choice is often linked to financial reasons, such as getting a lower rate because they have a relationship with the firm (e.g., checking account with direct deposit).
“This ‘happy buyer’s remorse’ is in part due to customers feeling that circumstances out of their control drove them to a particular choice and that options weren’t totally clear,” said Craig Martin, director of the mortgage practice at J.D. Power. “Like a lot of consumers, they are happy with a good deal, but they can feel that they have to jump through hoops to get the deal. In the end, they may not fully understand exactly what they got, and the longer-term risk for lenders is that customers’ perceptions of the deal may change in the future.”
Mid-Century Modern Homes - All Over Southeast Michigan
Mid-Century Modern doesn’t have to mean a million bucks. While prices for the streamlined classic homes continue to crest at the seven-digit mark in California, there are opportunities all over Michigan for budget-conscious buyers with an affinity for stylish abodes.
Looking outside the Golden State offers plenty of potential for bargain hunters. Realtor.com has recently searched for some of the best Mid-Century Modern homes under $300k and they found some great ones, but did you know that we've got a ton of great Mid-Century homes in Southeast Michigan that could fit the bill too?
Visit The Woelkers Group today to find a great Mid-Century home that will be a great Mid-Century Modern with very little effort! We've got hundreds currently listed in our market. We can send you an up to date, real time list that has the most accurate information available!
January is National Radon Action Month
Radon is a cancer-causing radioactive gas. You cannot see, smell or taste radon but it may be a problem in your home. When you breathe air containing radon, you increase your risk of getting lung cancer. In fact, the Surgeon General has warned that radon is the second leading cause of lung cancer in the United States today. If you smoke and your home has high radon levels, your risk of lung cancer is especially high. Radon induced lung cancer costs the United States over $2 billion dollars per year in both direct and indirect health care costs.
Testing is the only way to know your home’s radon levels. There are no immediate symptoms that will alert you to the presence of radon. It typically takes years of exposure before any problems surface and then it is too late. The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, Surgeon General, American Lung Association, American Medical Association and National Safety Council all recommend testing your home for radon.
If you find that your home has high radon levels, there are ways to reduce the concentrations. Even very high levels can be reduced to acceptable levels. Most radon problems can be fixed by a do-it-yourselfer for for less than $500. Many property owners discover radon gas and then do nothing, usually because they fear the remediation costs would be too far out of their common maintenance costs or lack of knowledge. Many radon remediation companies will help you interpret the radon test results, some even coming into your home for a free evaluation. Anyone coming into your home should guarantee levels under 4.0 pci/l after remediation. Generally, to have a professional remediate, you can anticipate anywhere from $300 to $1500, with the guarantee that the home will test under 4.0 pci/l.
2017 Housing Outlook for Younger Generations
Forget the starter home, millennials want the move-up property
More millennials — roughly, those born between the early 1980's and the late 1990's — are expected to buy a first home in 2017, according to the Washington, D.C.–based National Association of Realtors.
Many of those buyers have saved enough to go with something more than a condo unit or a starter home, said Jessica Lautz, managing director for research at NAR. And with the markets doing so well, and interest rates as low as they are, millennials who have paid down their student debt and built up their cash may be in a position to buy more house than real-estate agents might think, she said.
Indeed, the NAR noted that in 2016, 17% of buyers under 35 were able to save enough for a down payment for a home within a year, compared with 14% of all age groups. And though it was lower than all other age groups, 37% of buyers under 35 said they were able to save enough for a down payment within six months, compared with 46% of all other buyers, the NAR said.
To be sure, student debt still is seen as one of the top factors that will influence, in the coming year, whether the millennial generation will buy a home. The NAR noted that 44% of Generation Y buyers had a student-loan debt balance of at least $25,000. And perhaps also worrisome, the baby boom generation is also deep in debt, with the highest median debt balance of $29,100. And it isn’t just their own debt, according to the NAR. “This may be due to not only their personal educational loans but accumulating debt from their children’s education loans,” Lautz said.
Start thinking about Generation Z
The millennial generation might grab all the headlines, but it won’t be long before Gen Z reaches the market. They’re teenagers now, but Generation Z is almost on the cusp of being able to buy homes, with the first Gen Z–ers reaching their 18th birthdays in 2017. Gen Z, according to the National Association of Realtors, is a lot different from the predecessor generation that came of age in the midst of recession, war, terrorism and a stock-market collapse, and was burned by the housing downturn and crushing student-loan burdens.
Gen Z will come of age with low interest rates, better job prospects and higher wages to help cushion the high costs of college education, said NAR research director Lautz.
“It might sound a little traditional, especially when compared to what we’ve seen with millennials, but this is a generation that values homeownership,” said Sherry Chris, chief executive of Parsippany–Troy Hills, N.J.–based Better Homes and Gardens Real Estate.
In fact, 97% of the Gen Z age group wants to own a home, she said. “I want a big house,” said Cayman, a 17-year-old interviewed by NAR. “I want a room for each of my kids, a master bedroom, a few guest rooms, a movie room. I want a lot of space.”
Taken from: http://www.marketwatch.com/story/5-real-estate-trends-to-watch-in-2017-2016-11-15
It seems the decorations and sales for the holidays start earlier and earlier every year. The retail world encourages you to shop early to save more. Saving money on gifts is nice, but the heart of the holidays is found in the gathering of your family and friends. Whether around the Thanksgiving table, the Chanukah Menorah, the Christmas tree, the Kwanzaa candles or the New Year clock, there is no place like home for the holidays. As you prepare for those gatherings, you may take a look around your home. Has your family grown, so that you are not sure how everyone will fit? Susie just got engaged, so your number will increase again next year (and maybe even more 2 years from now). Your Dad seems to require more assistance this year. Is it time to start thinking about him becoming a permanent part of your home? Or is it the opposite? Has your family gathering shifted to one of your adult children's homes, so you do not need as much space? Or maybe like the Kranks you have decided to skip Christmas and take a cruise. Family and friends change and evolve year after year, so it only follows suit that holiday gatherings do too. Does your current home still fulfill the needs of your family? Do you need to upsize or downsize? Would you like to know what your home is worth on today's market? Are you curious about what other homes are out there? The Woelkers Group has over 30 years combined experience helping families find their way home. Call 734-765-1081 today to get help answering any of these questions.
However your family chooses to celebrate this season, The Woelkers Group wishes you the Happiest of Holidays!
Should You Sell Your Home In The Winter?
WHY SELL YOUR HOME IN WINTER?
Many people shy away from selling a home in winter—so you might be surprised to learn that there are actually a few advantages to selling during the snowy season.
In fact, according to a recent article in in The Huffington Post, statistics showed a few surprising trends:
HOMES LISTED IN WINTER ARE ACTUALLY MORE LIKELY TO SELL.
Homes listed between December and March sell faster than homes listed in other months. (Not every year, but in most recent years—as the market changes often.) This defeats the popular myth that it’s more difficult to sell in winter, because fewer people are looking to buy.
WINTER LISTINGS SELL FASTER.
An analysis of nationwide listings showed that 74% of homes listed in February sold within 90 days—compared to September, for example, when 61% of homes sold within 90 days.
HOMES SELL FOR MORE IN THE WINTER.
Not only do homes listed between December and March sell faster, but they also sell for slightly more money. 13% of homes sell for more than list price. Why? Because people shopping for a home in the winter are generally more serious buyers, and are highly motivated to close the deal. These buyers are likely moving because they need to for a job change, a health reason, or a new baby—not because they want to.
So don’t be shy about selling your home in the winter. In fact, you may actually do better—and sell faster—than if you wait til spring or summer.
The holiday season can be such a busy time. Between work deadlines, holiday parties, and long shopping lists to check off, the holidays tend to come and go before you can say mistletoe. Don't forget to set aside time this year to have fun and make some memories. Here are seven things you can do to enjoy the magic of the season this holiday.
1. Go gift shopping out of town. Chances are, shopping for gifts is on your to-do list. So, why not make a mini-vacation out of it? Take a day or weekend trip to go shopping somewhere you love to visit or have never been before.
2. See a live holiday play. Bring your favorite holiday stories to life by attending a live theater performance, which makes for a memorable experience and a fun holiday tradition.
3. Have a holiday movie marathon. This is the perfect excuse to get some relaxation time in and brush up on your holiday movie-quoting skills.
4. Bake cookies. Even if holiday baking is already a part of your annual tradition, mix it up this year by trying some new recipes or unique decorating tricks. Then, pass them out to your neighbors or coworkers to spread a little holiday cheer.
5. Get crafty. Skip the store-bought decorations and get in touch with your creative side. Try something like a DIY holiday wreath or handmade ornaments. This not only saves you money but also gives you unique mementos to cherish for holidays to come.
6. Go outside. If you live in a place with lots of snow, go sledding or build a snowman. If sandy beaches are more your thing, make sand angels instead. Getting some fresh air will help give you an added boost to combat the busyness of the holidays.
7. Attend a tree lighting ceremony. What better way to feel merry and bright than with a tree lighting ceremony or holiday light show? These events typically include food, live entertainment, and a little something for everyone in the family to enjoy.
Should You Buy a Home Before or After Marriage?
Should You Buy a Home Before or After Marriage?
All lovebirds need a nest, and nowadays you and your significant other don’t need to wait to tie the knot before you purchase a place to roost together. About one in four married couples between the ages of 18 and 34 purchase their first home together before their wedding date.
Yet, not all couples are suited to joining the pre-wedding, home-purchasing flock. Here are four tips to help you and your partner decide whether signing on the dotted line before or after you sign your marriage certificate is in your best interest.
1. Consider Credit Scores
If you are committed to purchasing a home with your partner, the decision to do it before or after you are married could hinge on finances. Banks generally view married couples as one unit. Unmarried couples are assessed as individual applicants even if they are applying for a loan together.
If you are not married and both you and your significant other have good credit histories, your chances of qualifying for a mortgage loan increase when you apply as a couple.
If you apply jointly for a mortgage and one of you has bad credit, it can affect your ability to secure a loan, or to secure the loan amount needed to buy your desired home. In that case, having only the individual with good credit apply for a loan on his or her own before the marriage might be a good option. With only one person applying for the loan, however, their individual income may lower the loan amount from what your two incomes could otherwise qualify for.
Another option is to wait to purchase a home until after you have been married for a few years and the person with bad credit has time to boost his or her financial score.
2. Add Up Savings
In addition to securing a mortgage, a home purchase will require a down payment and payment of closing costs. Combining income and savings may help you qualify for a bigger loan and allow you to put down a larger down payment to reduce the amount of your monthly loan payments.
Many couples, whether married or not, try to contribute equally to the home purchase. If you are making unequal cash contributions and are not married, you would be wise to note the details in writing, just in case you part ways before your nuptials and need to divvy up equity in the property.
3. Title Matters
Whether you are married when you purchase a home affects how you take title of the property, because it determines legal ownership and how courts will transfer property ownership in the event of death.
Some states only allow married couples to hold title as community property. If a spouse dies, then only half of the property can be transferred to the decedent’s heirs. If only the deceased person was on the title, the surviving spouse still can acquire a community interest in the property. Some states require married couples who want to own real estate separately to sign a quitclaim deed from one spouse to the other.
If you are unmarried and sign the title as tenants in common, both of you have ownership in the property. If one person dies, the decedent’s ownership does not automatically transfer to the other owner, unless that person is named in the will. Joint tenants, however, will automatically pass their interest in the property to the other person in the event of death.
If you intend to buy a house with your partner before marriage, experts advise that you both sign a legal agreement to avoid altercations down the road. Should any snags occur in your relationship when you are not married, you and your partner do not have the same legal protections as married couples, and breaking up co-ownership of a house can be a messy ordeal. A legal contract between an unmarried couple should fill in the blanks as to who is responsible for expenses, the mortgage, taxes, capital gains, property title and more.
4. Prepare for Commitment
Eighty percent of all married couples who bought a home together said the purchase strengthened their bond more than any other purchase they made. That makes sense, according to Robi Ludwig, a psychotherapist and Coldwell Banker Real Estate LLC lifestyle correspondent, because couples who purchase a home together must be frank about their finances, career aspirations and future family plans as they affect the location, size and price of the home they buy,
“Even the closest couples are still two separate people with two separate ideas and agendas,” but searching for a home together can bring up a couple’s different priorities and ideas about life, Ludwig said. “They learn how to be practical with each other and compromise … it bonds two people together and makes them family.”
This article has been updated from an earlier version by Deena Weinberg.
November Happenings in our Area
The month of November has some really great things happening in all of the great communities we serve!
November 18th marks the start of the Holiday season in Northville this year, with their Holiday Lighted Parade beginning at 6:30 pm. The weekend follows up with the annual Northville Holiday Greens Market, where local vendors will have holiday wreaths, roping, decor and accessories for sale.
For our Livingston County followers, the day after Thanksgiving marks the start of Howell's holiday season. They will be hosting the Fantasy 5k run, hosting runners that twinkle & shine! The race begins at 6pm. The 33rd annual Fantasy of Lights Parade is immediately following, starting at 7 pm.
Oakland County has some great shows at the Suburban Collection Showplace, This month they're hosting a pet expo, cat show, and an antique arms event! Royal Oak, of course, has the Wild Lights at the Detroit Zoo with a ticket cost of just $10, it's pretty manageable for most families.
Let's not forget about Wayne County! Detroit has some incredible annual events as well, of course the Detroit Thanksgiving Parade & Lion's game are a great tradition to start, or continue! The week prior to Thanksgiving, Campus Martius hosts it's Christmas tree lighting from 5 pm- midnight on the 18th of this month, being followed up by the opening of the skating rink!
If you're near Westland, don't forget the Hines Park Lightfest! For a $5 donation per car, you drive through the Midwest's longest lighted holiday drive, staying in your car to keep warm. **December 6, 13 and 20 are Toy Nights. On these three nights, the community is invited to bring a new, unwrapped toy in lieu of the $5 vehicle fee.
At any time, if you have any events we can help promote, please let us know!