Posted in Buying Homes, Finding a great Realtor, goal setting, home ownership, Motivation, Planning, Succeed

When Gratefulness Abounds

I had a reverse thrill at my double closing yesterday. I mean closings are always good, it’s what I work for, right? And a double closing where I have the buyers and sellers is even more amazing. However, yesterday I had a newfound “reverse” sensation at closing. I was so excited, not for myself, but for my clients. And when I came back to the office to update my closing chart, I had an even more amazing realization. Let me tell you about both that wild sensation and realization.

Yesterday I closed on a duplex with both buyers and sellers who were repeat clients. As I came back into the room to give the buyers the keys and saw their smiling faces it hit me; the great journey that they’ve been on. It was only a few years ago that I helped them purchase a couple of flip homes and re-sell them. Then they started to purchase up-scale rentals, beginning with hard money loans til they could “prove their worthiness” in the banking industry standards. They took risks and it paid off. After a few years, I had the opportunity to assist them in purchasing a warehouse because their construction company had taken on some great commercial contracts and they needed space. Now they’re a huge success on a Regional Nationwide scale. And they’re just plain great people. They always have a smile, they’re always polite and funny and have a vision for even greater things. It re-inspired me. It challenged me and it just plain made me joyful realizing the success and the journey they have been on.  

As I handed them the keys I thought, what a great story and fulfilling of an American dream. It has been a joy to be even such a small part of it. And then I thought of my sellers who have come full circle, selling off their first investment property, where they had lived so long ago and selling to be near to their beloved grandkids.

When I returned to my office with all the documents, I looked at my updated list of the 1st quarter closings. There were 13 of them, with over 2.5 million in volume. I can remember my early days in real estate that I hoped for that number for the year! But, the most amazing thing that caught my attention was that when I looked at that chart; showing the addresses, volume, dates, and where the business came from – I discovered that 12 of 13 deals were repeat clients or referrals from clients. That is an incredible thing. I had to sit down for a second and reflect on my gratefulness. What am I grateful for? You!  Somehow, somewhere, you’ve had an impact in my real estate career &/or my life. I just felt I really needed to say Thank You. I am so blessed and so excited for what is to come.

It is easy to forget our blessings in this often-crazy world. Sometimes we get in a rut. Sometimes we forget to dream bigger when we’ve achieved our goals. Sometimes we forget to extend our gratitude. So I wanted to do that today. I am grateful for you. Whether you’re a client large or small, a friend, my cheerleader, my mentor, someone who has referred me, reads my articles, or all of the above – I am grateful for you. Dream Big my friends, and don’t forget to thank those who have helped you become who you are. You are my blessing.

Posted in community, Finding a great Realtor, goal setting, Home Buyers, Home Buying Tips, home ownership, Motivation, Planning, Realtor

The Most Misunderstood Loan – VA

🇺🇸 I have the utmost respect for the men & women who serve our country through any branch of the military. I am sure it is often times a thankless and misunderstood job. One of the ways our Country demonstrates its thanks in a small way, is offering our vets their own special type of home mortgage.

🇺🇸 There are some huge benefits for veterans who use their entitlement to purchase homes. However, especially in this insanely competitive world of home buying right now – the impression given to those receiving offers on their home from VA buyers are often being misled and tossing those offers to the curb.

👉 Let’s talk benefits and then cover myths about VA loans…

🇺🇸 A huge benefit for a VA buyer is that there is no required down payment. They of course can put money down if they so choose, but with the excellent interest rates VA loans have, the buyer may choose to keep their money in the bank to use for home renovations, family vacation or anything else they desire.

🇺🇸 In addition to the great interest rate and no money down, our VA buyers don’t have to pay MIP or PMI – loan insurance, which is required on all FHA loans, and on any conventional loans with less than 20% equity. That in itself, is a huge savings. Our vets can also choose to roll all of their closing costs and up to 4% concessions into the loan. So on closing day, they will have no need to walk in with a check if they have chosen this option.

🇺🇸 VA loans also have refinancing options to lower payments when interest rates are favorable. Veterans can also refinance their other home loan types into a VA loan if they had purchased previously without using their VA Entitlements. VA loans may also be assumable which can be a huge benefit in a market where the loan is a low interest rate but the current market has higher rates. Our vets also have staff who advocate for them to find alternatives to foreclosure if the need arises.

👉 What are the myths & potential disadvantages of VA loans?

🇺🇸 Two of the biggest myths I hear are that sellers believe someone using a VA 100% loan is not as strong of a buyer as someone putting 20% down on a conventional. That is simply not true. Being able to finance all of their purchase is simply a benefit, their credit worthiness has no bearing.

🇺🇸 The second myth I often hear of is that a VA loan appraiser is going to require the seller to pay for a bunch of repairs. While it is true that there are appraisal stipulations with a VA loan that aren’t there for a conventional loan; they’re simply safety measures, such as peeling paint (that could be lead-based) the lack of hand-railings going down a staircase. For a quick view of the guidelines see the link at the end of this post. The truth is, if your home is in average repair, you’re not likely to have an issue and everything is negotiable even if it came up.

🇺🇸 I do believe and have often expressed my disappointment in the appraisal structure of the VA loan; that it is a disservice to our veterans to have the additional appraisal requirements, simply because of the stigma associated with it. I understand that passing the added appraisal inspection may give a sense ofsecurity that our vets are getting a “good house”. But in reality it is costing many of our veterans the possibility of owning a home that may need a simple $250 in repairs because of the mentality and lack of education in both the sellers and often Realtors advising sellers. I would love to give our vets the opportunity to see what appraisal issues come up and have the option of being able to move forward with the loan with a post-closing resolution. For example, the vet can move forward on the purchase of a home with peeling paint around an exterior door frame and have 30 days or “when weather suitable” time period to bring it up to snuff themselves after closing and provide such documentation after the work is done.

🇺🇸 For specifics on any home loan, be sure to ask a licensed mortgage broker/loan officer. I’m happy to help you find an excellent VA lender. Every person’s situation is unique and speaking with a lender and getting a pre-approval is the best way to get all the facts.

VA LOAN BENEFITS:
Zero $ Down
No Extra Insurance Premiums
Roll in Closing Costs
Lower Interest Rates
No PrePayment Penalties
Foreclosure Advocacy*
Refinance Options*
Assumable*


DISADVANTAGES:
Perception as a weak buyer at 100% financing
Perception that there will be tons of repairs
Potential Appraisal issue if closing costs are rolled into price

👉👉https://www.benefits.va.gov/…/M26_7_Ch12_MPRs_NEW.docx

🇺🇸 Talk to a licensed VA lender for details! 📝 Getting a Pre-approval is an absolute must in this busy real estate market. If you wish to get moving, let’s find a loan officer to start pre-approving! 📞 989.475.2958

Posted in Buying Homes, community, Finding a great Realtor, goal setting, Home Buying Tips, home ownership, Home Selling Tips, Planning, real estate, Real Estate Bay Midland Saginaw

Let’s Talk About Conventional Loans

👉 The most flexible of mortgages – the conventional mortgage can be used for all types of homes; single family, vacation, rentals, & multi-family residences and there’s no maximum loan limit. They are unique because they are not guaranteed nor insured by the Federal Government, although most lenders/mortgage brokers will conform to the Fannie Mae/Freddie Mac guidelines so that they can later sell their loans to them, which frees up their funds to take on more loans. Conventional mortgages typically have lower closing costs than other loan types but do require a higher credit score from the borrower.

👉 Terms and Interest rates will vary depending on your DTI (Debt to Income) your credit score and what lender you choose. But with a conventional mortgage, you may qualify for a 3% -20% down payment and choose a 30, 20, 15, 0r 10 year term to repay your loan. Most lenders require at least a 620 credit score but you will find that as your credit score goes up, your interest rate will come down. Your DTI will also help determine how much you will get approved for.

👉 If you purchase a home using a conventional loan and your down payment is less than 20%, keep in mind you’ll be paying for Mortgage Protection Insurance (MPI) until your equity is above that 20% mark.If you’re interested in hearing more about a conventional mortgage or any other type that you may qualify for, give me a call or send me a DM and I can recommend some great local loan officers and mortgage brokers that can find the best fit for your situation.

CONVENTIONAL IN A NUTSHELL
*Lower Consumer Costs
*Most flexible terms
*not government backed
*No maximum Loan Limit
*No MPI when over 20% equity
*Usable on all types of properties
*Requires Higher Credit Score
*May be more difficult to obtain than FHA/RD
*Closes More Quickly

Getting a Pre-approval is an absolute must in this busy real estate market. If you wish to get moving, let’s find a loan officer to start pre-approving!

Posted in Best Time to Sell, Buying Homes, Finding a great Realtor, Home Selling Tips, Planning

Getting Ready For Spring Market

Planning to sell? Here are a few quick tips to get your home in order to help win the best price!

Exterior:
1. Trim your trees & shrubs.
2. Clean Flower/landscaping beds.
3. Add a pop of color near the entry with flowers/pots.
4. Be sure front door area is clean, fresh and that the door is operating without difficulty or noise.

Interior:
1. De-Clutter: This is the number 1 thing to do to make your house more appealing!
2. Wash walls/light switches.
3. If walls don’t clean up well, have them painted. Fresh paint is a great way to make your home smell
fresh.
4. Make sure all lightbulbs are working.
5. Ask your favorite REALTOR ™ about any other more detailed concerns/ideas you may have prior to
spending the money to do them!

Posted in community, Finding a great Realtor, goal setting, Midland Saginaw Real Estate, Motivation, Planning, real estate, Realtor, Succeed

Overcoming Adversity

Come on, Rise to the Challenge, Persistence Pays, Stick with It, are all a few common phrases that we hear when people talk about facing adversity.  Can a couple words actually help?  What is it that really allows us to overcome adversity and why do some people do so well and others often seem mired down continuously?

 

I don’t think a phrase in and of itself is going to help us much when we are faced with adversity. And let’s be honest – we all face it and all too often whether it is in the workforce or our home life.  As a Realtor, I face it often.  You may think that sounds crazy, as many people’s perceptions and expectations of a Realtor are very low.  Granted there will always be agents who live up to that low expectation, just like in any field. However, as a professional with two degrees under her belt and more importantly, decades of experience I can tell you the real estate world is full of adversity of varying degrees.

 

In real estate I face a couple different types. The first is pretty plain and simple – how do I get enough business to survive in this dog-eat-dog arena?  The second is the type of adversity I face with clients.  Sometimes this is personal, but I’m focusing more on the struggles that we face in trying to close a deal.  A couple of recent examples have been, a buyer whose employer changed their manner of payment in the middle of a deal.  The buyer being a caretaker had always received one bi-weekly check for taking care of multiple people. Week 3 of the deal, the employer decides to pay by the patient and the buyer now receives 7 different checks.  This throws the lender into a fit. How can they verify the income? We’re involved with a big bank, supposed to close this next week.  Seller wants to walk because we should already have the clear to close and now we need to postpone. It all sounds ridiculous to us but this is out of our control.  We can’t do the bank’s work for them.  What can I do?  Well, yes I can rise to the challenge and be persistent.  What does this mean specifically?  That’s where overcoming adversity becomes possible – find out the specifics.  In this case I needed to speak with the lender daily.  I needed to speak to the seller’s agent daily to quiet their fears, to show them the income hadn’t changed, to talk to them about how putting it back on the market meant starting over and possibly a worse deal, etc. I needed to keep the spirits of my buyer up so they didn’t get frustrated over what seemed such stupidity and let them walk away.  It took an extra 3 weeks, but my buyer is now happily in his new home and the sellers walked away with their check.

 

How about when as a listing agent you recommend strongly that the seller make some type of improvement that you know (from years of experience) it will not only make their home sell faster and for a higher amount – and they choose not to follow your direction?  They may even think they know more about real estate than you do! What can we do?  Stay the Course of course.  Find those facts, show them homes that sell, dig up examples, find out how your seller’s brain works – will they respond to statistics? Or will they be more affected by photos of before and after? Approaching it one step at a time until you find out what works.

 

Your adversity is different than mine. We all have our own struggles.  Though the cliché phrases aren’t going to do anything, if we think about how those phrases came about – we are on the right track to overcoming.  What does it actually entail to “Stay the Course” or “Rise to the Challenge”? Figure out what the end result needs to be. Then step by step work toward that result.  Life is not full of many one way streets.  We may have to re-route or recalculate a few times along the way.  But if you have a goal/end result that is the most important thing.  Once we know where we want to be, we will figure out a way to get there.  It may not all be clear at the beginning.  But, we’re way smarter than we usually give ourselves credit for.  Decide what you want and then go. And as another familiar saying says, Just Do It!

Posted in bay city, Bay City Michigan, Buying Homes, community, Finding a great Realtor, goal setting, Home Buyers, Home Selling Tips, midland, Midland Michigan, Midland Saginaw Real Estate, real estate, Real Estate Bay Midland Saginaw, Real Estate Market Statistics, Realtor, saginaw, Selling Homes, Selling Your Home, Tips for selling your home faster, Uncategorized

Less Sales – Higher Prices for Saginaw County

Based on number of transactions, March 2017 fell short in Saginaw County home sales when compared to a very robust March of last year, and even behind the 5 year March average. Don’t despair! If you are a buyer or seller there is still good news.

Despite the lower number of sales, Saginaw’s 12 month average sales price ending in March 2017 was at $104,314. This is up 3.33% over last year at the same time. I remember back in 2008 when the average home sale was at a whopping $64,143 – so we’ve made a lot of progress getting back to the “Pre-crash” price in 2005 and the average was just over $107,000.

Lots of numbers. What does it mean? Well, we can’t really formulate a trend from the low March sales. I’ll be keeping an eye on it to see if it was a statistical anomaly for the month. A slow March in essence is really a slowdown of activity in January. The plus side is the increase in home values for our various communities. That’s good news for sellers.  This in turn, realistically is also good for buyers.  Why? Well, all year we’ve seen low inventory of good homes.  As word spreads that home prices are continuing to rise, more sellers are likely to get their homes on the market. This gives a buyer more choices, which also gives them more leverage when making an offer.

The March trend was different for Bay and Midland Counties, despite how closely tied our Mid-Michigan communities are.  Bay County saw 25% more transactions this March over last year which is great; however the average sales price rose less than 1%.  Midland also saw about a 20% increase in number of transactions over last March plus had a 6.13% increase in values.

Quarterly reports should be out soon and that will perhaps give a little more insight as to whether March was a trend or an anomaly. Always good to keep in touch with the heartbeat of your community.  If you would like to know more specific information for your area, please feel free to call or email me. If you’d like to receive a free home market analysis – I’d love to hear from you.

~Build a better world by building a better you

  • Monique Gilbert – Your Real Estate Matchmaker – Connecting Buyers & Sellers for a Perfect Match
Posted in bay city, Bay City Michigan, Buying Homes, community, Finding a great Realtor, Home Buyers, midland, Midland Michigan, Midland Saginaw Real Estate, real estate, Real Estate Bay Midland Saginaw, Realtor, saginaw, Uncategorized

Is Real Estate Investing For You?

Recently Saginaw was deemed the 2nd Best Housing Market in the United States. I know that seems to be contrary to what most people think when they ponder the state of Saginaw, with its loss of population and manufacturing jobs over the past decade.  There were a lot of factors that went into the study which gave us this infamous title. Though many of the factors are good things for us; higher number of residential sales in 2016 than any other in 10 years, average sales price climbing, etc – there’s more to it than that; and it and of itself could be a series of articles. But my point today is with the current changes in our market, could real estate investing be a good avenue for you?

If you are active in the stock market you are well aware of the volatility over the past years. If you’re toward the end of your working age, or recently retired – you may have had to make drastic changes to your retirement plans due to extensive losses.  What do you consider a good Return On Investment? (ROI) Many in the stock market are averaging 5-8%. You might be thrilled at a higher amount.

What if you purchased a home for $25,000 and put in $3,000 of repairs and rented it for $650-$800/month? Taking out taxes and insurance, even on a $650/month home, your income would be about $5,500. That in one year would be an APR ROI of almost 20%. Granted, you will occasionally need to do maintenance, perhaps pay a fee to a property management company. I would always suggest that for the first year, all of your rental income be kept in a designated savings account for future maintenance issues, as well as a good 10-15% each year.

With this income of 19.6%ROI annually, you would have a steady income and when the day came you wanted to sell, history tells us that you should get at least 100% of your original investment back as well. Why isn’t everyone doing this? Well, a lot of people are. I don’t have any stats about the percent of homes being purchased in Saginaw by out of area investors but I know it is much higher than any other time in the past ten years.

Let me be very clear that being a landlord, even if you hire a property management company, is not risk free.  You need to do a great job in selecting tenants (or the PM co. does) You need to be sure you’re setting those maintenance funds aside. There will be tenants who do crazy things and cost you money.

You may decide the risk for damages would be less if you were dealing with more expensive rentals. For example I recently had a client who purchased a home for $60,000 in the Township and then rented it for $1300/month.  That’s an awesome ROI, but a higher initial investment. You have to do what you think is best. And that might be nothing at all! But I believe it bears thinking about.

If you think investing might be worth looking into, feel free to call or email me. We have a great property management division here at Berkshire Hathaway too. If you want some honest advice I would be happy to sit down with you.

 

Posted in bay city, Bay City Michigan, Best Time to Sell, Buying Homes, community, Finding a great Realtor, Home Buyers, midland, Midland Michigan, Midland Saginaw Real Estate, real estate, Real Estate Bay Midland Saginaw, Realtor, saginaw, Selling Homes

…Giving Your Character That Ravishing Red…

Dear Friends:

Fall has been beautiful thus far and soon the festivities of Thanksgiving shall begin. We shall see gourds, pumpkins, shocks of corn, cornucopias, and turkeys galore. Though I personally am not much looking forward to the wintry mix that is sure to soon follow; Thanksgiving is definitely my favorite day of the year.

It is a time I am able to take just a very short break and surround myself with family, my extended family. All five of my siblings, their children, and grandchildren gather at my parents for a day or two of full tabletops, glorious wafting smells arising from the oven, mixed with laughter of children and adults alike. We have pillow fights, card games, leaf wars, football, and more.  I am blessed to have a family who loves to share these types of days together. I am blessed also that we have a wonderful home to gather in and enough in the bank to put whatever we’d like in the oven and on that table.

I encourage you, even if you aren’t a Thanksgiving Day “celebrator”, to take this opportunity to inventory those things in which you can be thankful.  As we watch the leaves turn from their bright greens to ravishing reds, glorious golds, and soft yellows we can turn our thoughts to the changes in our own lives from the past year. Maybe it wasn’t an easy year – those struggles leaving you stronger in the end, giving your character that ravishing red. Maybe there were wonderful celebrations providing you with glorious golden memories, and those little moments to cherish like the soft yellow leaves twirling down in the fall winds.  Whatever has transpired this year; we all have things to be thankful for.

“Gratitude can transform common days into thanksgivings, turn routine jobs into joy, & change ordinary opportunities into blessings” – William Arthur Ward

Blessings to you and yours,

Monique Gilbert

Posted in bay city, Finding a great Realtor, Midland Saginaw Real Estate

What Makes a Great Real Estate Agent?

More than 60% of home sellers choose the first agent that visits their home. Wow! Does that mean the majority of real estate agents are great? People are so blown away with the sales presentations and marketing plans they need look no further? I would say, NO. As much as that statistic would make my day if I could somehow find the way to be the first one to home sellers’ doors; I don’t believe the majority of agents are “great” or “outstanding” . I would suggest that more than likely, the public is not aware of what makes the difference between a good agent and a great agent until they are well into the sales process and they’re already under contract.  Because buying or selling a home isn’t usually something done with frequency, how would one know what they SHOULD expect? Well, I think as a Realtor, I’m in a unique position to give an idea of what separates bad, good, and great agents. Why? Because I’ve heard a lot of complaints and even nightmare stories over the years. I have heard the shortcomings of agents as well as some spectacular acts of service. Let me share with you a little bit about what I believe home sellers & buyers should expect from an agent.

1. Do they make you feel comfortable in their presence? That may seem like an odd requirement but buying or selling is a big transaction. Don’t work with someone that you don’t feel comfortable with. You should feel like they are trustworthy, that they have your interest in mind. They should be listening to you and asking you questions to find out your needs. Trust your instincts.

2. Do they have a plan? There’s a little differentiation here between buyers and sellers. For buyers – the agent should be asking what your “dream list” is and be taking notes. They should be getting to know you and what is important to you and offer to put together an automatic search for you. They should be flexible with times that work for you – that is not saying they’re going to clear their schedule the next day and make you their only priority. They should offer you information on the community; events, schools, etc.                                                                                                                                     Sellers should find that an agent comes to their first appointment well prepared and professional.  They should already have done background work on your home’s information. They should have printed or online material about themselves, and the company they represent, ready for you.  A great agent should be able to walk through your home and point out the pluses and also those little things you may want to change to make your home more sale-able. They should be able to sit down and specifically give you a marketing plan for your home – don’t settle for someone who just says they have a great marketing plan. You should be able to see it in black and white right there. It should involve a multi-faceted approach – online (websites, FB, MLive), print, etc. Find out if they’re a member of your local board of Realtors. If you live near a county border, be sure they’re a member of the neighboring board too, or at least have guest listing privileges there. You need to make sure it will be listed in both places.

3. What is their route of communication? One of the biggest complaints from sellers that I hear is, “They stuck a sign in my yard and I never heard from them again”. That should never happen. You should have some type of weekly interaction. Even if there hasn’t really been an event for them to report, they should be calling or emailing (your preference) about what stage they’re at in their marketing plan and what they plan to do differently the next week. A buyer’s agent should be auto sending new and reduced listings any day they appear and also keep in touch with your situation to be sure nothing has changed.

4. Are they full service? This is a time where not every brokerage out there is full service.  You will find discount agencies. Note: THERE’S A REASON they’re called a discount agency.  They will not be handling all the details for you – before a contract, nor during, nor after.  I had my first encounter with working with a discount broker last year. I had a buyer who was interested in a home that was listed with a discount broker. It was a flat fee company that put a sign in the yard and listed it on the MLS and that was about it.  We went to make an offer and were told to work directly with the seller. The seller was absolutely confused, they were also not prepared to negotiate with an expert negotiator (me). They ended up walking away – their agent was not even aware.  Three weeks later their agent called to find out the status of the deal only to find we’d purchased another home. Be sure your agent is full service! Be sure you sign a contract so they are legally representing YOUR best interests; whether you are a buyer or seller.

To wrap it up; a bad agents tend to be pushy and hard-sell, most likely impatient, and want you to decide everything at that moment; a good agent will say they know your area, be professional, list your home on the MLS and some websites. A great agent will prove they know your area, show you their plan, come prepared, take time to listen and answer all your questions regardless of the lengthy number, list your home with a multi-faceted marketing approach, stay in communication, and make you feel like you are in the hands of an expert – because you are.

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