Prep Your Entire Home for Cool Weather

It’s finally happened, the warm weather had released its grip and the cool weather of fall has arrived. Which, it bears the question is your home winter ready? Fall is a short season in Michigan and snowflakes can fly at any moment so it’s important to make sure your home is ready to withstand the upcoming winter.

The easiest way to tackle this is to work from the outside in. Start with the roof and make sure there are no loose shingles, that your gutters are cleaned out and that the exterior faucets are turned off to prevent pipes from bursting. Also, if you have nice landscaping that you want to protect, simply add more mulch which will help those perennials withstand the cold.

Next is to move indoors and start with your ceiling fans. Yup, you read that right! Most people don’t think about their ceiling fans during the winter but if you reverse their spin direction it can actually help you save energy by pushing rising heat back into the room! Speaking of heat, seal all your window gaps to prevent cool air from entering your home and hang up heavy duty drapes to help keep the drafts out!

Lastly is the fun part! Making your home cozy, because that’s one of the perks about winter! Swap out your bedding for some thick flannel sheets, add some holiday scented candles, and hang up some string lights to create a nice warm glow!


Safe 4th of July Firework Celebrations to Attend

There is no doubt that this 4th of July is going to look different this year due to the pandemic and social distancing, but that doesn’t mean we still can’t celebrate the fourth of July!!

Most cities have canceled their firework displays but if it’s not the fourth for you without some fireworks than you’re in luck! We’ve compiled a list of cities around Michigan and Northern Indiana that have decided to keep their firework displays but with modifications to make sure people are maintaining social distancing and keeping each other safe.

Saturday, July 4, 2020

Michigan:

Lake Orion Fireworks– Fireworks will be launched from the east side of Lake Orion near M-24 at dusk.

Mackinaw City- will have its fireworks on July 4th at 10 pm.

St. Ignace– is still scheduled to have its fireworks festival. The St. Ignace Chamber of Commerce also has a parade listed to happen to start at 6 pm right before the fireworks.

Sault Ste. Marie- on the tip of the U.P. will be having its fireworks show on July 4th. The annual parade has been cancelled.

Silver Lake Sand Dunes near Mears– on Michigan’s west side will have its “Thunder Over The Dunes” starting at 10 pm on July 4th.

Dorr Township- The Dorr Township Festival will be held July 2- July and their annual parade July 4 at 10:30 a.m.; fireworks at dusk with social distancing rules.

Kalamazoo- Galesburg Speedway will be having racing and fireworks July 4 (tickets required)

Northern Indiana:

Fort Wayne- Fireworks will shoot off the top of the Indiana Michigan Power Center in downtown at 10pm

Wabash- Fireworks will start at Dusk at the Field of Dreams


What’s Happening With Real Estate?


The entire world has been through a whirlwind the last two months. Our deepest condolences to any and all effected by the COVID-19 pandemic that has swept the nation. Our hearts are with you during this time.

In Michigan, the real estate industry has been given the privilege to return to some ‘new normal’ business operations. Before that, we were operating virtually to support all of our clients, but the ability to now conduct in person meetings has us reflecting on the last two months and looking forward to more exciting days ahead.

March 23, 2020
Real Estate was one industry among many that was not deemed an essential and critical infrastructure in Michigan according to the Stay Home, Stay Safe Executive Order. With these orders in place, real estate agents were not allowed to conduct business in-person, and had to transition to a virtual format. Shortly after, Indiana also introduced a Stay Home order, however allowed real estate to continue some in person business.

Coming Together
With an extremely new normal to settle into, the Michigan Real Estate family of companies – including Northern Indiana Real Estate, Tomie Raines REALTORS® and Executive Realty, set about to create an inclusive, motivating and supportive environment for our clients. During this time, more than ever, the relationships we are so proud of were our biggest focus. Because we knew one thing all along, and that is Together, We Are Stronger.
Armed with daily communication from our leadership, risk management, training and marketing departments, our talented real estate agents in Michigan and Northern Indiana adapted to serve you in a completely new way – mostly fueled by Zoom video conferencing!
Real estate looked a little different during this time. In person consultations once held at the kitchen table were now virtual (although still at the kitchen table – can you say makeshift home office?) Professional marketing campaigns were created and published online rather than on paper. Homebuyers collaborated with their real estate agents to virtually tour prospective new homes. Some of you homeowners even became professional photographers!
But while real estate may have looked different, one thing was consistent. The dedication we have to serving you.

Moving Forward
As of May 7th, 2020, real estate agents were able to resume some in person business. This announcement came with guidelines to ensure the safety of our communities, aligning with the protocols for other essential businesses.

What does this mean for you?

  • You can meet with your real estate agent in person!
  • There are limits on how many people can attend home showings and meetings like closings.
  • Personal Protective Equipment is required.
  • Everything has to be done through a scheduled appointment, including photography, showings, and inspections.

Our agents are ready and prepared to get you home, safely. We are taking every precaution and taking every step to ensure we can still make your real estate dreams come true. Our excitement to be out and working with you again is unmatched, and we are thrilled to join you on this journey!


Holiday Décor Tips

Thanksgiving is over and the leftovers put away so what does that mean? Time to put up your holiday décor! Decorating for the holidays should be a joy and something to look forward to but with a short amount of time and all the décor choices that are out there it can also be very overwhelming. So, we gathered some of our top tips to make your holiday decorating merry and bright.

Plan Ahead

It is easy to get overwhelmed when thinking of how you want to decorate your home for the holidays, but don’t stress. Start by setting your decorating budget, then create a plan for where you want your decorations around your home and choose a color palate. By starting with these simple steps, a clear plan for what you want will appear.

Bring Cheer to Every Room

When decorating for the holidays the typical spaces are living\family room, outside, entryway, kitchen, and even bathrooms but a lot of people seem to forget their bedroom. Yes, people coming to your home for the holidays won’t be seeing your bedroom, but you will, so by adding some garland that may be left over here and there around your room is a perfect elegant way to bring cheer where you lay your head.

Dim the Lights

This is the coziest time of the year so by adding plug in dimmers to all of your lights it will bring an instant ambiance to any room at a very inexpensive price. Bonus they are very easy to install and can be found at any local hardware store!

Wrap Your Gifts Early

Yes, that means getting your holiday shopping done early as well, which we all know isn’t always realistic. So even if you just have a couple gifts bought, don’t hide them away, make them beautiful!  When it comes to wrapping try to choose a coordinated group of paper and bows that will match with your holiday décor. By doing this simple step you will take one last minute to-do off your list while adding something beautiful to your home that everyone can throughout the holiday season!


The Pitfalls of For Sale by Owner (FSBO)

Especially in the spring real estate market, selling your home as For Sale By Owner (FSBO) might feel like a no-brainer. Post to Zillow, easily receive an offer, and avoid a REALTOR® commission. What could go wrong?

Actually, quite a few things could go wrong, which is why we recommend starting with a qualified Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices Michigan Real Estate REALTOR®. If your home is currently listed FSBO, you might recognize some of the problems below, or if you are thinking about FSBO, here’s the top things to be look out for.

Pricing Your Home Correct for the Market

As a homeowner, you know what you paid for your home, and you might have a small idea, thanks to Instant Home Value tools like Zestimate, of what it could be worth. But all instant home value tools are using historical data, which means you could be getting outdated info. Only a REALTOR® has real-time, live market knowledge to accurately price your home. You could risk over-pricing your home and missing well-qualified buyers, or even worse, you could risk underpricing your home and leave valuable money on the table.

Advertising Your Home

Sure, you can publish your home For Sale By Owner on Zillow. But on average, prospective homebuyers are looking at over 15 sources when house hunting. If you put all of your eggs in one basket, you are hoping buyers will see your home and like it enough to take a gamble. A professional REALTOR® will put together a robust marketing plan for your home, including syndication to the top 40-50 real estate websites in the country, a large network of REALTOR® colleagues (who all have buyers), and will showcase the features of your home that are most likely to get you a favorable result.

Open Houses, Showings and Offers

It is not uncommon in this market for a new home for sale to get outrageous traffic in the first day it is listed. That may sound like a great thing – more eyes = more offers, right? But remember, as a FSBO, you are responsible for scheduling the showings, coordinating with multiple buyer’s agents, accepting and evaluating offers with complicated clauses and addendums. All while likely still trying to work your normal schedule, coordinate family life, or relax in your home. A REALTOR® takes all of those struggles away from a homeowner, making your selling process so much easier and more streamlined.

Negotiations

We hear at least once a week a story about the listing that “got 50 offers in the first 24 hours” – and as a FSBO, all of those offers are coming directly to you. What’s the difference between Offer A and Offer B, both at full price, both with closing costs covered by the seller, both with inspection waived? A REALTOR® will help you evaluate each offer with your end goal in mind, whether that is the offer with the most money at the end of the day, the offer that gets you into your new home the quickest, or whatever your home selling goals may be. And what if you only get a few offers, and they aren’t what you had hoped? A skilled negotiator can help you counter those offers without skipping a beat.

Have we convinced you of the pitfalls you can avoid by using a trusted REALTOR®? Search for a Michigan Real Estate agent here and get started with the process today.


Real Estate in 2019

While much in a new year can seem uncertain, one thing is clear: there are a lot of opportunities in the real estate market in 2019! If you tried to buy a home or sell your home in 2018, you probably noticed a few difficult trends: a very competitive market, few homes available, and rising prices.  Some of those will remain the same in 2019, and some will change. We also expect some new trends to appear.

Competitive Home Buying Market

Unfortunately for you homebuyers out there, the market will most likely remain very competitive. Driven by some of our other trends (looking at you rising prices and lack of available homes), the homebuying market in 2019 will still have many buyers for each available property. The good news? Things are slowing down. We predict 2019 will be the year that the housing market begins correcting back to a ‘normal’ number of available listings.

Low Number of Available Homes

As we mentioned, the number of available homes for sale in 2019 is likely still going to be low compared to the number of potential home buyers. The good news? The new home building industry is continuing to see growth in 2019. Brand new properties available in the market could help relieve strain on the crowded buying pool.

Home Values Are Still Rising – Just Not as Fast

In 2019, we will continue to see home values at record level highs. However, we expect to see the rate of appreciation in home values slow down or even stay level this year. What does that mean? More people may be able to realize their homebuying dreams as their ideal properties drop to or stay in their price range.

Design Trends Are Shifting

2018 was the year of bright, light and airy home design. Modern farmhouse style dominated – with sellers and buyers alike preferring white, cream, and gray color schemes. In 2019, we’re living in color! More and more homeowners are opting for color in their paint and décor choices. Also contradictory to the 2018 trends, patterns are making a comeback in 2019. And finally, in 2019, comfort is key. Homeowners are looking toward soft edges, plush fabrics and cushioned furniture.

 

Whether the market remains as it was in 2018, or shifts dramatically, one thing is certain. A Berkshire Hathaway REALTOR is the best to help you navigate buying or selling in 2019. Get in touch with us today!


Five New Year’s Resolutions for Homeowners

As you set resolutions for personal or professional growth, don’t forget to set some resolutions for your home too! Our REALTORS® share some of their favorite resolutions for homeowners.

De-Clutter

Are you struggling with too much clutter? Remember the love you had when you bought your home? Clearing the clutter is one of the easiest ways to fall in love with your home all over again! Try to set goals for getting rid of clutter – we recommend going through one room at a time, and sorting items into 3 piles: keep, donate, and trash. Then sit back, relax and enjoy!

Decrease utility bills

Are you looking for some savings? One of the largest home expenses outside of any monthly mortgage payments or insurance policies are utilities and services. Take some time this New Year to evaluate all of your utility bills and see if there are some savings to be had! Many utility companies offer energy efficiency programs or have guidance for how to proactively lower your bills. Don’t forget to re-evaluate services like cable, phone and home/lawn maintenance! Shopping around or eliminating can put well-earned cash back in your pocket.

Develop a cleaning schedule

Wishing you had a cleaner house? We’ve all been there! Sometimes it feels like the cleaning never stops.  Our REALTORS® recommend developing a daily/weekly/monthly schedule for cleaning. Make a list of things that should be done daily, weekly, and monthly, then chart out times each day to accomplish those tasks. When the cleaning doesn’t have an opportunity to build up, you’ll find it easier and easier to keep it up!

Plan any needed or wanted home improvement projects

Dreaming of a new look for your home? The New Year is the perfect time to turn those dreams into reality! Start planning for those remodeling projects now, and this time next year you’ll be enjoying your new space. Evaluate everything you would like to get accomplished and decide if you’ll DIY or hire professionals to assist. Ask your Berkshire Hathaway REALTOR® for their recommendation on professionals, or which home repairs come with the biggest return on your investment!

Safety First

Are you ready for all possible home safety issues? If you’re unsure, it may be time to audit your safety procedures and preparation. Ensure smoke detectors are functioning, replenish first aid supplies, and review items like electrical connections for signs of decay or fraying. Our REALTORS® also recommend creating plans for evacuating your house in the event of a fire or plans to take shelter in the event of severe weather.