Category Archives: Home Owner Advice

3 Things to Consider Before Paying Off Your Mortgage Early

Home mortgage moneyIn the past, homeowners stayed in their house for a long time — sometimes, even their entire lives. These folks often tried to put extra money into their mortgage in order to pay off their homes earlier.

But the housing market has changed — and many younger families now own several houses throughout their lifetimes. So, is the old adage true — should you try to pay off your mortgage early? Here are a few things to consider:


If retirement is nearing, you may want to consider paying off your mortgage early to avoid worrying about an extra cost each month. However, for some individuals, it makes more sense to continue paying off a mortgage due to tax reasons. You might want to talk with your accountant about your specific situation.

If your home can grow old with you

If your home is suitable for your lifestyle, now and in the next 5-10 years, it might be beneficial to pay off your mortgage early. However, if you might move within the next several years, it may not make sense to put your extra money into it.

Extra money/investments

Do you have other investments and emergency funds to keep you afloat, should you put more money into your mortgage? It isn’t easy to draw money back out from your home mortgage, so if it might make you strapped for cash, it’s best to keep the money in reach — perhaps investing it in some other way.

Did you pay off your mortgage early? Would you recommend others do it too?


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3 Reasons to Go Green in Your Home

Going green in home building is all the rage these days. However, some people are discouraged by the high cost sometimes associated with green technology. So, why should you consider making green choices when buying a new home or remodeling an existing house?

  1. Increase your home’s value. Because so many people believe in going green, implementing green technology into your house can make your home more desirable and valuable when you put it on the market.
  2. Save money by using less energy. Although the initial cost of green choices might be high, it can pay off in the long run. Choosing to buy Energy Star appliances or install solar panels cuts down on utility costs and will benefit future homeowners.
  3. Help preserve the Earth and its resources. Using green materials is a smart choice for any homeowner that’s conscious of preserving the environment.

Ready to start going green in your house? Environmentally-friendly home choices don’t have to be expensive. Here are a few inexpensive, easy ways to go green:green house, eco-friendly home

  • Create a compost bin with leftover food and waste. You can safely compost the following: coffee grounds and filters, nut shells, fruits and vegetables, egg shells, grass clippings, leaves, newspapers and fireplace ashes.
  • Switch your regular lightbulbs to CFLs.
  • Use more natural light (and less energy) by opening blinds and curtains during the day.
  • Turn off appliances when not in use — particularly computers and televisions.
  • Assess your energy usage through this DIY energy audit.
  • Use less water by cutting down on shower time and doing laundry only a few times per week.
  • Start recycling bins for cardboard, glass, tin cans, etc. and find a recycling center in your area.

What have you done to “go green” in your home? We proudly offer Energy Star appliances and Ecostar windows, among other features, in our newly built homes.


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What Does the Future of the Housing Market Look Like?

It’s no secret that the housing market is tough right now for builders and Realtors alike. A recent article on Builder Magazine stated that the future of the housing market will hinge on job creation.

Last week, The Joint Center for Housing Studies at Harvard University released “The State of the Nation’s Housing 2011,” its annual outlook on housing and homeownership through the rearview mirror of the past few years. The essence of the report, which the Joint Center embargoed for publication until this morning, is that the strength of housing’s recovery “will rest on how fully employment bounces back.”

Although many of these statistics aren’t surprising to anyone who follows the market closely, they are interesting to think about in terms of the future of the housing market:Housing Market, Real Estate Market

  • The national homeownership rate fell below 67% in 2010, down from 69% in 2004. The excess inventory of unsold homes in 2010 equaled about 700,000 for-sale homes and 160,000 rentals.
  • While most baby boomers are expected to age in place, one in three heads of households aged 65 to 74 relocated in the previous decade, many to smaller homes. If that mobility rate continues, some 3.8 million aging boomers would be moving in this decade. At any rate, baby boomers are projected to increase the number of households over age 65 by 8.7 million, or 35%, in this decade.
  • Even though homeownership rates among young adults were slipping before the recession hit, and that slippage accelerated during the recession, the Joint Center still believes that enough echo boomers will want to buy a home to boost the number of young adult households over the next decade. “Indeed, assuming headship rates revert to their 2007-9 average, and that immigration is just half of what the Census Bureau now projects, the number of households under age 35 will grow to nearly 26.5 million in the next decade.”
  • The “one bright spot” in the housing sector recently is the rental market. Between 2007 and 2009, 1.4 million single-family homes became rental properties. And between 2004 and 2010, the number of renter households expanded by 3.9 million to a total of 37 million. Last year, rental vacancy rates fell to 9.4% in the fourth quarter, the lowest rate since 2003, which reverses a trend in previous years where supply was significantly outpacing demand. However, low-income rental continues to dissipate.
  • Minorities will account for seven out of 10 of the projected 11.8 million new households in 2010-20 (which the Joint Center says is a conservative estimate). Hispanics alone will contribute nearly 40% of that increase, and by 2020 minorities should make up one-third of all U.S. households.

Do you see yourself buying a home in the next 5 to 10 years? Why or why not?

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How to Make Your Home More Energy Efficient

In a recent article published by Builder Magazine, a home construction company in Midland, Mich. shared how they created a demonstration home to prove that “net-zero-energy living is attainable at an affordable price.”

Since we’re all about affordability and saving energy, we couldn’t help but be intrigued by this new project. (Each of our new homes includes Energy Star appliances, Ecostar windows, and energy efficient insulation and seals, among other items.)

The builder says that attaining a net-zero home isn’t all about solar panels and windmills, it’s actually about tight sealing and insulation. The home is anticipated to save $2,441 in energy costs annually and generate as much power as it consumes.

The house was kept at an affordable price — valued at around $250,000, including the lot — by using low-cost alternatives to high-end finishes and amenities. One example — the builder used fiberglass shower surrounds instead of tile.

The project relies on many products and technologies from Michigan-based Dow, including Styrofoam structural insulated sheathing (SIS), insulating foam sealants and weather barriers, and the company’s new Powerhouse solar shingles.

What do you think of net-zero homes? Would you make affordable changes to your house if it resulted in using less energy and lower bills?


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Top 3 Home Improvement Myths

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Myth #1: Any remodel will add value to your home.

Although a lot of improvements can add significant value to your home, such as updating your kitchen or adding on additional square footage, there are many remodeling projects that won’t help when it comes time to sell your house. Over-improving for the neighborhood often doesn’t result in making your money back at closing, and, similarly, adding very personal touches to certain rooms (such as turning it into a movie theater or game room) may not appeal to all buyers.

Myth #2: You should do improvements yourself to save money.

Know your limits when it comes to your skills around the house. If you don’t have enough experience to do the job properly the first time, save yourself time (and, ultimately, money) by hiring an experienced contractor to do the work instead. Although in the short-term it may look like a large chunk of change, getting the job done quickly can save a significant amount of money long-term.

Myth #3: Decorating according to today’s design trends is the way to go.

If you’ve watched any home improvement shows about selling your house,
you know that it’s important to appeal to all buyers by going neutral in decorating your home. What’s considered “trendy” right now may not be in 5 years, when you want to put your house on the market. Stick with neutral palettes for a timeless look.

Thinking about buying a new home? Check out our website for more on our brand-new, highly affordable homes in Michigan.

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7 Home Updates with Big Returns on Investment

deck, home updates, home upgrades, livonia builders, home constructionNo matter when you’re looking to sell your home, investing in updates can be a great way to increase your home’s value. According to Remodeling magazine’s 2008-09 Cost vs. Value Report (CVR), the following upgrades have the highest payoffs:

Spruce up or replace siding. Updating the exterior of your home is one of the least costly ways to produce a high rate of return. There are several choices when it comes to siding: fiber-cement, wood and vinyl. If you have wood siding, you can also look into painting the existing siding.

Add a deck. Decks typically recoup about 82 percent of the investment you put into them and are something you can enjoy from the moment it goes up. Plus, they are highly desirable if your home doesn’t already have a porch or other existing indoor-outdoor space.

Update your kitchen. If your kitchen has a great layout but is a bit outdated, buying new cabinet door fronts or painting existing cabinets can be an easy upgrade for the room. Update countertops or fixtures to spruce up the look of the room and replace outdated appliances. You know what they say — kitchens sell homes!

Finish the basement or attic space. Adding space to your home can be extremely costly — unless it’s space you already have. Finishing an unfinished space, such as a basement or attic, can add thousands of dollars onto the value of your home. An attic bedroom and finished basement usually recoups around 74 percent at resale.

Upgrade the bathroom. Putting in a new tub, tiles, vanity, light fixtures, floor tiles, and painting your bathroom can bring in big bucks when it comes time for resale, typically yielding about a 75 percent of return on investment. Even simply re-glazing your tub for around $300-400 is worth the investment.

Add low-cost landscaping. Even greenery and flowers that you plant yourself can bring in dollars when it comes time for re-sale. Many people judge a home based upon curb appeal — since it’s the first thing they see — so make the outside of yours impressive.

Add space. With most large projects, such as the addition of a bedroom, bathroom, or basement family room, homeowners see a 71 percent of return on investment. However, before you start, it’s important to know the value of your home and the neighborhood so you don’t overspend or over improve for your area.

How have you added value to your home?

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3 Low-Cost Resources for Furnishing a New Home

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Buy from a resale store

There are many furniture consignment shops that offer quality used (and sometimes, new) furniture at a low price. These stores also have other decorative elements for a new house. Habitat for Humanity’s ReStore is a great example of a place where you can find good pieces at reduced prices.
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Visit a lumberyard

Many pieces of furniture are possible to build yourself with minimal expertise by following instructions or tweaking existing furniture. Stop by a local lumberyard to ask about reduced or discounted wood you can get for a fraction of the price.

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Check out garage sales & Craigslist

A lot of people don’t know what to do with their old furniture — so they end up selling it at low prices locally. If you don’t exactly love a piece, but it has good bones, it can be inexpensive to re-cover or re-finish existing pieces compared to buying new.

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