Wednesday, December 9, 2015

9 Tips for Buying a Lake / Second Home

buy second home
Bill Fish and his family live in Cincinnati, but when he and his wife looked for ways for their children to spend more time with the grandparents, a vacation home in their resort community of Anna Maria Island, Florida, seemed perfect.
“It’s a simple three-bedroom ranch,” he said, with a “five-minute walk to the beach, and we also have a nice private pool.” His family vacations in the home twice a year and, when they’re not on site, they recoup about half their costs by renting the property.
Fish is far from alone. Last year, 21 percent of all homes bought in the U.S. were vacation homes — the highest percentage seen since the National Association of Realtors began recording the data in 2003. Investment properties remained a popular buy, too, comprising 19 percent of homes purchased in 2014.
Buying a second home can be exciting — and challenging. Before you bid on that mountain chalet or beachside bungalow, consider these tips.

1. Know How to Compare the Cost of Location

In niche markets where most vacation homes are, the cost of real estate will vary dramatically by location. “A $500,000 home on the lake may look a lot like a $300,000 home in the suburbs,” said Glenn S. Phillips, CEO of Lake Homes Realty, which specializes in lakeside properties primarily in the north Midwest and southeastern U.S. That’s because “the waterfront lot may be $200,000 more than a lot back home.”
To make more accurate comparisons between potential homes, Phillips suggests subtracting the location premium before comparing homes and prices.

2. Even Sellers Might Need More Cash Than Expected

Even if you’re just moving house and plan to sell the first home after closing on your new digs, you’ll probably need to be qualified for costs associated with both the old and new mortgage.
“Bridge loans are few and far between these days,” said Jeremy David Schachter, mortgage advisor at Pinnacle Capital Mortgage in Phoenix. “They were very popular before the housing crisis. These days, borrowers have to qualify for both mortgages if they are not selling one to buy another one at the same time.”
Keep Reading: What a Million-Dollar Home Looks Like Around the World

3. Know How Much You Can Afford

“With a second home, you would have to qualify on all your monthly debts, including any outstanding loans and the new mortgage for the second home,” said Schachter.
For a vacation home that won’t be rented out, most buyers can finance up to 90 percent of the home’s value, according to Fannie Mae. However, buyers will still need to consider all their other outstanding monthly debts, including the payment for their primary residence and the cash left in the bank — known as reserves — after the transaction is complete.

4. Plan to Have Extra Cash in Reserve

If you plan to finance your second home, have cash stashed away. Most banks require second-home buyers to have at least two months’ worth of mortgage payments in the bank, after you’ve accounted for the costs for the new home settlement.
If you’re buying an investment property, you’ll need a minimum of six months’ worth of payments stashed away. If your credit score is below 680, expect that number to be even higher.

5. Your Credit Score Matters — a Lot

Just like when you bought your primary home, your credit score affects what rate you can get for your second-home mortgage. The higher your credit score, the more attractive the rate and the more you save over the life of your loan.
The lower your credit score, the more cash the bank will expect you have in reserve. If your credit score is below 680 and you’re planning to rent your new home, you might need to have up to 12 months of mortgage payments in the bank.
Related: 24 Things You Need to Know to Build Credit

6. Be Prepared With a Large Down Payment

The vacation home market can be competitive. The more cash you have for a down payment, the stronger your offer.  “In our markets (lake homes), about 70 percent of the deals are cash deals with no mortgage,” said Phillips. “For most vacation homes, many sellers don’t have to sell. If they can afford a second home, they often can afford to wait for a desired offer and not be in a hurry to take low offers.”
If you’re planning to finance a vacation home, a 10 percent down payment will usually suffice, so long as you meet the other mortgage criteria and you purchase private mortgage insurance. If you’re looking to rent your home, even just some of the time, it will be categorized as an investment property. Mortgage lenders can be more stringent for investment home loans, requiring at least a 20 percent to 25 percent down payment, said Schachter.

7. Don’t Rely on Online Valuation Tools

While online home price estimators can be a good tool when buying into a subdivision of similar homes, they don’t always work so well in vacation home markets. “The automated tools are still young, and the data is difficult in markets where homes are influenced by lakes, oceans and mountains,” said Phillips. “And these homes are often custom-built and vary greatly.”
In other words, an in-person appraisal is often the best way to figure out a home’s worth, particularly in resort areas, where home value is highly dependent upon location and individual home amenities.

8. Work With an Agent Who Fully Understands the Area

“Many second homes are purchased to focus on recreation or nature,” said Phillips. “This can create interesting ‘gotchas’ in a home purchase.” Areas with protected vegetation, rural road restrictions or unique land situations — like lake lots that are leased, for instance — can create big problems for an uneducated buyer.
Phillips suggested working with a real estate agent who is a genuine expert in the location and type of home you want to buy. “They will know the often hidden dangers lurking for out-of-area buyers,” he said.
Read: 10 Important Questions to Ask When Buying a House

9. Be Aware of Taxes

Different tax rules apply, depending on how you use the second home. If you rent for zero to 14 days per year, you’re not required to pay federal taxes on the rental income, according to TurboTax. If you rent the home for more than 14 days, you’re required to report all rental income, although you can deduct rental expenses for when the home is rented out.
“Each state can have very different property taxes, and these can vary for second homes, even if the homestead residence is in another state,” said Phillips.
There are plenty of reasons to buy — and enjoy — a second home. The Fishes plan to hang on to theirs for as long as the kids have grandparents in the area. “I’m not quite sure if we will retire there,” he said, “but we have no intention of selling it in the next 10 years. Our boys love it.”

Friday, October 16, 2015

Fixed-rate Mortgages Don't Change, But Escrows Do

One of the biggest breaks homebuyers get with a fixed-rate mortgage is the escape from ever-escalating rents or adjustable rate increases. But that sigh of relief can be short-lived when you get your next property tax assessment or hazard insurance renewal.
When you buy a home with a fixed-rate mortgage, lenders require a year's worth of escrows in advance. These are included in your closing costs which can also be rolled into your loan, if you've got the wiggle room to borrow a little more money.
Hazard insurance is required by lenders to protect their investment. How much coverage you get is up to you, but you have to get at least enough to repay your liens. While it costs more, you should get your home insured for replacement value because that's the true cost of restoration.
A year's worth of insurance will be escrowed to the lender who services the loan, including paying your premiums. Once the first year goes by, the monthly cost of your premium is escrowed. From year to year, the cost of insurance can change drastically, due to natural disasters or changes in coverage. If there's been major flooding in your state, you insurance may decline to pay any claims related to water damage, even if the flooding was caused by an appliance. You'll have to get a rider, which costs extra.
Your monthly payments can also rise from increases in property taxes. You should expect this because the rate you pay your first year is based on what the previous owner paid. The seller pays the taxes due up to the day of closing, and you take over for the remainder of that year's assessment.
Your new assessment will be based on the market value of your home which you established when you purchased the home. Most city and county laws have formulas for how much your taxes can increase year-over-year. This prevents sticker shock. You'll also have plenty of advance warning as the taxing authorities will send you an assessment at least six months ahead of any annual change.
You can always challenge your tax assessments, but you'll need proof such as market comparables from your real estate professional. Taxing authorities use the same local multiple listing service as your agent, so expect them to have the same data you have.
A fixed rate mortgage can offer you some financial stability, but you'll be even more stable if you're prepared for monthly costs in the future.

Friday, October 2, 2015

Timberline Acres Open House!

OPEN HOUSE, October 03, Saturday 10:00 AM - 11:30 PM
14718 Foxboro Court, Holland, MI
Get Directions Click Here
Description Features Photos Maps & Local Schools Walk Score
$ Click for current price
3 BATHROOMS (2 full, 1 half)
2346 Square Feet

Best value in Timberline acres! This 4, possibly 5 bedroom home with over 3300 square feet sits in a quiet cul-de on a 1/2 acre beautifully landscaped lot. The kitchen of this home has been totally updated, with granite countertops, stainless steel appliances, and perfectly accented with the low maintenance flooring. Well planned main floor space includes a living room with 2 sided fireplace, shared with the office/den. The formal dining room can accommodate a large table, perfect for those memorable family meals or dinner parties. The upper level with its master suite and walk-in closet, also features 3 more bedrooms and a large 3rd bath. Lower level is totally finished with a potential for a 5th bedroom, and features a large rec room and bar area. Fully landscaped grounds with nice

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Monday, August 17, 2015

West Michigan Home Sales Statistics from 1/1/2015-8/17/15

Hello again, been busy in the market with customers...what a great year to sell a home in West Michigan!
For the current year to date single family home sales along the coast of West Michigan, from New Buffalo on up to Manistee and beyond, we have seen exceptional growth in every region.  The star being the Saugatuck Holland market, where prices have risen 13% year over, with an average sales price of $217,096 compared to $191,029 the prior year.  With the number sold up 11% and the number of new listings only up 3%, looks like the law of supply and demand is definitely on the sellers' side in the Holland Saugatuck Market.
In the Mason Oceana and Manistee region, price gains aren't too far behind at 12%, from  $120,840 to $135,905 for average sale price.
Muskegon County, which has had its troubles seeing average sales prices increase posted a surprising 8% gain year over, from $107,567 to $117,046 average sale price. Numbers sold is outpacing number listed 5% to 3%.
North Ottawa County, which includes Spring Lake and Grand Haven is also up 8% from last year during the same time frame, with prices for sold homes increasing from $201,261 to $217,579. Number of sold listings is up 4% from last year, while new inventory is only up 1%.
In the Southwestern Michigan Market, which includes New Buffalo, St Joe, and South Haven, prices have risen 3% on average from compared to last year, from $179,450 to $186,171.  Number sold is up a whopping 10% and new listings is flat...this is the best market for sellers, hands down!
West Michigan Real estate

Tuesday, June 16, 2015

Holland makes 10 Best Cities for Families List

In an ever-growing trend of list-making, Holland, MI makes another positive list that reflects one of the many reasons this area is such a great place to live.

A large wooden windmill, white sandy beaches and the smell of Dutch bakeries wafting through downtown create a storybook setting in Holland, Mich. Families quickly fall in love with the city’s scenery, recreational options and architecture. What makes Holland one of the Best Places for Families is the city’s combination of small-town charm, natural beauty, great schools, low crime and a strong commitment to children.
Hugging Lake Macatawa, near the eastern shore of Lake Michigan, Holland’s Dutch ancestry is celebrated throughout the year. It's been called one of the Best Cities for Water Activities. Millions of tourists visit Holland each May when an estimated 6 million tulips planted across the city reach peak bloom. Reader’s Digest named Holland’s Tulip Time Festival one the best small-town events in the country. Children are delighted by the DeKlomp Wooden Shoe & Delft Factory and Nelis’ Dutch Village, a reproduction of an 1800’s Dutch community.
Though Holland brims with history, it offers many modern amenities and vast cultural attractions including a indoor aquatic center with slides and splash zones, more than 100 restaurants, and heated streets and sidewalks in downtown that melt snow. Parents are delighted with the many restaurants in Holland that offer kids menus alongside more adult meals. Bike paths connect neighborhoods with schools, parks and beaches. Families enjoy free waterfront concerts during warm months and touring the countryside during fall to take in the colorful foliage. Children in Holland experience the full benefits of winter with plenty of snow for cross-country skiing and sledding and temperatures cold enough to turn small ponds into ice rinks. Schools in Holland get good rating from parents. Hope College provides an option for parents to take night classes and lets younger students stay close to home. 
 Read the full article and list here

Tuesday, May 12, 2015

High-end Real Estate Statistics first 4 months of 2015 Saugatuck, Holland, and Grand Haven Markets

For the first 4 months of 2015 vs 2014 for the markets including Saugatuck, Holland, West Olive, Grand Haven, and Spring Lake, sales have been very strong in the $500,000+ market so far this year.  Since January 1st this year there have been 30 homes and 3 condos sold at or over the $500,000 mark, compared to last year when there were 23 homes and 0 condos sold at or over $500,000.  Average sale price was $965,097 this year for the first 4 months in the luxury homes market, compared to $723,104 last year for the same time period, a 33% increase in single family homes sales.  While this is very good news for sellers compared to last year's numbers, there is still some room for buyers to sneak in and get a good value, as we are still not back to our 2007 high for average sale price of $1,295,663 for single family luxury homes from Saugatuck to Grand Haven for the first 4 months of the year.