Date Archives: November 2021

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Buying A Home | 2 Posts
Holland, MI | 20 Posts
Home ideas | 6 Posts
Mortgage | 36 Posts
Uncategorized | 113 Posts
West Michigan | 6 Posts
November
29

Dog Park at Van Raalte

Dog Park at Van Raalte

The Dog Park at Van Raalte - (located within Van Raalte Farm, off the 24th Street entrance) is three acres of fenced-in safety, mature shade trees, and a separate area for small dogs. The Dog Park is open daily 6 am - 11 pm.

PARK AMENITIES 

  • Enclosed, Heated, Dog Wash Station 
  • Play Structures for Pets
  • Water Fountain for Pets
  • Pet Clean-Up Waste Stations with Trash Bins
  • Year-Round Restrooms 
  • Benches for you to relax
  • Water-Bottle Filling Stations

Dutch Walking

November
24

10 Steps to Buying a Home

Understanding how to find and finance the perfect home for you

Buying a house requires a lot of time and effort, but these 10 steps can help make the home buying process manageable and help you make the best decisions possible.

Step 1: Start Your Research Early

As soon as you can, start reading Web sites, newspapers, and magazines that have real estate listings. Make a note of particular homes you are interested in and see how long they stay on the market. Also, note any changes in asking prices. This will give you a sense of the housing trends in specific areas.

Step 2: Determine How Much House You Can Afford

Lenders generally recommend that people look for homes that cost no more than three to five times their annual household income if the home buyers plan to make a 20% down payment and have a moderate amount of other debt.

But you should make this determination based on your own financial situation. Use our Affordability Calculator to see how much house you can afford.

To help you save for your down payment, try Discover Bank's AutoSavers Plan, which makes it easy to put aside money each month.

Step 3: Get Prequalified and Preapproved for credit for Your Mortgage

Before you start looking for a home, you will need to know how much you can actually spend. The best way to do that is to get prequalified for a mortgage. To get prequalified, you just need to provide some financial information to your mortgage bankers, such as your income and the amount of savings and investments you have. Your lender will review this information and tell you how much we can lend you. This will tell you the price range of the homes you should be looking at. Later, you can get preapproved for credit, which involves providing your financial documents (W-2 statements, paycheck stubs, bank account statements, etc.) so your lender can verify your financial status and credit.

Step 4: Find the Right Real Estate Agent

Real estate agents are important partners when you're buying or selling a home. Real estate agents can provide you with helpful information on homes and neighborhoods that isn't easily accessible to the public. Their knowledge of the home buying process, negotiating skills, and familiarity with the area you want to live in can be extremely valuable. And best of all, it doesn't cost you anything to use an agent – they're compensated from the commission paid by the seller of the house.

Step 5: Shop for Your Home and Make an Offer

Start touring homes in your price range. It might be helpful to take notes (using this helpful checklist) on all the homes you visit. You will see a lot of houses! It can be hard to remember everything about them, so you might want to take pictures or videos to help you remember each home.

Make sure to check out the little details of each house. For example:

  • Test the plumbing by running the shower to see how strong the water pressure is and how long it takes to get hot water
  • Try the electrical system by turning switches on and off
  • Open and close the windows and doors to see if they work properly

It's also important to evaluate the neighborhood and make a note of things such as:

  • Are the other homes on the block well maintained?
  • How much traffic does the street get?
  • Is there enough street parking for your family and visitors?
  • Is it conveniently located near places of interest to you: schools, shopping centers, restaurants, parks, and public transportation?

Take as much time as you need to find the right home. Then work with your real estate agent to negotiate a fair offer based on the value of comparable homes in the same neighborhood. Once you and the seller have reached an agreement on a price, the house will go into escrow, which is the period of time it takes to complete all of the remaining steps in the home buying process.

Step 6: Get a Home Inspection

Typically, purchase offers are contingent on a home inspection of the property to check for signs of structural damage or things that may need fixing. Your real estate agent usually will help you arrange to have this inspection conducted within a few days of your offer being accepted by the seller. This contingency protects you by giving you a chance to renegotiate your offer or withdraw it without penalty if the inspection reveals significant material damage.

Both you and the seller will receive a report on the home inspector's findings. You can then decide if you want to ask the seller to fix anything on the property before closing the sale. Before the sale closes, you will have a walk-through of the house, which gives you the chance to confirm that any agreed-upon repairs have been made.

Step 7: Work with a Mortgage Banker to Select Your Loan

Lenders have a wide range of competitively priced loan programs and a reputation for exceptional customer service. You will have many questions when you are purchasing a home, and having one of our experienced, responsive mortgage bankers assist you can make the process much easier.

Every homebuyer has their own priorities when choosing a mortgage. Some are interested in keeping their monthly payments as low as possible. Others are interested in making sure that their monthly payments never increase. And still, others pick a loan based on the knowledge they will be moving again in just a few years.

Step 8: Have the Home Appraised

Lenders will arrange for an appraiser to provide an independent estimate of the value of the house you are buying. The appraiser is a member of a third party company and is not directly associated with the lender. The appraisal will let all the parties involved know that you are paying a fair price for the home.

Step 9: Coordinate the Paperwork

As you can imagine, there is a lot of paperwork involved in buying a house. Your lender will arrange for a title company to handle all of the paperwork and make sure that the seller is the rightful owner of the house you are buying.

Step 10: Close the Sale

At closing, you will sign all of the paperwork required to complete the purchase, including your loan documents. It typically takes a couple of days for your loan to be funded after the paperwork is returned to the lender. Once the check is delivered to the seller, you are ready to move into your new home!

November
17

Seeing all your friends and family over the holidays is rewarding but also a little hectic. Here's how you can make gatherings easy and enjoyable.

This time of year, you're probably thinking about all the family and friends that will be visiting or staying at your home for the holidays. Problem is, parties haven't been the norm for a while, so you may be as much of a hosting wiz as you used to be. The good news is our real estate agents are pros of holiday hosting and have gathered some tips to help you get back in the swing of making guests feel welcome and comfortable.

If you're prepping your home you acquired from Holland homes for sale, follow this guide to make the holidays nothing but smooth sailing.

Click Here to Read More...

November
17

View Big Red Lighthouse

The Holland Harbor Lighthouse is an integral part of the history of Holland. A stormy history it is filled with disappointment countered by determination. Soon after the Dutch settlers came to the area in 1847, their leader, Dr. Albertus C. Van Raalte, wrote to the governor and the U.S. Congress requesting funds for the building of a harbor. Van Raalte knew from the beginning that if this new community were to flourish, access to Lake Michigan, to and from Black Lake, (now Lake Macatawa) was essential. However, the entrance to the lake from Lake Michigan was blocked with sandbars and silt.

Repeated requests for government help were made in the years that followed but to no avail. All the while, the Holland settlers made numerous attempts to establish a harbor. A permanent pier was built into Lake Michigan that was battered year after year by winter storms. Dredging was done both by hand and machine.

In 1860, citizens managed to cut a new channel-present location from Lake Macatawa to Lake Michigan. It was deep enough for barges to float from Lake Michigan into Lake Macatawa.

In 1866, harbor officials received word from Congress that they would receive an appropriation for work on the harbor.

In 1867, the Federal Government took over the improvement of the harbor. Additional monies came in 1870, 1871, and 1872 but it was not until the turn of the century, fifty years after the effort was begun, that the harbor was substantially completed. It was too late for Holland to become an important commercial port, but not too late to help foster a thriving resort business. The Graham and Morton shipping lines made two trips daily from Chicago bringing eager vacationers to the lakeshore.

In 1893, a Life-Saving Station opened on Lake Michigan. Ten years later it was replaced by a U.S. Coast Guard Station.

The first lighthouse was erected with $4,000 of federal funds in 1870, twenty years before the harbor was complete. It was a small, square, wooden structure that stood on an open platform on legs above the deck of the pier. On top was a lantern deck with a ten-window lantern room.

The lighthouse keeper had to carry his lighted oil lamp along a catwalk, which stretched from the shore where he lived to the lamp under a lens or magnifying device. When fog obscured the light, he signaled incoming boats by blowing an 18-inch fish horn often used on sailboats.

Steel Tower-Early 20th Century Improvement

Both the pier and the wooden lighthouse had taken a beating from the weather over the years. So after the turn of the century, when the harbor was finally finished, a breakwater was built.

The steel tower was an obvious improvement from the wooden structure. Not only could it better withstand severe weather, but it could also be spotted by incoming vessels as far away as thirteen miles.

When fog lay on the lake, as it so often did, a light signal was useless. It was obvious that a fog signal, stronger than a fish horn, must be incorporated. In 1907, a steam-operated fog signal was installed. Two coal-fed Marine boilers produced steam to sound the locomotive whistle used as a fog signal. The 1907 building was built as a fog signal building only. It had no light (the light stood adjacent to it as a separate structure until 1936 when the Coast Guard consolidated the two structures by putting a light tower on top of the fog signal).

To house the signal, the 12th Lighthouse District, which had federal jurisdiction over the lighthouse, designed and constructed a separate building, the basis of today's lighthouse. This structure, unlike its two predecessors, was not placed on legs, thereby affording greater stability. The wood upper level is Queen Anne Victorian in style. The steeply sloped roof gables and Palladian window motif that is still intact evidence this. The original roofing material was probably cedar shakes.

Originally, both the steel tower and the fog signal building were painted pale yellow with a deep maroon base. In 1956, however, the Coast Guard sandblasted the tower and painted it bright red to satisfy a requirement for the aids to navigation that a structure or light on the right side of any harbor entrance must be red.

This final phase of lighthouse development brings us to the structure as we know it today. In 1934 the light was electrified. In 1936, plans were made to abandon the steam driven fog signal, now nearly 30 years old, and install air-powered horns using electricity as a power source for air compressors. Electrification also marked the end of the era of lighthouse keepers that had spanned 68 years.

Lighthouse Keepers

The first lighthouse keeper was Melgert van Regenmorter, appointed to service in 1870 at an annual salary of $540. He served until April 1908, just prior to the steam fog signal going into operation. It is said that he wanted no part of the new technology.

Between the years of 1908 and 1912, three different keepers shared time tending the light, Charles Bavry, George J. Cornell, and Edward Mallette. Their relatively short terms of duty indicate that it took a special type of individual to withstand the constant pressure of maintaining the signal.

The last active lighthouse keeper was Joseph M. Boshka who came to Holland in 1912, after serving 15 years in the Lighthouse Service. Joseph Boshka, known as "Cap", served until 1940. He retired to reside in Macatawa one year after the federal Lighthouse Bureau was abolished and the Coast Guard took over responsibility for aids to navigation.
In addition to tending the light and signal, the keeper and his assistants also stood to watch. This was especially important during the use of the steam-powered foghorn since it took about 45 minutes of firing up the furnace to build up enough pressure for operation. The watch was generally broken down into six-hour shifts. All work activities and times of operation were recorded in the watch log.

In 1934, when the lighthouse was wired for electricity, electric air compressors for the horn were installed. The light turned on automatically at the right time and the foghorn was activated by remote control leaving the lighthouse keeper basically without a job.

Lighthouse Commission

In 1971 the lighthouse was declared to be surplus since the Coast Guard could not justify the expense of repair and maintenance of this structure that no longer housed the electrically operated light and foghorn. Private citizens started a petition and letter-writing campaign to save the lighthouse. In 1974 the Holland Harbor Lighthouse Historical Commission was formally organized to coordinate the effort, even crafting the name of "Big Red" to personify the lighthouse and generate awareness to save it.  

In 1978 the Coast Guard transferred ownership to the commission and, with it, the responsibility for the preservation of the lighthouse. Repairs and maintenance of the lighthouse are paid for out of endowment funds raised by the commission.

Twice a year, the Coast Guard inspects the facility and maintains the light. A new $6,000 light that can be seen for 20 miles has been installed. The use of a fog signal had been discontinued. The original Fresnel lens is on display in the Holland Museum.

Over the years, "Big Red" has taken on a life of its own, popular with painters, photographers, beach-goers, and boaters. There's nothing more relaxing than sitting in the shade of a tree and watching the river empty into Lake Michigan, while the red sentinel stands guard on the opposite shore.

November
15

Michigan's Best Pie: Our Top 10 list revealed

The pie is simple.

It begins with the crust, which is made with flour, ice-cold water, shortening or lard, maybe butter, or even some salt or sugar.

It's filled with fresh fruits or your favorite fillings.

Then, it's baked to perfection, and served after a great meal or maybe in honor of a special event, like a wedding.

In our search for Michigan's Best Pie, we discovered that, in its simplicity, pie also has the power to heal, to inspire, to bring loved ones closer together, and to change lives.

Out of all our searches for Michigan's Best, nothing has come close to the "Power of Pie."

The Grand Traverse Pie Company, which opened in Traverse City in 1996, even passes out a pamphlet to employees, explaining its purpose — through pie.

At Jawor Brothers Blueberry Farms & Country Store in Ravenna, each pie crust is rolled out by hand, every day.

"I call it a little pie therapy," said baker Peggy Manzer, a former school bus driver.

In Gladwin, at the very popular Pepper Mill Restaurant, owner Jean Mercer is battling ovarian cancer, yet she plans to begin work at midnight on the day before Thanksgiving — just to meet the demand for her pies.

Her motto is on a sign above the kitchen: "Pie fixes everything."

These factors made picking a Top 10 very difficult.

All 24 of our finalists are worthy of the title. Not only do they make incredible pies, but they also do so with the same passion from an era when families baked together and shared stories around a dining room table

We thank them for allowing us into their stores, markets, and restaurants to get a closer look and to sample their pies.

I would encourage you to visit all of them. Go on a pie adventure and tell me your favorites.

Just a reminder, we were looking for:
• A great, flaky crust.
• Fantastic and tasty fillings.
• Creative presentations.
• Pies baked with a lot of love in a fun and inviting atmosphere.

1. Sweetie-Licious Bakery Cafe, 108 N. Bridge St., DeWitt
517-669-9300
sweetie-licious.com
Owner and pie maker Linda Hundt sums it up best: "We love what we do and want to make people happy." Every pie we tried was spectacular, including Tom's Cheery Cherry Berry, which won the Food Network Pie Challenge in 2009. She learned to bake from her mother, Joan McComb, and grandmother and aunt. Today, she carries on the tradition by using locally sourced fillings and hand-rolling each crust. Each pie was mouth-watering good, and the crusts were just right and not overly flaky. The main store in DeWitt provides the dough for pies made in her stores in Grand Rapids at the Downtown Market and in East Grand Rapids. Each pie has a story, which she shares with customers on tracts. Add the store's charming '40s-'50s vibe and a little Frank Sinatra music in the background, as well as Linda's retro wardrobe, and you have a recipe for success. Her book, "Sweetie-licious Pies: Eat Pie, Love Life," was named a 2014 Michigan Notable Book. Watch for her in an upcoming episode on the "Steve Harvey Show."

After 11 days on the road, here is my Top 10 list, a very Honorable Mention, and our Best of the Rest:

2. Rykse's Restaurant & Bakery, 5924 Stadium Drive, Kalamazoo
269-372-3838
rykses.com
Owner Mark Rykse carries on the pie recipes and traditions of his mother, Helen, who passed away in June at age 87. The restaurant/bakery opened in 1986 and serves breakfast and lunch, including a wide variety of baked goods. We loved the passion, attention to detail and dedicated staff — workers arrive at 4 a.m. to make the pies. The ingredients are from local farms (though Mark plans to grow to produce). The presentation of the peanut butter pie is immaculate, and the taste might be even better. I also enjoyed the Cherry-Raspberry and Caramel Apple pies.
RECAP/PHOTOS

3. Bavarian Inn Restaurant, 713 S. Main St., Frankenmuth
989-652-9941
bavarianinn.com
We all know the Bavarian Inn for its chicken dinners, but did you know it also offers a full bakery (the Castle Shop Bakery)? In fact, matriarch Dorothy Zehnder, who is 93 and very involved in day-to-day operations, often bakes on her days off. The Bavarian Inn offers more than 20 pies, including ice cream varieties. We loved the Apple Kuchen pie, a top seller, and the Tulip Pie, made with a coconut cookie crust, a citrus cream cheese layer and a house-made raspberry preserve gelatin layer with whipped topping. Try one next time you're in Frankenmuth.
RECAP/PHOTOS

4. Zingerman's Bakehouse, 3711 Plaza Drive, Ann Arbor
734-761-2095
zingermansbakehouse.com
The Zingerman's brand is all about quality, and managing partners Amy Emberling and Frank Carollo gave us a hint of their magic, serving up six butter-crust pies. We loved every one. The pies are made with local ingredients, and the crust is flaky, yet moist. The balance was incredible. I loved the Rustic apple pie, flavored with a hint of cinnamon and large chunks of perfectly-cooked Ida Red apples. Equally impressive was the pecan pie, which wasn't too sweet (I know, that's hard to believe). You can even sign up for a baking class there.
RECAP/PHOTOS

5. Grand Traverse Pie Company, 525 W. Front St. Traverse City
231-922-7437
gtpie.com
When Mike and Denise Busley opened this store in 1996, it offered cookies, muffins, coffee and fruit pies. Today it offers soups, salads, sandwiches, quiche, chicken pot pies, pastries and 15-20 variety of pies at any given time. The signature Cherry Crumb Pie, made with local cherries with a sweet and tart flavor profile, was once called a "religious experience" by Chef Mario Batali. It is also the signature pie of the National Cherry Festival. Cable Network Showtime just ordered 400 of the Cherry Crumb pies to send out as gifts. Grand Traverse Pie Company has been featured on ABC's "The Chew" and "Good Morning America," as well as the Food Network, HGTV and "Oprah." It has grown to 15 locations throughout the state plus one in Indiana. The Busleys own seven stores. They believe in the Power of Pie: "Pie is people. Pie is passion. Pie is a purpose."

6. Amanda's Bequest Bed and Breakfast-Bygone Basics, 5200 Anderson Road, Montague
231-740-4065
amandasbequest.com or bygonebasics.com
Yes, we found one of Michigan's Best Pies at a bed and breakfast. Now, you have another reason to stay at this 140-year-old old home owned by Valerie and John Hanson, which doubles as the Bygone Basics cooking school and bakery. Because they are not cranking out a mass quantity of pies, you get extra attention to detail and presentation. All the pies are made with local products or with ingredients found on the farm. "I don't open a can of anything. This pie started as a pumpkin yesterday. We roasted it for the pie...," Valerie said. "The kitchen scraps go to the chickens and they recycle it by making new eggs for more pies." The owner calls her B&B an "international foodie destination. They come for the Midwestern farm life immersion experience." We recommend any pie. Order them in advance. We especially liked the Rhubarb Custard and the blueberry with white chocolate sauce and orange citrus instead of lemon.
RECAP/PHOTOS

7. Rock City Eatery, 11411 Joseph Campau Ave., Hamtramck
248-633-3072
rockcityeatery.com
In the diverse city of Hamtramck, Nick Santches is serving up very creative pies. He's not afraid to infuse Bourbon in his pecan pie or whiskey in sweet potatoes. His 15-20 pies are featured with an ever-changing menu of local cuisine inspired by flavors from around the world, including vegan and gluten-free selections. I was dying to try the Poutine — French Fries topped with a light brown gravy-like sauce and cheese curds. As for the pies, I loved the caramel apple and the bourbon pecan, which is a fantastic mix of sweet and crunchy. Rock City's crusts are on the thinner side, making slices easy to eat. They also serve a great selection of Michigan craft beer.
RECAP/PHOTOS

8. Eat Catering and Carry-Out, 1906 Packard St., Ann Arbor
734-213-7011
eatannarbor.com
This unassuming business started as a catering-only operation but, now, half of its business is carry-out orders. Along with sandwiches, soups and salads and even frozen TV dinners, owner Blake Reetz makes great pies, He said his lard crust recipe is an "old timey Midwestern farm wife-style crust," which means his pies are simple, yet very familiar. I would add out of this world. We sampled an apple pie made with Northern Spy apples; a ginger sweet potato, which is his alternative to pumpkin; and the rhubarb custard. I recommend all three.
RECAP/PHOTOS

9. Pepper Mill Restaurant, 217 W Cedar Ave, Gladwin
989-426-8922
peppermillonline.com
Owner Jean Mercer makes the Pepper Mill one of those small-town cafes where everyone feels welcomed. It's cozy and charming. We sampled five pies. We loved the newly crafted sour cream Craisin and the walnut fudge pie, which Mercer will only serve warmed up with a side of vanilla ice cream. There are 80 types of pie that Jean Mercer has on her pie list, but she will make you any variety you want. She has fulfilled requests for onion pies and vinegar pies in the past. The restaurant offers daily specials, including a fish fry on Fridays. I plan to return just to have lunch (and have another slice of pie).
RECAP/PHOTOS

10. Crust, 104 W. Caroline St., Fenton
810-629-8882
crustandbeyond.com
Crust is one of my favorite restaurants in the state because it does everything so well. Head baker Mike Green didn't let us down, bringing out a Caramel Apple pie made with Fuji apples and a house-made caramel filling. It weighed in at 5 pounds. We also loved the American Berry, which contains cherries, blackberries, blueberries and raspberries. Our photographer Laura McDermott said the American Berry pie "will break your heart with joy!" I couldn't have said it better myself.
RECAP/PHOTOS

November
12

Market Trends and Statistics

Holland, MI

In November 2021, Holland homes were selling for a median price of $383,690, last year. Holland homes on average sell after 102 days on the market compared to 149 days last year. There were 122 homes sold in Holland for November this year, up from 9 last year.

Holland Market Trends

Median List Price
$383,690

0% m/m +31% y/y
The median list price of homes in Holland, MI was $383,630 in October 2021, compared to $290,800 in 2020, up 31% year-over-year.
Holland, MI is a seller's market November 2021, which means that there are more people looking to buy than there are homes available.

Median $/Sqft
$191/Sqft

0% m/m +4% y/y
The median price per square foot of homes in Holland, MI was 191 in October 2021, compared to 182 in 2020, up 4% year-over-year.

Homes For Sale
122

0% m/m +1255% y/y
The number of homes for sale in Holland, MI was 122 in October 2021, compared to 9 in 2020, up 1255% year-over-year.

Median Home Size Sqft
2,105

+1% m/m +31% y/y

The median home size in Holland, MI was 2,080 Sqft in October 2021, compared to 1,600 Sqft in 2020, up 31% year-over-year.

Median Days on Market
102

+12% m/m -31% y/y
The median days on market for homes in Holland, MI was 91 in October 2021, compared to 149 in 2020, trending down 31% year-over-year.

Holland, MI Housing Market Summary

The median list price in Holland is $383,690. The median list price in Holland was less than 1% change from October to November. Holland's home resale inventories are 122, which increased 0 percent since October 2021. The median list price per square foot in Holland is $191. October 2021 was $191.

Distressed properties such as foreclosures and short sales remained the same as a percentage of the total market in November. Holland, Michigan real estate market statistics are calculated by Movoto every day from various sources so that you can stay up-to-date with trends in the Holland homes for sale market. Movoto displays information on foreclosures, short-sales, and REO (real estate owned) properties in both charts and graphs so that you can see the percentage of distressed listings in Holland. Movoto is your comprehensive source for Holland property information. We try to display data that is as accurate as possible, but we cannot guarantee the accuracy of our statistics. The data on this page is for informational purposes only.

November
10

Avoid These Mistakes When Selling Your Home

15 Steps to Buying a House - NerdWallet

Selling your home can be surprisingly time-consuming and emotionally challenging, especially if you've never done it before. At times it may feel like an invasion of privacy because strangers will come into your home, open your closets and cabinets, and poke around. They will criticize a place that has probably become more than just four walls and a roof to you, and, to top it all off, they will offer you less money than you think your home is worth.

With no experience and a complex, emotional transaction on your hands, it's easy for first-time home sellers to make lots of mistakes. However, with a little know-how you can avoid many of these pitfalls. Read on to find out how to sell your house while getting the highest possible price within a reasonable time frame without losing your mind. 

KEY TAKEAWAYS

  • Keep your emotions in check and stay focused on the business aspect of selling your home.
  • Hiring an agent may cost more in commission, but it can take a lot of the guesswork out of selling.
  • If you decide to sell on your own, set a reasonable sale price and keep the time of year in mind.
  • Prepare for the sale, don't skimp on the visuals in your listing, and disclose any issues with the property.

Getting Emotional

It's easy to get emotional about selling your home, especially your first one. You spent a great deal of time and effort to find the right one, saved up for your down payment and furniture, and created many memories. People generally have trouble keeping their emotions in check when it comes time to say goodbye.

Think it's impossible? It's not. Once you decide to sell your home, start thinking of yourself as a businessperson and salesperson rather than just the homeowner. In fact, forget altogether that you're the homeowner. By looking at the transaction from a purely financial perspective, you'll distance yourself from the emotional aspects of selling the property.

Also, try to remember how you felt when you were shopping for that home. Most buyers will also be in an emotional state. If you can remember that you are selling a piece of property as well as an image and a lifestyle, you'll be more likely to put in the extra effort of staging and doing some minor remodeling to get top dollar for your home. These changes in appearance will not only help the sales price; they'll also help you create emotional distance because your home will look less familiar.

To Hire or Not to Hire an Agent

Although real estate agents command a hefty commission—usually 5% to 6% of the sale price of your home—it's probably not a great idea to try to sell your home on your own, especially if you haven't done it before.1 It can be tempting, especially if you've seen all those "for sale by owner" signs on people's front lawns or on the internet. So does it pay to hire an agent?

A good agent generally has your best interests at heart. They will help you set a fair and competitive selling price for your home, increasing your odds of a quick sale. An agent can also help tone down the emotion of the process by interacting with potential buyers and eliminating tire kickers who only want to look at your property but have no intention of making an offer.

Your agent will also have more experience negotiating home sales, helping you get more money than you could on your own. And if any problems crop up during the process—and they commonly do—an experienced professional will be there to handle them for you. Finally, agents are familiar with all the paperwork and pitfalls involved in real estate transactions and can help make sure the process goes smoothly. This means there won't be any delays or glitches in the deal.

After reading all this, should you really hire an agent? Only you can decide.

What to Do If You Don't Use a Real Estate Agent

So you've decided not to hire an agent. That's fine because it's not like it can't be done. There are people who sell their own homes successfully. Remember, though, you'll need to do your research first—on recently sold properties in your area and properties currently on the market—to determine an attractive selling price. Keep in mind that most home prices have an agent's commission factored in, so you may have to discount your price as a result.

You'll be responsible for your own marketing, so make sure to get your home on the multiple listing service (MLS) in your geographic area to reach the widest number of buyers. As you have no agent, you'll be the one showing the house and negotiating the sale with the buyer's agent, which can be time-consuming, stressful, and emotional for some people.

Since you're forgoing an agent, consider hiring a real estate attorney to help you with the finer points of the transaction and the escrow process. Even with attorney's fees, selling a home yourself can save you thousands. If the buyer has an agent, however, they'll expect to be compensated. This cost is typically covered by the seller, so you'll still need to pay 1% to 3% of the home's sale price to the buyer's agent.1

Setting an Unrealistic Price

Whether you're working with an agent or going it alone, setting the right asking price is key. Remember the comparative market analysis you or your agent did when you bought your home to determine a fair offering price? Buyers will do this for your home, too, so as a seller you should be one step ahead of them.

Absent a housing bubble, overpriced homes generally don't sell. In a survey conducted by the informational home sale website HomeLight.com, 70% of real estate agents said that overpricing is the number one mistake that sellers make.2 Don't worry too much about setting a price that's on the low side, because in theory this will generate multiple offers and bid the price up to the home's actual market value. In fact, underpricing your home can be a strategy to generate extra interest in your listing, and you can always refuse an offer that's too low.3

Expecting the Asking Price

Any smart buyer will negotiate, and if you want to complete the sale, you may have to play ball. Most people want to list their homes at a price that will attract buyers while still leaving some breathing room for negotiations—the opposite of the underpricing strategy described above. This may work, allowing the buyer to feel like they are getting good value while allowing you to get the amount of money you need from the sale.

Of course, whether you end up with more or less than your asking price will likely depend not just on your pricing strategy but also on whether you're in a buyer's market or a seller's market and how well you have staged and modernized your home.

Selling During Winter Months

Believe it or not, there really is a right time to sell during the year. Winter, especially around the holidays, is typically a slow time of year for home sales. People are busy with social engagements, and the cold weather across much of the country makes it more appealing just to stay home. Because fewer buyers are likely to be looking, it may take longer to sell your home, and you may not get as much money. However, you can take some consolation in knowing that while there may not be as many active buyers, there also won't be as many competing sellers, which can sometimes work to your advantage.

You may be better off waiting. Barring any mitigating circumstances that may force you to sell during the winter or holidays, consider listing when the weather begins to warm up. People are usually ready and willing to purchase a home when it's warmer.4

Skimping on Listing Photos

As so many buyers look for homes online these days, and so many of those homes have photos, you'll be doing yourself a real disservice if you don't have any visuals of your home. At the same time, there are so many poor photos of homes for sale that if you do a good job, it will set your listing apart and help generate extra interest.

Good photos should be crisp and clear and taken during the day when there is plenty of natural light available. They should showcase your home's best assets. Consider using a wide-angle lens if possible—this allows you to give potential buyers a better idea of what entire rooms look like. Ideally, hire a professional real estate photographer to get top quality results instead of just letting your agent take snapshots on a phone.

And don't just stop at photos. Consider adding a video tour or 360-degree view to further enhance your listing. This can be easily done with any smartphone. You can certainly entice more potential buyers into walking through your doors for showings. You may even get more offers if you give them an introductory walk-through of your property.

Not Carrying Proper Insurance

Your lender may have required you to acquire a homeowners insurance policy. If not, you'll want to make sure you're insured in case a viewer has an accident on the premises and tries to sue you for damages. You also want to make sure there are no obvious hazards at the property or that you take steps to mitigate them (keeping the children of potential buyers away from your pool and getting your dog out of the house during showings, for example).

Hiding Major Problems

Think you can get away with hiding major problems with your property? Any problem will be uncovered during the buyer's inspection. You have three options to deal with any issues. Either fix the problem ahead of time, price the property below market value to account for it, or list the property at a normal price and offer the buyer a credit to fix the problem.

Remember: If you don't fix the problem in advance, you may eliminate a fair number of buyers who want a turnkey home. Having your home inspected before listing is a good idea if you want to avoid costly surprises once the home is under contract. Further, many states have disclosure rules.5 Some require sellers to disclose known problems about their homes if buyers ask directly, while others decree that sellers must voluntarily disclose certain issues.

Not Preparing for the Sale 

Sellers who do not clean and stage their homes throw money down the drain. Don't worry if you can't afford to hire a professional. There are many things you can do on your own. Failing to do these things can reduce your sales price and may also prevent you from getting a sale at all. If you haven't attended to minor issues, such as a broken doorknob or dripping faucet, a potential buyer may wonder whether the house has larger, costlier issues that haven't been addressed either.

Have a friend or an agent, someone with a fresh pair of eyes, point out areas of your home that need work. Because of your familiarity with the home, you may be immune to its trouble spots. Decluttering, cleaning thoroughly, putting a fresh coat of paint on the walls, and getting rid of any odors will also help you make a good impression on buyers.

Not Accommodating Buyers

If someone wants to view your house, you need to accommodate them, even if it inconveniences you. And yes, you have to clean and tidy the house before every single visit. A buyer won't know or care if your house was clean last week. It's a lot of work, but stay focused on the prize.

Selling to Unqualified Buyers

It's more than reasonable to expect a buyer to bring a pre-approval letter from a mortgage lender or proof of funds(POF) for cash purchases to show that they have the money to buy the home. Signing a contract with a buyer may be contingent on the sale of their own property, which may put you in a serious bind if you need to close by a particular date.

The Bottom Line

Learning how to sell a house is crucial. Make sure you prepare mentally and financially for less-than-ideal scenarios, even if you don't make any of these mistakes. The house may sit on the market for far longer than you expect, especially in a declining market. If you can't find a buyer in time, you may end up trying to pay two mortgages, having to rent your home out until you can find a buyer, or, in dire situations, in foreclosure. However, if you avoid the costly mistakes listed here, you'll be a long way toward putting your best foot forward and achieving that seamless, lucrative sale for which every home seller hopes. 

November
8

Today's mortgage and refinance rates 

Current mortgage and refinance rates 

Program Mortgage Rate APR* Change
Conventional 30 year fixed 3.109% 3.129% -0.09% 
Conventional 15 year fixed 2.558% 2.586% -0.02% 
Conventional 20 year fixed 2.898% 2.934% -0.09% 
Conventional 10 year fixed 2.476% 2.533% -0.06% 
30 year fixed FHA 3.099% 3.858% -0.09% 
15 year fixed FHA 2.525% 3.169% -0.03% 
5/1 ARM FHA 2.457% 3.134% -0.02% 
30 year fixed VA 2.937% 3.129% -0.12% 
15 year fixed VA 2.648% 2.989% -0.09% 
5/1 ARM VA 2.509% 2.356% -0.02% 

Should you lock a mortgage rate today?

You might wish to wait until next week to see if mortgage rates continue to fall before locking. But you should be ready to push the button at any moment.

The forces aligned to push those rates higher are powerful. And I remain convinced that mortgages will soon become more costly again.

But I have to admit that markets aren't reacting as I anticipated to recent events. And, if this goes on much longer, I may have to revise my advice.

But, for now, my personal recommendations remain:

  • LOCK if closing in 7 days
  • LOCK if closing in 15 days
  • LOCK if closing in 30 days
  • LOCK if closing in 45 days
  • LOCK if closing in 60 days

However, with so much uncertainty at the moment, your instincts could easily turn out to be as good as mine — or better. So be guided by your gut and your personal tolerance for risk.

What's moving current mortgage rates

It wasn't a huge surprise that Wednesday's big announcement by the Federal Reserve didn't cause a spike in mortgage rates. This time last week, I wrote, "I'm expecting that Wednesday announcement to be a bit of a damp squib … the pain's been spread and the worst of it may be behind us already."

Sure enough, those rates rose modestly that day. What I wasn't expecting was for them to fall on Thursday and Friday.

And that was doubly true for Friday. Because that day's jobs report was much better than expected. Normally, investors would greet that news by pushing mortgage rates higher before jumping on their yachts for the weekend and popping Champagne corks.

So what's happening?

Mortgage News Daily has a theory to explain what's going on. It's one that had occurred to me but that I considered doubtful. But maybe I was wrong.

And it's all to do with the Bank of England (BoE), the UK's central bank, and its equivalent of our Fed. It met on Thursday, the day after the Fed meeting. And it, too, had clearly signaled its intentions in advance.

However, in its case, it had let it be known that it would be increasing its interest rates. But it didn't. On the day, it left them unchanged at 0.1%. The pound (Britain's currency) dropped and so did yields on UK Treasury bonds ("gilts").

Those gilts are the equivalent of our US Treasury bonds. And there's usually a close relationship between yields on 10-year US Treasury notes and American mortgage rates.

So was that it? Did mortgage rates fall on Thursday and Friday as a result of the BoE's inaction? Maybe. Central banks certainly influence one another. And global investors can shop around for their bond purchases. So it's easy to understand some level of contagion between national markets.

But this much? Who knows? I've nothing better.

Other upward pressures

Meanwhile, all the forces I usually mention continue to try to push mortgage rates higher:

  1. Inflation — We'll get the latest figures next week. But there's little sign of inflation slowing. And that pretty much always brings higher rates
  2. Falling COVID-19 infection rates — Daily infection rates have tumbled to 71,617 yesterday from 285,058 on Sept. 13. This fall takes an important brake off the economic recovery. And a thriving economy means higher mortgage rates
  3. The Fed — After 19 months of keeping mortgage rates artificially low, the Fed finally announced on Wednesday that it would begin to reduce its support. And it's slashing its monthly purchases of mortgage bonds from $40 billion by $5 billion each month. Until it reaches zero in mid-2022. That's likely to hurt as time goes by

And now there's a fourth driver of higher rates. Until yesterday, low employment was the fly in the ointment for the economic recovery. But Friday's report was excellent. So that recovery looks more assured.

And, of course, President Joe Biden's $1 trillion infrastructure plan was finally passed by Congress yesterday. And that's highly likely to drive the recovery faster and further.

Economic reports next week

This week's economic reports largely focused on employment. And next week's are mostly about inflation.

As we discussed above, inflation is one of the big drivers of higher mortgage rates. And if next week's data shows it moderating appreciably, we may see those rates fall But, if those numbers show the same or higher inflation, expect more expensive mortgages.

None of the other economic reports listed below is likely to cause much movement in markets unless it includes shockingly good or bad data:

  • Monday — October producer price index for final demand (future inflation)
  • Wednesday — October consumer price index (CPI) plus core CPI, which is the CPI with volatile food and energy prices stripped out. Plus weekly new claims for unemployment insurance to Nov. 6
  • Thursday — Markets closed for Veterans Day holiday
  • Friday — September job openings and November consumer sentiment index

Wednesday's the big day next week.

Mortgage interest rates forecast for next week

Yet again, I think that mortgage rates might rise next week. If they don't, that will make three weeks in a row when I've got that prediction wrong.

But I find it hard to believe that markets won't react to the passing of the $1 trillion infrastructure plan and to better employment news, though the latter would be a delayed reaction.

Of course, I can't be certain about that. But I'm pretty sure mortgage rates will resume their upward trend sometime soon.

Mortgage and refinance rates usually move in tandem. And a gap that had grown between the two has been largely eliminated by the recent scrapping of the adverse market refinance fee.

And another recent regulatory change has likely made mortgages for investment properties and vacation homes more accessible and less costly.

How your mortgage interest rate is determined

Mortgage and refinance rates are generally determined by prices in a secondary market (similar to the stock or bond markets) where mortgage-backed securities are traded.

And that's highly dependent on the economy. So mortgage rates tend to be high when things are going well and low when the economy's in trouble.

Your part

But you play a big part in determining your own mortgage rate in five ways. And you can affect it significantly by:

  1. Shopping around for your best mortgage rate — They vary widely from lender to lender
  2. Boosting your credit score — Even a small bump can make a big difference to your rate and payments
  3. Saving the biggest down payment you can — Lenders like you to have real skin in this game
  4. Keeping your other borrowing modest — The lower your other monthly commitments, the bigger the mortgage you can afford
  5. Choosing your mortgage carefully — Are you better off with a conventional, FHA, VA, USDA, jumbo or another loan?

Time spent getting these ducks in a row can see you winning lower rates.

Remember, it's not just a mortgage rate

Be sure to count all your forthcoming homeownership costs when you're working out how big a mortgage you can afford. So focus on your "PITI." That's your Principal (pays down the amount you borrowed), Interest (the price of borrowing), (property) taxes, and (homeowners) Insurance. Our mortgage calculator can help with these.

Depending on your type of mortgage and the size of your down payment, you may have to pay mortgage insurance, too. And that can easily run into three figures every month.

But there are other potential costs. So you'll have to pay homeowners association dues if you choose to live somewhere with an HOA. And, wherever you live, you should expect repairs and maintenance costs. There's no landlord to call when things go wrong!

Finally, you'll find it hard to forget closing costs. You can see those reflected in the annual percentage rate (APR) you'll be quoted. Because that effectively spreads them out over your loan's term, making that higher than your straight mortgage rate.

But you may be able to get help with those closing costs and your down payment, especially if you're a first-time buyer. Read:

November
3

NATIONAL SANDWICH DAY – November 3

NATIONAL SANDWICH DAY

Whether you stack it high or thin, National Sandwich Day on November 3rd recognizes one of America's favorite lunch items.

The sandwich is believed to be the namesake of John Montagu, 4th Earl of Sandwich, following the claim that he was the inventor of the sandwich. No matter who invented it, we celebrate every kind of sandwich. 

While the modern sandwich is believed to be named after John Montagu, the exact circumstances of its invention and original use are the subjects of debate.  There is a rumor in a contemporary travel book titled Tour to London, by Pierre Jean Grosley, that formed the popular myth that bread and meat sustained Lord Sandwich at the gambling table.  It is said that Lord Sandwich was a very conversant gambler and did not take the time to have a meal during his long hours playing at the card table.  When hungry, he would ask his servants to bring him slices of meat between two slices of bread.  This practice was a habit that was well known to his gambling friends who soon began to order "the same as Sandwich," and from this, the sandwich was born.

N.A.M. Rodger, who wrote Sandwich's biography, suggests that because of Sandwich's commitment to the navy, politics, and the arts, the first sandwich was more likely to have been consumed at his work desk.

Before being known as sandwiches, the food seems just to have been called bread and meat or bread and cheese.

Types of Sandwiches

In the United States alone, we have some pretty delicious sandwich inventions. The cheesesteak and sloppy joe are American classics. Don't forget the muffuletta or the Monte Cristo. We love our Po boys and grilled cheese, pork tenderloins, and po'boys, too. However, we can't forget some of these other absolutely delicious options:

  • BLT
  • Club
  • Dagwood
  • French Dip
  • Peanut Butter and Jelly
  • Pilgrim

HOW TO OBSERVE #NationalSandwichDay

Go out for a sandwich with a friend or enjoy one of the following sandwich recipes:

California Grilled Veggie Sandwich
BBQ Pork for Sandwiches
Real N'awlins Muffuletta
Shrimp Po' Boys

Use #NationalSandwichDay to post on social media.

Find Sandwich Day Deals here!

NATIONAL SANDWICH DAY HISTORY

National Day Calendar® continues researching the origins of this tasty food holiday. However, John Montagu, 4th Earl of Sandwich, was born on November 3, 1718. 

Sandwich FAQ

Q. How do I keep my sandwich from getting soggy when I pack it for lunch?
A. Spread a little bit of butter on each slice before adding the other ingredients. The butter will act as a barrier to prevent moisture from the other ingredients from making your bread soggy. Other options include:

  • Pack the juicer ingredients (like tomatoes) separately and add them to your sandwich at work.
  • Choose a sturdier bread to make your sandwich.
  • Add a layer of lettuce, bean sprouts, or cheese to act as a barrier between the bread and the juicier ingredients.

Q. How can I spice up my sandwich routine?
A. Visit your local deli and try different meats and cheeses for your sandwiches. Skip the iceberg lettuce and mix it up with butterhead, romaine, arugula, or radicchio. You can also add seasonings to your spread. If you like mayo, add some garlic, lime juice, and sriracha for something different. Substitute the mayo for avocado seasoned with a garlic herb mix. 

Q. Are there other sandwich days on the calendar?
A. Yes! Check out these tasty holidays:

French Dip Day
Hot Pastrami Sandwich Day
Cheesesteak Day

There are over 1,500 national days. Don't miss a single one. Celebrate Every Day® with National Day Calendar®!

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