Real Estate Information Archive


Displaying blog entries 1-10 of 35

Using your IRA for Real Estate Purchases

by Tom Stachler,ABR,CDPE - Group One Realty Team


Self-directed IRAs that focus heavily on real estate investments are often referred to as "Real Estate IRAs." With a Real Estate IRA, your retirement funds can invest in all kinds of real estate and real estate-related assets. Explore the most popular real estate investment options for your self-directed IRA:

What Can I Invest In?

These are just a few of your options with a self-directed IRA. The real estate-related investments allowed in these retirement accounts are seemingly endless.

Looking for help with this type of investment, contact us today to get started with finding property and purchasing it rental or flip opportunities.  


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Real Estate Market Update and Trends for Ann Arbor and Surrounding Areas in Michigan

by Tom Stachler,ABR,CDPE - Group One Realty Team

August 2015

The biggest overall trend for 2015 has been the awakening of the listing inventory. Even in Washtenaw, where inventories have been tighter than anywhere else in the state, there has been some relief for buyers, but mainly in the upper price ranges. So far this year has had more Home sales than 2014 and we expect that trend to continue this fall as well. The slow-down in under $250,000 segment this past month is a result of too few homes to buy, not a reduction in buyer demand. You can see that values jumped and “Days on Market” fell as a result of the inventory drop. The rest of the market followed a pattern seen across the rest of Southeast Michigan, with both rising sales and inventories. The bigger than anticipated jump in sales in June and July seems to be a result of buyers jumping in, anticipating a future interest rate increase, as well as reacting to a larger For Sale inventory. August activity, although still strong, has slowed a bit, possibly as a result of what would have been August business being pulled into June and July.


We track the number of visitors to our web sites as a way of anticipating future buyer demand. As the chart below shows, activity is equal to last year with a continuing upward trend, confirming that there is still strong buyer interest.

Home values continue to rise, but slowing from the crazy levels of 2013/14. Although not as geographically targeted, Case-Shiller tends to have the best data on true appreciation rates. The chart below shows the year over year value changes for SE Michigan, demonstrating that appreciation still healthy in the 5% range and also reflecting what we are seeing in Washtenaw as well.

Going into the fall, sellers will need to be aware that with inventories rising, home values will not move as much, and in those markets where inventories jumped quite a bit (mainly in the higher priced segments) values may decline for a short period of time until supply and demand balance again. A recent survey of home sellers showed that they have become more optimistic about the value of their home.  The graphic below compares the seller’s opinion of value to their actual appraisal. Up until March of this year, the seller’s guess was less than their appraised value, but since March they have become more optimistic, with that optimism increasing each month. That combination of increasing value optimism by the sellers and an increasing For-Sale inventory is likely to cause many properties to be overpriced this fall and winter.

 Please contact me regarding any of your real estate needs. I am happy to assist you.





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Real Estate One First Quarter Real Estate Market Update 2013 including Ann Arbor Michigan

by Tom Stachler,ABR,CDPE - Group One Realty Team

Check out this market update on the Michigan Market, foreclosures, appreciation and new construction updates.   Let us know if you have any questions.  

Click the "All MLS Listings" up top to see inventory in your area.  Click the chat link below or send us an email if you have any questions.  Thanks for stopping by!



ann arbor area real estate and market updates for south east michigan including new construction and expectation on Home values and appreciation

Home Prices now at 2003 Levels with Modest Annual Gains

by Tom Stachler,ABR,CDPE - Group One Realty Team

Home prices are back to 2003 levels in the latest sign of an improved housing market.

 In another sign of a turnaround in the long-battered real estate market, average home prices rebounded in July to the same level as they were nine years ago.  Ann Arbor and Saline are now in their fourth year showing modest annual appreciation gains.  

According to the closely watched S&P/Case-Shiller national Home Price index, which covers more than 80% of the housing market in the United States, the typical property price in July rose 1.6% compared to the previous month.


It marked the third straight month that prices in all 20 major markets followed by this index improved, and it would have been the fourth straight month of improvement across the full spectrum if not for the slight decline in Detroit in April.

The index was up 1.2% compared to a year earlier, an improvement from the year-over-year change reported for June. While home prices have been showing a sequential change in recent months, it wasn't until June that prices were higher than a year earlier.

The July reading matched levels last seen in summer 2003, when the market was marching toward its peak in 2006. The collapse of the market after that led to the financial crisis of 2008.

"The news on home prices in this report confirm recent good news about housing," said David Blitzer, Chairman of the Index Committee at S&P Dow Jones Indices. "Single-family housing starts are well ahead of last year's pace, existing home sales are up, and the inventory of homes for sale is down and foreclosure activity is slowing."

Record low mortgage rates and a tighter supply of homes available for sale have helped to lift home prices which starts in the stronger markets and then will follow to their surrounding communities as time progresses. Lower unemployment also has helped with home prices, although job growth in recent months has been slower than hoped.

Earlier this month, the Federal Reserve announced it would buy $40 billion in mortgage bonds a month for the foreseeable future. This third round of asset purchases by the central bank, popularly known as QE3, is its effort to jump start the economy through even lower home loan rates.

Related: Best home deals in Best Places

Mike Larson, real estate analyst with Weiss Research, has stated that part of the improvement in the housing market is due to investors using the low mortgage rates to buy up homes that are in foreclosure and renting them in a strong rental market.

But he said that he doesn't think there's much chance of housing prices forming any kind of new bubble in the foreseeable future.

"Clearly the worst is behind us for this market., but this is not a market that is going to take off again," he said. "While you have a firming up, you still have tight lending standards and people who have been burned are reluctant or unable to get back in the market." He predicts it will take several more years before housing prices can gain more than 1% to 2% a year.

Related: Buy or rent? 10 major cities

But that is good news for a housing market that was plagued by plunging home values and high foreclosure rates for much of the last six years. And the good news has the potential to build on itself, said Joseph LaVorgna, chief U.S. economist for Deutsche Bank.

"Housing remains a rare bright spot in an economy that is otherwise muddling through," he wrote in a note to clients Tuesday. "The price trend for housing is significant, because it provides economic stimulus via stronger household balance sheets."

So Just What is a Short Sale?

by Tom Stachler,ABR,CDPE - Group One Realty Team

Every short sale situation is unique, so it’s impossible to give a one-size-fits-all definition. However, there are some factors common to all of them that we’ll attempt to explain below.

Short sales are a complex process primarily used by those who find themselves in a financially distressed situation and are seeking to avoid foreclosure in order to alleviate supplementary fees and costs to the creditor and borrower. While short sales have consequences to one’s credit standing, the alternative – foreclosure – is worse still.

Short sales in Ann Arbor and elsewhere typically involve Home sales where the current owner is unable to repay loans and/or liens against the property. So, any proceeds resulting from the sale will inevitably be less than the homeowner owes on those loans and/or liens. 

Creditors in a short sale often not only have to take less than what is owed to them via the debt, but they also sanction the termination of their lien. This is not, however, a guarantee that the homeowner will have his or her financial obligations wiped clean, unless each party agrees to those terms.

Perhaps the only sure thing in a short sale is that before creditors agree to a short sale, they will require proof that the borrower’s financial or economic hardship is preventing him or her from paying the deficiency.

A short sale should not be entered into lightly. A central consideration is the credit impact for the seller; the impact can be significant negative damage to the homeowner’s credit report. Nevertheless, in some situations a short sale is unavoidable because the impact of an actual foreclosure is worse.


by Tom Stachler,ABR,CDPE - Group One Realty Team



"5 Star Rating" Great new realty search tool providing direct MLS access for Ann Arbor Real Estate.  Get realtime updates and the latest  in software powered programming giving you Walkscores, Zillowzestimates, neighborhood demographics, school information,distances to popular retailers and key driving destinations and much more.  Includes surrounding communities as well.
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This is Where all Listings First Show Up!

Its Free and No Advertising!  Check out this Great New Realty Search Tool providing direct MLS access to Ann Arbor Real Estate and All the Surrounding Counties! 


Also, there is an FREE option to Get realtime updates and the latest in software powered programming providing you with Walkscores, Zillowzestimates, neighborhood demographics, School information, distances to popular retailers and key driving destinations and much, much more.  

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Home Inventories Fall Sharply

by Tom Stachler,ABR,CDPE - Group One Realty Team

High inventories of homes for sale have plagued many markets, but in a recent analysis of metro areas, inventories were found to be shrinking sharply during the second quarter, The Wall Street Journal reports.

About 2.34 million homes were listed for sale on the multiple-listing service by the end of June, the lowest level for that time of year since at least 2007, according to What’s more, some inventory levels even reached their lowest levels since the housing crisis began five years ago, which has prompted some markets to even say their facing a shortage of homes on the market.

While a drop in inventories can often signal more demand — and ultimately a boost to Home prices — some analysts aren’t so sure this signals a complete turnaround for the real estate market quite yet.

“While sales are picking up in some cities, analysts say the sharp decline in inventory also reflects the slow pace at which banks are processing foreclosures,” The Wall Street Journal reports. (The number of homes in foreclosure — a backlog of 2.1 million — is near a high.) Also, some sellers are taking their homes off the market due to low offers and waiting until they put it back on the market.

In its analysis, The Wall Street Journal found that of the 28 major metro areas evaluated inventory levels had dropped in all 28 — except for three. What’s more, they found that inventories had dropped by double digits in 16 of those markets during the second quarter when compared to a year ago. For example, inventories dropped in Miami by 43 percent from a year ago; 30 percent in Washington, D.C.; and more than 20 percent in cities like Charlotte, N.C., Seattle, and San Francisco.

Click the "Property Search" or "All MLS Listings" link above to view current Real Estate Inventory. 

Covenant Deed vs. Warranty Deed and Quit Claim

by Tom Stachler,ABR,CDPE - Group One Realty Team

Title Issue that Comes up When Buying a Foreclosure

"Covenant deeds are not illegal. With a warranty deed, the grantor is warranting title against all prior claims - even claims that arose prior to the grantor acquiring title to the property. With a covenant deed (or "deed C") the grantor's warranty is limited to claims arising from the actions of the grantor. You get a little more from a covenant deed that you would get through a quit claim deed. Bank/sellers` are never going to give someone a warranty deed, the battle is typically over whether the bank will give a covenant deed or only a quit claim deed.

If I was a buyer, I would push for the covenant deed and in all events make sure that I had good title insurance in place to protect me. Good title insurance from a reputable company is always important but particularly so if you are getting something less than a warranty deed. Purchasers need to keep in mind that there is title insurance out there these days that really doesn't protect the them because the exceptions to coverage are way too broad.

I usually review the title company's pre-committment policy and often with recommend that buyers taking covenant deeds (or quit claim deeds) should strongly consider having their real esate attorney look at the title commitment/policy before they close. This is even more important if the policy is coming from an affiliate of the seller/bank --or other title company that we may not be as familiar with."


Check out the "All MLS Listings" above or our other Blog postings including "Things to Do in Ann Arbor"


Get Direct MLS Access that Real Estate Brokers Use  Click here to View

Five Mortgage and Foreclosure Myths

by Tom Stachler,ABR,CDPE - Group One Realty Team

In a mortgage market that changes as quickly as this one, today’s fact is tomorrow’s fiction.  For buyers, misinformation can be the difference between qualifying for a Home loan or not. Sellers and owners, knowledge is foreclosure-preventing, smart decision-making power! Without further ado, let’s correct some common mortgage misconceptions.

1.       Myth: Buyers with bad credit can’t qualify for home loans. Obviously, mortgage guidelines have tightened up, big time, since the housing bubble burst, and they seem likely to tighten even further over the long-term. But just this moment, they have relaxed a bit.  In the last couple of weeks, two of the nation’s largest lenders of FHA loans announced that they’ve dropped the minimum FICO score guideline from 620 (which allows for some credit imperfections) to 580, which is actually a fairly low score. 

At a FICO score of 620, buyers can qualify for FHA loans at many lenders with only 3.5 percent down. With a score of 580, the lenders are looking for more like 5 to 10 percent down – they want to see you put more of your own skin in the game, and the higher down payment lowers the risk that you’ll default.  However, if your credit has taken a recessionary hit, like that of so many Americans, this might create a glimmer of hope that you’ll be able to take advantage of low prices and interest rates without needing years of credit repair.

2.     Myth: The Mortgage Interest Deduction isn’t long for this world.  Homeowners saved over $85 billion in 2008 by deducting their mortgage interest on their income tax returns. A few months ago, the National Commission on Fiscal Responsibility and Reform caused a massive wave of fear to ripple throughout the world of real estate consumers and professionals when they recommended Mortgage Interest Deduction (MID) reform, which would dramatically reduce the size of the deduction.

Fact is, the Commission made a sweeping set of deficit-busting recommendations to Congress, a few of which are likely to be adopted.  Fortunately for buyers and sellers, MID reform is not one of them.  Very powerful industry groups and economists have been working with Congress to plead the case that MID reform any time in the near future would only handicap the housing recovery.  Congress-folk aren’t interested in stopping the stabilization of the real estate market.  As such, the MID is nearly universally thought of as safe – even by those who disagree that it should be.

3.       Myth:  It’s just a matter of time before loan guidelines loosen up. 
 The US Treasury Department recently recommended the elimination of mortgage industry giants Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac. I won’t get into the eye-glazing details of it here, but the long and the short is that (a) this is highly likely to happen, and (b) it will make mortgage loans much harder and costlier to get, for both buyers and homeowners.   It’s possible that loans are as easy to get as they’re going to get.  So don’t expect that if you hold out, zero-down mortgages will come back into vogue anytime soon. Fortunately, Fannie and Freddie aren't likely to disappear for another 5-7 years, so you have a little time to pull your down payment and credit together. If you want to get into the market, the time to get yourself ready is now!

4.       Myth: If you don’t have equity, you can’t refi. Much ado is being made about how stuck so many people are in their bad loans, because they don’t have the equity to refinance their way out of them.  If you’re severely upside down (meaning you own much, much more than your home is worth), stuck may be the situation. But there are actually a couple of ways homeowners can refi their underwater home loans.  If your loan is held by Fannie or Freddie (which you can find out, here), they will actually refinance it up to 125% of its current value, assuming you otherwise qualify for the loan.  That means, if your home is worth $100,000, you could refinance a loan up to $125,000, despite the fact that your home can’t secure the full amount of the loan.

If your loan is not owned by Fannie or Freddie, you might be a candidate for the FHA “Short Refi” program. While most mortgage workout plans are only available to people who are behind on their loans, the Short Refi program is only available to homeowners who are current on their mortgages and need to refinance up to 115 percent of their homes’ value.  So, if you owe $250,000 on your home, you can refinance via an FHA Short Refi even if your home’s value is as low as $217,000. If you think you’re a good candidate for a short refi, contact your mortgage broker, stat – there are some in Congress who think that this program is so underutilized (only 245 applications have been submitted since it rolled out in September – no typo!) that its funding should be diverted to other needy programs.

5.       Myth: 
 If you’ve lost your job and can’t make your mortgage payment, you might as well mail your keys in.  Until recently, this was essentially true – virtually every loan modification and refinancing opportunity required that your economic hardship be over before you could qualify. And documenting income has always been high on the requirements checklist. But there are some new funds available in the states with the hardest hit housing and job markets, which have been designated specifically for out-of-work homeowners.

The US Treasury Department’s Hardest Hit Fund allocated $7.6 billion to the states listed below – all of which are now using some portion of these funds to offer up to $3,000 per month for up to 36 months in mortgage payment assistance to help unemployed homeowners avoid foreclosure.  Contact the state agency listed below if you need this sort of help:

Foreclosures Lowest Rate Since 2008

by Tom Stachler,ABR,CDPE - Group One Realty Team

New data from RealtyTrac shows that foreclosure filings nationwide dropped 14 percent between January and February, as overall activity last month sunk to its lowest level since February of 2008.

RealtyTrac says total foreclosure filings – including default notices, scheduled auctions, and bank repossessions – were reported on 225,101 properties in February, a 27 percent decrease from a year earlier and the biggest year-over-year decline since the company began issuing its report in 2005.

One in every 577 U.S. housing units received a foreclosure filing last month, as default notices, auction announcements, and new REOs all hit their lowest readings in more than a year and a half in RealtyTrac’s study.

On the surface, all good news for an industry trying to get a handle on delinquencies and property repossessions, but RealtyTrac says the sharp decline is likely the result of processing delays following last fall’s robo-signing problems.

“Foreclosure activity dropped to a 36-month low in February as allegations of improper foreclosure processing continued to dog the mortgage servicing industry and disrupt court dockets,” said James Saccacio, RealtyTrac’s CEO. “[T]he bottom line is that the industry is in the midst of a major overhaul that has severely restricted its capacity to process foreclosures.”

Saccacio added, “We expect to see the numbers bounce back, but…monthly volume may never return to its peak in March 2010 of more than 367,000 properties receiving foreclosure filings.”

A total of 63,165 U.S. properties received default notices (NODLIS) for the first time in February. Foreclosure auctions (NTSNFS) were scheduled for the first time on 97,293 homes last month, while lenders completed foreclosure on 64,643 properties.

Nevada posted the highest state foreclosure rate for the 50th straight month with one in every 119 homes there receiving a foreclosure filing during the month, despite a 22 percent decrease in the state’s overall activity.

Arizona claimed the nation’s second highest foreclosure rate at one in every 178 housing units with a foreclosure filing. California took the No. 3 spot with a foreclosure rate of one in every 239 homes.

One in every 273 Utah housing units had a foreclosure filing in February, the nation’s fourth highest foreclosure rate. Idaho had one in every 298 of its homes receive a filing, giving it the nation’s fifth highest rate.

Other states with foreclosure rates ranking among the top 10 in February were Georgia, Michigan, Florida, Colorado, and Hawaii.

Drilling down to the metro level, RealtyTrac says for the second month in a row, no Florida cities posted foreclosure rates in the top 20. That’s in stark contrast to 2010, when the state accounted for nine of the top 20 metro foreclosure rates.

Nevada, California, and Arizona cities, on the other hand, continued to dominate RealtyTrac’s metro list, accounting for all top 10 metro foreclosure rates and 15 of the top 20 metro foreclosure rates in February.

More Ann Arbor foreclosure and Short Sale Listings can be found here.

Displaying blog entries 1-10 of 35