Real Estate Information Archive


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Foreclosure Freeze they say?

by Tom Stachler from Group One Realty Team - Real Est

Here are 4 things Home buyers need to know about this breaking real estate news, and how it impacts them. 

1.  What is robo-signing is, and what all the fuss is about?  The phrase robo-signing refers to what we’re now realizing has been a very common practice in the banks’ foreclosure document processing divisions, where one person was essentially given the job of signing as many 10,000 foreclosure documents per month, by hand.  These individuals were supposed to be reviewing the files, making sure grounds for foreclosure actually existed, signing the docs in front of notaries. But because of the volume of documents, what they actually did was just sign thousands of documents at a time, without even reading them, and ship them off somewhere else to be notarized.

If you do the math on an 8 hour workday, you'll see that that only gives the staffer 1.5 minute to review each file and documents to make sure the foreclosure is warranted.  That's not humanly possible, which is how these staffers got the nickname “robo-signers”
Government regulators are very concerned that the banks may have been taking people's homes without following the proper legal procedures.  As a result, 40 states' attorneys general are teaming up to launch a multi-state investigation, and the federal Comptroller of the Currency and federal attorney general may also get involved in investigating this issue. 

2.  Will the freeze will make the banks cancel buyer contracts on REO properties? 
Currently, the freeze impacts bank-owned properties that are owned and/or serviced by Ally Financial/GMAC Mortgage, JP Morgan Chase, and some properties that were owned by Bank of America. Generally, contracts to buy these homes are being put on hold and extended for 30 days.  As well, the banks are often reaching out directly to buyers and offering them the option to cancel their contracts and recoup their deposit money.

3.  Is it safe to buy a foreclosed home? There's lots of talk right now about the "clouds" that this scandal will create on the titles to homes that were foreclosed by the banks' foreclosure mills. And that makes sense: if the home wasn't properly foreclosed on in the first place, then the legitimacy of the bank's resale can be called into question.  Normally, I'd say: Don't worry about it, buyer - that's why you'll get title insurance!  But last week, 3 of America's largest title company insurers declared that they will not offer title insurance on a number of the homes that may have been involved in this scandal.

In the vast majority of cases – when the foreclosure was justified and a bona fide purchaser, someone who was not involved in the bank’s wrongdoing, has purchased the home, courts will not reverse these foreclosures or their sale to buyers.  But if you’re in the market for a foreclosure, get clear on which bank owns the place as soon as you can, and run the property past your title insurer before you get too far into the transaction to make sure they can write a policy of title insurance on the property before you spend too much money on inspections and appraisals.  (And see my Bonus Buyer Advice at the end of this blog post!)

4.  How the foreclosure freeze will impact American home values, say after you buy.
  In the short term, these freezes might cause prices to stabilize, as we expect to see the supply of foreclosures for sale start to shrink.  However, if these freezes stretch out for a long period of time, they could simply be delaying many inevitable foreclosures, which could delay the recovery of the housing market and home prices, over time.  I wouldn't expect to see the freezes cause prices to drop much beyond where they are now, but if they stretch out, they could keep appreciation flat for a longer period of time.

P.S. - Bonus Buyer Advice : 
Don’t underestimate the deals you can get on non-foreclosed properties. You can often get just as good of a price on a better property with more flexibility on the seller’s part in terms of repairs and other negotiation points if you buy a home from an individual seller, as opposed to a bank-owned property.  

P.P.S. - Click here for more direct access to the broker MLS system and listings.

Vinyl Siding tips

by Tom Stachler from Group One Realty Team - Real Est

Remodeling? Choose the Right Vinyl Siding

Given its durability, vinyl siding is more popular today than ever before. According to some statistics, approximately 50% of homes now use the material. That said, this is one product that experts say you should not skimp on when looking at quality vs. cost. Cheaper-made siding will fade, warp and sag much quicker than a better quality product or more expensive options like Hardy Plank and LP wood composite Siding generally found on more expensive homes.

Here are five tips for homeowners on how to choose high-quality products, courtesy of

Thickness - Vinyl is made from chemical combinations, which vary greatly. Thicker options will be stiffer and more durable. Thinner ones may be low quality and could sag or warp. According to building codes, vinyl siding must be at least 0.035 inch thick. Premium choices are 0.044 to up to 0.055 inch thick.

Fading - Cheap vinyl siding is more likely to fade. Homeowners should find products with UV protection and be sure the exterior can handle direct sunlight. To lessen the appearance of fading, lighter colors can be chosen.

Wind Resistance - Homeowners will want vinyl siding that can resist wind up to 150 mph. Some high-quality options have warranties that cover winds of 180 mph. Homeowners should be aware of wind codes in their area as they do vary.

Installation - The installation is just as important as the materials. Panels are not attached tightly. Rather, they "hang" on the side of a house because the material expands and contracts with heat and cold. When getting vinyl siding estimates, homeowners should ask about the installation process and warranties. Double hem mounting typically provides better attachment than a single hem. If installed too tightly, there will be poor ventilation, which is needed. If installed too loosely, it can be noisy.

Rain Resistance - Vinyl siding also "hangs" on a structure to provide better ventilation by allowing air to flow behind the panels. There are also small holes in the butts of each panel to release water. If poorly installed, it can trap moisture or cause water leaks into the house. To avoid this, the installer must add proper flashings, house felt or builder's wrap. 

Or you can look for property with fresh siding already in place by clicking here.

Ann Arbor Art Fair Information

by Group One Realty Team - Real Estate One

For those of us who have spent any time hanging around Ann Arbor in the summertime, we surely remember the hustle, bustle and excitement surrounding the Ann Arbor Art Fair.  The Art Fair, originally established in 1960, is a combination of four award winning, independently juried art fairs, held simultaneously throughout Ann Arbor.  This year, the annual Art Fair runs between July 20-23, 2011.  The hours on Wednesday, Thursday, and Friday are from 10am – 9pm and Saturday, from 10am – 6pm.  Visitors in town searching for homes will definitly wish to attend this event.  We suggest you go early at 10am (preferably on Wens) thereby avoiding much of the larger crowds and this will help you see most of the display areas.  The cost for attending this renowned event is free!
            Together, the four fairs attract over 600,000 visitors from across America, and create an amazing outdoor gallery featuring over 1,200 artists.  There are an abundance of things to see and do while spending an afternoon outdoors at the Art Fair.  Activities include learning about and Buying art from the nation’s best artists, lively entertainment, artists’ demonstrations, 4 Imaginations Stations for art activities, more than 150 restaurants, and special sidewalk sales from downtown Ann Arbor to the University of Michigan campus.  You can also check out a complete list of exhibiting artists  and artist applications are available here.  This spectacular event attracts the finest artists producing top quality art work in every price range and is considered to be the largest art fair in the country.
            Transportation to and from the Ann Arbor Art Fair is extremely convenient.  There are several parking structures around campus, including the Maynard Parking Structure which has recently been renovated.  It is generally $10 per day for the parking structures and $5 after 5pm.  There is parking in and around nearby neighborhoods for low cost as well.  If you wish to avoid parking downtown near the Art Fair altogether, there are also shuttle buses that run throughout Ann Arbor.  Parking to catch the shuttle bus is available at Briarwood Mall or Pioneer High School.  The AATA Art Fair Shuttles will run every 10-15 minutes from 9am to 10pm, Wednesday through Friday, and on Saturday from 9am to 7pm.  The fares will be $1.50 each way, and children 7 years old and younger ride free.   Click here for a complete list of maps, parking and bus schedule.  You can visit the Visitors and Conference Bureau for infrmation on lodging, restaurants and more. Don't miss this nationally renowned art exhibit here in town! 

Visitors can check ann arbor real estate prices by clicking on the "All MLS Listings" link above for property listings for sale or Rent.

Displaying blog entries 1-3 of 3