Real Estate Information Archive


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Annual Ann Arbor Marathon Moved from June to March

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

The third annual Ann Arbor Marathon will soon be underway. This year however, the marathon has moved from June to March, which means that participants should begin making plans to compete right now.

The inaugural race took place in 2012, when it was held on Father’s Day. As a result, a number of area residents and business owners had to contend with certain streets being blocked off so that the event could take place. As a result, Mayor John Hieftje noted that changes to the race’s schedule needed to take place so as not to inconvenience locals.

In 2013, the race was held on a different day in June, and also included a new route in order to minimize its impact on traffic flow. Although these changes were good, race organizers felt that a switch from June to March would better benefit both the city and participants. An email blast sent to race participants from previous years showed that most people agreed that a date in late March would work best for everyone concerned.

In addition to changing the date, a number of other changes will take place in 2014 as well. The route will once again change, with the finish being on South Main Street in downtown Ann Arbor between East Liberty and East William streets. The course also begins on Main Street at the northwest corner of the “Big House,” and will run partly through the University of Michigan campus as well as along the Huron River.

There will be one 13.1-mile route for half-marathon participants, and marathon runners will be required to complete two full loops of the same course. Organizers have planned a 5k and 1.2 mile race in addition to the marathon and half-marathon.

Registration for the event is already underway, and individuals can take advantage of discounted fees for the time being. Runners may obtain registration forms by visiting the marathon’s website. An early bird discount is available from now until February 28th, 2014. A portion of these registration fees is earmarked for distribution to the Ann Arbor Public Schools Educational Foundation.

The Ann Arbor Marathon is also a qualifier for the Boston Marathon. Since the annual Ann Arbor Marathon has moved from June to March, runners who would like to participate should sign up now in order to participate in this exciting event that’s coming up on March 30th, 2014.

More Apartments Coming to Downtown Ann Arbor

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

The city of Ann Arbor recently announced its decision to sell a parking lot downtown to a local property manager. As part of that agreement, Dennis Dahlmann has agreed to turn this parking lot into a mixed-use development no later than January 1, 2018, which means that more apartments are coming to downtown Ann Arbor very soon.

The deal is estimated to be worth around $5.25 million. The sale of the former YMCA property was approved unanimously by the city council in November. In making the decision, once council member was excited at the possibility of creating something “magnificent” on the site, and remarked that it would be an excellent development for the downtown area.

This parking lot is located near the Blake Transit Center, and is also situated along William Street and Fourth and Fifth Avenues. It consists of just under an acre of land that will house a structure that is at least five stories high when completed. The lower level will contain retail and restaurant space, office space on middle floors and apartments on the top floors.

Ann Arbor’s city council had previously set forth a number of stipulations for building on the site. One of the requirements was that the site plan had to be based upon available standards for energy efficiency. Proper parking facilities were also outlined, to include connecting with another underground parking garage that is nearby.

In addition, the city also made exact specifications as to the amount of open space that’s provided. The amount of open space must be at least 10% of the property. The city also mandated that the developer include a fountain that is approximately the same size as the one located in front of the Campus Inn.

City officials received five different offers, and considered all of them carefully before deciding to sell this lot to Dahlmann. In deciding which offer to take, council members looked at the benefits of each proposal separately in addition to considering the asking price.

Residents can expect ground breaking for this new construction to begin soon. Government officials are hopeful that the idea of more apartments coming to downtown Ann Arbor will help spur economic growth within the city.

Market Fluctuations

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

The price of real property tends to go up and down based upon current market conditions and a host of other factors. Whenever there are market fluctuations, some sellers begin to worry that their Home may not sell quickly, and some people may avoid listing their property altogether. It’s important to note that fluctuations in the real estate market are normal, and are actually nothing to worry about.

Home prices rise whenever there is a shortage of properties and an abundance of buyers. Likewise, they’ll decrease if the number of available homes is higher than average. That doesn’t necessarily mean a seller should lower their asking price, as homes that are in prime condition tend to fetch top dollar no matter what the market is currently like. Not only that, but buyers in slow markets tend to know exactly what they want, and are willing to pay more to get a home that meets their requirements.

The fact that buyers know what they want also means that they will easily recognize when a home is overpriced. This means that no matter what the current market fluctuations are, an overpriced home will almost always take longer to sell than one that is priced according to current market trends.

Buyers and sellers alike can benefit from contacting a professional real estate agent before taking any other action. A real estate agent can advise sellers as to current market conditions in order to help them price their homes accordingly. This agent can compare recently sold homes in a given area in order to come up with a price that will attract potential buyers and still net the homeowners a reasonable amount of money left over.

Real estate agents benefit buyers because these professionals can help them put together a list of “must have” items in order to find properties that fit their needs precisely. In many cases, the best advice a real estate agent can give a potential buyer is to become pre-approved so that he or she will know what price range to begin looking.

Mortgage Changes to Know in 2014

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

To follow up from my previous post about FHA mortgage limit changes this year, there are some additional mortgage changes to know in 2014. Buyers who are looking to purchase a new Home need to be aware of current changes in mortgage rules in order to choose the loan that is best for them.

One of the biggest changes involves FHA loan limits. The maximum amount of an FHA loan decreased from $729,750 to $625,000 beginning January 1, 2014. A number of counties across the country saw significant decreases, as the loan limits are based upon median home prices in a given area. The expiration of credits given by the Housing and Economic Reform Act of 2008 has resulted in the agency now approving 115% of the median Home Price in a given area as opposed to 125% previously.

The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) now requires lenders to follow an “ability to repay” mandate when approving loans. This new regulation requires that lenders follow a precise set of guidelines when it comes to calculating income, debt and assets. In doing so, they are granting what the government deems to be a “qualified mortgage” in an effort to reduce the number of foreclosures that take place in the future.

Self-employed workers face even more difficulty when it comes to obtaining a “qualified mortgage” than others will. That’s because the new rules make it more difficult for people without a W-2 form to prove their debt-to-income ratio than it is for others. This is true even for those who have extremely high credit scores and a high net worth. It seems that the government is concerned that tax write-offs will reduce the amount of taxable income a person earns, thereby making income statements less accurate than W2 forms.

Some positive mortgage changes stem with new caps placed on loan origination fees. Those who obtain a qualified mortgage are limited to no more than three percent of the loan amount for points and fees charged by the lenders. Unfortunately, there is no cap on origination fees for consumers who do not obtain a qualified mortgage.

As always, buyers should check with their lender to find out about specific changes that are mandatory by a particular institution.

Tips for Winter Home Selling

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

The fact that days are shorter and colder in winter often means that selling a Home during this time of year is especially challenging. That doesn’t mean it has to be impossible, as there are some tips for winter home selling people can do in order to increase their odds of securing an offer.

Keeping driveways and walkways clear ensures that real estate agents and potential buyers are able to get to a property. If they can’t get to a particular home, they will bypass it and head to another one instead. Those who cannot clear snow and ice themselves should consider hiring a professional service to help them with this.

Outdoor lighting should be bright enough to illuminate a home’s best features, while also making it safe to enter. Adding new lighting or replacing burned out bulbs can ensure the property’s best features are highlighted, and which guests feel comfortable coming and going.

The inside temperature of a home should feel nice and toasty. When people enter, they don’t want to feel cold, as this will make them wonder whether or not the heating system works efficiently. If a home is vacant, installing a programmable thermostat that is operable by smart phone will allow homeowners to turn the temperature up just before visitors arrive.

Just as in the summertime, everything inside the home needs to be clean, tidy and well-staged. Plastic mats near the doorway will contain snow and mud, thereby helping carpets to stay clean. The angle of the sun during winter also makes streaks and grime more noticeable, which is why washing windows inside and out is highly recommended.

Doing some little things to make a home seem warm and inviting will go a long way toward enticing buyers. Simple things, such as flameless candles burning on an end table or warm cider simmering on the stove, can make a house feel more welcoming. Homeowners may not want to burn a wood fire in their fireplaces if they are not home, but simply staging some fire logs in front of the fireplace could still lend a cozy feeling to the home.

Many market reports show that sellers have fewer homes to compete with during the winter. This means that those who follow these tips for winter home selling are likely to make a sale despite there being inclement weather.

FHA Mortgage Limit Changes in 2014

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

The rules governing mortgages are continuously changing, and it is important for anyone who is considering a new Home purchase to be aware of them. This year, FHA mortgage limit changes in 2014 top the list of new rules, and an overview of the changes are listed below.


The Federal Housing Administration sets loan limits based upon county. Beginning January 1, 2014, the maximum amount of a loan decreased in 652 counties nationwide, while subsequently increasing in 89 others. There are no FHA mortgage limit changes in 2014 in the remaining 2,493 counties across the country, and loans insured by either Fannie Mae or Freddie Mac will also not be affected.

Nationwide, the maximum FHA loan amount is now $625,500, as compared with $729,750 that the agency allowed in 2013. The amount allowed will depend on the cost of living in a given area. Previously, the FHA allowed loans that were up to 125% of the local area median Home Price, but the decrease now means that lenders can grant only 115% of that amount instead.

Unequally Affected

The decrease is affecting some counties across the country harder than others. The National Association of Realtors® reports that 146 counties have experienced a 20% or greater reduction in loan amounts. U.S. Finance Post states that buyers in cities such as San Francisco, Los Angeles or New York City are more likely to see FHA rates remain higher than those who live in rural areas.

Displaying blog entries 1-6 of 6