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Tom Stachler,ABR,CDPE - Group One Realty Team

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Saline Makes CNN Money Magazines Best Places to Live List

by Group One Realty Team - Real Estate One

Saline Area residents and business people are celebrating today the fact that Saline has been named to CNN Money Magazine's annual list of "Best Places to Live:  Saline is ranked #59 on their "Top 100 in the United States" list.  The tally represents extensive demographic research that examines areas like financial performance, housing, education, quality of life, leisure and culture, and health.  See a complete list of their choices at this website.

Saline is located in the heart of Washtenaw County in Southeast Michigan and is one of three communities in the State to make the list.  The other two were Plymouth Township and Farmington.  This is the second time Saline has made the list, the last time being in 2005.

The Saline Area Chamber of Commerce is planning an award presentation honoring this outstanding recognition and accomplishment.  "Considering the study looks at tens of thousands of communities in the United States, the list is narrowed down to 3,500, and then the final cut is made down to a scant 100, making the list is a real honor", said Larry Osterling, Executive Director of the Saline Area Chamber of Commerce.  "Everyone who calls Saline Home can take pride in their contribution and that includes our folks in the surrounding areas of Pittsfield, Lodi, York, Bridgewater, and Saline Townships.  We have some really terrific small towns in Washtenaw County and it's great to see this type of recognition come our way." 

More community information is available at Saline Chamber of Commerce.  If you are interested in moving to Saline Michigan you can click this link to search  for Saline Houses and other real estate.  Neighbor city Ann Arbor also made it onto a few lists lately, notably MSNBC's Smartest Cities List and in Bert Sperling's Best Places, Ann Arbor ranks 5th best in the 2007 list of the top places to live.

7 Simple Steps to Raising Credit Scores in Only 3 Weeks

by Group One Realty Team - Real Estate One

In the wake of the subprime market fallout, lenders are making it tougher for consumers to get a loan. As a result, borrowers would be wise to try to raise their credit scores to qualify for loan products that have better loan terms and  lower interest rates.


Starting Over, borrowers can follow seven simple steps to raise their credit scores. The steps required to raise credit scores may appear counterintuitive. In fact, individuals should be warned that without knowledge of how credit scores are derived, individuals can be damaging their credit scores rather than raising them when taking such actions as closing credit cards.


It is generally recommended that borrowers wishing to raise their credit scores first check their credit limits and evenly distribute the balances they’re carrying to help increase their credit scores, or that they pay them off in full to get the highest score increase. Make sure your maximum limit is reported.  When no limit is reported, credit scoring software presumes the account is ‘maxed out’. The credit scoring software scores more favorably the closer a balance is to zero. Balances over 70 percent damage credit the most, followed by the next tier of 50 percent and again by the tier of 30 percent of the maximum credit limit. Rather than carrying a large balance in an unfavorable tier, redistribute outstanding balances over several credit cards.


I would generally advise keeping credit cards open. Closing credit card accounts can hurt your score unless the accounts were opened less than two years ago, and you have over six credit cards.  Also consumers should make sure to keep their old credit cards open as well. Fair Isaac’s credit scoring software assumes that people who have had credit for a longer time are at less risk of defaulting on payments.


Borrowers also need to get rid of late payments listed on the credit report. Contact the creditors that report late payments and request a good faith adjustment that removes the late payments reported on your account.   Since you are a customer in good standing, the creditor may work with you. This may require more than one phone call. If you’re frustrated, rude or unclear with your request, you’re making it very difficult for the creditor’s representative to help you.  There are lenders that can help you with this process as well.  Contact my office for more details on Ann Arbor Area lenders or mortgage brokers that I have found to be helpful and competent.


A very important step is for consumers to rid themselves of any collection accounts by paying them off provided the collection agency agrees to delete them in return. Paying it off can otherwise actually lead to a decreased credit score due to the date of last activity getting updated to the current date when you pay. The consumer should contact the collector and request a letter explicitly stating their agreement to delete the account upon receipt or clearance of the payment. Although not all collection agencies will delete reporting, it’s certainly worth the effort.


Next, consumers should pay off past due amounts on delinquent accounts that are not in charge-off status. After that, I would advise getting rid of charge-offs and liens that are less than two years old. Charge-offs and liens that are older than 24 months do not affect your credit score nearly as much as ones under 24 months. But if they’re newer than 24 months, they can seriously damage your credit.  If you have both charge-offs and collection accounts, but have limited funds, I would advise paying off the past due balances first, then paying collection accounts that agree to remove all references to credit bureaus.


Individuals can positively affect their credit scores in as little as three weeks if your ambitious. It's just a matter of getting educated and focused on the best, fastest and most reliable course of action to raise one’s credit score.  If you are looking for a new Home, you might want to view new listings using the Realtors mls system by clicking here.  Other helpful credit tips can be viewed by click on this link.

Holding Title to a Home in Joint Tenancy

by Group One Realty Team - Real Estate One
How would you like to take title to your new home, Mr. and Mrs. Purchaser?" the attorney or title closing settlement officer asks.

Thinking fast, you ask, "Well, how do most married couples take title?"
The reply is usually something like: "Most couples take title in joint tenancy."

Not wanting to appear stupid or uninformed, you reply, "That's fine with us." But do you fully understand the implications of holding joint-tenancy title?

What Joint-Tenancy Means

>To be legally correct, joint-tenancy real estate ownership means "joint tenancy with right of survivorship." A few states require use of those exact words on the deed. But in most states, "joint tenancy" is sufficient.

Survivorship means the joint tenant who outlives the joint tenant co-owner(s) automatically receives the deceased's share of the property without probate court costs or delays. Probate court avoidance is considered the major joint-tenancy advantage.

All that is usually necessary to clear the title of a deceased joint tenant's name is to record a certified copy of the death certificate and an affidavit of survivorship with the local recorder of deeds.

The will of a deceased joint tenant has no effect on their joint-tenancy property. However, joint tenants still need a written will. In the event of simultaneous death of all the joint tenants, such as in a plane crash, the will of each deceased joint tenant determines who receives their share of the property.

Or, in the unlikely event one joint tenant kills another joint tenant, the wrongdoer cannot receive the deceased joint tenant's share by survivorship, so the deceased joint tenant's will then becomes important.

Although joint tenancy usually involves two co-owners, such as husband and wife, there can be an unlimited number of joint tenants. But they all must take title at the same time by the same deed, and they all own equal shares.

For example, suppose John and Mary Purchaser purchase their Home as joint tenants. Each therefore owns a 50 percent share. However, when their daughter, Suzy, becomes 18 they decide to add her as an additional joint tenant.

To add Suzy to the title, John and Mary sign and record a quitclaim deed from themselves to John, Mary and Suzy as joint tenants with right of survivorship. The result is each of the three joint tenants now own a one-third interest in the home.

Tenancy By The Entireties For Married Couples

In 24 states, a husband and wife can hold title as tenants by the entireties, which is very similar to joint tenancy. However, neither spouse can convey their tenancy by entirety share without the other spouse's signature.

This ownership form overcomes the joint-tenancy disadvantage that one joint tenant can transfer his/her share without approval of the other joint tenant(s), thus breaking up the joint tenancy and creating a tenancy in common.

Tenancy by the entireties for husband and wife is allowed in Alaska, Arkansas, Delaware, Florida, Hawaii, Indiana, Kentucky, Maryland, Massachusetts, Michigan, Mississippi, Missouri, New Jersey, New York, North Carolina, Ohio, Oklahoma, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Tennessee, Vermont, Virginia, Wyoming, and the District of Columbia.

Pros And Cons Of Joint Tenancy

Before consulting your attorney or other trusted adviser to determine if joint tenancy with right of survivorship (JTWRS) is right for your situation, it pays to know the pros and cons:

Probate Costs And Delays Are Avoided. When a joint tenant dies, his or her share automatically passes to the surviving joint tenant(s) without probate court interference. This is considered the major joint-tenancy advantage.

A Joint Tenant's Will Does Not Affect Jtwrs Property. Except for joint-tenancy simultaneous death or murder situations, a written will has no effect on JTWRS property. Especially in second marriages, where each spouse often wants to leave their half of the property to children of their first marriage, better alternatives might be holding title in a revocable living trust or as tenants in common.

Joint Tenant's Share Can Be Attached By Judgment Creditors. Unknown to most joint tenants, judgment creditors of one joint tenant can attach that person's share of the property. Or, if a joint tenant files bankruptcy and there is sufficient equity in the property, the bankruptcy court can order the property sold with the proceeds divided among the co-owners.

However, after a joint tenant dies, creditors cannot attach the deceased's share, which automatically passed to the surviving joint tenants.

In A Partition Lawsuit, One Joint Tenant Can Force A Sale Of The Property. In most states, one joint tenant co-owner can bring a partition lawsuit to force a sale of the property. Tenants in common also have this right.

All Joint Tenants Can Occupy And Manage The Property. Although each joint tenant has the right to occupy and manage the property, this can become a problem if one joint tenant refuses to pay his or her share of the property expenses.

<However, if one joint tenant pays all the expenses, there is a right of reimbursement for necessary costs, such as property taxes.

If a joint tenant is under 18, a minor cannot convey title or pay their share of the property expenses unless represented by a court-appointed guardian. For this reason, minors should usually not be added to the title as joint tenants.

Similarly, if a joint tenant becomes incapacitated, such as with Alzheimer's disease or a severe stroke, a court-appointed conservator might be necessary to represent the incapacitated joint tenant. However, this problem can be avoided if title is held in a revocable living trust instead of joint tenancy.

Approval Of Co-Owners Is Not Needed To Break Up A Joint Tenancy. Except for tenancy by the entireties between husband and wife, one joint tenant can secretly convey his/her share to a third party, thus breaking up the joint tenancy and creating a tenancy in common.

The most famous court decision on this issue is the 1980 decision in Riddle v. Harmon (162 Cal.Rptr. 530). Shortly before her death, the wife secretly conveyed by a quitclaim deed her joint-tenancy share to herself as a tenant in common. After her death, the surviving husband presumed he owned the entire property as the surviving joint tenant. But the court ruled the late wife's secret deed to herself as a tenant in common made her half of the property subject to her will, which left her assets to a third party. The widower husband retained his 50 percent share as a tenant in common.

Non-Simultaneous Death Of Joint Tenants May Have an Unintended Result. When all joint tenants die at the same time and the order of death cannot be determined, such as in a plane crash, the share of each deceased joint tenant then passes according to his/her written will (or by the state law of intestate succession if no will is found).

However, if one joint tenant survives the other for just a short time, his or her heirs receive the entire property. That happened a few years ago in Berkeley, Calif. Joint-tenant property owners Larry and his girlfriend Lana were on an evening walk. A drive-by shooter's bullets hit both Larry and Lana.

They were rushed to a nearby hospital where Lana died at 2:58 a.m. Larry was kept alive on a ventilator until 4:55 a.m. when he died. Because Larry survived Lana, he was the surviving joint tenant of their properties. His heirs inherited all the joint-tenancy property under his will and Lana's relatives received nothing because she was not the surviving joint tenant.

Conclusion

Although holding title as joint tenants (or tenancy by the entireties between husband and wife where allowed) offers many benefits, it also provides possible disadvantages. Other co-ownership alternatives to be considered include tenants in common and revocable living trusts. Consultation with your attorney and tax adviser is recommended.

Ready to find your new home? Just click on search for homes to get started.

June Ann Arbor Area Realty Statistics

by Group One Realty Team - Real Estate One

Statistics can give us a decent picture of what happened in the real estate market. They can also act as a guide in what to expect in today’s market.

While June 2007 residential sales are down about 10% over June of last year, there is strong activity in the summer market. 364 residentila properties were sold in June this year, compared to 404 in June 2006.  Reflecting an increase of 5% in the number of units sold in June 2006, 93 condos were sold in June of this  year.

Current market conditions have created a great time to buy.  The average residential sale price in Washtenaw County was $267,571 in June.  buyers have a rare opportunity to obtain maximum value for their investment dollar.  Inventory is plentiful, interest rates are stable and sellers are ready to move.  The following statistics were provided by the Ann Arbor Area Board of Realtors. 

June 2007

June Report

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Photo of Tom Stachler Real Estate
Tom Stachler
Real Estate One, Group One Realty Team
555 Briarwood Circle
Ann Arbor MI 48108
Direct: (734) 996-0000
Fax: (734) 661-0102