Ottawa real estate market stabilizes in coming months

A Conference Board economist stated in a recent article for the Ottawa Business Journal that the Ottawa real estate market will be "pretty decent".

These comments came after the Board's October resale index was released, showing that the average housing price increase of 3% was just below the rate of inflation, which was 3.3% in October.

The index also showed that for every 1,000 homes listed for sale, 570 were sold in October.  This represents a sales to new listing ratio of 0.570.  A balanced market range is defined as anywhere between 0.393 and 0.709.

For more information on this trend, read the entire Ottawa Business Journal article on the stability of the Ottawa housing market.

For more up to date market statistics, visit our Ottawa real estate website or contact one of our Ottawa Sales Representatives at 613-288-0090.



Posted Monday, November 29, 2010 by Martin Bouma
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It Pays to Support Responsible Homeownership

Doing what you can to help other Ann Arbor residents gain a foothold on the home ownership ladder doesn’t just help them--you’ll reap benefits for both your community and your own wallet. Individuals who move from renting to owning a home or condo, are more likely to vote, get involved in community groups, and invest in their own condo’s appearance. A 2001 Harvard University study showed that children of homeowners do 23% better in school. A steady flow of first-time home buyers makes it easier to sell your own starter home, when you’re ready to move up.




Affordability of housing is one of the best ways to make more people homeowners. Government-backed mortgage insurance can help to lower loan costs, and a variety of public and private programs offer low-cost loans and down payment assistance. You can help prospective homeowners save down payment funds by donating to sites like EARN, a non-profit company that uses donations to match funds saved by low-wage earners.



Especially in the current housing market, foreclosure hurts all homeowners. Each foreclosure within 1/8th of a mile of your home lowers your property value about 0.744 percent, according to estimates by the Center for Responsible Lending. Every home owner whose neighbor loses their home to foreclosure is affected; if your next door neighbor loses their home, your home's value decreases. Individuals who go through pre-purchase and post-purchase counseling are less likely to face foreclosure. You can help, by encouraging potential home owners to seek such counseling; they'll learn about mortgages, budgeting, and home maintenance.



Another way to do your part to help other home owners is by donating your time or money to some of the many non-profits that promote responsible home ownership. Habitat for Humanity partners with new home owners to build affordable housing. Habitat homes aren’t free; home owners work hundreds of hours, receive home ownership counseling, and make regular mortgage payments. The United Way supports many local programs that build affordable housing, help families build financial assets, and teach financial management skills. If you donate to The United Way, you can direct your contribution to those causes.



Enjoy the benefits of condominium ownership in Ann Arbor, and help others reap the same benefits. Let Martin Bouma – your Ann Arbor expert – help you find the perfect piece of Ann Arbor real estate. Whether you’re buying or selling a condo, the Bouma Group can answer any questions you have about real estate in Ann Arbor. Thinking of settling down in Washtenaw County, Saline, or a specific Ann Arbor neighborhood? Call the Bouma Group today. And don’t forget to check out our Condo Hotline – we know the Ann Arbor condominium market better than anyone!



Posted Friday, November 26, 2010 by Martin Bouma
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Protect Yourself and Your Property – Have Hunters Sign a Waiver

If you're an Ann Arbor homeowner who allows others to hunt on your property, you could be liable if they’re injured. Cover your risk by asking hunters to sign a liability waiver. This suggestion comes from InsuraCorp, Inc., a Fremont-based company which has a Hunting Hold Harmless Agreement on its website. While deer hunting is an extremely popular outdoor tradition in Michigan, homeowners should take appropriate measures to avoid injury-related lawsuits suffered by hunters on their property.


According to the Michigan Department of Natural Resources and Environment (DNRE) the state has issued 13,641 deer hunting licenses in Washtenaw County so far this year, while statewide, sales have reached about 1.3 million. Firearm season for deer runs from November 14 through the 30th; archery season begins December 1 and runs through the 30th.


A Hunting Hold Harmless Agreement is a simple document, used by home owners with anyone they allow onto their property for hunting purposes. Signers of such an agreement waive any claim against the owner of the property on which they are hunting. The hunter agrees to indemnify and defend the homeowner in the event that their hunting causes injury to another person.


Michigan law states that a property owner has a duty to warn individuals (such as hunters) of hidden defects on the premises, or other features that could cause or contribute to injury or loss. If money is exchanged for allowing others to hunt on an individual’s property, this duty to warn is even greater. Generally, the property owner is required to make the property reasonably safe, warn others of known dangers, regularly inspect the property, and make all necessary repairs. Even if no money is exchanged, the homeowner can still be held liable if a situation occurs resulting in injury or property damage.


Martin Bouma - your Ann Arbor expert – can help you find the perfect piece of Ann Arbor real estate. Whether you’re buying or selling a home, the Bouma Group can answer any questions you have about real estate in Ann Arbor. Call the Bouma Group today! And don’t forget to check out our Condo Hotline – we know the Ann Arbor condominium market better than anyone!



Posted Tuesday, November 23, 2010 by Martin Bouma
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Winterize Your Home with Small Fixes for a Cozy Season Indoors

Now that colder weather is moving into Ann Arbor, it's time to settle in with a stack of great books, or a few great movies. Before you do, be sure to plan ahead so that an easily avoidable home emergency doesn't ruin your hibernation! Just follow these simple tips, and enjoy a snug and comfortable home all winter long.


Super Quick Fixes

  • If you don't have smoke detectors, install them now. If you do have them, change the batteries and test the detectors to ensure that they're working properly.


  • Inspect your roof for missing or cracked tiles. If repairs are needed, get them before snow and ice force you to wait until spring.


  • Vacuum the coils on the back of your refrigerator. This will help your fridge work more efficiently, saving money on your power bills.


  • Flip your mattress. Turning your mattress regularly will extend its life.


  • Get your heating system serviced to ensure it's in good working order.


Things That Require a Little More Time, But Are Well Worth the Effort


  • Oil your power tools and, if you have a gas-powered lawn mower, drain the gas from it.


  • Check all taps for leaks. Pipes can burst if they freeze, so if you leave home for more than a few days, turn off the water and drain the pipes.


  • The cold doesn’t deter burglars so be sure to inspect your locks and any burglar alarms and consider using lighting timers for that lived in appearance.


Prepare an Emergency Kit So That These Things Are Within Easy Reach


  • A small tool bag with a flashlight, a roll of insulation tape, spare fuses, spare batteries, and a screwdriver


  • A small fire extinguisher


  • Important telephone numbers like the police, plumber, electrician, and your home insurance company


Winter weather is here, and Martin Bouma - your Ann Arbor expert – can help you find the perfect piece of Ann Arbor real estate. Whether you’re buying or selling a home, the Bouma Group can answer any questions you have about real estate in Ann Arbor. Thinking of settling down in a Ypsilanti home, a Saline property, or the Hunters Ridge neighborhood? Call the Bouma Group today! And don’t forget to check out our Condo Hotline – we know the Ann Arbor condominium market better than anyone!



Posted Friday, November 19, 2010 by Martin Bouma
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Federal Housing Administration Insurance Program in Good Shape

Good news for Ann Arbor homeowners: the Federal Housing Administration’s mortgage insurance fund is in good financial shape, and its reserves have grown by more than $1 billion over the past year. FHA now has enough capital resources to cover projected claim losses, and would not require a taxpayer subsidy even in a worst-case scenario, according to the agency's annual report to Congress.

 

Using conservative assumptions about future growth of home prices, and without any new policy actions, FHA’s capital ratio will approach 2% (as mandated by Congress) in 2014 and exceed the 2% threshold in 2015. “It’s clear that FHA is in a stronger position today than we were just one year ago,” said FHA Commissioner David H. Stevens. “While we are not yet completely out of the woods, based on the evidence we’re seeing, FHA is weathering the economic storm while helping to create a firm foundation for our nation’s recovery.”

 

National Association of Realtors® President Ron Phipps stated, “FHA announced major changes earlier this year and took critical steps to strengthen and ensure its long-term financial soundness. Those efforts have paid off.” He added, “The future health of FHA’s reserve funds depends heavily on the direction of home values in the coming years. Home values have shown patterns of stabilization over the past 18 months, and in a recent independent survey, most economists expect modest home price gains over the next 3 years, so FHA’s reserves should steadily improve.”

 

 Over this past year, FHA:

  • Served more than 1.75 million households by insuring $319 billion in single-family mortgages.

  • Enabled 882,000 families to become home owners for the first time. This represents one-third of all first-time buyers in the nation.

  • Helped more than 450,000 families avoid foreclosure through loss mitigation actions.

  • Helped 556,000 families to refinance their mortgage at lower interest rates, saving households an average of more than $140 per month.

  • Provided access to credit for close to 40% of purchase mortgages including 60% of all African-American and Hispanic home buyers.

 

Martin Bouma - your Ann Arbor expert – can help you find the perfect piece of Ann Arbor real estate. Whether you’re buying or selling a home, the Bouma Group can answer any questions you have about real estate in Ann Arbor. Thinking of settling down in a Ypsilanti home, a Saline property, or the Hunters Ridge neighborhood? Call the Bouma Group today! And don’t forget to check out our Condo Hotline – we know the Ann Arbor condominium market better than anyone!



Posted Tuesday, November 16, 2010 by Martin Bouma
Tags: ann arbor real estate, ypsilanti real estate, saline real estate, fha mortgage insurance

Ottawa condo market statistics update for November 2010

According to a recent report by the Ottawa Real Estate Board, real estate sales in the Ottawa area for October 2010 were 1042, compared to 1197 for October 2009.  This represents a decrease of 12.9%.  Since 2009 was a record setting year and the 2010 stats are an average of 2% lower, the 2010 year to date represents a balancing of the Ottawa real estate market.

Of the 1042 sales in Ottawa, 221 were condominiums.  The average price of a condominium in October was $263,292, while the average price of a residential dwelling in October was $361,560, almost a $100,000 difference.

For a more detailed analysis of the Ottawa real estate market, including why a condominium might be the right choice for you and your family, contact the Renaud Otten Team at 613-288-2455.


Posted Monday, November 15, 2010 by Martin Bouma
Tags: ottawa condo statistics,ottawa condos

Save Energy and Money by Making Your Water Heater More Efficient

Ann Arbor residents are preparing themselves and their homes for winter. As you get ready for colder days, it's important to note that the US Department of Energy says that 14%-25% of the average homeowner's total energy costs go toward water heating. This amounts to more than $300 per year. Here are five energy-saving tips which can help cut the cost of heating water in your home:


Tip #1: Wrap your heater in a blanket. Water heaters are often located in unheated areas, making insulation critical. Cutting heat loss by using an insulating blanket (usually priced around $30) can save 4%-9% on the average water-heating bill. Be sure to check with your manufacturer's guide; some new models of water heaters already contain insulating foam, making a blanket unnecessary.

Tip #2: Install low-flow fixtures. The easiest way to cut hot water costs is to use less of it. According to the American Council for an Energy Efficient Economy (ACEEE), a family of four uses about 700 gallons of hot water each week. Installing inexpensive ($10-$20 each) low-flow shower heads and faucet aerators can produce reductions of hot water by 25%-60%.


Tip #3: Take your water heater's temperature. Most water heaters leave the factory with a high temperature setting. Reducing the temperature by just 10 degrees can cut your bill by 3%-5%. A setting at 120 to 140 degrees is hot enough; settings below 120 degrees can create a breeding ground for bacteria.

Tip #4: Drain the sediment from your tank. Tanks naturally build up sediment, which reduces the overall efficiency of the water heater. The process is relatively easy: turn off the water and power to the unit (set the burner on a gas unit to “pilot”). Connect a garden hose to the spigot at the base of the tank. With the other end of the hose pointed at your floor drain, carefully lift the tank’s pressure-relief valve and turn on the spigot; water should begin to flow. You don’t have to drain the tank completely; the Department of Energy recommends draining about a quart every three months.


Tip #5: Insulate exposed hot-water pipes. Wrapping insulation around hot-water pipes reduces standby losses, allowing water to arrive at the tap 2 to 4 degrees warmer. Since you don't have to wait as long for it to heat, you'll save energy, water and money.


Enjoy the upcoming winter in a new Ann Arbor home! Let Martin Bouma – your Ann Arbor expert – help you find the perfect piece of Ann Arbor real estate. Whether you’re buying or selling a home, the Bouma Group can answer any questions you have about real estate in Ann Arbor. Thinking of settling down in Washtenaw County, Saline, or a specific Ann Arbor neighborhood? Call the Bouma Group today. And don’t forget to check out our Condo Hotline – we know the Ann Arbor condominium market better than anyone!



Posted Friday, November 12, 2010 by Martin Bouma
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Deals of the Year Awards Highlight Ann Arbor Business Successes

Friday night, Ann Arbor's sixth annual Deals of the Year awards dinner (hosted by AnnArbor.com Business Review) brought area business leaders together. They noted that local successes are helping lead Michigan out of the recession. They were also optimistic that Ann Arbor will continue to serve as an example of economic vibrancy for the region, state, and country. The event highlighted business decisions that have had the most impact in the region over the previous year.



As he opened the awards portion of the program, Stephen Forrest, University of Michigan's vice president for research, recalled how 18 months ago, the "economy of this nation was in a free fall." He noted that in Michigan, the "economy was limping along, to say the least. Eighteen months later, we are seeing recovery here." He credited local entrepreneurs as the primary drivers for that recovery.


"Michigan," Forrest reminded the crowd, "really did build the American economy in the 20th century. "It can do it again, and I think it's on this path."


Celebration and optimism were personified by govern-elect Rick Snyder, appearing three days after successfully campaigning on a pledge to reinvent the state. Snyder, former president of Gateway Inc., said, “The Ann Arbor community has been very fortunate, and I've been very fortunate. That's one of the things that drove me to run. This is our opportunity to give back."


Ann Arbor office of law firm Honigman, Miller, Schwartz & Cohn managing partner David Parsigian introduced the award winner for Company of the Year – Zingerman's – saying it exemplifies the Ann Arbor business success story: an idea born in Ann Arbor, and executed in a way that develops a national and international reputation for excellence. Zingerman's, Parsigian said, "demonstrates the power of an idea."


Executive of the Year Jeff Williams is an example of a CEO whose serial success keep powering business growth in Ann Arbor. Today, Williams is CEO of Accuri Cytometers, which previously won a Deal of the Year award for its technology. He also led HandyLab to its $275 million sale to BD in 2009.

The idea of taking risks and enjoying their payback was a common thread at the evening's celebration. Many participants noted that risk-taking is important not just for Ann Arbor, but for the entire state.


As always, Ann Arbor leads Michigan – and the nation – in the introduction of new business ideas. Whether you are buying a new home, or selling your current residence, the Bouma Group can help you with your real estate needs in Ann Arbor, as well as keep you up to date about Washtenaw County and specific Ann Arbor neighborhoods. Check out our Condo Hotline to learn everything you want to know about the Ann Arbor condo market.


photo credit:
Melanie Maxwell, AnnArbor.com

Posted Tuesday, November 09, 2010 by Martin Bouma
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The Renaud Otten Ottawa real estate team goes green!

Ray Otten of the Renaud Otten Team has recently become an Accredited Green Broker.  In an effort to reduce our team's carbon footprint, one of our initiatives is to replace our Homes by Design magazine subscription with an eVersion of Ottawa at Home magazine.

All of our previous clients enjoyed a monthly subscription to the paper-based Homes by Design magazine.  Now, we are exchanging this paper-based subscription to an eco-friendly subscription of Ottawa at Home magazine. 

In addition to providing this eVersion to our existing clients, we are pleased to be able to provide this magazine to all of our potential clients as well! 

In order to reserve your eVersion of Ottawa at Home magazine, simply email jonathan@OttawaProperties.com with the names and emails of anyone who would enjoy receiving a monthly local magazine filled with home, food and living in Ottawa information - all timely, fresh and unique content delivered to your inbox each month!

Going green has never been more fun!


Posted Monday, November 08, 2010 by Martin Bouma
Tags: ottawa homes,ottawa green initiatives,green broker

Chelsea Antique Mall is a New, Thriving Venture

Chelsea, located in Washtenaw County, offers Ann Arbor residents a location with small town charm and easy commuting to all of southeast Michigan's major areas. Chelsea is home to the Daimler Chrysler Proving Ground and Chelsea Milling Company's "Jiffy Mix.” The latest addition to the area's unique business offerings is the Chelsea Antique Mall, home to 27 antique and collectible vendors, located at 1178 S. Main Street.

 

Owners Ed and Kathy Greenleaf purchased the space in the Chelsea Lanes building, which had stood vacant for two years, and opened 3,000 square feet at the front of the building to vendors. When that space quickly filled, Greenleaf expanded to the back of the building, hosting 10 more booths. This has created a total of 4,100 square feet of vendor space with booth sizes ranging from 5 by 8 feet to 9 by 12 feet.

 

Sales are going well, and vendors are constantly adding new items. Glassware, books, collectibles, furniture, and holiday ornaments are just a few of the many offerings available. “The antique mall is a great fit for Chelsea. (It's) become an artsy-craftsy community,” Ed Greenleaf said. "So many people have come in and said ‘We needed this.’” Closed on Mondays, the Chelsea Antique Mall is open from 10am – 6pm Tuesday through Saturday and 10am – 5pm on Sunday.


Chelsea residents enjoy great eats at its local restaurants, along with an occasional latte at one of the town’s many coffee houses. Check out the latest fashions at one of the designer boutiques. For those who maintain an active lifestyle, there are many parks and playgrounds available. Home to the Purple Rose Theatre, this Chelsea landmark is owned by local resident and Hollywood actor Jeff Daniels.

Martin Bouma – your Ann Arbor neighborhood expert – can meet virtually all of your Chelsea and Ann Arbor real estate needs. Whether you’re buying or selling a home, the Bouma Group can answer any questions you have about real estate in Ann Arbor. Interested in Washtenaw County, or a specific Ann Arbor neighborhood? Call the Bouma Group today! And don’t forget to check out our condo hotline – we’ve got a handle on the Ann Arbor condominium market.



Posted Friday, November 05, 2010 by Martin Bouma
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Questions to Ask When Buying an Ann Arbor Condominium

Buying a condominium in Ann Arbor can be a very different experience from buying a single-family home. Single-family homes may be part of neighborhood associations. Condominiums are always part of a specific, preexisting community, and as such, purchase considerations must include both the individual unit and the overall condominium project. Informed purchasers will view a condominium in terms of both their day-to-day comfort, as well as potential resale value. Buyers should know both the condition of the individual unit they're contemplating purchasing, and the conditions (both financially and in terms of governance) of the entire community of which that unit is a part. Here are some of the specific questions that you should ask when considering the purchase of a condominium unit:


What is the monthly condominium fee, and what does it cover? Condominium fees can range widely. They generally include a variety of things and purchasers need to know exactly what they are. The fees are derived from such things as the number, age and condition of units, annual expenses to maintain common areas, and management (is it professionally, or self-maintained?).


What are the condominium rules and regulations? Are pets allowed? Can you perform renovations to the unit? Can you rent the unit, rather than living in it yourself? Completely familiarize yourself with these rules and regulations before buying a unit, in order to avoid later surprises. If you have an attorney involved, be sure to have them review all documents to ensure that they comply with state condominium laws (as well as FHA and Fannie Mae regulations, if they apply).


Is the condominium association self-managed, or is there a professional management company? While a professional management company may present an additional expense, it can provide substantial added value in the form of well-run governance and professional management of common areas.


Are there any contemplated or pending special assessments? A special assessment is a one-time fee, payable by every unit owner, which is used for capital improvements. A good way to determine the existence of a special assessment is to review the condominium association meeting minutes from the past two years; this can help you ascertain what's happening now, as well as the possibility of upcoming special assessments.


Along these same lines, how much money is in the capital reserve account, and how much is funded annually? The capital reserve account serves as a kind of “insurance policy” for the capital repairs which are required by every building. If the capital reserve account is poorly funded, the chances of a special assessment are increased.


Is the condominium association involved in any pending legal actions? If so, this can signify a poorly run association. Legal fees come out of the association's budget, and can lead to a special assessment. In most states, you can search the court database to see if they've been involved in any recent lawsuits.


How many units are owner-occupied? A large number of renters can create a variety of headaches, including re-sale and financing issues. Fannie Mae and FHA both have new condominium regulations which pertain to owner-occupancy rates.


What is condominium fee delinquency rate? Again, Fannie Mae and FHA regulations stipulate delinquency rates of 15% or less. If the delinquency rate is high, it can signify overall financial problems with the condominium association itself.


Martin Bouma is your Ann Arbor neighborhood expert, and he knows the Ann Arbor condominium market. We offer a Condo Hotline, where you can learn about all of the condominiums available in the area. We will find Ann Arbor real estate that’s exactly right for YOU. Whether you’re buying or selling a home, the Bouma Group can answer all of your questions about real estate in Ann Arbor, whether you’re interested in Washtenaw County, Saline, or a specific Ann Arbor neighborhood.



Posted Tuesday, November 02, 2010 by Martin Bouma
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