8/28/2013

HUD Home Buying FAQs


Have you visited Inside Realty lately?  We are a great resource in your HUD Home search!



At www.insiderealty.com you'll find a wealth of information on our HUD Home page to answer all of your questions. The information found on our FAQ page below is directly from HUD.gov.
 
As always, if you have any additional questions about HUD Homes, or are planning a home purchase, contact us, we are highly experienced and always available to help! 

(248) 758 - 0022  


8/27/2013

Buying New Vs. Old Homes

Buying New Vs. Old Homes

 
Pros For Buying A New Home:
Low maintenance, convenient layouts, standard appliances, energy efficient, up to code, never been used, less expensive.


 
 
Pros For Buying An Old Home:
Great structure since they have been around so long, bigger yards, more uniqueness, neighbors are probably long term and haven't just moved in, if neighbors have just moved in, they plan to be there for a long time, established neighborhood, and mature trees.


 
 
 
Cons For Buying A New Home:
Similar floor plans, not unique, immature trees which means little or no shade, houses will need to settle, newer neighborhood, and smaller yards.
 

 
Cons Of Buying An Old Home:
More maintenance, probably will have to replace wiring and plumbing, smaller closets, less storage space, smaller garages or no garages, requires updating certain areas, and smaller homes.
 

My Market Insider August 2013



When we sell your home we market it competitively. When you sell your home with us you will also get a free market analysis, like the one you see here. 
For more information on home buying or selling visit us at www.InsideRealty.com or call us at   (248) 758 - 0022 

8/22/2013

The Look for Less

I am a huge proponent of thrift store shopping because it's so productive. In a previous blog we discussed how to utilize thrift to improve your home. Here's some more ideas on saving money and getting the look for less.




Furniture Finds


A few months ago I was shopping at a local Salvation Army, when I caught a glimpse of the perfect piece of furniture that I knew I had to have. It was some style of petite dresser, the kind I've seen in other peoples' homes, but never in a store. It had three large, deep drawers, and four tall legs.  I purchased it for $34.00 and lifted it into the back of my friend's Jeep.
It sat for many weeks in my father's garage. Now several months later and I have found the perfect use for it. Unable to find a cabinet set to fit my new bathroom my fiance and I have decided to convert the dresser into one. It has drawers to hold items, and enough space to accommodate the plumbing and sink. Below the drawers, between the legs of the dresser I can add decor, or more storage.
I normally don't buy things that I don't have a use for, but I knew that piece of furniture was unique and very adaptable. It's the kind of piece that could fit any style - from contemporary to traditional - with the right coat of paint, and almost any space because of it's size (large enough for good storage and surface, without being too big or looking bulky - perfect!).
Now the brilliance of the thrift store furniture find is that you never know what you may come upon. I have found that it's actually more helpful not to redesign a space until I find pieces that inspire it first (in other words, I don't force anything). Thrift store pieces are treasures which inspire. They are also unique and often you (and your guests) will never see another just like it. Most magical of all is that these benefits all come at a tiny price point. A dresser purchased at a major retailer would have easily cost me upwards of $200.00 (unless I wanted to assemble it myself). Now tell me, do you think I would chop up a $200.00 brand new dresser? Thrift store furniture for that reason is more resourceful and mailable. Feel free to paint, distress, and modify! 



DIY Lighting


The price of a lighting fixture (that isn't part plastic) can be enough to nauseate even the most seasoned of home owners or designers. Easily ascending into the high 100's a fixture can bump costs of a decor project far beyond budget. But light fixtures are utilitarian, and they don't always need to be expensive, just sturdy and attractive.
You can have a fixture that will look good and last for less. Many people all over are turning to an obvious and chic alternative to fancy custom glass bulbs: bottles. Consider designs inspired by, and made of wine glasses for a kitchen or dining room. For a contemporary or minimalist look why not use a mason jar, like above? Chances are you can get the bottles for free, so the only remaining cost is electrical cord, bulb, and socket - if you know how to install it. The fancier you get, the more expensive the project. But hey, it will still be less money (and more personalized) than that $400.00 chandelier.

8/16/2013

Making Interiors Look Larger

Decorating and designing to make a space appear larger is a great idea, even in a large room. Tricking the eye can be accomplished without spending a lot of money. Try some of these simple tips:



Use Bright Colors


Choosing a bright pallet is an effective way to open up a room. Bright colors help to make a space appear larger. Dark colors deter light and give the sensation of darkness and confinement. On the contrary, a bright color will bring more light into a room. You don't have to choose white, but the closer you are to it, the more open your space will seem. Bright colors are an excellent solution for smaller rooms, and rooms with small windows. As a general rule kitchens and bathrooms should be bright!

 

Don't just stick with bright paint. Consider all aspects of your room. If you have large amounts of glass in your space like glass blocks under a counter, or in place of clear windows consider cleaning them or lighting the molding between them.
Also consider: are your counter tops gloomy? Do you have dark cabinets?



Reflective Surfaces


Another tool in your arsenal of space renovation is reflection! Instead of drab carpet consider laminate, tile, or hardwood. Stick to lighter colors of each to optimize your small space or enforce the emphasis on openness.
Reflective surfaces will bring in more light, and open up a room. Natural light is always the best, and if you have access to it then bolster it with bright paint and shiny floors. If you must have carpet, spring for a light color. Any area rugs should ultimately be bright as well when the effect of breezy and open is the goal. Because carpet and rugs can be hard to keep clean, a hard flooring is ideal. Fearing the price? No worries, see our blog on how to have the look for less!



Lighting


Any dingy yellow light will make a room look dark, closed, and date your decor. Think energy efficient bulbs for your room. They are extremely (and I mean, EXTREMELY) affordable. Often times just as cheap, or even more so than the standard incandescent bulbs. Sometimes these bulbs can be found individually at dollar stores - so make sure to scan them next time!
While on the topic of energy efficient bulbs, I have to press the energy-saving issue. These bulbs can last up to seven years or longer! They also use 80% less electricity than a standard bulb. Which can equal anywhere upwards of $7.00 a year PER bulb depending on use.
Why it's a must for opening your space: These energy efficient options generally emit twice as many lumens as their standard counterparts (1220 versus 600). That means that even though they use less electricity, and may appear to give off less light, the QUALITY of the light is far improved, brighter, and truer.



Mirrors


It's no secret that mirrors have the power of illusion! That's why carnivals and magicians rely so heavily on them. You can share their secrets by adding some mirrors to your small space (or space you desire to open further).
When utilizing the trick of mirrors, consider placement and size of the mirror. Floor-length or longer mirrors will make a low-ceiling appear taller. A wide mirror will likewise elongate a room. Placing two decent-sized mirrors across from one another can also double the effect.
Try strategically placing a mirror adjacent to, or across from a large window or door wall. Centering a large mirror over a mantle, or sitting area will also give any guests the impression that the room is airy and big.
Note the above picture and how it utilizes every trick mentioned in this blog thus far! The use of bright paint, shiny floors, natural light, and mirrors!



Furniture


And last of all, the old stand-by and space organization 101: furniture placement. Most of you will have heard at one point or another that one of the key ingredients to making a space look bigger is keeping the bare minimum of furniture in it. 
Though this definitely rings true to an extent, don't feel like you have to give away all of your things or hide them away. Make sure you curate your room to suite your tastes and fit your design. Anything that doesn't go - has to go. Having some knick knacks adds personal flair and decor. Just make sure you don't have so much that it looks cluttered!
A small space can easily flaunt all you need. Two chairs, a coffee table, mirror, and bookshelf. Why not? Just keep in mind your space limitations, and what you will need for moving room. In other words the cardinal rule is: keep furniture small in a small space, and always avoid bulky and chunky designs!



Fabulous Fakes: The Beauty of Saving Money

Everyone enjoys money-saving tips, but how many end up being fruitful? Here are some that are not only useful but can save you hundreds of dollars and are just as good as their more popular (and way more expensive) options. Guaranteed to look like and last like the real thing.
Because spending money you don't need to is never a good look!




Plywood Flooring


When I first told a friend that I was planning to install a plywood floor in my house he looked at me like I had lost my mind. Then I showed him images of other people's plywood floors. He was impressed and reformed his opinion.
"Why not? It looks good. And plywood is cheap."
My thoughts exactly! Why not? There are of course all kinds of plywood, and all of them are relatively inexpensive. Depending on the type of plywood and amount it can be as cheap as less than twenty dollars for a 6x8 foot sheet. Unlike with traditional hardwood flooring, you can control the design process with plywood. If you feel like staining it then you can do so (I found that water-diluted acrylic paint also works well for wood you plan to seal. This also offers a broad range of stain colors).
Make sure before you run out and buy the flooring that you will have the tools to install it, and know how you want it to look. Remember that you may want to seal or coat the plywood flooring once it's installed to better preserve it.

This installation process works similarly to a traditional floating hardwood floor.



Wood Pallet Walls


Wood pallets are one of the most diversely used items that upcyclers target. From garden beds and tables, to swings and fencing, wooden pallets are the resource that keeps on giving. The magic of pallets too, is that you can get them for free!
Simply by scanning your neighborhoods and subdivisions you may be able to find stacks of pallets on the side of the road. By asking around I found out that a friend's relative works with pallets everyday and throws them away (so of course I scooped some up for free)!
I love the idea of a wood wall from re purposed pallet wood because it is free (minus any nails or screws and other hardware to install if you don't have it) and it looks unique and expensive.
Because installation is a tedious process, and you do lose an inch or so of space, be careful to consider how to utilize your pallet all. Do you want to do a whole room? Remember that you will need to cut holes to accommodate any light switches and outlets. I think pallet walls are an excellent solution for an accent wall!




Copper Floors


Your eyes are not deceiving you, this floor is made up of pennies. For some it may be a bold and daring look, but you can't argue with the unique deviation from the traditional. Not only is this flooring durable and guaranteed to last, but it is only $1.44 a square foot.
Lay the pennies flat on the floor, adhere them, and cover with a thick, clear epoxy. There's no need to clean them off - the variation in color gives a contrast much like some mosaic ceramic tiles.
Need more upsides?
Your guests will never have seen anything like it.
With a flat epoxy, the floor will have no grout and will be easy to clean.
It won't crack like expensive tile.
It is a versatile look.

If you are considering installing a penny floor in your house, do some research first. There are plenty of people who have done it and been nice enough to post how-tos and videos about it online. Consider various methods, and in what room you'd like it. Remember that the process will take a very long time, so you may not want to do it in a large room. Also consider if the potential room has good lighting. Because pennies are dark in color they are best suited to a well-lit room. A darkly-colored room, or a room with sparse lighting will be made to look smaller, darker, and less inviting when paired with a dark floor.

8/15/2013

Eco Improvements 4: Reduce, Reuse

"I love charity thrift stores. Amazing one-of-a-kind pieces at terrific prices, and all of the money you spend goes to a good cause." - Lara Spencer



 Thrifting


It doesn't matter how much money you make, saving some green is always reasonable and seasonable. There are so many advantages to shopping at thrift stores, that it seems like everyone is catching on. For starters the money saved is unbeatable. Sure, they may not be designer (but often times it is!), and it may not be exactly what you're looking for (that's half the fun) but skipping a pair of $60 jeans in place for a pair that cost $1.50 (and is pre-shrunk) is fabulous.
Thrift stores also offer unique items guaranteed to set you apart, and believe me, people will notice. There's something to be said about finding a treasure at a thrift store, and knowing there aren't 200 more on the rack.
Possibly the best asset to thrift store shopping isn't just the money saved, but where that money goes. Shopping at the Good Will, Salvation Army, or Habitat for Humanity ReStore guarantees your money will go to a charitable cause. Help your pocket book, and the local community? That will always be in style.
And here's the fun part: people will catch on! About two years ago I switched almost entirely to only thrifted clothing. No one thought my clothes were strange. Nor did they come off as "old" or "worn." On top of that, when I started telling people I was acquiring my wardrobe second-hand the reaction was generally that of impressed. Now of course some weren't so easily converted at first, but when they noticed how trendy and unique my clothes were, and how I always had something new, and still saving more money than them - well let's just say to date my fiancé, sister, and 3 of my good friends are all solely thrifters. And the more people you convert, the more you're helping out the local community, not to mention casting your vote against child labor, high prices, and shipping costs!



 Upcycle









"Upcycling" is a broad term that refers to re-purposing something to make it useful again, or turning useless or junked items into usable ones. The idea behind it is simple: save money and help the planet by recycling old objects.
By recycling something rather than throwing it away, you are saving space in landfills and subsequent resources to transport and dispose of the item. By recycling a used item from a thrift store or elsewhere, you are saving yourself money and likewise supporting local business. Buying from a flea market, local antique or resale shop, thrift store, or Habitat for Humanity ReStore, you can help your local community or a charity. Also consider the fuel and emissions spared by not buying a new product that had to be shipped from a different country!
Upcycling is wonderful because it broadens your horizons for decorating your home and outside spaces. A friend of mind reused tires as planters in her back yard, and they are now over flowing with succulents. Wooden pallets can be converted into furniture or wall paneling. A flea market table can be transformed into a butcher's block for your kitchen, and old records can be made into trendy wall art.
 
An old suitcase into a cabinet!

 An old CD case into a sandwich saver!





8/14/2013

9 Things That Make A House A Good Home!

9 Things That Make A House A Good Home!
 
1.       Location - It needs to be not too far for you to drive to work, not too far from family, not too far from good schools – if you have kids, in a good school district, convenient location to shopping – even if it’s just a grocery store, and convenient location from highways.
 
 
 
2.       Schools - If you have children or plan on having children in the future, schools are very important. The school district needs to be up to your standards and able to teach your children day in and day out.
 
 
3.       How It Looks On The Land -  How your house sits on it’s property. Whether you want it to be seen or not. Whether you want a lot of land or a little bit of land.
 
4.       Walkability - A lot of people are starting to look for homes where they can walk to good food, entertainment, or shopping. You will get out of the house more and be able to keep yourself and your family entertained.
 
 
5.       Neighborhood - You want a neighborhood where people are friendly and will watch over your home when you are away and where you are able to watch over theirs. This helps in the safety factor as well.
 
 
6.       Best House On The Block - This is not the house to buy. Your house will not become better over time because it is already the best before you buy it. You want a house where your value will go up with whatever you decide to do with it.
 
 
7.       Fixer Uppers - Make sure you understand what you are getting yourself into. Make sure to know if you can afford what needs to be fixed. If you don’t know how to do it, have a list of who can, whether you know them or their company. 
 
 
8.       Value - Make sure that your home will hold its value or the value will rise as you modify the home.
 
 
9.   Taxes, Dues, Fees - Find out what the taxes are and if you are able to afford them. - Find out if there are dues, especially related to home owners associations that come with the house. - Find out if there are fees in order to own the home.

8/13/2013

Eco Improvements 3: Energy Conservation

"Earth provides enough to satisfy every man's needs." - Mahatma Gandhi

Of course there are many ways to conserve energy and money, and some are easier than others. Here is a short list of some varying ways to cut energy costs for yourself and help reduce your footprint.


Energy Efficient Appliances


A marvelous way to improve your sustainability, home, and help out your wallet is to make the switch to energy efficient appliances. It is true that in general energy efficient appliances cost more than their out dated and energy-sucking counterparts, but in the long run they cost far less!

For example a top-loader washer may use up to 40 gallons of water per load. An energy efficient front loader may use as little as 10 per load. Front loaders generally take less energy to dry clothes as well since they use less water.

According to the NRDC (Natural Resources Defense Council) an energy efficient appliance saves an average of over $100.00 a year on electricity. Combine that with the water from a washer, and potentially gas from a stove or dryer and the savings continue to increase.

Still unsure about making the switch? Does the initial price point have you jilted? Then consider this: The Department of Energy (in other words, the Federal Government) will give you a tax credit, partial rebate or refund depending on your appliance. Savings could be upwards of $500! Additionally other outside sources like DTE or Consumers Energy may offer their own separate refund or rebate on the item.

Before purchasing a new appliance, make sure to check out Energy.gov to see what rebates, refunds, or credits are available. Use the filter tool at the top to search by state, improvement (doesn't have to be appliances), and providers to see if you can qualify. Don't worry - a lot of these programs run until 2016!



Windmills


Windmills are an excellent way to help yourself and the environment. Windmills generate electricity when they are turned by air currents which means the energy is free and therefore clean. Windmills can cost less than $1,000.00 to make yourself, but require a sufficient research to do so. If you don't want to build one yourself, then you can purchase one, or find a contractor who knows how to construct them. 
Be sure to research zoning laws when considering a project of this nature. Also keep in mind height, and location. For a windmill to offset your electricity bill you'll need to generate a certain amount of power. Make sure the area you live in is windy enough to substantiate your investment in a windmill.



Rain Barrels


Rain barrels are an excellent way to help mother nature and conserve resources. Place them under gutters or anywhere rain gathers and falls on your property. Rain barrels are used to collect rain water, and store it for later use. The most common uses of the water are watering lawns, flower beds, and gardens. Rain barrels are also excellent in areas that receive less annual rainfall or are prone to droughts.
Make sure to place a screen over your rain barrel to avoid debris. Barrels can be purchased at many home improvement stores or online. Some have spigots for attaching hoses. Be aware however, that in some states rain barrels are illegal due to what legislators call "unlawful water diversion."





8/09/2013

Eco Home Improvements 2: Lawn


"Deviation from nature is deviation from happiness." - Samuel Johnson

Interested in relieving stress, saving money, and having healthier food? Read on for ways to do all three!

 
 Maintaining a Garden, not a Lawn
 
 
The Grow Food Not Lawns initiative has been gaining some foothold as people around the country (and world) are transforming their lawns into gardens. This idea is simple and sensible: to take us back to the time when we not only grew our own food, but neighbors were involved with each other. 
By planting a garden you are creating a sustainable food source for your family, and potentially for family, friends, or neighbors too. From experience I can say that gardening drastically reduces food costs. A garden the size of the average living room can easily provide 6 different types of produce. Consider a lawn-sized garden and you could feed yourself well. Any extra fruits or veggies can be canned and saved for a later use. They can also be converted into jam, yogurt, pickled, made into salsa, dessert toppings, marinades, baby food, and more.
 
The most wonderful benefits of lawn gardens is that you will have constant access to organic food (if you don't use fertilizer or pesticides). It may surprise you but truly organic food is nearly impossible to find in any grocery store.
 
The other wonderful aspect is that neighbors may be encouraged to do it as well. The more neighbors who garden, the more produce you will have access to. You can trade one another, and when food is grown locally, then it helps our planet by reducing the emissions used to transport food across the country to distributors.

 
Gutter Gardens
 
 
 A quirky alternative to a lawn-garden is the gutter garden! They may not have the most appealing name, but these tiny treasures can be a great answer to someone looking to save money, eat better, and add a unique aspect to their outdoor space.
 
Gutter gardens are named after the fact that they are usually cultivated in gutters (not the ones on your house). In truth the term also applies to gardens grown in other non-traditional ways as well. Some people use recycled pop bottles, some tires, and still others use stacked pots.
 
The most wonderful thing about gutter gardens is that they can fit into almost any space. They can be mounted on the side of a house or garage, a fence, a patio, cultivated as window boxes, or made into whimsical privacy-screens when coupled with an "upcycled" wood pallet or section of fencing.
 
Gutter gardens have astounding potential to transform outdoor spaces and have countless applications. Feel free to invest in a money-saving and health-promoting addition to your yard that will have all of your neighbors interested.
 
Ideal for apartment patios, balconies, and small yards too!
 



 

8/08/2013

Eco Home Improvements 1: Roofs


Here is a break down of some reasonably priced changes you can make to your home, that will dramatically help the environment AND save you green, too. Don't believe me? Read on.

Green Roof 
 
Though "green roof" can be a term for any eco-friendly or sustainable roofing alternative, it also specifically refers to roofs converted into gardens or plant space. A green roof can be not only an aesthetic improvement, but can actually completely improve a house's functionality, economy, and improve the community. 
 
  • Green roofs are excellent noise reducers, so they can save money on insulation or other noise-reduction methods. 
 
  • Green roofs can accommodate edible plants in some cases (if the roof is accessible) which can also save money on food costs.
 
  • It is well known that green roofs improve air quality by capturing airborne pollutants.They naturally filter any water that runs off into the ground.
 
  • Because green roofs insulate a home, they can drastically reduce the costs of both heating and cooling.
 
 
If you have an accessible roof, consider landscaping it for an entertainment area.
 
They have a lower burning heat, which means they are less flammable than standard roofing materials.
 
If you can't - or don't want to - make your home's roof green then consider converting a shed, detached garage, dog house, or chicken coop to a green roof. 

Like any major home change research before you attempt anything! Keep in mind your geographical location. In southern areas a green roof can be sustained all year, but in northern regions it may not be practical. Also consider any home owners association or zoning laws in your area before beginning a project.




 Cool Roof
 
Cool roofs are an awesome alternative to traditional roofing systems, or even green roofs. The basic idea and logic behind a "cool roof" is that by altering your roof so that it is white or reflective (there are multiple methods including using hydrated lime with water, buying a special paint, or using aluminum shingles) it will greatly reduce the amount of heat that your house retains. It turns out that not only is this logic sound (white shirts are cooler than black shirts), but the results of converting to a white roof can be staggering. 
 
White roofs can extend the life of your existing roof (by adding a special paint layer) by almost triple. Some companies that offer cool roof coatings say you can achieve 50 years of life from your roof with this improvement. 
 
White roofs retain less heat, and the average temperature of an attic reduced by 30 degrees less against the common asphalt shingle roof. The house temperature varies by up to 10 degrees consistently. This can add up to hundreds of dollars in savings. Imagine the difference between 89 and 79 degrees in your home!
 
Not only do white roofs help you save money, but they also reflect back almost all energy back out into space, according to the U.S. Department of Energy. What does that mean? That means that green house gasses are greatly reduced because they are no longer trapped in our atmosphere.
 
White roofs also cool rain water. This may not seem like a problem, but in urban areas it is well known that black roofs can raise the temperature of rainwater by 30 degrees. When this runoff culminates into a stream or river, these tributaries can be warmed by up to 8 degrees, which is dangerous to wildlife.  

The best part about green roofs, and cool roofs is the cost. I suggest these over solar panels because of how little they actually cost. White roofs can be very cost effective if you DIY and shop around for a competitive price on the compound. 
 
One man made his own "cool roof" compound, and I am sure there are also more alternatives. Here is his blog on the improvement: White Roof Experiment
Also visit this non-profit website for more information on white roofs: WhiteRoofProject.org



 



 

Is Foreclosure Your Best Option?

So, you've received a foreclosure notice in the mail, your mind is racing. Are you really that behind on your payments? Can you keep you...