Home Owner Tips and Advice

A round up of some of our best tips, advice and more. 

Found 13 blog entries about Home Owner Tips and Advice.


A good Buyers Agent is like a well-trained Sherpa that will guide you through the rocky terrain and to the peak of home ownership. In most real estate transactions, there are typically two Realtors, one representing each party. The “Listing Agent” represents the seller and their interests and the “Buyers Agent” represents you as the buyer.

A  few ways a Buyer’s Agent can have your back:



1. Help you find the right lender and introduce you to loans and programs you may never have heard of otherwise.




2. Protect ALL of your interests as a buyer. From your financial interests to your family interests and future resale.




3. Negotiating the best price

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Even with interest rates at historic lows, it seems to be getting harder and harder for first-time homebuyers or people with credit blemishes to get a home loan. Higher student loan payments, rents and overall cost of living are keeping people in Ann Arbor, Ypsilanti and all over the country from buying their first home.

When I get a call from a first-time home buyer, sometimes they have a pre-approval and other times they do not. Even though I am not a lender myself, I have a network of lenders that provide an assortment of products. Often times I will tell them about a program and their response is, “Why didn’t my lender tell me about that?” There is a good chance that their lender did not go through the training necessary to implement the

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The Ann Arbor area is no stranger to winter. Make the transition a bit easier by preparing you for what is to come. 



1. Out with the Summer Tools, In with the Snowblower

Organize your garage to make the most practical sense. Pull your lawnmower to the back and break out the sidewalk salt and snowblower. Make sure your blower is in good working order before the first snow arrives. 



2. Get your yard ready for frost 

Outdoor chores can be a drag, but hey!- at least you won't have to trim or mow for a few months. Collect your leaves, trim the grass short and fertilize to ensure a bright green lawn next spring. Check out the Ann Arbor City's website for ideas on ways to manage your yard waste. 


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Sam and Dan had the honor of sitting down with Bonnie Billups, Jr. Executive of the Peace Neighborhood Center in Ann Arbor.

Peace, as they refer to themselves, offers a wide variety of youth and adult services.  Their after-school enrichment programs provide meals and tutoring for 80-120 students per day.  Adult services are geared to help adults gain knowledge and skills that will improve their confidence and ability to manage the day-to-day struggles of family life.

Sam and Dan were especially interested to know how we, at Spotlight Houses, could partner with this wonderful charity especially when it comes to housing needs.

The soaring home prices in Ann Arbor and surrounding areas have taken a toll on many low-income families in the area.

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So you’ve decided that condo living is right for you. Before you take the plunge and sign that contract here are a few things you should check out.


1. Understand the association's financial situation and how it is governed.
When you buy a condo you become a “co-owner.” This means you share an ownership interest with everyone else in the condominium complex. As a group you are responsible for the financial operations, governing and even the maintenance of the entire property. No this doesn’t mean you will have to mow the lawn or trim the hedges a few times a year. The condo association will typically hire a management company to oversee items like that. It is important that before you buy a condo that you verify the condo associations

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Ann Arbor is charming, historic and full of "uniqueness". Check out this list before buying to make sure you know what to look for when buying a home in this specific area. 

  1.  Deteriorating Sewer Lines – We love our charming, older neighborhoods in Ann Arbor but there is a cost to buying older homes.  Modern-day sewer lines are typically constructed from PVC. Older sewer lines can be constructed from anything from clay tiles to the highly problematic bituminous fiber also known as Orangeburg.   Mature trees, improper installation from the 1940’s to 1960s and age have taken quite a toll on the sewer lines. As you drive down many local streets you will see cutaways on the roads that lead to the main sewer line.  You may see dozens of homes on each
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1. What is important to you?

  • Bedrooms, Bathrooms
  • School district
  • Lot size – neighborhood home or land
  • Style – colonial, ranch, etc.

New construction – Your Spotlight realtor can register you with the builder and tell you about spec homes and special discounts.

Move at your own pace—Some people buy the first home they see. Others need to view 10-12 to be certain.

Use the internet as your tool—There are so many great websites to help in your home search but always rely on me for the most accurate information. Often times the taxes, schools, or status information is incorrect.

Client portal—Your agent can set up a special search of the MLS custom fitted to your home search. You will get listings before they go to mainstream.

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You've got it all under control. You have good credit, you have a great job and now you're even getting your first house! What goes better with a new home than a new car? NOTHING. That shiny new SUV is going to be awesome parked right in the driveway. You imagine hand washing it on the weekends while chatting about the weather with your neighbors. Ahhh that American Dream! 

But oh wait. Oh no. Your lender just called and your mortgage didn't get approved!? HOW IS THAT POSSIBLE? It was supposed to be a done deal. 

Here's the thing. Your fabulous new car made the bank reconsider. Your loan pre-approval was based on the state of your credit and your debt load before you bought a car. That 5-passenger, 4-wheel-drive, success-mobile just added

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Hiring an Inspector? Here’s what to expect.  

  1. The inspection is visual only. They can’t get behind walls or into the sewer line.

  2. They will check plumbing, electrical, attic and crawl space.

  3. They will provide you with a report with pictures that you can utilize.

  4. Hire someone who is knowledgeable of the area, and tuned into common local issues.

  5. Should be certified! By the way, former builders make great inspectors.

  6. You can have them go over the basics of the home for you, such as where the water heater is located.

  7. The inspector should be objective throughout the process, and not tell you whether or not to buy the house.

  8. Don’t hire an inspector who charges by the hour.

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