Tuesday, November 3, 2015

Election Day Today--Don't Forget to Vote!

Many communities in Metro Detroit are having elections today. Whether it is for local elected officials, school board members, or millages, they are all important decisions.

Don't be that person who does not vote, but then complains about things government does or does not do. Simply put, if you don't vote, you don't count.

Wednesday, October 7, 2015

New Forms Make Closings Clearer

As of last Saturday, there are new closing forms when you go to buy a house. The new forms are an improvement, but there is one pitfall that can now come up. Detroit News columnist Brian O'Connor has an excellent discussion of this.

The old Good Faith Estimate, which was frequently not all that accurate an estimate in my experiences, will be replaced by a clearer form called a Loan Estimate. The new form includes a computation of how much you will be paying in all of the different costs, fees, and payments during the first five years of the loan, along with computing how much of that will actually pay down the amount owed on the house during that time.

Another form, the Closing Disclosure, replaces the HUD-1. It has been tested with focus groups to be much easier to understand.

I am one of the few people

Monday, September 7, 2015

When Decorating, Black is the New...er...Black

Have a space in the home that is just not working, the Freep suggests adding some black accents.

It makes a lot of sense. You can find lots of black in Hollywood mansions built in the 30s and 40s.  Black comes off as glamorous without clashing with other colors. It looks dramatic.

So don't be afraid to add a dash of black accent. You'll be happy you did.

Link: http://www.freep.com/story/life/2015/09/06/decorating-black/71713194/

Tuesday, August 25, 2015

Real Estate Scammers Caught

A man and a woman are accused of running a scam, selling properties they did not own using fake paperwork.

What is really outrageous is that the man was still trying to collect some of his payments while he was already behind bars after being arrested. Apparently he did not know that his mail could be screened.

This is not the first time either of these two have been in trouble with the law, but it probably is the most blatant.

Since they did not own the properties and have no assets worth talking about, the victims in these cases will be completely out of luck for whatever money they already paid the pair.

Link: http://www.freep.com/story/news/local/michigan/detroit/2015/08/25/mortgage-scam-detroit-wayne-county-sheriff/32357971/

Tuesday, July 21, 2015

Update: Van Elslander Mansion Sells

Aerial view of the 3.75-acre former Art Van Elslander estate in Grosse Pointe Shores.

Did I ever get around to mentioning this? Art Van Elselander's spectacular Michigan mansion, which had been on the market for some time, finally sold. At an auction. At a bargain price.

Originally priced at over $15.9 million, easily the most expensive listing in Michigan at the time, it ended up selling for a relatively bargain price of $3.75 million, which is like going to an Art Van store for a new sofa and finding one for $100 in the Clearance Center in the back.

That price is amazingly low. Mr. and Mrs. James Anderson got themselves quite a deal. Hey, if I'd have known it would go for that cheap, I would have put in a bid in the auction. Then again, I would have needed to come up with the money to buy it, so maybe not.


Friday, July 17, 2015

Psst...Want to Buy A Lighthouse? The Feds Got Three For Sale!

Here is one of the lighthouses up for sale. 

That's right. Your friendly Federal government is selling not one, not two, but three different Michigan lighthouses. Sadly enough, only non-profit institutions that promise to keep the place maintained and historical are eligible. Still, you might want to think about getting a nonprofit ready for the next round.

Link: http://www.detroitnews.com/story/news/local/michigan/2015/07/14/great-lakes-lighthouses-sale-online-auction/30122673/

Tuesday, July 14, 2015

Knappmann Law Firm Represents Landlords

Blatant Self-Interest Plug By Blogger:

The Law Offices of John O. Knappmann represents landlords in residential evictions, along with practicing in the area of commercial lease disputes. We are experienced landlords ourselves.

You can see our web page here.

Our offices are located in Trenton, Michigan at 2836 W. Jefferson, across the street from Del's Pizza. You can call us at 734/931-0440.

Link: www.landlordrealestateattorney.com

Sunday, July 12, 2015

Detroit Housing Prices

dfp detroit real est (10)

The Detroit Free Press took a thorough look today at Detroit home prices. Yes, they are going up. Yes, some of them were so low it did not take much to get them to go up. Yes, certain neighborhoods held up well during the drop in 2008-09 and are still holding up well. Yes, out of state investors need to be careful. In short, nothing that we did not already know, but they have lots of pictures.

Readers of this blog have been keeping track of prices in Detroit all along. That's particularly because of our philosophy that Detroit is a great place to buy a house if you can buy the right one in the right neighborhood. That's why you need to know the neighborhood. Sometimes crossing the street can make a difference in prices.

Investors from out of state are vulnerable to being taken advantage of. The news story includes one such person, who bought a house and used a property management company, but did not make any money. As she observed, it is hard to make money on Detroit from afar.

Link: http://www.freep.com/story/money/real-estate/2015/07/11/detroit-home-values-rising/29169949/

Sunday, July 5, 2015

Selling Your Homes? Don't Make It Personal


Selling your home requires you to think about the potential buyers who will be coming and looking. It requires you to look at the market and ensure that your home is positioned to attract potential buyers. This is a two stage process: getting them to look, then getting them to offer.

In order for the potential buyer to even look, the house has to look good from the outside. It has to be priced competitively. You need them to pick your home out to look at among a slew of similar homes on the market, then have the view from the street good enough that they won't just drive away.

Buyers usually look at multiple homes before zeroing in on one to offer on, and you do not want yours to be the runt of the litter. If your curb appeal gets them in, then keep them in with a clean house that doesn't look like it needs any work. Sure, everybody will want to change colors in a room or put up their own decor, but you want to give them a feeling that this would be ok until they get around to making those changes.

Don't make the inside (or outside) too personal to you. If you have an extra bedroom and use it for a home office, stage it as a bedroom when you are putting it up for sale. Generally people are looking at houses with the number of bedrooms they want and most people don't put a priority on a discrete home office. If you used a fuschia and coral paint scheme that you loved because it reminds you of Cancun, repaint it in beige when the house is being sold, Grandma's old brown stove that doesn't fit in the white kitchen? Get a white one, even if you rent it.

For more tips, we'd refer you to a recent article in the Freep.

Good luck!

Link: http://www.freep.com/story/life/2015/07/04/selling-tips-homeowners/29617327/

Wednesday, May 20, 2015

Suh Selling Super Southeast Michigan Place

Ndamukong Suh is putting his Birmingham residence on the market, now that he is no longer playing for the Detroit Lions. If you have $3.45 million available and are looking for a great place, here it is.

The place sits on over an acre close to downtown Birmingham, which doubtless helps raise the price significantly. It includes a workout room and a message room, as well as five bedrooms, four baths, three half-baths and a pool among its almost 7400 square feet.

Link: http://www.freep.com/story/sports/nfl/lions/2015/05/19/lions-suh-sells-home-birmingham/27569951/

Wednesday, April 22, 2015

House Auction Perspective: Repeating One of Our Favorite Posts

Tax Auctions are a thing in Metro Detroit. Before you jump in and get your $500 fixer-upper in Detroit, read our previous post on the topic, which is still just as relevant.

Link: http://downriverhomes.blogspot.com/2014/01/a-500-auction-buyers-story.html

Monday, April 20, 2015

AARP: Most Livable at 50+

Livable Cities, San Francisco
It would be cool to live in this neighborhood.

AARP has published a list of the most livable neighborhoods in the U.S. for those of us 50+ years old. Of course, no place in Michigan made their list (see below for why places like Ann Arbor, Wyandotte, and Trenton never had a chance). The rating method AARP used included walkability, opportunities for work and volunteering, and other factors. The results skewed to pricey downtown neighborhoods like the Upper West Side in New York and South of Market in San Fransisco.

One factor AARP did not take into account: cost. Why they didn't I can't really explain. So maybe the list should be called "Most Livable Neighborhoods for 50+ When Money Is No Object." Even stranger is why AARP would then consider access to jobs as part of the equation, which seems to be not as important if you can afford a king's ransom to live there in the first place. Does it really matter if you can be hired as a part-time computer programmer in your semi-retirement if houses cost $900,000? Curious.

Link: http://www.aarp.org/home-family/your-home/best-places-to-live.html?cmp=MSTLVBL015_APR15_015.

Sunday, March 29, 2015

Property Values on Upswing

No surprise to people who live Downriver, but we have confirmation that property values are going up just about everywhere in our little neck of the woods. Only River Rouge, Ecorse, and Lincoln Park are not invited to the party. You can see the News-Herald reporting on it here.

The article points out that rising property values do not proportionately increase property taxes, which is good for homeowners but bad for local government. This flaw in Michigan's local government finance system has been discussed in depth in this blog before, and it needs to be addressed before every city Downriver is under a state controller. While I don't want to pay taxes either, cities and townships will continue to have budget problems even with rising values.

Link: http://www.thenewsherald.com/articles/2015/03/29/news/doc55159d97e4f17107086668.txt?viewmode=fullstory

Monday, March 16, 2015

Landlord Killed During Eviction

I never did get around to commenting on this story when it occurred, but it should be a warning to all landlords to be careful. No amount of rent is worth dying over.


Sunday, March 15, 2015

Back from Hiatus

Yes, we have been gone since the New Year.

I have been very busy getting the Law Offices of John O. Knappmann off of the ground. I can now tell you with certainty: Mission Accomplished. The Law Firm has taken off.

I will focus lawyer efforts on Real Estate and Criminal Law.  Hey, I even started a legal blog Check it out!

So, it finally got to a point that it was possible for me to get back to this here piece of the internet. Posting will be regular, but it might not be every day.

Buckle up and enjoy the ride!