As I Live and Learn

Sunday, November 08, 2009

The Time Was Right, They Said

People kept saying to me when they heard I was buying or had bought a house, "Oh how great. And you get that $8000 from the government!"

And I'd have to say, "No, I don't."

And they'd look at me, and after a moment realize and go, "Oohh, not your first home. Too bad."

Well, guess what..., I got an e-mail from my Senator the other day to tell me what bills had passed in the Senate (and therefore had passed Congress and was going to the President for his signature). Here's the relevant part:

It also included an extension of the successful first-time homebuyers tax credit through June 30, 2010. It expands the credit to help existing homeowners as well: if you have lived in your current home for at least five years, you can qualify for up to a $6,500 credit when you buy a new home. The homebuyers tax credit has already created thousands of jobs across the country.

AHHHHHHH! Does that apply to the time period when I bought my new house?? (September 04, 2009) Or is it going to be from whenever it becomes law forward?!? Did I miss BOTH tax credits because of timing? I didn't wait. I had already waited over a year trying to sell my condo before buying. We were supposed to be buying homes NOW, 2009, not waiting yet another year. *bites lip*



Monday, October 12, 2009

Yay, Progress!

I have heat
(even if the new furnace is only temp-ed in for now. Full install with new AC is coming. Now just have to wait for the credit card that's going to pay for this all until the rebates come in to show up)

I swept the storage attic
So I don't have to wear slippers in there or track new roof bits out onto carpeting anymore

Don't have to buy a new dryer, I fixed mine
(not a short story, but not a hard one, the point I knew where I had potentially fixed it was when I pulled a handful of lint out of the side of the house and hot, moist, steamy air starting coming out! The more minor part of the fix is realizing I can't use the sensor drying have to use the timed drying)

The dining room is done, again.
As we say at work these days: It was done before. Now it's done-done.

Halloween decorations are up for the outside of the house
(pictures to come... theoretically) Though I still want to put a big cauldron out, oh and have to get flickering light blubs and a punpkin!

The family room is set up, including changing with cable outlet is active, and looks nice to me
(though books still need to get out of boxes onto the shelves)

The kitchen was already done, the computer area was already done though needed a little adjustment for the family room change (and of course needs constant re-finishing since it was one of the first finished areas and so stuff goes there when I don't have a place to put it yet), my bedroom and bathroom were already done, and the two other bathrooms too, and the chandeliers had already been swapped - though one still needs blubs put in and the glass put on it.

OH - And I had my first "I love my house" moment this weekend. Goodness occurs :)

I also met my potential new across the street neighbors (and their parents, aunts, etc). I really like them, I hope everything goes through! They've already had the home inspection and are looking to be in there in about 1 month. They have to two kids, and the girl will be right around babysitting age when I might start needing a babysitter ;)

Things are coming along. I *might* actually be ready in time for my Halloween party!



Thursday, October 08, 2009


You don't appreciate how much humans have advanced until your furnace goes out for four days (and counting). It's wasn't all that long ago that people lived through colder than this without heat in the house, except for the fire place. Oh, I supposed wood burning stoves were heaters for a long time. But still.

On a kindof but not quite related note: Please hug everyone you love, while you still can. Or at least tell them that you love them. You never know when....



Saturday, September 26, 2009


I'm completely out of the condo now. (A handful of things left in the garage, but nothing in the condo itself). Even vacuumed, dusted, and painted in spots! It's ready, and I think I am too.

I wasn't so sure the firsts couple hours I was there today. I still LOVE my condo - it was hard. Being there without my stuff, it being so empty... :( But eventually I realized I didn't miss it, I just still love it. And even though I don't love my house (yet), I love being in Ann Arbor. Plus I do love the second floor. So I'll get there. I was trying to figure out what about my condo makes me so happy and how to do that at the house. Part of it is the green I think. Part of it is the big open room when you first walk in, which means I'd have to turn my living room at the house into the den. Which doesn't work with my computer desk, so I won't (pout). Ah well, will have to keep trying to figure out how to make the family room better for me.

I used my car's hitch for the first time! WOO! Had some trailer problems along the way (boo). But I don't have time to go into that now.

Another upside: I have a lead on a renter, my downstairs neighbors from the condo are so nice and have been looking for me. Here's hoping it works out to the best for everyone!



Sunday, September 06, 2009


The furniture movers left right about at 2pm. My bedroom is wonderful! I love it.

The new house is feeling like home :) It wasn't until today, at the house with the furniture in the family room and my bedroom, that I am ready to leave the condo

I live in Ann Arbor! Wooo!



Thursday, September 03, 2009


I own a house!!

(And now I understand people having phone with key boards and access to Twitter, heh)



Friday, August 28, 2009

Finally Official

Closing is noon on Thursday, 9/3/09. Moving day is Labor Day weekend, either Saturday or Monday. Though I expect to be living in it with minimal stuff before then. ;)

This is going to be my new house! In Ann Arbor! :D

More pictures to be posted soon, for those who can't come see it.

I'm sad and excited. Sad to be leaving my condo, which I LOVE. (I'm not ready to leave. Well, I wasn't earlier this week, but I'm starting to feel it now.) Excited to be moving into Ann Arbor proper (I'm in the city!), happy to be only 2-3 miles from work, excited and HAPPY to be starting the next part of my life and looking forward to that. Sweet!

Egg salad



Friday, August 21, 2009

Approved, with Minor Conditions

So close... should know before the end of the business day... stay tuned

(I have so much to write, and less and less time to do so!)



Tuesday, July 14, 2009

Painted Condo

Yeah, this post is long overdue.

So here's what my place looks like now. MUCH thanks to Steve, Pat, Tim, Stephanie, and my Dad. I totally would not have gotten everything painted in one weekend without them. Steve especially for doing the blue taping and edging and spackling the unfinished part of the wall in the kitchen! Dad for edging the whole great room in primer! Both of them for moving furniture! (Pat and I had donated blood earlier that morning, so we couldn't lift the big stuff) Pat and Tim for spacking and sanding and priming and priming and painting! Steph for painting and helping the others and keeping me sane! Oh, and my cousin Reesie for helping me put the railings back on and helping my Dad put the big furniture back!

I had to be away from the place, or rather just downstairs for a bit, to be able to come back up and see it in the new color and realize how pretty it is! Makes the wood look great. But... it also makes it feel like the condo's not mine anymore. Which I know is how I'm supposed to be thinking, but still. I don't like living in places that aren't mine. So, I hate the new color. I want my green! :( But it looks good. And seeing as it doesn't feel like my place I haven't had the desire to put back up all my pictures, shelves, fairies, etc. They're staying packed up. The only thing I put back up (besides the railings in my stairwell!) was the picture my brother gave me for over the fireplace.

The condo's listing has the new pictures on it too, looks great! Though the blurb about the condo still hasn't been updated to have the new content - gr

Painting occurred June 13th and 14th (the second day by myself, which I wanted, to do the entire second coat. Lost some time when I opened the second can of paint for the second coat and found it hadn't been shaken when I bought it that morning, so I had to run out to Home Depot to get that done...). Pictures were a Sunday a couple weeks later when I finally was home during the middle-ish of the day on a sunny sunny day (I wouldn't do it on the rainy ones, and also realized that you get less sun inside during the Summer than Spring or Fall because the Sun isn't angled well enough to shine inside windows but instead shines near straight down on the roof instead, so I wanted to take the pictures between noon and 2 when there was at least a tad of sunlight shining in the windows instead of before heading off to work) :p

The light paint does make the rooms seem bigger... ah well.



Tuesday, June 30, 2009


Holy carp! I'm about to own a house!



Saturday, June 06, 2009

Amount of $ I can recieve without taxes involved

This is just an informational post for myself.

I found out a few months ago how much Mom could outright give me to pay down the difference between what I owe on my mortgage and what I might be able to sell for: $12,000

Both this site and this one agree the amount (as of the beginning of this year) that one person can give to another tax free is $12,000 a year. And it looks like if more than $12,000 is given in one year the additional money can also be tax free if the giver uses a tax form to claim the gift against their $1 million tax free gift given max



Thursday, May 21, 2009

The Bathroom Project

So I needed to update my guest/main bathroom so it no longer looked like the 1980s it came from...



(Numbers match pictures below)
It started out as (1) take down the wallpaper and paint. I'd already been trying to get the drawers from wobbling, and finally did after the paining. I knew I'd have to prime before painting, a first for me when painting. And I realized that (2) I'd probably end up having to replace the light fixture - the end bulb socket on the right had burnt out and didn't work anymore - and that (3) I would want to replace the mis-matched wall cabinet with a nice simple white behind the toilet. Finding that was harder than I expected, but I was VERY happy when I did find it at Target. While painting, I suddenly noticed the light switch plate was painted to match the wallpaper! (2) So I had to replace that. (4) I got the drawers to stop wobbling by putting under-center-drawer slides, which was harder than it should have been because the drawers were so thin bottomed that I had to snip the screws that hold the slides on. Or rather, I had a LARP friend with strong hands snip them! I also ended up (5) changing the hardware (knobs) on the drawers and doors, adding knobs to the drawers that didn't have any. Would have been helpful to know at that point I actually owned a drill, but instead I got out of the house to visit friends and borrow a drill for a few minutes. Okay, all good. However, having painted the whole room and made it look so nice, I could now see how grungy the drawer and door fronts looked. So (5) I painted them too, which actually went a lot easier than I expected! (6) I put up a towel bar (much better!), but then, of course!, I had to (6) change the toilet paper bar. Once it was all done - yay? - I realized the faucet did NOT match and I really should (7) replace it. Then after that, the toilet's flush handle stuck out like a sore thumb and so (8) I had to replace that too.... Whew. Okay, finally, I had been wanting to recess the light in the shower pretty much the whole time. Once I took the old one off I thought it was going to be easy, but it turned out the hold housing refused to come out of the ceiling. Arrgh. Well, a lot of grit, determination, pain, metal snipping and hammer work later, I both 1) found out that my electric screwdriver is also a drill and works A LOT better when actually charged *rolls eyes* Oye, and 2) fatigued the metal of the housing bar enough to move it around up there. I had to use tile nippers to widen the hole in the tiled over ceiling, and still fought against the old housing bar while trying to get the new housing up in there. But it FINALLY worked! Then all I had to do was get a shower rated trim to cover it. Thankfully I noticed a label on the housing that said what kinds worked with it, before I ordered the wrong one. It came today. It went up very easy! And now... (9) done! :D

Oh wait, but not. :( There's enough of a gap between the recessed lighting trim and the ceiling that I need to caulk it sealed. *sigh* Oh well, it's done enough now for pictures. See! (Above)

The bathroom looks much cleaner now. And while it's not "Oh beautiful!", it looks nice and looks like it's ready for someone to do something with it, to add personal touches. Plus, the new cabinet is modern, and the recessed light is MUCH better than the hanging "glass jar" that so dated the bathroom. Oh yeah, the peeling wallpaper made it look dated too. And of course, I forget a lot, how great the new facet looks compared to the old one. Gives the bathroom a touch of high end class.

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Tuesday, May 05, 2009

But why make it worse?

From AOL's Refinancing Do's & Don'ts:
"Fannie Mae recently tightened restrictions on condo loans: they won't guarantee loans in mostly still-vacant buildings or ones where 15% or more of owners are behind on their mortgage. They're also charging an added fee unless you have a 25% down payment."


Hopefully that's just for refinancing, and not buying. But it could explain why so few people are coming through. The article didn't say anything about Freddie Mac, so also hopefully "he" hasn't made the same move.



Monday, May 04, 2009

Interesting the information you find when looking for something else

I found this interesting tidbit in Loan Qualification Standards - Debt to Income Ratio while I was trying to figure out how much of a house I could afford to buy if I didn't sell my condo:

"Note that for high credit scores, Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac have automated underwriting programs with a considerable amount of slack cut in."

Ooo and hmm, I know mine is excellent. I keep wondering if I should go pay the $5 or so to get the actual number. Except I know doing so will show up as a hit on my report, so I want to wait until I know I'm applying for mortgages because you get a 30 day window where all inquires on your credit only count as one hit.



Wednesday, April 22, 2009

This Saturday...

Okay, I've been out a couple times this week to get stuff for Saturday, so I don't have to spend precious time on Saturday running around trying to get the stuff! I've set aside the day to try and get the 2nd bathroom updated. I want to:

- Take down the wallpaper
- Prime and paint the walls
- Replace the light fixture in the shower
- Get the drawers "fixed" so they don't wobble (they wobble because of the design they are on)

- Oh, and get new door/drawer knobs/handles to match whatever color I end up painting. Some of the drawers don't even have knobs! They open by pulling from underneath. I'd really like to etch the same pattern on them as the other drawers too, but I know I don't have that kind of skill or tools.

I would also like to replace the cabinet behind the toilet, but given that what I want to replace it with I can't seem to find cheaper than about $100, that may not happen. :p I don't want to try and paint it to match the under sink cabinet, because I have no desire to paint wood. But we shall see what I can come up with....

Anyway, I've tried twice already to find a fix for the drawers. I'm on attempt #3, but think it has a great shot! I bought center/under drawer slides, thankfully in the correct length it seems given I had one of the under mounts from the drawers with me! Woo for forethought and remembering to bring it!

I haven't bought paint or primer yet, I'll do that on Saturday because I don't want the paint to sit around and separate (does paint still do that?). But I've got the wallpaper perforater, the wallpaper remover goo in a spray bottle, and a wallpaper scraper. I also bought a recessed shower light remodel kit, hopefully in the right size! And hopefully I can get the old light off and out without issues. I also have painting supplies from before, except for roller covers, and a putty knife it seems.

OH! I also need to repair the hole in my living room wall behind the display case. Heh, I had forgotten that was there. But I have a wall repair patch and bought putty. Should be good. Just need to get matching paint.

Wish me luck!

Anyone want to come over and help?



Tuesday, April 14, 2009


The front door looks beautiful now! :D



Paint or Paper?

I've been going back and forth for the last week or so on whether or not to pull down the wallpaper in my guest bathroom and paint. After the last showing where the perspective buyer was talked out of making an offer, I decided I needed to. But a little time and I wavered to not doing it.

If I pull the wallpaper down to paint, it's a "big" job (I put big in quote because the bathroom isn't large and it's only 2.5 walls that have wallpaper), and it's a job I'd have to do fast, like in one day, so as not to potentially have a mess or worse looking bathroom when a showing would like to happen! If I leave it up, I have to at least fix the curling and slightly torn edges. Which I can do, I think without much problem.

I hesitate to pull it down mostly because I like it, I think it's elegant pretty! Which is odd in it's own right, 'cause I don't like wallpaper as a rule.

But after talking with my Mom on Sunday I think more than the wallpaper may be dating the bathroom as much as the drawers, making it seem older. (Yes, it's the original bathroom from 1979, I believe. But it doesn't have to LOOK like it!)

But then we're back to how pretty it is, and that it'd be a lot of effort to take it down, prime, and paint. :p I only like doing one of those three.

BUT, I think I've come across some advice that might just make up my mind once and for all. From real estaging's blog article titled When Wallpaper Attacks, It Can Kill the Sale:
So you need to know that any and all the resistance you have about removing wallpaper will be the EXACT same resistance a buyer will have about it too.

Right, okay. I'm trying to move, which means I'd be away from it anyway, right? So, take pictures to remember it, then take it down. *nod* Okay.

Now I just need to find the time to do it.... And I should replace that later added wall cabinet that looks slightly out of place above the toilet. Ooo, maybe with a nice white wood behind the toilet shelving unit!



Friday, April 10, 2009

More, more, waiting

The weekend before last, I had three showings in three days! One a day, Saturday, Sunday, Monday. It turned out one of the weekend days and Monday was the same person. The other had "mild interest". But the woman who came twice, I heard, was going to make an offer! But on Monday she brought a friend through who talked her out of it. :( Nooo! The feedback I got was the friend said that the woman wouldn't be able to afford buying the condo AND painting it, re-carpeting it, and updating the bathrooms. *sigh* Hey, I'd repaint!

I didn't realized how hyped-up I was to sell and buy until after no offer came. It was a huge let down, more than I realized! Not just a "well that sucked". I wasn't crushed, but it felt like my eminent future was pushed away. So odd. I didn't realized I was lining up plans in my head. This is why I tell myself not to plan for things that aren't sure. When I do, they don't happen. When I don't, they do happen! But also odd, while I was let down, I also was less stress. Just a lot of stuff I no longer had to do. At least not yet. And, of course, it's Super nice to be able to live in a place. Not have to keep it pristine as much as possible, always picking up before leaving because someone is coming through that day or might be the next. Maybe that's why I feel less stress, because I stopped caring if there *might* be a showing, and am operating under the plan that if a showing is called I'll just have to jet home and clean up. So at least 1-2 hours notice will be needed.

Even before that though, I had seen a couple things I could do to make the place look better. I washed the door windows in the living room, I went around and pulled out/vacuumed down dust webs in corners and on the ceilings, and I (FINALLY!) cleaned off the round little fairy table in my bedroom, and then I also cleared off the toy box/seat in the bedroom hallway to the master bath. It looks wonderful! How I had actually wanted it to begin with moving it in here, but I didn't have anywhere better to put my Nana's dolls. Side tracked there, anyway...

Cleaning the windows made me notice one day as I was coming home that my front glass storm door was REALLY dirty on the bottom! One of those things that when "fixed" isn't noticeable, but is Very noticeable when not looking good. And while perspective buyer wouldn't notice I made an effort in cleaning it, they would notice if I didn't. So a couple days later I managed to get out and clean it, and then I noticed the bottom of the main front door was a little dirty too. I tried to clean the whole front door, but some of it is chips. Ah well. But, of course, that cleaning lead me to see how awful the main slot looked! Rusting, discolored, even green in places! So I managed to get out an buy some brass polish (though I just found today I already had some - I thought that bottle looked familiar!) and went to clean it up. The green came off, and things shined up, but there was still a lot of discoloration. When my Dad came by to pick me up last Saturday I asked him how could I get the rust off? He said rust remover would take it off, but it still wouldn't look right because the rust had already eaten away some of the finish! Oye.

But of course I should fix it. It's the front door, the first impression. Even if some people don't notice it, as my Dad said, they might on a subconscious level. And for those who do notice it, it's not something I want causing doubt in a buyer's mind. So after trying to buy a replacement mail slot, and confirming I got the wrong color (Home Depot only had one color) I found the correct color online yesterday and went today and got it. I tried installing it a couple hours ago, and while it's the right size, the door flap operates slightly differently, but just enough so it won't open when put on one way and won't close when put on another! Jeepers! I forced it to scrape out some of the door insulation, so now it works, but doesn't close quite all the way. In trying to fix that, I got door particals in my eyes. Okay, I'm done. It looks great, and that was the point. It will do for now.

And I think I will re-paint, I've decided that's something I can do and wouldn't really mind doing. I just need to find the time to. Moving furniture and taping will be the worst part. But I like painting, it relaxes me. Same colors as now, just paint over the scratches and marks and places where tape has pulled off paint. Make things look fresh. :) I probably should also pull down the wall paper in the second bathroom and paint, but OYE that will be a project. And I'd have to orchestrate it so it'd be done in one day. Can't risk someone wanting a showing while it's mid-project and looks awful.

I like living in "my" home thought. I had been trying to detach myself from my condo, because that was advice on how to help sell. Stop thinking of the place as yours. I'm not sure I can keep that up and still be happy me. Just this past week I went through two changes that got me the rest of the way from "Work is good but, I could be better emotionally" two Thursdays ago to "Life is going well! Only thing I can really complain about is not selling my condo" this past Thursday. Being able to spew my concerns to Lisa, even if it was online for only a couple minutes, really helped. Talking with my Dad a couple minutes about my feelings might have helped too. And, the random 4" of snow. :) And maybe even the nice 50 degree weather (hey, after deal with sub-zero temperatures for days, 50s is warm!) has helped. But whatever the reasons, I'm back to my positive self. :) Inside, as well as what you all see. Baby wanting and all. I think.



Wednesday, March 11, 2009


So, looking at the other side of this thing - the buying of a new house - I'm definitely going to need a mortgage. My biggest concern after recent news was that I'd need 20% down to get anything. Thankfully that doesn't seem to be true. Some research has shown options. Here's info I found important, this time all from

The 7 biggest mortgage mistakes
Mistake 1. Getting a mortgage at all if you don't plan to stay put.
Not a problem, I'm expecting this next place I'll be in for like 20 years.

Mistake 2. Not checking -- and fixing -- your credit.
Done -- not needed, thankfully.

Mistake 3. Getting anything other than a fixed-rate mortgage.
No problem, not intending to.

Mistake 4. Passing up an FHA loan.
Okay, let's look at this one. According to their own guide: FHA loans great for buying, refinancing
The big disadvantage to FHA loans is that all borrowers must buy mortgage insurance, no matter how much equity they have or the size of their down payment. That's the price borrowers pay for having the government stand behind their loan.

Every borrower is charged an up-front premium at closing of 1.75% of the amount borrowed. While that can be added to your loan amount, it's still an extra charge.

If you don't have substantial equity in your home or a lot of money for a down payment, you'll also be charged monthly insurance premiums. You won't be able to drop that insurance until you reach 22% paid equity and have made at least five years' worth of payments.
So once you get past the 5 good points, you find out you have to have PMI the whole loan, there's an extra 1.75% charge for an FHA loan, AND there's an interest premium for the first 22%. I'll just take the normal PMI that disappears after 20%. Thank you.

Mistake 5. Borrowing too much money.
Okay. So stay within the budget. And recalculate what you can afford every so often. I should be able to do that.

Mistake 6. Getting just one quote.
WOw, are they right! Looking at Mortgages and Mortgage Loan Rates in Livonia, MI some lenders are charging over $2000 in fees for a mortgage, with one charging $4728 where another is charging $1250 for the same amount with 0 points at a lower rate! Amazing how different banks are doing.

The only point that I haven't looked into yet is credit unions, as suggested by How to Land the Best Loan. I remember reading somewhere that you should be able to get a 30/year fixed at competitive rates for $1000 in fees or less. Here's hoping!



Monday, February 16, 2009

For a Reason


I had my first condo showing last Sunday! (the 8th) I donated blood, was sitting at home on the couch trying to recover (THANKFULLY it wasn't a need to sleep reaction this time) and got a call right about 2:30pm. A realtor wanted to show my place, as soon as possible. I almost was sad, to have to turn them down, but the next words were: at 4pm. That was one and a half hours. I'd said many times that I could have my place ready to show in an hour (outside of a holiday season). Well, here it was. I said yes, but it couldn't be much earlier than 4. The extra half hour I knew I was going to need. And sure enough, I managed to get the place pretty much perfect about 5 minutes before 4. There was one point where I started getting way too weak and breathing wrong, so I switched off to easier clean up for a bit while sitting down, hoping I would get well enough again to be able to vacuum. And I did. Yay! I was doing some finishing touches, trying to figure out what additionals I could do, when they actually showed up! I was so excited, I just flew out of my place then headed off to Dad's so I wouldn't be sitting in the parking lot waiting for them to leave!

I would not have been able to get my place looking so great if I hadn't done all that work for the showing that didn't happen. So there you go.

The addendum to this story is: they made an offer!!! SO WOW. I've been saying for however long that if I could JUST get people in to see my place I KNOW they would like it. See!?!

Unfortunately, the offer was really low. I countered, after spending TONS of time trying to figure out my options and crunching numbers on how low I can actually go. I heard today that the girl "wants a steal" and now is interested in one of the lower units in my condo complex, saying that will fit her needs. Apparently her realtor was not pleased with her decision, and mine thinks she might be back (if she can't get a low low price there either). My realtor had mentioned when she called to give me the initial offer that it seemed like the girl was "trying to get the best condo in the complex at the lowest price". So we shall see.

Really, I just need another showing ;)



Saturday, January 31, 2009

No Go?

A couple weeks back I had a showing scheduled for my condo. I was so excited! My first showing! I got the call the day after I had my realtor drop the price to what she thought would work, because obviously what I needed and she and I had agreed on for the second time just wasn't right, so it was time to defer to her judgment alone. The very short version of the story is that they didn't show up, likely due to the snow (which I had to shovel every 30 minutes just to keep the walk clear, to tell you how much was coming down). It was sad to not have the showing, but the part that bugged me was that they didn't call to cancel. Nor have they called to reschedule... *sigh*

I worked a TON that day to get ready, the biggest part of which was taking down Christmas. But I also went through the entire house to put personal knickknacks and mementos out of sight. Having the Roomba was great because I was able to set it up to vacuum the guest room and hallway while I worked in the living room! I had even stayed up too late the night before to make a run to the store to get some extra things to make the condo more presentable, specifically including 1) a bed skirt for my guest room to hide the stuff I'm storing under the bed and 2) numbers to put on the front door, as my condo has not had it's address on it since before I bought it. Just a couple extra touches to make the place look better. I also put up little notes on the doors to the utility room and the unassuming walk-in closet saying "Please Open" so they'd know to look in. And of course I had out the seller discloser statement and my realtor's card. I got done everything I felt needed to be done (except for the cookies I had wanted to bake) just in time for them to arrive, then went out and started shoveling.

After I was done with what was to be the first round of shoveling, I dared to go back inside and put some cookies in the oven to warm so there'd be a nice smell and then put the cookies out to be eaten! And I did a couple quick extra declutterings and nice touches. I didn't want to be in the house when they arrived, but I didn't want the snow to deter them if they were coming, so I stayed outside without leaving for about 1.25 hours shoveling, clearing off my car, shoveling out parking spaces so they'd be sure to have one when they arrived. But finally I got too cold and too tired, and was giving up hope on them coming, so I went grocery shopping, and stayed away an extra hour after the window of when they were supposed to be there just in case they arrived late. Nothing. Again *sigh* :(

I did all that because I REALLY want to sell my condo so I can buy a house in Ann Arbor, and I had read articles online about how to help sell your place. My favorite two, the ones I took pointers from, are:

How To Prepare Your House For Sale


Top 10 Home Showing Tips

Because of those articles, I even opened the drapes in my bedroom for like the first time in 5 years! (And much to my chagrin found a ton of dust behind them and a horrible amount of black marks on the opposite wall! Thank goodness I had a Mr. Clean Magic Eraser already in the house!)

After the non-showing, I also made up a Welcome letter to leave out with the condo and realtor information, and now have a pad of paper ready for suggestions. But for any of this great work and stuff can be seen, I have to have a showing...

I know I could sell the place if I could Just get Someone in to See it! Even without my extra touches, the place is wonderful! Every time I clean and declutter I look around and remember why I bought it and love it.

*sigh* But I need a third bedroom, and I really want to be in Ann Arbor. And come on, I REALLY want to live in MY place again. You know, be able to put up all the pictures and put out all the albums and the rest of my things making it my home. Part of the reason I refuse to put everything away all the time, and why I want at least an hour or two of notice on showing the place, is so I'm not living in a sterile unpersonalized place. I CAN'T live like that. I'll do it short term, but not constantly, it'd be just too depressing. Even more than not being able to sell and missing being able to afford moving to Ann Arbor.

Not that it looks like I'm going to be able to anymore anyway. With home mortgages going the way they are, I'll likely need 20% down to buy new. I only have 10% now and I can't get the other 10% in even one year. That's assuming that I'd NOT have to use what would be my 10% down now just to cover the difference in what I owe on my current mortgage and what I'd need to pay the realtors. Otherwise I have 0% down. Ideally, I could convince my mortgage company (current or next) to give me a loan for the difference in what my mortgage is and what I can sell for, so I can keep the money I have for a down payment.


Of course, after 9 months of no showings, only four calls to show, one starts to wonder if the right agent was hired. Sure price was likely an issue at first, and two of the showings I had to turn down because I wouldn't be able to get home to clean up in time for them. (The third one I missed because the call came while I was having a meeting and then forgot to check the message after the meeting was over.) But a frustrated seller starts wondering what's really wrong? Why can't get even get someone IN to see the place? Home Selling Mistakes and How to Market Your Home haven't been much help at all, except to convince me I needed to let my realtor set the price. But what am I supposed to do now? I know condos around me are being bought. Why can't I get a perspective buyer in?

One more: *sigh*



Tuesday, August 21, 2007

Stairs, Please

The Home Hunt and Condo Cleaning have not ceased. I've simply had less time to blog, especially since my Mom arrived for a happy week long visit.

No real updates I've seen in the housing market nor mortgage market to report either.

The only thing that's been on my mind for a bit about this all - other that the still over arching question of do I wait a year? - is why are stairs so important to me?

My buying realtor asked me that on our second round of house visits in Ann Arbor. Why am I so against ranches and want stairs? My immediate answer is one my Dad gave a few years ago. He said that he much prefers two story houses because "you are supposed to go upstairs to go to bed". Basically, it's a signifier, and possibly even a conditioning effect.

Stairs are also a separator, they effectively and quietly make half the house private from guests and visitors. In my condo now, when people come over I have to close my bedroom door. Typically that's because of all the little ones who visit that need to be kept out of a room not at all baby proofed, but there are some occasions where it's because I don't want what's in my bedroom to be seen by people who pass by on their way to use the bathroom.

But when I had a little time to think, I believe the real reason I want stairs is much simpler. When I was growing up, every morning after I got ready for school I would go sit on the stairs with my hairbrush and wait for Mom to get up. When she did, she'd come sit on the stairs behind me and brush my hair. Once she was done, I'd go to school. 4 years in an apartment and 6 years in a house, my Mother brushed my hair nearly every morning, even up through High School. I think stairs remind me of the mother-daughter time we had.



Saturday, August 11, 2007

What Housing Slump?

So my buying realtor and I went out to Ann Arbor to see more houses on Wednesday. I found two I really like, for various reasons. But that's not the point of this point.

I had sent my realtor a list of nine (9) houses I wanted to see. She called me Wednesday morning to let me know three of them had gone pending and two were already sold. Huh what? I had literally been a week since I sent her that last to when we were supposed to go see the houses! Housing slump my butt. Over half the houses I wanted to look at in Ann Arbor were gone in one week.

So either I have really good taste in houses based solely on their location and their listings, or Ann Arbor really isn't feeling what the rest of the country is. Then again, as BHD and others have pointed out, homes are selling well if it is a good value home relative to the competition.



Updated Real Estate Info Links

While out looking at homes, I saw a magazine basket in one of the bathrooms in one of the houses. The top magazine was "Michigan Realtors", and of course it has a website too. Who knew? And why didn't they tell me....

I just hopped over to look around. It's geared mostly towards realtors, but it has some useful stuff for us consumers too, like statistics for the state broken out by region. It doesn't get into specific details per city, but it's still interesting stuff to see. Such as the UP is riding things out pretty steadily, and Alpena and rest of the NE part of the LP are selling at higher and higher prices! Wow.

Anyway, on to my list of information links it goes! And I'm reposting them here for my own ease of use since the last list has fallen off and there are two new links for it.

- Google Search
- Ann Arbor’s #1 Source for Real Estate Information
-> specifically: Ann Arbor Area Housing Stats
- Detroit News Online | Real-Estate
- miOaklandCounty - The Scoop on Michigan Real Estate - While not my local market, this does have some MI as a whole things
- Market Conditions Summary for Ann Arbor
- Market Conditions Summary for Livonia
- CNBC - Topic: Real Estate
- Reality Check with Diana Olick
- Real Estate
- MI Association of Realtors
- Metro Home Price Analysis Reports



Monday, August 06, 2007

Location, Location, Location

Yeah yeah, we all know it. We all get it. But... it still gets lost.

I think perhaps the best piece of advice I've gotten about buying in Ann Arbor came from my Brother, by way of my Mother. He said that when people think of Ann Arbor, they think of a certain radius (from the downtown - U of M campus - Main St. - Stadium Rd area). You know, he's right. Something I forgot. People not in A2 don't know NE Ann Arbor even exists. I didn't until I started looking at listings and went, "Were is that?" And the SE area, that closest to Ypsilanti and Pittsfield Township, has traditionally been thought of as the "bad" part.

Then there's this article at CNBC, Landing the Best Deal.

Now I've been to the SE area in my search, and I found a neighborhood I VERY much like. A homey, pride shows in the lawns and houses, neighbors know each other, your kids could play safely out near the street while you're inside neighborhood. And please, Ann Arbor is Ann Arbor even if it isn't the "best" part. But the one drawback this neighborhood held for me is it's not too convenient to a freeway and there's isn't a grocery, drug, or even convenience store near enough for my tastes. Add to that the perceptions people have and how that affects retail value, and perhaps I do need to stay within that radius my Brother spoke of.

Then again, thinking like that is what keeps thinking like that around. And there have been neighborhoods in Ann Arbor that boomed significantly when the real scoop on them finally broke down the barriers of thought.





Here's the article my Dad must have read, in the Detroit News, No cash? No home loans for many. It's much more specific, and defiantly talks about my situation. But, my credit score is high, the loans I want total only $200,000, and I'm not a first time home buyer so there's a clear history of paying mortgages - and on time. All of that should help keep me in okay territory for my loan. For now. I really hope this decision of whether to buy this year or next isn't made for me in such a bad way.



Sunday, August 05, 2007

What Was That About the Bank?

My Dad mentioned to me yesterday that he read that the money for zero down mortgages is drying up. I assume since I'm already pre-approved and since the bank has already underwritten my loan (I called again on Friday and the woman I spoke to said yes it was done and I should be getting the letter either Saturday or Monday), that so long as I use that loan before whatever the term on it is expires, I'm okay. Perhaps I shouldn't make that assumption....

Because today I saw this article, Lenders Broaden Clampdown on Risky Mortgages. According to that, banks are cutting back to the older, conservative, ways of determining who gets a mortgage and what mortgages are offered. From what I understand of what I read, I don't think I have too much to worry about right now. But if this gets worse and I haven't bought yet, I could be having to worry, a lot.

Unfortunately the article also says banks are increasing mortgage rates for offered loans. I'm not sure why, it's supposedly to compensate for what's going on with the market, but it seems to me increasing mortgage rates would only deter people from trying to get loans and increase the risk of those who do get loans ending up defaulting on them. Aren't both of those things events that banks want to avoid?

Since that article said it was from Real Estate I hopped over there to see if I could find it for proper linking. What I found was an article that made me think of another variable in my set of issues to consider that hadn't even crossed my mind. I know my mortgage is set to adjust near the end of next year. I know that if I decide to buy next year instead of this year, I should not refinance to avoid the adjustment in my mortgage rate. What I never considered is that if I decide not to buy this year or next, that I might not be able to get a refinance on my mortgage! I believe if my condo's value drops below what I owe on the mortgage for it, I will not be allowed to refinance.


I will definitely have to look into that if I don't find a house I want to buy or can't seem to sell my condo this year for what I need. In the meantime, Real Estate goes on my list of links to keep up with.



Thursday, August 02, 2007

Learning More and More

Whew! Keeping up can be hard to do. Especially when there is SO much else to do, like your normal job. But I'm glad I went through my real estate information links again. It appears A2 is still a stiff buyer's market, but that Livonia might be leveling out!

But, the Team 366 blog is fast becoming my favorite. And that's not just because they linked back to me. (Yay!) In this stage where I'm still trying to decide if I should wait until next summer to sell and buy to get a better value all around, it's great to see this blog which is updated regularly and with relevant information to my needs.

Things like real data on the Ann Arbor market that I can use to make my own judgments. Here are inventory reports, by town/township in Washtenaw County, which includes by neighborhood in Ann Arbor! They show what areas and which pricing levels are actually selling well despite the housing slump.

And this quote from the BHD Executive Summary:
... The convergence of price and quality is where a property sells, and this market is definitively proving just this axiom. ... Big House Data clients have reported listing properties on a Friday and then having to field multiple offers on Monday and the properties are selling above list price!

Perhaps this *is* the right time for me to buy.



Wednesday, August 01, 2007

Searching Listings Is Work Too

As much work as it's been - and still will be - to get my condo show ready, it feels like searching through listings of what's available to buy is just as much work. Really, it's not. One week compared with two hours (so far this week). But ideally I'm only getting my place ready to show once. This is the second time I'm going through listings to find homes I want to see, which will be followed by another round of touring Ann Arbor viewing these homes. Which likely will be followed by a third round. Let's hope not a fourth.

Side note: The first round only produced one home I'm interested in, but two or three neighborhoods I'm interested in. That one home has a couple... quirks, shall we say, that neither myself nor my realter has information on yet that is keeping me from jumping on it.

Yes, it's a buyer's market. Which while supposedly very good for a buyer, also means a lot more work for a buyer. And not just the buyer's realtor. There's *so* much out there that the buyer has to be more involved in narrowing down the field of options. It means getting picky. But no so picky as to possibly miss the right home! How do you walk that line? Spend more time visiting houses? Or trust the picture and blurb you can read on the internet?

Advice for sellers: Put more than one picture in your listing. I've found myself literally saying "Ooo" out loud as I look at the pictures beneath a listing that I might otherwise have dismissed from the raw statistics. Especially DO NOT let your home be listed without any pictures at all! Only one listing have I gone back to looking at when it finally got a picture up, and that was completely by accident.

The above goes for me too, when I get my condo up on the market.



Tuesday, July 31, 2007

Let's Talk Mortgages and Closing Costs

Being as I am going to take a loss on selling my condo - a loss my selling realtor and I are going to try to minimize as best is possible - it's highly likely I'm going to need some help on the other side. I've been with the same mortgage company here in MI since I bought my condo, so the thought was to contact that company and see what the people there might be able to do for me. Don't suppose it would be possible to transfer the balance of whatever I can't afford to pay off on my condo's mortgage from selling it into my new mortgage for whatever house I buy? No, of course not. I can only borrow up to what the home I decide to buy is appraised to be worth. But what else might be able to be done?

I went to the mortgage website for my mortgage company, ABN AMRO, to see what I could find out. (Not linking to it because I don't recommend it.) Eventually I found myself calling in for help because all the website did was deal with new mortgages independent of your history with the bank. I briefly explained to the representative that answered that I have a mortgage with them, that I want to sell and buy a new home, and keep them as my mortgage company, and was wondering what they could do for me? The woman politely said I should be talking to new mortgages, not existing mortgages as I had called, and transfered me. To the next representative I talked to, I explained the above again, adding I might need some help as I'd be selling at a loss. He asked me what stage of this all I was in, and after my answer told me I should go to the website. He said I could apply for pre-approval there and research what mortgages are available, and after I was approved I'd be assigned a mortgage representative like him. I thanked him, hung up, and grumbled. That was no help at all! If I just wanted to get a new mortgage without any help I wouldn't have called in.

Next up I checked out the good people at, but they wanted my social security number before doing anything and I'm just not ready to give out that number yet. If I had decided I was definitely going to use them or they could have told me about some option I definitely wanted to try to get, then I would have. But to give it to them just to get up to five banks to contact me was not the kind of risk I was willing to take with my governmental information and my credit just yet.

I decided to try walking into the local branch of LaSalle Bank, the bank that not too recently bought my mortgage company, and see if I could get any better service. It's always nicer, and usually better, to deal with a real person. I dressed more professionally than I do for work, just to be sure to make a good impression. The mortgage representative was not there when I arrived, but another representative helped me and took my information to put me in touch with the mortgage specialist. Later that day I got a call from the specialist. We talked through all my specifics and she gave me some options. She explained out everything, stuff I asked about and reasons I was or wasn't able to do something. This route was so much better than trying the website or calling in.

First off, they will let me borrow 100% of what I pay for a home in Ann Arbor. Yay! That means I can spend the down payment I've saved to cover losses I take in selling my condo without risking buying a house. The mortgage specialist said my interest rate would be about a quarter percent (0.25%) higher if I borrowed 100%, but that's not awful. She warned me I have to have at least $500 of my own money to show, but other than that I can get an other money I need for closing costs from family or wherever. No problem! Keeping from spending $500 of the money I already have saved for a down payment shouldn't be hard. Because my credit rating is so good (scores average just under 800) she even gave me an option that would allow me to not pay PMI on the mortgage for the house I would buy in Ann Arbor and still borrow up to 100% for it! Good stuff! The only catch is that it is all contingent on selling my condo.

As for closing costs, she told me about things that can be done on the buying side outside of the mortgage, like the seller can gift money to me, or give me a concession for closing costs at the time of sale. She told me a realtor should know the ways that stuff works. She also recommended I look at Ameridream and Neighborhood Gold. FYI - Buyer's Fund has discontinued its assistance program, and the other Neighborhood Gold program I found is only for FHA loans.

This was all last Tuesday. The mortgage specialist took all my information and said she'd send it in for pre-approval, which should only take a day or two. She also said they'd have to do underwriting for it due to the circumstances. I haven't heard back yet. So note to self: Need to call broker to find out status of my pre-approval and all.



Sunday, July 29, 2007

Decluttering is NOT like cleaning

Oye. So last Wednesday I cleared out everything visible in my kitchen (except the pictures all over the front of my refrigerator), in my master suite bathroom (except for soap and tooth brush with tooth paste - hey, that drawer under the counter I never use is coming in handy now!), and in my guest bathroom in anticipation of the professional cleaners I was expecting to come make them beautiful. Or at least clean, as those are three rooms I rarely clean in my house. The owner of the Plymouth franchise of The Cleaning Authority showed up only minutes past schedule, did a walk through, and explained everything to me. Good so far.

But this post isn't about the cleaners. It's about me telling my selling realtor I'd have my condo "show worthy" by the end of the weekend. Well, it's almost the end of the weekend and guess what? Of course, I'm not ready.

The problem started after I got home from work on Thursday. The kitchen looked... so empty. All my vases and show glass are hiding in cabinets. The fruit was chillin' in the refrigerator instead of out on the counter getting ripe. And just looking at all the open, empty, pretty, clean space made me feel a little empty inside.

The master suite bathroom was the same, but being so small to begin with it didn't affect me on its own. But when I started thinking about how I have to "declutter" the whole condo, it made me sad. I can't live in such an empty environment! Where's all of me? So I was unmotivated Thursday and did nothing.

Friday I ended up out with friends I hadn't seen but for 1 minute in over a month. Sorry home, needed to rekindle the friendship.

Saturday morning I made some personal progress and was ready to start cleaning and removing that which is me from the condo again! But my Grandmother called, and so I spent Saturday afternoon with her.

Saturday night I put in a lot of work. But this was also when I noticed a room I hadn't given any thought to yet: the utility closet, which doubles as the laundry room. Uh oh! Too bad I hadn't thought to include that in what the cleaners did. I spent 2 hours or so making my washer and dryer sparkle, and cleaning the one shelf, part of the floor and spot checking the walls. The little room looks fantastic now! But I hadn't planned on having to do that one.

The rest of the night was spent emptying the hall, which included boxing up all my photo albums and year books. Which of course meant I had to look through them all before I could do so, more time out the window. I don't regret it! I had fun reminiscing. Just took time is all.

Today I did some work in my bedroom in preparation for my cousin and step-cousin coming to help move things. So now some items have made it to the garage, and my bed is all fixed up nice. I also went to the Home Depot and got everything I needed to fill in all the nail holes for the pictures and plaques I had taken down around the house. I sanded and putty-ed those up. And then found out the white paint I bought does not match the white color of the hall walls. *sigh* Guess I'll just repaint the whole hall. It couldn't hurt. Lastly today I got the bar between my kitchen and dining room cleared off. Not a simple task since it's where papers and things go to live until I get around to doing whatever needs to be done with them. All that means is I got through some tasks that had been set aside in addition to getting another part of the condo "decluttered".

But I have learned, repeatedly, this week that decluttering a home is NOT like cleaning it. Cleaning is washing and vacuuming and putting up loose items. Decluttering is even beyond organizing. It's go through every individual thing, determining if it's to be thrown out/recycled or kept, then finding new permanent homes that are out of sight for those things or packing them up in boxes and storing the boxes somewhere else, then cleaning the places those items were. Whew. Lots of effort, and definitely plenty to show for it. But more work that you might think.

So now I have to call my selling realtor and let her know the condo won't be ready to show at least until next weekend. But at least I got my motivation back to make that happen, and I should be able to schedule time during the week to continue this quest for a show worthy home. The word undaunted comes to mind. We'll see. :)



Thursday, July 26, 2007

Real Estate Information Locations

Here are two more links to places it'd be good to keep checking:

- CNBC - Topic: Real Estate
- Reality Check with Diana Olick

And to make things slightly easier, here's the last set of links:

- Google Search
- Ann Arbor’s #1 Source for Real Estate Information
-> specifically: Ann Arbor Area Housing Stats
- Detroit News Online | Real-Estate
- Metro Home Price Analysis Reports
- miOaklandCounty - The Scoop on Michigan Real Estate - While not my local market, this does have some MI as a whole things
- Market Conditions Summary for Ann Arbor
- Market Conditions Summary for Livonia



More Numbers, More "Wisdom"

1) Note to self.

Apparently Mark Zandi, an economist at Moody's, has put out a report that includes Detroit, according to a CNN report: I need to find that.

2) This blog post has 10 tips for first time MI home sellers. Most of these, including all quirks of being a seller in Michigan, I learned on Tuesday when my selling realtor and I sat down and went over numbers. I had her tell me what every dollar number she wrote down for her calculation of what I could ask meant and why is was the amount it was.

3) The big stuff.

According to this article, Existing Home Sales: Numbers Put Realtors On Defensive, the things that are being reported based on nation wide numbers are not realistic for use in local housing markets. So when I'm looking at all sorts of reports the question is What to believe?

Even those in the know are saying that while the U.S. national average is down 5% since 2005, that is very different from numbers in the big markets. It's clearly less than what's MI is down.

Also, in a very related field, the Homebuilder S&P Index is down 48% from the beginning of the year. That's HUGE.

The CNBC video report I watched says too much inventory, too much room for prices to drop, keeps pushing out the forecasts of when the bottom of the housing market will be reached. But again, that's nationally.

Conventional wisdom here in MI is that Michigan is always slow to follow the country out of a recession. And that has yet to be proven wrong. Even as the U.S. now is climbing out of the recession (or has in some areas), Michigan - especially Southern MI - is still well in its own private little depression. Does that also mean MI's housing market will take longer to recover also? I haven't found that answer yet.

This article, Countrywide CEO On Housing: Difficult Times Ahead, says:

Rising foreclosures only mean more homes forced onto an already glutted market. Inventories of new homes are at a 7-month supply now, and cancellation rates are well above historical norms.

In this article, Bernanke On Housing Problems: Finally Telling It Like It Is?, we start getting closer to the answer I personally have been looking for: Will Ann Arbor stay low to next year? Diana Olick says...

For months now, every analyst I talk to, every economist, every academic, says we’re in the early innings of this correction, which has been exacerbated by tightening credit and, more recently, rising interest rates on the 30-year fixed. Foreclosures are rising at a fast clip, and despite the fact that banks and regulators are aggressively trying to help homeowners in trouble, it’s kind of like the horse has already left the barn. What’s done is done, and it has to play out. Mr. Bernanke is finally telling it like it is.

In the CNBC video interview with people supposedly in the know, CNBC's Melissa Francis asks "When do you think the bottom is?"
Christopher Thornberg, Beacon Economics principal, says "At least two years out."
Timothy Speiss, Eisner LLP partner-in-charge, says "'09."

Okay..., but still, does that apply locally? And Ann Arbor and Livonia are not in the same local market, so I need to know how are they each going to react this coming year. Though my Mom pointed out the other day Livonia isn't really in the same local market as Detroit either, even though it is influenced by Detroit's market.

Hmm. So now it's looking like waiting will not cost me Ann Arbor. But on the flip side, it might make my situation in Livonia worse. *sigh* Decisions, decisions.



Wednesday, July 25, 2007

Food for Real Estate Thought

Existing Home Sales Fall 3.8%, Slowest Pace in 4-1/2 Years

It all sounds good for me overall, until you get to the last line:
Zandi believes that "the bottom for the housing market is not late '07 or early '08 -- but probably late '08."

With interest rate predicted to fall in early '08, should I risk things and wait?



Monday, July 23, 2007

Woe or Go?

This past Saturday I toured 7 houses in Ann Arbor in an attempt to decide if I seriously want to start looking to buy there now. This came about because my Father mentioned to me a couple weeks (months?) ago that Ann Arbor's housing prices are dropping, and I might be able to afford them now. I can, and I do (want to).

After coming back from that trip - a little sad for one house, a little happy over one, and much interested in at least three neighborhoods - I called up the real estate agent who helped me buy my condo to start seriously talking about selling the condo, and fast.

The preliminary news is that I'll take a serious hit if I sold now. As in: I can't afford to sell without depleting ALL my savings, and that's if I'm lucky. Which would leave me without any money for a down payment for a home anywhere, much less Ann Arbor. I'm waiting on a specific report from my agent for what I can reasonably get for my condo. But if I want a quick sell I'd have to go lower, and that I simply can not afford at all. The money does not exist in my possession.

But on the flip side, NOW is the time to buy in Ann Arbor. The market is about 20% lower than last year (that's HUGE), and there are plenty of houses under $200,000. Some of which are even really nice! Couple that with Fall on the way - and that being the best season to sell but not necessarily buy - and that one of the forces driving the market down (Pfizer moving and selling houses for its employees, so it can sell cheaper) seems it might be coming to and end, and interest rates at lows (though forecasts say they should get lower in the first quarter of 2008). Much of this information I found out today as, on the advice of my Mother, I've been looking around online for local real estate advice.

Numbers wise, it would make sense to sell my condo and buy a house in Ann Arbor.
1) Selling now I'd be doing so at a 10% loss to what I bought my condo for. But Ann Arbor is at a 20% loss, so I'd actually be gaining 10% in value by doing the move.
2) As my Mom pointed out to me on Sunday during a two hour call that made me feel a lot better after the very disheartening news of Saturday: I've saved anywhere from $3,000 to $4,000 (or more) per year on my taxes due to owning the condo. Since I've had it for almost four years, that adds up to somewhere between $12,000 and $16,000 dollars. $15,500 is about what I'd be losing on selling the condo. So I've actually not lost any money, it'd be a wash. That's really not bad at all!

The real issue comes in when accounting for having to pay the real estate agent(s) for selling the place. That's where I loose all the money I have saved up. I don't dare do a for sale by owner, *especially* in this market! Even if the market was good, I've dealt with real estate without an agent before. BAD idea.

So... what can I do? I'm not sure yet. Mom proposed an interesting scenario with the quirk of the one house I've seen that I'm interested in. The real estate agent I'm buying with told me that closing costs can be rolled into the mortgage, so that would take care of needing money for that aspect. I'd still likely need to come up with about $7,000 for a down payment though. I wanted to do something with the bank that owns my mortgage now, but when I called I got referred to the new mortgage department who then referred me to the website. Sucky customer service. But I feel I need to try again in person, find a banker who will work with me to figure out what options there may be for me. That's a note to self.

For my own reference, here are some links I found via my Google Search which very useful and may want to check again, or that are not yet useful but claim they will be:

Ann Arbor’s #1 Source for Real Estate Information
-> specifically: Ann Arbor Area Housing Stats

Detroit News Online | Real-Estate

I also went to the NATIONAL ASSOCIATION OF REALTORS directly, and found some very interesting and good stuff there. Such as Metro Home Price Analysis Reports (here is Detroit's pdf) and at the very bottom of Home Buying and Selling Research is a set of PDFs giving "The Value of Housing Characteristics". Super interesting!



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