Homes For Sale In West Michigan

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As someone who grew up in the Lakeshore area, I know each community, each neighborhood intimately. I identify problems you may not see, and I have a knack for finding the perfect home for my clients' needs.
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Homes for Sale

As a top Lakeshore realtor, my goal is to find the perfect home for you and your family. That’s not an easy task, but I work hard at it, and I have some distinct advantages that help me succeed for my clients. The first is that I know the Lakeshore area, including Ottawa and Muskegon counties. I grew up here and gained an extensive and intimate knowledge of these communities and their housing markets. Whether you’re looking to buy a home in Grand Haven, Spring Lake, Ferrysburg, Fruitport, or anywhere on the Lakeshore, I can guide you to the home that best fits your desires and needs.

The best real estate agents know that the first step in helping their clients is not to talk, but to listen. That’s why I start our working relationship by asking you a lot of questions - about your family, about your future plans, about the kind of community you’re looking for, and about your dream home. This information helps me get to know you, and together we can define exactly what you want and need in your perfect home!

There are plenty of pitfalls to avoid when you’re looking for your dream home and some of them aren’t readily apparent. Because I worked in the housing construction industry, I not only know what trouble signs to look for, I can identify problems before you buy, saving you money and heartache.

Another advantage I bring to you is my experience in helping clients purchase homes in virtually every price range. Whether you’re looking for a moderately priced, three bedroom ranch, or a high-end luxury home with several thousand square feet, I have the experience to locate the house you want and negotiate the best purchase price for you.

A Buyer's Guide to Success

Buying vs. Renting

Owning your own home is a great accomplishment, but you have to be very cautious when making the decision to purchase property. Buying a home may be the biggest investment you will ever make, so you have to make sure that it’s a worthy investment that you won’t regret in years to come. Even if this isn’t your first rodeo, it is still essential to know the right time and place for a home purchase.

Should You Buy or Rent?

Before you make such a big decision, you need to know why you’re looking to buy. Weigh the advantages and disadvantages of home ownership vs. renting. If you’re looking to add something to your investment portfolio, or renting out property, you’ll need to know the laws, regulations, and the process to successfully do so. If you’re looking to shorten your commute or find a location somewhere between you and your spouse’s workplace, you’ll have to know the right neighborhood and routes of the area before settling down in any random house located in between.

Making an Investment

Maybe you’re just looking to buy property in preparation of a larger income. This can be an excellent idea, as property ownership tends to be a great investment. Whether you are buying a home to raise your family in, finding a place to rent out, or just expanding your investment portfolio, owning real estate proves to be a less risky way to build up equity. If you maintain the property well, you can receive a greater return than your initial purchasing cost.

Know Your Financial Future

So, once you have determined your reason for buying a new home or property, you need to figure out whether or not you have the funds to do so. Before making the big purchasing decision, take a good, long look at your past, current, and future financial situation with a partner or a financial adviser. Determine whether or not now is the right time to buy your dream home. Once you have finalized your decision to buy, it’s time to prepare for the purchase.

Find a Realtor You Can Trust

With all of the paperwork, financial risks, and the need to understand what makes a property a worthy investment, buying a home is incredibly complex and too difficult to take on by yourself. It’s important to have a trustworthy real estate agent with a lot of knowledge in the field. A good real estate agent will guide you through the purchasing process, and present several property listings that fit your family’s needs.

Get a Local Realtor

Your real estate agent needs to be very familiar with the area that you are interested in. For each listing they need to know the neighborhood, the nearby schools, how close shops and restaurants are, and other major factors that can affect your life in the new area. It’s best to trust a real estate agent who actually lives in or is from the area, as they have firsthand knowledge of the locale.

Experience is Key

If your real estate agent doesn’t have the right credentials, they may not be legitimate. Make sure that they received a proper education from a well-established real estate training program, and have experience in the industry. Even after school, your agent should continue to read up on and practice the latest industry trends, and have an extensive knowledge of the current real estate climate in the area.

Deals With Similar Transactions

Look for an agent who has experience with and often deals with transactions like to the one you want to make. If you want a beach home, you’ll need an agent who has experience with these types of transactions and deals with them frequently.

References and Reviews

For proof of your real estate agent’s experience, ask for a list of past properties that they have sold. Make sure that the property types are similar to the one that you want. For more reassurance, look up reviews for the agent online.

Do They Fit Your Schedule?

If your real estate agent never seems to be available when you need them, it’s probably time to find an agent who’s more flexible with your schedule. Find a real estate agent who actually returns your calls in a timely fashion. There’s no reason to wait indefinitely in this quick pace industry. Finally, choose an agent who actually listens to your needs. You should be comfortable with voicing any questions or concerns to your real estate agent.

The Purchasing Plan

With such a big decision, you’ll want to make sure that you’re well informed and prepared to make a purchase. There are several different documents you will need to secure the financing of the property. Make sure to have all of them ready so that you don’t lose your dream home to someone more prepared.

Be Financially Sound

This may go without saying, but you absolutely need to be careful with your current and future finances. If you’re looking to make another large purchase or anticipate a sudden career change, then you may want to consider pushing back a home purchase. You want to be in a position of financial stability when making a long-term, large purchase such as a home. Sit down and take a good look down the road financially, and be as realistic as possible.

Your Credit Score is Important

You’ll want to make sure that your credit score is satisfactory before going further in the purchasing decision. Your credit rating can make or break a negotiation with the seller, as weak scores can undermine your credibility. Avoid websites offering free credit scores, as many of these sites are untrustworthy and can lead to some unwanted costs or, in extreme cases, identity theft. Instead, visit an experienced lender who will research your credit rating from various credit reporting agencies to obtain a credible, secure credit score for you.

Find Your Financial Statements

Keep all of your financial documents in a file and try to get copies of every document that you can. These proof of funds documents should include various financial statements such as recent pay stubs and your bank statements to give an idea of what your regular income is and how secure your finances are. If you have records of your tax returns for the past few years, that will greatly boost your credibility. If you have leases for other properties that you are investing in, you can use these to prove that you’re a reliable homeowner. You’ll also want to include insurance cards and a 401K statement to further cement your credibility as a financially sound and stable individual.

Appraisals, Inspections, and Closing Agents

Now that you’ve pinned down your home and you’re ready to buy, it’s time that you and your real estate agent begin the escrow inspections and appraisals process. This process contains a lot of paperwork, but your real estate agent will help guide you through it.

Inspecting for Encumbrances

An attorney or a title company will hold the deposit in escrow. Operating as a closing agent, they will make sure that the property title is clear of any encumbrances. Get a licensed property inspector to take a good look at the property after the seller accepts your offer. The inspector will either confirm that the home is worth the price, or call for a change of the price and the contract. You also have the right to walk away from the home completely, with no repercussions.

Meet the Appraiser

Appraisers specialize in determining the value of properties, and any agreements contingent upon financing require the property to be appraised by one to calculate the value for the lender. Your lender will inform you of any missed or added documents to approve your loan.

Obtaining Insurance On Your Property

Lenders require you to purchase a certain amount of property insurance when receiving a loan. Even if you’re not receiving a loan, you’ll want some form of homeowners insurance. All homes are vulnerable to fire, theft, storms, and other costly disasters. The cost of insurance usually depends on the lender, the type of insurance policy, and the price of the home. Browse various insurance companies to find the most affordable plan for you.

Save Money On Your Purchase

To reduce costs, you can ask for a higher deductible, which will lower your premium. You can also ask for discounts if your home has certain safety features, or if you are over a specific age. Veterans can obtain VA loans, and homes outside of metropolitan areas may qualify for USDA loans.

Keep it in Writing

For an effective, legal agreement between the buyer and the seller, you’ll need to keep written records of everything. Without sufficient written proof, oral agreements mean little in the real estate industry. Have your real estate agent transcribe all verbal agreements, including counteroffers and addendums, and have both parties sign them when written.

House Hunting

Searching for the Right Home

Now that you’ve chosen a real estate agent and you’re prepared to buy a home, it’s time to start searching for the right home for you and your family. You’ll want to go home shopping, considering every viable option in the area. Your real estate agent will help you with this process, but it’s great to do a little searching on your own.

Online Shopping

Start your searching online. With some real estate websites, you can view a map of the area with available listings. With this map, you can filter the listings to only ones that fit your needs and price range. Save each listing that you would consider buying, and look up the areas that each listing is in.

Visit the Neighborhood

After narrowing down the home listings that you really like, you can visit the area to get a feel for the neighborhood and see the surrounding area that the pictures couldn’t capture, and locate the nearest shops and restaurants are. If the area fulfills your needs and requirements, ask your real estate agent to set up appointments to visit them. This will give you a real feel of the interior of each house, with a closer look at each room. Have your agent inform you of any potential plans for development around the area that could affect the resale value and living conditions.

Make the Decision

It’s time to decide which of the properties you visited is the one you want to purchase. Once you’ve picked your home, your real estate agent will help you make a good offer that works for both you and the seller. Have your real estate agent narrow down any costs and expenses not advertised. Your agent should also help your offer stand out from other offers, with certain advantages that most sellers won’t refuse. For example, you can allow the seller to stay on the property for an extended amount of time after the closing.

Final Steps

You’re almost done with the purchase, but there are a few more steps to finalize the process. Follow these steps closely to ensure a stress-free transaction. You’ll also want to remember some of this advice for after the purchase, when you’re settled in your new home.

Summarizing the Transactions and Financing

A closing agent will offer the buyer and the seller a settlement statement. Read through this statement closely with your agent to make sure that it fully and accurately summarizes all of the transactions. After you, the seller, and the closing agent sign the settlement statement, its accuracy will be certified. You need to sign all relevant documentation required by the lender if you are receiving any form of financing. You can pay your funds either electronically into the closing agent’s escrow account, or by a blank check from your bank.

One Last Inspection

To be extra sure that you didn’t overlook any defects within the home, you can have a final inspection the day of or before the closing. Stop by the property with your agent to confirm that everything still works and is in the same condition that it was during the first inspection and that everything included in your purchase is still on the property.

Closing Time

After all of these steps are carefully completed, you and the seller are ready to close the deal! The seller should present you with all the important information and the keys to the property during the closing. Once all these steps are settled, you can finally enjoy your new home and your new life as a homeowner.

Of course, you’ll still want to be in contact with your real estate agent after the finalized purchase. If there is a surprise fee or property damage that shouldn’t happen with a new home, your trusted real estate agent should be ready to assist you. As a seasoned realtor, I have run into these types of problems in the past, and I know how to handle them efficiently.