$1,199,000 :: 1401 OLD SALEM Court, Birmingham MI, 48009

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3 beds, 3 full, 2 part baths
Home size: 4,136 sq ft
Lot Size: 16,117 sq ft
Added: 01/30/15, Last Updated: 01/30/15
Property Type: Residential
MLS Number: 215008806
Community: Birmingham
Status: Active

Pleasant surprises await you in this sophisticated 2 story Quarton Lake Estates home. First floor master suite features Bamboo flooring, his/hers California Closets & sleek new bath with heated floors. Gorgeous kitchen with cherry, granite and premium appliances. Spaces are open and lend themselves to grand entertaining. Wall of windows offers sweeping views of the gorgeous grounds and provides an abundance of natural light. Convenient first floor laundry and an elevator servicing all floors. En suite bedrooms upstairs with a large open office area, which easily converts to a 4th bedroom. Lower level features a personal gym, wine storage, work room and lav. Heated garage. Central Vac. LED lighting throughout. Full house generator. Universally accessible. Truly a special home that should not be missed. Exclusions.

Listed with Hall & Hunter-Birmingham


Brought to you by Janet Hull and Thomas Bush, Real Estate One, Inc.. Call me today at 1-855-Janet-Tom, or visit my website at www.JanetandThomas.com!


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$365,000 :: 2523 Windemere, Birmingham MI, 48009

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4 beds, 4 full baths
Home size: 2,387 sq ft
Lot Size: 7,405 sq ft
Added: 06/03/14, Last Updated: 01/29/15
Property Type: 2 Story, Residential
MLS Number: 31196275
Community: Birmingham (63192)
Tract: Pembrook Manor
The price of this listing was last reduced on 1/25/2015 by 4%
Status: Pending

Awesome Custom Brick Home Features: Kitchen w/Granite Floor & Counters with European Flair Throughout – 4 Fabulous Bathrooms – Fireplaces in Family Room, Living Room & Master Bedroom – Hardwood Brazilian Cherry Floors Throughout – Gorgeous Master Suite Features: Huge Bath w/Jacuzzi Tub, Separate Shower & Under Floor Heating, Spacious Walk In Closet & Cathedral Ceiling – Fantastic Finished Basement w/Full Bath – Beautiful Deck – 2 Furnaces – 3 Car Gar – Subject to Bank Approval – Much More!!! Must See!!!

Listed with Keller Williams Central Market


Brought to you by Janet Hull and Thomas Bush, Real Estate One, Inc.. Call me today at 1-855-Janet-Tom, or visit my website at www.JanetandThomas.com!


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$239,900 :: 1968 STANLEY BLVD, Birmingham MI, 48009-4142

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3 beds, 1 full bath
Home size: 1,203 sq ft
Lot Size: 6,534 sq ft
Added: 10/15/14, Last Updated: 01/29/15
Property Type: 1 1/2 Story, Residential
MLS Number: 31216633
Community: Birmingham (63192)
Tract: BIRMINGHAM CRESTVIEW SUB
The price of this listing was last reduced on 11/24/2014 by 6%
Status: Sold

Stunning 3 bedroom brick bungalow. Living room, dining room with bar area to Kitchen. Hardwood floors, coved ceilings, ceramic bath, basement is framed out to be finished with bathroom. Large master bedroom, central air and more! This is a Fannie Mae HomePath property.

Listed with RE/MAX Vision


Brought to you by Janet Hull and Thomas Bush, Real Estate One, Inc.. Call me today at 1-855-Janet-Tom, or visit my website at www.JanetandThomas.com!


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$449,900 :: 647 RUFFNER Avenue, Birmingham MI, 48009

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3 beds, 2 full, 1 part baths
Home size: 1,966 sq ft
Lot Size: 4,791 sq ft
Added: 01/29/15, Last Updated: 01/29/15
Property Type: Residential
MLS Number: 215008557
Community: Birmingham
Tract: LEINBACH-HUMPHREY’S WOODWARD AVE SUB
Status: Active

Stroll to everything! Upscale design in this updated home. Cherry hardwood floors throughout. Living room with tray ceiling. Kitchen highlights granite countertops, stainless steel appliances, crown molding, pantry and hardwood flooring. Room for buffet and china cabinet in open dining room. Master bedroom boasts two walk-in closets and master bath with separate shower and jetted tub. 1st floor laundry room. Designed for family living!

Listed with Hall & Hunter-Birmingham


Brought to you by Janet Hull and Thomas Bush, Real Estate One, Inc.. Call me today at 1-855-Janet-Tom, or visit my website at www.JanetandThomas.com!


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$579,000 :: 528 PARK Street, Birmingham MI, 48009

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4 beds, 2 full, 1 part baths
Home size: 2,280 sq ft
Lot Size: 5,662 sq ft
Added: 01/16/15, Last Updated: 01/29/15
Property Type: Residential
MLS Number: 215004820
Community: Birmingham
Tract: OAK GROVE ADD
The price of this listing was last reduced on 1/29/2015 by 3%
Status: Active

Nestled in the San Francisco district in Birmingham, this elegant home allows for the best lifestyle possible. You are as close as you can get to downtown Birmingham while enjoying the privacy and serenity of mature trees, a large fenced in yard, great front and rear porch, and an interior that will wow you. There are beautiful hardwood floors throughout. The kitchen was completely remodeled within the last 24 months including new appliances, cabinets, and backsplash. Even structural elements have all been replaced in the last 2 years including the roof, furnace, and humidifier. The condition of this home is impeccable right down to the three sided marble fireplace. The interior and exterior paint is fresh and the front and back decks are in mint condition. This is a true turn-key opportunity in the best location in town.

Listed with Max Broock, REALTORS®-Bhm


Brought to you by Janet Hull and Thomas Bush, Real Estate One, Inc.. Call me today at 1-855-Janet-Tom, or visit my website at www.JanetandThomas.com!


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How to Keep Your 2015 Homebuying Resolution

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If your New Year’s resolution is to take the leap and buy a home, you may be in luck. Whether you’re a first-time buyer or considering jumping back in, 2015 offers some encouraging signs after a tough time for the housing market.

Mortgage credit and underwriting requirements are thawing as the economy continues to recover. Government-backed mortgage giants Freddie Mac and Fannie Mae recently rolled out conventional mortgage options with a 3 percent down payment. And average interest rates continue to dip below 4 percent.

With conditions looking good for buyers, here’s a look at four tips to help prospective homeowners follow through on that resolution.

Get your credit in order

After years of tight lending, there are continued signs that mortgage lenders are loosening credit requirements. The average FICO score for a closed loan in 2014 was 726, compared to 738 the year before, according to mortgage software firm Ellie Mae.

Buyers without top-tier credit scores may now have a better chance to secure loans. While benchmark scores for conventional loans hover around 720 or higher, FHA and VA loans usually require about a 620.

While the mortgage market has been volatile, credit-building strategies remain the same. Get free copies of your credit report from AnnualCreditReport.com. Scour them for mistakes, bad accounts or other issues.

Some consumers work to pay down high-interest debt, while others try to build momentum by focusing on smaller accounts. Choose the strategy that best fits your lifestyle and budget.

Low down payments and interest rates are great, but you can’t tap into either without first clearing a lender’s credit-score hurdle.

Build a nest egg

Buying a home comes with a host of potential upfront costs. Even with reduced requirements for down payments, putting 3 percent down on a $150,000 loan means you’re parting with $4,500 on closing day. You may also need money for an earnest money deposit, inspections, appraisals, closing costs and more.

Upfront costs will vary based on a variety of factors, including the lender and the loan type. FHA loans require a 3.5 percent down payment, while qualified veterans and service members can use a VA loan to purchase with no money down.

Be sure to create and stick to a budget that allows you to put some money into savings each month. Having healthy assets puts you in solid position to purchase a home this year and deal with upfront and unexpected costs along the way. It will also make your loan file look that much stronger.

Learn about loans

Get a solid understanding of the mortgage options you might qualify for, along with their benefits and drawbacks.

No down payment or not paying private mortgage insurance are big-time benefits; however, only a small portion of the population is actually eligible for a VA home loan. But you may be able to secure a zero-down loan using the USDA home loan program.

If you can swing a 5 percent down payment but come up short on credit, FHA financing might be an easier path than conventional loans.

Consider the pros and cons of each in the context of your own financial situation and your short-term and long-term homeownership goals.

Get preapproved

Loan preapproval is critical in the current home-buying climate. This step involves more paperwork and documentation than prequalification, but it gives buyers a clear sense of their purchasing power and what they can realistically afford. It also shows sellers and listing agents that you’re a serious buyer likely to make good on an offer.

Following these steps can help you on your way to fulfilling your New Year’s resolution and let you head into 2016 as a new homeowner.

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$949,000 :: 1540 PIERCE Street, Birmingham MI, 48009

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4 beds, 3 full, 1 part baths
Home size: 3,356 sq ft
Lot Size: 6,534 sq ft
Added: 01/29/15, Last Updated: 01/29/15
Property Type: Residential
MLS Number: 215008300
Community: Birmingham
Tract: NELSON’S HOMES SUB
Status: Active

Custom built modern masterpiece! This exceptional Birmingham home with impressive amenities begins curbside and continue throughout. Stylish architectural elements and clean lines include soaring ceiling and huge glass windows which beautifully illuminate this home’s spacious rooms. Bright chef’s style kitchen opens to breakfast nook and two story great room. Formal dining room, library with built ins and nicely sized laundry/mudroom complete the first level. Ascend upstairs to the master suite with gorgeous fireplace and walk out terrace overlooking the private and thoughtfully landscaped yard. 3 additional spacious bedrooms and open loft area create bonus entertainment space. Second level bath can be easily converted to two baths. Fabulous finished lower level with high ceilings, sleek bar area, 5th bedroom and spa like bath plumbed for a sauna. Attached two car garage and private yard set this home apart from the others!

Listed with Hall & Hunter-Birmingham


Brought to you by Janet Hull and Thomas Bush, Real Estate One, Inc.. Call me today at 1-855-Janet-Tom, or visit my website at www.JanetandThomas.com!


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$430,000 :: 812 Wimbleton Dr., Birmingham MI, 48009-5641

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4 beds, 2 full, 1 part baths
Home size: 2,574 sq ft
Lot Size: 4,791,600 sq ft
Added: 11/19/14, Last Updated: 01/28/15
Property Type: 2 Story, Residential
MLS Number: 31221278
Community: Birmingham (63192)
Tract: Birmingham Forest Hills
The price of this listing was last reduced on 12/19/2014 by 5%
Status: Sold

Spectacular location! Excellent floor plan – 4 bedrooms, 2.5 baths, library, first floor laundry, partially finished basement, 2 car attached garage, fenced yard. Birmingham Schools. Great floor plan, interior location within subdivision, close to parks & downtown Birmingham! Buyer responsible for any city-required repairs needed for occupancy.

Listed with Coldwell Banker Realty Solutions


Brought to you by Janet Hull and Thomas Bush, Real Estate One, Inc.. Call me today at 1-855-Janet-Tom, or visit my website at www.JanetandThomas.com!


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$430,000 :: 812 Wimbleton Dr., Birmingham MI, 48009-5641

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4 beds, 2 full, 1 part baths
Home size: 2,574 sq ft
Lot Size: 4,791,600 sq ft
Added: 11/19/14, Last Updated: 01/28/15
Property Type: 2 Story, Residential
MLS Number: 31221278
Community: Birmingham (63192)
Tract: Birmingham Forest Hills
The price of this listing was last reduced on 12/19/2014 by 5%
Status: Sold

Spectacular location! Excellent floor plan – 4 bedrooms, 2.5 baths, library, first floor laundry, partially finished basement, 2 car attached garage, fenced yard. Birmingham Schools. Great floor plan, interior location within subdivision, close to parks & downtown Birmingham! Buyer responsible for any city-required repairs needed for occupancy.

Listed with Coldwell Banker Realty Solutions


Brought to you by Janet Hull and Thomas Bush, Real Estate One, Inc.. Call me today at 1-855-Janet-Tom, or visit my website at www.JanetandThomas.com!


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Can You Refinance? Here's How to Figure it Out

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By Scott Sheldon

Mortgage rates were near their 20-month lows at the end of January, prompting many homeowners to seek to refinance. All too many have wanted to in recent years, yet held back because they thought their house would not appraise for what they needed to make the numbers work. Here’s the skinny if you’re debating whether to go for the refinance.

HARP 2.0 Refinance Program

The program allows homeowners whose mortgage loans closed on or before June 1, 2009, and are owned by Fannie Mae or Freddie Mac to refinance their house no matter what their loan-to-value is, with no occupancy restriction. Even if you have an investment property with a 200% loan-to-value ratio, the program allows for anyone — no matter what their loan-to-value ratio is — to qualify, independent of any valuation restrictions. The refinancing lender may or may not need a full appraisal based on the property and your credit, debt, income and assets. Fannie Mae or Freddie Mac, whichever entity owns your loan, makes the determination about whether an appraisal is needed, not your lender.

FHA, VA, USDA Streamline

If you have a government loan, not only do you not need an appraisal for these programs, you don’t need to provide tax returns and W-2s either. A streamlined program under any one of these three types allows you to refinance without an appraisal and with lighter financial documentation, as long as you’re sticking with the same loan program (for example: FHA to FHA). Additionally, all three of these loan programs offer very high loan-to-value options. You can do an FHA loan up to 97% financing on your home; a VA loan will go up 100% financing on your home, as will a USDA loan. These present three additional financing alternatives if you are running the risk of having little equity in your home for refinancing.

The Benchmark for Equity

Another viable opportunity for homeowners unsure of their equity is the possibility of lender-paid mortgage insurance, an option where the lender pays the private mortgage insurance you otherwise would be incurring every month as a result of having less than 20% equity. This means you wouldn’t pay PMI despite not having the 20% equity.

In the lending world, 20% equity is the benchmark for ideal home equity-to-value. Let’s say you owe $350,000 on your home, and are hoping for a value of $440,000 to complete your refinance. Your appraisal comes in at $425,000, putting you just a hair over 80% loan-to-value. In this situation, to complete the transaction you typically have to pay the closing costs the lender is charging as well as pay down the principal balance to 80% of the value of your home to avoid PMI. If you don’t have the additional cash to refinance and remove the PMI on your current mortgage, lender-paid mortgage insurance may work for you. Lender-paid mortgage insurance will usually go as high as 90% financing on homes, all the way to the maximum conforming county loan limit in the area where the property is located.

Put Your Money to Work for You

OK, so you’re not eligible for a HARP 2.0, you don’t have a government loan, and for whatever reason, a new government loan still just doesn’t make sense. You’re left with two choices: Have the lender renegotiate the value with the appraiser in order to induce a higher valuation on your home (this is usually only supported by additional comparable properties the appraiser did not originally include in the report), or pay down the difference between the appraised value and the new loan amount.

Many may not be too thrilled with the possibility of having to bring in several thousand dollars to close escrow based on a low appraisal report. However, short-term interest rates on other assets are still very low. Your mortgage lender could easily run a scenario showing you your cash-on-cash return by paying down the principal to generate a larger monthly savings on the refinance.

Let’s say in addition to the general closing cost of $3,200 to refinance, your appraisal came in lower and you have to bring in an additional $10,000 to close escrow. Otherwise, you can’t get the loan because the appraisal did not come in high enough. Investing the additional $10,000 would free up $400 more per month — in addition to the original refinance savings of, say, $200 per month. In other words, the potential monthly savings by bringing the additional cash is $600, and $600 a month over 12 months is $7,200. The total capital needed for the transaction is the $3,200 in closing costs plus a $10,000 principal balance contribution, totaling $13,200. In one year, that’s a 54% return on your money, and it only compounds over time. The takeaway: Before you back out of a transaction because the appraisal came in lower, look at the real opportunity in the numbers.

If All Else Fails…

Having an appraisal in hand is a measure of how much more in value you’ll need in the future to pull off a refinance later. Follow up with a qualified professional about the possibility of what your home could be worth, say, six months from when the appraisal was completed. This could be your loan officer, a real estate agent — or if you happen to know an appraiser, all the better. More than likely, down the road your house could be worth what is needed — many markets are showing strong gains — to complete the refinance. At the same time, if you are on an amortizing loan, your balance is continuing to drop each month.

Finally, keeping your credit in good standing can help you all the more when it’s time to refinance. Checking your credit reports and credit scores regularly can keep you up to date on your status, and alert you to any problems you need to work on or correct. You can get your free credit scores on Credit.com, updated monthly, to track your progress.

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