Ann Arbor & Ypsilanti Real Estate and Community News

June 21, 2019

Historic Real Estate Guide: Windows

Historic Real Estate Guide: Windows


If you’re looking at purchasing a property in Ann Arbor or Ypsilanti’s historic districts, or have preservation of historic aesthetic as a priority for a home you’re renovating there are some considerations you should make with regards to windows.

Replacement or Restoration?

Oldies can still be goodies!

A lot of historic homes in Ypsilanti and the Ann Arbor area still have original, wooden double-hung sash windows. Knowing a reputable and experienced finish carpenter will be very helpful in determining whether a window’s sashes and panels are restorable or whether they have been neglected to the point of needing to be rebuilt or completely replaced. In many cases homeowners may find that the historic lumber used in previous construction eras is of a higher quality and a tighter wood grain than more modern lumber styles, so sashes and frames may be a bit more forgiving than their initial appearance might suggest. Restoring these double hung windows is also popular in DIY circles, with many historic preservationists on YouTube giving detailed step-by-step instructions on how to re-glaze and restore these windows for yourself. In our experience we’ve found specialty carpenters who focus in the restore of double hung windows can cost more, less, or roughly equivalent to newer replacement windows.


Leaded & Stained Glass Windows

Leaded or stained glass leaded windows can also still be found today, eg in certain commercial, industrial, or religious or historic educational buildings. Since restoring leaded glass windows usually involves soldering and glass cutting we would recommend leaving this endeavor to the professionals. Specialty carpenters who restore leaded glass windows are few and far between, it really is a dying art, but there are still historic preservationists practicing in metro areas like Detroit and Chicago who can restore these to near perfection.

Efficiency Considerations: Interior Storm Windows

From what we’ve seen, historic windows can be restored and re-glazed so as to approach modern efficiency standards, but for efficiency and draft concerns an extra measure can be very helpful: Interior storm windows. Interior storm windows can be built on a lower-end DIY budget for about $200 or $250 using either glass, vinyl, or even shrink wrap-style plastic or bubble wrap. Bubble wrap should be mentioned as an option for an absolute zero-budget DIY improvement simple enough for grandma, don't believe us, Google it. Local carpenters can often build custom interior storm inserts, local contractor Ypsilanti Restorations in town quoted about $315/ea in 2019 for them to fabricate interior storms out of wood. There are also online outfits like where you can measure and order vinyl interior storm inserts to be shipped to your door from online. In addition to eliminating drafts, increasing your energy efficiency (to take the edge off those winter heat bills), interior storm windows are also great for reducing noise transmission if your property is located in a downtown area or along a more heavily trafficked street. Only downside would be that the inserts would need to be simply removed and re-inserted anytime the homeowner wants to open their windows. Since interior storms are temporary inserts and do not require exterior modification to the property, they usually won’t be regulated by historic committee like replacements often are.

I can’t/won’t/don’t care to restore these windows. So who makes the best replacements?

For historic properties in districts subject to historic committees or councils, homeowners may find that those committees want to retain as much of the original window frame and sash style and appearance as possible-- so for instance if a homeowner wanted to replace a double hung original wood window they may have to replace it with another wood double-hung window (and a full frame replacement rather than re-framing a new window into an existing, older frame) of the same material or a similar material. Some committees, like ours in Ypsilanti, may approve replacing a wood window with a metal-clad window of a similar style but not any vinyl replacement windows of any style whatsoever.

And the Winner for Best Replacement Windows Goes To...

Our favorite brand for historic committee-approved replacement windows is the Marvin Window Company - - particularly their Ultimate Magnum Double Hung series since the rail and stile parts of their sashes create a thinner profile where more glass is visible in the window, which provides for a very close (if not identical to untrained eyes) match to the original double hung windows we see all too often dating back to the late 1800’s and early 1900’s.

Example of Marvin Magnum Double Hung Windows from their catalogue.

From Marvin’s Product Catalogue: Magnum Double Hung Windows


We’ve also seen historic approvals for wood-clad Andersen and Pella brand windows, however, consumers going thru committee approvals should expect to be required to select the highest-end lines from either company. Last we checked that would be the Andersen A-series or the Pella Architectural Series, we respect both manufacturers for having been known to produce quality windows and are deserving of mention.

Posted in Education, History
June 3, 2019

Michigan Ave Re-Development Update

Progress update for an extensive redevelopment project in Downtown Ypsilanti on the 100th block of Michigan Ave (Across from Terry's Bakery), a rooftop patio area with views of downtown is beginning to take shape!

June 1, 2019

Michigan Cannabusiness Real Estate

Michigan Cannabusinesses Have Arrived: History and 2019 Market Overview

What is a cannabusiness?

A cannabusiness is a business that sells cannabis or cannabis-related products. Since Michigan passed recreational cannabis for adult use in 2018, reports expect Michigan’s pot market to rival Colorado’s due to how generous the law is in weight and quantity limitations for both end user and commercial facilities.

Use History

Medical marijuana began in 2008 during the passage of Proposition 2, which allowed patients and caregivers to be licensed through the state's Dept. of Health; provisioning centers (retail dispensaries) and manufacturing facilities soon followed. Members-only small businesses quietly opened. Home occupations and personal grows discretely started in basements, garages, and pole barns. Due to the law being vague and failing to provide specifics for the retail and distribution of marijuana, some commercial property owners and property managers initially refused to lease to medical marijuana businesses. Concerns had also been voiced in residential transactions.

Several local municipalities created ordinances to handle things like zoning, inspections, and licensing for the budding facilities along with moratorium ordinances to prohibit them from opening in certain areas.

The recreational component was added to the law in 2018. At the time of this posting (summer 2019), cannabis provisioning centers in Washtenaw County are popular, well-advertised and visibly marketed. Local municipalities have begun issuing manufacturing licenses for discrete, secure facilities which have tended to avoid notice. Local cannabis dispensaries have spurred extensive renovation and new construction projects, and some property owners have seen value appreciation based on new, more valuable uses creating higher projected valuations and driving investment. The state has been working to implement the new consumer law but the state's licensing and other delays put most expectations around 2020 for over the counter marijuana.

The Big Picture

Projections have suggested that Michigan's marijuana current marijuana business will generate $1.4 - $1.7 billion dollars in revenue. State and area municipalities plan to raise taxes from licensing and taxes-- and a white market industry for the product should also lend towards tourism and increased residential and land resale values.

As the real estate market was rebounding over the next decade, Michigan cannabis businesses were investing into the community and growing and improving their facilities to expand operations to create readiness for the coming recreational cannabis laws. Notable examples would include The Patient Station, a cannabis dispensary which was built out of a long-neglected former gas station in Ypsilanti. Another Ypsilanti dispensary in the historic downtown has undertaken a structural overhaul and made significant renovations to an adjacent property (the former Ypsi Bike Shop) for future dispensary use: Herbal Solutions -- the construction of their rooftop garden can be seen downtown.

Michigan Residential Cannabis Real Estate

Residential home medical cultivation has seen a significant increase over the past decade of legalization. We've toured many of these properties, seeing home occupations in Ypsilanti condos and Saline townhouses, Ann Arbor homes, garages, pole barns, etc.

With commercial properties, value-add, rehab and construction projects, it's always important to consider knowns and unknowns and understand all your risks before jumping in. Municipal ordinance review may also be required, and if the municipality hasn't created ordinances addressing medical marijuana than it may be necessary to reach out to an appropriate local council member, zoning, or planning official. As commercial licensing became adopted by the state, banks soon followed and now offer banking services to these licensed businesses.

May 31, 2019

Ypsilanti History: A Look at the Water Tower and Beyond

Downtown Ypsilanti can always be defined by its incredible architecture, from the revival style houses to the unique apartments, all of which surround the Eastern University of Michigan. Perhaps the most prominent feature in Ypsilanti is the water tower which has easily raised interest in Ypsilanti Real Estate over the years. Droves of rental properties and other prime examples of Ypsilanti MI real estate surround the massive structure, drawing attention and helping to contribute to this monument of Ypsilanti history. Visitors to the area often ask questions about it; Why is it here? Who built it? When was it built? The story starts in 1889.

Back to the Start – A Brief History of the Water Tower

To the tune of $21,435.63, William R Coats designed and built the water tower at the highest point in Ypsilanti. It was likely unknown that the tower’s shape and placement would quickly render it a landmark, making it a perfect starting point for directions. Once the tower was built, an ordinance was passed that brought a yearly rate schedule to the residents of Ypsilanti dictating how their water would be paid for. At the time, the rate was based on the number of faucets in the home as well as the amount of livestock the person owned. Unlike today, failure to pay a water bill came with steep fines and even potential jail time.

Until 1956 the iconic water was the only tower in the system, ultimately taken over by the Ypsilanti Community Utilities Authority in 1974. Today the tower is a designated Historic Civil Engineering Landmark as ordered by the Michigan section of the American Society of Civil Engineers.

Buying Property Near the Tower

The draw of living in Ypsilanti rather than A2 is the historic structures and the amazing views reminiscent of a time gone by. If you look at the houses on Normal street for example you will see that many of them were built as early as 1939 with their structures still intact. Well maintained and prominently placed near the Eastern University of Michigan campus, they normally cost around $130,000-$300,000 depending on the location and proximity to certain amenities.

Normal Park and Beyond – A Perfect Place to Settle Down

Normal Park and the surrounding areas are within range of some of the best amenities that Ypsilanti has to offer. With close proximity to Michigan Avenue, one can easily access shopping centers and medical facilities along with the nearby Depot Town that bears some of the area’s most historic buildings. Also keep in mind that there are multiple parks nearby including Riverside and Frog Island, both of which have something unique to offer residents of Ypsilanti.

Even more interesting for current and potential Ypsilanti residents is the way the area has managed to resist gentrification in a big way. Ypsilanti real estate, both commercial and residential is surrounded by small, independent Mom and Pop shops that still thrive thanks to the persistence of residents and the need for specialty items. While larger chain stores definitely have their presence in the city, it’s a good balance between the old and the new.

It could be argued that life starts at the water tower and then spreads outward, sprawling across the cityscape of Ypsilanti. In a way the area is a time capsule, slowly growing and changing but keeping the old-world charm that once inspired a song. If your goal is to move here, then you couldn’t have chosen a better place.

May 21, 2019

Energy Saving Tips for your New Home

Tips for Increasing Efficiency and Saving Energy At Home


Energy savings is a big deal for your new home; you need to make sure you’re not spending more money than you have to, and you want to help the environment. Today we have a few tips that you can use to make your home more energy efficient, from lighting, to air flow management, all of which will get you closer to a more manageable energy bill as you live in your Ypsilanti MI home.

Check your Windows – Ypsilanti MI Homes can Get Cold

As a northern state, Michigan sees its share of cold fronts and you need to make sure that your home is prepared. Not only will preparation make you more comfortable, It will prevent a massive energy bill. In the past, household windows were made with metal frames and as we know, metal conducts energy quite well. Wood frames were a better choice but today the most energy efficient option you can go with is nylon. These window frames conduct very little energy and when closed, they will ensure that cold or hot air remains where it belongs: in your home.

Make Use of Reflective Surfaces

Lighting in your home can account for a lot of the energy use but it doesn’t have to with a bit of strategic placement. Kitchen counters and mirrors work as reflective surfaces and as they reflect light, you can get away with having fewer bulbs burning in your home. One of the greatest energy saving tactics involving light is to use low energy under-cabinet bulbs that reflect from the kitchen counter, making the space brighter and ultimately more useful.

Use Energy Efficient Bulbs

For many years incandescent bulbs were the default for housing, but as we move forward we start to discover better, more sustainable options. Replacing incandescent bulbs with Compact Fluorescent Lights (CFLs) is a great move as they consume less energy, burn brighter, and last longer. The same can be said for LED bulbs which can last for years longer than the incandescent models. LED’s use a more directed light meaning less energy is wasted and while they can be a bit more expensive, they are certainly worth it.

Cut out Electric Lights with Natural Lighting

Lighting in your home is important but that doesn’t mean you need to have it on 24/7. If you want to cut back on your electricity usage, then you might try something as simple as opening your blinds. Many homes today come equipped with larger windows combined with an open floorplan which ensures that natural light can reach every corner of the home. To reduce heat conduction, it would be wise to have your windows tinted so that you can enjoy the light without overheating and causing your air conditioner to kick on.

Close the Doors!

The most important piece of advice that we can give you when it comes to energy conservation is to seal and weatherize doors and windows and always keep them closed, especially if you are running your air conditioning system. This directive applies any time of year though it is far more problematic in a place like Ypsi where the temperature tends to travel very far in either direction. If you need to leave doors or windows open, make sure your air conditioner or heater is not running.

Try Stormers - Interior and Exterior Storm Windows

This is particularly important for historic-style double-hung and single-hung windows; historic window construction did not have all of the same energy sealing products which today's modern construction utilizes. Stormers can usually be put on either the exterior, or the interior of windows. Historic, original windows may require re-glazing and refurbishment over time, and adding a second pane of glass on the interior in the form of a storm window can create an air barrier which will defeat most drafts. If you're renting or maintaining a home in Ypsilanti with drafty windows, consider building (you can Google or YouTube guides on how to build storm windows) or purchase them custom-built from your local finish carpenters. Call us for a recommendation; 734.272.6612

Update your Appliances

Finally, make sure that you are updating all of your appliances. That includes the stove, toaster oven, and even the refrigerator. Consider Energy Star rated appliances since they will do a far better job of conserving energy than older appliances, and as a bonus they also tend to be quieter and also safer.

These are just a few tips that will help you to cu t down on your energy use and you can rest assured that there are many more. While energy is just one facet of financial responsibility, it is a big one. Shut your doors, turn your lights off, and open your blinds!

Posted in Education
May 20, 2019

The Must-Haves: Six Items your New Home Should Be Equipped With


You’re already to buy your first home in Ypsilanti and let’s face it, you’ve chosen a beautiful area. Here’s the question though: have you chosen a beautiful home? Have you chosen a home that has everything you need? Anyone can buy a house but is it really a house that they will want to live in for the foreseeable future? To help you come to that determination we’ve compiled a list of six things that your home absolutely needs to have before you sign on the dotted line.

Modern Wiring – A Must-Have for your Ypsilanti Home

While everyone loves the rather quaint looking aesthetic of the Greek revival that is often found in Ypsilanti, you need to make sure that you can use modern appliances. Updated wiring and fixtures will save you a lot of trouble throughout the years you occupy the house with some of the benefits being:


Ø  Safety – New wiring is not prone to arcing or causing fires. Insulation is up to par and will not need to be replaced for many years.

Ø  Higher Load – Over the years, appliances become more demanding and we must be able to meet those demands by introducing wiring with a higher load capacity.

Along with these two points it is important to choose a home that has the right outlets in the right places. Under-cabinet outlets for example will make way for lighting, a garbage disposal, and much more. Above the cabinets you would want three-prong GFI outlets that support modern appliances and promote safety while USB outlets allow you to charge mobile devices.

Check the Roof Before you Buy

Most roofs have a maximum lifespan of twenty to thirty years, but an older roof shouldn’t deter you from making your purchase. If it is intact and well taken care of then it won’t cost you any money out of pocket. For good measure you should always have the roof inspected before you purchase. If there are any cracks or displaced singles, you should investigate further to see what the cost of repair might be. Finally, ask about a warranty and see if it transfers over to you when you purchase the home.

Laundry Room – A Surprising Concern in Home Purchases

An otherwise perfect home can be easily ruined by the lack of a laundry room. There are far too many homes today that keep the washer/dryer in the kitchen which is a stark contrast to a dedicated laundry room within the home. Still others keep their appliances in a nook, carved out in a hallway which is highly inconvenient. A laundry room gives you more space to work and a great staging area; ask about it when your realtor is showing you homes in Ypsilanti.

Kitchen Surfaces – A Great Way to Save Money

A great kitchen is the cornerstone of a great house and the surfaces that it employs are something you need to consider deeply. While higher end surfaces like natural stone might be desirable you should consider the cost and the amount of upkeep. Natural stone, for example is porous and prone to cracking while lower end surfaces are much easier to keep up. Some of the most popular surfaces include:

Ø  Granite

Ø  Corian

Ø  Quartz

While they are low maintenance, they are still quite beautiful and a great addition to any home.

Carbon Monoxide/Smoke Detectors

Safety is paramount in your home and smoke detectors are a requirement for the county that you live in. When you are walking through your new potential home you should stop to check each one, ensuring that it works. While smoke detectors can be easily replaced these days, it is good to know what you are getting into before you buy.

Natural Lighting is Everything

The last thing you want to do is purchase a home that is closed in or stuffy. In the old days, homes were less energy efficient, especially with the material that the window frames were made from, so huge windows with lots of natural lighting were off the menu. Today with nylon window frames that are less capable of conducting heat or cold, windows can make up a huge part of the home giving you natural lighting unlike anything seen in the past. Open the windows, let the air in, and enjoy that natural lighting.

You have a lot to think about when it comes to buying a new home and hiring a realtor can save you time, money, and frustration. Talk to us today and let us help you find the properties in Ypsilanti that are most worth your time and effort.



Posted in Education
April 26, 2019

Why Should you Use a Realtor in Ypsilanti?

As you eye the great city of Ypsilanti for your next move, you might be wondering where you’re going to live. Ypsi has plenty of beautiful apartments and a thriving culture but if you’re in the mindset of a potential homeowner then you probably have your heart set on one of the beautiful revival homes that the town proper has to offer. Buying a home can be difficult; it’s not like buying a car or groceries; it’s a huge commitment with a lot of paperwork involved, so how are you supposed to go about getting it done? You could simply buy directly from the first party, but a realtor can make things a lot easier for you. While it might incur some added expenses, there are a few benefits to hiring a good realtor when you want to purchase Ypsilanti real estate.

Ypsilanti Real Estate Agents Know the Area

You could spend weeks traveling through Ypsilanti looking for residential homes or commercial real estate for sale but how much are you really going to find? Even more importantly, is it going to be what you want? Any real estate agent in Ypsilanti knows the area, they know what’s for sale, and most importantly, they can match you up with your perfect home in a matter of minutes. One story, two story, Colonial revival, it’s all at your fingertips when you hire a realtor.

Along with knowing the area, a realtor will do more than just point you in the right direction, they’ll drive you to different locations and point out the homes you might be interested in.

Get the Best Deals

There are deals out there to be had and when you hire a realtor, you’re going to find them all. A realtor knows the prices in each area and can give you some wiggle room on your final expense. For example, maybe they know of a house just like the one you want, only in a slightly cheaper neighborhood. There are lots of possibilities and the most important thing, is making sure you don’t drain your savings in the process of getting your dream home.

Along with knowing the best deals monetarily, they can also tell you which homes are in the best condition and which ones might require a little more work. Depending on how much effort you want to put into your home, you could find something that needs repair for a little cheaper than you would have paid otherwise.

Navigate and Avoid the Pitfalls

Buying a house is complicated, from your initial bid, all the way to your closing you have a lot of work to do and it’s not going to be easy. An experienced realtor is someone who has been there, done it, and will be more than happy to do it again with you. Knowing what you’re getting into and how to get out of it is an important part of buying a home, and of course, knowing that you’re all set to enjoy your new house once all is said and done.

A home is an investment whether you’re planning to settle down for the long term, or you’re intending to sell it after a few years, you don’t want to make the purchase alone. With us you have access to our website and a huge database of homes available in Ypsilanti. This is a beautiful town with a rich history and homes to match it, so whatever it is you happen to be looking for, you’re going to find it here, guaranteed.

Posted in Education
April 21, 2019

Glossary of Real Estate Terminology

Summary of industry terms and jargon commonly used in the Ann Arbor & Ypsilanti real estate market.


Terminology may vary somewhat between market location and asset type; we may discuss other terminology in the fields of commercial, investment, zoning, construction, or development in separate articles to follow.

**Disclaimer: All of this information is being shared by a real estate broker based on their experience selling real estate in the Ann Arbor & Ypsilanti area. None of this information should be construed as legal advice, tax advice, financial planning advice, nor an agency relationship; be sure to consult licensed experts for advice on these topics.**

For residential real estate in Ann Arbor and Ypsilanti, Washtenaw County, Michigan

Mortgage Terminology

1. Mortgage

A mortgage is a loan product which is used to raise money for buying real estate. Mortgages are typically secured by real estate as collateral which the lender can foreclose on, or repossess, in order to enforce the repayment of the loan or repay the debt borrowed.

2. ARM - Adjustable Rate Mortgage

A mortgage with an interest rate which is adjusted based on an index designed to reflect the lender’s cost to borrow. ARMs are more common in home equity lines of credit and secondary mortgages than primary mortgages, though we do see them as well.

3. Fixed-Rate Mortgage

Amortized mortgages with fixed, stable interest rates throughout the term of the loan. Most mortgages in the US have fixed rates.

4. Mortgage Pre-approval

Loan pre-approvals are preliminary approvals for loans based on a lender’s evaluation of a borrower’s financials including tax returns, bank statements, and credit report.

5. Mortgage Pre-qualification

A preliminary loan qualification is your first step for a loan approval, generally a verbal conversation with a lender where the borrower estimates their credit, income, assets, and liabilities.

6. APR - Annual Percentage Rate

The annual percentage rate a lender charges on a mortgage.

7. Escrow Accounts

These are accounts your lender can require for funds to be set aside for things like property taxes, homeowners insurance, and mortgage insurance for the amortization of a mortgage.

8. Short Sale

A short sale is a real estate transaction where the property sells for less than the amount of debt collateralizing it. A borrower will usually petition their lender, the lienholder, to accept less than what’s owed.

9. Foreclosure, AKA "repo" or “REO”

Foreclosure is the legal procedure where a lender, the lienholder, forces the sale or repossession of a property thru the courts to recover the balance of a loan because the borrower has defaulted (or stopped making payments) on the loan.

10. Conventional Mortgage

Loans which are not guaranteed by the government but conform to Fannie and Freddie protocol for home mortgages and equity lines.

11. Amortization

Amortization is the spreading of payments over time; in the context of amortized mortgages these are mortgages whose payments have been spread over time for the sake of giving the borrower a single, simple all-inclusive monthly payment similar to a rental payment.

12. VA Mortgage

VA mortgages are loan products for military veterans, reserves, and retirees for homes, condos, some multi-family properties, manufactured homes, and new construction without a down payment and without requiring mortgage insurance. These loans are guaranteed by the Veterans Administration (VA) which also establishes underwriting lending guidelines for the loans which allows them to offer military borrowers a more flexible debt-to-income ratio or a higher % of mortgage payment in terms of the borrower’s gross monthly income.

13. FHA Mortgage

A mortgage which was guaranteed by Federal Housing Administration (FHA) for residential homebuyers. FHA offers low-down mortgages (typically around 3.5% - 10% down) with mortgage insurance to residential homebuyers. Buyers using FHA loans must remain in their new homes for a minimum of a year. Borrowers are required to have proof of income and employment history, but FHA qualifies buyers with credit scores as low as 500 - 580 depending on the down payment amount and other factors. More on HUD’s website.

14. USDA RD Home Loan Mortgage (US Dept of Agriculture Rural Development Mortgage)

Mortgage product offered by the USDA, an agency of the Federal gov’t. The rural development home loan program helps low-to-mid income families afford homes in rural areas by offering them low-to-now down payment mortgages. The USDA provides an eligibility map, and income limitations and other financial requirements for borrowers. They’re for owner-occupied, non-income properties but can include condos, single family, and homes with some property.

15. Jumbo Mortgage

Non-conforming mortgages in excess of the normal single family / condo conventional mortgage limit of $484,350.

16. Portfolio or Non-Conforming Mortgage

A portfolio mortgage is one which the lending entity keeps in their own investment portfolio as opposed to re-selling to another company. Non-conforming mortgages are loans which do not fit with lending or underwriting guidelines established by FNMA or FHLMC which means the loan will either stay in that lender’s portfolio, or can only be sold to companies who purchase non-conforming loans. Non-conforming mortgages are often confused for subprime mortgages, but in reality the subprime loans are just one type of non-conforming loan since they do not fit within those same guidelines.

17. Subprime Mortgage

A subprime mortgage is a non-conforming loan which would generally be considered higher-risk, eg, loans made to people with excessive debt, low or no income, inadequate down payment or security/collateral for the loan, no work history, or credit scores <600.

18. Renovation or Construction Mortgage

A mortgage involving a builder or contractor financing component for construction or renovations.

19. Land Contract (Seller Financing)

Seller financing, aka land contract, is when a seller finances the sale of a property themselves. Often this involves a balloon payment at the end of the term of the loan, a down payment, and interest. A seller will often review the purchaser’s financial credentials. Vacant land is popular for land contracts.

20. Option

An option is a contract or clause which allows an option holder the right to buy a piece of real estate, often at a pre-arranged price. These can be nice for the purpose of tying up a property until funding or financing is more available, with the main risk being that if you do not invoke the option to buy the property then any money paid for the option could be wasted.

21. "Clear to Close" (CTC)

Clear to close is the industry term for a borrower’s loan getting final approval from a bank. Closings are scheduled after the borrower issues a final loan approval, or “clear to close”.

22. Appraisal

An appraisal is an opinion of value in the form of a uniform appraisal report done by a licensed appraiser, most often for the purpose of establishing the value of collateral for a mortgage loan. If you buy a house with a mortgage your lender will want to make sure the value is there before they loan against it in case the buyer defaults and they need to foreclose.

Example: Suzy bought a condo in Ypsilanti for $100,000 but it appraised for $120,000 suggesting she would have immediate equity in her new purchase!

Transaction & Offer Terminology

23. LP - List Price, Asking Price

The price a seller is requesting for a property listed for sale.

24. SP - Sold Price, Closed Price

The price a home sold for at closing, after inspections and appraisals and any other conditions and/or concessions.
Example: We listed an Ypsi condo for $100,000 but some issues came up during inspection so we reduced that price to $95,000 and that was the price it closed for.

25. Offer Acceptance, or "Opening Escrow"

Once a seller and a buyer have agreed to all terms in writing, and fully signed (ratified) their purchase agreement, this is called “opening escrow” which references the third-party title company who will often hold the earnest money deposit while the sale moves forward.

26. EMD - Earnest Money Deposit

Also called "get serious money", this is the security a buyer provides in a real estate purchase offer, usually paid in the form of a personal check, which is held by a broker or title company in a trust account to be applied towards the purchase price at closing. The buyer offers an earnest to show their earnestness in a property and intention to abide by the terms of the purchase agreement on-time since time is of the essence in most real estate transactions. Sellers usually want a reasonable earnest money deposit amount in order for them to accept a purchase agreement and take a property off the market while a buyer conducts their due diligence and obtains any necessary financing, inspections, appraisals and any other requirements to close their purchase. Depending on contract terms, the EMD can be forfeited or disputed in court if the buyer defaults on the purchase agreement.

Example: Sally Homebuyer offered Tom Homeowner $100,000 with a $5000 EMD for the house at 123 Main St in Ann Arbor, MI.

27. POF - Proof of Funds

Show me the money! Proof of funds are statements, such as bank statements, included in an offer package which shows a seller that a buyer has the necessary cash on-hand in order to complete a sale as offered.

Example: Sally was sure to include a bank statement as proof of funds to show she was qualified to purchase Sam’s rare waterfront Cliffs condo in Ypsilanti.

28. Closing Date or Settlement Date

A settlement/closing is when the buyer and seller complete a transaction, usually with a third party title company who handles the conveyance of the deed from seller to buyer, records the sale with the municipal registrar, and disburses funds to any parties at the closing table.

Example: “It’s time to pop the champagne, we’ve finally closed on our new house!”

Market Terms

29. DOM - Days On Market

This refers to how many days a property has been actively available for sale on the market, prior to its owner accepting an offer or otherwise taking the property off the market. The average days on the market for an area is a key market indicator.
Example: Larry’s Agent knew that homes in Water Hill were selling in an average 5 days on market, so he urged Larry to come see the home immediately.

30. KMI or Key Market Indicator

Key market indicators are a real estate professional’s primary metrics for evaluating market conditions for buyers and sellers.

40. SP:LP Ratio or SP:LP%

The ratio between list price and sales price. This average ratio for an area is a key market indicator for the purpose of determining market conditions and trends favoring either sellers or buyers.

Example: If homes are selling for an average of 5% above list price then the sale price to list price ratio would be 105% which is indicative of a seller’s market.

41. CMA - Comparative Market Analysis

A report created by a real estate agent for the purpose of studying market indicators and comparable sales for the purpose of establishing market value and pricing strategies.

42. Comps - Comparable Sales

Comps are recent nearby sales which are of a similar size, vintage, or type to a property for the purpose of computing the property’s anticipated market value.

43. BPO - Broker Price Opinion

A broker’s opinion of value for a property which is often put into a report format similar to a market analysis. A BPO is not a substitute for a lender’s appraisal.

Lenders often order BPOs thru real estate brokers when mortgagors, or borrowers, are late on their mortgage payments.

44. Absorption Rate

Absorption rate is a key market indicator which shows the rate at which homes sell in an area over a certain period. By looking at absorption rates over previous sales periods, a listing agent approximate how long a property will take to sell.

Example: if 48 homes were sold in Depot Town over the past 12mo, then the rate of absorption would be

45. Seller's Disclosures

This refers to the state-mandated seller’s disclosures forms which sellers of residential single-family and multi-family properties w/ 4 or fewer units are required to complete.

46. LBP - Lead Based Paint

Lead-based paint refers to lead-based paint which exists in a large number of historic homes built prior to 1978. If you’re looking at historic homes in Ann Arbor or Ypsilanti there is a high likelihood the home may have lead paint; read more about lead paint here:

47. PA - Purchase Agreement or ‘purchase offer’

The purchase agreement is a binding sales offer to purchase real property containing offer terms such as the offer price, closing date, and any contingencies or additional terms.

48. ERTS - Exclusive Right To Sell, AKA Listing Agreement

The agreement signed which covers hiring terms, commissions, and marketing of real property for sale through a listing agent.

49. LA - Listing Agent, AKA Seller’s Agent

This is a real estate salesperson who has been hired by a seller to manage the sale of real property. The seller’s agent’s job is to assist the seller and make them the most amount of money possible in any real estate negotiations.

50. Real Property, AKA Real Estate

Land, and the buildings on it, are real estate.

51. Closing Costs

The additional costs incurred by buyers and sellers at closing, including but not limited to: Commissions, title fees, registration fees, transfer taxes, doc fees, closing fees, etc. A good agent will help their client avoid as many unnecessary closing fees as possible. Feel free to contact us to find out exactly how we would help you avoid unnecessary fees according to your specific situation.

52. Concessions, seller-paid closing costs

Concessions, or seller-paid closing costs, are fees which are not customarily paid by a buyer or a seller but for whatever reason have been negotiated into a contract for that party to pay.
Example: Sam is buying a home with a VA loan (thank you for serving) so that he can purchase with as little down payment as possible, so he made an attractive offer on a home in Ann Arbor stipulating that the seller would pay $3000 in concessions towards Sam to offset his other closing costs.

53. Contingency

Contingencies are conditions built into a property which must be satisfied in order for a purchase to complete a sale.

Example: Sally Homebuyer is buying a home contingent on her satisfactory results of a private contractor’s inspection and contingent on her being approved to obtain a mortgage.

54. Addendum

A written change/amendment to a listing agreement or purchase agreement.

Example: Sally Homebuyer negotiated some repairs to be paid by Tom Homeseller so they signed an addendum to their purchase agreement specifying that change.

55. Net Sheet

A net sheet, or preliminary net sheet, itemizes all closing costs in a summary for either seller(s) or buyer(s) of real estate.

Example: Online net sheet calculator

56. Closing Statement

The statement at closing showing a buyer and seller all itemized costs, prorations, fees, and credits.

57. TC - Transaction Coordinator

A transaction coordinator is a non-fiduciary contractor who is handling the coordination of a sale without representing either buyer or seller as an agent. The TC manages deadlines and contract terms to get them through completion, but usually will not negotiate the contract for either buyer or seller.
Example: Sam’s uncle promised to sell him a condominium for the price he acquired it for (or for a considerable discount below market); so Sam had Debbie the Realtor handle the sale as a transaction coordinator for a flat fee.

58. TID or PID - Property or Tax ID Number

For the purpose of taxation and assessment, this is a short numeric code used to identify a specific piece of real estate

Example: K-11-36-300-038, or alternatively, K01136300038

59. Legal Description

This is a specific way to identify a property which is used in purchase contracts and by assessors and county treasurers. Some legal descriptions reference platted subdivisions based on the property’s lot number while others contain more detailed metes and bounds descriptions of a property’s lot which are based on compass angles and stakes or other landmarks.

Example of a metes and bounds legal description: SW 1/4 SEC 36, T3S, R7E, YPSILANTI TWP,, WASH CTY, MI, DESC AS: COM AT W 1/4 COR SEC 36, N 89-40-40 E 842.91 FT ALG E/W 1/4 LN SEC 36, BEING C/L MARTZ RD 66' WD TO POB, TH N 89-40-40 E 188.86 FT, TH S 00-05-38 E 300 FT TO SET IRON, TH N 89-40-40 E 29 0 FT TO SET IRON, TH S 00-05-38 E 347.53 FT TO SET IRON, TH S 89-58-35 W 1322.55 FT, TH N 00-01-25 W 155.64 FT ALG W/L SEC 36 BEING C/L BUNTON RD 66' WD, TH N 89-40-40 E 843.50 FT TO SET IRON, TH N 00-05-38 W 485 FT TO POB. CONT 8.164 AC + -. SUBJ TO RIGHT OF PUBL OVER N & W 33 FT FOR RD & ESMTS & ROW OF RECORD, IF ANY. PARENT PARCEL K 11-36-300-026

Foreclosure Terms & Federal Government Real Estate Organizations

60. HUD - US Dept. of Housing and Urban Development

HUD is actually a department in the executive branch of the US gov’t; HUD both owns and sells Federally-owned real estate assets along with funding US mortgages through banks and credit unions. HUD’s inventory can be found their website,


61. FHA - Federal Housing Administration

FHA is a US Federal gov’t agency within HUD which establishes underwriting guidelines for residential mortgages and also insures them. FHA offers low-down loans for residential homebuyers and some multi-family properties.

62. MSHDA - Michigan State Housing Development Authority

MSHDA is a state agency, which also functions in some ways as an enterprise, which handles many functions including managing state housing funds and loan programs. MSHDA offers periodical homebuyer assistance and down payment programs which, depending on the program, can be in the form of grant funding or loans. MSHDA is also a procedural entity in foreclosures, taxation and tax exemptions, and other regulations.

63. FHLMC - Freddie Mac - the Federal Home Loan Mortgage Corporation

Freddie Mac is a gov’t-sponsored enterprise (a public-private hybrid, publicly traded) with a direct line to the US Treasury, which buys mortgages from banks and establishes underwriting guidelines for loans.

64. FNMA - Fannie Mae - the Federal National Mortgage Association

Fannie Mae is a gov’t sponsored enterprise (a public-private hybrid, publicly traded) which is also involved in facilitating mortgage lending but goes a step farther than Freddie by also handling the resale of assets which went through foreclosure on their website.

65. GNMA - Ginnie Mae - The Government National Mortgage Association

Ginnie, like Freddie and Fannie, is also involved in the facilitation of mortgage lending but specifically through gov’t-guaranteed loans issued by gov’t agencies like HUD, the VA, and the USDA RD. All GNMA’s securities are backed by the “full faith and credit” guaranty of the US Gov’t.

66. SLM Corporation - Sallie Mae - The Student Loan Marketing Corporation

The largest private student loan corporation-- formerly a government enterprise. Many borrowers have student debt from Sallie Mae which may affect their housing affordability options.

Real Estate Agency Terms

67. Brokerage, Brokerage House

A brokerage entity, or corporation, which is managed by a principle broker for the purpose of handling real estate sales as an intermediary.

68. BIC - Broker In Charge, 'Principle Broker' or 'Broker of Record'

The employing broker of a real estate firm who holds the highest license category for real estate sales in Michigan, this person may (or may not) also supervise other real estate salespeople which can involve mentorship, training and management. The broker of record, or BIC, is ultimately responsible for the sales of the agents they supervise-- similar to how a principle contractor may or may not hire other builders as subcontractors for one of their projects.

Example: Alexander is the broker of record @ Munro Real Estate, a boutique firm specializing in land and historic Ypsilanti real estate.

69. Associate Broker

This is a real estate salesperson who has acquired a broker’s license but is still working as an associate thru another employing broker.

70. Real Estate Salesperson

This is a real estate professional licensed by the state for the purpose of selling real estate as an intermediary. In Michigan, real estate salespeople must be licensed through a supervisory employing broker-- sort of like how a journeyman plumber must be employed by a master plumber.

71. Realtor®

The term Realtor® is a trademarked term owned by the National Association of Realtors® to denote a real estate salesperson who is a member of that professional organization and subject to the NAR’s code of ethics in addition to all applicable state licensing requirements.

72. TC - Transaction Coordinator

Transaction coordinators are non-fiduciary representatives, often real estate agents, who are not working as the fiduciary representative of either a buyer or a seller. Buyers should note: some real estate agents, especially agents on larger teams, will require their clients to pay additional fees at closing for transaction coordination. Our policy at Munro Real Estate is not to charge extra for that.

Example: Sam wanted to purchase a condo in Ypsi from his uncle, at a discounted rate which they negotiated on their own, so he hired Tommy, an Ypsilanti broker, to manage the transaction for a flat fee to ensure a smooth closing.

73. BOR - Board of Realtors®

A local chapter of Realtors which handles responsibilities including, but not limited to: creating and updating customary local purchase agreements, managing grievances between agents and clients, enforcing compliance with the NAR code of ethics, managing and enforcing data and listing standards in our local MLS.

Local MLS Terms & Statuses

74. MLS - Multiple Listing System

The multiple listing services are portals maintained by local Boards of Realtors (BORs); these are the portals that agents input properties into, which syndicate data to all of the popular online real estate portals, including

75. MFR, SFR

Stands for multi-family residential and single family residential properties, respectfully. Commercial income properties generally consist of 5 or more units.

76. CCS/CTS - Continue to Show ("CCS", 'contingent continue to show', “under contract”)

A property goes “under contract” when the seller accepts an offer in writing with all terms agreed upon by the buyer and seller. CCS is an MLS status for properties with accepted contracts which still have contingencies to be completed, eg, inspection or financing contingencies.

77. PEND - Pending

Pending is basically when a contract exists for a property,

78. LTC - Limited Time Clause

The LTC MLS status, or limited time clause, indicates that there is an accepted offer with a limited-time contingency in play.

Example: Sam saw a home in Ann Arbor which was already under contract, but asked his agent about it anyways. His agent found that the home was under contract but had a limited time contingency for the home’s current buyer to sell their existing home in order to purchase the home that Sam has interest in. Since that limited time contingency ended next week, Sam was able to offer on the property and take over primary contract position because the first buyer’s contingency had expired due to them being unable to sell their home in time.

79. UW - Unconditionally Withdrawn

A home which was listed thru a real estate agent but was withdrawn and is no longer subject to the terms of the listing agreement.

80. CW - Conditionally / Temporarily Withdrawn

Real estate which was listed thru a real estate agent, and is still under the terms of their listing agreement but was taken off the market temporarily for some reason.
Example: Homeowner lists a home with MRED, and after a couple of weeks with no showings the homeowner decides to temporarily withdraw the listing while they remodel the kitchen over the next 2 weeks to help sell the home.

81. EXP - Expired

Code or a descriptor for a home which was listed thru an agent with a listing agreement which has lapsed, resulting in the home “expiring” and coming off the market.

82. FSBO - For Sale By Owner

A home which is listed for sale by the owner directly, rather than through a listing agent.

April 15, 2019

FAQ - Are Buyer's Agents Free?

Are buyer’s agents services free for buyers?

It depends, but usually no. While many real estate agents tout buyer’s services as being completely free for buyers, the reality is that buyers are often paying for these services indirectly-- it can be part of their mortgage since the cost of these services are customarily paid as part of the seller's closing costs which are part of the asking price on a home listed for sale thru a broker. When a Realtor lists a home they will customarily negotiate both the listing agent and the co-operating buyer’s agents’ commissions in their listing agreement (or ERTS) prior to putting the home on the market. Agents often show a seller a preliminary itemized closing cost estimate (also called a “net sheet”) which will itemize all costs that the seller should expect to pay, including commissions- resulting in the seller’s bottom line. All of the seller’s costs are part of the sales price.

Recommendation: When hiring a buyer’s agent, be sure to ask if they charge any additional fees at closing; these fees can sometimes be between $200 and $1000 at closing as part of or in addition to any other commissions. You may also request a copy of their buyer’s agency agreement, which will detail how they’re paid and whether or not the buyer could be responsible for paying commission directly to an agent.

Posted in Education, FAQ, Information
April 15, 2019

FAQ - How are real estate agents paid?

How are real estate agents paid?

By commissions as delineated in the listing agreements (also often called exclusive right to sell agreements or “ERTS”) which they negotiate with sellers when they’re hired to represent sellers and take the seller’s real estate to the market. Because of this, the vast majority of real estate agents are independent contractors who receive a 1099 at the end of the year. Since the majority of agents are 1099’ed and do not receive employment benefits like health care or pensions, many agents hold second jobs, or have pensions themselves, or create portfolios for their future retirement through their own investment activity.

Posted in Education, FAQ, Information