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Saturday, July 12, 2014

Have you waited long enough?

Many people fell on hard times during the recent recession and some lost their homes to foreclosure or had to do short sales. Some may have even declared bankruptcy to get out from under their debt load. Many of these people have been living in apartments or rental properties for the last few years.  So, how long do these people have to wait before they can think about buying another home? The Waiting Period Matrix that my friend and mortgage partner, Steve Bloom, has put together will help answer that question. Click here to see Steve’s matrix.

Of course the question isn't just whether you have waited out the time that the banks want to see before they will consider you; but, also, what did you do during that time. Did you get your life and your finances back in order or did you just keep up your old ways and keep going further into debt? Hopefully you learned from the bad experience of that financial hardship and turned things around in your life. Many people did. Most of the people who were forced out of their homes actually had good jobs, but factors such as reduced overtime or maybe one of the two workers in the family being laid off for an extended period, combined with getting overextended on consumer credit, resulted in them losing their homes.

So where do you need to be credit-wise right now to get back into home ownership? You’ll probably need a 640 or better credit score, in addition to proof of steady employment and earnings. You’ll find it easier to get back in the game if you also managed to save enough for a 20% or better down payment. There are still programs that allow for as little as 3-5% down, but the credit-background scrutiny associated with those programs still might preclude you from using them. If you are a veteran and never used your VA benefits, you might also tap into that resource. The USDA Rural Development Program is still offering great programs for those who qualify on properties that are considered to be rural.

I'm not a mortgage expert; so, the best advice that I can give you is to contact a local mortgage person – I would recommend Steve Bloom (248-224-2321) of A and N Mortgage in this area - and have them take a look at your situation. Even if they tell you that you’re just not quite there yet, they can usually give you good advice on what you may need to do over the next year or so to be ready. You can read more about Steve on on Move to Milford Web site - he is the Featured Business of the Month this month

Once You've got things worked out with Steve and he tells you what you can afford, give me a call and I'll help you find that new home. It won't be easy, because the market is extremely tight on inventory right now, but there are still great houses out there. You just need to be ready to act quickly when you find the one that you want. Get your mortgage pre-approval ready. You've waited long enough, don't waste another day!

Wednesday, July 9, 2014

Foreclosures and HOA – by Emily Dressler

Ed. - Today's post is a guest article by Emily Dresser of the web site

What happens when a financial institution or other group buys a condo development out of foreclosure? Do they have to follow the original deed that the developer had or the agreements the original developer had with the local government as a site condominium development? Is this situation similar to a zombie title foreclosure?

Currently, zombie foreclosures represent every one in five foreclosures nationwide, according to housing data firm RealtyTrac. It’s not just individual homeowners losing their homes to foreclosure; some condominium developers have lost developments to foreclosure after filing for bankruptcy.
A foreclosed or abandoned site condo complex could quickly turn into a modern ghost town and can create numerous legal issues for homeowners who purchased units in the development early on and for a homeowners’ association. Owners who moved into the development before it was completed are left wondering if the development will be finished, if the proposed amenities will be built, and if necessary infrastructures like roads will be finished. Who is responsible to complete the development? How will warranty claims be addressed? Can they stay in their homes? Will the new owner follow the covenants in the master deed?

A number of things could happen in a situation like this, and any owner is advised to seek legal counsel. Some states have laws addressing the bankruptcy of condominium developers and what happens to the HOA if the developer declares bankruptcy.

The new owner could terminate the Homeowner’s Association, or could buy enough units to gain control of the association. Many condo owners depend on their HOA for routine maintenance, landscaping, and other amenities. If the required number of units hasn’t sold for the developer to hand over control of the HOA after they have filed for bankruptcy, the homeowners are often left to defer to state law and the Uniform Common Interest Ownership Act (if the state is a UCIOA state).

The homeowners who are left behind after the foreclosure sale could possibly seek judicial declaration stating that the developers’ bankruptcy is a de facto turnover of the association to the homeowners. This allows the owners to have control of the HOA, assuming enough of the units are occupied.
Emily Dressler writes for, a leading publisher of state- and county-specific real estate deeds. For a more in-depth look at zombie titles and foreclosures visit,, and to purchase a state-specific real estate deed, visit    

(Ed. – We certainly experienced what Emily wrote about locally, with several site condo developments abandoned by the original developers, many of whom when out of business or bankrupt and sold off the remaining lots or lost them to the banks. Fortunately, many developers locally just shut things down and rode out the recession and have now resumed building. In the interim early buyers were left with a feeling of abandonment and confusion over what their rights might be and what obligations they might have inadvertently inherited.)

Tuesday, July 8, 2014

Granny's Attic Sale

A part of the "Village Lifestyle" that I wrote about last time are all of the little events that take place in The Village of Milford. This weekend there are two events to partake of going on - the annual Summer Sidewalk Sales, at which the downtown merchant literally move a part of their inventory out onto the sidewalks and conduct sales. In addition there are food tent a beer tent and music to keep the event going until 10 PM at night and beyond. The downtown merchants close up shop at 10 PM but the beer tent and music go on to provide entertainment until midnight.

In addition to the Sidewalk Sales the Milford Historical Society will be holding it's annual Granny's Attic Sale from 10 AM until 5 PM both days on the lawn and front porch of the Milford Historical Museum at 124 E. Commerce Rd (one block from Main Street) in downtown Milford. This is sort of like a church rummage sale, only on steroids and without the clothes. There are items that are donated from estates in the Milford, Highland and Commerce areas during the year, in addition to items donated by the Historical Society membership.There's no clothing at this sale, but there will be some furniture and this year there are some very unique items from area estates. There will be a collection of vintage console and table-top radios and a collection of N-gauge model railroad equipment and accessories. Additionally there is Depression-era glassware and lots of glass and china bowls, dishes and knick-knacks. Come out to Milford and find a hidden treasure at the Granny's Attic sale.

See below for some pictures of the kinds of items that you'll be able toe find at Granny's Attic -

Thursday, July 3, 2014

Milford Michigan and The Village Lifestyle…

There are many types of lifestyle properties within the real estate spectrum. Some, like golf communities and lake front communities are oriented around leisure-time activities. Others, like horse-oriented properties and gentlemen’s farms, are more about country living and animals. There are people who prefer the more rustic, “up north cabin” style, many of whom build (or live in) log homes, often in deeply wooded settings. The vast majority of America’s housing is located in what are called bedroom communities – those large suburban subdivisions with row upon row of similar looking homes, each on what are usually neatly kept lots of similar (smaller) size.  Then there are the urban dwellers in the larger cities, either in urban neighborhoods with individual homes or in the real urban setting of condo, apartments and lofts. Finally there are the small towns and villages, many of them originally farm towns, which lie out beyond the suburbs.

One such village is The Village of Milford, where I live, and it is the subject of this article on what I call “The Village Lifestyle.” Milford is a small Village of about 6,300 in southwestern Oakland County that is located about equidistance fromI-96 to the south and M-59 to the north. Milford is just far enough off the beaten path to have been spared the “Big Box Store” invasion that killed so many small towns and villages, yet close enough to that type of shopping to make it convenient for its residents. It has retained a lot of its quaint small town flavor; so much so that I often refer to it as the Mayberry of Michigan, in reference to the old Andy Griffith show.

The Milford downtown area is still made up primarily of historic buildings that have remained unchanged in appearance since the late 1800’s, but with a few more modern building and certainly with modern stores. Downtown Milford remains a place where one can shop for useful items such and clothing or shoes or furniture and in which several very good restaurants are located. Having a viable and vibrate downtown provides the foundation of “The Village Lifestyle.” The fact that we have a very good housing stock arrayed around the downtown with sidewalks to encourage walking to the downtown is also a key factor in the lifestyle of Milford.

Milford also has 6 parks within its boundaries, with Central Park in the middle of the Village being the primary focal point for events. The Huron River runs right through the Village also and it and the tributaries that feed it in Milford were the original draw for the settlers who founded the Village in the mid- 1800’s. While the original mills that gave the Village its name are long gone, the mill ponds that they were built upon remain and give the Village additional water features, including two waterfalls.

In addition to the historic buildings of downtown Milford, much of our close-in housing stock is made up on homes built before the turn of the Nineteenth Century. Another significant number of homes in Milford were built before 1950, many right after World War II. More modern subdivisions are arrayed around the Milford downtown core, many of them still within walking distance to downtown. That is important because so much of the Village Lifestyle revolves around the things that go on downtown – shopping, dining and special events.

Speaking of special events; it is the well planned series of events during the year that makes Milford special to the surrounding communities, too. There is something going on in Milford almost every month of the year, from Ladies Night Out twice a year in Downtown to what seems like the monthly parade in the summer. We have three major parades a year through downtown; these are parades that close off Main Street so that the parade can march down it. They are the Memorial Day Parade, which kicks off the parade season each year and attracts also most 1,000 veterans marching in front of applauding crowds lining Main Street, the Independence Day Parade (usually on the 4th of July) and the Christmas Parade on the weekend after Thanksgiving, which brings Santa to Milford for the holidays and closes out the parade season. Lest you think that is all, we have the Little League Parade, in which the Little League teams all march in their uniforms prior to opening the season; then there are the Milford High Home Game Parades during the fall football season and the Milford High School Home Coming Parade and the annual Martin Luther King March on Main Street.

Those are not the only events to close off Main Street. There is our big summer event – the Milford Memories Street Fair, one of the top-50 rated street fairs in the U.S.; and the annual Sidewalk Sale and of course our big Milford Car Show which features over 200 cars all the way down Main Street. The Car Show takes place on Milford Home Tour weekend, which is an annual tour put on by the Milford Historical Society through 5 of our historic homes on the Saturday and Sunday of the third weekend in September. That is a busy weekend. There is also a Tractor Show out at the south end of town and the annual Rotary Club Rubber Duck Race in Central Park. Later in the summer or in early fall the Milford Crit bicycle races are held on a course laid out to include the downtown area. At Halloween we have the annual Parade of Costumes on Main Street in which the downtown business owners stand in their building doorways and hand out candy to the children in costume as the pass.

Speaking of Central Park; there are events there all summer long, too. Every Thursday night during the summer there is a free concert in the park featuring different groups with different musical styles. At least three times du ring the summer there are free movies in Central Park, too; and there is the annual Community Picnic that is usually in June. There are also free concerts in Center Street Park (right in the middle of downtown) at the Gazebo on Friday nights during the summer and a Farmers Market every Thursday afternoon at the south end of the downtown.

If you are athletically inclined and a runner, there are at least two races each year – a 30K on Memorial Day and shorter 5 & 10 Ks during Milford Memories. There is also the bike path that starts at the Milford library and winds its way out to the nearby Kensington Metropark, which itself has running and biking trails. There are mountain bike trails maintained by the very active Milford Bike Club and riding trails for horseback used and maintained by the local Milford Trail Riders Club. There are also two canoe/kayak liveries locally, so that residents or visitors can take advantage of the Huron River. There is also the YMCA (with workout facility and pool) and the Anytime Fitness club within the Village limits, if getting your exercise is important. There are several baseball diamonds around the Village, too; and the middle school has a soccer field as well as baseball fields.  Milford High and has athletic field and a huge swimming facility.

Supporting the needs for the arts are the Village Fine Arts Association, which recently open a studio on south Main Street – the Susan Haskew Art Center, aka. The SHAC. Milford residents also take advantage of the art and music programs and displays of the Huron Valley Council for the Arts, which is located north of the Village in Highland. For education there is the Milford Library, which runs an on-going series of reading and learnign programs and the Huron Valley Recreation and Community Education Program run by the Huron Valley School District, with classes on a variety of topics for children and adults.

Many visitors come to our little Village looking for a good meal. We have some “destination restaurants” that attract people from far away – The Milford House, Coratti’s On Main, Palete and Smoke Street BBQ – and an assortment of eateries for foods of all types. There are Chinese (Lie Ting) and Thai, Mediterranean (The Blue Grill), American Bistro (Gravity), Farm to Table (Palate) and craft beer places (including the RiverSide Brewery), as well as great bars such as the The Bar and The Red Dog Saloon. Family-oriented eateries include Hector & Jimmy’s, Main Street Grill & Bar. We have four Coney places and an array of fast food and pizza places, so there’s never a time when you can’t find what you may desire. We will soon have a new Mexican restaurant in town, too.

Of course all of the major churches are also a part of our Village Lifestyle and they are active with events for the whole community in addition to their Sunday services. You can also find some throwback places that just scream “small town America” when you stumble upon them – the little 2-chair barbershop right on Main Street, the old fashion Milford Feed store where you can buy feed for a great variety of animals and buy a bale of hay for Halloween decorating; the Milford Furniture Store and the Sweet Retreats candy store across the street both harken back to simpler days. There’s also the Milford Historical Museum with its displays of pioneer cabin life and life at the turn of the 19th Century, along with pictures and memorabilia from Milford’s past.

We also have two waterfalls, one right behind the Mill Valley Shopping plaza that empties off an old mill pond and one in Central Park that is beside the old Powerhouse. Yes, Milford has a powerhouse; one that as bullt by Henry Ford in the 1930’s to provide power for the Ford Carburetor Plant that Ford built as a part of his Village Industries project to take manufacturing out to the countryside and put farmers to work. The Powerhouse was designed by famous architect Albert Khan and is opened for public tours during events like the Milford Home Tour.

All of those things provide the physical backdrop of the events that are put on by the very strong community groups in Milford – The Milford Township Parks and Recreation Department, The Huron Valley Chamber of Commerce, The Milford Downtown Development Authority (DDA), The Downtown Businesses Association), the Milford Rotary Club, the Milford Historical Society, the Milford K of C, the local Optimists Club and others. Those local organizations plan and run all of the events that are part of the Village Lifestyle and make Milford such a great place to live.

So, what is the Village Lifestyle? It is having all of these facilities and programs and events to partake of and being able to do most of them by just walking to them from your home. Ask the people who live there and they wouldn’t trade it for anything else.

To learn more about Milford and what’s going in there go to the web sites below –