Category Archives: Useful Information

Fire Safety is Key during Winter Months!

There have already been several home first this winter season. The frigid temps and potential for power outages bring on additional risks. In addition to have working smoke detectors through-out your entire home, please use additional safety measures including but not limited to;

  • Never leave space heathers unattended or on overnight
  • Don’t burn anything except dry seasoned wood in your fireplace
  • Make sure your chimney flue is open and unobstructed
  • Ashes can remain hot for days, remove and store in a noncombustible container outside of the house
  • Never leave candles unattended
  • Keep generators as far away from the structure as possible
  • Plug on 1 heat-producing appliance into an outlet at a time
  • Keep flammable objects at least 3 feet from heat sources

Also, make sure you have an escape plan in the unfortunate even of a house fire. Doors and windows should never be blocked.

Stay safe and warm this winter!


Buying a House in Michigan? What closing costs can you expect to pay.

Buying a House in Michigan

Are you thinking about buying a house in Michigan? Deciding to buy a house, especially for the first time, can be a very intimidating process! So much to think about and to plan out. So many questions to have answered.

One frequently asked question is what exactly do I have to pay to buy a house? Fortunately, most of the cost of selling and transferring the property is paid for by the seller. As a buyer, the bulk of your costs are pro-rated reimbursements and mortgage costs.

Your lender can give you a closing cost estimate based on the purchase price and probable taxes for the area you are looking.
You can ask them for this with your pre-approval.

Property Taxes

In Michigan, We pay our property taxes in advance. You have your city & county taxes, one due July 1st each year covering July 1 – June 30th the following year, and one due December 1st covering December 1st – Nov 30th of the following year. Because of this, when you close on a house you must reimburse the seller for the taxes they’ve already paid. The title company pro-rates the taxes by computing the daily rate, and then multiplies it by the number of days you will own the home, to calculate how much you will owe the seller at closing.

Pre-Paid Utilities

In cities where you pre-pay for things like garbage collection, this will also be prorated like Taxes so that you pay for the days you own the property, and the seller pays for the days they own the property.

Condo Fee’s

If you are purchasing a condo or house with association fee, this is another item that will be prorated at closing since it is typically paid in advance. You will pay for the days you will own the condo and the seller pays for the days they will.

Closing Fee

As a buyer, you pay a closing fee to the title company to prepare paperwork and close the transaction. This fee is typically $450-$550, maybe a little less if it is a cash purchase.

Buyers Agent Transaction Fee

Your agent will be paid their commission through the seller on a traditional listing. Most buyers brokers charge a small transaction fee which covers the storage or your transaction documents so that a copy will always be available should you need it. Our fee is $325.

Lenders Title Insurance

While the seller is responsible for owners title insurance which protects you against any undetected defects in title, your lender will also require you purchase a policy of title insurance to protect the loan they are giving you. Lenders title insurance costs are based on the purchase price.

Recording Charges

As a buyer, you pay the costs to records your new deed and new mortgage if applicable. The cost from the County is per page and is usually about $100 for a deed & mortgage.

Mortgage Costs

Your largest expense closing cost wise will be your mortgage costs. These cost fluctuate based on your credit, your purchase price, the type of loan, etc. So this is something you have to speak with a loan office for, to go over your specific situation. That’s why, the first step in the home buying process is always to get pre-approved. Then you know exactly where you stand, and how much money you can expect to need at closing.

Down Payment

Your down payment is typically your largest expense. Unless you qualify for a VA loan your down payment will range from 1% to 20% depending on the loan type you go with

Most loan programs allow you to roll your closing costs into you mortgage so long as the properties appraisal value allows enough equity to do so, which is a great option if you are hoping to keep some cash in the bank to do property repairs and cosmetic upgrades. In many situations, buyers are able to come to the closing table only having to pay their down payment, with the rest of their closing costs financed!

If you have any questions about the buying process or are ready to start looking, feel free to contact me at anything. For a home buyers outline please visit my Michigan Buyers Resource Center and if you would like to get set up on a MLS property search — Click the Find My Dream Home tag on my website.

HOW TO: The Perfect Home Search

5 Reasons You Shouldn’t Wait Until Spring to Buy a House

Current data suggests winter actually is the best time to be a home buyer, Here’s Why:
1. You’ll pay less!
Even though the market in general is still a “sellers market”, during the winter months it tends to favor the buyer more. Many buyers pause their home search during the winter either because     they’re too busy with the hollidays or simple don’t want to look at homes in the frigid winter weather. With these buyers out of your way you’re less likely to find yourself in a multiple offer over asking price situation, and may save thousands by avoiding it.
2. Better Interest Rates!
They are predicting the market and property values will continue to rise in 2015, Interest rates will likely do the same. As the market begins to rebound from the winter slow down in the spring, interest rates will probably go up as well. Many people thing a 1/4 percentage point isn’t really a big deal, but when you look at the big picture that 1/4 percent will cost you. You would be sinking an extra $5000 into a $100,000 house. That’s not including the extra closing costs you will pay for pre-paid interest.
3. Less Competition!
Since many buyers do hault their home search during the winter months, if you decide to break from the norm you’ll have a leg up against them. Sellers wont have their “pick of the litter” when it comes to home buyers, giving you a better advantage and a better chance at an accepted offer. You have more negotiating power when the seller has less options.
4.  Motivated Sellers!
Because the marke tends to slow down in the winter, many sellers also hold off on listing their homes unless they absolutely have to. That being send, the homes on the market tend to be sellers that have urgency to sell. Either their being relocated or possible going through a divorce, they have a genuine motivation to sell, and may be more negotiable when it comes to pricing.
5. Quicker Closings
Since the mortgage and title companies tent to be less busy in the winter too, you’ll be able to take advantage of a quicker and likely smoother closing, which will put keys in your hand sooner than expected! You may even get a better deal on closing costs! Because there’s less buyers in the winter, loan offices may be more likely to fight for your business because they too are slow. Which means even more savings for you!
So Lets get you moved! If I’m already sending you properties, take a look at your list and lets make a time to go out shopping. If I’m not, lets get you set up on a search. Click Here to send me your criteria and I’ll get you set up with an MLS search.

Margo Borkin
Real Estate One
$14,000,000 Sold in 2014
6960 Orchard Lake #150 West Bloomfield, MI 48322 | 248-419-3160 |
2014 Hour Magazine ALL STAR – Presidents Council of Excellence
Website ::: Facebook ::: Twitter ::: Google+ ::: Linked In ::: Blog ::: Pinterest

© Margo Borkin Real Estate
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How do Property Taxes work in Michigan

Property taxes can be confusing, ever for those of us that deal with them everyday! Here’s a brief and simple breakdown of the process.

All homes are assessed by the city/township to determine their value. They do this by using sales trends in the area. It is usually a vague, but reasonably accurate figure for an average house in the subject area. For this purpose, lets say the municipality has decided your home is worth $100,000.

Your SEV or State Equalized Value is 50% of your assessed value, so in this demonstration your SEV would be $50,000.  For this hypothetical lets say this is your first year at this house. In that case, your taxable value would also be $50,000 (we’ll get more into taxable value in a moment).

So now that we have your taxable value, which is the actual value they tax you on, lets talk dollars and cents.

Each city determines (and we vote on) a millage rate. This rate includes monies for the schools, monies for the city, for the county, etc. Each school district with-in a city will have a separate millage rate, and there is also a separate millage rate for principal residences vs. second/investment homes (non principal residences).

Now, Your millage rate is the dollars per thousand you pay in property taxes off of your taxable value. Lets say your millage rate is 25 and calculate your yearly taxes.

$50,000 (taxable value) / $1000 = 50
50 x 25 (millage rate) = $1250

You can view millage rates on Oakland County’s website at:

Taxable Value

Here’s where things get a little tricky. In Michigan, we are on a “cap rate” type of system. The city/county can only raise your taxable value by the inflation rate NOT the actual increased value of the house. So if values in the area went up 20%, but the inflation rate for that year was 1.016, they can not raise you any more than 1.016. You’re SEV will still go up the full amount, but your taxable will only go up the rate of inflation. This is where your SEV and Taxable begin to not match up. However, anytime there is a deed transfer, the cap is removed and the properties value is reassessed. So here is a scenario.

Its now your 2nd year in your house. Home values have been going up, now your house is valued at $120,000!! The tax assessment you get in the mail will read an SEV of $60,000, but the inflation rate multiplier this year is 1.016, so your taxable value reads $50,800 and you are only taxed on that $50,800. Now, if you had made any additions to your property that year they can adjust your taxable in excess of the inflation rate, for the addition only, it will not reset your whole SEV.

For more details on the inflation rate multiplier from the State of Michigan click here

Appealing your Taxes

During our most recent recession, tax appeals were much needed. The municipalities were not keeping up with the rapid decline of home values, and many people were grossly over assessed and needed to appeal.  Now that everything has stabilized most everyone’s SEVs are in line and there is no longer much need to appeal taxes.

If you do feel you are unfairly assessed, the time to appeal is in March. You will receive your assessment early/mid march laying our what you will be assessed at for the next year. That statement will tell you the appeal procedure and dates for your city. You will need to justify your claim, it is suggested you take with you either comparables from a realtor or an appraisal if you have one. Please note, your assessed value is the value of your home on December 31st of the previous year.

You will only see a reduction in your actual taxes if the new SEV is lower than your current taxable value. So there isn’t too much of a reason to appeal unless you think both figures are too high.

If you have any questions about you property taxes or would like comparables for an appeal, contact us below.


Margo Borkin
Real Estate One
$14,000,000 Sold in 2014
6960 Orchard Lake #150 West Bloomfield, MI 48322 | 248-419-3160 |
2014 Hour Magazine ALL STAR – Presidents Council of Excellence
Website ::: Facebook ::: Twitter ::: Google+ ::: Linked In ::: Blog ::: Pinterest

© Margo Borkin Real Estate
If you’re viewing this information on a site owned by someone other than Margo Borkin Real Estate, it has been stolen. Please report to us here.

Happy Thanksgiving! Turkeys: Fact or Myth?

FACT OR MYTH? Turkey Makes you Sleepy?

MYTH: It’s most likely the combination of overeating, probably alcohol consumption and general holiday stress that makes you drowsy on turkey day. There is no evidence to suggest the amino acid previously to blame for your food coma actually makes you tired. There are actually higher levels of the AA in Chicken!

FACT OR MYTH? The original Thanksgiving didn’t include Turkey?

FACT: While there are no official records or documentations, experts believe that Venison and Fowl were the main dishes at the first Thanksgiving feast.

FACT OR MYTH? Turkey Day has always been in November?

MYTH: The original Thanksgiving is believed to have been sometime in September or October.

FACT OR MYTH? You’ll get food poisoning by stuffing the turkey?

MOSTLY MYTH: While it is possible if you don’t properly cook them, it is highly unlikely if you do it right. The stuffing should be 165 degrees when done (and the thigh 180 degrees)

FACT OR MYTH? Basting a turkey keeps it moist!

MYTH: The basting liquid, for the most part, can’t even penetrate the turkeys skin. Basting actually does more harm than good as you lose cooking heat every time you open the oven door. It does make for a nice color and flavor to the skin though. Want a super moist turkey? Brine it overnight first!

FACT OR MYTH? You should wash your turkey before cooking.

MYTH: Experts are now saying this (same for chicken) does more harm than good. When washing the turkey you likely splash water around, spreading any possible bacteria around your kitchen (and really don’t wash off the bird anyway). If you cook the turkey properly, you have a very little chance of bacteria on the bird.

Real Estate Scams Now Hitting Zillow, 5 Ways to Avoid Being Targeted

I’ve posted before about the ridiculous rental scams that plague unsuspecting home buyers. These scams were previously limited to sites like Craigslist, but have now taken to top name real estate sites like Zillow as well.  Zillow allows owners to post their for sale by owner, con artists are now abusing this privilege by using it as their new playground. Here’s what you need to do to steer clear:

5- If its too good to be true, its too good to be true.
I saw a for sale by owner house on Zillow today for $23,000 in Birmingham, MI. This was very clearly, false. A quick MLS search showed the home was actually valued and listed at $349,000. The scammers target homes that are listed, but clearly vacant, and then copy the listing and photos over to a new posting with an unbelievable price to lure you into giving them a cash down payment.
If the price isn’t in line with the market value, its not likely to be real.

4- Verify All Data
Before meeting with the “seller” get their name, phone number, email and whatever other information you can get and google it all. See if you find any inconsistencies. Google the address of the property and see if its listed somewhere else for a different price. Check the address in the white pages and see who it lists as living there. BUT that usually isn’t even enough, a recent craigslist scam had the con artists actually signing their emails with the real owners name!

3- Read Between The Lines
A majority of these scams come from our of the country, places such as Nigeria. When reading their emails, you will usually see inconsistencies in their English and the way they write. Many times they are using translating software that translates their emails into English, but since most languages don’t translate word for word, you are usually able to tell if that is the case.

2- Never Give Cash
You should never in any large transaction be it a car or a house, give someone cash. It should always be a money order or certified check that is attached to a tracking #. A lot of times con artists will insist on cash only, that is a good indicator they are scamming you. Asking you to wire money is also a very good hint that it’s a scam. The tracking #s on money orders and certified checks still don’t trace down the person, but it’s a step in the right direction if you do find yourself in a bad situation.

And the #1 piece of advise to avoid a real estate scam

1- Hire a Realtor!
As a renter/buyer you don’t pay the realtors commission, so there is no benefit to you of not using a professional in your house hunt and is you’re best change against avoiding a scam.
NOTE: Zillow (and most sites) have a “FLAG LISTING” or “REPORT LISTING” option. If you suspect a listing is fake, flag it! They will investigate and remove it.


Margo Borkin
Real Estate One
$10,000,000 Sold in 2013

6960 Orchard Lake #150 West Bloomfield, MI 48322 | 248-419-3160 | 248-419-0930 fax
2013 Hour Magazine Real Estate ALL STAR –
Presidents Council of Excellence

Website ::: Facebook ::: Twitter ::: Google+ ::: Linked In ::: Pinterest

How To: Finding your dream home

House hunting can be challenging, especially in a seller’s market when there are more buyers then homes available.  Assuming a home is priced right and well marketed, it will sell very quickly, and as a buyer you need to be ready to jump on an opportunity when it presents itself. You should know what you want, but at the same time, not be too picky. I always tell buyers, if you can get 4 out of the 5 things you wanted, you won.

Location Location Location

Location is one of the things that you can not change. Your first and main search priority should be the location you want. Is it close to work and friends. Do you like the school district (even if it doesn’t apply to you consider resale value). Is it near parks or entertainment venues you frequent. I would never suggest compromising on the location.

Floor Plan and Size

The size & floor plan should be conducive to your current family size. While you can tear down walls and add on to the house, these are costly modifications. So its okay to be picky when it comes to floor plan & find what’s going to work for you.


Focus on what you can’t change. If you need a basement, you can’t add one later. But restricting yourself to only looking at home with a finished basement WILL hinder your search & cut your possibilities in half. This is something you can change at a later date for a reasonable amount of money.


While it can be very distracting to walk in a house with Neon Green paint or wallpaper, try your best to look past it and envision the house in your colors. If the house has the perfect location & the perfect floor plan, but has neon green paint. Buy the house! While you may spend a couple thousand having the house professionally repainted, you likely saved double that on the sales price.

Known when to compromise

If most homes in your price range have 3 Bedrooms and 1 Bath, waiting for that 2 bath home may cost you. In a market when prices and interest rates are rising, your search should be based on truly “must haves” and keep the “nice to haves” as a bonus.
So if you’re current home search isn’t producing enough of the right  results, it might be time to broaden your criteria. Go through your requirements and determine the “must haves” and “nice to haves” and you might find quite a few more possible homes available!


Margo Borkin
Real Estate One
$14,000,000 Sold in 2014
6960 Orchard Lake #150 West Bloomfield, MI 48322 | 248-419-3160 |
2014 Hour Magazine ALL STAR – Presidents Council of Excellence
Website ::: Facebook ::: Twitter ::: Google+ ::: Linked In ::: Blog ::: Pinterest

© Margo Borkin Real Estate
If you’re viewing this information on a site owned by someone other than Margo Borkin Real Estate, it has been stolen. Please report to us here.