My Blog

Student Loan Debt Crisis

6/7/2019

While debt is a problem facing many Americans, student loan debt is the biggest factor holding millennials up in their ability to purchase a home. Mortgage debt is still the vast majority of overall consumer debt, but it is not growing nearly at the rate that student loan debt is growing at. According to fortune.com, since 2009 mortgage debt increased 3.2% while student loan debt grew 102%. That is an astronomical increase! 

Many millennials desire to purchase homes but are delaying home ownership in an effort to pay down, or pay off, student loans. We have many lenders in the area who work with buyers wishing to purchase a home but need to maintain an appropriate debt-to-income ratio. If you or someone you know desires to purchase a home but is struggling with student loan debt, give me a call today and I will help direct you to lenders who might be able to help. In the meantime, we can start looking for the home you desire!

Identity Theft is a Real Concern!

5/20/2019
The new, fast growing threat: Account Takeover. Thieves trick victims into revealing account information on a fraudulent website in order to install malware on their computers or mobile devices. They gain access to a victim's account and pilfer money through transfers and withdrawals. To keep your accounts safe:
  • Never click on links inside unusual email or text messages. Instead, open your browser and go to a company's home page directly.
  • Don't be fooled by well-crafted emails or text messages. Thieves and hackers are now more sophisticated than ever.
  • Watch for text message requests to update your app or account information. Always update your app through a vendor's website or app store. 
Here are some additional tips for securing your identity and information:
  • Review the privacy and security settings on financial and shopping sites.
  • Install security features on your computer to protect against viruses, spyware, and malware.
  • Use strong passwords and change them periodically. Avoid using the same password across multiple sites or relying on cloud-based password manager apps, which could expose all of your information at once.
  • Store physical documents with your personal information in a locked filing cabinet. Shred what you don't need (including bills and receipts).
  • Never leave mail inside your mailbox for long periods of time.
Identity theft is a real concern and it is important to take this steps to safeguard yourselves and your loved ones! 

Top Reasons to Sell Your Home in Spring!

3/19/2019
Sometimes it is difficult to know whether or not it is a good time to sell. There are fewer buyers out there in the middle of winter right after the holidays or sometimes even in fall after summer vacations, but the question is: When should you sell? Spring has statistically shown to be a great time to sell. Here's why:
  1. Buyers are ready to purchase!
    Spring brings in an influx of eager buyers. Winter in the U.P. can be long and we certainly have had a lot of snow this year! As the weather slowly warms and the snow melts, buyers often start actively looking for houses in the spring. Also keep in mind: Many sellers decide to put their house on the market in the spring - we recommend getting your property up for sale early to get a lead on the competition!
  2. Everyone wants to get settled before summer's end!
    Homebuyers are anxious to get through the homebuying process in the spring. Relocating and getting settled takes time, especially if they have a family. Buyers often hope to move in their new home between late spring and early summer so they are well settled in before the upcoming school year.
  3. Homes sell faster and for more!
    According to researchers at Zillow, springtime is the best time to sell your home. Their studies show that homes listed between mid-March and mid-April sold about 15% quicker than homes listed during any other time. Granted, those are nationwide statistics. Yet here in the U.P. we definitely see a similar advantage to getting your home on the market in early spring. 

There are other potential advantages as well. If you would like a free comparative market analysis of your home to determine what your home might sell for in today's market, please call me today! I would be happy to help you understand the current market so you can make a decision if now is the right time for you to sell. Call me anytime at 906-236-3750. My licensed assistant, Karen Bruce, and I are happy to help you out!

Downtown Marquette Restaurant Week

3/4/2019
March 3-10, 2019 is downtown Marquette's Restaurant Week! This is a great opportunity to check out and support local restaurants! Many places have $10 lunch items and select dinner specials for $25. To check out the participating restaurants and the deals they are offering, go to https://downtownmarquette.org/restaurant-week/

Winter Driving Emergency Kit

2/14/2019

Wow! We really have a lot of snow this winter! So frequently we hear the advice of having a winter emergency kit in our vehicle and with the weather we have been getting, this is so crucial! Here is a list of recommended items. Hopefully you'll never need them, but if you do, I'm certain you will be glad you were prepared.

  • A full tank of gas (or close to it!)
  • First aid kit
  • Cell phone charger
  • BLANKETS!
  • Flashlight
  • Ice scraper/brush
  • Jumper cables
  • Warm hats, mittens, etc...
  • Water and snacks
  • Flares
  • Music/games (if you are traveling with children this may really help)
Drive carefully when you go out this winter!

Things To Do This Weekend!

1/31/2019

The sub zero temps look like they will be breaking soon, and just in time for some awesome winter activities this weekend. On Saturday, February 2, Tahquamenon Falls State Park is hosting guided snowshoe hikes. A guided snowshoe hike from 2:00-3:00 through the forests of the Upper Falls is the perfect Saturday activity for the whole family. You will learn tips and tricks for staying upright in your snowshoes, while also learning about winter ecology during this fun one mile off-trail excursion. No pre-registration is required and there will be snowshoes available to borrow. The fun begins at the Upper Falls Fact Shack near the bonfire. Another option is in the evening from 6:00-8:30 with a lantern lit hike/snowshoe. Kick off Michigan State Park's centennial celebration with a hike/shoe on the one mile lantern-lit trail at the Upper Falls! The trail is illuminated with over 70 kerosene lanterns and loops through the beautiful winter forest. The trail begins and ends near the Upper Falls trail head located at the end of the Upper Falls parking area, there will be a limited number of snowshoes available to borrow and there is no pre-registration required. 

While the events will be canceled if the wind chill is -10 or below, it does look like we'll be in the clear by Saturday! You can visit their Facebook page at www.facebook.com/TQFalls for more information.

The beauty of Tahquamenon State Park extends way beyond the falls. The hiking trails there are amazing! Having had the opportunity to camp and explore the park for a week this past summer, I know how wonderful it is and there is still so much more I would love to see. The opportunity to see it in the winter would be fantastic! Take your family or a group of friends and take advantage of this opportunity this weekend!

New Listing! 1024 S Lake St

1/15/2019
Ever dreamed of living on Lake Superior but want to be close to downtown? Wished of a lake view property that is more of a small cozy home than a huge house with too much space? 1024 S. Lake St. in Marquette might be the perfect place for you! South Lake Street is one of our most desirable locations in the city of Marquette! Superior view out of your front window, white sand South Beach just a few steps from your front yard, and Lake Superior and all its splendor for you to gaze at and enjoy 12 months out of the year! This cozy ranch features 3 bedrooms, one bath, and a one car detached garage. Steel roof and newer vinyl siding, triple pane windows throughout. Jump on the Heritage Trail with your bike or walk to downtown Marquette just to your North. Enjoy the 4th of July fireworks without leaving home! Shopping, dining, breweries, bike trails, Marquette Mountain Ski Hill just a couple miles away, fishing and kayaking, you name it. Make this your quiet Marquette and U.P. year around or seasonal residence today! Check out the YouTube video for more information about the listing!

Indoor Winter Activities for Kids

1/10/2019
There are so many great ways for kids to enjoy the outdoors in the winter, and we live in one of the greatest places to do that! However, there are great indoor activities coming up that can also help your kids burn off some energy!
  1. Pump Up The Dome! On February 2 from 10:00AM-6:00PM, the Superior Dome will be filled with inflatables as well as the world's largest sandbox, obstacle courses, and other interactive games! The cost is $12 for children 5 and older and $7 for children 4 and younger. Any adults accompanying a child cost just $1. More information can be found here.
  2. If your kids need to burn off creative energy, check out the youth events at HotPlate Pottery. They have many events designed just for kids to appeal to a range of interests!
  3. There can never be too many LEGOs! Check out the Lego Crew at Peter White Public Library on Fridays from 4:30-5:30. This is FREE and is located in the Great Room on the lower level. More information can be found here
  4. The Upper Peninsula Children's Museum is always a great option! Every trip is fun and kids can allow their curiosity and wonder to take control through the hands on exhibits.
  5. If you have older kids, check out Escape Marquette! You have 60 minutes to solve puzzles and clues to get out of a locked room. While it's fun for teams and friends, it's also a great family activity! Each room is themed and you can choose one that looks interesting to you. Reservations must be made in advance, so book your chance to escape now!
If indoor activities is what you are looking for, this is just a small list of many of the wonderful activities to do in the Marquette area to keep yourself (both mind and body) active during the winter months! If you know of anything else that should be added to this list, email karenbruce@remax.net!

Cost of Buying vs. Renting

12/19/2018

If you know you'll be in an area for only a year or two, renting is most likely the best option. However if you will be in an area for more than a few years, it might be a better investment to build equity in a home. In 2017, the average cost to rent in Michigan was $1,100 per month. The average mortgage in Michigan was $848 per month. That's a significant difference and as time goes on, you will build more and more equity. As you head into the new year, if you are renting, consider making 2019 the year you purchase a home. Michigan is one of the best states for first time homebuyers! There are no costs with having a buyer's agent and I would be honored to help you find your next home. Call me at 906-236-3750! Enjoy the holiday season and make 2019 your year!

(Data Source: https://www.gobankingrates.com/investing/real-estate/cost-renting-vs-owning-home-state-2017/#24)

Local Artist Spotlight: Carl R. Sams II and Jean Stoick

12/6/2018
The U.P. is such an amazing place to embrace nature and enjoy every season that comes our way! Getting kids interested and involved in nature is a great way to encourage healthy living and appreciation for the beautiful area we live in. Two local photographers have embraced nature and tell stories through their amazing photography to create children's stories for all to enjoy. Carl Sams and Jean Stoick bring woodland animals to life through their photography and use their gifts to share how amazing nature can be. Check out https://strangerinthewoods.com/ to find their children's books, board books, and DVDs. These would be amazing Christmas gifts for the children (or children at heart) in your life! Support local artists and give a gift that embraces the outdoors - you will surely love it!
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