Welcome to Under The Roof!

Join me as I share the latest local and national real estate news!

As a full-time Realtor in Metro Detroit for over 16 years, I have had the opportunity to sell and tour some of the most beautiful properties and neighborhoods that Michigan has to offer.  I also have the privilege of seeing the latest trends in design and interior decorating.  My client roster includes fascinating people with rich life stories.  Now I would like to share my experiences with you!  Join me as I feature the people, places and things that make my career so fulfilling.  Feel free to email suggestions or questions of the topics you’d like to see covered in my blog.  Enjoy!


Backyard Spaces for Summer Days & Nights

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Making the Most of All Your Usable Space

The holiday weekend is here.  Ahhh…Memorial Day Weekend!  Quite possibly my favorite weekend of the year.  The kick-off to summer and all the good things the warm summer months bring:  Family picnics at Belle Isle Park.  Horseback riding at Maybury Riding Stable in Northville.  Summer concerts at Chene Park Ampitheatre.  Good times all, but perhaps my favorite summer activity is watching my husband, Carl, grilling dinner, enjoying a glass of wine on the patio and relaxing in my own backyard.  (Notice I said “watching my husband grill”.  That’s because we have an unspoken rule; I cook the majority of the meals during the cold months and he handles all the grilling in the summer.)

Are you making good use of your backyard?  Your backyard is really an extension of your home.  No less important than your kitchen, bathrooms and bedrooms and too many home owners don’t take advantage of this very usable space.

Patio Sets:

I designed my backyard with lots of green space; mainly because I’m not super creative but also because I enjoy a more relaxed setting.  I sprinkle a little color here and there with two Rose of Sharon bushes, a climbing rose bush and every year, I place a few pots of annuals (petunias, marigolds and begonias) around the patio.  Because I prefer a simple, comfortable setting, I selected a 7-piece patio set that I found at Home Depot.  I found a Hampton Bay set when the store was closing out their old inventory to make way for the new models.  I scooped it up for under $250.  (Yea, me!)  Even without such a deep discount, you can still find quality, affordable patio sets for under $500.  If you choose a more formal or elegant set, expect prices to range from $1,000 – $2,000.  Whatever your style, start with a quality patio set and take it from there.


Poolside Perfection:

Helen Harris knew in the first three minutes of the tour that this was her home.  The 2,678 sq ft colonial in the Southfield subdivision, Twyckingham Valley, would be the perfect place to raise her young son and daughter.  Built in 1970, the property had only one owner who maintained the home beautifully for 38 years, but hadn’t updated its interior in decades.  Harris looked past the blue shag carpet in the living room and the foil wallpaper in the main bath.  She knew she wanted certain features and this one checked all the boxes:  4 bedrooms, 2 full and 2 half baths, circular driveway, attached 2-car garage and a full, finished basement.  Yes, this one had the space and amenities she could work with, but what especially peaked her interest and sealed the deal was the generous pie-shaped backyard complete with an inground pool.  Helen and her husband, Charles, closed on their purchase in August 2009 and quickly got to work on renovations to bring the interior up to date.  By the following spring, they were ready to turn their attention to the outside spaces.

Helen readily admits that the design is all Charles because, like me, she lacks that creative gene, but boy did he deliver! Paramount to Charles, was the need for privacy and a comfortable setting for backyard entertaining that took advantage of the inground pool.  He started by adding a privacy fence around the perimeter.  The previous owner had installed a tennis court which was now overgrown with weeds and had fallen into disrepair.  He converted that space into a basketball court by adding DuraPlay outdoor court flooring and an inground basketball hoop.  The court was a big hit and their home quickly became the “go to” spot for their children’s friends.

Helen wanted a stress-free environment where she could decompress after a long day at work.  To achieve this goal, Charles added a 7-piece patio set with umbrella in the main patio area.  He added two chaise lounges with a fire pit poolside where Helen could put her feet up and look out over the pool at night.  Charles has continued to tweak his design over the years by adding a border of Arborvitae trees along the back fence and various decorative shrubbery and flowers.  On Mother’s Day this year, he earned extra brownie points by surprising his wife with a three-person swing with a canopy.  All of the hard work Charles has done has paid off.  He and Helen are preparing for the summer gatherings and quiet evenings that are sure to come and they take pride in the beautiful home they have created.

So, as we head into summer, take time to enjoy your outdoor spaces as much as you enjoy indoors.  If you’re like me and not very creative, you can always get design ideas from websites like House Beautiful, Country Living and Architectural Digest and you don’t have to break the bank to create a setting that suits your taste.  Whether you choose a simple or elaborate design, the goal is to create an environment that reflects your unique personality.  Most importantly, a beautifully designed backyard will ensure that you utilize your entire home.

Feel free to share photos of your backyard space in the comments section.  (I told you I’m not creative so I’m looking for more ideas!)  Have a safe and happy holiday weekend!


How to Buy a Home with Little or No Money Down

Home ownership is still a large part of the American Dream.  Unfortunately, too many feel this dream isn’t attainable because they believe they don’t have enough money to buy their own home.  In reality, there are many programs available to Michigan home buyers that help to keep out-of-pockets down.

In a typical home purchase, buyers are required to have funds for;

  • Down Payment
  • Closing Costs
  • Private Home Inspection
  • Homeowner’s Insurance Policy
  • Appraisal

These costs can add up.  For example, on a home purchase of $125,000, you can expect your out of pocket costs to exceed $10,000.  Let’s take a look;

Down Payment – On an FHA mortgage, the required down payment is 3.5% of the sales price (in this case, $4,375).  On a conventional loan, there are programs that require down payments ranging from 5-20%.  (If you’re interested in learning about specific down payment requirements, feel free to contact me for a referral to a mortgage professional who can explain various loans for which you may qualify).

Closing Costs – Also known as Cash to Close, these are the costs associated with acquiring a loan and purchasing a home.  They include; tax pro-ration reimbursement to the seller, loan origination fees, flood certification fee, credit report, tax service fee, initial escrow payment, title insurance and recording fees among others.  As a general rule, you can expect these costs will total approximately 6% of the sales price (in this case, $7,500).  Closing costs vary, so be sure to consult with your lending professional for a complete list of the specific costs you will be charged.

Private Home Inspection – I always recommend to my clients that they hire a private home inspector to conduct a thorough inspection of the property they plan to purchase.  After all, a home is quite likely to be the most expensive purchase you make in your life.  Shouldn’t you at least have a peek under the hood?  Home inspection costs vary, but a qualified home inspector can be found for $250-$500.

Homeowner’s Insurance Policy – Your lender will require that you purchase a homeowner’s insurance policy for your new home prior to granting final approval on your mortgage.  Several factors go into determining the cost of homeowner’s insurance.  If you are purchasing a home in the Metro Detroit area, estimate your cost for comprehensive coverage to range from $800 – $1,500.  Also, note that the policy must be in place prior to closing.  Consult with an insurance agent and mortgage lender on options for having this cost included in your Cash to Close costs.

Appraisal – Your lender will require that a professional appraisal of the home value be conducted and that the appraised value meet or exceed your agreed upon sales price.  The cost of an appraisal can range from $400 – $600.


There is a hope!  In an effort to increase homeownership by helping buyers reduce their out of pocket expenses, lenders, housing authorities, governmental agencies and non-profits have developed a number of down payment assistance programs.  These programs aren’t restricted to first-time home buyers and some don’t require that the buyer be low income.  Down Payment Connect is a free tool that helps you uncover homebuyer programs for down payment help, closing costs, tax credits and more.  Click on the link to find homebuyer programs in your area.  Simply enter your household information and request a full report to get all the details.  It’s that simple!

If you’re ready to begin your home search, contact me today!  Together, we can discover what options are available to you.