Buying or Renting?
Finding and purchasing a home is an exciting experience and one of those life milestones for many people. Even if you have owned multiple properties, the rush of moving into your home is something no one ever forgets. For those first time home buyers to the seasoned purchasing professional, the following will provide a comprehensive overview of the buying and financing process.
Start at the Bank
Before you even start, it’s a great idea to start at your financial institution of choice.If you are new to the area and are looking to start banking locally, we have a whole host of great local lending institutions. West Shore Bank is the oldest financial institution in the region with roots as the State Savings Bank of Scottville founded in 1898. In addition to West Shore, Chemical Bank, one of Michigan’s largest financial institutions is also located right in downtown Ludington. Shelby State Bank is another community bank that has multiple branch locations up and down the Lake Michigan coastline. If you are accustomed to larger regional or national banks, we also have Fifth Third Bank along with PNC in the area.
We recommend you look around, meet with loan and banking representatives and find which one you feel the most comfortable with before making that all-important decision when purchasing your home or moving your finances. You can be certain that your banking experience at any of our financial institutions will be a pleasant one.
Start your home search
Buying a home sounds easy with the dawn of the internet. Hop on any one of the online sources and browse the various listings until your eyes hurt. We have all done it, but why not seek the counsel of the experts. The local realtors know the area inside and out and are sure to be able to assist you with any questions you have about what goes into the purchasing and negotiating process.
A good Realtor will save you hours and many long nights staring at the computer screen, and will have the access to get you into any property you are interested in purchasing. They also have a handle on the local market and can help you with starting price, comparables and other area data.
WHAT YOU NEED WHEN APPLYING FOR A MORTGAGE
Get your ducks in a row (as they say) before you even get to the bank and your process will go smoothly.
- Social Security Cards for all stakeholders.
- Copies of checking and savings account statements at your current financial institution (for the past 6-9 months).
- Your most recent paycheck stub outlining your earnings.
- Your prior 2 years income tax returns (personal & business if applicable).
- Documentation showing your current assets (bonds & stocks).
- A current list of consumer debts (credit cards, etc.) and current monthly payments.
- A list of outstanding loans (car, mortgage, student debt, etc.).
- Your current employer information and reference to verify your current employment.
Starting a new job? Career? Or thinking of a second home? Everything leading up to this choice can be quite overwhelming, so renting is still a desirable starting block for someone looking to eventually put roots down in the area. Of course, for some, renting continues to be an attractive option even after settling in. When you’ve found that perfect apartment, why leave? Finding a place can be a major challenge, but with a little assistance, transplants moving to the area can have success.
The Apartment Market
Many people looking for a place will start with price as a key factor, followed by location and size. Currently, in the Mason County area, the median monthly rent is $525/month when taking all of the apartments available in the area into consideration. There are many apartment complexes in the area that are all within the City of Ludington/Maritime Community and Commerce Corridor.
Some properties feature additional amenities such as club houses, fitness centers, and pools. Many of the apartment complexes are multi-story townhomes that have 4-10 units per building and multiple buildings within the confines of the complex. Many of the housing and apartment complexes in the area offer subsidized housing options and/or income-based rent.
If a more urban scene is a better fit for you, consider a second-story apartment or loft in downtown Ludington. Since the redevelopment of many downtown storefronts, the upstairs areas have been converted to hip, loft-style apartments. There is limited availability, so seek out the local classifieds, contact the Chamber of Commerce, property management companies, or any of the local real estate offices for assistance.
In addition, there are many private cottages and homes available for long term rental. Craigslist.com is a popular place for people to start along with the classifieds section in the local newspapers.
Another big question that frequently comes up when people are looking for rentals in any market, is the pet friendly aspect. Those four legged “kids” are very much a part of our lives, and we need to make sure they are welcome. Generally, many of the apartments available are pet friendly, however, looking into restrictions as to size, species, etc. are all important before signing a lease.
Know your rights as a renter
If you are new to the rental market, your rights as a renter vary from state to state. State laws affect many aspects of owning rental property in Michigan, from how much security deposit landlords may charge to what disclosures you must provide tenants. Eviction rules and procedures are especially complex in Michigan. Be sure to ask plenty of questions prior to signing your lease and educate yourself with our resource library available on Ludington.org.
Get renters insurance
In the State of Michigan, you are not required to have rental insurance, but we really recommend that you look into this as accidents can happen, and the insurance that is on the structure/apartment you are living in will probably not cover any damage to any of your belongings in the event of a loss. There are many great local insurance agents throughout Mason County that would be happy to work with you. Many insurance companies offer multi-policy discounts as well.