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Lake Blog

Quitclaim Deeds

michiganquitclaimdeedsRecently I wrote an article on Warranty Deeds. Another type of deed is the quitclaim deed.

As you may recall, a warranty deed is a document that conveys (warranties) the grantor’s (sellers) interest in a piece of real estate to another person.

On the other hand, a quitclaim deed disclaims any interest the grantor may or may not have in a piece of real estate to another party.

Quitclaim deeds are often used to clear up title defects that a property may have. They are often used to transfer interest in real estate from one family member or spouse to another.

Another common use of the quitclaim deed is a tax deed which governing authorities use when they sell real estate seized for non payment of real estate taxes.

The quitclaim deed doesn’t release the grantor of the quitclaim deed from any liabity or obligation they may have from any mortgage or secured lien secured on the property.

A quitclaim is not a quick claim deed, there is no such thing as a quick claim deed.

As with all real estate transactions, order a Survey and Title Insurance.

Written by Dave.

Closing Costs

michiganqueenannWhen selling or buying real estate, there are fees or costs involved. It is very easy to overlook or forget about the costs involved until it is time to sign the final papers.

Just so you are not surprised at the time of closing, I made a list of potential fees that may be involved. Different types of transactions or financing may involve different types of fees. The amount of the sale or the purchase price may also affect the amount of the fee that is involved.

Expenses could include but not be limited to:

  • Taxes, which could include: current, past due, prorated due to the city or township, county, state and school.
  • Property assessments, including due, pending or past due.
  • Payoffs of first, second mortgages oother type of debt.
  • Real Estate Commissions
  • Attorney fees
  • Notary fees
  • Survey expenses
  • Pest Inspections
  • Building inspections
  • Title insurance fees
  • Document preparation fees.
  • Fees associated with lender required escrows for hazard insurance, mortgage insurance, city or township, county taxes annual assessments

Other lender costs could include fees for a credit report, loan processing fees, application fees, lender inspection fees, appraisal, loan discounts or points, loan origination fees.

As you can see, it is important to always ask for an estimate of all closing costs and always ask about anything you do not understand.

Written by Dave.

What to do With the Family Cottage?

chairsbymichiganlakeSomething no one wants to talk about-what to do with Grandpa and Grandma’s lakefront cottage.

Some family members want to sell it and divide the proceeds among the heirs. Others love it with all the memories and can’t bear the thought of parting with it. Without careful planning, you can imagine the problems that could arise.

A friend recently recommended the book: Saving the Family Cottage and the Author’s Website Rather me than giving you a book review, check it out for yourself. It is full of good information and well worth the time!

Written by Dave.

What to do With the Family Cottage?

chairsbymichiganlakeSomething no one wants to talk about-what to do with Grandpa and Grandma’s lakefront cottage.

Some family members want to sell it and divide the proceeds among the heirs. Others love it with all the memories and can’t bear the thought of parting with it. Without careful planning, you can imagine the problems that could arise.

A friend recently recommended the book: Saving the Family Cottage and the Author’s Website Rather me than giving you a book review, check it out for yourself. It is full of good information and well worth the time!

Written by Dave.

Renting a Cottage

michiganlakefront-cottageRenting a lakefront cottage is an fun and relaxing way to spend a vacation. A cottage can be more affordable than a motel or hotel and offers more flexibility and privacy.

Michigan cottages come in all shapes, sizes locations, ages and prices. Everything is available from a one room cabin to deluxe year around homes with all the amenities. It is best to determine your needs and desires before you begin your search.

For many of us, cost is a big consideration when planning a vacation. Before renting a cottage, it is wise to determine how much you are willing to spend on the entire vacation. From that amount, subtract transportation costs, food and entertainment. The amount left is the price range you should be looking for when cottage hunting.

Asking yourself a few more questions before beginning your search will determine where, what and how to search.

How far are you willing to travel?

Do you want to stay directly on the waterfront, or would water access be acceptable to you?

What type of water activities are you looking for? Fishing, swimming or all sports?

Are you looking for a secluded location, or do you love meeting new people?

Do you need cable or internet access, a television, cell phone coverage? Or, do you want to get away from it all in a place where no one can reach you and there is no television to disturb your peace and quiet?

Do you want to be able to run to a nearby town for a quick burger?

If the weather is cold or rainy, do you have a back up plan?

A great vacation starts with good, well thought out planning. When you have answered these questions you are ready to begin you search.

After renting a number of waterfront cottages, we have prepared a list of what too ask. Watch our future posts

Written by Dave.

Renting a Cottage: What Questions to ask

michiganlakefrontcottage11You’ve made the decision. You are going to rent a cottage for you upcoming vacation. Now it is time to start looking. But, in order to have a relaxing vacation with no unpleasant surprises, you must do your homework and ask a few questions before signing a contract.

The Basic questions:
How many bedrooms?
How many bathrooms? Tub and shower?
Age of Cottage

Waterfront Questions:
Is it directly on the water? If not, how far is the access to the waterfront?
Do you share the waterfront with some one else?
What is the waterfront like, is it sandy? Suitable for swimming?How fast does it drop off? (good to know for small children)
How deep does it get?
Is there a dock?
How busy is the waterfront?
Are there restrictions as to use and times of usage?
Is the cottage level with the waterfront? Are there stairs involved to access the waterfront?

Miscellaneous Questions:

Are pets permitted?
Is there a limit to the number of people staying at the property? Are guests allowed?
Is this a no smoking cottage? You may want to know if former guests were smokers.
How close are the neighbors?
How much parking is available?
Who cleans the cottage between the guests? What is included in this cleaning?
Do you charge a cleaning fee?
Who handles emergency repairs on the property and how far are they from the property?
Is there a phone in the cottage?
What is included? Linens, pillows, towels, blankets
Is there a washer and dryer on the premises?
Deck Chairs?
Water toys?

What else you need to know:
How far is the closest place for supplies? Food?
Is there medical care nearby for emergencies?
Where is the boat launch?

When is the deposit due and how much?
What is the cancellation policy?
Ask to have a rental agreement/ lease sent to you in advance to review.
Ask for the names and phone number of a couple of former guests for references.

Ask questions, be prepared, and enjoy your Michigan waterfront vacation.

Written by Dave.

Renting Your Cottage

michigancottageforrentPerhaps you are thinking about buying a Michigan cottage and renting it out for a portion of the season or renting it out during the off season to offset some of the expenses.

Before you make any decisions, you should determine the true cost of operation. There are the obvious costs; real estate taxes, utilities, insurance. But there are also less obvious costs when you decide to rent out the cottage; wear and tear or replacement of furniture, cleaning costs, cost of advertising, property management costs or added travel costs if you are the property manager.

Take the total cost of all the expenses and divide it by the number of weeks in the rental season and that number will be you true cost of owning the cottage. That is cost of owning before any profit.

You will also need to do a market study of what others are renting their cottage for. Look for cottages with “For Rent” signs in front of them and then call them asking about their rates and amenities. Take note of those you see advertised in the local papers as well as any in your hometown paper. Calling on the ads asking a few questions is an excellent way to start as well as doing an internet search for lakefront cottages for rent. Keep notes as to locations prices and amenities as it may be confusing after you talk to a number of different people.

Renting your waterfront cottage to a friend or family member at a reduced rate is quite different than renting it to a stranger . You know your friend or family member and expect them to care for your property. Renting to a stranger can be a different story. In that case do your homework and charge the market rate to offset damages that may occur.

Written by Dave.

Renting Your Cottage: A Few Thoughts

michigancottagerentalPeople looking for a good vacation lakefront cottage to rent would look for the same things you would find appealing.

A lumpy or well worn mattress that is no longer providing you a good nights sleep at your home will not improve by being at the rental cottage. A shower that quickly runs out of hot water will be as disappointing to others as it is to you. A cottage that is not clean or has an “old” odor to it probably will not encourage guests to return.

Make the cottage feel like home. Attractive pictures on the wall, plenty of blankets for chilly evenings and comfortable furniture to relax on make for a very pleasant stay. Make sure you have a TV that works and has a clear picture for those evenings indoors and rainy days.

Guests tend to remember the worst of their vacations. You and your cottage do not want to be part of those memories. People will often return year after year if they had a good experience the first time.

A few basic tips:

If you know of any problems or things not working properly- fix or repair them before hand. Emergency repairs are often very expensive and guest’s vacations are interrupted.

Make sure the cottage is squeaky clean. You do not want guests feeling they have to spend the first half day cleaning the unit prior to using it.

Make sure your cleaning cabinet is well stocked with cleaning supplies and equipment. A guest that cleans up well during the course of their stay makes your job easier.

Use your parental eye on the property. Look around the property and determine if there is anything you should do to “child proof” the property for any children.

Written by Dave.

You are here: Home / About Real Estate / Renting Your Cottage, A Few More Thoughts Renting Your Cottage, A Few More Thoughts

cottagemichiganlakeYou have decided you are going to rent your cottage out, or your are going to buy a second cottage nearby as an investment. A few suggestions to attract and retain a return clientele of guests. Some simple things go a long way.

Be friendly. Guests are customers and they like to be welcomed and pampered.

Any small thing that you can do or provide will set you apart form your competitors. Some of the better coffee companies sell small bags of coffee, enough for one pot . Having a selection of these around is a nice touch and a great way for your guests to start their day. Always make sure your coffee maker is working and there are plenty of filters available.

Make your guests feel if they need anything all they have to do is ask. Many times we can overlook the most simple necessitates. If one person asks for something, it means others have or will have noticed the same missing ingredients.

Provide your guests a list of local phone numbers: your number, emergency maintance, and even the local pizza place with delivery. Having a few menus from local restaurants in the cottage is a nice touch.

Keep some cards in the drawer as well a some games, books and magazines in case the weather turns bad.

Some comfortable deck or beach furniture is a must. If it is not comfortable for you, it will not be for them. Keep you eye open for sales, estate sales and moving sales for anything that you can provide for a better vacation experience.

Be available to your guests and their needs, make them feel wanted but never invade their space. Many guests are looking for privacy and don’t want to be bothered.

Word of mouth is on of the best ways to attract new guests. Have business cards or brochures with pictures printed up and have them available in the cottage so guests can remember how to contact you and have enough available for them to pass out to friends and family.

Written by Dave.

Rehabing the Cottage on a Budget

michigancottagedockSo you found it, a one in a million view, a place to retire, the weekend getaway. The land is what you were after, but the waterfront cottage is, shall we say not exactly ‘home sweet home’. You have dreams and plans for the site. You may be planning on tearing it down and building something new. You may be considering doing a major remodel or adding a room or two. But, for now, you have to wait.

The good news is, you may not have to wait for the budget to catch up to your dreams. You may have purchased it as a retirement home and living there is 5, 10 or 15 years away, but you would also like to use it now. You do not have to spend a lot of money to get a whole different feel for you new lakefront home.

The first thing add a fresh coat of paint inside and out. You can change the color entirely or just paint the trim.

Add some shutters to the cottage, paint them a complementary color.

Power wash the cottage and the decks and put a new coat of stain on the deck.

Add some flower boxes to the front for curb appeal.

Plant some easy to care for perennials around the property.

Update the house numbers with some bold numbers or letters.

Install a flagpole and a flag.

Install new light fixtures will modernize the appearance of the cottage.

Replace the doorknobs throughout the cottage.

Refinish the floors, install some new carpet or consider an area rug.

Install new switch plate covers and outlet covers.

Change the hardware on the kitchen cupboard and drawers. Or, consider new cupboard doors and countertops.

If necessary, consider new or gently used appliances.

Change the fixtures in the bathroom, install new towel bars and other hardware. Don’t forget new towels to compliment the paint color. Pick up a new shower curtain.

Consider going to the local art festival. Invest in some local art. It will make more of a difference than you think. Sometimes reframing the art or mirrors you already have or just repainting the frames will give them an entirely new look.

But, most important thing is to relax and enjoy your weekends at the lake!

Written by Dave.

Private Property

michiganprivatepropertyPrivate property can be a very complex subject. I like the simple definition that Wikipedia offers:

Public Property is any property that is controlled by a state or by a whole community.

Private Property is any property that is not public property. Private property may be under the control of a single individual or by a group of individuals collectively.

Please respect the rights of other people and their property rights.

Written by Dave.