Wednesday, June 26, 2013

9 Essential Steps of Buying a Vacation Home in Harbor Country

Buying a vacation home in one of Harbor Country’s towns such as Harbert, New Buffalo, Union Pier, or any of the other charming lakeside areas is an exciting time.  Chances are you’ve vacationed in Harbor Country for a few years and have decided to finally take the plunge and make this a permanent vacation destination.  Or, you’ve spent a weekend with friends and family here on the Lake Michigan shoreline and fell in love with the relaxed way of life.  Either way, we’re glad you’ve taken the time to stop by our blog and learn more about buying a vacation home in Harbor Country!

The home buying process, especially when buying a vacation property, can seem overwhelming at first, but armed with knowledge and an experienced Harbor Country Real Estate agent; it can be a smooth and efficient process.

If you’ve been out of the real estate market for some time, we thought it’d be helpful to point out the nine essential steps of buying a home.  Take a look!

1. Check Your Credit Score- Lenders will put a lot of weight on your credit score, so you want to make sure to have your credit in order. They will determine how much you qualify for in a mortgage based heavily on your credit.
2. Set Your Housing Budget- Have a clear understanding of your budget each month.  This includes your interest, principal, homeowners insurance and taxes. You’ll also want to calculate in any travel costs to your vacation home and the cost of furniture.  You don’t want to put yourself in a financial bind that you are constantly struggling to maintain each month.
3. Meet with a Lender- It is easy to want to begin searching online for your Harbor Country home, but without a sense of how much you qualify for; it’s easy to waste time looking at homes you might not be able to afford. Meet with a lender before you begin looking at homes and get pre-qualified. You’ll be able to search more effectively online, as well as when you begin working with a Prudential Rubloff Real Estate agent to find a home.
4. Find a Reputable Harbor Country Real Estate Agent- You’ll want to find a real estate agent who has experience in the local market.  An agent who has years of experience in the area will be a great asset in helping you find a Harbor Country town and home that best fits your needs and lifestyle.
5. Narrow Your Priorities- You’ll want to make two separate lists based on your needs and wants. Your needs should be those things you absolutely need in your vacation home. Your wants will be those items that you would prefer, but are willing to compromise on. Narrowing down and sorting out your needs and wants will help immensely when searching for a home. You’ll have a clear picture on what you are willing to compromise on, since you will most likely not find a home that has absolutely everything you would like. Know when to give and when to stand firm. You’ll quickly narrow down your home search this way!
6. Choose a Location- Each Harbor Country town does have a unique atmosphere and things to offer, so you’ll want to find the the one that suits you the best. Our team of Prudential Rubloff Real Estate agents and property advisors have years of market experience in New Buffalo, Union Pier, Lakeside, Harbert, Three Oaks, Sawyer and Grand Beach and will be able to assist you in finding your ideal location!
7. Make a Reasonable Offer- Your real estate agent will be able to give you a list of comparable homes in the area, and can help you determine an offer that is fair for the market.
8. Have a Home Inspection- This is very important! Even if the home looks perfect inside and out; there is no way of knowing what issues there may be without a home inspection. You don’t want to buy a home only to find that it needs the roof replaced or there is water damage. Having the home thoroughly inspected allows you to know exactly what you can expect in the home you buy.
9. Finalize the Details- Once the contract is signed; you’ll still want to stay in touch with your Harbor Country Real Estate agent and lender. There are always last minute finalizations that need to be made.
Hopefully reviewing these steps will be a great refresher of what it takes to buy a vacation home from the initial thoughts to after the closing.  
We are always here to help and would be happy to answer any questions you have about buying a vacation home and the Harbor Country lifestyle.  Please feel free to contact us today to get started!

Shoreline Property Advisors
@ Prudential Rubloff

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Wednesday, June 19, 2013

Unique Harbor Country Area Attractions You Won't Want to Miss this Summer!

Summer is a great time along the Lake Michigan Shoreline as Harbor Country’s vibrant towns of New Buffalo, Harbert, Union Pier, Sawyer, Douglas, Three Oaks, Lakeside, and Grand Beach have so much to offer!  There are endless stretches of beach that offer great swimming, sun bathing or building sand castles.  Boating, biking, exploring downtown, and eating great local fare are just some of the other ways vacationers and locals spend their long summer days.

But what if you wanted to explore some of the unique attractions in Harbor Country?  There are a number of museums and attractions that appeal to all ages!  With children out of school for the summer, taking a few field trips can be just the thing to keep their minds engaged and help them learn more about the area!  Here are just a few you’ll want to check out! 

New Buffalo Railroad Museum
530 S Whittaker St, New Buffalo
Open every day through Labor Day

- The New Buffalo Railroad Museum was established to illustrate the history of the New Buffalo area and to highlight the role the railroad played in the area’s development.  This free museum is set in an authentic replica of the original train depot on the property of the old Pere Marquette Railroad Yards. The Museum’s model train layout depicts the railroad yard and the City of New Buffalo in the late 1800s and early 1900s. Visitors can tour both the renovated Chessie box car, which houses a list of area veterans, and the World War II Pullman Troop Sleeper car.  To learn more about the New Buffalo Railroad Museum, please visit their website
Three Oaks Bicycle Museum
3 Dewey Cannon Ave, Three Oaks
Open every day
- The Three Oaks Bicycle Museum is located in the Dewey Cannon Trading Company and is a fun way to explore history! You won’t want to miss the 1860's Boneshaker or the 1890's Tally-Ho Tandem. The Museum also houses an 1892 “Elliot Hickory” bicycle that comes with an interesting story you’ll want to hear for yourself!  See the 1940s-era Western Flyer, and from the the 1950’s TV show Kid’s Say the Darndest Things, there is miniature pedal-powered Jim-Dandy Surrey with fringe. There are a number of other unique things to see that will intrigue all ages!  View the Three Oaks Bicycle Museum website to learn more. 
Curious Kids Museum
415 Lake Blvd, St Joseph. 
Open Monday through Saturday
- In nearby St. Joseph, this just-for-kids museum is open all year! Curious Kids’ Museum hosts over 100 hands-on Exhibits for ages 1 to about 10 years old. You’ll enjoy a wide variety of Discovery Fun from the Awesome Apple Orchard to the Vet Clinic to Global Child Village, to Media Mania. Navigate the Great Lakes ship!  Be an electron to make electricity, find yourself inside a bubble, and much more! To find out more about the museum and their other events and classes, visit the Curious Kids Museum website
Whether you’re vacationing in Harbor Country this summer, or live here all year long and are looking for something unique to do; we hope you take time to explore these local museums!  You’ll learn more about the area and see things you can’t find anywhere else.
If you’re interested in learning more about Harbor Country and are looking to buy a home in Harbert, Sawyer, New Buffalo or any of the other towns; please let us know!  Our team of experienced Prudential Rubloff Real Estate agents and advisors are here to help and can guide you through the home buying process with ease.
We look forward to hearing from you!
Shoreline Property Advisors
@ Prudential Rubloff

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Wednesday, June 12, 2013

Tips to Prepare Your Harbor Country Home for Summer

With the official start of summer just a few weeks away, now is a great time to make sure your Harbor Country home is ready to take on the long, hot days ahead.  If you’re just visiting your vacation home in New Buffalo, Three Oaks, Grand Beach, Union Pier, or any of the other Harbor Country towns; you’ll want to do a few maintenance tips before you sit back and relax.

Taking proper care of your home throughout the changing seasons will ensure you home stays in good condition for years to come and can help avoid costly repairs.  Our team of Prudential Rubloff Real Estate agents and advisors want to help you enjoy your Harbor Country home to the fullest!  Here are a few quick home checkups you’ll want to do before you start your well deserved vacation and the great summer months along the Lake Michigan Shoreline. 

Change your filters: This should be a standard procedure as you maintain your Harbor Country home.  Keeping a fresh filter, and changing old filters regularly will help ensure that you do not run into any major issues with your heating and cooling system in the future.
Test your cooling system: Whether you have central air or an air conditioner, you’ll want to make sure it is working properly! Test your cooling system to make sure it is operating at the appropriate temperature. If the air is not cool enough, or if the system will not turn on, you will need to put in a request to your heating and cooling mechanic. It is important to perform this test and schedule the repair appointment early, since mechanics will be extremely busy during the hot summer months.
Consider an upgrade: If you live or vacation in an older home in Harbor Country, you may still be using a mercury switch thermostat.  Consider  upgrading to a programmable thermostat which can save you money in the long run. Installing ceiling fans throughout the house is another great way to save money while adding a touch of sophistication to your Harbor Country home!

Driveways & Sidewalks: Although many sidewalks are public, it is important to keep them swept and unobstructed, since this is probably the area that your visitors will see first.  If you’re expecting guests this summer, create an inviting atmosphere by caring for the curb appeal of your home!
Awnings & Umbrellas: You’ll want to hose everything down thoroughly and use a mild soap, if necessary since awnings and umbrellas can get moldy after being put away for months on end. Check to see if your umbrella cover is machine washable as this will be an easy way to freshen up your cover from the sun.
Decks & Porches: Sweep the floors of all areas throughout and remove cobwebs from light fixtures, ceilings, and railings. Once the area is clear, check for holes, splintered wood, loose nails, and replace anything that may be damaged. It is also a good idea to seal the deck with a water-proofing sealer that also has a UV protectant.
Outdoor Furniture: Good outdoor furniture is made withstand many of the elements, but it is not indestructible. Weekly cleaning and routine washes with a hose will make your outdoor furniture last much longer.
So, whether you’re preparing to spend time in your vacation home in Harbert, Douglas, Sawyer or anywhere along the Lake Michigan Shoreline, or you’re getting your home spruced up for summer; we hope these tips are helpful!
If you don’t currently own a home in Harbor Country, but have been considering buying a vacation property or new permanent residence; please let us know!  Our experienced team of Prudential Rubloff Real Estate agents who have served Harbor Country for years, would be glad to help you navigate the Harbor Country Real Estate market.
Shoreline Property Advisors
@ Prudential Rubloff

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Wednesday, June 5, 2013

New Buffalo's Music in the Park Series Kicks Off This Week!

In working as a team of Prudential Rubloff Real Estate agents and advisors here at Shoreline Property Advisors, we love what we do.  Helping buyers and sellers navigate through the real estate market and offering advice on major life purchases is what we do best!

Yet, we don’t just enjoy our work, we enjoy where we work!  The Lake Michigan Shoreline has so much to offer and is a beautiful setting that anyone could easily fall for and what to call home permanently!  It’s the great communities we serve that make what we do even more enjoyable, and that’s part of the reason we like to highlight the lifestyles of the various communities along the Lake Michigan Shoreline.

Today, we want to focus in on the charming town of New Buffalo that’s one of the beachside towns that make up Harbor Country.  For those of you who live in New Buffalo year round, you understand what makes it so unique!  And, if you’re planning on vacationing in New Buffalo for the first time this summer; we can assure you you’re in for a treat.

In fact, there’s an event that’s kicking off this evening in New Buffalo that you won’t want to miss!  Every Wednesday throughout the summer, New Buffalo will be hosting Music in the Park.  Take a look!

Wednesday - Music in the Park
New Buffalo Township Memorial Park
17425 Red Arrow Hwy, New Buffalo
Wednesdays, June 5th through August 28th from 7-9pm
- You’ll love Wednesdays this summer as New Buffalo features Music in the Park!  This free event is open to everyone (sorry, no pets allowed), and is a great time to sit back and relax with family and friends.  These evenings of music feature local and nearby talent, which allows you to support those within the community!  Local vendors will also be selling food for you to enjoy (alcohol not permitted).  All you need to bring is a blanket or chair, and soak in this night filled with great music in a beautiful outdoor setting.  Here’s a lineup of the featured musicians. 
 6/5                            Unraveling String Band                                      
 6/12                         Lake Effect Winds                                           
 6/19                         Keith Scott
 6/26                         Ed Bagatini Jazz Quintet
 7/3                           No event this week  
 7/10                         Venitia Sekema and the Luna Madre Band
 7/17                          Brence Jackson
 7/24                          Night Blue Arranged Performance*
 7/31                          Hired Hands
 8/7                            Chester Brown
 8/14                          Generation Gap
 8/21                           tba
 8/28                           Mark Smith & Co. Open Mic      

Whether you live in New Buffalo, or looking forward to a well deserved vacation on its shores this summer, we hope you’re able to take the time to enjoy this fun event!
As an experienced team of New Buffalo Real Estate agents, we want you to know that we’re here for you!  If you’d like to learn more about buying a vacation home in New Buffalo, or are interested in knowing what more of what this charming town has to offer; feel free to contact us!
We look forward to talking with you and serving your real estate needs!

Shoreline Property Advisors
@ Prudential Rubloff

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