Buyer's Guide
Lansing Area Real Estate
Deciding where to live in the Lansing-East Lansing community
Youíve been out looking at homes so you may have already made some decisions about which side of town appeals to you and how far away from work youíd like to be.

Perhaps your search is based upon the schools your children will be attending or the proximity to the activities you enjoy when youíre not at work. Possibly, youíre more interested the potential resale value of the home when youíre ready to move on.

No matter what your motivation, always keep in mind that the location of the home is crucial. After you purchase the home, youíll be able to make all sorts of improvements to the property, but youíll never be able to change its location. Even a picture-perfect dream home can be a mistake if it's in an undesirable location, and such a home can be a particularly bad choice if
you anticipate reselling the home within a few years.

The perfect house in a neighborhood you hate will never feel like home, so pick a location that youíll enjoy living in. Besides the appeal of your own home, you should enjoy the ambiance of the entire neighborhood and feel comfortable as you drive through its streets. It should be safe, close to schools and parks, and should offer the services that you depend on, such as healthcare and convenient shopping. Be sure that youíre close enough to the things that are most important to you and that living in this neighborhood will not cause a major change in your lifestyle.

Be flexible  
Try to not limit your search to a single area. Itís easy to fall in love with a specific neighborhood and imagine yourself owning a home there. However, that particular neighborhood may be extremely stable with few, if any, homes being offered when you need to buy. Even when a home does become available, thereís no guarantee that it will fit your needs or that youíll even like it.

Also, be prepared to change your shopping criteria. As you explore homes and neighborhoods, youíll learn a lot about what you really want in a home and youíll make appropriate adjustments to your plans. 

We once worked with a couple who had visions of living on ten acres of lush green lawn in a house sitting far off the road. They were definitely excited when we found such a home. The house was exactly what they were looking for, in perfect shape, and it included a nice pole barn that could be used as a workshop. As they looked over the ten acres of lush green lawn and stared down a driveway that was almost a quarter-mile long it occurred to them that they would need to plow the driveway in the winter and mow the lawn in the summer. They decided not to place an offer on that home and we found them something they could more easily manage.   


Plan for today
as well as tomorrow

Remember that your living requirements will constantly change. You must plan around your immediate needs, but also consider your life over the next five to seven years. Do you plan to start a family? Will an in-law eventually move in with you? Will you be working from home? The number and layout of the rooms you require will depend on your answers.

At the same time, donít go overboard and plan too far ahead. If youíre young and only recently married, your first home doesnít have to be a five bedroom home that will accommodate the large family you hope to have. Thereís a very good chance that youíll be moving in five or six years. Purchasing a home that is too large to grow into is wasteful as buying one that youíll outgrow within a year or two. 

Set reasonable standards
Almost everyone has a limit to how much they can spend on a home. Once youíve determined how much you want to spend, get a feel for the quality, size, and location of homes in that price range. Donít waste your time looking for a home that may not exist.

Suppose you reverse this process. You select the area youíd like to live in, establish criteria for the home you want, and then set a price limit. You may be disappointed when you find that the homes in your price range donít meet your expectations. 

You may be looking for a home that would need to be priced twenty-five percent below fair market value to be available in the locations youíre searching. The odds of finding a seller willing to loose big money on his home will be next to impossible. 

If youíre prepared to spend up to $195,000 for a home, donít set standards that would suggest a price range above $250,000. Accept market conditions as they are. Either spend the money it takes to purchase the home youíd like, or lower your standards just enough to meet your price point.

Property taxes...High or Low!
Property taxes are what most property owners in the United States pay for the privilege of owning a piece of real estate. These annual assessments by county or local authorities help pay for the public services we enjoy. Part of the attraction of the Greater Lansing area is that it is the Capitol of the State, home to Michigan State University, and has no life imposing heavy industries. Since neither the University nor the State of Michigan pay taxes, local property owners carry much of the tax burden. 

Taxes rates in the Greater Lansing area vary from a low of 15.55 mils in some remote rural areas to a high of 53.86 mils in East Lansing. In most cases, your tax bill will be consistent with your services and conveniences.

Living in rural areas
Some people prefer a rural area because of amenities that canít be found in more densely populated areas. You can have a larger lot for the same price
as a smaller one in the city, and there probably wonít be any nearby neighbors crowding your space. You can walk along quiet country roads, have a large garden, and listen to the sound of singing birds rather than the roar of local traffic. Rural areas are also attractive because they have the lowest tax rates, falling between 15.55 mils to about 28 mils.

Tax rates are low because the government agencies in these places donít provide a lot of services. There are few building restrictions and practically no zoning rules. You maintain your own water supply and sewage disposal system. Your heating fuel is trucked in and your phone service may be unreliable. You might also live on a dirt road that may not be quickly plowed in the winter. Schools, churches, shopping, and your place of employment could be miles away. You can expect to pay higher insurance premiums because fire and emergency services may be ten or twelve miles away and the nearest large hospital might take half an hour to reach.

Once youíve factored in your driving expenses, not to mention the other inconveniences, you may find that you really havenít saved much on your overall cost of living. If your only reason for living in the country is to save on taxes, you might consider whether or not you can adapt to this style of living. Also, because fewer people live in rural areas, you can expect to find a limited selection of homes.

Living in cities and towns  
Your taxes will definitely be higher, somewhere between 30 to 49 mils and perhaps as high as 54 mils. However, youíll be closer to everything and youíll benefit from the convenience of public utilities and services. Youíll most likely live in a subdivision with neighbors who arenít very different from yourself. Your children will walk to a neighborhood school and you wonít put a lot of miles on your car when you go shopping or drive to work. When you eventually decide to move, your home will attract more buyers and sell more quickly.

There will also be a larger home selection increasing your chances of finding a home that will fit your needs.


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