Tips for Buying That Dream Lake House

It's Lake Season! Top 10 Tips from Agents on Waterfront Buying

Before purchasing that dream home, master these tips from the experts.

From pre-approval to paying points, buying a home is always a complicated process. But throw “waterfront” in the mix, and things get even more complex. Fortunately, real estate agents who regularly deal with waterfront properties know the ins and outs of this process. These 10 tips from the pros will give you a heads-up on what to expect when purchasing a home by the water.

  1. Find a real estate agent who’s a true waterfront specialist. The average agent won’t have the detailed knowledge of waterfront properties in your area to help you find the best deal on a property that’s right for you, says Ramara Garrett, owner of Waverly Property Group in Daytona Beach, Fla. “You may think you’ve found a great deal, but the reason it’s a great deal is because there are oyster beds and people can’t get their boats in and out,” Garrett says.
  2. Consider the property more than the structure. “Oftentimes, people fall in love with a house, but after they buy it, they realize the swimming is mucky, the view’s not very good, it’s difficult to get down to the water, or the place is not very private," says Tom Ferent, a broker with Mr. Lakefront, which specializes in lakefront properties in Maine. You can change the house, but you can’t change the location, so buy a property that you really love.
  3. Choose a property that truly fits your lifestyle. You may find a beautiful property for sale, but it’s half an hour away from getting out to the ocean. “If you love to go out deep-sea fishing, that’s going to make a difference in how often you actually do it,” Garrett says. Focus on the activities you’re passionate about and choose a property accordingly.
  4. Look into loans early. Since many waterfront properties are more expensive than other properties, loans will often fall into the jumbo mortgage category, Garrett says. Lenders will therefore only consider very qualified buyers. “Buyers ought to start that process before they start looking for a property because that can take a lot longer than a normal home loan,” Garrett says.
  5. Make sure the structure can withstand the weather. Waterfront homes receive more abuse from the elements than the average home, so extra measures should be taken to protect them. For instance, Garrett recommends investing in storm shutters for homes in hurricane-prone areas and stainless-steel locks to avoid corrosion from salt air.
  6. Insurance can be costly and complicated. Look into this early to make sure you know what you’re getting into. For instance, Garrett says waterfront homeowners in Florida have to buy three policies (a wind policy, a flood policy and a general hazard policy) typically not all through the same insurer.
  7. Find out what you can do with the property. If you want to make any changes to your waterfront property, such as adding a dock or a seawall, start this process early to ensure that these alterations will be possible. “Government agencies are very strict to deal with, and you don’t want to commit to purchasing a million-dollar home without knowing that you can really do what you want to make it your own,” Garrett says. Also find out what kind of activities are allowed on the body of water, as some areas have restrictions on jet skis, speedboats and other watercraft, says Les Taylor, principal broker of Waterfront Properties of Maine.
  8. Talk to neighbors. Get insider information from neighbors by asking if they enjoy living in the community, if they have any issues with the property you’re thinking about purchasing, or if there are any waterfront-related problems, Taylor says.
  9. In rural areas, look into utilities. Waterfront buyers who are accustomed to the convenience of suburban life may assume that electricity, clean water, an adequate septic system, cable and Internet will be readily available at their new property, but this is not always the case. Bringing these services in to remote areas can be very expensive, says Taylor, so investigate these issues before buying.
  10. Get to know your responsibilities as a waterfront homeowner. If you’re part of a homeowners association, find out what kind of upkeep and maintenance of the property will be required from you by reviewing the conditions, covenants and restrictions, or CC&Rs, and talking to the HOA's management company, says Gordon Baker of Re/Max Elite in Chandler, Ariz.

If you have questions about waterfront properties, or would like to speak with an Agent, contact Steffen Group today at 260-426-0633, or information@steffengrp.com.

(Source: http://www.frontdoor.com/real-estate/waterfront-buying-top-10-tips-from-agents)


Frigid temps lead to a frozen real estate market.

I don’t know about you – however, I am certainly ready for spring.  With record snowfall amounts and blistering cold temperatures, real estate activity in the region has been at almost a standstill.   If you are like most of my clients and friends, the last thing you were interested in doing was traipsing around the city finding new office space, a new home or a new investment (and don’t even mention standing outside at an auction). 

The only thing that most of us were concentrated on was getting to work without getting our damn car stuck and then getting home to clear our driveways before nightfall fell upon us.    Once I finally got inside, got my coat off, removed by rubber shoe covers (which I am sick of wearing) – I was ready for a cocktail or 2 glasses of wine!

With the warmth of last week and the promise of spring starting to enter our thoughts… we have begun to see a flurry of activity in the market that I have not seen since I put up my Christmas tree.   This sentiment I believe is being felt throughout the entire industry including my friends in banking, title insurance and new construction.

Like a racehorse waiting behind the gate in anticipation for the buzzer to sound … the real estate market is just as ready to explode into what I believe will be an active spring with strong demand in the market place. 

- Brandon


Get ahead of your estate planning

As estate auctioneers, we can't stress enough the importance of estate planning. Tips to get ahead of your estate planning: 

What you need to know about estate planning, including why you may need a will and assigning a power of attorney.

1. No matter your net worth, it's important to have a basic estate plan in place.
Such a plan ensures that your family and financial goals are met after you die.
2. An estate plan has several elements.
They include: a will; assignment of power of attorney; and aliving will or health-care proxy (medical power of attorney). For some people, a trust may also make sense. When putting together a plan, you must be mindful of both federal and state laws governing estates.
3. Taking inventory of your assets is a good place to start.
Your assets include your investments, retirement savings, insurance policies, and real estate or business interests. Ask yourself three questions: Whom do you want to inherit your assets? Whom do you want handling your financial affairs if you're ever incapacitated? Whom do you want making medical decisions for you if you become unable to make them for yourself?
4. Everybody needs a will.
A will tells the world exactly where you want your assets distributed when you die. It's also the best place to name guardians for your children. Dying without a will -- also known as dying "intestate" -- can be costly to your heirs and leaves you no say over who gets your assets. Even if you have a trust, you still need a will to take care of any holdings outside of that trust when you die.
5. Trusts aren't just for the wealthy.
Trusts are legal mechanisms that let you put conditions on how and when your assets will be distributed upon your death. They also allow you to reduce your estate and gift taxes and to distribute assets to your heirs without the cost, delay and publicity of probate court, which administers wills. Some also offer greater protection of your assets from creditors and lawsuits.
6. Discussing your estate plans with your heirs may prevent disputes or confusion.
Inheritance can be a loaded issue. By being clear about your intentions, you help dispel potential conflicts after you're gone.
7. The federal estate tax exemption -- the amount you may leave to heirs free of federal tax -- is now set permanently at $5 million indexed for inflation.
In 2013, estates under $5.25 million are exempt from the tax. Amounts above that are taxed up to a top rate of 40%.
8. You may leave an unlimited amount of money to your spouse tax-free, but this isn't always the best tactic.
By leaving all your assets to your spouse, you don't use your estate tax exemption and instead increase your surviving spouse's taxable estate. That means your children are likely to pay more in estate taxes if your spouse leaves them the money when he or she dies. Plus, it defers the tough decisions about the distribution of your assets until your spouse's death.
9. There are two easy ways to give gifts tax-free and reduce your estate.
You may give up to $14,000 a year to an individual (or $28,000 if you're married and giving the gift with your spouse). You may also pay an unlimited amount of medical and education bills for someone if you pay the expenses directly to the institutions where they were incurred.
10. There are ways to give charitable gifts that keep on giving.
If you donate to a charitable gift fund or community foundation, your investment grows tax-free and you can select the charities to which contributions are given both before and after you die.
Steffen Group - Premier Estate Auctioneers
Premier Estate Auctioneers    

If you have questions about Estate Auctions, or would like to speak with an Auctioneer or Estate Specialist, contact Steffen Group today at 260-426-0633, or information@steffengrp.com.
(Source: http://money.cnn.com/magazines/moneymag/money101/lesson21/)


DeKalb County Land Sells for Record Price at Auction

Ashley, In
- On Saturday, The Steffen Group Inc., the region’s premier real estate auction marketing firm, sold at auction 174 acres of northern DeKalb County Indiana Farmland.  

The farms were offered in 8 individual tracts and in any combination.   A large crowd of over 100 people were in attendance, with over 50 registered bidders.  The property sold to 2 different buyers for $1,073,000.00. 168.72 acres of tillable and wooded land sold to one individual for $960,000.00; a 5 acre tract with home and farm buildings sold to a separate bidder for $113,000.00. 

Brandon Steffen, President of The Steffen Group, said this auction set record prices for northern DeKalb County Farmland. As we approach the spring planting season, the Midwest continues to see strong demand for quality farmland; creating strong prices as the local farmers compete for the land against institutions and large real estate investors.  

The Steffen Group, based out of Fort Wayne, Indiana, handles the sale of Millions of Dollars in Real Estate and Assets annually. For additional information please visit their website at www.steffengrp.com or contact them at 260-426-0633.


168.72 Acre DeKalb County Land Auction - April 20, 2013

168.72 Acres Offered in 7 Tracts - Ashley, IN

Tract #1 - 12+/- Acres with road frontage on Co Rd 10 and Co Rd 19.
Tract #2 - 16+/- Acres with road frontage on Co Rd 19 - combine tracts 1 and 2 for an excellent small tract of land.
Tract #3 - 74.97 +/- Acres of productive farmland with road frontage on Co Rd 19.
Tract #4 - 30.5 +/- Acres of productive farmland with road frontage on Co Rd 19 and Co Rd 14.
Tract #5 - 7.25 +/- Acres (swing tract) - Excellent all wooded tract. Combine with an adjoining tract for excellent hunting site.
Tract #6 - 18.0 +/- Acres of productive farmland with road frontage on Co Rd 14
Tract #7 - 10.0 +/- Acres This is an excellent recreational tract of land with rolling woodland.

Tract #8 - 5.32 +/- Acres - 3 Bedroom Home w/ Outbuildings - Click Here for Complete Information

Inspections:  Sunday, April 14th from 2:00 to 4:00 PM & Thursday, April 18th from 5:00 to 7:00 PM. Meet a Steffen Group representative at Tract 8 - 1844 Co Rd 8, Ashley, IN.

Auction Location: The auction will be held at the Fairfield Community Center located at 1351 Co. Rd. 12, Corruna, Indiana.

Seller: A&A Ltd


Announcing the birth of our future auctioneer!

Introducing to the world, Adahleen Louise Lewis! This is the baby girl of Josh and his wife, Alicia. Baby Addie was born February 28, 2013 and measured 8 lb, 12 oz and 21 inches. 

Addie loved her first Easter! As you can see, she was too sleepy to hunt for Easter eggs... maybe next year!