Posts

Increase Home Equity

5 Tips to Increase Home Equity

Your home is probably the most valuable thing you own. Increasing the equity you have in your home can go a long way toward increasing your overall net worth. Equity is your home’s fair market value minus how much you owe on it.

Rising home prices, combined with falling mortgage rates, have helped homeowners increase their home equity over the past few years. Nationwide, home equity is rising. In the fourth quarter of 2020, the average homeowner gained about $26,300 in equity over the course of the year — the largest average equity gain since the third quarter of 2013. See the image below.

Home equity increases in 20020.

First, let’s define what we mean by home equity.

Home equity is the amount of your home that you actually own. In other words, your home equity is equal to your home’s current market value, minus your remaining mortgage balance. For example, if your home is valued at $300,000 and you owe $175,000 on the mortgage, your equity is $125,000.

Here are five ways to build up home equity.

1. Increase Your Down Payment

The more you put down on a home, the more of it you own right off the bat. Let’s say the home you buy is valued at $200,000. If you make a $10,000 down, you will owe $190,000 on the mortgage and have $10,000 in equity. If, however, you increase your down payment to $20,000, you would owe $180,000 on the mortgage and have $20,000 in equity.

2. Make Extra Mortgage Payments

Since paying off your mortgage helps you build equity, you’ll grow it even faster (and be able to pay off your loan sooner) by making extra payments each month. Many lenders even allow you to set your own recurring schedule, so you can make extra payments at an pace you feel comfortable with. If, for example, you had a 25-year loan for $250,000 at 3.75% interest, your monthly payments would be about $1,285.33. Increasing this by one-twelfth would add $107.11 to each payment. All of that extra payment would go toward the principal, thereby increasing your equity in the home.

3. Make Home Improvements

When you invest in home improvement projects–like an updated kitchen or bathroom–you’re increasing its value and, thus, boosting its equity. Just be sure to choose upgrades that provide the biggest payback. This cost-vs.-value tool can help you figure out which remodeling projects provide the best bang for your buck.

4. Enhance the Curb Appeal

Improving curb appeal can boosts your home’s value by 3-5%. Even simple things like trimming bushes, putting in a garden, painting and power washing can make an impact.

5. Shorten the Loan Term

Refinancing into a short-term loan will increase your equity faster. You will have higher monthly payments, but more of your payment will be going toward the balance, which increases the amount of the home you own.

Home Equity Lines of Credit (HELOC)

One benefit of building equity in your home is that you can tap into that equity with a home equity line of credit (HELOC). A HELOC is a revolving line of credit usually with an adjustable interest rate, which allows you to borrow up to a certain amount over a period of time. HELOCs work in a manner similar to credit cards, where you can continuously borrow up to an approved limit while paying off the balance.

If you have questions, don’t hesitate to give us a call! We’re here to help in any way we can.

This blog post was written by experts at Mortgage 1 and originally appeared on www.mortgageone.com. Michigan Mortgage is a DBA of Mortgage 1. 

Celebrating 25 Years in the Mortgage Business

2021 is a big year for all of us at Michigan Mortgage, but even more so for our fearless leaders, Dave Lehner and Rob Garrison.

For Dave and Rob, 2021 celebrates their 25th year working together in the mortgage business. That’s a huge feat! And it’s one that we are so incredibly proud of.

To celebrate this honor, we sat down with Dave and Rob to talk all things mortgage. We talked about what has (and has not) changed and why our commitment to our customers is still the most important thing. Enjoy!

Michigan Mortgage: You’ve been a Mortgage Loan Officer for 25 years. How has the business changed?

Rob: The biggest change I’ve noticed is the accessibility of financing for more people at more consistent and transparent fees. When we started 25 years ago, it was the Wild West. Lenders were charging outrageous fees and rates for people that had less than perfect credit or low down payments. Government regulation and accessibility to more programs has allowed more people to realize the American dream with more consistent, transparent and more reasonable terms.

Dave: The business is much faster paced, but we also have more technology, systems, and programs to help our clients and staff. With our new Pro Snap App people can apply on their cell or computer and we can work through the process almost entirely paperless. Fifteen years ago, this would never have been possible, let alone 25 years ago. The one thing that hasn’t changed is the education and communication that we give our clients so they understand their options and what programs are available to them.

MM: By the sounds of it, the industry has changed for the better. More people are able to achieve the American Dream using a much more efficient process. Technology is key here. Tell me about the technology you used in 1994 and how it compares to the technology available to you in 2021.

Rob: The biggest change in the last 25 years has been with technology. Back in the day, everything was hand written and wet signed. We collected all documentation, made photo copies, snail mailed everything to an underwriter and received an approval back by fax. Today, most everything can be handled with an app or computer. While there has been some personal touch lost, the convenience for clients is undeniable.

Dave: Technology is a huge factor in today’s business. We have systems in place which give us notices on rate updates so we can lock rates before they go up. We have Pro Snap so clients can just click to sign their loan documents from their cell phones or laptop instead of printing or coming into the office to sign.  We have office computer systems to help the staff process the loan faster and to be more efficient. The only technology I had when I started in my basement was a pager, cell phone, computer, printer and a fax machine. I would have to print all the loan documents, meet the client at the Realtor’s office to have them sign, then go to Staples to make a copy and overnight them to the underwriter and wait 3 to 5 days to get a faxed approval.

MM: Wow. It sounds like so much has changed! Let’s close with this. What’s the most important or most memorable thing you’ve learned over the past 25 years?

Rob: The mortgage business is about serving people with trustworthy reliable advice and execution. Consumers want a fair deal, great communication and an easy process. They want to be able to trust the lender they are working; trust that the lender has their best interest in mind and trust that the lender is capable and competent in what they are doing. Systems and processes are extremely important to deliver the service levels that clients expect but it is still about relationships with people.

Dave: This is a high pressure, fast paced business. I have dealt with a lot of people over the years between Realtors, buyers, sellers, appraisers, title companies, inspectors and many other individuals that are related to the real estate industry. There are so many different personalities, deadlines, and pressures to make the contract close date and it takes all of us working together to help the clients achieve their goals of home ownership. One thing I know for sure is that I’m the same kind and humble person who loves working with my clients and staff every day.

We plan to celebrate our 25th Anniversary all year long, so stay tuned for more content (and even a few flashback photos) to commemorate Dave and Rob’s journey in the business. Cheers!

Happy Healthy with Hadlee: Connecting with Nature

Earlier this month, we hosted a Zoom Class focused on health and wellness during the COVID-19 pandemic. We were joined by Health and Lifestyle Change Coach Hadlee Garrison – she had a ton of helpful information to share.

Here are some of Hadlee’s suggestions that we found to be most helpful during this difficult time.

Michigan Mortgage: Welcome back! We appreciate you sharing your knowledge with us!

Can you explain why our mental and physical health are so connected? Why are they so intertwined?

Hadlee: Often we think of a distinction between our physical health and our emotions, mental clarity, moods, and thoughts. But in actuality, our physical and mental health are inextricably connected.

The way we feel physically impacts our moods and emotions in both tangible and subtle ways. Physical injuries and disease can result in mental health issues. A less obvious but common example of this is overeating and experiencing lethargy, grumpiness, and/or mental fog.

And the way we think and feel mentally and emotionally can also manifest physically. This can be seen when a person experiences the placebo effect and is healed of a physical malady without actually getting the treatment they think they’re getting. It can also show up as physical disease down the road after years of repressed emotion or trauma.

While modern health sciences have historically focused only on physical health, we are finally seeing more attention given to the significant effects mental health plays not only in day-to-day quality of life but also in the physical health of all individuals.

It only makes sense that whatever is happening in one part of the body could create a cascade of effects to another part of the body. The brain is part of the body, so it can affect the rest of the body in both negative and positive ways, and vice versa. For a long time, we believed that the mind and the body didn’t really affect each other, but now modern research shows just how much we’ve overlooked the mind-body connection and how much each affects the other.

MM: This is so fascinating! One thing we talked about a lot on our call is the importance of getting out and enjoying nature. Can you explain that a little bit?

H: Time spent in nature is linked to a whole host of physical and mental benefits. It can:

  • Lower stress
  • Increase mental acuity and attention
  • Calm the nervous system
  • Increase levels of cancer-fighting “natural killer cells” in the body
  • Activate neural pathways associated with calm
  • Decrease levels of depression and anxiety
  • Enhance immune function

It really is so important to be intentional about getting outside right now, especially since we might be less likely to get outside during Shelter in Place because we aren’t going as many places.

Bonus: Pair your time in nature with movement for added health benefits!

MM: Tell us more about movement! Why is it so important for mental and physical health?

H: Movement is so important for both our physical and mental health. It’s not just about creating a physically fit body. Moving your body is incredibly important for:

  • Decreasing risk for chronic diseases like heart disease, obesity, type 2 diabetes, and some cancers
  • Strengthening bones and muscles and decreasing injury as you age
  • Improving sleep
  • Increasing resilience to stress
  • Improving moods throughout the day
  • Reducing risk for depression and anxiety.
  • Improving the structure and function of the brain, making you more mentally clear and focused and allowing you to learn information and make decisions with more clarity and ease.

MM: Thank you for your guidance! If people would like more information, or to connect with your directly, how can they do that?

H: Sign up for a 30-minute Health Goals Session, where we’ll talk about your health and life goals, challenges, and priorities, as well as next steps for achieving your wellness goals.

If you want to work with me further, you can indicate that on your Health Goals Session application. Here is the description for my Happy Healthy Habits program, where they can take a look at what I do with my clients and what I might be able to do for them if we find we’re a good fit for each other.

And if you want more tips, inspiration, advice, and other fun stuff, you can follow and/or direct message me on Instagram or Facebook @happyhealthyhadlee, or sign up for my newsletter. I respond to all questions and inquiries with as much support as I can, and welcome communication, especially during these challenging times. My passion is helping and empowering people to take control of their own wellbeing and life, so reach out and I’ll do whatever I can to help!

Happy Healthy with Hadlee: Coping During Coronavirus

Earlier this month, we hosted a Zoom Class focused on health and wellness during the COVID-19 pandemic. We were joined by Health and Lifestyle Change Coach Hadlee Garrison – she had a ton of helpful information to share.

Here are some of Hadlee’s suggestions that we found to be most helpful during this difficult time.

Michigan Mortgage: Thanks for joining us (again)! For those that missed our Zoom Class, can you tell us about the importance of health and wellness during this difficult time?

H: It’s so important right now to implement healthy routines each day in order to feel purposeful and have the structure to feel less stressed and more grounded. Otherwise our days seem to blur together and it can feel like we’re just trying to keep our heads above water. And that doesn’t even include all the other ways healthy routines can positively impact our physical and mental health during this time!

So many emotions are likely to arise right now. There are things we can do in the moment to cope with difficult emotions, and there are things we can do preemptively to build resilience so we can cope with future emotions in a healthy and fulfilling way.

MM: During our class, you mentioned the “RAIN” technique. Can you explain that a little bit?

H: In the moment, we can practice acknowledging and working through our emotions through a concept called RAIN, which stands for Recognize, Allow, Investigate, and Non-Identification.

  • Recognize: Turn toward your emotions with acceptance. Identify the emotion arising and acknowledge the physical sensation that accompanies it.
  • Allow: Allow the experience to be there just as it is. Accept that the emotion is there without denying it. Recognize that emotions are impermanent, and that even if it feels overwhelming in the moment, it will soon pass.
  • Investigate: Get compassionately curious with your emotions. You can ask yourself: ‘What triggered this emotion? Why do I feel this way right now?’
  • Non-identification: Practice non-identification, remembering that you’re not your thoughts, feelings, or emotions. You might be having a thought, feeling, or emotion, but you are not it. You are the observer of whatever is going on in your brain. Allow that to provide some relief.

MM: Thank you! I really think people can benefit from using that technique.

You are a wealth of knowledge, and I know we could go on for hours about this, but before we go, can you share a few health habits people can establish right now?

H: For being more mentally and physically resilient to stressors and viruses right now, we can practice tangible health habits. I suggest only choosing a few so as to not overwhelm yourself during this potentially stressful time, and sticking to those things consistently.

  • Pay attention to how your body feels: If you’re not aware of how your body feels, it’s hard to give it what it needs. Take time to feel your physical sensations: hunger, satiation, thirst, temperature, emotions, etc.
  • Sleep: Get enough high-quality sleep. You can’t make optimal decisions when you’re sleep deprived, and your brain will always work better when you’re well-rested. This is the most beneficial thing you can do for anxiety AND immunity!
  • Move: Being intentional about moving your body is now more important than ever, as we might be doing a lot less of it by default. Intermittent movement throughout your day helps improve both physical and mental health, as addressed below.
  • Nourish your body: Stick to foods that nourish your physical and mental health: namely vegetables, fruit, and other whole, unprocessed foods. Decrease consumption of processed and refined foods, alcohol, caffeine, etc., and drink enough water! Food can be a challenge during Shelter in Place. While it’s helpful to have nutrition knowledge and guidelines around how our bodies use food optimally, listen to your own body. Tap into hunger/ satiation cues to feed yourself well, and notice how different foods make you feel to empower future decision-making.
  • Breathe: Breathing seems like a given, but did you know that you can use your breath to actually alleviate anxiety? Try extending your exhale longer than your inhale for an immediate decrease in cortisol, the stress hormone.
  • Ground down with nature: Connecting with nature is medicine against anxiety and fear. Try walking in the woods or exploring your backyard. If you can’t leave your house, look outside your window or grow a potted plant.
  • Schedule screen time: Put away the devices for designated periods of time each day, including consuming the news. You can still set aside time to get informed each day, but being constantly inundated with information about coronavirus isn’t helpful for your mental, physical, or emotional health.
  • Connect: Just because we’re physically distant doesn’t mean we have to be socially distant too! It’s important to be intentional about our social interactions right now. Video chatting, phone calls, and good old-fashioned letter writing can be incredibly refreshing and invigorating.
  • Help: The fastest path to feeling a sense of purpose? Helping another person!
  • Leave some space: Give yourself enough space in your day/schedule. Even in quarantine, we need down time to do something simply for the sake of enjoyment.
  • Be kind to yourself: Cut yourself a little bit of slack: this is collectively a stressful and uncertain time, so allow yourself to not get everything done, to fall apart, to use kind words when talking to yourself.

MM: We can’t thank you enough! Stay well, Hadlee!

Stay tuned – we will share more from Hadlee in the coming weeks.

Health and Wellness

Life Outside of Loans: It’s All About Escapism

My kids and I are obsessed with the new Animal Crossing game.

All my waking hours outside of work have been dedicated to fishing, selling turnips and hunting tarantula. I’m not proud to admit the amount of time we’ve collectively spent building up our new island home.

It has struck me how quickly I became reliant on the game for entertainment, a sense of accomplishment, and even something to bond with my kids over. I’ve wondered why it’s felt so important in my life, and clearly, it’s all about escapism.

Health and WellnessWe look for answers outside of ourselves and our homes, external ways to feel better. Some are healthy outlets (gym memberships, meditation classes), and others aren’t always healthy (Animal Crossing, retail therapy, going to the bar).

Now we’re suddenly stuck at home for weeks on end with restrictions and pressures that most adults have never had to face. We’re adapting to working outside of the office, or not working at all. Many of us have school-aged children that suddenly require us to oversee school work, or maybe elderly family members that are now isolated and without our help.

So, what happens when we combine the added stress while our sources of outside relief disappear?

Where do we find peace in the face of uncertainty?

For a culture that is so ingrained in believing our emotions are controlled by the situations and circumstances around us, this pandemic is perhaps the reset button we need.

Because peace and relief don’t come from the places we go, the things we buy, or what’s being reported on the evening news.

It comes from within.

But it’s so often drowned out with the external sources that many of us are now left in silence, struggling to reconnect with that inner voice, the source of emotional power within each of us that is out of shape and needs to be exercised.

While it’s tempting to just say that these are unprecedented times, and that a little escapism is ok, think about how you want your life to look at the end of this pandemic.

Do you want to have a beautiful home built in an imaginary video game world, or do you want to declutter your actual home?

Do you want to literally stay huddled in your home for weeks, or instead maybe get outside and walk, ride bikes, and try your hand at gardening?

Do you want to come out of the other side of this as the same person and society that went into it, or do you want to double down and come out more resilient and stronger?

Neither answer is right. I’m definitely not saying that I’m giving up Animal Crossing. But there is a choice to be made, and I encourage you to make that choice consciously.

Tips for Building Immunity During the COVID-19 Pandemic

We’re living in uncertain times.

As the COVID-19 pandemic spreads, people are asking what they can do to stay healthy and keep their loved ones safe.

The most impactful things you can do to prevent the spread and avoid exposure are still to:

  1. Wash your hands often with warm water and soap for at least 20 seconds. Use hand sanitizer when you don’t have access to a sink.
  2. Keep your hands away from your face to avoid transferring germs either from others to yourself or from yourself to others.
  3. Clean and disinfect frequently used surfaces like doorknobs, light switches, phones, counter tops, keys, wallets.

It’s also important that we keep our immune systems strong during this time in order to prevent it.

I’m not going to sell you on any products to boost your immune system, as there have not been any supplements shown to prevent COVID-19. I am going to promote lifestyle changes that universally enhance our immune systems and act as an important line of defense if and when we are exposed.

8 TIPS FOR BOOSTING IMMUNITY

Sleep! The most beneficial thing you can do for your immune system at any time is to get enough sleep!! Right now, getting somewhere between 8 and 10 hours is best, getting to bed as early as possible and letting your body sleep as long as it needs.

Stay hydrated. Drink enough water to wash out toxins and bacteria from your body. Avoid drinks that are dehydrating, like coffee and alcohol, as much as possible.

Aim for a consistent routine. Having a regular routine calms the nervous system and reduces stress and anxiety, both of which negatively impact the immune response. So getting to bed and waking at the same time, eating around the same times, and staying consistent with other health practices as much as possible positively impacts immunity. Don’t know where to start in automating your habits? Sign up for a Health Goals Call if you want to figure out next steps.

Avoid sugar and vegetable oils. Both sugar and highly processed vegetable oils (canola, corn, sunflower, safflower, soy, cottonseed, grapeseed, etc.) are toxic in the body and dampen the immune system. Cutting out sugar and vegetable oils as much as possible can be extremely beneficial for health in myriad ways. Cook with coconut oil, ghee, grass-fed butter, avocado oil, almond oil, etc. instead. Opt for foods that don’t have added sugar or vegetable oils in the ingredients list.

Eat immune-boosting foods. Immune-boosting foods are the ones we hear about for staying healthy in everyday life: lots of vegetables, antioxidant– and vitamin C–rich fruits, bone broth, probiotic foods, herbs and spices (i.e., turmeric w/ black pepper, ginger, garlic, oregano, etc.), nuts and seeds, high-quality animal proteins (stay away from low-quality meats from animals that ingest hormones and/or antibiotics in their lifetime).

Set up boundaries for how much information you take in. While it’s important to stay informed, it’s also important that we don’t stress ourselves out too much and thus tax our immune systems. It might be helpful to set a time in your schedule dedicated to looking at COVID-19 updates, and spend the rest of your time doing something else.

Get outside. Being outside in fresh air is great for our bodies, and also does wonders for our mental health, both of which impact our immune systems. Vitamin D from the sun is important for building immunity, and there is evidence that organic compounds emitted by plants called phytoncides also boost immune function.

Practice mindfulness. Meditation and other mindfulness practices both calm the nervous system and boost immunity. For most of us, this is a stressful and scary time, and that stress can tax our immunity. Setting aside a consistent time each day to practice some sort of mindfulness helps mitigate some of that stress and thus buffer the immune system.

Unsure of how to start doing these things consistently? Schedule a Health Goals Call with me to talk about your current lifestyle and next steps for building up the habits to stay healthy. I look forward to speaking with you and helping you take control of your health!

In the meantime, stay safe and healthy everyone!

Guest Blogger Hadlee Garrison, Happy Healthy with Hadlee

Michigan Tax Tips

Tax Tips for Michigan Residents

It’s that time of year again! No, I am not talking about March Madness or the finale of “The Bachelor” … It’s tax time! For some (like self-employed people) that have not been paying quarterly taxes, it is a time to pay the piper. But for the vast majority of us, it is the time of year where we can actually get a tax refund.

Michigan Tax TipsSo, what is the best use of those funds? Like most questions, the answers vary depending on the individual situation. If you are swimming in debt it may be time to pay some of that debt off. If you have not funded your 401(k) for the year, perhaps that money is best used to invest in a tax deferred plan.

If, however, you are not taking advantage of all the benefits, of home ownership, it may be the perfect time to purchase a home. The average tax refund these days is about $2,800. Many loans only require that you put between 1 percent and 3 percent down. This means you may have enough money to close a loan with only the refund.

Did you know that the average monthly rent payment in our area is more than the average monthly mortgage payment?  For example, the average monthly rent in Muskegon (February 2020) is $880. The medium home price is $128,000. After just 3 percent down, the payment with taxes and insurance would be about $830.

So, on average, the monthly expenditure owning a home is less than renting. But even if the payment was higher on the mortgage payment it would most likely still be beneficial to own? Why? Two main reasons: appreciation and amortization.

Appreciation: Appreciation is the rate at which the value of something increases in value. The average appreciation in our area is about 3.8 percent for real estate. For the last five years has been 6.3 percent!  On $128,000, the forecasted appreciation gain in the next nine years (using only 3.4 percent) is $45,466! Compare that to rent where the is obviously $0.

Amortization: The second reason is amortization gain. Remember, while the amount you owe on a mortgage goes down over time and the payment stays the same, on a rental the amount you pay for rent will likely continue to go up.  In 9 years, you’ll pay over $22,000 down on the home. When you rent, you’re just paying down your landlord’s mortgage.

So even assuming the cost of a Real Estate sale’s commission sale of 6 percent, in nine years you are $55,000 richer when you buy a home vs. renting.

Given this, as well as the emotional and text benefits of home ownership, tax time may be a great time to buy.  Call me if you would like to talk further about your specific options.

Image showing a large home and yard

Advantages of Making Extra Mortgage Payments

A house is the biggest purchase most people make in their lifetimes. The mortgage they obtain to finance that house is likely the biggest single investment they will ever make.

Image showing a large home and yardEven with the popularity of shorter terms and creative loans, most mortgages are still the tried-and-true 30-year conventional variety. First-time home buyers staring down the gauntlet of 360 payments spread over the next three decades of their life can feel like there is no end in sight. And for those who dare to look at their amortization schedules, that no-end-in-sight feeling can be even greater.

But there is a way to get ahead of the game: making extra mortgage payments.

Why It Makes Sense to Make Extra Mortgage Payments

Why does it make sense to make extra mortgage payments? Put simply, you will save significant amounts in interest. Most mortgage contracts allow borrowers to make extra payments, and they allow all of the extra money to be applied to the principal amount of your loan. That means you are paying down the real amount of the loan – the money you borrowed – faster. Because the interest part of your loan is calculated on the amount of principal you still owe, reducing your principal amount greatly reduces the interest amount.

According to the web site interest.com, “a $200,000 30-year home loan with an interest rate of 5% would cost $186,512 in interest with the traditional 12 payments a year. Make the equivalent of 13 monthly payments every year, and the loan will be retired in 26 years and you will pay only $153,813 in interest — a savings of $32,699.”

That’s nothing to sneeze at.

How to Make Extra Mortgage Payments

When it comes to making extra payments on your mortgage, there are a variety of tactics that can be used. Each has the same goal in mind: to reduce the principal and, thereby, reduce interest.

The tactics for making extra mortgage payments include the following.

Accelerated Payment Schedule

Rather than making your mortgage payment once per month, or the equivalent of every four weeks, you could make payments every two weeks. This biweekly payment plan results in 26 half-payments, which is the equivalent of 13 full payments for the year. The extra payment each year can shave off eight years from a 30-year loan.

Extra Principal with Each Monthly Payment

If you’re looking to chip away at your mortgage at a more gradual pace, pay a little extra each month. Check with your lender to make sure the additional payment goes directly to the principal. Depending on how much extra principal you pay, you could shorten your loan significantly. And, best of all, because your are shortening the loan duration, you will save significant amounts in interest.

One Additional Payment Per Year

Another tactic is to make one additional, principal-only payment per year. Some people who do this use their income tax refund for this purpose.

One Additional Payment Per Quarter

Making an additional payment each quarter results in four extra payments per year. On a $220,000, 30-year mortgage with a 4% interest rate, you would cut 11 years off your mortgage and save $65,000 in interest.

Lump-Sum Payment

Applying a lump-sum payment toward your principal balance when you come into extra cash — a bonus at work, a sizable inheritance — can shave time from your mortgage. This approach isn’t as consistent as some of the other methods, but, if the lump payment is large enough and depending on where you are in your timeline, it can eliminate many years.

This blog post was written by experts at Mortgage 1. Michigan Mortgage is a DBA of Mortgage 1.

Image of Dr. Tabatha

Hometown Highlights: Dr. Tabatha Barber Duell

In a world full of buzz words like gut microbiota, leaky gut, diseases of affluence, mind/body connection, functional medicine, mindfulness, phytochemicals, detoxification… it’s no wonder that we are all confused about how to live our best life.

Enter Dr. Tabatha: “Take care of yourself! Doctors orders!”

Dr. Tabatha Barber Duell’s passion to encourage women to live their best life through a functional medicine approach to health is nothing short of inspiring.

She believes that the best “medicine” is for physicians to spend time with their patients, listening to their histories, mapping their personal timeline, and looking at the interactions among genetic, environmental, and lifestyle factors that can influence long term health and complex chronic disease.

As an OB/GYN, she has been working with women through issues that face them as they have their first baby, to women going through menopause and learning how to cope with all of the changes that come with both.

Tabatha’s passion over the past 15 years has been delivering babies for hundreds of patients in West Michigan. She maintains that passion today, with an added dose of care that goes beyond the typical Doctor/patient relationship.

As Tabatha has grown and evolved over time, her course work, readings, and patient care have brought her to a place where she recognizes that women need to be empowered so they can advocate for themselves through movement, mindfulness, and diet each and everyday.

She wants to dig deeper with her clients and our community to see stronger, healthier women who thrive in all areas of their lives.

When asked if she could do anything in the world professionally right now what would it be? Without a second’s hesitation, she answered enthusiastically “I would open a women’s wellness center that incorporates Western and Eastern medicine: with meditation, accupuncture, herbal therapies, counseling, movement, mindfulness, nutrition and aesthetics!”

Giving women the tools to thrive through a mind, body, spirit approach to well being is what Dr. Tabatha would like to see more of in West Michigan and all over the United States.

Tabatha’s training as a DO, her work in Functional Medicine, and her personal struggles with back pain, and an autoimmune disease have given her a personal perspective on how lifestyle changes can make a huge difference in mental and physical health. She has been promoting “52 Weeks of Growth” using social media platforms to promote habit shifts. She teaches workshops through NOCH on related health issues, has been a speaker at the BE event, and has recently written a book “From White Trash to White Coat” that is a fictionalized story of her life.

If you are interested in learning more about Tabatha’s journey into Women’s Wellness, you can hear her speak at this year’s Be Event, Saturday, September 14, from 1-5 p.m. at the Frauenthal Theater. Tickets go on sale June 1.

Image showing a living room.

Mistakes to Avoid When Shopping for a New Home

Shopping for a new home can be one of the greatest experiences of a lifetime! When you venture out to purchase a home, make sure you set yourself up for success and an amazing experience.

Avoid these common mistakes:

  1. Not having your financing in order when you are ready to make an offer. It is critical to have a pre-approval from a trusted lender. Especially in a low inventory, competitive market, the buyer who has financing in place is ready to write the offer and “win” the home. So, don’t put yourself in the position of falling in love with a home that you aren’t able to bid on quickly!
  2. Not taking the time to educate yourself by window shopping and researching the market. Noel Berg with At Home Realty says, “A critical step in home buying is going to Open Houses, driving through neighborhoods and having a Realtor who educates you on home values so that you feel comfortable and confident when you find THE home! The more properties you can visit, the more confident you feel making an offer!”
  3. Submitting a low-ball offer. Make sure you look at all of the variables before making a low-ball offer. How long has the home been on the market? If it’s a seller’s market, it’s probably off the table. Does the house need updates, making it over priced? Your Realtor can craft an offer that won’t be too aggressive or offensive in the current market.
  4. Including too many contingencies. Contingencies are basically “walk away” clauses. It is important to protect your own interests, but, typically, the more contingencies in your offer, the less enthusiastic the seller may be to deal with you, especially in a seller’s market. Your Realtor will guide you as to which contingencies are the most critical to protect your interests.
  5. Using the seller’s agent. A real estate agent’s loyalties and responsibilities change depending on the transaction. A seller’s agent works for the seller to get the highest amount of money in the shortest period of time. Their fiduciary responsibility is to the seller at all times. The buyer’s agent works with the buyer to teach their clients about the market, to show them houses, and advise them when it comes time to make an offer and negotiate with the seller.
  6. Blindly listening to friends and family members. Though your friends and family have your best interests at heart, unless they are a Realtor, they are simply not experts; often times offering inaccurate and incorrect advice.
  7. Buying a home that is too expensive. Many buyers get their pre-approval letter and set out to look at houses at the top of the price range without thinking it through. It is important to work through a budget, and evaluate your spending habits and the increased cost of owning a home.
  8. Letting your emotions guide you. Purchasing a home will likely be one of the biggest and most important purchases in your lifetime. So, it makes sense that there will be emotions, concerns and questions weighing on you during the process. Make sure you take the top seven guidelines seriously so that you are empowered by logic, market awareness and professional advice!

A professional lender and Realtor will guide you home with confidence and authority.