Rochester Hills, MI Real Estate Buyers Guide

Thinking of buying a home in Rochester Hills?

First, here’s a little info that might be helpful to out-of-towners and other newcomers.

  • Rochester Hills is located on the northern outskirts of the metropolitan Detroit area. If Michigan is a mitten, the city is right at the base of the thumb.
  • The area is known for its safety. Many local parents report feeling comfortable letting their children play outside without direct supervision.
  • The number of people with college degrees and the median annual income for Rochester Hills is higher than the national average.
  • The area has all the cultural amenities you can ask for, including great restaurants, nightlife, community activities, and more.
  • Rochester Hills is steeped in history, as you can get a sense of from the video below.

10 Tips Before Buying a Home in Rochester Hills, MI 


1. Know the market seasons.

Real estate markets have seasons too. In Michigan, these seasons often follow the actual weather seasons. When buyers have a choice, they would prefer to look at homes in warm weather. Who can blame them?

The critical point here is that real estate agents and home sellers know this trend. As often as possible, they use it to their advantage. It’s best to follow suit because the housing inventory in Rochester Hills is best during the warmer months. If you can wait, do it.

There’s a reason it’s called the law of supply and demand. It’s very predictable, and a market with lots of supply means better listing prices for you!

A photo outside Van Hoosen Farm in Rochester Hills, MI Rochester Hills, MI is a beautiful place, any season of the year.

2. Bone up on your credit score.

A lot of buyers in the Detroit area have trouble with their credit score. If you are in the position where you hesitate to check your score because you are afraid of how low it might be, then listen up. Look sooner, not later. In fact, look now. Yes, the moment will require some courage.

But your future self WILL thank you. Handle this situation well, and it could be worth tens of thousands of dollars over the next decades.

Here are four ways you can check your credit score:

Talk to a non-profit counselor. 

If you feel clueless, this may be the best option for you. Non-profit credit counselors and HUD-approved housing counselors provide a free credit report and score. Often, they will review the data with you.

Use a credit score service. 

Many services and websites offer a “free credit score.” Nerdwallet has created a great post on understanding free credit score services.

Buy a score. 

You can buy a score directly from companies like

Check with your credit card company.

Capital One, Discover, AMEX, and Barclaycard all offer specific credit cards that come with a free credit score each month, available on the app or website. However, it’s not advisable to get a credit card only for this perk.

There’s a reason it’s better to look sooner, rather than later. You need to improve your credit score as much as possible before you sign a mortgage. While there’s no magic fix for years of neglect or a big blow like bankruptcy, there could be ways you can bump your score today.

Check out this article to find the most significant factors affecting your credit score. Do your research before making a move. For example, closing credit cards—especially long-term accounts—may lower your score. Once you know the best way to improve your score, follow through.

[caption id="attachment_1750" align="aligncenter" width="600"]luxury kitchen in a million dolllar home Buying a beautiful home begins with an improved credit report.[/caption]

3. If you have bad credit, know your options.

First, you should check for errors. Ideally, you should do this whether you have terrible or near perfect credit.

Then your options typically include increasing the down payment and getting an FHA loan. Federal Housing Administration loans have limits according to each county in the USA.

You can find updated info on FHA loans for Oakland County, Michigan here.

[caption id="attachment_1657" align="aligncenter" width="600"]A house with 2 car garage in Rochester Hills, MI A model home in Rochester Hills, Michigan[/caption]

4. Get pre-qualified before you start home hunting.

This piece of advice is best for house buyers who already have their finances in good standing. If that’s not you, consider waiting to present your best financial self to the bank. It can be a tough decision, but delaying the gratification of becoming a home-owner or upgrading to a better house can be worth more than any salary bump or Christmas bonus.

If we’re offering advice like, “Consider waiting to buy a house,” then you know that we have your best interest—and not ours—at heart. Keep that in mind when you get to STEP 10 and the time is right to buy a home!

What does “getting pre-qualified for a mortgage” really mean?

It means you’ll supply an overview of your financial history to the lender, including your credit score, income, debts, and assets. The lender will look over your information and estimate which mortgage options will be available to you when the time comes to sign a contract.

Getting pre-qualified is arming yourself with the knowledge that will come in handy while house hunting.

[caption id="attachment_1762" align="aligncenter" width="600"]a man and a woman discuss a pre-approved mortgage for a home Get out there and talk with lending professionals.[/caption]

5. If you’re a first-time homebuyer, know your options.

If applicable to you, this piece of advice can work wonders. There are numerous incentives, programs, and grants available to first-time homebuyers in Michigan.

Check them out on this webpage. As with any section of this blog post, know that a professional real estate agent like those at Ethos Real Estate can help you understand these options.

[caption id="attachment_1765" align="aligncenter" width="600"]advice on buying homes in michigan includes considering fees Don’t let lender fees catch you by surprise.[/caption]

6. Understand the lender fees involved.

In addition to your monthly mortgage payment, you must also pay interest, insurance, and lender fees. Knowing about these before will not only prevent sticker shock, it will help you understand your ACTUAL purchasing power beforehand.

[caption id="attachment_1764" align="aligncenter" width="600"]Homebuyers in Michigan should consider the next 10-30 years. Thinking long-term about homebuying is always advisable![/caption]

7. Think long-term about buying a home.

If nothing else, all those extra fees should make you think twice about buying a new home every year. Most homebuyers want to put down roots. That’s great, but in that case, you have to understand the full implications of buying a long-term home.

One house might be zoned for a great middle school, but a terrible high school. One neighborhood might be the flashy new kid on the block, but listing prices might drop once it looks a little less shiny. In the real estate game, forethought is invaluable.

[caption id="attachment_1770" align="aligncenter" width="640"]The historic Rochester Hills Museum at Van Hoosen Farm. Owning a home in Rochester Hills will place you near historical sites such as Van Hoosen Farm.[/caption]

8. Understand Seller Psychology

Yes, a great realtor knows this for you. Yes, he or she will explain it to you when the time is right. However, over-preparation (is there such a thing?) is always better than under-preparation.

The Wall Street Journal has put together a long-form article on real estate seller psychology. It’s chock-full of nuggets of wisdom. Enjoy!

[caption id="attachment_1656" align="aligncenter" width="600"]a single family home in Michigan A storybook single-family home in Rochester Hills, MI[/caption]

9. Research the Rochester Hills housing market yourself.

Yes, the best way to get a killer deal is to hire a knowledgeable real estate agent. A great realtor will be able and willing to educate and guide you, and they will have tools and resources not available to the public. You can and should expect these things from your real estate professional. But…

The more you know, the more you can help streamline the process.

Remember: At the end of the day, you are the decision maker.

When you take the time to do your homework, you end up with a crucial piece of information: knowing what you truly want.

It’s a lot easier for a private detective to track someone down when they know their target is 6’3” and has a face tattoo. The same goes for your real estate agent.

A. Do your homework on the local housing market.

This overview of the Rochester Hills Real Estate Market is an excellent place to start.

B. Manage your expectations according to your budget and the Rochester Hills real estate market.

See STEPS 2-6 again to ensure your expectations are realistic.

C. Make a specific list of housing features you NEED.

Good examples might include a handicap-accessible 2-car garage or a fenced-in backyard for your dog breeding side hustle. For a complete list of home features available, check out this post with 100+ options.

D. Make a WISHLIST list of amenities, but…

Don’t get married to it. You can put it under your pillow and hope the real estate fairy visits you.

E. Make a specific list of you DON’T want and/or need.

Maybe you don’t want to be in a particular elementary school zone. Or perhaps you don’t mind having a kitchenette. Any information relating to your priorities can be helpful.

F. Revise your lists based on STEP 2: Be flexible.

Then proceed to Step 10 and head on home. Make sure you collect $200 as you pass GO!

[caption id="attachment_1720" align="aligncenter" width="600"]a man explains advice for buying a home in michigan We would love to guide you through the process of buying a Rochester Hills home.[/caption]

10. Find a great realtor.

A professional real estate agent is the $200 you collect as you pass GO.

The 2016 Profile of Home Buyers and Sellers came out with some fascinating information. Only 8% of homes are sold by their owners. That’s a significant change from 1981 when FSBO (For Sale By Owner) comprised 21 percent of home sales.

Why is that?

The answer is simple. The market is getting increasingly complex and challenging to navigate. Meanwhile, the stakes are high, and one slip-up or oversight can cost you big time and long-term. This is true for everyone, including people buying a home in Rochester Hills.

The key is to find a realtor with your best interest in mind, not someone who just wants to sell you a house, regardless if it truly fits your needs.

The #1 tip on this article? Put yourself first by finding a realtor that knows the importance of treating clients like the people and families they really are.

[caption id="attachment_1753" align="aligncenter" width="600"]a pen signs a real estate contract for buying a home in Rochester Hills You could sign for a house in no time![/caption]

Summary of Buying a Home in Rochester Hills

Here’s the short version of everything you need to know about buying a home in Rochester Hills, Michigan.

  1. Know the market seasons.
  2. Bone up on your credit score.
  3. Know your options if you have bad credit.
  4. Get pre-qualified before you start looking.
  5. Know your options as a first-time homebuyer.
  6. Don’t be shocked by lender fees.
  7. Think long-term about homebuying.
  8. Understand seller psychology.
  9. Research buying a home in Rochester Hills yourself.
  10. Find a great real estate agent.

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