Feeds:
Posts
Comments

1. Small Town Comforts with a Big City Vibe…

Location, Location, Location…Grand Rapids, MI is a city where you can bask on a pristine sandy white beach, kayak down a lazy river, take a horse-drawn carriage through a thriving down town area and tour a historic neighborhood all within one day.  In fact, all of this within 30 – 45 minutes of driving time without the hassles of big city traffic.  Grand Rapids, MI is a place where people still smile and say ‘Hi’ and will often open the door for you to walk through first, especially if you’re carrying an arm full.

Architecture of Grand Rapids

2.  Art Prize & Beer City US

Yep!  Very few cities can lay claim to both.  But in Grand Rapids, MI citizens enjoy the flair and drama created by hundreds of artists from around the country and world lending their creative muse to public spaces throughout the community.  Art Prize is the world’s largest community art contest in which the citizens choose the winning entry by electronic vote.  Truly a democratic affair! As for the beer thing, Grand Rapids has won the nationwide vote for the best crafted beer two years running…2012 & 2013.

4023494211_37292bfe2d_z

3.  Maker’s Spaces & Cool Funky Creative Vibes

If you love to build stuff, create new things, innovate and invent – there are few cities of its size which offer what Grand Rapids MI does to the entrepreneurially inclined.  There’s a vibe that you can instinctively feel about Grand Rapids.  It’s citizens are curious souls.  Hardworking too.  There are several communities specifically geared towards working together to collaborate and invent.  These include:  Start Garden, The Factory and the Geek Group to name a few.

think outside the box in vintage wood type

4.  Gorgeous Green Space & Eclectic Art Sculptures

Green space abounds in Grand Rapids MI. The urban landscape is frequently punctuated with park benches to stop & rest awhile.  The city overseas over  1,200 acres in 71 city owned parks.  There’s also a lovely quirkiness about how Grand Rapidians decorate their outdoor spaces.  It’s not unusual to see gardens with numerous lawn ornaments, including dutch shoes.  In the heart of downtown, Rosa Parks Circle designed by famous renowned artist Maya Lin features ice skating in the winter and line dancing in the summer.

9709610065_df6983fd66_z

5.  The Downtown Market

Opened a year ago in 2013, the Downtown Market is an eclectic spot where you can browse through fresh offerings from local farmers during three days of the week or shop throughout the week in the indoor market which features an array of different kinds of shops.  Where else can you find an all natural juice bar, a European Bakery, a Crepe Shop, Fish Market, Meat Market, Spicery, Coffee Bar, Wine Bar and take classes in yoga and gourmet cooking all under one roof? Oh and yes…there’s also a roof top garden where you can enjoy a view of the city and several restaurants to boot!

12394496193_aa69a6fef6_z

6.  Awesome Eats & Sweets

Grand Rapids MI has truly become a ‘foodies’ town.  The Farm to Table concept has grown roots into the community and today, several great restaurants feature items sourced from local farms.  One of the most interesting cluster of restaurants to open in the area centers around the East Town Community just east of the downtown core.  Some of our favorites include: The Grove, Green Well, Marie Catrib’s, and Terra.  Downtown we recommend: Reserve, Osteria Rossa, Ruth Chris Steakhouse, Rockwell Republic and Six One Six. For lovers of international cuisine, there are a number of Indian restaurants, Mexican Restaurants and one of our favorites, a Persian themed restaurant Shiraz Grill which features live entertainment as well as excellent food.  Each year, the city showcases restaurants during Restaurant Week, a great opportunity to try out something new at a reasonable cost.

Bruschetta

7.  Affordable Housing & Unique Neighborhoods

Forbes magazine recently ranked Grand Rapids MI as the 2nd Best Place to Raise a Family in the United States.  The ranking was based in part  on Housing Affordability, Home Ownership Rates and Safety.  The median house price for Grand Rapids is $167, 000 according to recent data available from the Grand Rapids Association of REALTORS.  Lonely Planet dubbed Grand Rapids MI as its ‘TOP DESTINATION’ for 2014.  If you’ve been thinking about a vacation to an exotic locale with gorgeous sandy beaches, West Michigan with it’s pristine shoreline, wineries and orchards might be exactly what you need.  Living in an area where your mortgage note doesn’t require scrimping on your life style and in communities which take pride in their homes is a wonderful bonus. Housing stock covers a wide range including: downtown condos, apartments, suburban homes, historic homes, pastoral estates, row houses and gated communities.

7077980153_244d0552aa_z

8.  World Class Entertainment & Fun Festivals

There’s always stuff to do in Grand Rapids MI.  In fact, the variety is surprising for a city of its size.  You can enjoy the opera, ballet or symphony or attend a concert or show at the Van Andel Arena or DeVos Hall.    The city features several Festivals which include: Laughfest, Festival of the Arts, Hispanic Festival,  Soul of the City, Oktoberfest and Art Prize.  For sports enthusiasts, there are dozens of golf courses within a 30 minute drive.  Sports teams include the Grand Rapids Griffins hockey team and the West Michigan White Caps, an affiliate of the Detroit Tigers.  If you’re into biking, you’ll love the fact that the city has many miles of dedicated bike trails including dedicated lanes on the roadways.  In 2009, the League of American Cyclist named the city as one of the Top Bicycle Friendly Communities within the United States.

1994-08-033 002

9.  Top of the Line Healthcare

Even some Grand Rapidians might be surprised to know that two of the areas top employers are associated with the healthcare industry.  Spectrum Health along with Mercy Health St. Mary comprise a significant portion of job offerings in the West Michigan area.  It’s never a good thing to get sick, but if you need excellent care or specialized services, Grand Rapids MI rivals the nation’s best when it comes to wellness and disease treatment.   In addition, the Van Andel Institute is recognized as a world leader in biomedical research and science education.  The campus of the MSU College of Medicine (Secchia Center) is located along the Medical Mile.

doctor working on computer

10.  Great Place to Find a Job & School

Due to a diverse economic base, Grand Rapids MI has thrived economically despite the recession which has plagued much of the country and the State.  The area is home to more than 90 International companies and four of the largest private companies featured on the Forbes List.  Blessed with a hardworking and diverse workforce, Grand Rapids has attracted investment from a variety of industry sectors.  Average earning are just under $50,000 according to data from the Right Place and the average work force age ranges from the 20’s to 50’s. Data sourced from The Right Place.

The Grand Rapids area features a number of choices for residents when it comes to elementary, highschool, college and post graduate study.  These include public and private schools as well as charter schools.

Concept

11.  Gorgeous Weather – (well, most of the time)

Yes, winter can be brutal in Michigan, but you have to live here to understand why folks are willing to put up with a little excess from Mother Nature during that season.  Summer in West Michigan is wonderful.  Enhanced by the fact that you’re never more than six miles away from a body of water and approximately 30 minutes from Lake Michigan, Grand Rapidians revel in summer.  We also enjoy fall, when the trees break into glorious splendour and put on a show that’s absolutely exquisite.  We like the change of the seasons – watching the pristine beauty of winter give way to the promise of spring.  One thing about Grand Rapids MI weather that’s for certain is that it’s never boring.

9865408713_aab4970b79_z

 

 

 

 

bell bottoms

Editorial Note:  This blog post was first published in 2009 at a time when the real estate industry was facing the worst market that most current practioners had ever witnessed.  Looking back at the sentiments expressed in this blog post brings to mind some of the important lessons that period of challenge created.

*****************

I remember the early 70’s when bell bottom pants were all the rage.  The bigger the flare the better.   Everything was just a tad ‘puffed’ up and that included ‘big hair’ like the Afro. Sometimes, it was difficult to have a sense of how tall a person really was.  Several young men I knew used the cover of bell bottoms to add several inches of height with platform shoes!

Bell bottom pants were also handy for ‘sweeping streets’ clean.  Many kids wore their bell bottoms so long, that the bottoms actually frayed from dragging across the street. But this was deemed better than revealing that you had spindly legs and a short torso. But really…who were you fooling?

Today, that excess almost seems nostalgic.  In fact, bell bottoms are considered vintage wear in some circles. And as for the mile high Afro…well, that was OK until it rained.  If you were unlucky enough to not have a head covering, your Afro disappeared like a poof of smoke!  Now, come to think of it, both bell bottoms and the Afro relied on the cover of ‘fair weather’ conditions.

But like all things in life, change happens.  In the late 70’s and early 80’s, the shift to skin tight stove pipe jeans created unforgiving revelations for everyone apart from those who had almost perfect figures.  It was as though, we had entered into fashions’ version of a period of reckoning.

You see, fair weather has a way of making many things seem alright. Over the past decade, the real estate industry has enjoyed a good deal of it. During the fair weather period, just about anyone was able to get a license and sell at least a couple homes a year… During the fair weather period, real estate brokers and associations welcomed everyone in with open arms; it didn’t matter if you could sell as long as you paid your fees on time. During the fair weather period, just about anyone with breath could get a loan…

But like all things which depend on the unpredictability of fair weather, the day of reckoning has arrived. Short Sales have now replaced the Sure Sale.  A lack of training has revealed an industry that is significantly short on training and follow-through at a time when the market is dictating increased scrutiny and consumers want to look to see what’s underneath your bell bottoms in a manner of speaking.  

And in truth, Bell Bottoms never really covered anything. It was all just temporary.  In the end when you took off your pants and platform shoes, you returned to the real you. Even if that was just at bedtime.

This is the sort of re-adjustment which I think is taking place in the real estate industry today.  We’re being forced to look at ourselves and take stock of our strengths and weaknesses. Stormy conditions are forcing us to take a good hard look at who we’re connected to. Have you found yourself surrounded by fair weather friends? Folks who are all too happy to enjoy the good times with you but are unwilling to buckle down to support the load?  

Or, has your experience been more about the bell bottom covering up stuff that really needs to be dealt with? Things like the fact that you’re not meeting your goals and don’t have a plan in place to make them happen.  This is an opportunity to take stock of what’s really going on professionally and to assess what skills we need to become competent to meet today’s challenges.  Without this sort of honest assessment, all the marketing in the world is doomed for eventual failure in this new era of transparency.

You know, times of challenge are kinda like stove pipe pants that have a way of revealing things that were less noticeable during a more forgiving period.  It’s up to each of us to get in shape!

Real Estate Logic CaptureHave you ever been in a class where the instructor asked the real estate agents to name what the public thinks of real estate agents?  Inevitably, someone will raise their hands and say…they think we’re like used car salespersons?  The tone & subsequent commentary indicate that this is NOT a good thing…

In a recent class setting, the instructor went further and asked everyone to raise their hands IF they LIKED salespeople.  Only a few brave souls dared to raise their hands.  We all felt it…it was not cool to ‘like’ salepersons.  One brave soul actually said he enjoyed a purchase when it was assisted by a good salesperson.  Which got me to thinking…so do I! Although these examples reference real estate professionals in particular, I think the conversation is actually a broader one.

Even though I often enter a store and respond to an initial inquiry for assistance with the proverbial, ‘No thanks, I’m just looking,’ when I want to make my selection, I’m always grateful when a salesperson shows up, particularly when they are a GOOD Salesperson.

So what’s the difference between a good Salesperson and a lousy one?  Well, one could write a book about that and since this is a short blog post, I’ll just highlight a few key points which make a huge difference for me.

1.  Good Salespersons LISTEN with two ears & TALK with one mouth

While, this may seem to be the nature of creation, I’m often amazed by how much talking a poor Salesperson does.  I guess it’s called ‘Selling’ me a product.  Problem is, I don’t need to be SOLD something, I’m already indicating I’d like to buy.  I simply need assistance in making the right selection.  To help me with that, you’ve got to listen more and talk less.

2.  Good Salespersons NOTICE stuff.

A couple of years ago I bought a new car.  I really wanted to purchase a particular brand of car, but when I walked into the showroom and started to look around, no one noticed.  That’s not to say, there were not sales agents there.  They seemed occupied, talking to each other, walking around…in fact doing anything other than noticing that there was a NEW customer in the showroom who might be interested in buying a car.  Well, after about 10 – 15 minutes, I walked out.  Fortunately, the competing dealer down the street had Salespersons who noticed.  Needless to say, I’ve been happy with my purchase.

3.  Good Salespersons don’t tell LIES

Sometimes, the truth can be a tricky thing.  So what do you say when someone asks you if they look good in something and you really think they look awful? Not an easy situation, I know.  Yet, integrity in sales is the cornerstone foundation of good business in my opinion.  When people trust you, they feel comfortable with the fact that you are making a recommendation for their good, not simply to line your pockets.  Sometimes the truth is hard to swallow.  Like, ‘Mr & Mrs Seller, your home has lost 30% of its value OR, you are not in the position to purchase a home right now.  But, it’s better to tell the truth, albeit with politeness, than to lead someone down a false trail.

We’re ALL in Sales…

Yes, we are.  Everyday, all of us are selling something.  Many of us are not aware of this fact and consequently do a very poor job at it.  If you’re a parent, you’re in the daily business of training a child to do the right thing and in a sense convincing them that doing so will be beneficial.  We sell when we present ourselves to the world every morning.

We’re selling even when we don’t think people are watching.  We’re selling every time we convince or ask someone to do something.  When selling is done from good intentions and motivations, it has the capacity to influence lives in a very compelling way.  People want to know what is best and how to make quality decisions.  They want to have the knowledge required to prevent mistakes.  They want to know that you care about THEM, not just the product you’re selling.  When I meet a salesperson like that, irregardless of whether they’re a REALTOR®,teacher or a clerk in a retail store, I for one, appreciate the service!

The big news for the summer of 2014 according to statistics compiled and released by the Grand Rapids Association of REALTORS is Housing Inventory…or rather the lack of it as the community prepares to enter what is traditionally the most active segment of the selling season.  According to the report, (which tracks data into May 2014) the amount of housing inventory available for sale in West Michigan has dropped to under 3 months of supply.  (2.4 months to be exact based on Pending Sales)  To give you perspective, a balanced market would have the housing supply at 6-7 months during this time of the year as many homeowners normally take advantage of the warmer weather and school closings to market their homes.

Trends Graphic for Housing Inventory in West MI 2013-2014

Trends Graphic for Housing Inventory in West MI 2013-2014

The issue of low inventory has dogged the market throughout most of 2014.  New listings arriving on the West Michigan market have been about 12% lower than the pace of last year.  (2014 – 6,592  new listings YTD vs 2013 – 7541 new listings).  But in spite of the Inventory shortage, the Sales Volume for 2014 is on an upward trend!  In fact, 2014  Sales Volumes for the real estate Board shows an increase of 4.1%  for 2014 over last year and in May alone of this year, a 14.6 percent increase based on actual Closed Sales.

So what does this mean for the West Michigan Home Seller?  Well, Average home prices have increased over 9% during the past month.  Last year, the Average Home sold for $157,814 during the month of May.  Today, the average price is $174,001.  When ALL Sales including vacant land and multi-family units are added into the mix, the numbers drop a little, but irregardless, the average price of $167,728 is the highest price we’ve witnessed for almost a decade.

If you’re in the market for a home purchase, be prepared to aggressively pursue your goal.  This is not a market for the faint-hearted when it comes to the prospect of bidding wars and making quick decisions.  But, a quick decision does not mean you should make a rash decision when in comes to purchasing a home.  Afterall, this is the biggest investment that most Americans will make.  To be effective in a successful negotiation in this market, be prepared to do your research and know what’s for sale in the areas which interest you.  As REALTORS, our company sets up client portals which provide instant notification when new listings which match the criteria for a home which might be a match shows up on the Multiple Listing Service.  In addition, have all financing in order as a well qualified buyer wins hands down in this type of market.

If you’ve been considering placing your home on the market, your timing is impeccable!  However, be forewarned that this market requires attention to detail in which market savvy buyers are not simply looking for a home, but for a well priced and well presented home.  They’ll fight for that!  On the flip side, homes which do not show well, continue to be penalized and sell for less even in a market as active as this one.  If you’d like to know what you need to do to make sure your home attracts the best type of attention and price, give us a call for a free consultation at 616-791-0511.

*Trends Graphics provided courtesy of the Grand Rapids Association of REALTORS

Living Room

Now under contract – May 2014.  We think you’ll love this home!  Click here to watch a pre-view tour of the interior of 3740 Bantam Dr. Hudsonville MI 49426. Handsome brickwork coupled with graceful pillars framing the entrance give this classic looking 3 bedroom 2.5 bath ranch style home a hint of southern colonial charm. Inside, soothing earth tone walls warm up a soaring expanse of cathedral ceilings. Wide open spaces and windows which splash light throughout the main floor create a cheerful ambiance.

Another great feature is the rich vinyl plank style flooring in the main living areas which looks sharp and contemporary, but is a breeze to keep clean. Add to this, almost brand new stainless steel appliances in the kitchen, a deck that opens up to a fenced in backyard which includes playground equipment, central air conditioning and underground sprinkling…well, what’s not to love! Located near the end of a cul de sac, this delightful home is a great space to make your new home base. $174,900. Contact Donna 616-881-6889 to schedule a preview.

House Exterior

Dining Room to kitchen view good

Recently Reduced to:  $124,900.  Located on a large lot which expands beyond the fenced in backyard, this 3 bedroom, 2 bath, offers a good value to home buyers. The home features 2 wood burning fireplaces (upstairs and down) and a wide open floor plan which seems to expand with light coming in through a substantial expanse of windows.

The 3 stall garage provides ample room for 3 cars or to store recreational vehicles in the off-season. In fact, storage is something this house has a lot of, including a sewing/craft room downstairs with shelving and an additional exercise area.

The 3rd bedroom upstairs can also be used as a den or study as it opens up to an expansive double tiered deck in the backyard. The owner is willing to part with 2 window air conditioning units which effectively keep the upstairs cool and comfortable during the summer. Don’t miss the opportunity to see and view this home today! Click link for MLS Data:http://www.grar.com/property/mls/14018646

To View a real estate show for 1670 Langley St. SE Grand Rapids MI, just click here or on the picture below.  Make this your new home today! Contact us here: 616-791-0511.

Exterior

Welcome to Spring 2 PicMonkey Collage

So, what does the Spring Market look like in West Michigan – Grand Rapids? Well, in a nutshell…it’s interesting! My go to word when things are unexpected, don’t quite fit into the routine and operate outside of established or expected norms.

Interesting, this Spring means unexpectedly low inventory levels. Normally, there’s a significant uptick in homes for sale, this year inventory levels continue to run well below the average, with March 2014 listings being 26.5% less than last year and overall home listing totals throughout 2014 so far running 27.4% lower than the volume of 2013 in the first quarter.  In fact, inventory levels are recorded as the lowest since 2002 according to data available from the Grand Rapids Association of Realtors monthly marketing update.

What has that meant for housing values? Well, the squeeze on inventory has increased the value of West Michigan real estate. It’s a basic supply/demand thing. Overall, housing prices are approximately 14% higher than they were this time last year.  That being said, mortgage rates are still cooperating for the most part, so in many cases, it’s still actually cheaper to BUY a home than it is to rent a similar dwelling.

Add to that, the recent MI incentive to encourage home ownership with up to $7,500 in MSHDA grant money to qualified home buyers, well…this could present the unlikely paradox of ‘the best of both worlds’ for potential homeowners and purchasers in West Michigan. Are you noticing more For Sale & Sold signs in your neighborhoods yet?

If you’re interested in looking at the hard numbers available through our local real estate association, click this link.

Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

%d bloggers like this: