Money dancing groomIt’s almost the end of year…the time when most funding programs tend to run low on funds for buyers without down-payments.  In a surprising and refreshing reversal this November, the Federal Housing Authority Administrations (FHA) Philadelphia Homeownership Center has approved several Sales Incentives for use in the purchase of HUD homes in Ohio AND Michigan!

This is great news for Michigan buyers!  Particularly if you’re a first time buyer strapped for cash as the holidays approach.  Now, you can give yourself a really nice Christmas Gift…A Great New Home!  Here’s the skinny…  If you use FHA financing, you can obtain a $2,500 sales allowance at closing or a $1,000 sales allowance if you’re using another type of financing.  This allowance can be put to use in a number of ways.  You can use it to assist with Closing Cost, Make Repairs OR Pay Down unpaid principal balances against the mortgage.

It gets even better!  If you’re a real estate broker, the government has a little Christmas Bonus for you too!  HUD homes will earn the real estate broker $500 if the buyer uses FHA financing or $250 if they opt for another source.  This deal applies to ALL bids placed on HUD homes on or after November 15th 2007 and extends until September 30, 2008.

Then there’s This!  A $100 Down Payment initiative is available for all HUD owned properties.  Now, this in only available for FHA insured sales to owner occupants and the borrower MUST use FHA insured financing for the home purchase.  So now, you can get into a home with a Low Downpayment AND get money to help pay for it!

Don’t miss out on this incredible opportunity to buy a home.  We’re seeing buyers pick up some incredible bargains for this Christmas.  This window of opportunity will not remain open forever.  Don’t be one of the Sorry Would Be Home owners who missed out on a Great Deal because they didn’t recognize the sound of Opportunity Knocking!

Contact us at 616-791-0511 for a list of Lenders Who We Recommend for FHA Financing in the Grand Rapids, Michigan Area.  Take another look at all those BOLD items in this post again…That’s a lot of Free Money Floating Around. Make Sure You Catch Some and Buy Your Home!

*The information for this post was provided courtesy of the Federal Housing Administration which has been
“Insuring the American Dream of homeownership for more than 34 million people since 1934.”

Picture provided courtesy of billadays photostream on

Working Off the Turkey Fat…Locals Flood the Grand Rapids YMCA!

ExercisingThe guy checking people in couldn’t contain himself…”Boy, it’s busy today…everyone’s coming in to work out.”  We were in line to check in to the Downtown YMCA, (aka David D. Hunting branch)  a state of the art fitness facility which features one of the best exercise programs in the area. Although the line was moving briskly, it was clear that the place was quite full.

The YMCA building is a modern marvel with expansive views from the third floor where most of the major gym equipment is housed.  The second floor has classrooms,  smaller, more intimate gym areas, a viewing deck to watch the swimmers in the pool below and a chapel.

Downstairs you can grab a snack, enroll the kids in a play gym or go swimming in one of Grand Rapids’ coolest pools!  I was there to attend a yoga class.  I’ve done yoga on and off for a few years.  I like the focus on core strength, relaxation and correct breathing and posture.  The instructors at the YMCA are pretty good & classes are free with a membership.

There are a number of programs available including private training, massage therapy & an extensive variety of lessons and training programs for teens and children.  The facility is clean and well maintained.  I always appreciate the fact that they provide sanitizers for the stations. So, if you’re looking for a great place to work off some of those holiday goodies…check out the downtown Grand Rapids YMCA!

Here’s a link to a complete list of all programs available at the downtown Grand Rapids, YMCA

Did You Tell Them to Go Google Their Home?

Google this address 11369 Starflower Dr. Holland, MII’m not sure exactly how many MLS systems we have in Michigan…but there are a lot of them!  I pay to have access to one local Board and fork out more money to have limited privileges on a second.  I recently took a listing which caused me to investigate the possibility of listing privileges with a third board. 

Our initial contacts yielded limited success, but we were finally routed to the right person just in time…for them to go on vacation! Unfortunately, there was no one else to answer the question or process the paperwork, so we waited. 

When, the individual got back from vacation, we were informed that processing could only take place through the mail and since they were going to be out for another week…well, the listing would just have to wait until they got back.  A few years ago, this would have made me frantic.  That was then…This is NOW!

During the hiatus of 2 weeks in which this MLS system has been unable to attend to a listing from a paying client, I took advantage of some Excellent tools available to real estate agents who need maximum exposure for their listings.  My clients are moving out of state and need to sell their home.  They don’t have 2 weeks to wait. 

First of all, I posted the listing on my primary MLS.  Then, I created a Real Estate Show and a Flyer to match.  While on Real Estate Shows, I noticed that a simple click would export my Show to Google, Trulia and several other media outlets.  Just a click…and it was done.  Then, I headed back to my blog and posted the listing there and onto Localism.  

Next, the listing was posted to Zillow which receives millions of hits a month and then I zipped the listing over to Yahoo.  Finally, I composed an e-mail to my client and let them know that their listing would be on line all over the WORLD in a couple of days!  What I didn’t anticipate was how quickly they would be able to Google their address and see several entries all about their home! 

Now, we’re going to have NEW Sign Riders made which say Google this ADDRESS.   In less than 48 hours, I can now type in this address into a Search Bar on Yahoo or Google and get information about this listing and so can my clients AND all their friends, family and relatives! We think that this header might be something that people driving through the neighborhood will enjoy Clicking on too! There’s something really cool about that!

Green Well…the Grand Rapids, MI Green Gourmet Restaurant!

irish clover

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If you’re in Grand Rapids, Mi make sure you check out this new restaurant.  The Green Well, owned by the Essence Restaurant Group is located on 924 Cherry Street in Grand Rapids, Michigan, just a short walk from one of my other favorite restaurants in the East Hills neighborhood, Marie Catrib’s.

The site was designed by Guy Bazzani, owner of Bazzani & Associates a local architect who is playing a leading role in designing several innovative environmentally friendly local projects.

The Green Well was also recently featured in the MiBiz, a newspaper magazine which highlights local news and events in the business community.  According to the MiBiz article, the restaurant which is owned by Essence Group is located in a LEED Certified building.  In fact, the Green Well is the ONLY restaurant in the Midwest in which the interior and exterior construction meet LEED Certification standards.

The restaurant design incorporates a number of environmentally friendly touches which include:  foam blocks filled with insulation for the building’s insulation, table tops and art-ware for the walls fashioned from recycled materials, compact florescent lighting and bathrooms with waterless urinals, low flush toilets and sinks fashioned from recycled plastics.

Now, this is all very inventive…but the proof of the pudding for a restaurant is always it’s food and its service. So, how does the Green Well rate on these counts.  When we got to the restaurant, there was about a 40 minute wait.  We took this as a good sign…patrons seemed to be enjoying their meals and the bar counter was also full.

The wait was worth it! Our server was attentive and helpful.  The menu is imaginative and many of the selections feature products and produce from local vendors.  I had the butternut squash soup.  It was absolutely fantastic! The nutty flavor was enhanced by a delicate blend of spices.  We paired the soup with a fresh bread platter which included a flat bread baked in house and a delicious humus paste.

Our entrees were also excellent.  My husband enjoyed the trout and I had pork chops which were cooked to succulent perfection and complimented by a potpourri blend of root vegetables.  Make sure you save room for dessert as the selection varies and I’m told the gelatto is exquisite.

The term “gastro pub” is used to describe this unique blending of restaurant, bar and European bistro.  This is the first restaurant with this concept in the Grand Rapids, Mi area. Because the Green Well strives to take advantage of what is seasonally available, the menu tends to change frequently.  Don’t miss the opportunity to experience this excellent blend of sustainable environmentally friendly design and creatively presented entrees while in the Grand Rapids, Mi area.

Copyright 2007 Audu Real Estate All Rights Reserved





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If You Could Peer into the Future…Would you Sell Your Home?

chair setProbably the biggest source of angst that home owners in Grand Rapids, Michigan have about selling their home is knowing if their home has a chance for a Sale.  Quiet turmoil mounts with the following irksome thoughts. 

Potential Sellers question, “Will this Home Sell?”  or “Will anyone even want to look at my home?”  This is especially troublesome when the home across the street has been For Sale for the past 6 months…and you’ve never seen anyone come to take a look.

Well, there’s a feature available that allows you to look into the future in a manner of speaking.  As a real estate broker, I can do a reverse search for your property which can give you a fairly good idea of how your property might fare on the biggest display arena in the entire world…the Internet! 

Here’s an example that I just played around with in the 49534 zip code.  Let’s say you have a fairly new home (5 years or less) and you’re thinking of placing it on the market for approximately $225,000.  You have a daylight basement and a 2 stall garage with less than an acre of land.  It’s a 3 bedroom 2 bath home and there is a lovely fireplace. 

Well, here’s the results.  According to the tool provided by the Grand Rapids Association of Realtors,  likely results from on line marketing would yield 7,138 requests for a home similar to yours in price, location and options within the past 7 Days!  If you had this information…would it make a difference? 

If you’re interested in exploring how this service works and how it might be used to Sell your home…contact us!

Schuler Bookstore & Cafe…A book lover’s delight!

Tea cup

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I can’t resist the urge to visit this place.  Nestling myself by the fireplace with a favorite stack of books or meandering through row upon row of mesmerizing titles…a trip to Schuler Books is always an invigorating detour or destination stop!  Can you tell…I love books!  In my home, they’re everywhere.  I’m the sort of person who enters your home and instinctively heads towards the bookshelf.  Books are my muse.

Schuler Books has four different locations in the West Michigan area.  It’s one of the nations’ largest Independent retail booksellers.  Schuler Books also carries an impressive assortment of music, unique gifts,CD’s & DVD selections.

My first introduction to Schuler was through my friend and poet Patricia Jabbeh Wesley who was doing a poetic reading at Schuler Books.  Throughout the year, various authors and speakers are invited to do presentations and sign books in the studio located at the back of the store.

Schuler Books carries over 100,000 book titles and 50,000 music titles.  Arts and crafts from a variety of local artist are also featured throughout the store which gives the space an intimacy fostered by eclectic accents and comfortable reading nooks.

The Chapbook Cafe is a well loved favorite haunt of Schuler Books’ regular patrons.  It’s a great place to grab a cup of coffee or cappuccino or have a leisurely light lunch or supper.

Schuler Books just opened it’s Newest Location in Downtown Grand Rapids.  I enjoyed reading Chris Knapes account of a recent visit to the downtown location. So, now…whether you’re east, west or north…there’s a Schulers’ Bookstore near you!





Harvesting Seasonal Expectations…

Today, it looks like we will be enjoying another beautiful fall day in Grand Rapids,Michigan .  The days are unseasonably temperate for what we have come to expect at this time of the year.  Usually, blustery November winds spike the chill factor and make you head for the comfort of a blazing hearth fire.

red appleI don’t mind this flirtation between the seasons.  Summer deciding to merge with Autumn and stay around awhile longer.  It’s fine with me because I love fall.  I love the changing of the color guard that transforms the trees into a glorious profusion of artistry so extraordinary that people drive for hours just to take in the show!  To enjoy West Michigan’s best tours for the fall season, you may want to bookmark this site.  Although, conventional wisdom says the best color peaks in October…nature still has some beautiful scenic surprises dotting the landscape.

One of my favorite spots to stop in for a snack while driving around Grand Rapids, Michigan during the temperate fall season is Robinettes Apple OrchardRobinettes Apple  Haus has been in business since 1911 and is family owned. Robinettes is famous for fresh donuts, delicious cider, tasty pies and of course…great apples!  I also love their freshly baked breads.

Fall is also a time for harvesting the contacts made in business throughout the spring and summer months.  It’s  a great time to visit clients who have moved into new homes in time for the start of the new school year or to pick up the phone and make an appointment for lunch.  This is the time to dust off old contact lists and write a letter. 

leafFall is a time of expectationExpect good things to happenExpect to see results as a reward for your labors.  And NEVER GIVE UP!  Recently, two calls brought in business deals from sources that were totally unexpected. 

One individual had decided to use another company in-spite of having several recommendations to use Audu Real Estate.  Well, unexpectedly she called back, the deal had fallen through and she used us to buy her home!  We also received a referral from an individual who said she had been given our name from a sources that I have little present contact with.  If nature decides to enter the harvest a little early this fall…well, perhaps so can you.  Here’s to prosperous Prospecting & Harvesting this Fall!

Copyright 2007 Audu Real Estate  All Rights Reserved

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Holiday Traditions at Meijer Gardens in Grand Rapids, MI

Iron Flowers in Frederik Meijer Garden Scuplture Park

I captured this photo earlier this year at the Frederik Meijer Garden & Sculpture Park in Grand Rapids, MI.  I love the pure wimsy of the “iron lady flowers”…that’s my termIron flower Sculptures in Frederik Meijer Gardens.

The Sculpture Park is open for visitors all year round.  As the holidays approach, I always enjoy the opportunity to visit the Christmas Tree Display and observe traditions from around the world!

If The Walls Could Whisper…What Would they Say?

924 Griggs SE, Grand Rapids, MIIf walls could talk…I wonder what they’d say.  I wonder what tales they would whisper about the lives of those who lived within them.

You see, every home has A Story to tell. And every home still standing is continuing to talk..if we have the ears to listen and the eyes to truly see.

When we first encountered this home on 924 Griggs, SE in Grand Rapids, MI, the owners had moved out.  The home was vacant and looked a little forlorn. 

The pictures on line revealed a lackluster interior with outdated appliances and fixtures.  A physical inspection exposed an an even more outdated monster of a furnace…an old, creaky,40% efficient octopus. 

Undaunted, we decided to investigate further. Underneath the layers of dust and grime, we saw a glimpse of its potential. This was a home with lovely bones.  In stripping away the faded, stained carpet, we uncovered an exquisite wood floor inlaid with cherry, maple and mahogany strips which now literally gleams with it’s former burnished glory.  The coved ceilings add a charming aesthetic.  New lighting fixtures brighten the decor and brand spanking new kitchen appliances which include a brand new stove and refrigerator update a tastefully refurbished kitchen. 

The front entranceway now sports a beveled glass insert within a solid core wood door.  And that old octopus…well, its’ gone, replaced by a high energy efficiency furnace that was so effective that at 60 degrees, the home felt toasty and comfortably warm.

The story of this home goes beyond it’s rescue from the obscurity of MLS mediocrity.  It’s a story of a young family and their friends who have patiently restored this home so that another family can enjoy an affordabibly priced dwelling without having to worry about things falling apart. This is what the American Dream is all about.  If these walls could tell their New Story…it would be a tale of Hope, Renewal & Restoration! 

If you’re in the area this weekend, stop by for the Open House on SUNDAY, November 11th between 1:30 ~ 3:30 p.m. for some refreshments. Be one of the first to view the interior of this Affordable Home! Or you may contact us for a private viewing at 616-791-0511. This home awaits a New Owner for $90,000! NOW $80,000 November 29, 2007

If you’re looking for some truly great opportunities…check these homes out…

This Super Starter in Wyoming can be moved into right away….beautiful woodwork!

Do You Love the Serenity of a Lakeview…You can Enjoy 2 Lakes with a View from this lovely home!

This Grandville home is a stone’s throw from an exclusive development….priced below $145,000

This Southeast multi-level features 4 Seperate Entertaining Areas!   Priced below $160,000

Hello world!

Lola Audu, Grand Rapids, MI Real Estate Musings BlogToday marks the launch of a New Chapter!  I’ve launched the Sell Grand Rapids Homes blog.  This month marks exactly a year since I was introduced to the world of blogging. And what a whirlwind ride it has been!  Blogging has enabled me to garner an education about the use of technology in marketing and opened up a whole new world of contacts & business.  I look forward to continuing to grow, learn and share my thoughts and experiences.  Hello World it is!