How Understanding Your Seasonal Cycle Can Unleash Your Personal Potential

Cloud picture by Auduhomes

Cloud picture by Auduhomes

Cycles of change are a normal part of life.  Day transitions into night, summer transitions into fall and eventually winters’ cold spell breaks up to reveal the freshness of spring.  While we accept these cycles as normal in nature, we sometimes ignore the fact that cycles are evident in all aspects of life. 

As I look out my window and observe the snow cover, it’s hard to imagine that underneath that frigid white blanket there is active life.  But there is.  It will not be evident for several months, but eventually, the ground will reveal what has been buried for it’s own protection.

We can learn a lot from the way in which the earth adjust to its’ different cycles.  The seasons merge gently into one another; each one revealing its’ own unique qualities.  In fact, it’s more than a little odd when winter tries to make an early appearance in fall or out stays its’ welcome into spring.  When this happens, it’s almost as though the earth is a little out of sorts with itself.

I have become more aware of the fact that in some ways, our personal and professional cycles operate in way similar to the seasons of life. There are periods when things seem dormant and almost at a standstill. On a personal basis, this may manifest as a period of limited energy or a more introspective period. It is not unusual for many people to misunderstand this and to become depressed or listless instead of allowing the natural rhythmic cycle to operate so they can revitalize.  This is nature’s way of restoring and replenishing for periods of heightened activity. 

As we begin to pay attention to these cycles, we will discover that they are remarkably consistent personally and professionally. When I started my real estate career almost thirteen years ago, I fretted when I was not busy.  I didn’t understand that there is a natural cycle and rythm for everything. I didn’t see that less busy times were opportunities to invest time in my own education or to improve my systems so I could serve my clients more effectively. Nor did I know how to discover the optimum cycle was for my personal or professional life.  Consequently, I was prone to becoming overwhelmed because I  was afraid to relax.

Well, over the years, I’ve learned that learning to relax is as important as working hard.  Balance is the key to a successful life.  I’ve also learned to explore my seasonal work cycle.  For me, it is important to have one day a week which I do absolutely nothing which is related to real estate including blogging. I also plan regular periods for study and professional growth.  If you take the time to learn your personal seasonal cycle which determines  how you function best, you will be better able to plan for vacation, rest and relaxation.  The pay-off will be better health, more efficiency and as a result more enjoyment of your time and money.

Copyright 2008 Audu Real Estate  All Rights Reserved

5 Important Grand Rapids MI Real Estate Trends

*This post was written at the beginning of the year. (2008)  Looking back at the trends that I thought we needed to watch, it’s interesting to review and look back on how these trends worked themselves through the year.

fall1The past 24 months have witnessed some of the most significant Trend Shifts in the real estate marketplace in Grand Rapids, Michigan. These shifts have occurred because of a variety of factors which have ranged from economic issues to emerging new technology. Here’s a list of Five Important Real Estate Trends to watch.

1.  Absorption Rates

There has been a significant increase in homes for sale in the Grand Rapids area.  Today, there are almost twice as many homes on the market as there were 4 years ago.  What’s most important about this trend is the Absorption Rate. This rate is calculated by determining how many months it would take to sell ALL the current homes at the Current Rate of Sales. 

For instance if there are 12,000 homes For Sale and 1,000 Homes Sell in January of 2008, the Absorption Rate is 12 or 12 months. Watch to see if this rate increases.  If the Absorption Rate for homes in Grand Rapids, Michigan increases inspite of tremendous mortgage incentives, this indicates further weakening in the real estate market. 

UPDATE:  Inventory of Grand Rapids, MI homes have reduced to approximately 10,250+ by the end of the year, but the number of homes sold has also declined.  Our absorption rate still hovers around 11-12 months.

2.  Increase in On-Line Activity!

Grand Rapids, Michigan mirrored the rest of the country in shifting towards the Internet for information about housing trends and statistics. Home searches through the Grand Rapids real estate board continued to rise and the Board also launched a new website through which real estate agents will be able to do very detailed statistical analysis for their clients. 

Blogging about real estate took off in it’s initial stages and many agents started detailing their expertise through a variety of blogging platforms.  About 240 Grand Rapids real estate agents established profiles on the Active Rain networking platform alone. This trend will continue in 2008. 

Keep watch on several players who are in the marketplace to determine who has the most comprehensive real estate database for Grand Rapids, Michigan. Those which are currently in the forefront include the Grand Rapids Real Estate Board MLS,, and Google

2.   Monitor the Foreclosures Rate

In recent history, few can remember any time in which there have been so many homes foreclosed on in the Grand Rapids, Michigan area. Last year, the real estate board tasked an advisory panel with taking a critical look at the situation and making recommendations.  As a result, Grand Rapids real estate agents had the opportunity to receive additional training about the foreclosure and short sale process. 

In addition the real estate board linked homeowners to resources to prevent foreclosures and made an addendum available to homebuyers regarding what to expect when purchasing a home in a short sale or foreclosure situation.

The numbers to watch in this category is a Report which details the percentage of Sales on the Grand Rapids Real Estate Multiple Listing Service that are Foreclosure or Real Estate related.  As of last year December 2007 and January 2008, those percentages are 40% and over 50% in January 2008.  Another number to watch which is not yet being formally tracked is the number of Vacant Homes which are For Sale or Abandoned.  An increase in these numbers will further dampen home prices.

UPDATE:  Foreclosure rates soar to 60% by the end of the year.

4.  Rental of Homes.

Five years ago, home rentals of single family homes were almost non-existent on the Grand Rapids multiple listing service. in 2007, hundreds of home owners offered lease with option to purchase or a land contract to help shore up funds while waiting for a home to sell or the housing market in Grand Rapids to turn around.

Watch the rental rates of homes with respect to both the number of homes for rent and the type of home. For instance, a significant increase in rental options for homes in the mid to upper price ranges would indicate further weakness in the market. However, if home rentals decrease, this would be a very good sign.

UPDATE:  The number of lease/rental listings on the multiple listing service  have increased by year end.

5.  The Disappearing Real Estate Agent…

If you cannot find your real estate agent, this may indicate that they have left the industry.  The first place to look is on-line.  If your real estate agent cannot be located on the Internet, it is unlikely that their home listings can either.  A profound shift is occurring in how real estate is acquired and the Internet is at the forefront of this revolution. 

Watch to see how technology is adapted by individual agents and companies with regards to presentation of homes, providing service options to clients, responding to inquires and facilitating transaction management online.

UPDATE:  There has been a decline in agents involved in the business.  Since a high of 3,500, the number of real estate agents associated with the real estate board has dropped well below it’s peak.

Copyright 2008  Audu Real Estate  All Rights Reserved

Frigid Air Blasts the Grand Rapids, Mi Real Estate Market….

Frigid Air blankets Grand Rapids MI with snow cover

Frigid Air blankets Grand Rapids MI with snow cover

One thing that can always be said about Grand Rapids, Michigan is that there’s a little of everything for everyone when it comes to the weather.  Today, winter snow lovers awoke to find that they had been blessed by the arrival of an early winter wonderland as a thick blanket of snow cover transformed everything into pristine whiteness.

This frigid blast of air matches the latest trends which have spread some icy tentacles across the Grand Rapids Michigan real estate marketplace too.  October was a weird month.  Watching the lurching, frantic financial roller coaster ride on Wall Street was the main event, but across the nation, the housing market was also plunging into new territory. 

This was certainly the case for Grand Rapids, Michigan where foreclosure numbers for October accelerated to account for just under 65% of the total number of sales for the month.  This was an an 80% increase over the same period of time last year!  Dollar volumes and total inventory also declined.  Given the incredible sequence of events on the national stage in which the auto industry was requesting an emergency bailout and the specter of thousands of more jobs potentially on the wire, it is perhaps remarkable that the results were not more grim.

The fact remains that homes are still selling.  In fact, during the period of ‘black October’, over 700 homes sold and closed successfully.  Our office actually had one home receive 4 offers!  Last month, I wrote a blog post about the steps that homeowners need to address if they intend to sell their homes in this market.  The advise given is still pertinent!

It’s hard to predict exactly where this will end.  Prior to the financial meltdown in October, I was encouraged by the drop in inventory levels and the increase in home sales even if they were distress sales as this indicated that we were going through the mounds of excess inventory which had increased our absorption rates to nearly a year. 

There are a lot of IF’s.  IF automobile industry does NOT collapse entirely and send another huge wave of homes onto the market, we will have time to catch our breath and continue the recovery which was just underway.  IF new green jobs are introduced to take advantage of existing Michigan infrastructure and natural resources, the additional jobs will begin to nurse the flagging economy into a more stable status.

The thing about all the IF’s is that they are entirely out of the control of the average person.  So, what’s to be done?  Well, take care of the stuff you CAN take care of.

When winter visits the Grand Rapids, Michigan area, prudent individuals take cover and venture outside well protected.  This advise should also be heeded in shaky economic times.  Debt should be entered into very cautiously.  This is not the time to over spend on credit cards or to increase credit card debt.  House payments are a priority. 

If you’re considering a purchase, take advantage of the extensive inventory and $7,500 tax credit if you’re a new home buyer to purchase a good deal which requires no more than 30% of your gross income to finance.  Plan on putting money down.  Save for a down payment and spare yourself the grief of continually living on the edge.  If you’d like to sell your home, be realistic.  Over-pricing in this market will cost you much more than pricing your home competitively. 

What do I mean, well let’s spell it out clearly…a year ago, the over-pricing penalty was about 25%, today it’s closer to 40%.  That’s a huge penalty to swallow for not responding to current market conditions and not worth it when you think of the fact that simply pricing your home correctly would have saved you time AND money.

To end on a good note, let me leave you with this number, 10,250+.  That’s the number (give or take) of current listings on the market.  While still a hefty figure given somewhat anemic sales, it’s 11% lower than the inventory that was on the market a year ago.  So, if you’d like to sell, there’s somewhat less competition.  If you’re interested in exploring your real estate selling or investment options further, please give Audu Real Estate a call.  We believe that adequate preparation and education can assist our clients in making prudent choices.

Related Posts:

The Secret Behind Multiple Offers on your home in Grand Rapids, MI

Lessons From a Rookie…How to Sell Your Home in 31 Days!

5 Things to Check Out BEFORE you Lease with an Option to Purchase!

The Gift of Education…via Mothers Fighting For Others

cjz60094Readers of this blog are aware of my association with an organization for orphaned girls in Kenya through the organization, Mothers Fighting For Others

I was first introduced to Rocky Turner through the real estate social network, Active Rain and was inspired by her efforts to visit Kenya to care for the welfare of these young women. 

Mothers Fighting For Others is a charitable organization which is using practical tools to make a difference in the lives of young girls. Please watch this video from Rocky and in case you missed some of my earlier posts here or on my other blog, I’ve included a few of them below too.

Other Related Posts:

Mothers Fighting For Others….One Woman’s Journey.

inspiration: A Christmas Gift You Can Drink Too…

mothers fighting for others: When Jockeying For Position Takes on Another Meaning…

Twitter, Tribes and Telling Tiny Tales…

43414_real-daisyYou never know how a little thing can change your life.  That’s the best way to describe a random visit that I made to Twitter a couple of months ago, popping in for just a few minutes to see what was on my dashboard.  I clicked in just in time to see a twitter by Cyndee Haydon about something called Triiibes. 

To supplement his latest book, ‘Tribes…We Need You to Lead Us’, Seth Godin invited the members of Triiibes, a 3,000+ member gated social network to submit their unique perspective of what it meant to be a part of a tribe.  The result: one of the most amazingly insightful e-books about how human beings bond. 

But, I will always be grateful to Cyndee for thinking of me and inviting me to become a part of this group which provided some fascinating insights into the way tribal society operates within the modern world.

The E-book contains a number of unique case studies written by various members of the Triiibes social network. It’s a FREE book, so you can download it and share it.  Several members of Active Rain also participated.  Sharon Sims, Collen Kulikowski, Irina Netchaev and myself were all honored to have our entries included in Seth Godin’s companion e-book

My story about the ‘Yellow Rose Tribe’ is included on page 104.  For all of you who have repeatedly urged me to publish a book, well, I’ve started the project!  It’s tremendously exciting and yet a little scary at the same time.  I’ll let you know how things are progressing.  A HUGE Thank You to all who have stopped by this blog and encouraged this fledgling author to take up her quill and write something!

Copyright 2008  Audu Real Estate  All Rights Reserved

Hey, We’re One!

Celebrating a Special One Year Anniversary…The Grand Rapids Real Estate Musings Blog turns One!  A brief summary of the years blog posts.

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Tommorow We’ll be One!

Celebrating One Year!

Celebrating One Year!

On November 9, 2008 I’m celebrating the one year anniversary of the Grand Rapids Real Estate Musings Blog!  It’s been fun to highlight not just local real estate happenings, but life in and around Grand Rapids, Michigan.  I also want to Thank all my readers who have stopped by to read and/or leave a comment.

What I’ve enjoyed most about this blog is that the local flair has allowed me to explore all sorts of interesting places in Grand Rapids, and share my favorites with you.  On this B-Day, One Year Anniversary, I thought it might be interesting to just highlight what we’ve talked about this year…

by Categories

Thanks again to all our readers.  Always remember that we’re here to help you with all your real estate related needs in the Grand Rapids, Michigan area.

La Crave Restaurant…New Mediterranean Cuisine in Grand Rapids, MI!

Mediterranean Salads at La Crave Restaurant in Grand Rapids, Michigan

Mediterranean Salads at La Crave Restaurant in Grand Rapids, Michigan

Word of mouth is the most effective form of advertising.  My recent experience in identifying this unique new restaurant was no exception.  La Crave Restaurant, a Mediterranean themed dining spot was recommended to my by a friend who was sure I’d like it.  Since I was in Kentwood that afternoon, I decided to stop by the restaurant which is located in a small shopping plaza just west of Woodland Mall.

I got there after lunchtime, so things were pretty quiet.  I intended to simply ask for a menu and order some take out for supper that evening.  I was greeted by the owner of the restaurant who asked me if I’d like a sample platter while waiting.  I was intrigued.  This was a novel way to open a restaurant.  Seated at a long table was another gentleman who was also enjoying a sample platter.  I agreed.  This was definitely better than simply ordering take-out.

The restaurant is fairly large; capacity is estimated by the owner to be approximately 99 at this time.  The tables were decked out in colorful purple tablecloths and artware decorated the walls.  The open kitchen allows you to see the chef at work behind the counter. 

La Crave places a premium on freshness.  The owner indicated that most of their produce comes from local providers.  They also have a selection of healthy shakes and drinks to which patrons can opt to add natural protein whey.  All meals are cooked to order.

My sample platter arrived in short order and included slices of Chicken Shawarma and Beef Shawarma with pita bread and a garlic dipping sauce. The owner explained that the meat is Halal, which makes it acceptable for people of the Muslim faith and is also considered a humane way to slaughter animals.  I also sampled the Tabouli Salad and Fattuch which is a salad combination of tomatoes, green peppers, radishes, cucumbers, onions, lettuce and parsley.

The food was excellent and nicely seasoned.  The staff were very friendly and welcoming. I witnessed several people stopping to pick up orders and the owner indicated that they provide Catering Services as well. 

La Crave opened just six weeks ago.  Some may remember the location as the former Adanus Restaurant.  As with any new venture, there is still much to be done including the launch of their brand new website:  (*site was not functional as of 11/06/08) Based on my experience in sampling their food, I think this is one Mediterranean Restaurant worth checking out. 

So, if you’re craving for some authentic Lebanese food and you’re in the greater Grand Rapids, Michigan area…stop by for a visit.  Their lunch specials are unbeatable!  For $7.99 you can get a generousentree with your choice of rice or fries and a salad or soup.

Oh yes, one last thing…make sure you leave room for dessert.  The menu includes the traditional Baklava, but also features warm comfort food favorites like Rice Pudding and Cream Caramel. (site not yet functional 11/08)

Mon-Thurs  11:00 a.m. – 10:00 p.m.

Fri-Sat         11:00 a.m. – 11:00 p.m.

Sun              11:00 a.m. –   8:00 p.m.

2923 28th Street, Kentwood, MI  49512  Telephone:  616-949-9449