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Archive for February, 2009

Do you wish to be great? Then begin by being. Do you desire to construct a vast and lofty fabric? Think first about the foundations of humility. The higher your structure is to be, the deeper must be its foundation.

Quote by C.S. Lewis

It's a jungle out there...

It's a jungle out there...

Yesterday, real estate professionals in Grand Rapids, MI had the unique opportunity to participate in the Survival Strategies Summit which included the tagline “It’s a Jungle Out There!”.  The event drew over 400 individuals from different segments of the real estate industry although the vast majority were real estate agents and brokers.

The speakers included Dr. Jerry Teplitz and Jeremy Conaway the President of RECON Intelligence Services. 

Conquering the Jungle…

Conaway urged agents to understand the importance of taking charge of their own success and gaining a realistic appreciation of the fact that we are all in this together…the broker’s success was and will continue to be intertwined with the agents they supervise.

It was interesting to hear this in light of recent trends which have to some degree pitted agents against their brokers and vice versa. 

For much of the past decade, the focus has been on agent centric models which allowed for greater autonomy and sometimes marginalized broker authority and control. 

These events occured against a backdrop in which the brokers continued to carry a burgeoning weight of liability yet had less control over the agents who worked with them.

This new found independence contributed in some measure to the dearth of training as many brokers no longer mandated agents to attend company meetings and to some degree abdicated the responsibility of training and supervision. And to be frank, with profit margins eroding, many brokers simply could not afford to place resources into education and ongoing supervision.

Taking a postive charge…

During the presentation Dr. Teplitz used behavioral kinesiology to demonstrate how powerful our resentments can be.  He proved to all present that not only were we affecting others through negativity, even when it was unspoken, but more importantly we were doing great damage to ourselves.  Watching how the body weakened through his exercises with various members of the audience was unsettling. 

Although many were initially skeptical about some of the information, it was clear that what Dr. Teplitz was saying had tremendous implications for our well being and professional success. It also made me think about how beneficial the practise of humility can be as a precursor to maintaining a positive attitude. 

What is practical humility?

Humility is defined as ‘the state or quality of being humble; freedom from pride and arrogance; lowliness of mind; a modest estimate of one’s own worth;”  When we are humble, we recognize the true importance of others in our lives and do so with gratitude. We also take responsiblity for how our actions impact the lives of others.

Practical humilty enables us to act with integrity regardless of whether we are observed or not.  Freedom from pride gives us the capacity to have an ongoing learning experience with life…not thinking that we know it all while missing the emerging lessons which occur when we are humble  and observant. 

Humility protects us from making mistakes which we later regret and enables us to quickly admit error because we are able to discern the truth of our intentions more clearly.  Humility is really the salve which greases the gears of momentum and progress by which we all strive to move forward. When we understand the nature of humility in this way, it becomes an empowering grace.

What difference does it make?

I remember a long time broker telling me that so many agents were so busy hopping for place to place that their customers who were looking for them didn’t know where to find them!  Indeed, perhaps the search for greener pastures may mask what many real estate professionals would rather not face… the nagging internal crisis which continues to hamper their forward momentum in life. Humbly acknowledging and taking responsibility for actions and the results we have created is a start in the right direction.

Conaway challenged agents about the negativity that some harbor about themselves and the exterior situations which some have allowed to define their role in the  current market.  He also urged agents to think not just about themselves, but also about the welfare of their brokers.  In his words…’you’ll never have a broker treat you better than the one you have today.’  I wonder how many believe this to be true…

Notes on the event can also be followed on Twitter through the hashtag #GRAR

Related Stories:

Realtors get postive view in difficult market at Survival Summit

If you’d like to watch a video by Dr. Jerry Teplitz about Behavioral Kinesiolgy, click here

Copyright 2009  Audu Real Estate  All Rights Reserved

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Golden Nest Egg

Golden Nest Egg

When the news broke that Grand Rapids was the 5th most affordable city in the United States, you would have thought there would be cheering and dancing in the streets.  After all, isn’t affordability a great thing in the era of recession fears and increasingly dire economic news?
Well, if there was such thing as negative miracles, somehow this normally great news is being apprehended by the boogie man…fear of the unknown.  News reports indicate that potential buyers fearful of further declines in the market are determining they won’t buy now even though prices haven’t been this low for 20 years!  Wow!

I’m glad that I’m living in a parallel universe to some degree.  These past two weeks have been some of busiest we’ve had at Audu Real Estate.  We’re taking buyers out and some of the deals that we’re seeing are so good that we’re offer #2 or #3.  Today, I fielded several requests for home showings!

When opportunity knocks,  we don’t want to be sleeping ’cause we’ve found that it’s better to open the door because often opportunity doesn’t stick around.  Like FDR said, ‘the only thing to fear is fear itself.’

If you’re a homeowner who would like to sell your home or a home buyer who wants to check out what the incredible options are right now….give us a call or e-mail us at info@auduhomes.com. We’re eager to be of service.

Click here to pre-view homes

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How does the new Stimulus Bill affect me?

This is a question that many home buyers in Grand Rapids, MI have been asking since the bill was recently signed into law by President Barak Obama earlier in the week.

Here are some of the most significant components in a nutshell:

1.  Defining “First Time Home buyers”

You’re a first time home buyer if you have not owned a principle residence within the past three years.  (The date of purchase is considered the day when your title is transferred).  Folks who have a vacation home, but NOT a principle residence may technically still qualify. For an evaluation of your specific situation, you are advised to consult with a qualified loan professional.

2.  It’s now Eight Grand….$8,000!

The number for the tax credit has bounced around a bit.  The first tax credit passed last year under President Bush was for up to $7,500…but you had to PAY IT BACK within 15 years.  Then the senate passed a bill which increased the provision to up to $15,000, but this had to be reconcilled with the house version which was considerably lower.  The Final Compromise is capped at  $8,000 which DOES NOT NEED TO BE REPAID.  The credit is equivalent to 10 percent of the purchase price for your new home and only applies to first time home buyers who are purchasing principle residences.

3.  Are there Income limits?

Yes, there are income limits.  If you’re single, you only qualify if you make a modified adjusted gross income of $75,000 or less.  This income limit increases to $150,000 if you’re married.  You may be eligible for a reduced credit if your income exceeds these limits.  Talk with a qualified loan originator to discuss you particular situation.

4.  How long is this for?

A lot of you are wondering how long this credit will be for and if it is retroactive.  This credit is only retroactive to the beginning of 2009 and will end at the beginning of December 2009.  If you bought a home last year which qualified for the $7,500 tax credit, you will NOT be able to take advantage of this new provision.  However if you purchased your home in January 2009 or the early part of February prior to the bills passage, you will.

5.  Do I have to Pay Back the Money?

The credit offered to home buyers in the 2009 stimulus package does NOT need to be repaid.  Also…because the tax credit is ‘refundable’ qualified buyers can take advantage of this credit even if they do not have much tax liability.  Now…you must stay in your house for at least 3 YEARS to fully benefit from the credit.  If you move before you’ve been in your home for 36 months, you will have to return the money to the government.  There are however some exceptions in the event of a death or divorce.

If you’d like to compare the differences between the 2009 home buyer credit and the 2008 home buyer credit, contact us at info@auduhomes.com.  We can send you a chart which details the differences in a clear, concise way.

Other related articles:

CNN Money article on the initial proposal of $15,000.

Winners & Losers in the Final Stimulus Bill

Visit www.auduhomes.com to search for Grand Rapids, MI homes

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Click picture to watch 1805 Clearbrook SE, Grand Rapids, MI  49508

Click picture to watch 1805 Clearbrook SE, Grand Rapids, MI 49508

This is a home of distinction. which has been impeccably maintained and tastefully furnished.  This ranch style home has style and class.  All the rooms are spacious.  The dining area connects to a well designed kitchen with upgraded counter-tops and the upstairs living room area enjoys the addition of a fireplace. 

Other features to note include a roof which is less than a year old, a large heated in-ground pool which opens up to a tiled Florida style three season room. 

The downstairs area is outfitted with an office, a laundry room and a spacious recreational room which also includes the second fireplace. 

This is simply a beautiful home and an irresistible value in a great SE neighborhood.  Don’t miss out!  Contact Takara Taylor ~ Client Specialist with Audu Real Estate for additional details or for a pre-view tour: 616-514-7214.

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Grand Rapids, MI…

Bucking the trends...

Bucking the trends...

Homeowners in Grand Rapids, MI have witnessed a startling increase in the rates of homes sold through foreclosure sales and short sales.  In the early portion of 2007, the percentage of home sales that were ‘crisis sales’  hovered between 14% – 16%. 

But by the end of 2008 and into early 2009 the numbers had escalated dramatically to account for over 70% of the homes sold by the members of the Grand Rapids Association of Realtors Board.

Selling a home within this type of environment requires a different approach.  Although marketing a home has never been easy, the challenges of the current crisis require a firm resolve and focus to do whatever it takes to succeed. 

That is…IF you intend to sell your home.   Now, this market is not for everyone.  If you have recently purchased a home or don’t have a compelling need to move such as a change in life circumstances or employment, this may NOT be your market.

There are some things which you can do to assist in a more efficient process if you have to sell your home for less than what you owe on the mortgage aka  as a Short Sale.  Here they are:

Document your financial hardship

You will be required to give a fairly detailed accounting of your financial condition which will include statements from all bank accounts, investment accounts, a credit report, and a letter documenting your situation.  Be prepared to submit this documentation and include a letter/statement which authorizes the bank to speak to the appropriate professionals such as your real estate broker if your home is listed.

Set the Stage…

Just because your home is being sold under less than ideal circumstances does not mean that it should be portrayed this way in your marketing efforts.  The goal of a short sale should be to sell your home.  Remember that your home will be competing  with potentially hundreds or thousands of homes.  Unless a home buyer falls in love with your home, you won’t have the chance of negotiating a short sale.  It should also be noted that home buyers are often wary of the long drawn out process that the negotiation of a short sale requires so make it worth their while to wait!

Price to Compete!

One of the most interesting points during my listing presentation is when I show home owners a map of just how many homes are listed or have sold within their community.  Most people are more than a little surprised.

There’s a lot of activity happening in the real estate market right now and you owe it to yourself to have an accurate understanding of your neighborhood market.   Run the other way if an agent shows up at your door to take your listing in hand without documenting in detail WHY and HOW he/she has arrived at a pricing strategy and number.

Proper pricing and subsequent adjustments are critical if you are to succeed.  A market rife with foreclosures makes for a ‘moving target’ when it comes to determining the right price.  Be prepared to make adjustments quickly to reflect market realities.  Emotional attachment about why this should not apply to your particular home will not serve you well when you’re dealing with buyers who are primarily looking at the bottom line. 

On the other hand…a good deal cannot be hidden!  We’re seeing homes priced competitively getting several bids and sometimes selling above the listing price.  These homeowners took the time to understand their market and to respond accordingly.  My counsel if you’re determined to Sell Your Home…is to take note.

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It was a surprising large group which recently got together for a meet-up in Grand Rapids, MI.  Loosely named, the ‘Lunch Bunch,’ the ladies ranged in age from the late thirties to the mid 70’s.  I had been asked to join the group for a meal at the Heritage Restaurant in Grand Rapids, MI.

As we piled into cars and mini-vans to wind our way downtown, there was a palpable sense of excitement with the joy of a social outing in the middle of a seemingly interminable Michigan winter. 

Lunch at the Heritage Restaurant, Grand Rapids MI, Secchia Institute for Culinary Education

Lunch at the Heritage Restaurant, Grand Rapids MI, Secchia Institute for Culinary Education

The Heritage Restaurant is located on the first floor of the Applied Technology Center of the Grand Rapids Community College.  We found a parking spot in the underground lot and proceeded up one floor where we were greeted by one of the college culinary instructors and his team of students!

You see, the Heritage Restaurant is a unique experience in fine dining. It’s one of the few places on the planet where you can get a five star dining experience for a one star cost.  This is because the Heritage Restaurant is staffed by ‘Tomorrow’s Chefs’…students who are being trained in the fine art of exceptional hospitality at the Secchia Institute for Culinary Education.

White linen and fine china covered the tables.  The restaurant was quite full on this particular day and it is wise to make a reservation to ensure you are seated.  Our wait staff passed out the lunch menu which included a variety of appetizer selections, soups, salads and main entrees.  I decided to be adventuresome and ordered the Moroccan Chicken spiced with cumin and cinnamon and paired with sweet potato and a mint sauce.  The combination was inventive and scrumptious!

All meals at the Heritage Restaurant are prepared by the students under the watchful eye of professionals chefs and instructors.  Our waiter informed us that the second year students were preparing the food and the first year students were serving the guests.  On both counts, the service was impeccable!

Lunch at the Heritage can be afforded within a reasonable budget.  I had a beverage, main entree and dessert torte for $13.  That amount might have simply paid for my appetizer in a more pricey establishment. 

And yet, as I looked outside the full length glass wall which provided an expansive view of the city and also highlighted ice carvings created by the students, I couldn’t help but think about how lucky we are in Grand Rapids, Michigan to have an establishment like the Heritage Restaurant which serves up such extraordinary Value with a classy, distinctive style!

CURRENT SPECIAL VALUE DEAL25% OFF(excluding beer or wine purchases) for you and a guest on Tuesday of Wednesday evening.  Treat Yourself!

Heritage Restaurant:  Grand Rapids Community College, Secchia Insitute for Culinary Education

Website:  www.grcc.edu/Heritage

Address:  151 Fountain Street NE, Grand Rapids, MI  49503

Reservations:  616-234-3700

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The Ann Arbor Area Board of Realtors has scheduled 2 New Blogging & Web 2.0 Continuing Education Classes for February 19, 2009.  Here’s a snippet from the website promo: 

“It seems everyone, from celebrities and athletes to CEOs, heads of nonprofits, and members of Congress have a blog. Some corporations, such as Verizon and Cisco have even successfully used blogs to affect legislative change. Blogs often rank high in search engines, offer better communications, opportunities in relationship building, and media and public relations. Blogs are a low cost way to market yourself, gain insight to your customers, appear authoritative, build, and maintain your reputation.”

“Did you know that approximately 51 percent of the blog readers visit product and/or corporate sites because of reading blogs?”

If you’re in the Ann Arbor, MI or surrounding areas, you will want to take advantage of these State Certified Courses which provide 4 hours of Continuing Education Credit.  You will also benefit from learning how this leading edge technology is transforming the nature of real estate marketing and prospecting in a way which can increase your earning potential in 2009.

The courses are:  Blogging Basics for Real Estate Professionals (K1061) and Blogging Ethics for Real Estate Professionals (K1062)  Both courses provide a comprehensive overview of issues which are emerging as important aspects of performing in the real estate industry of the future.  Visit the site to registerAlso open to Members of the Public.

Click here to read a testimonial by Macomb County agent Kris Wales

Classes will begin at 9:00 a.m. and end at 1:00 p.m.  

Location:  1919 W. Stadium Blvd.  Ann Arbor, MI  48103. 

Instructor State Code:  K355

Registration available online.

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