The Power of the Gift…

I just read a post by Sally Cheesman that stopped me in my tracks.  Sally quotes Qunicy Jones in an interview about  Michael Jackson.

Quincy goes on to say:

You have to be spiritually grounded and you are really a terminal for a higher power,

And if you don’t understand that, you know, it can be very complicated.

And…..I’ve seen a lot of people misinterpret what success is all about.

light of our hearts

One online descriptive defines a terminal in the following way: “a contact on an electrical device (such as a battery) at which electric current enters or leaves.”  If a terminal is not grounded, the results can be disasterous and even fatal, because the electricity which is passing through the unit is so incredibly powerful.

Had you ever thought about how powerful the breath of life in you is? Every human being is an expression of the Divine power of God.  Every gift and talent is an expression of His creative genius and inspiration.

It occurs to me that being grounded spiritually has it’s base in humility; an understanding that whatever gifts and advantages we bring to this planet are a gift that simply flows through us…not a possession which we own. Humilty also serves to protect us from being blown away by hype, which will topple you over as quickly as it lifts you up with hot air.

Understanding this, as Quincy says makes all the difference in the world.

Picture is courtesy of jdl deleon on flickr

Copyright 2009 Audu Real Estate All Rights Reserved

Confessions of a Reluctant Landlord…

Grand Rapids, MI

FOR Rent signOK, I’ll admit it. I’ve been a Landlord 3 times.  This is not my chosen occupation.  You see, I’m not really constitutionally set up to be a good landlord.  I don’t enjoy being mean, nor do I like making reminder calls for over due rent.

I entered the land-lording business because I had bought a house.  My first home came with a tenant.  The tenant was actually a model tenant….neat, orderly, considerate and on time with the rent payments.  If this was my sole experience, I’d be enthused about owning homes which other people live in.  But it wasn’t.  I became a landlord two more times and those experiences were markedly different from my first entree into the industry.

The second time, not unlike many home owners, I had bought another home and had been unable to sell my current home.  Since, I had one good tenant, I thought that having two tenants would be great.  It was certainly better than having two house payments!

My prospective tenants told me that they had lived in military housing and had their home checked out all the time.  The inference being they were very neat people…or so I thought.  I’ll never forget the day I walked into the kitchen to check on my home.  There was a narrow pathway barely visible through the piles of junk, paper and garbage on the floor.  These tenants also didn’t like to pay for trash pick up, so they used my one stall garage as a trash dump.  There were literally pizza boxes up to the ceiling. I ended up paying the tenant to leave the home.

Over the past 24 months in Grand Rapids, MI many homeowners are becoming reluctant landlords.  When you’ve moved or bought another house prior to your home selling, this may be the only option to deal with the looming possibility of 2 huge payments every month.  Unfortunately, this solution sometimes creates unforeseen difficulties.

I’ve learned some lessons through these experiences which I can now pass on the clients who are investors or need to rent their homes like I did. Taking these steps can reduce the risk of moving from the frying pan of a difficult financial situation to the hot fire of a home with renters who are ruining it AND not paying you!

1.  Check our references.

  • In my eagerness to collect rent, I didn’t ask for or check out rental references.  This is a big mistake.  You can learn a lot from a call.  Even if no negative information is shared, the reluctance to say anything about a renter may be cause for further investigation.

2.  Obtain a Credit Check

  • This is very important.  Prior payment history will reflect what is likely to happen to you.  If a tenant did not pay a previous landlord, there is a high likelihood that eventually they will stop paying you.  Sometimes, a situation occurs which has a valid explanation  and an exception may be made.  But this should be done only after taking into consideration the entire picture including previous rental history.

3.  Take A Drive in the Neighborhood.

  • If you’re renting out a home which is your primary residence and you intend to sell it, it may be wise to ask to drive by or ask to see the home that the person who wants to rent your home is currently living in.  Their upkeep there will mirror what you may anticipate in your home.  While this should not be the only criteria, it can be helpful.  If they refuse to clean up now where they are…well they’re unlikely to start when they move.

4.  Join the Rental Property Association.

  • In Grand Rapids, Michigan, this association is worth every cent of the $200 or so yearly fee.  This organization gives landlords access to legal advice, excellent lease forms, seminars and teachings and the opportunity to network with other landlords.  You can learn a lot from other people’s experiences and avoid a lot of heartache.

5.  Be Very Clear and Concise in the Terms of Your Lease Agreement.

  • A clearly and concisely written lease can save you a lot of grief.  Be clear about when a late fee kicks in and for how much.  Be clear about how many tenants can live in the home and how many cars can be parked on the premises.  Be clear about whether you will allow pets and what the fee will be if you have to repair damage.  Be clear about the reasons why a security deposit will be forfeited.

6.  Collect a Security Deposit.

  • This should cover at least one months rent.

7.  Detail the Current State of Your Home WHEN the new tenant takes possession.

  • Make sure you fill out a detailed checklist of every room in your home and have your tenant fill out any issues which they observe as well.  This written document will substantiate the state of the home.  In addition, you may want to take pictures for posterity.

This list of 7 items provides steps which can significantly reduce the risk of having a bad experience…especially ifyou find yourself in the role of a reluctant landlord.  If you’re considering offering your home for rent, you may want to contact us.  We can assist you in evaluating if this option makes sense for your specific situation.  We can also place your home for lease on the local Multiple Listing System and increase the potential of getting a good tenant.

Photo courtesy of extremeezine on

Copyright 2007 Audu Real Estate All Rights Reserved

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Lola’s Favorite Grand Rapids, MI Greenhouses/Nurseries!

Well,  it’s summertime in Grand Rapids, MI…or sort of.  We’ve been enjoying more spells of cooler weather than warm lately, but that’s actually OK with me.

For one things, it’s great planting weather for the garden.   And, fall is my favorite season of the year, so a little fall in summer is not that terrible in my opinion.

In celebration of summer, we made our ritual pilgrimage to our favorite greenhouses in the area.  Although, it’s after the Memorial Day Sales, there is still a fairly good selection and you certainly can’t complain about the prices when Countryside Greenhouse has a items on sale!

Our first stop is Countryside Greenhouse in Allendale, MI.  It’s just a short drive out of Grand Rapids.  This year, the layout looks entirely different and they’ve expanded their receiving/check-out area significantly.

Over the last several years, I’ve been focusing more on perennials as I finally realised it made little sense to continue planting the same plants year after year.  So, we pick up several hydrangeas, and an assortment of other plants to fill in bare spots in the yard.

If you’re looking for some of the larger shrubs and trees, we noted some very good prices on ornamental trees.  We almost picked up a Japanese Maple, but decided against it when we checked the tag which indicated it could grow as tall as 20 feet within 10 years.  A little too much height for the area I was considering.  Check out their website to see a complete list of what’s currently on sale.

Next stop, is Motmans Greenhouse.  Large signs along the expressway beckon you to stop in and a smiling face let’s you know you’ve arrived. Motman’s  also carries fresh vegetables and today, there is a sale of some very appealing looking asparagus.  Several customers are bagging up larges bunches.

The selection at Motman’s is colorful and healthy.  I’m here to mainly see what they have left in their larger arrangements.  Motman’s also features a wide array of annuals and perennials, but the main reason I make a yearly visit to this greenhouse is because they do such a beautiful job with their arrangements.

Grand Rapids, MI has a number of greenhouses and shops which sell plants to decorate your yard this summer.  These are just two of my favorites, but there are many to choose from.  Invest in pampering your home this year.  The simple beauty which flowers and plants share with us during this time of the year is wonderful.

Motman’s Greenhouse: O-2617 River Hill Dr Grand Rapids, MI 49534 – (616) 677-1525

Countryside Greenhouse: 7235 Pingree St, Allendale – (616) 895-5000