Success in Short Sale Transactions Takes Persistence and Tenacity!

Donna Schimke- Real Estate Short Sales - Audu Real EstateThe real estate market in West Michigan has been impacted by the rise in Foreclosures and Short Sales.  Short Sale transactions are some of the most challenging transactions to process and require tremendous amounts of energy, follow-through and sheer tenacity to bring to successful conclusion.  Today’s blog post reflects the experience of REALTOR, Donna Schimke and tells the story of how she was able to secure a Short Sale for her clients.

Donna’s background prior to real estate included working as a Buyer Specialist for Autocam and as a Property Management Specialist for Chase.  Here’s the story in her own words…

Dear Friends,

In August of 2010 I was sat down with a young couple who were upside down in their mortgage like many people are now.  When they bought this 2 bedroom house in 2002, they were new to Grand Rapids and did not know what the future would hold.   As their family grew, and the neighborhood home values declined they realized that they needed to sell their home and move due to safety issues.

They were referred to me by a family member to sell their home. I did the research of the area and found that I needed to list the home for less of what they still owed on the home, meaning it would be a short sale.  A Short Sale is when you are selling your home for less than what you owe on it, and will ultimately need bank approval.

We had 5 showings on the home and an offer was accepted in January 2011.

The process of a short sale can be very tedious and may take months to close.  Once an offer is accepted and the seller provides a hardship packet, (bank statements, financials, and hardship letter) it is submitted to the bank that holds the mortgage.  Once the bank receives the packet it is assigned to a negotiator which could take several months.

After a month, I started making the phone calls to the bank to make sure that the bank was working on the file.  I kept in almost weekly contact with the buyers, so they would know we were moving forward. In October, 10 months after I started, I received a call from the bank and they wanted to know if an offer had been submitted and I said that “we have had an offer in since Jan 2011”.  Well that got the ball finally rolling and we closed within 10 days of the phone call.  We finally closed on October 14th, 2011.  The end of the redemption period for the home was Nov 20 2011.

If you are contemplating selling your home or know someone else considering selling their home, please contact me, I can help.  Audu Real Estate has a short sale success rate above 80%, which is higher than the industry standard of 15%.

Donna Schimke

Licensed Real Estate Agent, Short Sale Specialist


What’s the Real Scoop…

A statistic that you’ll sometimes hear quoted from various sources is…'”Approximately 30% of ALL homes in the United State are currently underwater.”

But is this the truth?  Not really.  First, it’s important to know that 30% of ALL the homes in the United States DO NOT HAVE A MORTGAGE.  They are owned Free & Clear of any encumbrance or indebtedness.  The remaining 70% of homes in the nation do have some sort of mortgage/indebtedness attached.  Of these homes, 30% are underwater…meaning, that more is owed on the mortgage than the current market value of the home.

So…the real scoop is that approximately 15% of ALL homes in the United States are currently underwater.  You see, it’s important to know what percentages are actually being referenced when we throw out statistics.  The housing market is going through rough times, but the reality is that most homeowners continue to pay their mortgages on time and according to a 2011 survey conducted by the Fannie Mae, 95 % of current homeowners view owning their home as a positive experience.  If you’d like to become a homeowner, we can help you.  Please contact us at 616-791-0511. (Graphic below courtesy of Steve Harney

Percentage of Homes underwater-image courtesy of Steve Harney and Keeping Current Matters

3 Reasons Why Selling Your West Michigan Home in 2011 Could be A Smart Move!

For many of you reading this blog, your first instinct to this bold title might be…Really?  C’mon, Lola…are you serious?

Yes, I am.  Absolutely.  I’m going to share with you 3 Solid Reason for why Selling Your West Michigan in the 4th Quarter of 2011 could be a smart move.  You may actually look back and say…Why didn’t I do this earlier.

Now, this post is for those of you who have been considering putting your homes on the market, but have hesitated because there has been so much negative press about the housing market.  You may have outgrown your current residence or had a life-change such as a marriage or new baby.  Perhaps, you NEED to move because you’ve been transferred or you have lost a job and can no longer afford your current payments.  Whatever, the reason…read on.

1.  The Real Estate Market in Grand Rapids, MI is steadily improving…

Statistics available from the Grand Rapids Association of REALTORS, the industry trade association that monitors housing sales and prices indicate that over the last year, home sales and prices have stabilized and are now beginning to show modest gains.   Area REALTORS are posting increased Sales numbers and it is anticipated that Sales will rise above the levels in 2010, the  year in which the  Home Buyers’ Tax Credit boosted an artificial increase.  What’s noteworthy is that this activity has occurred despite double digit unemployment in Michigan and continued challenges in the financing sector.  If you have owned your home for at least 10 years,  consider obtaining a Market Analysis of your area to determine your current equity position.

2.  Mostly Serious Buyers Remain…

Getting a mortgage to purchase a home today is an event worthy of celebration!  Although interest rates have fallen dramatically, guidelines for lending and regulation associated with loans have increased dramatically.  This has resulted in much higher qualifying standards for home buyers today.  Approved Buyers have been vetted through stringent standards.  They are also better educated with access to the Internet and the ability to compare the value of their real estate investments.

Buyers today understand the economics of a Housing Sale; they know that many homes are priced 30% BELOW the market value.  Subsequently, many area REALTORS report the rise of multiple offers as competition for homes which are priced to Sell increases.

If you own your home without any obligation/mortgage OR have lived in your home for 10+ years, you may be well positioned to enter the market place right now.  As Inventory levels have declined in recent months, the available supply has diminished at just the time when Buyers are focused on getting into their new homes before serious snow begins to fly in West Michigan.

3.  Almost 14,000 Homes Sold  Just Yesterday!

Yep!  You read that right.  Even with all the dire statistics, home sales continue to average just over 5 Million per year nationwide.  If you average that to a daily rate, that means that on the average,  14,000 homes sold within the past 24 HOURS around the nation.  One of those homes could have been yours!

Here in West Michigan, we are selling approximately 1,000 homes per month.  That means that EVERY DAY, 30-35 homes are Selling right here in your community.  While some of those homes are being bought by investors or are homes Sold due to distress situations such as Foreclosure and Short Sales, many are not.  In fact…the majority of homes Sold are not.  Over the past year on average approximately 43% of homes Sold each month have been due to a hardship situation.  But, that means that 57% of home Sold – the majority – have NOT been distress sales.

If you would like a detailed analysis of the housing market in your West Michigan neighborhood or if you’d simply like to talk about your options, please contact us.  616-791-0511

Emerging West Michigan Talent ~ Lindsay Hoekstra, Interior Decorator and Stylist

Take virtual tour of projects by Lindsay Hoekstra Interior DesignThey say ‘Beauty is in the eye of the beholder’.  And if that’s true, then Lindsay Hoekstra’s passion for design and home decor has a way of transforming the unremarkable into stylish items of art.  She has the ability to look way beyond what would be obvious to the casual observer, finding the hidden gem in a discarded piece of furniture or envisioning how a dramatic play of colors can radically transform the appeal of a living space.

And that’s exactly what happens when Linsday works with design…space begins to live again.  I discovered this talent first hand while helping Lindsay and her husband locate a home.  We visited many lovely homes.   But, it was a visit to a rambling, cottage style home set high atop a hill which captured her vivid imagination.  The home had an eclectic combination of colors and was in need of some repair.  While many home buyers may have been intimidated, her eyes sparkled with possibility.

Several months later, I stopped by to see what she had done with the living space.  Seriously…I was transfixed at the entrance.  The transformation was so complete.  It felt as though I had stepped into the pages of a magazine!  The home had old plaster walls.  These had been restored and now featured rich earthtones.  The decor throughout was artistic and elegant without being stuffy.  The space now invited you to relax, converse and enjoy!

Lindsay who is a  graduate of North Park University has also had fine art training  from Grand Valley University’s School of Art.  This brings an added perspective to her interior design and staging.  I would highly recommend Lindsay Hoekstra for design/staging services. Lindsay can be contacted for initial consultations or more advanced projects.  Please click here or on the picture above to take a tour featuring some of her previous projects.

Visit Lindsay Hoekstra’s website.

Watch a Virtual Show of Lindsay Hoekstra Design Projects

ArtPrize 2011 Grand Rapids, MI …A Celebration of Art and Life!

ArtPrize ® defined…

“ArtPrize® is a radically open competition. Open to any artist in the world who can find space. Open to anybody in Grand Rapids, Michigan who wants to create a venue. Open to a vote from anyone who attends.”

The weather this fall has been mostly cooperative.  A perfect compliment to the colorful array of exhibits that are displayed across 164 different venues in Grand Rapids, MI.  Every year, since its’ inception three years ago, the ArtPrize competition has grown bigger and better.  This year, performance art was added into the mix.  So in addition to the displays of sculpture and paintings, one hears and sees the expressions of ‘living’  art…individuals singing, playing instruments, juggling, telling stories…  Absolutely delightful!

I’ve been to several locations downtown a few times.  One could spend entire days simply looking at the exhibits from over 1500 artists from all over the United States.  The competition has been a boom to business across the area, but especially to those located in the downtown area.

This past Saturday, we checked out dining at the restaurant, Tre Cugini.  It’s a family owned restaurant that has rich tradition and history in the Grand Rapids area.  Although we were arriving well past the regular lunchtime hour, the restaurant was still quite full and the hostess seemed a little harried as she tried to keep track of the crowd of patrons.

We were finally seated after a wait.  The food was excellent!  It’s definitely worth a visit to try out this local gem when things are a little more calm.  There are a number of excellent restaurants in the downtown area of Grand Rapids and the wider region.  Check out some of my recommendations here.