Feel Like You Belong – Features Real Estate Broker, Lola Audu ‘A New Way to Sell Real Estate’

Lola Audu is used to creating firsts in her adopted U.S. home. As an international student in college, she had to teach white administrators about unintended racism. As a real estate professional, she became the first black president in the 117-year history of the Grand Rapids Association of Realtors. As a graduate of the Cultural Intelligence Center, she is now bringing cultural intelligence (CQ) to the real estate industry. Join Alan as he interviews the Nigerian native who has become a West Michigan force to be reckoned with.

Will Uber’s Foray into Real Estate Change Your Next Home Sale?

Buying a HomeWhen news of Uber’s foray into the complex world of real estate hit the wires this past week, many industry watchers took note.  The premises for Haus, the new start-up by the Cofounder of Uber, Garrett Camp is to bring transparency into the bidding process between home buyers, sellers and their agents.

How Haus works:

The online platform will allow buyers, sellers and their agents to see (in real time)  when offers and changes to offers are made during the bidding process AND respond accordingly.  The platform promises to deliver an experience which creates side by side comparisons so that home owners and potential buyers can make fully informed decisions about the home they are bidding on.  At the heart of the issue is the concept of ‘real time’.

Super-heated real estate:

Most of the country is experiencing a super heated real estate market.  In West Michigan, it is not uncommon for some homes to receive multiple offers within a 24 hour period.  Anxious buyers wring their hands as they are informed that offers will not be presented UNTIL a particular time or that they should consider re-submitting their ‘highest and best’ offer due to multiple offers coming in on the same property.  Although the majority of real estate agents are honest, there is no way of actually verifying IF additional offers are being presented and so, home buyers are left wondering just how much more they will have to bid to secure the right to purchase the home of their dreams.

Pride and prejudice:

Another largely unspoken aspect of the process is the fact that purchasing a home is not necessarily based on price.  Prejudice and preference can sometimes play critical roles. Many homeowners have their own ideas about whom they would prefer to purchase their homes.  This may be based on personal preferences, or their concerns about the welfare of their neighbors.  Latent within these normal human emotions and desires lies the potential for discrimination, an issue which is a matter of Federal law when applied to the real estate transaction.

Loving a home can infatuate the mind.  It can make a home buyer willing to do just about anything to gain an edge or advantage.  One of the more commonly used vehicles is a ‘Dear Homeowner’ letter where the potential buyer details why they love the home and why the home owner should in essence ‘pick me!’  Buyers have been known to research the owners place or worship, likes and dislikes and fashion their offers to tug at the home owners emotions.  Sometimes, this has included providing pictures of themselves so the homeowner can see who they are.

When secrecy becomes illegal:

The problem with this is a little thing called the law – which prohibits discrimination when it comes the buying, selling or renting of housing based on some very specific criteria.  The Federal Fair Housing Act of 1968 and the Federal Fair Housing Amendments Act of 1988 prohibit discrimination on the basis of: race, color, religion, national origin, age, disability, handicap, sex, gender and often local ordinances (State and community) have additional qualifiers.

So, to some extent the secrecy which has shrouded the real estate process has served as a cloak for some of these illegal behaviors.  For the same reason that booking a table reservation by Open Table is a preferred vehicle by many when they consider the convenience and the simplicity of not dealing with host/hostess reservations, the idea of being able to view, counter and negotiate a transaction in an open forum might be appealing to a significant segment of the population.

Will we purchase houses like we book online reservations?

Haus does not claim to be a brokerage, financial adviser or tax expert, but the platform may become a tool which serves to bring the bottom line into a transaction negotiation in a very direct way.  That being said, buying a house is not like purchasing a car.  And, for a homeowner, the process is not just a financial investment, but also a relational and emotional one.  It will be interesting to see how or if this catches on as a preferred method of negotiations during a real estate transaction and more importantly to the bottom line, if this results in higher bids for home owners.


Additional Articles about additional industry new comers:

Roofstock’s better way to buy and sell homes

Yopa: Online property agent


3740 Bantam Dr. Hudsonville Mi 49426 is Ready to Be Your New Home! $174,900

Living Room

Now under contract – May 2014.  We think you’ll love this home!  Click here to watch a pre-view tour of the interior of 3740 Bantam Dr. Hudsonville MI 49426. Handsome brickwork coupled with graceful pillars framing the entrance give this classic looking 3 bedroom 2.5 bath ranch style home a hint of southern colonial charm. Inside, soothing earth tone walls warm up a soaring expanse of cathedral ceilings. Wide open spaces and windows which splash light throughout the main floor create a cheerful ambiance.

Another great feature is the rich vinyl plank style flooring in the main living areas which looks sharp and contemporary, but is a breeze to keep clean. Add to this, almost brand new stainless steel appliances in the kitchen, a deck that opens up to a fenced in backyard which includes playground equipment, central air conditioning and underground sprinkling…well, what’s not to love! Located near the end of a cul de sac, this delightful home is a great space to make your new home base. $174,900. Contact Donna 616-881-6889 to schedule a preview.

House Exterior

Looking for a Home, Condo or Duplex to Rent in Grand Rapids, MI…

Rental Homes, Condos and Duplexes in West Michigan…

A decade ago, most area REALTORS were not receiving many inquires about homes to rent in Grand Rapids and the West Michigan area.  In fact, less than 48 months ago, there was no way for real estate agents to reliably search or list on the local Multiple Listing Service for Rental homes.  So much has changed.  Today, the options for clients who need to rent a home, duplex or condo can now be serviced through the Rental Multiple Listing Service, a data exchange between area REALTORS which promotes properties available for rent in the West Michigan area.

There has been a significant increase in the number of people who are seeking rental housing across all price points in the real estate market place.  This rise in demand has also prompted a rise in rental rates with some estimates being an anticipated 6-10% increase in rental rates over the next year.  There are many reasons for this shift…

1.  Distress & Foreclosure Sales

The past five years have been tumultuous in the real estate industry as prices plummeted and many home owners found themselves owing more on their homes than they could be sold for in the open market.  As a result, many homes were sold at a loss through Short Sales and Foreclosure Sales.  At one point, almost 60% of the sales activity in West Michigan was related to a distress sale.  This pushed up the demand for rental properties.

2.  House Purchase Anxiety

Directly related to #1 in many ways due to the fact that some consumers were spooked by the decline in home prices and did not want to be in situation in which they lost money or had difficulty in retailing a home.  Many potential home buyers have hedged their bets although in reality, the decline in home prices offered some of the best investment opportunities ever.  Due to fear, some potential home owners have determined to pursue term rentals which has also fueled demand in the rental housing market in West Michigan.

3.  Increased Mobility – Professionally & Personally

According to this report by the Department of Labor & Statistics, the average person in the United States held 11 jobs between the ages of 18 – 44. With increased mobility professionally and personally,  consumers are more open to renting rather than putting their roots down to deeply in a community which they may need to exit from due to a job change.

4.  Jobs, Jobs, Jobs…

And of course, the issue of ‘jobs’ remains front and center in terms of simply having one.  Unemployment continues to be a factor in the wider labor market and this impacts the amount of money people can spend.  Steady employment also impacts issue #5…Financing.

5.  Difficulties with Financing

Mortgage financing has tightened significantly over the past two years, partly in reaction to the mortgage lending crisis.  As a result, many consumers who would have had no problems obtaining a loan 3-4 years ago, find themselves unable to obtain financing for a home.  A sizable number of self-employed individuals who have good incomes but may show business losses find themselves in this difficult position.

All of these factors are playing a role in the increased demand for rental housing in Grand Rapids, MI.  We are finding that homes are renting quite quickly and some home sellers who have tried to sell their homes without success have found the home rental market to be a viable financial alternative.

If you have a home that you would like or need to rent, please contact us.  We can provide you with a detailed analysis of your options with regards to pricing and marketing.

If you need to find a home, condo or duplex to rent in Grand Rapids, MI, here’s an Updated Link of Rental Homes available Today.

Call 616-791-0511 to arrange an appointment.

RENTED! Grandville Schools. 2157 Palm Dale Dr. Southwest, Wyoming, MI 49519

Attention to detail is the standard in this former Builder’s home! Warm earth tones accented with crown molding provide an inviting ambiance. What a great place to call home in the Grandville school district. The interior of the home features 3 bedrooms and 3 baths. The home has a 3 stall garage. The yard is beautifully landscaped and the main level features an open floor plan with deck access through double sliders. The rental rate of $2,000 per month includes all appliances.  CLICK ON THE PICTURE OR THE LINK TO ENJOY A REAL ESTATE PRE-VIEW SHOW.

When Your Landlord Wears a Suit…Exploring the Rise of Corporate Investment in the Rental Home Market

There just don’t seem to be enough homes to rent!    Over the past year, our company  Audu Real Estate, have observed an escalation in the number of requests for homes to rent.  The reasons are varied:

1.  Potential renters don’t want to become potential buyers because they are scared of loosing home equity.

2.  The potential renter may have lost a home or has credit issues and is ineligible to obtain a mortgage.

3.  The potential renter thinks their job may require them to move, so they don’t want to be ‘stuck’.

4.  The potential renter doesn’t want to live in an apartment & would prefer a home setting.

As a result, we’ve seen rental rates increase.  I’ve heard predictions which indicate that there will be a 3-6 percent increase in rental rates during the next year.  This news has not escaped the attention of some major deal makers across America.  In fact, a recent Bloomberg Businessweek article entitled ‘Your Next Landlord Might Wear Pinstripes‘ highlights a significant rise of interest from institutional investors who are looking to beef up their portfolios by purchasing homes and turning them into rentals.

Last year in the fall, the Administration asked for public comment about the idea of renting out a growing inventory of foreclosed homes.  Earlier this month, Fannie Mae, the government controlled mortgage agency initiated a program to allow qualified investors to bid in bulk for foreclosed homes as long as they maintained them as rental for a period of time.

So why are investors interested in a housing market that has seen some dark days?  Well, it’s all about opportunity.  Today the US home ownership rates is about 66%.  While that is one of the highest rates in the world, it is still below the peak of 69.2 percent recorded in June of 2004.  Many Americans remain skittish about the prospects of home ownership even as the facts seem to indicate that this may be exactly the time to buy a home.

For starters, interest rates are insanely low.  I’m hearing rates below 3.4% on 15 year mortgages. The inventory in West Michigan is actually pretty good.  We’re showing homes which would have retailed for 50-60% more just a few short years ago which have been totally re-vamped and are in move-in condition.  I’m talking about homes priced in the $40,000 – $75,000 range that could easily have retailed for 3-4X that amount in the past.  With today’s interest rates, the mortgage amount would be significantly below the rental rate for a similar home.

Investors are interested in these homes because of the cash flow potential.  Single family home rentals tend to fetch premium rates and can retail for 3-5% higher than apartment rentals.  And, this is not about a quick turn around.  Most investors expect to hold on to these homes for five years or more.

Think about that!  I just attended a forum on commercial real estate that indicated that the residential market in West Michigan could be poised for a surprising rebound within the next 3-4 years due to several factors including an uptick in manufacturing, more hiring for jobs and a work-force that is fairly well trained and prepared to meet the demands of today’s emerging economy.

If this proves to be correct, homeowners who have had a few years of dreadful travail may find themselves once again smiling on the way to the bank.  The question is…who will be the homeowner.  You…or a corporation?

How Do I find a Grand Rapids MI Home to Purchase with a Land Contract?

Audu Real Estate Logo ~ West Michigan Real Estate*This post was a response to a question posted on Trulia.  It has been one of the most frequently visited responses since we began assisting folks with answers to real estate questions on that site.  So we thought it would be helpful to share with visitors to Grand Rapids Real Estate Musings who may also have similar concerns.  We’ve also added more detailed information here to help our readers.   Here’s what we posted in response to the question:



We have assisted clients who are in situations similar to the one you described. The good news is that there are more options available today than there have been in recent history.  There are also some particular pitfalls which you should be aware of so you can avoid some regrettable results.

The Grand Rapids Association of Realtors  MLS system allows real estate agents to search for land contracts and other terms which may indicate a willingness on the part of the current home owner to rent or lease with an option to buy.

In addition, we search beyond the borders of the local MLS to assist clients with locating suitable homes on sites such as Craigslist.  However, it is  extremely important to negotiate these type of transactions correctly.

There should be close coordination with a reputable lender as well as a written lease and purchase contract which protects your interests and provides options for you in the future. When this is not done properly, you can easily loose a lot of potential hard earned equity.  You should also consider the possibility of doing some additional research to determine if the home is currently in default.  Some buyers have moved into homes only to find that the home was being foreclosed on due to the non-payment of the mortgage.

We’d be happy to sit down with you or talk over the phone about the specifics concerning your situation. There is no obligation. When we understand what you are looking for, we can research and forward listings which you can review in the comfort and convenience of your home.

You may also visit our website or blog to read about the experiences of clients we have helped recently.


Lola Audu