Avoid these 7 Costly Mistakes West Michigan Homeowners Make When Selling their Homes!

think outside the box in vintage wood type

When it comes to selling a home, many have difficulty letting go of the emotional attachment. As a result, this may overshadow our ability to make critical decisions regarding what needs to be done to sell a home successfully.

A home, like a well-loved, but worn out T-shirt can become an item which is so familiar that we fail to see what is readily apparent to an average onlooker.

Avoiding some of the most costly mistakes can ease the pain of moving by:

  1. Saving you time and hassle
  2. Bringing in more offers with a higher quality of Buyer
  3. Putting more money into your pocket so you can purchase your next perfect home!

7 Mistakes to avoid include:

Neglecting Curb Appeal.  Today curb appeal is not limited to how your home looks when a potential buyer drives by.  The average home is pre-viewed online before people jump into cars.  So, if your home listing photos are unprofessional and your home appears cluttered and dated, people won’t click into or drive by your home which means you may lose a potential sale.

Over-pricing your home.  Today’s market in West Michigan is hot!  If your home has been on the market for 30 days without any serious interest, you are over-priced.  Listen!  The market speaks.  Over-pricing a home is the single most common way that homeowners lose money when trying to sell their home.  The average over-pricing penalty in the West Michigan area ranges from 20 – 25%.  So for a $100,000 home that sits on the market, this can mean a retail price of $75,000 – $80,000 nine months later.  Whereas, if it had been priced at $89,900 from the beginning, the likelihood of a sale within 30 days would have been excellent!  Invest in a well prepared Comparative Market Analysis or appraisal.

Not tidying up.  This is huge.  Sight and smell are how buyers buy homes and definitely impacts how much they are willing to pay.  For top dollar, go beyond moving your dirt around.  De-clutter: throw stuff out, spiff it up, sparkle, trim, clean, buff, scrub…

Not Sharing things you need to share.  Selling a home in West Michigan requires you to disclose what you know about the home.  No, you can’t just surprise people by covering up over issues you’ve been managing for years like a leaking roof, broken pipes or an oven that doesn’t work.  In fact, REALTORS require our clients to sign a Seller’s Disclosure which is a very detailed accounting of what you know about YOUR home.  This doesn’t absolve the buyer of the responsibility of getting their own home inspection, but it does protect you from being accused of lying about a known problem.

Dragging your feet.  Selling a home is not for the faint of heart.  It requires preparation, persistence and patience.  Selling a home is hard work.  Not just for you, but for the entire team of professionals (some estimates indicate that up to 50 individuals will have touched your file prior to closing).  Don’t do this until you’re ready and willing to do what will be required.  A great way to lose money is to discourage those who are trying to help you.  Remember, this is their livelihood and the higher their motivation, the more likely they are to do a better job.

Being unwilling to reward Success.  This is a surprisingly common mistake, yet is it one which can be remedied with relatively little downside for the homeowner.  Bargain hunting is a great pastime, but it may not be the most intelligent way to go about getting the most money for your home.

Consider going against the grain.  Offer a Bonus to the Agent who successfully sells your home.  It can be as little as 1-2% of your Sales Price.  This will increase interest in your home listing and will influence the exposure and potential offers your are likely to receive.  Think of it as leveraging your asset base.  Depending on your sales price, where else can a $1,000 investment potentially garner you a $5,000 – $10,000 increase in the amount of your rate of return within less than 6 months? To maximize the effectiveness of this technique, you may want to put a time limit on this…ex. home must be sold within 30 days to qualify for the bonus.

Choosing the wrong REALTOR.  Just because a friend or relative is in the real estate business does not mean that this individual is the best choice for the sale of your home.  Read this blog post to learn more about how to select the agent that’s right for you.

Related Content:  How Many REALTOR Interviews Should I have BEFORE Selecting an Agent?

Sietsema Orchard and Cider Mill…A unique farm to table experience!

Sietsema Orchard in Ada, MI

Readers of this blog know that I love to discover unique dining experiences.  For me, food is about the experience, the taste and the aesthetics.  When visiting a new restaurant, I love to hear the ‘back story’ and find out the inspiration behind the food.  So, when I had the opportunity recently to attend a ‘Farm to Table’ dinner at Sietsema Orchard in Ada (8540  2 Mile NE ), I was delighted to learn about another aspect of the growing organic and farm to table dining experience in the West Michigan.

Sietsema Orchard and Cider Mill used to be located off the East Beltline and Knapp.  In fact, I’d often pass the large white sign when I was heading north.  But since they sold mostly to the wholesale market,  I was not aware of their retail operation.  Over the past few years, they have moved their farm to Ada and added a unique twist on the retail aspect of the business.   Not only can you purchase cider and apples and donuts, the Orchard features creative programming which includes educational tours, and the Farm to Table dinners.

On the evening we attended, three different chefs featured items on the menu.  The mix was eclectic and creative  in the food and the chefs who prepared it.  Here’s the breakdown of our six course dinner:

1st~ The Silver Spork :Bourbon Chicken Liver Pate with Cranberry Gelee, Pickles, and Crostini
2nd~ Saburba:Cheddar & Apple Biscuits with Country Ham and Red Eye Gravy
3rd~ Soup- Silver Spork: Duo of Soups…. Broccoli & Phocus AND Spicy Cauliflower with Herb Croutons
4th~ Salad-Saburba: Grilled Radicchio with Apples, Bacon, Candied Walnuts, Smokey Bleu and a Honey Vinaigrette
5th~ Main Course- The Starving Artist: lamb shoulder, white and black sausages, jacob’s cattle beans, plum mostarda, fried sage leaves
6th~ Dessert- The Starving Artist : parfait of cardamom fromage blanc, milk chocolate mousse, palet d’baguette aux raisins, candied orange

During dinner, I had the opportunity to talk with Skip Sietsema, a third generation farmer who along with his son Andy Sietsema (also a fellow West Michigan REALTOR) run the orchard.  I was fascinated to learn of the vast number of types of apples which they grow which are not available in the regular supermarket.  In fact, North America has hundreds of different types of apples including unique heirloom varieties which according to Skip burst with flavor in a way that many people have never experienced.

I had a little taste of what he was talking about through sampling the cider served with the dinner.  We ended up taking some of it home with us…it was just that good!  The Orchard is open to the public during the fall season on Thursday& Friday (10:00 a.m. – 6:00 pm) and on Saturday from 9:00 a.m. – 6:00 pm.  You can also register for an upcoming Farm to Table dinner online.  Below is a video featuring Skip & Andy and Gerry Barnaby.

Understanding Real Estate Lingo…How the Absorption Rate Impacts Your Home Showings When You Are Selling Your Home.

There are a number of terms which real estate agents use to place  markers on what is happening or likely to happen in the marketplace .  One of the most frequently used terms is, the Absorption Rate.  The Absorption Rate is defined as the amount of months that it would take to deplete the current housing inventory in a particular real estate market if homes continue to be Sold at the current rate.

An Absorption Rate of six months is generally considered a Balanced Market.  Absorption Rates greater than six months are considered to be an advantage for Home Buyers while lower Absorption Rates give Home Sellers the upper hand.  Currently, the Absorption Rate in many communities in West Michigan is less than 5 months

Suppose you are currently trying to sell your home in Grand Rapids, Michigan  and have found that you are not receiving a lot of requests for home showings.  How can the Absorption Rate help you determine what you need to do to sell your home?

It is important to know what the Absorption Rate is for your specific neighborhood, not just your larger community.  If the rate is less than six months and especially if it is below four months, the market is talking to you and it would behoove you to listen if selling your home is your ultimate goal.  A home with little showing activity in a Hot Seller’s Market is either over-priced or shows poorly in comparison to other similar homes.

The remedy for this problem is to either lower your home sale price to reflect the current market realities and/or invest money in acquiring the professional assistance of a home stager to help you set up your home for success.

A little goes a long way…5 Cheap Ways to Prepare Your Grand Rapids MI Home for a Quick Sale!


SEARCH WEST MICHIGAN HOMES FOR SALE – Grand Rapids, MI Real Estate Statistics

One thing that showing hundreds of homes through the years teaches you is this…Home Sellers can do a lot to show their home in a manner that gets it SOLD!

I have always found it mildly astonishing that homeowners who spend thousands of dollars in upgrades and improvements to their homes fail to invest time and effort in a few critical areas to ensure that their homes are perceived well in the eyes of potential buyers.

Some homeowners might be surprised to find out how far a little money will go.  Particularly when you put $500 against a backdrop of tens of thousands of dollars which are left on the table because a home does not sell or sells far below the listing price.

Here are just a few Simple Things to Keep in Mind when you are showing your home to ensure it shows Sold!

Show It!…

In a competitive market, there are hundreds of homes vying for a buyer’s attention.  There are some homes which don’t receive even ONE showing request in a 6 month period.  When you place your home on the market, be prepared to SHOW IT.  If you’re not…WAIT, until you are.  Yes, it may cost you a little in sleep and inconvenience, but in this market, if a real estate agent calls to show your home when there are 50 others like it…don’t count on being given a second chance.  COST:  Time & Effort ~ Dollars – ZERO

Clean It!

If you can’t clean your home…hire someone else to do it for you.  Why deduct Thousands of dollars from you life through a possible sale just because you can’t or don’t know how to clean a home.  Buyers love the smell of ‘clean’ about as much as they like the smell of ‘new.’  A good new home cleaning crew will cost about $250…loss of a sale or a discount on a home on the market for over 6 months…15-20 percent of your initial asking price.  COST:  approx $150 – $250

Clear It!

De-Cluttering is probably the single biggest thing that most homeowners can do fairly inexpensively to Show their Home Sold! Hire a storage unit…beg your friends to store stuff in their basement; whatever you have to do…get your stuff out!

But, to clear your home most effectively will require going beyond the basics of clearing out excess furniture and belongings and neutralizing.  Sometimes you need to do just a little more to be most effective…

COST:   approximately $50/month for storage if required

Stage It!

Hiring the Services of a professional stager to primp your home may be the best investment you can make in the home selling process.  Staging does not need to be an exorbitant cost.  In fact a good staging experience will probably save money  by attracting more potential buyers or creating a better response to your home when it is shown.

COST:  Initial Staging Consultation:  $75 – $150

Price it for the Market!

Today’s Grand Rapids Mi real estate market is changing so rapidly that even real estate agents find they must regularly check to verify that listing prices for homes are in line with the reality of the marketplace.  A decade ago, an appraisal was valid for at least six months.  Today, it  may only be valid for 30 days.

As a home owner, it’s important to invest time in getting professional counsel about how to price your home.  You can contact a real estate broker to get a FREE Certified Market analysis, or hire an appraiser for several hundred dollars.  What’s most important is that you ensure that whoever you hire does have the experience and proven results.  Hiring the right person is even more important in challenging times.  The wrong one can be a draining tax on time and resources.

COST:  FREE ~ CMA (Certified Market Analysis)  Appraisal:  $ 275 – $350


Quicker Sale

Less Time & Hassle on the Market

Better Offers

Moving on with your Life!

Think about this…What bank or investment fund would give this sort of potential return on your investment of $500?  Where else could you put in $500 and enjoy living in a nice, clean well arranged environment with the potential of making it back fairly quickly by a Sale?

Copyright 2010  Audu Real Estate All Rights Reserved

Wealthy at Charles, A Delight for the Senses!

Wealthy at Charles, Grand Rapids MI

Wealthy at Charles, Grand Rapids MI

Although, it’s the start of fall, the garden is still open. This bountiful display of greenery is what initially catches my eye as we are cruising down Wealthy St.  

The plat is surrounded by a attractive wrought iron fence.  This segment of land, brimming with a variety of plantings is an unexpected respite in the city.

It is the garden which beckons me to stop into Wealthy at Charles and take a look around.  The store is situated within a beautifully restored  home which has been transformed into an intimate shopping experience for home style enthusiasts.  The wall colors are a dove gray and muted eggplant framed by burnished wood floors.  Very simple, very elegant…very calm.

The store features an eclectic and ever changing array of products for the home, gifts, accessories and stylish floral creations.  In between attending to clients, Mike one of the owners shares about the history of the home and the artistic accents which fill the store with elegance and color.

You feel as though you are in an artists’ studio…the displays evoke moments of unexpected spontaneity.  Luscious pillow displays and beautiful area rugs transition into whimsical mini statues and riotous bouquets of flowers.  You could spend an hour in this place and still have trouble deciding what to purchase.

I finally settle on my purchase which is carefully wrapped up with a bow and tissue.  This is certainly a store worth visiting…as much for the experience of first class service as the creativity which illumines every spare square inch of retail space.

wealthy at charles, llc
738 wealthy street se

grand rapids mi 49503


telephone: 616 458 6664


Super Charming, Northwest Grand Rapids Home (1532 Pine Ave NW)…The Real Deal @$114,900!

One thing which can be said about Grand Rapids, Michigan homes is that there are some great opportunities right now in the housing market.  Take a look at this home, listed by Therese Vandermeer of Audu Real Estate @ $114,900.  Totally new on the inside.. and within walking to Richmond Park.  What a great way to enjoy summer!

1532 Pine Ave NW. 2 Bedrooms, 2 Baths, hardwood floors, hickory cabinets, Professional style decor…

Grand Rapids, MI


Protecting Your Home Improvement Dollars When Buying or Selling Your Grand Rapids, MI Home!

Home Improvement - caulking tileNo one wants to waste money these days!  In Grand Rapids, MI where thousands of homes are vying for the attention of a limited pool of buyers, it’s even more important to make your home stand out when buyers do come knocking…knowing they’ll be knocking on an average of 20-25 homes before they make a decision.

I’m often asked about Home Improvements which home sellers would like to make to improve their chances of selling.  I’ve written about advice which I give regarding home staging.  But, what about major home improvements?  What’s the return on your investment if for instance you want to add granite counter tops to your kitchen or are contemplating new siding?

These questions are also relevant to home buyers when shopping for a home which if purchased correctly and improved intelligently could Net a Nice Profit when the home is sold.  A Home Improvement Report from Remodelling Online is  a Fantastic Resource for home improvements and the Return on Investment in the Grand Rapids Area.  The report compares the average cost of the investment, resale value and percentage recouped on average from a sale. 

According to the report, the Top 6 Values for Return on Investment in a Home Improvement Project in the Grand Rapids, Michigan area are:

Deck:  Cost Recouped  ~ 85%

Windows:  Cost Recouped ~ 81%

Kitchen:  Cost Recouped ~ 78%

Bathroom:  Cost Recouped ~ 78%

Attic Bedroom:  Cost Recouped ~ 76.6 %

Basement:  Cost Recouped ~ 75%

If You are interested in a FREE Staging Analysis to see how to Prepare Your Home for Sale…Contact Us!

Click Here For Related Article on Interesting Garage Improvements.

*Special Thanks to Gary White, real estate agent in Commerce, Michigan for assistance with research for this post.