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From the Grand Rapids Chamber of Commerce announcement of the finalists nominated  for the 2016 EPIC AWARDS:

The EPIC Awards celebrates those businesses and people who are doing great things in the business community by being Entrepreneurial, Progressive, Innovative and Collaborative.

Seven categories of awards recognize businesses and individuals supporting the community, demonstrating growth, finding ways to innovate, and are working with others as mentors and collaborators.

Anticipation builds for the annual EPIC Awards celebration as the field of nominees is narrowed—keeping finalists and attendees on the edge of their seats as the envelops are opened and award recipients are finally announced from the podium during an Oscar-styled reveal at this premier Chamber event.

Audu Real Estate is thankful to be recognized by our peers in the fields of business and industry as an innovator in the arenas of entrepreneurship and excellence in service.  The company was one of three nominees within the Minority Business Category.  Our goal and mission in service for the past 20+ years has been to build relationships through the process of serving the community through the practice of real estate.

Over the years we have had the privilege of helping hundreds of individuals and families locate spaces which they now call home.  The best reward is the celebration we experience with our clients when they find a community they can embrace and which loves them back.  It’s a sacred honor to be a small part of that process.

epic-awards-chamber-of-commerce-capture

Grand Rapids Chamber of Commerce Epic Awards photo credit

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This is an UPDATE to a previous FAQ post.

As the year 2016 reaches the half way point, another issue is emerging as a challenge for homeowners and home-buyers coordinating move out/in dates.  After many years of closings being largely an efficient process (especially when experienced REALTORS and Lenders worked together), the implications of the new TRID guidelines aka RESPA/TILLA seem to be kicking in as more REALTORS and their clients are complaining about unforeseen closing delays.

The delay may be just a few days or sometimes stretch into weeks.  This is really a problem if you’re planning on buying another house, have immediate plans for the use of the money from the proceeds of your home, or have ordered moving vans, utilities and time off work.  The issue is complicated by the fact that you may not know about the delay until  a few days or a week before the closing was scheduled to occur.  Here are a few simple tips to help ease the transition process.

  1.  Don’t stress!  Shouting, harrasing or abusing your REALTOR, Lender, Appraiser etc only increases the tension in an already tense situation.  You want people to keep working to make your deal happen.  Anger adds more potential pitfalls and slow downs.
  2. Do follow-through and be persistent.  Especially as your transaction nears the finish line and even more so if the date of the closing draws near with no clear directive about when the clear to close will be available.  Knowing that you are going to be calling everyday or even twice a day to get an update keeps your case top of mind.  You can also e-mail for status updates.  Be clear about the fact that you simply want to be informed and stay in the loop.  You’re also going to be more likely to detect potential issues or miscues if you are integrally involved.
  3. Keep communication lines open.  This includes lines of communication with any parties who may be impacted by a slow down on your end including agents negotiating the transaction on the other side, movers, insurance representatives, your workplace etc.  It’s easier to reschedule a planned vacation with your boss if there has been regular communication regarding how you are proceeding with your home purchase or sale.  It’s also better to know potential ramifications about a delay with a mover with regards to costs etc. This may be an additional avenue for negotiation to compensate for the inconvenience and help to sweeten a transaction that would otherwise turn sour.
  4. Know that this too shall pass.  The vast majority of home sale transactions will close sooner or later.  In the long view, a few days or weeks delay is not as significant as the pleasure and joy you anticipate experiencing when you move into your new home or the relief that comes from a successful sale of your previous one.

More FAQ’s (Frequently Asked Questions) here

About the FAQ (Frequently Asked Questions Series)

This series is designed to answer questions that we hear clients asking over and over again.  Perhaps, you’ve wondered about some of these questions yourself.  While this is not intended to be an exhaustive explanation on the subject being discussed, it is our hope that these short blogs will provide helpful insights and may encourage you to explore further.  Please feel free to contact us by phone or e-mail with any questions.

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Certified International Property SpecialistGrand Rapids, Michigan is welcoming the world home as REALTORS expand their awareness about the world and global markets. The local association is currently hosting a national designation offered by the National Association of REALTORS to train local real estate agents about the benefits of becoming globally proficient and connected. Approximately 20 students are currently enrolled in the designation course which involves classroom time, a certain amount of practical experience with international transactions and some other requirements.

It’s especially good for me to participate in this class as it represents the fruit of seed from efforts in 2011 when the association created the International Committee. Today, this committee is active in enhancing awareness about the impact of globalization on the economy of West Michigan.

We have had the opportunity to serve people from all over the world. It is always an interesting and enlightening experience. It requires attention to detail and an awareness of some of the unique challenges that people from different parts of the world face. As an immigrant and New American, I have a real appreciation for the benefits of homeownership in America.

One of the challenges of the classroom experience is the danger of stereotyping as we seek to learn more about people whose experience differs. For instance, we’re having discussions about high context vs low context cultures. What’s emerging in the discussion is the fact that you cannot take generalizations too far. At the end of day, it’s about the individual and their culture – you can’t divorce one from the other. It’s a packaged deal.

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The CQ Advantage! Cultural Intelligence for REALTORS

Audu Real Estate is pleased to present a brand new CE Marketplace certified course:  The CQ Advantage!  Cultural Intelligence for REALTORS.  Please contact Lola Audu at lola@audurealestate.com for information about booking this course for your company or organization.  The course is certified for 2 Hours of Continuing Education Credit for Michigan real estate agents. (1 Hour Elective, 1 Hour Legal)

Instructor:  Lola Audu

Course Descriptive:  C000482  – available through the CE Marketplace

Certified for 2 Hours of Continuing Education Credit for real estate professionals in the State of Michigan

*Material is also available in two one hour classes certified for 1 credit each.  Course number C000609 and C000610 if you prefer a shorter version of the material.

Click to view/download mini-PDF version of course: Cultural Intelligence Mini Preview

We live in a global village, a multi-contextual mixing bowl of cultures and counter-cultures.  Cultural Intelligence has emerged as a critical form of knowledge, insight and engagement necessary to be competitive across a broad spectrum of client interactions.  Perhaps few professions deal with differences in culture and perspective as frequently as members of the real estate community who are tasked with helping people of every race, tribe, creed and tongue find that unique spot to call home.

We’re pleased to present a unique class which explores the role that Cultural Intelligence can play in helping REALTORS understand how to serve the needs of their clients.  Culture is an entity that morphs and changes.  Simply learning a few ‘so called ‘rules of engagement’ is not adequate preparation for the numerous ways in which culture impacts response patterns, thinking and interactions.  A lack of cultural intelligence can create angst, irritation and loss of otherwise promising business opportunities.

The class draws from Lola Audu’s personal experience of growing up in a cross cultural context within the African continent that included an educational experience where students represented 60 different nationalities.  A term which is sometimes used to describe individuals who regularly navigate the world of multiple cultures is ‘third culture’ kids.  A simple question such as ‘Where is home?’ may be answered in surprisingly nuanced ways.  The Millennial generation is the most diverse generation in America’s history.  It is also the most diverse generation culturally in the entire world.  You may enjoy reading the this article and watching the video below.

While most Americans will not have this level of cultural dissonance or experience, the reality is that in today’s world, a REALTOR’s clients will increasingly have some elements which differ from the traditional norm of the dominant culture.  Are you prepared to serve effectively?

In addition, the course will cover issues of cultural ethnocentrism as well as discussing Fair Housing issues related to the impact of the institution of dominant cultural norms and discrimination in the United Sates.

For booking information:  Lola Audu  – 616-791-0511 or lola@audurealestate.com

To preview other courses visit: http://audurealestate.com/workshops-seminars/

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chair setSome important changes will be put into effect with regards to the process of completing a real estate transaction on October 3, 2015. The changes are part of the Dodd-Frank Bill and in the industry are referred to by what may seem like a curious set of initials to the average person – RESPA/TILLA.  The government agency responsible for implementing and overseeing the enforcement of these new changes to the law is the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau which you will also see referenced by the initials CFPB.

While, the requirements will largely impact new processes for the Lending and Title industry with regards to actual changes in forms and procedures, we do anticipate that there will be some adjustments necessary for the real estate transaction as conducted by REALTORS as well. For our clients (Buyers & Sellers), the adjustments will largely be (though not necessarily completely)reflected in the following ways:

1. New Timelines requiring additional time to complete a fairly standard real estate transaction
2. Ability to understand the re-disclosure period and how it can impact the timeline of getting your home or your money.
3. Coordination of  ‘stacked’ closings and why closing and purchasing in the same day may no longer be possible
4. A couple of new forms for the Lending & Escrow process

As REALTORS, coordinating the process in a way that minimizes stress for our clients is our primary concern. To this end, we are taking courses to ensure we understand how to advise our clients to ensure that your investment in a home occurs as smoothly as possible during this period of significant transition.

If you have been thinking about buying or selling a home and would like to have a more in depth conversation about the best way to navigate through this changing landscape, we encourage you to contact us well BEFORE October 3, 2015 when these changes are scheduled to take effect. *(Implementation was delayed from August 1, (today) to address concerns about preparedness by the industry and consumers. Our Number: 616-791-0511.

Lastly, if you are currently in the processing of retailing your home on your own or are considering this option in the future, we would be willing to talk with you about how to avoid potential pitfalls particularly during this time of transition.  In the days ahead, knowledge and understanding will be critical in ensuring the your transaction does not become an unintended casualty of the law of ‘Unintended Consequences’.  Our office is prepared and ready to assist with all your real estate needs and concerns.  Call us to talk.  It’s Free!

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Leadership Essentials Capture

The grind of daily life is something that every serious business person experiences and learns to cope with.  Successful entrepreneurs understand that it is important to refuel and recharge to avoid or at least mitigate some of the burnout that accompanies the relentless pace of industry today.

For professionals involved in the real estate industry, the relentless pace of life has also included the stress of dealing with a marketplace that has experienced periods of intense activity and stress due to foreclosures and more recently, extremely low levels of housing inventory.

‘Leadership Essentials’ inspires REALTORS and individuals involved in business to reshape their thinking about the nature of challenge and adversity.  The interactive course utilizes storytelling and principles of Leadership gleaned through navigating the tumultuous world of real estate during one of the most profoundly difficult seasons the real estate industry has ever witnessed.

Lola Audu served as the President of the Grand Rapids Association of REALTORS in 2011 and was elected President of the Women’s Council of REALTORS- Western Michigan Chapter in 2013.  Lola’s personal journey and unique experience profile serve as a backdrop for a deeper conversation about what it means to not just lead, but become a leader who invokes participation through inspiring others to follow and engage in life transforming ways.

To book this course for your real estate brokerage, business or non-profit group, please contact Audu Real Estate at 616-791-0511.  A mini preview of the course can be accessed through downloading the link.

Leadership Essentials Mini Presentation

COMING SOON:  cc: Authentication – The Process of Becoming an Authentic Influencer.  Check back for more details for this course which is scheduled to premier in May – June 2015.

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February Existing Home Sales CaptureReal Estate professionals in West Michigan are finding themselves involved in an interesting line of conversation with potential home buyers in recent months.  After the usual qualifying questions about housing needs and wants, the next step is to find the right home.  That’s where it’s getting complicated.

Home Buyers are often surprised to find that there are not that many homes to choose from.  And, when a suitable home is found, there’s another surprise.  Hopeful new home owners may find themselves competing with multiple offers to purchase a home – sometimes within hours or days of new listings coming onto the market.

For Investors, the outlook is even bleaker.  According to the latest statistical reasearch available from the National Association of REALTORS, ALL CASH sales dropped slightly in February to 26% (down 1% from the previous month) and Individual Investors accounted for 14% of the market (down from 17% in the January).

Distressed Sales remain largely unchanged at approximately 11% of the national market.  The days when Investors were getting houses for a ‘song & a dance’ have disappeared.  The average Distress Sale retails between 15-17% below fair market value.

Inventory levels are at an all-time low nationwide.  As a result, housing prices have remained strong.  The average home is on the market for less than 65 days.  34% of homes on the market in February sold in less than a month.

On the local front, the Grand Rapids Association of REALTORS reports some trends that mirror the national marketplace but overall West Michigan is posting positive gains.  The average home price has increased 7% over the same period of time last year with today’s average home retailing for just under $159,000 versus approximately 140,000 a year ago. This is a significant increase of over 12% over the past year.

What remains the most unexpected element of this story is that last year (February 2014), Inventory levels were at approximately 3.1 months of supply.  Today’s numbers indicate a drop to 2.6 percent.  Surprising, even as we prepare to enter the Spring Market of 2015.  If we repeat the trend from last year, it will be July before inventory levels peak above 3 months of housing inventory.  Great news if you’re thinking of becoming a Home Seller.  For Home Buyers…well, not so much.

For more information about the insights shared in this Market Trends Report, please contact:  Lola@audurealestate.com.

National Association of REALTORS Infographic

Grand Rapids Association of REALTORS statistical report

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