A Few Simple Tips to Improve Your Odds in Selling Your West Michigan Home!

Probably the biggest source of angst that home owners in Grand Rapids, Michigan have about selling their home is knowing IF their home has a chance for a Sale.  Quiet turmoil mounts with the following irksome thoughts. 

 Potential Sellers silently question, “Will this Home Sell?”  or “Will anyone even want to look at my home?” 

I’ve been hearing many reports of homes now sporting 12 month listing contracts instead of the traditional 6. The fact is that many homes in West Michigan are not having ANY showings at all!

To improve your odds of selling, it is important to understand that having a good Pricing Strategy is crucial to your success.  Last month, approximately 680 homes Closed successfully in Grand Rapids.  This was 25% below the number of successful property closing during the same 30 day period in 2009. However, there is good news; the good news is that there were homes that Sold and to be successful, it’s important to focus on what successful home sellers did correctly.

Researching you area…

The days of simply guessing about the price at which to list your home, or asking your neighbor what they Sold their home for are over.  The former is a dangerous strategy and the latter often provides inaccurate data.  It’s best to get the facts.

This can be done by requesting a Market Analysis from a good local Realtor® or obtaining an appraisal. One of the most valuable tools available through our Grand Rapids Association of Realtors® MLS system is the ability to obtain a quick analysis of your immediate area by utilizing a proprietary mapping function which details accurate records of homes Sold within a variety of radius options and also gives us access to trends data.

Utilizing mapping and trends data can provide insights which can be easily missed when using the broad ranges which generally divide areas on on popular sites like Zillow or Trulia for property search purposes.  In addition to mapping tools and trends data, pricing strategy is enhanced by understanding how property has traditionally appreciated or depreciated in a local area.  This is where the experience of a good real estate agent can be invaluable.

In today’s market where less than 10% of homes listed for Sale are Closing in any given month, it’s important to improve your odds by understanding the issues and specific dynamics in your neighborhood. If you’d like to know more about creating a pricing strategy for today’s challenging marketplace and you live in the Grand Rapids, MI area, please contact us. 616-791-0511 or info@auduhomes.com

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

What to Do When Your Home Purchase Appraises for LESS than What You Offered to Pay!

Your nest egg...I can remember a time (seems like ancient history now) when a home appraisal was good for 6 months.   Today,  sometimes you feel you’re lucky if it’s valid for 60 days! Volatility in the real estate market in the West Michigan area mirrors much of what is happening in other parts of the country.  Home prices have declined at record levels due to the economic upheaval in the financial markets and continuing challenges in the jobs sector.

The recent changes in appraisal standards has impacted many new purchases and generated a lot of discussion in the appraisal community.  For home buyers, these changes have sometimes resulted in home appraisals which were lower than the market price arrived at through agreement in an arm’s length transaction between a home seller and home buyer.

For home buyers who find that the appraisal value is lower than the sales price, there are few options.  They may be able to walk away from the transaction without financial penalty if the transaction is funded through a FHA loan (Federal Housing Authority) and all parties to the transaction have signed an Ammendatory Clause Addendum or face a decision about making up the difference between the appraised value and the purchase price.  This essentially means that a home buyer will be bringing additional cash to close on a transaction.  A good real estate agent can be of valuable assistance in negotiating a reduction in the sales price to accommodate for a low appraisal.

There are a few things that a home buyer should keep in mind when faced with this situation.  Although this list is not exhaustive, it provides a basic framework of consideration if you find yourself in this position.

1.  Don’t panic!  Get the facts!

Ask to see the appraisal.  Afterall, you have paid for it.  Sit down with your lender and real estate professional to review the comparables used by the licensed appraiser.

2.  Submit additional data!

Sometimes there have been recent sales which have not been reported which the appraiser may be unaware of.  Appraisers are human and can make mistakes or miss things.  You can submit additional data or home comparisons to the appraiser for consideration.  A licensed appraiser is not required to change his/her report based on your submission, but it’s worth some additional effort if you feel you have some information which gives a more complete profile of the property.

3.  Know the Housing Values in the Area!

One of the biggest challenges in determining home values today is the large number of foreclosed and distressed/short sale properties on the market.  Your proximity to sale of one of these properties will impact the amount of money the bank is willing to loan you on a home although this number may not be entirely reflective of the true market price of the home.  When making an offer, it is important to factor in the distressed sale activity in a given area and make appropriate adjustments.

4.   Consult with Qualified Professionals!

Most real estate contracts will include a clause which advises that consumers obtain appropriate counsel from qualified professionals.  When dealing with Short Sales or Distressed properties, this can be especially valuable.   If you have questions about the terms and obligations on your contract, it is wise to seek counsel.

A successful real estate transaction today requires patience, extensive market knowledge, good negotiation skills and the ability to create solutions which make sense for all parties.  If you’re in the West Michigan area, the agents at Audu Real Estate are available to serve you and answer your real estate questions.  Please contact us @ info@auduhomes.com.

Reconciling Confusion…Making Sense of Conflicting Statistics in the Grand Rapids, Mi Real Estate Market!

It is not yet noon this Monday morning (12/14/2009).  Yet, I have already had several  conversations with clients who are disconcerted.  On the one hand, they have heard that the market is improving, but the news about their specific home in their specific Grand Rapids, Michigan neighborhood seems to paint a different picture.   This information seems at odds with recent headlines.

They are not alone.  Those of us in the Mid-West have been listening to the media reports that the economy has turned the corner and that jobs will come roaring back in the spring of 2010.  News that seems to obscure the reality that our unemployment rate in Michigan is still one of the highest in the nation.  The recent newspaper headlines about the surge in year to date home sales may inadvertently obscure some very pertinent details.  Facts which if they happen to relate to the situation in your particular neighborhood may dramatically alter your perception of the real estate marketplace.

It is said that perception creates reality.  But it is the  facts which ultimately ground reality.   But  facts  sometimes mask the underlying assumptions which serve as their bedrock foundation.

While it is true that there has been an increase in sales over the past year (sales year to date over 2008 are currently up above 35%),  it is ALSO true that these sales have largely comprised of distressed properties and therefore PRICES have been driven down almost 13% since the same period last year. And 2008  is on the record for being a year in which home equity plunged dramatically across the nation.

Going back to the conversations I alluded to earlier…in one case, a home that was sold for $90,000 just a mere 3 years ago has been re-sold and closed in June of this year for $38,000!  This is not an isolated situation.  I have witnessed many homes within the last year that are now retailing for 60% – 75% of what they would have retailed for 3-5 years ago.  That’s quite a loss!

So how does one reconcile these numbers? Are homes selling?  Yes!  Are there bidding wars on the best deals? Absolutely!  We’ve had the experience of being told to ‘take a number’ to await word on a multi bid situation.  Most of these homes selling today in bidding wars are retailing so far below normal market values, that buyers are waiting in line to get a good deal.

But even these situations should be approached with caution.  Under- market pricing does not guarantee a smooth path to home ownership.  Some of these homes have been abandoned and severely neglected or they may have hidden underlying issues.  It’s important to do careful and thorough research and to have a complete inspection.

If you’re considering flipping a property for a quick profit, it may be prudent to check with your mortgage  company to ensure a comprehensive understanding of potential limitations of your financing vehicle in the new lending environment.

Lastly, make sure you have a realistic appreciation for the current housing values in you area. A below market purchase not only impacts the homes around the neighborhood, but will also impact the re-sale value of the remodeled home you intend to place back on the market to some extent.  This factor should also be kept in mind when contemplating an area which has been dramatically impacted by the housing crisis.

We are available to provide comprehensive counsel and statistics on neighborhoods in the Grand Rapids area for home owners, home buyers and investors.  Please contact us for a confidential inquiry at:  info@auduhomes.com

6 Tips to Speed Up Your Grand Rapids, MI Short Sale…

Short Sales are a misnomer…

For one thing, they are rarely ever short!  Having processed short sales for over 3 years, I have found that there are a few steps which can make a lengthy process a little less cumbersome.

Here they are:

1.  Have your documents in order

Expect to have your financial records examined by your lender and investor.  This will be used to determine if you qualify for a short sale.  In addition to bank statements and pay-stubs, you may be required to provide details of other financial transactions and investments.

2.  List your home to sell…not to give away.

Remember, the bank is already taking a loss.  If you list your home in a way that suggests that you are simply trying to unload it BELOW market value, it’s likely that your offers will not find good reception and the lender might wait for more serious prospects to come forward…thereby lengthening your ordeal.

3.  Keep a Positive Attitude…Be Realistic

This is not going to be easy.  Making yourself and family members miserable throughout the process will not change that.  This is a difficult situation with a house…hopefully you can find other things to be thankful for such as good health, a job and your family & friends.

4.  Obtain the Assistance of Competent Professionals

This is not the time to have someone practise their ‘first short sale’ with you!  Short Sales are complex negotations and take a lot of coordination and persistence.  Align yourself with a real estate agent who has completed this type of transaction successfully over the course of time.  You may contact us @ info@auduhomes.com for a confidential inquiry about how we handle the short sale process.

5.  Keep your home in good condition…

A Short Sale is still a sale.  In this market, you will have a lot of competition.  Nothing can be negotiated until you receive an offer.  So, keep your house in a condition which will make it attractive to potential buyers.  Respond promptly to inquires about showing your home.

6.  Tell the Truth!

It is critically important that you be honest.  Extensive investigation will be done anyway…  If it is discovered that you are hiding assets or not being entirely truthful, your approval may not be forthcoming.

Paying attention to these six simple tips will go a long way towards making a difficult process a little easier.





Grand Rapids Parade of Homes 2009 Marks 50 in Green!

Downtown Grand Rapids Michigan...view across the Grand River

Downtown Grand Rapids Michigan...view across the Grand River

There are a number of metrics which one can use to get a handle on the current housing market in Grand Rapids, Michigan.  However, the one which captures my attention as we head into what is traditionally the busiest season in real estate is the Spring Parade of Homes. Here’s what I wrote about the tour last year...

 It’s a spring time ritual in Grand Rapids, Mi.  For residents like myself and many others who love to peek into gorgeous homes and pick up the latest tips for home decor and furnishings, the Spring Parade of Homes Tour is an event which is highly anticipated.

However, this year, the Parade of Homes will feature a tour with significantly fewer offerings than in recent years.  In 2006, there were 200 homes featured in the Parade of Homes, last year (2007) the number was 133.  This year, 83 homes will make their debuts in the Parade…far fewer entries than just 24 months ago. (click here to continue reading)

This year, the Parade of homes will feature less than 1/2 of the homes entered in the 2008 year.  The 2009 Parade debuts with 42 homes as it marks 50 years.  A search for the nucleus of this story traces back to the number of building permits issued in Kent County in 2009.  A number which has been declining for the past several consecutive months to just 25 for the entire county in March of 2009; down from 61 in the same month of the previous year 2008 according to data obtained from the Grand Rapids Association of Realtors®.  

For the first quarter of the year, permits are being issued at about 1/2 the rate of last year 2008…which was already a less than stellar year for new home construction.

But, West Michigan has always been a resilient community which prizes innovation and creativity.  This year, the Parade of Homes will feature six Green Homes, a Brand New offering.  Not only will the public be able to view quality built, affordable, environmentally sustainable home construction, there will be classes available for those who would like to learn more.

Last year, I visited a green built home in my neighborhood.  I thoroughly enjoyed talking with the builder and learned a lot about how smart investments can save a future homeowner money and increase the enjoyment and comfort of the residence.  If you’d like to tour a Parade home, look for the signs which mark each home or visit this site for additional tour information including scheduling for the Green Homes which are open on Thursdays.


Visit www.auduhomes.com to view NEW home construction in all price ranges!