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


Caution! Oversharing on Social Media Sites during the Sale or Closing of your Home Can be Dangerous.


Social media has become a common way to advertise and market homes for sale.  And when the sale is about to close or finally clears the rites of passage necessary to clear escrow, new home owners and former ones do the ‘Happy Dance’ and often social media is the instinctive first stop in the celebration.

It’s so easy, with one click, to let the world know the address, price and the individuals involved in the home sale.  And while all these pieces of information eventually become a part of the public record, the issue at hand is WHEN this happens.  By the time the Registrar of Deeds records the information pertinent to a sale for county records, it is often weeks after the home has sold and closed.  The new homeowners have moved in and usually changed the locks.

The fact that information about home sales on social media is usually shared DURING the transaction process presents some unique challenges and to some extent risks for parties involved in the transaction.  Over the past year, there has been more than one instance in West Michigan in which funds secured for a closing were requested to be transferred fraudulently.

The scam involved an ‘official looking’ e-mail with data pertaining to the date of the closing, the names of the parties involved in the transaction and the sale price of the home.  The instructions requested a change in the wire transfer to a new account as a follow-up to a previous transmission.  In at least one instance, funds were inadvertently transferred to the wrong party.

How can social media be dangerous?  Well, when we share a status update on Facebook or other forms of social media, it is difficult to determine with absolute certainty the individuals who are reading a post and their intended purpose in potentially using the information for nefarious purposes.  Giving a crook your name, address, when you will be moving/closing and the price for which you sold your home is like giving them a key to your front door!

There have been numerous instances in West Michigan where Craigslist posts have scammed individuals hoping to rent a home by posting false advertisements for rentals which utilized listing data.  Unsuspecting home owners were sometimes surprised to find potential house renters peering into their windows or walking the property which they though was listed for rent – even with a real estate sign outside.

Every REALTOR knows that when we hold an Open House, we must take precautions to secure the property and ensure that we do our utmost to protect the owners most valuable asset, their home.  This is even more important when dealing with online media where in essence the home is left ‘OPEN’ online for much longer periods of time.  While, there is no 100 % guarantee against exposure to risk, there are some things which we can do to protect homes and secure funds during the process of the home sale transaction.  These are:

  •  Limit the sharing!  While sharing with friends and family is understandable, it may be prudent to wait until the home has closed and you have moved to share the details of the transaction with the world.  And…does everyone really need to know that the home secured a full price offer and what that exact amount was?
  • Know where your data is going!  There are many portals online for disseminating real estate information.  They are not all equal.  Some portals are not diligent about updating information accurately or in a timely way.  Keeping tabs on data sharing is a conversation which should occur at the beginning and during the transaction process.
  • Listen to your gut!  If something does not feel right, investigate further.  A recent incident was thwarted when a suspicious e-mail caused an alert escrow officer and agent to do some further research.  Report suspicious activity to the appropriate authorities.
  • Consider encryption!  When sending sensitive financial data, lending institutions encrypt the communication to ensure security.  Today, we must become more aware and sensitive to these types of concerns especially as more data is transmitted through online portals including cloud computing.

While this list is not exhaustive, it provides a few tips which can help you prevent your happy moment from becoming an invitation for thieves.

FAQ Series: Why do I see a home on Zillow and call to be told it is Sold?

Question:  Who do I see a home advertised on Zillow or… ( insert any online real estate portal apart from the local MLS) and call to find it is Sold?

Answer:  Real estate listings usually originate from a contract between the owner (Seller) and the real estate broker (represented by an agent/salesperson).  When a home is listed on a local multiple listing service (MLS), the broker is obligated to share the information with other brokers who are also members of the Multiple Listing Service.  There is often a time limit with a potential penalty if this is not done.  As a result, this is the broker’s first priority.

Many brokers also share their listings on a number of online portals.  Some which you may be familiar with are Zillow, Trulia, Hotpads etc. Depending on how the initial feed is shared, there may be a delay in sharing and uploading the data to third party sources.  More frequently, there can be gaps in updating the data when the listing is SOLD especially when the initial upload was done manually.  As a result, the feed from online portals is often not totally accurate.  This is one reason why your inquiry about a listing may indicate that the listing is no longer available.

If you want the most accurate source of data for real estate listings, it is advisable to check with the a broker who is a member of the local multiple listing service.  The Association which runs the local multiple listing service has checks and balances in place to make sure that agents share their information in a timely and accurate manner.  When errors do occur, they are far more likely to be corrected on the multiple listing service first.  Also, for first dibs on the latest listings…you can sign up for our VIP Listing Referral Service which will notify you in real-time when new listings which match the criteria you have requested are available.  There is no fee for this service.  You simply have to ask.  (616-791-0511)

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.

More FAQ’s (Frequently Asked Questions) here

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

How to Save Money When Selling Your West Michigan Home…

Coins in a Glass JarCold air…if you’re in West Michigan right now, it’s definitely on your mind.  You’re either enjoying it on a snowmobile or skis or trying to defend and protect against it by bundling up in winter clothing and making sure there are no insulation gaps allowing any drafts to enter your home.  When it comes to your home, we all know that cold air can be a thief…sending those utility heating and gas bills sky high when allowed to enter unhindered.

So, why is it that the same homeowners who will insulate and bundle up to protect against the elements invading the home seem ambivalent and sometimes down right ignorant about the prospect of allowing a litany of intruders steal their profits when it comes time to sell their West Michigan home?

Like cold air, these thieves will pick your pockets and the worst part of the problem is most people don’t seem to realize what’s happening – often losing thousands of dollars superstitiously.  Let’s take a look at some of the worst offenders.

1.  Putting your home on the market too early.

Real estate agents who show homes often run into home owners who are simply not ready to show their homes.  Yes, they have listed their homes and had the home advertised for sale on every conceivable medium, but when the call comes in from a ready, hot prospect…the home owner is simply not ready!  Unbelievable but true!

Agents have gotten accustomed to informing eager buyers that unfortunately, the home they wanted to look at and possibly buy is not available today.  And…then prepare to show another home.  It is impossible to calculate how much these missed opportunities have cost home owners who are simply not ready to market their homes.  As an agent, I would estimate that approximately 5-7% of homes we have sold were sold with just ONE showing.  What if our clients had not been ready?

2.  Leaving those small repair jobs for the next home owner…

It’s easy to fail to notice little things.  Especially when you’ve grown accustomed to these minor irritations and learned to ignore them.  You know, the little leak in the faucet, the scratches and dents, the worn out paint job, the grease stain on the carpet, the grimy cabinet doors, the little stain over the area which you patched when the roof leaked…

But, the issue with stuff like this is it almost NEVER looks ‘little’ to the potential buyer who is contemplating spending several thousands of dollars to purchase your home.  All these ‘little’ things begin to add up to BIG dollars.  After all, they’re not sure what else might turn up underneath the initial ‘little’ repair.  When buyers make offers, they will often deduct several multiples of the amount required to make the repair in the initial offer or ask for larger dollar amounts to repair it themselves.  In this way, homeowners unwittingly give away thousands of dollars for repairs which may have taken just a few dollars and some elbow grease.

Don’t allow ‘little’ repairs to shave off hundred or thousands of dollars from a potential offer.  Make your repairs before you place your home on the market and make sure your home is ready and poised to fetch the top dollar.

3.  Not understanding the Over-Pricing Penalty…

Yes, there is such a thing.  Several years ago, I saw some statistics about the cost of over-pricing a home in our West Michigan area. In data obtained from the Grand Rapids Association of REALTORS which tracked the impact of homes which were priced above the market and what they sold for compared to competitively priced homes, it was clear that not only did over-priced homes take longer to sell, on the average they sold for 15-20% less than they would have sold for had they been priced correctly to start with.  In fact, these homes on the average eventually sold for LESS than similar homes which were priced correctly for the market.

So, in this way, home owners lost hundred and sometimes thousands of dollars, not to talk about the waste of time and effort.  There is a penalty for over-pricing your home.  Avoid paying it.  If you suspect that you have made this mistake, make haste to remedy the situation.  Take an honest appraisal of your home.  If this proves to be difficult, ask a friend or colleague to give you their honest opinion.  Or perhaps, re-visit the recommendation of your real estate agent and then adjust your price downward immediately by at least 7% and hope that you are able to stop the slide.  This is one situation in which even a late adjustment can stop money from drifting out your door unhindered.

If you’d like to know about more ways to save money when selling your West Michigan home, please contact us.  (616-791-0511)  We can also advise on the current market value of your home.

Curve Ball #3 – When Buying a Home becomes a Competition!

Buying a HomeWhile competition is a fact of life, you may not have been expecting to find yourself in one…or two or three bids competing to purchase the home of your dreams.

But, that’s precisely the situation that some West Michigan home buyers currently face as they strive to complete a successful bidding process in  a market which has significantly reduced inventory levels.

What’s going on you ask?  Wasn’t it just a few short years ago that housing inventory levels were 13 and 14 months supply?  Yes, that’s true.  That was then…this is now.

Today, inventory levels are  down below an average of 4.5 months for the past several months.  This restriction in available homes for sale has created some interesting bidding wars for unsuspecting buyers.  Read more about the current ‘SHIFT” in the market

What can you do if you find yourself competing for your next home purchase?  Here are some tips:

1.  Do your research.  

Have your REALTOR prepare a housing market comparison report for your area and neighborhood PRIOR to tendering an offer.

2.  Make sure your financing is set.

If you are paying CASH, have the ability to prove you have the money.  If you will be taking out a mortgage, get a full pre-approval with a lender from the Lender stating that you are able to qualify for the mortgage required on the home you are bidding on.

3.  Be prepared to move fast.

You may not be aware of how much interest a property is getting when you go through it.  If you are really interested in a home, have your REALTOR put you on alert to notify you of any changes in the terms, price or condition of sale.

4.  Know what your limits are.

Don’t allow the frenzy of the situation pull you off your market.  Set your personal limits while you have a cool head and can make an intelligent decision about what works for you.  Then stick with it.  I have always told my clients that if a home is for you…it will be yours.  And if it isn’t, there’s something better around the corner.

Over the years, I’ve had a lot of hugs for happy clients…many who missed out on their first deal and found a better one just around the corner!

Please contact us when you’re ready to move forward in the home search.

More reading on real estate curve ball tips:

*When you’re told you paid more than your home is worth.

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

6471 Avalon Dr. SE, Caledonia MI…Avalon Pointe Estates ~ Better than New!

  To view more Audu Real Estate Home listings, click here…

6471 Avalon Dr. SE  Caledonia MI 49316

Click on the picture to View Virtual Tour of:

 6471 Avalon Dr. SE, Caledonia MI 49316

 The home is located in Avalon Pointe Estates, a brand new subdivision which offers convenient access to the expressway, schools, hospitals and shopping centers.

Brand new landscaping provides eye catching curb appeal. Spacious with (over 2500 sq ft) and potential for 3500 + additional living area in the basement, the open floor plan opens up to an unusually spacious living and dining room great room style combo. An adjacent office or parlor area offers more flexibility in this well thought out floor plan.  The living room has a gas fireplace and the wall mount for a plasma TV is included.

Enjoy a kitchen with cherry stained cabinets and stainless steel appliances included in the purchase price. Upstairs, the bedrooms are large and the master bedroom has enough room for a lounge space plus it features it’s own walk-in closet with organizer and full bath.

Avalon Pointe homeowners also enjoy the enhancement of access to an association pool and club house amenities. The association fee is $280 per year.

This home is an excellent value!  To arrange a preview for 6471 Avalon Dr. SE, Caledonia MI 49316, please contact Audu Real Estate @ info@auduhomes. or call 616-791-0511.

To view more home listings visit Audu Real Estate

1805 Clearbrook SE, Grand Rapids, MI 49508 ~ Classy Contemporary Decor

Click picture to watch 1805 Clearbrook SE, Grand Rapids, MI  49508

Click picture to watch 1805 Clearbrook SE, Grand Rapids, MI 49508

This is a home of distinction. which has been impeccably maintained and tastefully furnished.  This ranch style home has style and class.  All the rooms are spacious.  The dining area connects to a well designed kitchen with upgraded counter-tops and the upstairs living room area enjoys the addition of a fireplace. 

Other features to note include a roof which is less than a year old, a large heated in-ground pool which opens up to a tiled Florida style three season room. 

The downstairs area is outfitted with an office, a laundry room and a spacious recreational room which also includes the second fireplace. 

This is simply a beautiful home and an irresistible value in a great SE neighborhood.  Don’t miss out!  Contact Takara Taylor ~ Client Specialist with Audu Real Estate for additional details or for a pre-view tour: 616-514-7214.

5 Things You Need to Check Out Before You Lease, with an Option to Purchase, Your Next Home!

Grand Rapids, MI

Over the past 18 months, we’ve seen a marked increase in the number of clients who are seeking Leases with an Option to purchase the property they are renting after a specified period of time.  On the surface this appear to have the potential to be a WIN WIN for all parties to a transaction. 

Homeowners who are unable to sell their homes have often welcomed the opportunity to have some income from a property while waiting for the market to rebound.  For some potential home buyers, this arrangement afforded the opportunity to improve their credit scores and in some cases have a portion of their rent accrue towards a down payment when the option was eventually excercised.

However, there are some potential risks that home buyers should be aware of when considering if this type of sitatution is appropriate for any home they intend to eventually purchase.  A few of these issues were covered by Keith Jarrett, a title representative with LandAmerica/Lawyers Title when he visited our office during a recent Monday morning agent meeting.

Here are some things that buyers should consider when considering a Lease to Purchase Option.

1.  Make Sure You Check the Titlework

While it is true that you are not purchasing the home just yet, a title search can bring to your attention some issues which may affect your ability to purchase the home in the future.  Here are some of them:

  • Multiple Mortgages against the property which may inflate the amount needed to purchase the property


  • Mechanics Liens for work that has been done by contractors but not paid for.  This is particularly important if you are purchasing brand new construction, but may also apply to older homes too.


  • Tax Liens:  If taxes are owed on the property, they have to be paid by someone.  If the owner is in default, you may have to pay these liens.  Don’t be caught off guard…check!


  • IRS Liens:  Once again, this type of lien can be assessed against a person’s residence.  Checking the title work will usually reveal if a lien has been filed by the IRS.

2.  Read the Legal News

If you’re paying rent on a home you intend to purchase, it is a shock to be informed that the property is in foreclosure because the owner has not paid the mortgage company.  I have had buyers call my office in near panic when they found a foreclosure notice posted on their door.  If the home that you are renting is foreclosed upon, you may need to contact an attorney to explore your options.

3.  Ask to Examine the Underlying Mortgage

For some buyers, the ability to have a land contract rather than a simple lease with option to purchase is preferable.  Be careful.  Most mortgages today do NOT allow for land contracts.  If a land contract is put in place, it can trigger what is know as the ‘due on sale’ clause. 

In this case, the lender may call in the entire mortgage within a short period of time, such as within 30 days.  Don’t place yourself in a situation which could leave you out on the street because you inadvertently participated in an illegal transaction.

4.  Inquire about the Value of the Equity

A new ruling just handed down over the past week requires home owners who are renting their homes so they can purchase another one, to have 25-30% equity stake in their current home or be able to qualify for the New Mortgage with both mortgage payments.  If you’re buying a home in which the seller’s intention is to move, make sure that they can afford to.  If they can’t guess who won’t have a roof over their heads? 

If you are considering a Lease with an Option to Purchase, please feel free to contact Audu Real Estate if you live in the West Michigan area.  Our agents will be happy to review your situation and give you the benefit of our professional counsel. 

Copyright 2008  Audu Real Estate  All Rights Reserved

Image of row houses by Lola Audu

Related Links:

What Happens When the Landlord Changes the Locks? Renting Vs Owning Virtual Real Estate.

What! My Taxes Increased While My Home Value Went Down?

“Lola, I tell you…the guy looked like Mr. Santa Claus!”

Why Chasing Down the Market May Be A Bitter Pill to Swallow…