Audu Real Estate Nominated for Grand Rapids Chamber of Commerce EPIC AWARDS 2016!

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.

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Grand Rapids Chamber of Commerce Epic Awards photo credit

Certified International Property Specialist – West Michigan welcomes the world home!

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.

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

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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.

Lola Audu awarded the Performance Management Designation (PMN)

For Immediate Release

Contact:           Women’s Council Education Dept.

800-245-8512

Performance Management Network Designation Awarded to Local REALTOR®

Lola Audu ~ 2011 President of the Grand Rapids Association of Realtors®(Chicago, IL—August 4, 2014) Lola Audu, a Audu Real Estate REALTOR®, has been awarded the Performance Management Network Designation by the Women’s Council of REALTORS. The Performance Management Network is a next-generation REALTOR® designation designed from the ground up to deliver the real-world skills, know-how and tools to keep an agent’s business out front and on top of an evolving real estate market.

PMN curriculum is driven by the following topics: negotiating strategies and tactics, networking and referrals, business planning and systems, personal performance management and cultural differences in buying and selling.

About WCR

Women’s Council of REALTORS® is a nationwide community of more than 10,000 real estate professionals who include many of the best and brightest in the business. Women’s Council is an affiliate of the National Association of REALTORS® and is headquartered in Chicago, IL. For more information on Women’s Council, please visit WCR.org.

Mission

We are a network of successful REALTORS®, advancing women as professionals and leaders in business, the industry and the communities we serve.

Grand Rapids, Michigan Rated a ‘Best Buy” Real Estate Investment for 2015

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The housing market has stabilized in Grand Rapids, Michigan.  Gone are the days when investor traffic flooded the market and houses were being plucked up at rock bottom prices.  Although exceptionally low inventory throughout much of the past 18 months has been a challenge, home buyers are once again entering the market in a serious way.  There is ample reason to indicate that a foray into the real estate market in Grand Rapids, Michigan today is a prudent financial move.

According to a recent article in Forbes Magazine, Grand Rapids Mi is now ranked as one of the nation’s Top 20 Housing Investments.  The list was based on key indicators such as: employments opportunities, annual job growth, population and the calculation of an area’s Equilibrium Home Price or Income Price.   This Equilibrium Home Price is used as a tool to measure what the average home price in any given area would be absent distortions such as the housing crash of recent years.  A good score on this index provides investors with confidence that their investments are likely to garner a good return.

Another measure of the strength of the real estate investment sector in Grand Rapids, Michigan is the affordability index. According to statistics cited in the Forbes article, Grand Rapids, Michigan is currently under-priced by 23% when compared to similar areas across the country.  One of the advantages the West Michigan area has had is the fact that the market was never seriously overheated.  For the most part, appreciation rates were stable even during the wild upward swings that overtook many cities prior to the housing crash.  Although Grand Rapids was affected significantly by the crisis, housing has regained its losses and home owners are seeing steady gains in their home equity.

Additional factors which bode well for Grand Rapids, Michigan in terms of real estate investment include a strong rental market. Vacancy rates in the Grand Rapids area are very low. The growth of area colleges (in particular Grand Valley) and the influx of population moving into the area for jobs has created the perfect storm as it collided with people who had lost their homes during the housing crisis competing for dwellings as well.  Buyers in the Grand Rapids, Michigan area are finding that with low interest rates, it is often much cheaper to buy a house than it is to rent one.

Related Content:  11 Reasons Why People Who Don’t Live in Grand Rapids, MI Should Wish They Did!

Metro Grand Rapids, Michigan Quick Stats:

MSA: Grand Rapids-Wyoming, MI

Pop.: 1,016,603

Avg. Home Price: $149,123

Pop Growth (’10-’13): 2.8%

Jobs Growth (annual): 3.7%

Unemployment: 4.7%

Annual price growth: 8%

Over (+) or under (-) priced by: -23%

Home Price/Rent Ratio: 14

Click on the picture below for the slide show featuring all the “Top Best Buy’ cities to invest in real estate within the United States.  Contact Audu Real Estate by calling 616-791-0511 or e-mail:  info@audurealestate.com for more information.

Grand Rapids MI Where to Invest Capture

 

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.

Yikes…We’re Running Out of Homes to Sell! Real Estate Inventory Levels Reach Record Lows in West Michigan.

A few short years ago, very few real estate agents could envision a time in which the over-riding trend would be a LACK of housing inventory in the the Greater Grand Rapids, MI area.  In January of 2009, distress sales peaked at over 60% of the volume of sales in the area and inventory was very high.  In fact, some buyers were simply tossing out low ball offers to see which one would stick on a home which the seller was desperate to sell.

That was then.  This is now.  Today, recently released sales statistics from the Grand Rapids Association of REALTORS indicate that inventory levels based on Pending Home Sales is down to 3.7 months supply.  Less than 4 months of housing inventory available for sale.  We are definitely in a Seller’s Market.  This is how the landscape looks to local real estate agents.

Rental Market:

If you’re trying to rent a home in West Michigan right now, you may have found out that its challenging.  In fact, just to get a list of home to RENT, you may be asked to pay a FEE of up to $20 to see what’s available.  A situation which few of us could have imagined in the recent past.  The local MLS set up a RENTAL MLS last year which provides listings for sale through local REALTORS.  Listings for Rent tend to cycle through very quickly, however the good news is that if you’re working with a REALTOR, you are not likely to be charged simply to get a list of what’s available for rent.  Feel free to contact us at 616-791-0511 if you need assistance in this area.

Average number of homes available for rent during the month of April on local MLS:  Range between 5-14 homes and condos.

Resale Market:

It’s no surprise given the low inventory levels that housing prices continue to rise.  Over the past 6 months, there has been an increase of 7.1% in home prices from $115,640 in 2011 to an average sales price of $123,849.  The price range with the most activity right now is the middle of the market defined as $100,000 – $160,000.  This is a marked change from the past few years when we saw a huge volume of sales activity in the price brackets below $50,000.  This is an indication that the move up market is coming back.  If you’ve been thinking about putting your home on the market, now may be a good time.

Total Number of Homes for Sale as of date of publication: 6,023

Inventory Level Based on Pending Sales Activity for April:  3.7 Months

Days of the Market

I can remember a time in the not so distant past where some agents were compiling listing agreements with a 2 year listing period.  That’s almost 10X longer than the marriage of one well know Kardashian.  In 2008 and 2009,  the average listing was taking almost a year to sell.  Today, the Average Days on the Market (DOM) is down to 78 days for Residential Properties and 50 days for Multi-family (1-4 unit) properties.  In the month of April alone, there has been an increase of over 20% in sales activity.

Wondering what this might mean for you?

If you’ve been toying with the idea of placing your home on the market, you may want to look at your options again.  To determine what your price point should be, contact us for a free market trends analysis for your area.  This article about setting the right price from the beginning of your home listing is also worth reading.

Photo Credit courtesy of cc license by erix on flickr.

Review raw data on April Housing Stats from the Grand Rapids Association of REALTORS