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Are Home Buyers Getting Too Picky?

by Mark Brace

Many buyers are demanding perfection in home’s today.

A small stain on the carpet? Forget it. Distracting paint colors? They can’t look past it. No granite countertops? Onto the next house!

As home values drop, offering buyers some of the best bargains in years, more home buyers have realized they can get more choosy when home-shopping. And with inventories high in many areas, sellers realize their home needs to exude perfection if its going to stand out.

During the housing boom a few years ago, buyers were more willing to overlook flaws, or accept them, that is. They may have negotiated with the seller over repairs or upgrades, but some buyers were willing to even take the home “as-is” to win a bidding war or to get the home in the area they wanted.

Times have changed.

Even first-time buyers, who once were lured to the “starter home” (a.k.a. a fixer-upper), are getting choosier. A Coldwell Banker survey earlier this year found that 87 percent of first-time buyers say they want a “move-in” ready home over a fixer-upper–and they want it to be affordable too!

Buyers are “missing out on some excellent, older lived-in houses,” Holly Kirby Weatherwax, a real estate professional in Reston, Va., told the Toledo Blade. “It’s a shame, simply because they can’t overlook” flaws that wouldn’t have bothered most buyers in the previous two decades. Those flaws could be anything from minor imperfections like kitchen appliances by different manufacturers to the home’s color not matching the buyer’s furniture, Kirby notes.

“Anything that can be a distraction, you want to eliminate,” a Tennessee home seller noted in a recent news article. “A light bulb isn’t a big issue, but it can affect [buyers’] subconscious.”

So how did buyers get so picky anyway? Is it just the power of a buyer’s market? Some also blame the rising popularity of home design shows on TV for making buyers more selective when viewing homes. But in recent months, more home design TV programming is showing a slight shift to fixer-upper housing make-overs, showing how a home’s flaws can be overcome to still become a dream home. Will such TV shows eventually make more buyers give less-than-perfect homes a second chance?

Until then, before the for-sale sign goes up, more sellers are heeding the advice of their real estate agent to clean, paint, upgrade and stage to avoid lowball offers. Plus, with the huge glut of low-priced foreclosures, such finishing touches may help home owners rise above the competition.

By Melissa Dittmann Tracey, REALTOR® Magazine

Find Out Crime Statistics in Neighborhoods Before you Move

by Mark Brace

CrimeMapping.com is a website designed to help you find out the recent crime activity that has been happening in your neighborhood or a neighborhood you're looking to move to. The website has been developed by a goup that works with law enforcement agencies thoughout the US to provide the public with accurate statisitics of crime in all neighborhoods. The goal of the website is to lower crime rates by assisiting local police departments through a better informed society. This website is a great tool to use if you're looking to move or are planning on putting your home on the market.

Grand Rapids' newest hotel, the luxury brand JW Marriott, opened September 21 with some 250 new employees. That number could rise to 300 over the next couple of years. So far, the hotel has hired 198 people, and is hiring more as we speak.

 

The hotel received over 4,000 applications from all over the world, and has conducted 2,500 interviews thus far -- 1,200 of those were in just one week.

 

So far, about 10 percent of the new hires are former Grand Rapids residents who are taking on new jobs so they can return home.

 

"There's so much written about the exodus of college students from the state," says George Aquino, general manager. "To me the most rewarding part of the whole job piece is realizing that people from West Michigan eventually come back. Our executive chef moved back from Orlando and he's been gone for about 20 years. Our director of finance moved back from Denver, another person from Scottsdale, and several from San Diego and Newport Beach."

 

There's also a trend of people who want to move here from Lansing, Kalamazoo, and Detroit, Aquino says. The reason they've given is that the economy is better here.

 

To-date the hotel has filled all of its management positions, and is looking to fill openings in accounting, human resources, hotel operations, food and beverage restaurant management, housekeeping, and banquet and event staff. Wages start at $8.50 an hour for administrative personnel and $10 an hour for banquet servers.

Grand Rapids area home prices keep falling

by Mark Brace

It's the mantra of the real estate industry, posted on yard signs everywhere: It's a great time to buy.

If you are in a financial position to do so, statistics continue to show the mantra is true.

The average home price in the Grand Rapids area last month was $147,148, a drop of 6.5 percent from September 2006. The average price year to date -- $152,742 -- represents a 4.4 percent drop from this time last year.

Part of that reduction is attributed to the laws of supply and demand.

While there are 8.5 percent more listings than this time last year, residential sales last month were down 6.7 percent from September 2006.

Jamie Starner, president of the Grand Rapids Association of Realtors, said he would like to see more sales, but a drop in the number of listings joining the market was promising.

Nearly 11,700 residential properties were on the market last month. Based on overall sales figures, that equates to more than a year's supply of homes for sale.

But the number of listings entering the market in September was more than 10 percent lower than last September.

"We've got to burn off some of that inventory that we have," Starner said. "We've got to get back to a balanced market."

Pat Vredevoogd, a real estate agent and president of the National Association of Realtors, believes the market is turning.

"I see this in a number of marketplaces, where that number of new listings is stagnating a little bit now, and the number of homes being put on the market is quieting down," she said. "We're also seeing quite a few more people out in the marketplace."

The market is taking its toll on real estate agents.

Membership in the association is down 9 percent from a year ago. And agents say they are working harder for the same or less money.

The decrease in the sale price means a decrease in my paycheck, because it's all based on commission," said Ethan , an agent with A local Realty Company. "I sold about six more units last year than I did in '05 and made the same amount of money."

But as a real estate investor, Ethan also is reaping the benefits of the lower prices. He bought four homes this year to add to his stock of rental houses. They included a property next door to one he already owned.

"I paid less for a neighboring house than my wife and I paid five years ago for the house next door," he said.

The average sale price also is affected by the prices of homes being sold. Sixty percent of homes sold last month were priced for less than $140,000. Last September, it was 54 percent.

Twenty-two percent of homes sold were priced between $140,000 and $200,000, and 18 percent were more than that, including three priced at more than $1 million.

By Cami Reister
The Grand Rapids Press

Displaying blog entries 1-4 of 4

Contact Information

Mark Brace, Realtor, ABR, GRI, CRS, SRES, e-PRO, A
Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices Michigan Real Estate
3000 East Beltline NE
Grand Rapids MI 49525
Direct: (616) 447-7025
Cell: (616) 540-7705
Fax: (616) 447-7025

Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices - Michigan Real Estate is a full service, locally operated real estate brokerage company backed by the strength of a solid national and global brand. Our full service businesses include Residential, Commercial, Relocation, Mortgage, Insurance, Home Services and New Homes & Land. Our core values, service philosophy, cutting edge technology, and most importantly our people are what make us the leading real estate company in Michigan. We are committed to providing the highest quality real estate services possible and making each customer's experience one that surpasses their expectations.