Real Estate Information Archive


Displaying blog entries 1-10 of 10

4 Don’ts When Selling a Home

by Mark Brace

1. Don’t slack off on home maintenance. Houses in need of TLC often attract investors or property flippers, which are known for submitting low-ball offers. To attract offers and the highest bids, sellers should attend to any upkeep and maintenance issues before putting the house for sale.

2. Make sure the home isn’t being overshadowed outside. Nothing kills curb appeal more than a home you’re selling that you can’t even see. Be sure to trim trees or bushes to ensure they aren’t blocking any windows or the exterior of the home.

3. Remove wallpaper. Wallpaper and borders can be a nuisance to remove so you might want to take these personal decor touches down before you list the home. Neutralize the homes in subtle colors that will appeal to the most buyers and allow buyers to better visualize their personal decor moving in.

4. Don’t keep an empty home empty. Buyers can struggle in picturing themselves moving in if a home is left empty. Vacant homes can feel cold and rooms can look smaller than they really are. That’s why O’Ryan reminds us why builders spend thousands of dollars staging model homes. If your listing is vacant, consider staging it to bring in furniture and accessories to help define the various rooms functions.

By Melissa Dittmann Tracey, REALTOR Magazine

Grand Rapids Voted # 2 Best City To Re-Locate To!

by Mark Brace

Grand Rapids, Mich., made RelocateAmerica’s Top 10 list for its solid schools and strong economy, especially when compared with the rest of the state. “It’s got the best of everything in a smaller large city,” said Steve Nickerson, president of RelocateAmerica.

Read the full article by clicking the link below:

Declutter Your Home and Get it Sold

by Mark Brace

In today’s competitive housing market, Grand Rapids area home sellers must use all means possible to position their properties to sell.  When buyers step inside your home, they hope to see a neat, clean house where they could imagine themselves living for the next few decades.

With all else being equal, home buyers prefer the look of an uncluttered home over one that is stuffed with “stuff.”  Why is this?  Uncluttered homes tend to look cleaner than ones where there are piles of books, boxes, and other items lying around.  A highly cluttered home also gives the perception of having less square footage than it really does.  And when potential buyers see open floor areas and unbroken wall space inside your home, they can more easily envision their furniture and other belongings fitting into that space.

But how can you move all that stuff out of sight without marching it down to the basement or jamming it all into your closets?  After all, prospective buyers will walk through those areas of the house also.

Consider renting temporary storage space.  Self-storage facilities offer a convenient way to relocate items that can clutter up a home.  These facilities, commonly called “mini-storage,” are fairly numerous in most towns and offer spaces with different storage volumes.  These units can be rented on a monthly basis and may be just the solution you are looking for.  All you need is a truck and some helpers to move the clutter out of the house ahead of that open house this weekend.

An even more convenient temporary storage solution for the home seller is a portable storage unit.  These enclosed containers are delivered to your home and securely protect your belongings from the outside elements.  They are especially handy when you are moving from one home to another.  The units can be loaded up at your old home and transported to your new house where they can be unloaded at your convenience.

Whether your house is located in Grandville, Ada, or any other Grand Rapids neighborhood, making your home stand out from all the others in this real estate market is an important component in getting it sold faster.  Decluttering your home by utilizing temporary storage may make the difference between going through yet another open house and finally hanging that SOLD sign in what will soon become your old front yard.

Brian Sinnott is with Zippy Shell of West Michigan, a trusted provider of temporary self-storage in Grand Rapids


by Mark Brace

There are homeowners that would like to have a larger/nicer home but are patiently waiting for the market to improve.  A frequently heard objection is that they can't sell their home for what it is currently worth.   

Buying up in a down market is actually advantageous because while you might get less for the home you're selling, you're also getting the larger home for less.  For instance, if you had to sell a $200,000 home for a 10% discount, you might feel that you left $20,000 on the table.  However, buying a $300,000 for the same 10% discount would put you $10,000 ahead on the sale and purchase.

The other obvious matter is that when the mortgage rates increase while you're waiting for the market to improve, it dramatically increases your cost of housing with higher payments.  The cost of housing is affected by price and mortgage rates.

To accurately evaluate your current options, you need facts and assessment tools that will provide you the information to make an informed decision. Contact me, Mark Brace, today to discuss your options. Whether buying or selling I am here to help make the process enjoyable and exciting! 

First 3 Paragraphs Taken from Pat Zaby's Blog

Presentation is Everything!!

by Mark Brace

When the Sellers Aren't Selling
Remind Them: "Presentation is Everything!"

At times the sellers themselves thwart the efforts of the Real Estate Agent. Nothing can be quite as frustrating as trying to pull all the weight when someone else is adding to the burden by being uncooperative!

If you have a seller who is not making sure their home is presentable to a potential buyer, remind them that, in a competitive market with more inventory than we've seen in some time, presentation is everything! By eliminating points the potential buyer may find fault with and bringing out the positive amenities, they are more likely to sell the home and get the price they are asking for. Here are just a few tips that will help them support your efforts as their representative in the transaction:

Let There Be Light. Buy some 100-watt bulbs to brighten the rooms, and open curtains or blinds to let light in. Unless a window faces a brick wall or some type of eyesore, open the drapes!

Garage, Not Garbage. Have a garage sale to clean out the clutter and make the garage more spacious. Your clients are moving and will need to start organizing anyway, so why wait until the last minute? Clean up oil spots in the garage or carport with a good cleanser to remove that "lived-in" appearance. The home may not be brand new, but it's new to the potential buyer.

Make Scents. Get a nice potpourri air freshener, or keep some refrigerated cookie dough on hand to throw in the oven when a prospect is coming over. Make the house smell like a home.

Paint-relief. Consider re-painting any areas that need to be touched up, especially the front door and entryway, and any appliances that are showing their age.

Power Plants. Trim down any jungles outside, especially if they cover the house. Get rid of any half-dead houseplants. Water the lawns briefly before any visit, and keep the lawns mowed and edged.

The Price is Right. Price may be a sensitive issue, but with increased inventories and declining home values in many neighborhoods, remind your clients that every shopper in a buyers' market is determined to get the best deal possible. Let them know that now is a good time to compare their house with others on the market in the same area, because the right price is the one thing that will sell their house faster than anything else.

The World is Your Stage. Professional staging can help to showcase the best side of a home, create more interest, and get your clients top dollar. With increased inventories, staging could provide the competitive edge you need.

These tips were derived from 33 Ways to Sell Your Home Fast!, an info-marketing booklet.

Grand Rapids Wine & Food Festival Nov 18-20

by Mark Brace

MIchigan's largest wine and food festival is Grand Rapids November 18-20, 2010. More than 1000 wines, beers and spirits to sample from, along with 12 of Grand Rapids finest restuarants. There will be wine seminars, restuarant foods, multi-course pairings, live music. Cost $15 admission, 50 cents per tasting ticket. 5pm-9pm, for more info go to .

Mortgage Rates Hit ALL Time Low

by Mark Brace

According to the Associated Press,  mortgage rates dropped to the lowest level in decades for the sixth time in seven weeks, offering the most attractive opportunity for those who qualify to refinance or purchase a home.

Government-controlled mortgage buyer Freddie Mac said Thursday that the average rate for 30-year fixed loans this week was 4.49 percent, down from 4.54 percent last week. That's the lowest since Freddie Mac began tracking rates in 1971.

If you're in a position to buy and have been hesitating, now is the time. Mortgage rates will eventually go up and with inflation they could sky rocket. I cannot stress enough that NOW is the time to buy.

Video of Todayshow ranking GR 5th in Nation

by Mark Brace

The Today Show on October 6, 2009 Ranks Grand Rapids Michigan as the 5th Best Real Estate Market to purchase in The United States.

Here is a link for you to view the broadcast:

Visit for Breaking News, World News, and News about the Economy

This is really great news for Grand Rapids.

Outside investors sink $150M in West Michigan properties

by Mark Brace

It's a record year in western Michigan for out-of-state investment, which likely surpassed $150 million, estimated Colin Kraay, investment adviser at Grubb & Ellis|Paramount Commerce in Grand Rapids.

In the last days of 2007, the firm negotiated the sale of 17 industrial buildings for $35 million to $40 million to California-based Core Realty Holdings - a return buyer in the region. Core in 2005 purchased several industrial buildings in Kent County and the lakeshore.

This purchase, of an undisclosed price, totaled 572,000 square feet and included 90 tenants, Kraay said. Principals of First Cos. Inc. in Grand Rapids, which managed all, built many, and owned some of the properties, organized the sale and will continue to manage the buildings.

"It was a sale we have thought about for quite some time," First Cos. President Jeff Baker said. "It's one of the biggest ones we've done."

"West Michigan doesn't often see a lot of these large portfolio sales," Kraay said, noting that the buyer sought multiple buildings in one transaction. "Core looks for stable properties with solid income potential and income growth. They saw those in these properties."

Kraay, along with brokers Chad Barton, John Kuiper and Duke Suwyn, represented buyer and seller. The firm handled a record $115 million in 2007 out-of-state investment into western Michigan, Kraay said, estimating the entire region brought in about $150 million.

"We'll probably see a little bit of a slowdown" in 2008, he predicted. "One hundred fifteen million dollars is a big number. 2007 was really an enormous year."

Investment broker Patrick Mohney of NAI West Michigan in Grand Rapids expects even larger figures in 2008, however.

"I wouldn't be surprised if in the next year, it wasn't three times that," Mohney said. "Investment's at least half the (real estate) activity going on in the area. Sometimes I'm even getting calls from people with no connection here whatsoever."

Daily calls from investors, most often in San Francisco and Chicago, continue unabated, he said. A continued weak dollar might even prompt foreign investment, he added.

"About 70 percent of our buyers for Michigan real estate come from out of state, lured by the relatively high cap rates and relatively low prices," noted Michael Cagen, associate broker at Marcus & Millichap's Grand Rapids office.
Properties included in

When Selling Your Home, Using Scents Makes Sense!

by Mark Brace

Even though now doesn't seem to be the ideal time to sell your home, you can take heart in knowing that small actions may make a difference in getting your home sold.

"Scentmosphere" isn't exactly new but it is rapidly becoming a way to attempt to attract buyers.

"When [buyers] walk into a house before they actually see anything in that house, because they breathe, they are smelling. So they are actually getting an impression, whether it's conscious or subconscious, of your home -- just by the way it smells," says Rick Ruffolo, senior vice president of brand, marketing, and innovation for Yankee Candle Company.

So, right now take a deep breath. What kind of "smellment" is your home making?

Choosing to proactively make a statement in the way your home smells is just another step in helping to sell your home faster. It's the next step after curb appeal. Ruffolo says curb appeal gets buyers in the door but then they see and smell your home and begin to decide if this is the home for them.

"If it's a vacant home it can be musty. But if it's an active home it also could have [odors of] whatever activities that are going on in that house," says Ruffolo.

Are buyers going to smell the over-sized dog that traipses around the house after rolling in the newly-cut grass? Are they going to smell your son's gym bag filled with dirty socks that has been buried deep in his closet for the last five weeks? While we certainly don't all have the same preferences for scents, most would agree neither of those two things pose a welcoming aroma.

"It's not rocket science, but it is candle science," says Ruffolo.

He suggests candle fragrances such as the smell of freshly-baked cookies. "Not everybody likes to eat cookies but everybody enjoys the smell of cookies, and when I say everybody, there may be the exception here or there, but the vast majority would enjoy the baking smell. So we're always fond of fragrances that are in the vanilla family," says Ruffolo.

Fragrances such as French vanilla, butter cream, and créme brûleé that mimic baking scents are welcoming and inviting for buyers. Scents register in our brain and frequently remind us of our past experiences. Creating pleasant aromas in your newly-listed house can help the buyer to experience an emotional connection with the home.

Ruffolo says when it comes to bathrooms, great rooms, or even basements it's a good idea to try different fragrances.

"You may want to think of what we refer to as clean or fresh fragrances and those could be based in various fruits, so the citrus family is a really good one," says Ruffolo.

He says, however, there are some fragrances that you should avoid as they don't tend to appeal to the masses or they have too strong an odor.

Ruffolo instead encourages sellers to use fragrances that will instantly be winners such as vanilla, kitchen spice fragrances, citrus, and the smell of freshly cleaned laundry.

"Scent impacts the atmosphere," says Ruffolo. He says that candles are the best way to get the fragrant aroma in the air, but if you don't have time to let them burn before showing your home there are other methods that work to get the right "scentmosphere."

The company has electrical plug-in products that have oil them so they provide continuous fragrance. "If you're away from the house for a period of time, you don't have to worry about the candle being lit," says Ruffolo.

Reed diffusers are both decorative and powerful for giving off fragrance. The diffusers contain oil and the reeds help to draw the oil up and out into the room. "They don't fill a large room but they fill a nice small space very well," says Ruffolo.

But if you give every room a fragrance, is there a point of over-saturation? Ruffolo says that's not likely to happen.

"It's not like the person who put on too much perfume. A home is a very large place and it absorbs a lot of the fragrance so it would be pretty hard to overpower a house with too much fragrance," explains Ruffolo.

Ruffolo says with all the tips out there about selling a home, the scent factor is often the most forgotten.

"If you don't have a scent that you want in there, buyers are going to smell whatever is going on in that room. So if it's been closed up or doesn't have a lot of air flow [there will] be more of a musty, damp, or a less desirable scent," explains Ruffolo.

It just makes sense that if you want to create an appealing environment for buyers, pleasing scents should be part of the selling plan.


Displaying blog entries 1-10 of 10

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.