Real Estate Information Archive


Displaying blog entries 1-6 of 6

2015-2016 Housing Economic Forecast

by Mark Brace

Realtor Magazine just published the economic forecast for the 2015-2016 housing market and the numbers continue to trend upward. As the market continues to improve however, interest rates also are forecasted to rise. The forecast is predicting 2015 interest rates to average in around 4.9% and will continue to rise to 6% in 2016. If you're thinking of making a move, this is further proof that 2015 will be a great year to do so. While 6% is still a low interest rate historically speaking, you will have higher purchasing power in 2015 and that will continue to decrease as interest rates increase! Keep in mind that for every percentage point that interest rates rise your affordability drops by roughly $20,000! The forecast is outlined below:

Paws, Claws & Corks Event 2014

by Mark Brace

Don't forget to buy your tickets for a great charity event on March 24, 2014! Mark Brace & his wife, Kara Brace will be working this wonderful event!


Taking place in the Steelcase Ballroom at DeVos Place, this 2nd annual event is benefiting our local Kent County Humane Society.


Check out the details below courtesy of


Humane Society of West Michigan is excited to present the 2nd annual fund raising party, Paws, Claws & Corks!

This extravagant event will feature the hottest restaurants, breweries, and wineries in West Michigan.  Guests will enjoy fabulous cuisine, wonderful wine and beer samples, as well as opportunities to bid on exciting packages including adventures, trips, wine, sports memorabilia and much more!  Most importantly, money raised will benefit the Humane Society of West Michigan in our mission to promote the humane treatment and responsible care of animals in our community through education, example, responsible placement and protection.

This year’s event will feature the following restaurants:
The Catering Company
Cygnus 27
B.O.B.’s Brewery
San Chez Bistro
FOODesign by Chef Brech
One Trick Pony Grill & Taproom
Reds on the River
FireRock Grille
Reserve Wine & Food

Paws, Claws & Corks
Monday, March 24 at 6:00 p.m. in the Steelcase Ballroom at DeVos Place

$100 per person ($50 of each ticket is tax deductible)
Corporate tables are $1,000 each and include reserved seating for 10, corporate signage, quarter page ad in program book, and complimentary wine at each table.

Reserve your place at this once a year evening by contacting:  Tammy Hagedorn at [email protected] or 616-791-8138.  You won’t want to miss it!

Dress code for the event: Cocktail Chic or Business Attire

Spring (Roof) Cleaning

by Mark Brace

Now that the snow is finally starting to disappear around us, Michiganders are starting to put away the snow shovels and bring out the rakes, brooms and fertilizer to get started on spring yard maintenance. One area that can be greatly overlooked when it comes to spring cleaning time is the roof. If you're considering putting your home on the market, currently looking for a new home, or just want to improve your home's appearance, there are a few options you have for getting rid of that blue-green-grey gunk that's chilling between your shingles.

Quick science lesson: the build-up is known as Gloeeocapsa Magma. It's a single-celled typed of cyanobacteria which uses photosynthesis, or in case you can't remember all the way back to seventh grade science class, it can produce it's own energy. Give these little guys water, sunlight, carbon dioxide, a good surface to call home and a bit of additional food and they are all set.

Before starting any cleaning effort on your roof, it's recommended that you call either the roofing company that carries the guarantee on your roof or the manufacturer of your shingles. They may offer a cleaning service, recommend someone or suggest a way to do it so you'll be certain not to void any warranties. If you're not a Do-It-Yourself-er, try calling several contractors before settling on one to make sure you're getting the best deal possible.

For a cheaper, but more time consuming route, there is the DIY option. The Asphalt Roofing Manufacturers Association recommends using a combination of chlorine bleach, water and TSP- trisodium phosphate.

The best method that will give you the results you want is with a chlorine bleach. It will clean the bacteria on contact and penetrate deeply into the shingles where additional algae may be hiding. The downside of this is how harmful it can be to plants that you do want around your home-shrubbery and grass around the home should be properly covered so they don't suffer the same end as the roof growth.

Another option that is not as caustic and gentle on shubbery is that of an oxygen bleach. Because they are gentler, they won't kill off as much of the Gloeocapsa Magma. While it will get rid of most, if not all of the surface staining, you will likely have to get back up and clean your roof again next year.

Hopefully this information was not only informative but helpful too!

Thanks to Lynn Kincaid of Saver Systems in Richmond, Indiana for the great information.

First Time Home Buyer’s Credit: A Breakdown of the Details

by Mark Brace
With all the buzz surrounding the credit for first time home buyer’s that the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009 includes, it may be hard to decipher all the details to see who and what exactly are included. This Act is summarized as “A bill to create jobs, restore economic growth, and strengthen America's middle class through measures that modernize the nation's infrastructure, enhance America's energy independence, expand educational opportunities, preserve and improve affordable health care, provide tax relief, and protect those in greatest need, and for other purposes.”
According to a recent news release by the U.S. Department of the Treasury, home buyers who qualify can now take advantage of the stimulus package for their 2008 taxes, which need to be filed by April 15. An important thing to be aware of is that automatic extensions can be issued to many taxpayers until October 15, which would allow the credit to be available earlier. The estimated tax liability must be paid when the extension is filed. Those who qualify may also apply the tax credit towards their 2009 taxes.
"For first-time home buyers this year, this special feature can put money in their pockets right now rather than waiting another year to claim the tax credit. This important change gives qualifying home buyers cash they do not have to pay back," said Doug Shulman, IRS Commissioner.
Here are the specifics:  
Who: Any first time home buyer, defined as an individual who has not owned a home in the previous three years. If the buyer is a married couple, both spouses must meet the individual qualifications. Unmarried couples, where one meets the qualifications but the other does not, may assign the tax credit to the one who qualifies.
There are also restrictions due to a person’s Modified Adjusted Gross Income, or MAGI. Modified Adjusted Gross Income (MAGI) is an individual’s Adjusted Gross Income with certain amounts added back such as foreign income, foreign-housing deductions, student loan deductions, IRA contributions and deductions for higher-education costs. To determine this with certainty, a visit to a qualified tax accountant would be essential.
The tax credit is available to for individuals whose Modified Adjusted Gross Income (MAGI) is $75,000 or less, and married couples with a MAGI of $150,000 or less. If a person purchases in 2009 and can show that they will qualify for the tax credit they can have their employer reduce their payroll deductions per pay period thereby realizing some or all of the credit during 2009. Also, if the tax credit exceeds the income tax due, the difference will be refunded to the tax payer.
Individuals whose MAGI is more than $75,000 but less than $95,000 qualify for a pro-rated portion of the potential $8,000 credit. Married couples whose MAGI is more than $150,000 but less than $170,000 qualifies for a pro-rated portion on the tax credit.
Individuals who have a MAGI of $95,000 or more and married couples who have a MAGI of $170,000 or more do not qualify for the tax credit. Resident aliens and nonresident aliens may qualify for this tax credit.
What: The tax credit is 10% of the purchase price or $8,000-whichever is less on home purchases made before Dec. 1, 2009. New construction, condominiums, manufactured housing and even house boats qualify. The tax payer/owner must own and occupy the home for three years to not have to repay the credit.
When: Now until Dec. 1, 2009 for purchases, filing for the actual credit extends until April 15, 2010 when 2009 taxes will need to be filed.
Where: Any qualifying property in the United States. The tax credit is available on the IRS’s website. Visit the IRS's first-time home buyer page by clicking here
How: After purchasing, new owner would need to file Form 5405, which can be found at the above link.

Homebuyer Tax Credit

by Mark Brace

Homebuyer Tax Credit


The government recently passed an incentive credit for people buying homes that have not had an ownership interest in a property for the past 3 years.  You don’t necessarily have to be a first time home buyer.  The way this works is that the year after you purchase your home, you will receive up to $7500 as a tax credit when filing your taxes.  This can result in a refund to you.  If you receive the full $7500 you will then start to repay the money at $500 increments for the next 15 years.  This is essentially an interest free loan from the government.  A lot of home buyers wonder how they will pay for improvements to the home.  This may be a great way to make some of those upgrades that you don’t have the money to initially do.  You can do whatever you want to with that money though.  You could put in the bank or invest it in some other account. 


In a new market when there are very few 0% down programs left, this may be a way repay yourself for the initial down payment requirement, or simply afford yourself a little cushion in the unique market.   


For more information or any questions, contact


Matt Smith – Countrywide Financial – 616-299-2951

Grand Rapids better than Boston??

by Mark Brace

Why can’t we be more like Grand Rapids?


It’s such a big country, America. I don’t know it well, haven’t traveled from sea to shining sea, except by airplane from East to West several times. Last weekend I was in Michigan, not quite the heartland but close enough.

The combined effect of television programs, chain stores and restaurants and electronic gadgets is that we think we’ve been homogenized.

But it’s not so, thank goodness.

I know that when I visited New Orleans, before and after Hurricane Katrina, this is a place very different from Boston or anywhere else in America.

Texas, too. But what of the vast Midwest? Is it really different from New England or California?

Darned right, it is. I was in Grand Rapids, Mich., for a wedding. What I knew about Grand Rapids before going there was that it was the hometown of President Gerald Ford and site of his presidential library and museum. And also the home of Amway, though I and other out-of-town guests had only a vague idea of what Amway sells.

The small talk that predominates at events like this was punctuated repeatedly by wedding guests proclaiming to one another, ‘‘What a nice town, what a surprise!’’ Many if not most of the guests flew in from both coasts and interesting places in between, such as Santa Fe. There was elitism to spare but at the same time a willingness to be charmed by a place that truly seems to represent good old-fashioned American values.

If there are surreptitious litter police, they keep themselves well hidden, but the streets of Grand Rapids are as gleaming as the refurbished buildings throughout the downtown. Community pride is everywhere. I couldn’t help but compare what I saw to cities and towns back home.

Don’t get me wrong, I love Boston and New England, from the coastline to the old mill towns like the one where I grew up, Manchester, N.H. But there’s no disputing that the quality of life in this area continues to deteriorate. We blame government for not investing more in parks and beaches, but who’s dropping the garbage? It’s not the government; it’s us. The mounds of Dunkin’ Donuts cups scarring off-ramps on our highways is disgusting. Local streets are no better and because we seem not to care, the habit just grows.

In Grand Rapids, Midwestern friendliness and helpfulness were everywhere. I left my camera in a cab and within minutes of calling the hotel, staff was on the case. They called back 15 minutes later, not having located it yet but to let me know I had not been forgotten. I nearly fainted from the shock of random kindness. (Yes, I got it back.) When was the last time someone actually cared that you lost an item in their store, or even that you were shopping there?

Downtown Grand Rapids, a city of about 200,000, is a laboratory of urban renewal. Formerly a manufacturing city - home of Kelvinator, for example - it faces a huge challenge in reshaping its economy. The state of Michigan is no help, since its automobile-reliant economy has been in the hopper for years, with more bad news sure to come.

So what is Grand Rapids turning to? Health care. And here is where it could be interesting to Massachusetts. Spectrum Health, Grand Rapids’ biggest employer, is creating a cancer center and also expanding its medical research, including a new center for molecular medicine. Michigan State University is moving its medical school to the city. You may say, ‘‘So what?’’ But think about all those Boston-area college graduates, our biggest source of human capital, and the cost of living in Massachusetts, and then compare it to Grand Rapids. There you can buy a five-bedroom house in the historic district for $400,000. Yup, $400,000, and you could walk to work, breathe clean air and not worry about litter blowing in your face. And your children could attend a neighborhood school. The historic district, a microcosm of American architectural styles, was rehabilitated decades ago solely because of the efforts of public-spirited citizens.

I am not writing this to encourage young people to leave Massachusetts. I think it’s important to recognize, though, that we don’t necessarily have it all here. We have first-class hospitals and colleges with costs to match and housing prices that make building a future here ever more difficult. We also have a shortage of the kind of community spirit I saw in Grand Rapids.

There, the Amway Corp. and its founders put their names all over downtown, investing in public buildings they hope will rejuvenate the city.

Here, corporations hand out a few dollars to local charities, but there is less to donate as they are bought up by national companies more interested in naming rights on arenas than in philanthropy or rebuilding communities.

Look around your town: Can it be improved? Probably. I am tired of dirty streets and blaring car horns, bad manners and shoddy service. We’re better than that, aren’t we?

JoAnn Fitzpatrick, former editorial page editor

Copyright 2007 The Patriot Ledger
Transmitted Saturday, June 16, 2007

Displaying blog entries 1-6 of 6

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.