Real Estate Information Archive


Displaying blog entries 11-20 of 40

Buyers Who Wait May Lose a Lot

by Beth Braverman

Potential home buyers who delay have a lot to lose.

First-time home buyer and move-up tax credits worth $8,000 and $6,500, respectively, expire April 30. Buyers who qualify get a dollar-for-dollar reduction in taxes or a cash payment if they don’t pay enough taxes to cover the credit. (Like a Rebate Check)

Other factors that should spur buyers:

Low mortgage rates. If the Federal Reserve stops buying mortgage-backed securities at the end of March, 30-year rates will almost certainly rise to more than 6 percent.

Rising prices. About 30 percent of markets are already experiencing price increases. Prices are falling in 12 percent of markets, says Fiserv (but that only helps if you want to live there).

Source: Money Magazine, Beth Braverman (03/02/2010)

10 Big Impact, Low-Cost Remodeling Tips

by Mark Brace

According to Realtor Magazine there are 10 ways you can update your home for sale without breaking the bank. These ideas are all proven to make an impact on potential buyers without making a huge impact on your wallet. Check out the ideas below:

1. Tidy-Up Kitchen Cabinets-Potential buyers do typically open up cabinets and peek inside. An easy way to make them look better is by organizing with baskets or roll-out organizing trays.

2. Add or Replace Tile-By adding new tile inexpensively you can make a space look much brighter and cleaner than it was. Many stores offer tile for $1-$2 and under. This is an easy way to update bathrooms as well.

3. Add a Breakfast Bar-When a wall separates a family room from a kitchen, cutting out an opening to create a breakfast bar is a low cost upgrade that adds value to the home. This can be done for around $500.

4. Install Granite Tiles instead of a Granite Slab-Granite counter tops are an extremely hot commodity in the home buyer's market, but a granite slab can go for more than $3000. An easy alternative is installing granite tiles, which gives the feel of granite counter tops for around 1/10 of the cost!

5. Freshen Up a Bathroom-Add new light fixtures, updated hardware, a new medicine cabinet and re-grout existing tile. All of these are low-cost ways to improve and freshen up a bathroom.

6. Freshen up the Basement-Even if you don't have a finished basement, there are ways to freshen it up. If you have poured concrete walls, have a contractor fill the cracks with cement and paint with a waterproofing paint. After the waterproofing paint you can add a top coat to add color.  You can also paint the basement floor with a good floor paint.

7. Add a Room- Look for large spaces that can be enclosed to create a bedroom for just the cost of creating a wall. Adding rooms adds value.

8. Spruce up Cabinet Fronts-Recondition old wood cabinets or even paint them. Both of these are less expensive than re-facing or replacing.

9. Replace Light Fixtures-Replacing light fixtures is the easiest way to update a home.

10. Tech up the Garage- The easiest way is to replace the garage door opener with a remote touch-pad entry system.  The cost is low, but makes it look like you have a high-tech garage-opening system.

100 Days Left for Home Buyer $8000 Tax Credit

by Mark Brace


Get your pre-approval NOW!  We only have 100 days to have an accepted PA to qualify for the federal tax credit.
Also, we are expected to have an announcement from FHA this week.  They are going to raise the up front mortgage insurance premium from 1.75% to 2.25%and reduce the maximum seller paid costs from 6% to 3% (which means more money out of pocket and higher payments). 
Get your rate locked in before these changes occur.  More to follow.

8 Tips to Guide Your Home Search

by Mark Brace

1. Research before you look. Decide what features you most want to have in a home, what neighborhoods you prefer, and how much you’d be willing to spend each month for housing.

2. Be realistic. It’s OK to be picky, but don’t be unrealistic with your expectations. There’s no such thing as a perfect home. Use your list of priorities as a guide to evaluate each property.

3. Get your finances in order. Review your credit report and be sure you have enough money to cover your down payment and closing costs. Then, talk to a lender and get prequalified for a mortgage. This will save you the heartache later of falling in love with a house you can’t afford.

4. Don’t ask too many people for opinions. It will drive you crazy. Select one or two people to turn to if you feel you need a second opinion, but be ready to make the final decision on your own.

5. Decide your moving timeline. When is your lease up? Are you allowed to sublet? How tight is the rental market in your area? All of these factors will help you determine when you should move.

6. Think long term. Are you looking for a starter house with plans to move up in a few years, or do you hope to stay in this home for a longer period? This decision may dictate what type of home you’ll buy as well as the type of mortgage terms that will best suit you.

7. Insist on a home inspection. If possible, get a warranty from the seller to cover defects for one year.

8. Get help from a REALTOR®. Hire a real estate professional who specializes in buyer representation. Unlike a listing agent, whose first duty is to the seller, a buyer’s representative is working only for you. Buyer’s reps are usually paid out of the seller’s commission payment (free to the buyer, what a deal!).

New Home Buyer Tax Credit Details

by Mark Brace
With all of the speculation on the Home Buyer Credit for the past month, I thought you might appreciate a complete summary of what will actually be available as of today.  Let me know if you have additional questions.

Tax Credit for Homebuyers

First-Time Homebuyers (FTHBs): First-time homebuyers (that is, people who have not owned a home within the last three years) may be eligible for the tax credit. The credit for FTHBs is 10% of the purchase price of the home, with a maximum available credit of $8,000.
Single taxpayers and married couples filing a joint return may qualify for the full tax credit amount.

Current Owners: The tax credit program now gives those who already own a residence some additional reasons to move to a new home. This incentive comes in the form of a tax credit of up to $6,500 for qualified purchasers who have owned and occupied a primary residence for a period of five consecutive years during the last eight years.

Single taxpayers and married couples filing a joint return may qualify for the full tax credit amount.

What are the New Deadlines?

In order to qualify for the credit, all contracts need to be in effect no later than April 30, 2010 and close no later than June 30, 2010.

Tax Credit Versus Tax Deduction

It's important to remember that the tax credit is just that... a tax credit. The benefit of a tax credit is that it's a dollar-for-dollar tax reduction, rather than a reduction in a tax liability that would only save you $1,000 to $1,500 when all was said and done. So, if a first-time homebuyer were to owe $8,000 in income taxes and would qualify for a tax credit of $8,000, she would owe nothing.

Better still, the tax credit is refundable, which means the homebuyer can receive a check for the credit if he or she has little income tax liability. For example, if a first-time homebuyer is eligible for a tax credit of $8,000 but is liable for $4,000 in income tax, she can still receive a check for the remaining $4,000!

Higher Income Caps

The amount of income someone can earn and qualify for the full amount of the credit has been increased.

Single tax filers who earn up to $125,000 are eligible for the total credit amount. Those who earn more than this cap can receive a partial credit. However, single filers who earn $145,000 and above are ineligible.

Joint filers who earn up to  $225,000 are eligible for the total credit amount. Those who earn more than this cap can receive a partial credit. However, joint filers who earn $245,000 and above are ineligible.

Maximum Purchase Price

Qualifying buyers may purchase a property with a maximum sale price of $800,000.

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.

Grand Rapids August 2009 Housing Statistics

by Mark Brace
Sales By School District in Kent Co.
Statistics for Entire MLS from 8/1/2009 to 8/31/2009

School District

# of SalesTotal SalesAvg Sales

Byron Center

15 $2,415,900 $161,060
Caledonia 20 $4,040,850 $202,042
Cedar Springs 20 $2,095,230 $104,761
Comstock Park 11 $1,482,400 $134,763
East Grand Rapids 13 $2,817,990 $216,768
Forest Hills 49 $13,687,625 $279,339
Godfrey-Lee 13 $538,950 $41,457
Godwin Heights 21 $1,251,500 $59,595
Grand Rapids 218 $15,159,059 $69,536
Grandville 32 $4,908,867 $153,402
Greenville 5 $356,488 $71,297
Kelloggsville 7 $457,900 $65,414
Kenowa Hills 16 $2,346,125 $146,632
Kent City 3 $269,000 $89,666
Kentwood 58 $6,526,717 $112,529
Lowell 23 $3,378,478 $146,890
Northview 16 $1,872,400 $117,025
Rockford 40 $6,263,380 $156,584
Sparta 14 $1,720,106 $122,864
Tri-County Area 1 $59,000 $59,000
Wyoming 47 $3,699,300 $78,708
TOTALS 642 $75,347,265 $117,363


Dollar Volume of Sold Listings
  SEP 2008 - SEP 2009SEP 2007 - SEP 2008Diff% Chg
SEP $83,729,991 $94,895,858 $11,165,867 -11.76%
OCT $104,449,974 $118,455,221 $14,005,247 -11.82%
NOV $72,662,070 $108,766,653 $36,104,583 -33.19%
DEC $74,312,910 $83,704,298 $9,391,388 -11.21%
JAN $50,076,630 $79,455,931 $29,379,301 -36.97%
FEB $61,333,555 $77,728,877 $16,395,322 -21.09%
MAR $83,093,588 $99,528,513 $16,434,925 -16.51%
APR $89,264,185 $121,617,802 $32,353,617 -26.60%
MAY $88,695,772 $125,445,977 $36,750,205 -29.29%
JUN $127,047,582 $137,755,013 $10,707,431 -7.77%
JUL $129,907,920 $134,981,159 $5,073,239 -3.75%
AUG $108,288,888 $141,474,076 $33,185,188 -23.45%

Homes Sales are up this summer (June-July-August) a total 5.5%

Home Pendings are up this summer (June-July-August) a total of 16%

As you can see from the graphs above home prices are down.

Visit my website (Grand Rapids Homes) for information on the Grand Rapids Market, or feel free to email me if you are looking for detail stats on a certain area of town.

Home Buyers Don't Hesitate in West Michigan

by Mark Brace

Just wanted to post some thoughts. I've had several clients of the last 2 weeks that have missed getting homes because the market is starting to get crazy. A couple reasons for not getting these homes.

1. Hesitating on whether they want to write an offer or not.

2. Not writing a strong enough offer, I have been in at least a dozen multiple offer situation in the last 2 weeks. Just write your best offer and buy the home.

Side note to this: The federal tax credit is ending Dec. 1, 2009 and everyone is panicing to get a home before the deadline. This is particularly affecting homes in the under 120K range.

3. Not getting the offer in on time.

Side note to this: Is not having your pre-approval letter ready at the time you wanted to make an offer.

I guess the moral of my blog would be, be prepared to write a good offer, or the home you like may be gone.

Buyers Market is Crazy in Grand Rapids

by Mark Brace


The Grand Rapids Real Estate market under 120K is booming, bare with me I'm not the best writer in the bunch and I have some observations and ideas I want to share. I'm a very active full time Realtor in Grand Rapids Michigan, and I have to say the buyers market is really happening. Since I'm your next generation tech savvy Realtor, I pride myself on getting new listings emailed to my clients before everyone else sees them, so my clients beat other buyers to hot new listings and foreclosures. Since about mid-March 2009 I have been increasingly involved in multiple offer situations in just about any new listing under 120K, especially Foreclosures that my clients have been interested in, I don't think I've have a client bid on a Grand Rapids Foreclosures without getting in a multiple offer situation, unless it was really far away from Metro Grand Rapids. This frenzy and almost panic to get homes, has made me realize there really are a lot more buyers in the market place, because I’m normally there before most other Realtors, and since there are so many buyers I’m starting to bump into them more. This Panic has made think about recommending putting offers in before they see the home if it looks good, and then schedule a time to look at it. It's almost ridiculous. I've had 3 different clients in the last week see something they like and it sold within the next 24 hours, I had one sell while I was sitting in the driveway getting ready to show it, the other realtor called and said they accepted an offer. In my estimation this buying frenzy is solely because of the federal $8000 tax credit or Rebate check offer which expires on Dec.1 2009. This brings me to the points I'm getting at.

1. Be prepared to write an offer if you see a good home on the spot, and trust your Professional Realtor to advise you on that fact.

2. If you're not prepared consult your Realtor on getting prepared. Making sure you have a pre-approval letter or bank statement ready, and a checking account with at least $1000 ready to write an earnest money deposit check.

3. Financing is taking longer than it did a couple years ago, do to the mortgage world turned upside down, so expect the banks to want lots of documentation and make you jump through hoops, also expect 30-45 days to close on a home, after you get an accepted contract.

4. Don't wait till the wire on the $8000 Tax Rebate Credit, make sure you have found a home by Mid October, and have it under contract. At the end of November is a holiday "Thanksgiving" right before the tax credit expires and banks and title companies are going to be off, and there is a good chance you might not make it before the deadline dec. 1.

5. If your really Serious, make time to see homes, people make time to visit the Dentist or Doctor during the day make time to visit with your Realtor if something special turns up, otherwise it will be gone before you know it.

Note: over priced homes are still not selling, you need to have a market price to get involved in the buying frenzy. If you home isn't seeing any action... It's over priced.

Top 3 things to do to increase your homes value.

1. Stage your home for sale

2. Keep home and yard extremely clean

 3. Increase homes curb appeal and or fix-up (update) kitchen and baths.


Why Use An ABR When Buying a Home

by Mark Brace

Why Use an ABR®: (REALTORS® Experienced in Buyer Representation)

Buying a home is no small matter. Besides being the largest financial transaction you may ever undertake, it’s probably also the most complex. There are many good reasons to work with a qualified real estate professional—especially a trained professional who has earned the Accredited Buyer’s Representative (ABR®) designation, representing best-in-class buyer services.

When you look for an ABR® before you look for a home, you’ll be served, not sold. Your interests become their interests. And you’ll be working with someone who has gone the extra mile by completing specialized training in delivering the best in buyer-representation services. Plus, a REALTOR® who has an ABR® Designation also has an established track record, with proven experience in representing the concerns of homebuyers.

The ABR® Designation is awarded through the Real Estate Buyer’s Agent Council, or REBAC, which was founded in 1988 to promote superior buyer-representation skills and services. REBAC is an affiliate of the National Association of REALTORS® (NAR).

Find a Buyer’s Rep – Directory of ABR®s and other buyer’s reps working to achieve this designation. You can look for me (Mark Brace) in the directory, I am a registered ABR with the National Assocaiation of Realtors and the Real Estate Buyer's Agent Council.

ABR's are among the Top 2% of Buyers Agent Realtors, They have taken the ABR Training class with specialized education offer by the Real Estate Buyer's Agent Council, And In addition have meet the feild requirements need to to be awarded the ABR designation.

If You are thinking of buying a home in Grand Rapids Michigan you should contact Mark Brace, from Prudential Preferred Realtors to use as your personal Buyers Agent.

Displaying blog entries 11-20 of 40

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.