Real Estate Information Archive


Displaying blog entries 11-20 of 48

No Cost: A Photogenic Listing

by Mark Brace
Try these no-cost techniques for showing off curb appeal in online photos. Article by Melissa Dittmann Tracey

Stunning curb appeal can make buyers fall in love with a home from the moment they pull up in their car.

But equally important in today’s Web-driven world is ensuring that your listings’ curb appeal transfers to online photos, says designer ­Michelle Molinari, founder of Curb Appeal Concepts and co-owner of the design and staging company Feature This… in Abbeville, La.

"You can spend all the money you want on curb appeal, but if it doesn’t show up in the picture, it’s pointless," Molinari says. Here are a few simple, no cost ways to get curb appeal in your property photos.

1. Remove the window screens.

A home’s exterior, with brick or shingles, generally looks dull. Some home owners try to add shine with door knobs and lighting fixtures. But those subtle objects often don’t show up in a photo. Molinari says one of the best ways to add vitality and dimension in photos is by removing screens from the windows in the front of the home. Window screens can make windows look filmy and dark, she says. "Windows are the eyes of the home, and you want to show off a healthy pair of eyes," says Molinari, who first got the idea to remove the screens after watching set designers prep a row of neighborhood homes for a movie.

But whatever you do, don’t throw away those screens! Keep them in the garage and reinstall them once the house has sold. Chances are, Molinari says, buyers won’t question why there are no screens during the showing, but they will notice that the house looks bright and cheery.

2. Water the mulch.

Black mulch is a favorite for creating a clean polished look that helps curb appeal. But you can steal the look even if your mulch is brown. Before a showing or photo, water the mulch in the front of the house. The mulch will take on a darker tone, which will go a long way in making the greenery around it pop and look more vibrant, Molinari says. Darker mulch grounds a house, drawing attention to the foundation. "It’ll look like coffee grounds—[it will appear] rich, healthy, and fertile," she says.

3. Show off the path to the doorway.

Use the "red carpet ­effect" to bring the home’s walkway front and center. "With too many homes, you have to park the car and get out before you eventually see the path that leads up to the home," Molinari says. "Make your listing’s walkway stand out."

 Besides making sure the path is clear, make it prominent in your photos: Snap the photo from a higher vantage point. Don’t just stand in the street to capture a photo of the exterior, as so many do. Try using a three-foot ladder to capture the image from a higher standpoint, or shoot it from an angle. "It will put the home miles above the others on the MLS," Molinari says. "It will look like it’s welcoming buyers."


USNews Projects 2011 housing market bottom

by Mark Brace

Homeowners. Americans have lost about $9 trillion worth of household wealth since 2007, largely because of falling home values. The rout isn't over, unfortunately. Most forecasters think home values will decline another 5 to 10 percent in 2011 nationally, as high unemployment causes more foreclosures and a glut of homes pushes prices down. The good news, if there is any, is that the housing market may finally hit bottom in 2011, with home values stabilizing after five years of declines. That doesn't mean home prices will shoot up any time soon. But once buyers believe that prices have stopped falling, they'll be more inclined to buy, the first step back toward a healthy housing market. Stabilizing home values will also help owners do better financial planning, since they'll have a firm idea what their home is worth.

Source-, On Tuesday December 21, 2010

A Handy Mortgage Reference Guide for Risky Borrowers

by Mark Brace

Mortgage Update:

Serious credit problems are happening to a lot of people these days.  Here’s a handy reference chart on waiting periods if clients have a bankruptcy, Grand Rapids Foreclosures or Grand Rapids Short Sales.


Bankruptcy Chapter 7 or 11: 2 Year Waiting Period (Only 1 yr with extreme extenuating circumstances exist)

Bankruptcy Chapter 13: 1 Year Waiting Period with 12 months satisfactory payments to Trustee. Must have court permission to buy a new home.

Foreclosure: 3 Year Waiting Period

Short Sale if Borrower is Current at Time of Short Sale: No wait time if all mortgage debts are paid on time for 12 months preceding short sale.

Short Sale if Borrower is delinquent at Time of Short Sale: 3 Year waiting period from date of sale.

Get the Lead Out Program!!

by Mark Brace

The Get the Lead Out! program helps homeowners protect their children from lead poisoning.  Parents who participate in the program can remove dangerous lead hazards from their homes before children are poisoned.  And then there is the added benefit of all the repairs, which often include new windows, new siding, and fresh paint!

Click on this link to learn more about Grand Rapids "Get the Lead Out!" Program:

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.

John Paulson: Double Digit Inflation Coming

by Mark Brace

According to John Paulson double digit inflation will hit within the next couple of years and there could NOT be a better time to buy. Read his blog below:

It could be time to sell your low-yielding bonds and replace them with higher-yielding common stocks.

Multibillionaire hedge fund operator John Paulson, the investment genius who made a killing going short subprime mortgages a few years ago, told a standing room only crowd at New York’s  University Club that double-digit inflation is about to rear its ugly head by 2012, killing the bond market, and restoring strength to equities and gold.

Paulson’s warning to sell U.S. government bonds is one of the latest signs that the most successful investors of this generation believe the run up in bonds  is over. Paulson  especially underscored the attraction of equities with earnings yields of 7%-8% compared to the  2.6% pittance available on 10-year Treasuries.

Paulson  listed his favorite blue-chip stocks; JNJ (Johnson& Johnson) at a 3.8% yield; KO(Coca Cola);PFE, 4% yield., as well as C (Citigroup), BAC (BankofAmerica)  and STI (Suntrust Banks)  and RF (Regions Financial).

Paulson is a pro at  buying  the distressed bonds of bankrupt companies, and then converting  the debt to equity in reorganization and benefiting  from the potential run up. He mentioned one of his greatest plays — K-Mart, which emerged from bankruptcy at $10 a share and then skyrocketed to $190 a share.

His crystal ball is for 2% GDP growth for 2011 and 2012 and he warns that the Fed’s promise of quantitative easing should contribute to double-digit inflation over the next few years.

As this is the best time in 50 years to buy homes, Paulson advised his listeners, crowded into 3 separate dining rooms, to issue 30 year mortgages to buy a home as “your debt and interest payments get locked in at record lows, while the price of your home will rise.”

“If you don’t own a home buy one,” Paulson recommended; ” if you  own one home, buy another one, and if you own two homes buy a third and lend your relatives the money to buy a home.”

Buying a Builder Home Without Representation

by Mark Brace

This is a repost from an Agent in Arizona: Joyce Thomas at US Preferred Realty

Article : Buying a Builder Home Without Representation Can be a Nightmare

Buying a Builder Home Without Representation Can be a Nightmare.  This is a scary and unfortunately true story.  All names are being protected in this story.  Buyers need to take buying a home from a builder very seriously when they enter a builder's sales center and make sure they are fully represented by a Buyer's Agent (Realtor).

The main thing to keep in mind is that the "Realtors" working for the builder are actually "Salespeople".  They are trying to meet a quota for the week or month, to get their next plaque on the wall, or win the turkey for Thanksgiving.  It is quite unfortunate that Buying a Builder Home Without Representation Can be a Nightmare.

This story starts with a very nice couple in their early 50's (let's call them Bob and Bobbie Buyer) tagging along with their friends while they buy their new home.  Once the Salesperson (lets call her Susie Salesperson) working for the builder had sold the community and a new home to their friends, she turns to Bob & Bobbie Buyer and says, "So are you ready to buy a home?".  Bob & Bobbie Buyer, who had absolutely no intention of buying a home (new or resale) told Susie Salesperson "no".  But Susie (being a top Salesperson in 2006 and having won all kinds of awards for meeting sales quota) continued to use her newly learned sales pitches to pressure them by telling them, "Well let's have you get preapproved through our inhouse mortgage company just to see what you can afford.  After all wouldn't you like to live here with your friends in a beautiful new home in this fabulous community?" (Sell, sell, sell Susie Salesperson was doing.)

So you are probably thinking, "Sounds like the typical builder salesperson."  Thats what I thought too until they told me what the salesperson told them to do.  They didn't qualify for the new home through the inhouse lender, so Susie Salesperson told them that all they had to do was change their tax records so they would qualify (just for the loan of course).  I don't know about you, but I think that's ILLEGAL????  When Bob & Bobbie Buyer questioned her, she said, "Oh it's just for the purpose of your loan and then you just do an addendum to your taxes to correct them."  Buying a Builder Home Without Representation Can be a Nightmare especially when it is a salesperson such as this one!  But this "Salesperson" learned this from somewhere.....hmmmm…maybe the builder taught her to do this?  Scary!! 

The saddest thing about this story is that Bob & Bobbie truly could not afford this home and never should have been approved for a mortgage.  However, the excitement created by Susie Salesperson got them into a home that drained their assets and put them into Grand Rapids Foreclosures, ruining their credit.  They were happy renting a home and never had any intention of buying a home.  Unfortunately, they got caught up in the thrill of owning a home (after all they had never owned a home - ever!).  Now, they are renting a home again waiting on a buyer to put an offer on their home which is listed as a Grand Rapids Short Sales to try to avoid foreclosure because of this horrible experience of Buying a Builder Home Without Representation Can be a Nightmare.

Any buyers reading this, please beware that you must be represented by a Buyer's Agent (Your Realtor) when buying a home through a builder.  The builder's salesperson represents the Builder and is doing everything in their power to get the best deal for the seller (builder).  They work just like used care salespersons.  They receive a "draw" as income and when they make a sale they pay back their "draw".  If they go without making a sale, they could get fired or laid off and owe the builder money for the draws and lack of sales.  They are high pressure salespeople. When you buy a home directly through the builder without representation, you give up your right to be professionally and fully represented in the transaction and could end up in a very unfortunate situation like these poor buyers did. 

The best thing is that using a Buyer's Agent to help you buy a home costs you absolutely nothing.  The seller (builder) always pays the Buyer's Agent - you never pay anything! Buying a Builder Home Without Representation Can be a Nightmare!  Make sure you are fully and professionally represented by a Buyer's Agent (a Realtor) before stepping foot into a builder's sales office, even if you are just tagging along with a friend to look at model homes. 

A Buyer's Agent as the following fiduciary duties to you.  A Buyer's Agent must:

  • Be loyal and act in your best interest
  • Obey your lawful instructions
  • Protect your confidence
  • Exercise reasonable skill and diligence when answering your questions
  • Be accountable for handling funds and paperwork
  • Present all offers in a timely fashion

A Buyer's Agent works for YOU fully.  We are Accredited Buyer Representatives (ABR) and recognized through the National Assocation of Realtors.  As your Buyer's Agent, we act on your behalf to get you the best deal possible on the purchase of your new home, whether it be through a builder, a bank or a regular resale home.  Remember, Buying a Builder Home Without Representation Can be a Nightmare.

This is a re-post with Credit to: Joyce Thomas at US Preferred Realty

How Long Is My Short Sale Going To Take?

by Mark Brace

How long do Short Sales take?... quite and interesting question, as there are several variables in play when you are working on a Grand Rapids Short Sales. Things you to understand in regards to short sales, which can complicate the negotiation process.

  1. There can be more than 1 lien on the home (i.e. 80/20 mortgage, HELOC, water) If 2 mortgages they may be with the same bank or different banks, if different it can take longer to get them to agree on the settlement, if they will agree, some will never agree.
  2.  Even though the mortgage is serviced by a bank that doesn’t mean the primary investor is that bank they may need to take the negations to another bank to see if they will work with it. (Typically this is how Fannie or Freddie fits in) as they are the primary investors in the majority of loans.
  3. There may be defects in title, or legal disputes such as property lines etc... That may be involved that can hold the process up.
  4. The Realtor or third party negotiator that is working on the file my be very experienced and have connections or not. This can vary the time of a short sale by over a month or two.
  5. From the time you make an offer the short sale times can differ if the sellers have already started the process with the bank, compared to starting at Square one.

I guess what I’m trying to convey to you is that they are very complicated, and can be simplified if things are be handled by professionals. I have had probably close to 40-50 short sales completed in the last 2 years. And they have ranged from 45 days to just over 10 months. I would say a typical short sale should take around 3-4 months. You should look the professionals you are working with to give you an indication of how long you individual situation is going to take, and the variables involved.

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)

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.

Displaying blog entries 11-20 of 48

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.