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CNN Money : 10 Dirt Cheap Housing Markets

by Mark Brace

According to CNN Money, Grand Rapids ranks #9 out of the 10 most affordable housing markets. There is no better time to buy than NOW!

Via CNN Money.com talking about Grand Rapids:

In the late 19th and early 20th centuries, lumberjacks took down many square miles of Michigan's hardwood forests to feed the numerous furniture makers of this city in the center of the lower peninsular. There are some furniture makers left, but they tend to use metal rather than golden oak.

There's been a gentle slope to population growth over the post-war years; the metro area gained about 5% during the past decade.That means low demand for housing and the median price of about $80,000 in early 2011 is down about 10% from the boom years. A tidy three-bedroom home can be bought for less than $90,000.

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

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:

http://www.healthyhomescoalition.org/get-the-lead-out/gtlo-for-homeowners/

Top 5 Reasons to Re-Carpet Your Home

by Mark Brace

There are 5 reasons why replacing the carpet in your home should be at the top of your to-do list when getting ready to sell. These reasons are listed below:

5) SMELL-You may be unaware of a smell because you're used to it, but these scents are usually very apparent when someone is walking in for the first time. Make your home smell new again. 

4) COMPETITION-With 1 buyer/10 homes on the market, they will always choose the home that demands no work or effort. Move-in condition is a HUGE selling point.

3)MONEY-Data shows that those who re-carpet are able to not only recover that cost, but actually make a profit from the project.

2)TIME-Homes that require buyers to paint or replace carpet sit on the market much longer than one that has been completely updated. If it's replaced up front, your home won't sit on the market.

1)The number one reason-again-is MONEY-Putting a little bit of money into prepping your home for sale will save you from buyers demanding a lower price for them to update!

Give your home a fighting chance to sell for the price it's worth in an extremely competitive market!

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.

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.