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Grand Rapids Real Estate with Mark Brace

Mark Brace

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Displaying blog entries 31-40 of 126

Why The Time is Now!

by Mark Brace

New and existing homes in the Grand Rapids and surrounding areas are flying off of the shelves. Some homes selling before they even hit the market and others selling for more than the asking price. Reason…historically low interest rates, $0 down Rural Development loan options, 3.5% down FHA loan options, 5% down Conventional loan options with no mortgage insurance and the list goes on. You can now own for less than you rent an apartment for! First time home buyers are ecstatic with their payments, growing families are selling and moving up to bigger & better homes for the same payment as their old homes. It is an incredible time for all buyers, sellers, builders, real estate agents and loan officers in West Michigan. If you are on the fence, it is time to get off quickly before this window of opportunity passes you buy. I always say, you will never know we hit the bottom until we are on the way back up and at that point the opportunity may be gone.

 

Zac Ellerbroek

Loan Originator – Lake Michigan Credit Union / Knapps Corner

616-234-6864 – Direct

616-893-6024 – Cell

616-643-0783 – Secure Fax

NMLS# 138717

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Beware: Mortgage Loan Modification Scams

by Mark Brace

Earlier this week the National Grand Rapids Foreclosures Mitigation Counseling (NFMC) Program held a web-ex about the Loan Modification Scam Alert campaign. Due to the growing number of scams, Congress asked NeighborWorks America to launch a national public education program; the campaign empowers homeowners to protect themselves against loan modification scams, to find trusted help and to report illegal activity to authorities. Keep yourself informed and aware, visit this website to stay educated www.LoanScamAlert.org.

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

Are Home Buyers Getting Too Picky?

by Mark Brace

Many buyers are demanding perfection in home’s today.

A small stain on the carpet? Forget it. Distracting paint colors? They can’t look past it. No granite countertops? Onto the next house!

As home values drop, offering buyers some of the best bargains in years, more home buyers have realized they can get more choosy when home-shopping. And with inventories high in many areas, sellers realize their home needs to exude perfection if its going to stand out.

During the housing boom a few years ago, buyers were more willing to overlook flaws, or accept them, that is. They may have negotiated with the seller over repairs or upgrades, but some buyers were willing to even take the home “as-is” to win a bidding war or to get the home in the area they wanted.

Times have changed.

Even first-time buyers, who once were lured to the “starter home” (a.k.a. a fixer-upper), are getting choosier. A Coldwell Banker survey earlier this year found that 87 percent of first-time buyers say they want a “move-in” ready home over a fixer-upper–and they want it to be affordable too!

Buyers are “missing out on some excellent, older lived-in houses,” Holly Kirby Weatherwax, a real estate professional in Reston, Va., told the Toledo Blade. “It’s a shame, simply because they can’t overlook” flaws that wouldn’t have bothered most buyers in the previous two decades. Those flaws could be anything from minor imperfections like kitchen appliances by different manufacturers to the home’s color not matching the buyer’s furniture, Kirby notes.

“Anything that can be a distraction, you want to eliminate,” a Tennessee home seller noted in a recent news article. “A light bulb isn’t a big issue, but it can affect [buyers’] subconscious.”

So how did buyers get so picky anyway? Is it just the power of a buyer’s market? Some also blame the rising popularity of home design shows on TV for making buyers more selective when viewing homes. But in recent months, more home design TV programming is showing a slight shift to fixer-upper housing make-overs, showing how a home’s flaws can be overcome to still become a dream home. Will such TV shows eventually make more buyers give less-than-perfect homes a second chance?

Until then, before the for-sale sign goes up, more sellers are heeding the advice of their real estate agent to clean, paint, upgrade and stage to avoid lowball offers. Plus, with the huge glut of low-priced foreclosures, such finishing touches may help home owners rise above the competition.

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:

http://www.marketwatch.com/story/the-10-best-places-to-live-in-the-us-2011-08-02

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

THINK ABOUT THIS!

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

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.

3 Gardening Mistakes to Avoid

by Mark Brace
Gardening is not rocket science: If you can dig a hole, turn on a spigot, and snip a dead flower off a vine, you can tend a garden. 

Still, gardeners need  to make judgment calls. How much water does this shrub need? Will that tree get enough sun? Is this hole deep enough? It’s easy to misjudge and make a mess out of the landscaping. Here are common garden blunders.

1. Too many changes too soon. The excitement of warm spring weather often creates a passion for yard work. But what looks like a spring weed might be a fall-blooming vine. Encourage buyers to: Live with their land for a year and observe how many hours of sunlight each part of the garden gets. Test the pH of the soil to determine if acid- or alkaline-loving plants will be happy in that particular patch of heaven.

2. Too much togetherness. Trees and shrubs that look properly spaced when you plant them will crowd each other and compete for water, sun, and nutrients in a few years. Encourage buyers to: Read spacing instructions. Give trees plenty of space—they can always fill in later. Stagger bushes and plants and create two rows, which will create more breathing room. The results will look absurdly sparse at first. But live with it. In a few years, shrubs will fill empty spaces without suffocating each other.

3. Planting without a plan. Planting new garden beds without a long-term landscape plan is like pouring a house foundation without blueprints. Encourage buyers to: Draw a simple sketch of their yard—what’s there now and what they might add later, including patios and pools. Learn about the trees and shrubs that grow best in their soil and climate. A professional landscape designer can create a starter plan for as little as $250 to $500.

Taken from Realtor Mag

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."

 

Displaying blog entries 31-40 of 126

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.