Friday, March 28, 2008

My Kind of Detour

Oh man, if only the path to life on Easy Street were this clearly marked!

Thanks Juergen Schweder for sharing this great shot you caught in Ann Arbor.

Wednesday, March 26, 2008

A House For Hobbits

Toronto's Little HouseCheck out this 300 square foot, 1 bedroom house that was recently on the market in Toronto.

Built in 1912 by a contractor who lived in the home for 26 years, it was totally renovated from top to bottom last year.

With increased media attention, the owners created a special website for viewers around the world to enjoy.

The house even captured the attention of Ellen Degeneres in January, who called the listing agent live from her show for more information!

At a little more than seven feet wide, it looks more like a 'house for hobbits' as reported on the CTV National News.

Wednesday, March 19, 2008

Bringing Home Other People's Stuff

Online garage saleDo you want to get rid of household items, but just haven't made the effort to have a garage sale or run an ad in the local newspaper?

Announcing the MichiganMoves Marketplace, the perfect place to post all your items, letting everyone in the MichiganMoves network know. Your castoff is sure to be someone else's treasure. Kinda of like a virtual garage sale.

Start Spring cleaning, declutter, and shed a few unwanted possessions, just in time to enjoy a more carefree Summer. Don't delay...visit the MichiganMoves Marketplace today!

Monday, March 17, 2008

What Are They Thinking?

There's nothing I hate seeing more when showing homes than dead animal heads!

Once I showed a small ranch home with a 14" x 12" Living Room that had a stuffed 10 point buck on one wall and a huge stuffed wild boar on another. It absolutely gave us the willies and we couldn't get out of there fast enough.

Now I know you hunters out there are very proud of yourselves, but take down and store any dead heads before putting your home up for sale. The market is challenging enough without you offending the buyers right after they step in the door.

For you dead head fans, the lamps to the right are made from preserved sheep's stomachs, courtesy of, and the sheep chair is courtesy of

Originally posted on

Sunday, March 16, 2008

One In A Million

The wildest thing happened recently. A gentleman named Gary from the west side of Michigan e-mailed from our website. He had just accepted a job in Southfield, didn't know the area at all, and wanted me to show him a few condos.

When I met Gary and his wife the following Saturday, I casually mentioned "Oh, you're from St. Joseph. I have a cousin who lives in St. Joseph."

"What is his name?" they asked.

Cousin Jon

"Jon Bendewald," I replied, thinking they might know him since he is a pastor at a local church in their area.

To my shock, they not only knew him, but the wife was a teacher and currently had Jon's daughter in her class, and had taught his two other children!

What makes this even more amazing, is that we don't have a huge family here in Michigan. In fact, Jon and I are the ONLY Michiganders with the rest of the family out west in Washington, Montana, North Dakota and Minnesota! And yes, he is as much fun as this picture makes him look.

What was the likelihood of Gary going to the internet, searching for condos in the Detroit Metro area, reading through the entries, and choosing me of all the agents in the search results?

It truly is a small world...and maybe I should buy a lotto ticket.

Saturday, March 15, 2008

You've Got Mail

Did you receive a surprise in your mailbox recently saying your value has decreased, but your taxes have gone up? If you have, you're not alone. Countless numbers of residents in the Detroit Metro area are scratching their heads wondering what's up.

With all the news about declining property values in the area, how could this happen?

Prop A passed in 1994 limiting tax increases to the rate of inflation based on the taxable value (homeowners who used their property as their primary residence). It wasn't a problem when property values were continuing to rise, but starting in 2005 when values stalled to today when they are declining, it's a big problem for many homeowners.

For folks like us, who bought in 2004, both our SEV and Taxable Value declined $11,650 which should hopefully result in a decrease in taxes. But for homeowners who have owned their property since 1994, there is a big gap between the SEV (State Equalized Value--the 'value' the municipality perceives the value to be) and the Taxable Value (the amount your taxes are based on because it is your primary residence).

Papers like the HomeTown News and Detroit News have been warning about it since the first of the year. But now that assessment notices have been received, property owners are flooding tax review boards requesting reductions.

This morning's Detroit Free Press contained an excellent article including definititions, resources, and describes how to read your assessment notice.

For more information about the tax appeal process, check out

Wednesday, March 12, 2008

February Posts Increased Home Sales

Did you see the headlines in the Business section of the Detroit Free Press this morning?

Citing statistics from Realcomp, our local real estate MLS, 3,591 homes and condos in the Detroit Metro area were sold in February 2008 versus 3,184 in February 2007. President Karen Kage acknowledged with prices being "down as much as 15% in some areas and interest rates stabilizing, buyers are beginning to step forward."

On the local front, according to my rough estimates, sales of homes & condos in Northville were up 26% to 24 from 19 over February 2007 while in Plymouth they were up 12% to 19 from 17. This is in addition to the strong leasing market out there right now. Definitely a trend in the right direction.

A quote by Kage ends the article by saying "If you are a first-time buyer, I have never in my 30 years in the business seen a better time to buy." Let's hope that bodes well for the upcoming Spring market!

Sunday, March 09, 2008

Real Estate 2.0

Realtor Magazine has a great article in this month's issue about what's up next next for agents on the internet. Blogs and social networking sites like Facebook enable Web users to connect with one another rather than view content passively. This evolution has been dubbed Web 2.0.

Likewise, Real Estate 2.0 brings the ability to actively connect consumers to agents online.

For agents, gone are the days where putting up a website for exposure in the hopes of passively attracting buyers for their listed properties is adequate. Real Estate 2.0 is all about blogs, social networking, wikis, mashups, posting videos on YouTube, and connecting with consumers.

I'm happy to say that we're positioned well for the transition. Besides this blog in which I syndicate articles I've written in my MichiganMoves "Bringing You Home" and A Wacky World of Real Estate blogs, I'm active on social networking sites such as ActiveRain, Trulia, and Zolve. Additionally, I'm creating neighborhood mashups, starting with All About Plymouth and All About Michigan.

Real Estate 2.0 is about being visible on the web and marketing our listings to the broadest possible audience.

Saturday, March 01, 2008

Thinking Happy Spring Thoughts

I am SO done with snow!

As luck with have it, our snow blower broke in January. Just in time for February, the "fifth snowiest on record" according to the Detroit Free Press. That doesn't surprise me since it seemed like every other day we're out there shoveling.

Condo living is looking very appealing right about now. I think I'd seriously consider it if we weren't in the middle of yet another renovation. On the other hand, given our current market, we'd take a beating on the price of our home and all the money we spent on updates & renovations would be lost. Better fix the snow blower and hang on for the ride.

So for now I'm praying for an early Spring and I'll leave you with some cute snow sculptures built in December by my neighbors across the street.