Friday, January 30, 2009

Southeast Michigan December 2009 Market Report

Market ReportsResidential sales ended 2008 up 19% higher than 2007 with December's strong finish. In fact, according to Realcomp, every county in the entire MLS showed increased sales and pending sales, which bodes well for 2009.

Sales for the entire MLS during December 2008 were up 31.6% over December 2007, reflecting the 12th straight month of growth.

Strong 2008 starter home sales (those priced under $125K) were up 61% over 2007 due in large part to affordable home prices and low interest rates.

Even though December's inventory was down over 18% over December 2007, the supply of homes remains greater than the demand. Therefore homes selling in this buyer's market are priced to sell.

Market activity has started strong this year. It's still a wonderful time for first time homeowners to take advantage of low interest rates and values.

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Plymouth MI Ice Festival Wrap Up

The 2009 Plymouth International Ice Sculpture Spectacular is a wrap!

Warmer weather on Friday probably worried organizers, but cold weather was back on Saturday....and so were the crowds!

The local economy had an impact as there were fewer ice sculptures, particularly in front of local merchants. Also missing this year were the live reindeer.

Here's some photos showing the highlights:

This Saturday, January 31st is Northville MI 4th Annual Fire & Ice Festival running from Noon to 4 PM.

Thursday, January 22, 2009

Get Set for the Plymouth MI Ice Sculpture Spectacular

If it's going to stay as cold as it is this year, we might as well enjoy an event that celebrates it. The Plymouth MI Ice Sculpture Spectacular comes to Kellogg Park in Downtown Plymouth this weekend.

Starting at Noon on Friday, January 27th and running through Sunday, January 29th, the event features ice carvers from local high schools, colleges, and professionals from around the United States and some from as far away as Japan.

Over 100 sculptures are expected to be carved, mostly from single blocks of ice weighing over 300 pounds. Several sculptures will be constructed using between 5-100 blocks of ice, and you can watch the carving process from the beginning of stacking the blocks of ice to the finished works of art.

Besides the ones filling Kellogg Park, the customized sculptures standing outside the local merchants were some of my favorites last year. From whimsical, like one on the left outside Compari's (my favorite restaurant) to corporate, there's surely a sculpture to please everyone.

One of the most popular places to visit will be "Fantasyland" with entertainment and education for the younger crowd. Each day's events include competitions and an evening light show at dusk.

For recommendations on where to eat during the festival, check out the Plymouth Living blog. Then check out the schedule of events, print out a downtown walking map, and plan to be impressed.

It's an experience you won't soon forget!

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

Morning in America

I watch every inauguration because I'm a pomp and circumstance freak. But as I watched history unfold with millions of other Americans yesterday, I couldn't help but be awestruck by the occasion on so many levels.

Watching the sea of Americans on the Mall witnessing history made me wish I was there, and reminded me of an earlier family trip we made to Washington DC.

Besides the many monuments we visited, Arlington National Cemetary was our destination on Memorial Day where President Clinton was to lay a wreath at the Tomb of the Unknowns and give the annual address. It was thrilling to see our President up close and in person on this solemn day.

The multitudes of people on the Mall yesterday will forever cherish their memory of being there when history was written.

Photo courtesy of Prince Roy, used with permission

Sunday, January 11, 2009

From Motor City to Motown...Detroit is in the News

This is a big news month for Detroit, and no, I'm not talking about the 'auto bailout'.

With Motown's 50th Anniversary celebration and the North American International Auto Show coming to town, the City of Detroit will be front and center.

Beginning Monday, January 12th and continuing for the next year, Motown Records will celebrate their 50th anniversary. The Motown Historical Museum is a blast from the past and a must see for any music lover. When we visited back in 2000, it was hard to imagine that all the musical talent and hits could come from such a small space!

But before Motown, there was the Motor City. Ever since Henry Ford invented the Model A in the early 1900s, Detroit and the automobile has been synonymous.

This week the North American International Auto Show at Cobo Center will debut nearly 60 new vehicles and host more than 700,000 attendees, including nearly 7,000 from the international media.

The Show opens to the public from January 17-25th so check it out if you want to get a glimpse of what is the latest and greatest in auto transportation.

Wednesday, January 07, 2009

January is National Radon Prevention Month

The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) designates January as "National Radon Prevention Month".Radon is an odorless, colorless gas that is naturally occurring in the earth's crust and sometimes seeps into homes through openings in foundations or walls. It is the leading cause of lung cancer among non-smokers, and the second leading cause among smokers.

In August I wrote a blog post on the importance of testing for Radon because of a recent experience with a crazy high radon reading in one of my listing.

According to a proclamation signed by Governor Granholm last year, one in eight homes in Michigan (EPA's map of Michigan radon zones) have elevated levels of radon. Homes with 4 picoCuries per liter (pCi/L) or higher should be remediated. Consider purchasing a radon detection kit if it wasn't part of the home inspection process when you bought your home.

For more information about radon, check out these sources:

Reducing Radon Risks, Michigan Department of Environmental Quality
A Citizen's Guide to Radon: The Guide to Protecting Yourself and Your Family from Radon,
U.S. Environmental Protection Agency
EPA Video Radon Discussion

Tuesday, January 06, 2009

To Sell or To Lease...That is the Question

The good thing about making a move in this real estate market is that there are lots of good deals out there. The question is, what do you do with your home?

When faced with that situation, many Northville MI owners are opting to lease. Before you consider leasing, you should first check with your lender to get preapproved to make sure you can afford your next home. Also, check your existing mortgage because leasing may invalidate the terms.

I've heard homeowners with good and bad leasing experiences. Many would simply prefer not to become landlords. If you do opt to lease your home, be sure you request a credit report as well as personal and landlord references.

Then, read through the State of Michigan Tenant/Landlord Handbook to research and become familar with your responsibilities as a landlord should you go that route.

Whatever you decide to do, Good luck!

Monday, January 05, 2009

A Grain of Salt

This morning I answered a question on a popular real estate site about how a Livonia MI home could sell so cheaply ($90K) in an area of expensive homes without being listed for sale.

Turns out the home in question was in a new subdivision of about 70 homes so it was purchased through the builder. Upon further investigation, I discovered that after the transaction closed, only the sale of the parcel of land was recorded as the real estate 'sale' on public records. Also recorded was mortgage for over $300K. That doesn't account for how much the Buyer might have paid as a down payment.

It's become so easy to do home value research online through sites like Zillow and Trulia. However, until each municipality standardizes how new construction transactions are to be recorded, data will continue to be skewed and deceptive.

Your best resource for local home values is still a local professional real estate agent who can fill in the full picture for you

Sunday, January 04, 2009

Hurry...$7,500 Home Credit Ends July 1st

In my July Market Report, I mentioned that The American Housing Rescue and Foreclosure Prevention Act includes provisions to help homeowners keep their homes.

Another provision provides a tax credit of up to a $7,500 (10% of the purchase price) for first time home buyers. Effectively, it's a 15-year no interest loan with payments approximately $500 per year, depending on the amount of credit you claimed.

This important credit applies to homes purchased by July 1, 2009 so if you or someone you know is thinking of making the move, now is the perfect time to start looking.

Remember, a mortgage payment may well be cheaper than paying rent...and you pocket the tax benefits instead of your landlord!

Saturday, January 03, 2009

Sellers Beware...Don't Make These 10 Mistakes

I follow lots of blogs to keep up on technology, particularly as it relates to real estate. One of my favorites is AgentGenius where the top real estate bloggers in the country post.

If you're thinking of selling your Plymouth home, you'll want to check out this recently highlighted video "How To Avoid the 10 Mistakes Home Sellers Make". It provides a great overview of all the areas you need to consider when getting ready to put your home on the market.

For more information or suggestions, feel free to call, email or text me.

Thursday, January 01, 2009

Remembering the Past...And Looking Ahead

Wow, were you as glad to leave 2008 behind as I was?

When I wrote my last post of 2007, I thought we would turn the corner in 2008. Boy was I wrong. An economic meltdown on a national level compounded the financial chaos (as if local Michigan real estate wasn't bad enough already). It was enough to make me say good riddance to a year that on the surface seemed like a loser.

But upon reflecting, there were some highlights that made the year great professionally and personally:
  • my online efforts have yielded a substantial increase in business
  • community and veteran involvement has been a rewarding experience
  • my daughter graduated from college & bought a new home
I'm excited to begin this brand new year and I look forward to getting used to our "empty nest" status and continuing my work with community and veteran's organization. My professional commitment this year is to leverage my knowledge of real estate technology with social media to connect with and serve consumer real estate needs in this new Web 2.0 era.

I'm looking forward to new beginnings with the promise of a fresh new year. I wish you and yours a peaceful, prosperous and very Happy New Year!