Dewitt Dream Homes: the Newfound Avocado Dimension

I think you’ll agree that the relationship between avocados and dream homes has been elusive for a long time. In fact, any connection between the delicious green fruit (it’s not a veggie) and the Dewitt home of our dreams has been more than elusive. Until last week, it’s fair to say it was completely undiscovered.

Last Tuesday, thanks to ace reporting by CNBC’s David Reid, the connection was finally unearthed. The breakthrough came with his published report, headlined


Reid’s discovery brought to light the negative impact the fruit is currently wreaking on young people. Although the report originated in Australia, Michigan millennials might want to pay heed to the warning, as well. If they are like the millennials I know, they probably haven’t previously made the connection.

The headline derives from the wisdom of the young Aussie real estate tycoon Tim Gurner. He’s only 35, yet has already stashed away more than half a billion dollars. Even though last week’s Australian dollar was only worth 75 cents, that’s still an impressive accomplishment. Let’s face it: here or Down Under, that’s a lot of avocados!

Australia’s version of 60 Minutes provided the link between buying a dream home and what New Orleanians call “alligator pears.” It came in the course of a televised interview during which the youthful mogul related his dismay at young people’s spendthrift restaurant choices. Gurner described scrimping and saving for his first real estate purchase—activity which definitely didn’t include ordering gourmet sandwiches at trendy cafes. “When I was trying to buy my first home, I wasn’t buying smashed avocado with crumbled feta on five-grain toasted bread at $22 a pop,” he recalled. “How can young people afford to eat like this?”

Although his premise is certainly unarguable—Dewitt young people would do well to watch their lunch-hour budgets as they save for their first home purchase—it might be unfair to place the blame directly on avocados. Careful Dewitt shoppers can usually find one at the market for at most $1.99 (or less if they are patient enough to wait for the little rock-hard ones to ripen).

The timing by CNBC is also subject to criticism. The avocado-dream home connection may have come too late, since it appeared a full two weeks after Cinco de Mayo, the traditional apex of local Dewitt guacamole consumption. Chips and dips will be omnipresent for this weekend’s Memorial Day get-togethers, but the green stuff will have to share table space with onion dip—presumably making dream home acquisition proportionately safer.

#Dewitt #RealEstate #DewittRealEstate #KellerWilliams #MatthewSmith #DewittHomes

For Grand Ledge Buyers and Sellers, a Great Pet Divide

Pets and Grand Ledge real estate have a love/hate/love relationship—a strong one. For prospective Grand Ledge buyers and renters who own pets, a home’s suitability can be a make-or-break element in their decision. But how the home sellers handle their own pet wrangling is another matter entirely.

The statistics give us a glimpse into just how consequential the issue has become. The majority (61%) of American households either have or plan to have a pet in the future—and of those who answered a real estate survey this year, 81% said it would influence their choice of residence. If you know many dog or cat owners (or are one yourself), that comes as no surprise. Ninety-nine percent consider their animals to be part of the family.

For Grand Ledge homeowners who are contemplating selling, there is a seemingly contradictory takeaway when it comes to all of this. There’s little doubt that if they have successfully created a safe and comfortable home for their own pet, it should be a plus for the 61% cited above. After all, it’s living proof that their own dog or cat will be right at home with minimal fuss, right?

Yes and no. As someone whose full-time routine includes showing and selling Grand Ledge real estate, I never hesitate to point out the pet-friendly features of a property—especially when the prospective buyers have indicated that it’s on their own wish list. It’s a hallmark of 21st century Americans that whenever the subject of dogs or cats comes up, the ensuing conversation will quickly turn to the personality quirks of the current menagerie (if it doesn’t, those folks are petless).

Sooooo, you might assume that if a homeowner’s Grand Ledge real estate encompasses comfortable quarters for their own cat or dog, it would be a plus to have said creatures on display as part of a showing. But just about every Realtor® on the face of the planet will agree: not so! The near universal recommendation is to not only to send the family animals off for a temporary field trip anywhere else, but to put some effort into erasing the evidence of their recent presence—most particularly, odors! Lose the dog beds! Pack the kitty beds off somewhere in the garage! Pick up the dog toys! Stash the water dishes!

The fact is, the idea that dogs and cats can be comfortably housed on a property is a plus—but the actual dogs and cats themselves are a minus. Too distracting. Too personal. A major goal in showing a home is to enable the potential buyers to project their own personalities onto the property: to see themselves living there. A strange dog or kitty roaming around inhibits that. And there is another reason: people can be counted on to respond to the pet (especially dogs) one way or another—it’s quite likely to become the most powerful memory of the whole outing!

The pet dimension is another of the multi-faceted parts that go into the buying or selling of Grand Ledge real estate—and I’d love to tackle them all on your behalf. Just call!

#RealEstate #MatthewSmith #KellerWilliams #Weloveourpets #GrandLedgeRealEstate #GL #LetsSellYourHouseToday

Rating Lansing Houses for Sale with the SLAM List

It’s called SLAM: an abbreviated approach that helps Lansing house hunters to quickly sort through listed houses for sale. Lansing homes that compare well using the SLAM categories warrant further investigation.

The four parts of the SLAM list:

Schools. The eventual resale value of a candidate property isn’t usually given much consideration early on—but should be. A major issue when it comes to resale is the neighborhood’s school district rating. Schools head the SLAM list because—especially for those who don’t have school-aged children—the quality of a property’s school district is easy to overlook. It can also be an indicator of other community quality issues.

Location. It’s the key element that can’t be adjusted, improved upon, or glossed over—and why “location location location” is the cliché that won’t go away. Houses for sale in good neighborhoods are listed at prices that reflect location’s importance. In a single word, it incorporates the quality of neighboring properties, proximity to activities, shopping, transportation, and workplace—as well as more elusive factors like neighborhood noise levels and even compatibility with the neighbors themselves.

Age. This is where personal taste factors are most likely to tip the scale. House hunters may be open to both new and existing houses for sale, but it’s important to acknowledge the advantages and disadvantages each brings to the table. The charm of an older home should be balanced against the expected convenience of newer mechanical systems. If style preferences are major considerations, they register here.

Monthly. The last part of the SLAM list is the budgetary element: the cost in time and dollars that supporting a residence will entail. The value of houses for sale is usually ranked by that top line asking price number—but a better calculation is one that includes prorated property taxes, expected maintenance expenses, insurance payments and neighborhood association or condominium fees in addition to the mortgage payment. If there are gardens to tend, the time element may be part of the calculation (although that can be a positive if you are a green thumb hobbyist).

The SLAM checklist is a shorthand way to quickly assess many of the factors that wind up heading House Hunters Top 10 lists. There are no hard-and-fast scoring guidelines, but if more than one of the four elements come up with definite minuses—it’s probably a good idea to move on.

This May there are many appealing Lansing houses for sale—and helping you whittle the field down to those that will best fit your family is a service that will save you time and energy. Call me whenever it’s time to get started!

#RealEstate #LansingRealEstate #MatthewSmith #SLAM #Realtor #HomeBuyer #LansingHomes #HouseHunting

Dewitt Home Equity—a Perpetual Salary Machine

You might have had a science teacher who explained to the class why perpetual motion machines aren’t possible. He would have had some common sense to back up his point  (everybody knows nothing lasts forever). But the actual scientific explanation had to do with physics and Newton’s Laws: in the end, perpetual motion just isn’t in the cards.

When it comes to real estate, however, for a lot of happy residents, their Dewitt home equity comes awfully close to being a kind of perpetual income machine.

There may not be a Newton’s Law of Retirement Motion, but for anybody planning their long-term future security, there should be. It would be straightforward:

For every mortgage principal payment, there is an equal and opposite addition to your home equity.

This simple Law has a profound effect in the real world. The PEW Research Center tells us that the typical median family’s expenditure for housing = 23% of after-tax income. That figure is for households with two earners and two children. If retirement will mean a reduction in those two earners’ income (as is usually the case), unless they reduce the size or quality of their housing, the percentage of income it claims will have to rise further. Not a very desirable outcome.

But apparently the majority of Americans have already taken our fanciful Law of Retirement Motion into account. According to the U.S. Census Bureau, among American homeowners who are 65 and older, a whopping 65.3% have no mortgages payments to make. They own their residences free and clear. For them, the home equity effect is, as financial adviser Robert Christman describes, “…almost as if you had saved enough extra to provide a monthly income equal to your mortgage.” It’s like a Newton’s Law of Perpetual Income.

The practical effect of owning your Dewitt home outright isn’t as fanciful as are the non-existent Newton’s Laws—it’s darned real! Which is one reason my job helping clients land the right home at the right price ends up being so satisfying.

Do give me a call!    

#realestate #dewittrealestate #MatthewSmith #KellerWilliams #MattSmith #DewittRealtor

Negotiating a East Lansing Short Sale this Winter

A  short sale is a transaction in which the amount paid is not sufficient to cover the existing mortgage or property liens. Once the lender agrees to accept the lesser amount, the short sale succeeds, the lender calls it even with the seller, and all parties can move forward.
It’s a good thing to ‘unfreeze’ a property, yet short sales in East Lansing can be tricky to close. In the worst-case scenario, a buyer and would-be short seller can be put on ice for a full year or more before the short sale succeeds. As is evident to anyone who has been through the process, a local real estate agent with short sale experience is essential for leading the way through the negotiations and closing.
In addition to working with a knowledgeable agent, it’s good to also approach a situation which might turn into a short sale by understanding the general precepts that influence those who will make the decisions. Usually, the mortgage-holding bank publishes how they wish to be contacted. Often, it’s through the “Loss Mitigation” Department (or a title to that effect). That language tells you all you have to know to explain why their attitude may be less than enthusiastic.
Like any commercial business, the bank’s decision-makers seek to minimize the time and man-hours needed to gain the best result. If you come to them with what is an obviously unreasonable offer, they are no more likely to react positively than any other seller. For this reason, researching the market value of nearby properties–enough so that it’s easy to show that your offer is based on a reasonable discount from those prices—is the best way to be taken seriously.
Although you shouldn’t be surprised if even a reasonable offer is turned down at first, don’t be afraid to counter with a second offer.
Depending on the circumstances, I sometimes advise my clients to decide on a viable time frame in which to either close the deal or move on. Not only will this prevent your wasting time, but it can motivate a loan officer to truncate what might otherwise become long-winded negotiations.
Short sales in East Lansing are still to be found for motivated and patient buyers. If you are looking to buy a home in the coming year, now is the right time to call me to start your search!

One Decision Dewitt Home Sellers May Not Even Consider…

When you put your home on the market, one of the decisions it’s easy to overlook is whether to engage a local home stager. Especially if you know you have a good eye for décor or have experience in the visual arts, it may not seem necessary to call in a heavy-duty home staging pro to get your place in shape to sell.
It’s certainly not a requirement for listing, but using a professional home staging company can be invaluable for a number of practical reasons:
Your home is lived-in
That does give it a warm, comfortable feeling, but that’s seldom as saleable as a home that presents itself as open and slightly under-furnished. Prospective buyers react favorably when they can easily picture their own belongings in the living spaces. A local home stager is expert at knowing how to achieve a clean, less lived-in atmosphere with a minimum of disruption.
Save on unnecessary repairs and renovations
Most are necessarily so close to the product (their home) that it’s next to impossible to see it with fresh eyes—the way the prospects will. One of the costly fallouts can be decisions to make repairs and renovations that don’t increase the home’s value by as much as they cost. Some such improvements (like over-painting interior or exterior areas) actually comprise décor choices best left to the future owners. A professional stager has field experience and a good sense for which updates are cost-efficient—and which could be counter-productive.
You stand to earn back more than you spend
Engaging a Dewitt home stager can cost anywhere from hundreds to thousands of dollars. That might seem like an iffy decision since you can’t know that it will ultimately pay off…but it’s tempting when you realize that successful pros are in business because of their track record of making local houses look great—great enough t become worth more money to buyers!  
 Using a professional home stager is just one of the ways we create successful home sales.  If you are looking to list your Dewitt home in the New Year, do give me a call to get started!Image

Lansing Real Estate Reflected Overall 2013 Uptrends

It’s time for this Lansing real estate observer to tackle the New Year’s roundup of the Year in Real Estate (along with the traditional disclaimer that, since the actual statistics won’t be tallied until 2014, this has to be a lot more sizzle than steak!) But this is one time in the year when we Lansing residents get to take pause to relax, perhaps put a bottle of bubbly in the fridge for later on, and take a sweeping view of the general direction of things across the land.
If you’ve been reading here throughout the year, you already know that 2013 Michigan real estate activity might easily justify chilling a superior vintage champagne: it’s been a pretty darn good year! A smattering of last week’s press reports confirms it:
From the East Coast to Oahu (where there was a “1 in 3 chance” that if you sold a house, it was for more than the asking price), reports were of steadily rising prices.
The Business Insider reported that the Big Apple “managed to shatter several real estate records in 2013.” One of the records was a tidy listing for a modest little 62,000 sq. ft. private coop residence. Sure, $130 million may sound a little steep to us here in Lansing, but that might be because so few of our digs have 82-foot swimming pools or tennis courts…at least not indoors, inside our five-story apartment atop a skyscraper.
More down to earth might be NAR’s assessment that “Housing prices rose faster than expected” — with a lot of credit given to the fact that “affordability remained high.”
Another factor: “More first-time buyers” were entering the market due to “rising rents and pent-up demand.”
Following suit, the Dallas News was touting a local home market that “came roaring back in 2013;” one that had “builders rushing to keep up with demand for new houses.”
The Realtor® web awarded credit for the strong real estate year to “Low mortgage rates, all-cash buyers, and tight inventories” that sustained the housing market recovery. Our Lansing real estate saw much of the same.
There was one notably bleak spot: “ACT real estate hit hard by election” the Times reported. “Uncertainty” about election politics had created “subdued performance during the year” and some “negative house price growth.” The best news: this was the Canberra Times – and the country was Australia!
So let’s wish those Down Under a quick turnaround; then, after a relaxing day watching the Rose Parade and a bowl game or two, let’s get ready to charge into an equally dynamic 2014.
Happy New Year, everyone!