Monday, November 12, 2018

Reflections on Veterans Day 2018

I am so grateful to the men and women who have gallantly risked their lives and in many cases laid down their lives for the country they and we love.  They, like my father, a veteran of World War II, willing did what needed to be done for us to enjoy the freedom that we have today.  We owe a huge debt of gratitude to these often unsung heroes.  Even today, as I write this, there are brave soldiers engaged in conflict while I sit in a comfortable office chair in a climate controlled office space, with coffee, tea, water available just steps away.  My freedom to choose an occupation, a place of worship, freedom to own property, to buy and sell, to speak my mind, countless other freedoms, all fortified by the bravery of a few, relative to the masses like myself.  My heart goes out to the mothers, fathers, sisters, brothers, who mourn the loss of their loved ones on such a day as this.  We honor and revere them. May God bless their families and continue to bless the United States of America.

Thursday, September 22, 2016

What Every DIY Needs!

I can't imagine being a home owner and do-it-yourselfer without a utility trailer. It is an absolutely essential piece of equipment.  This honey of a trailer has saved me countless dollars (thousands) and many hours of time.  Many homeowners mistakenly think they need a pickup truck and then make a poor decision by either purchasing a truck or not considering a trailer  Here is why buying a pickup truck is a mistake for most home owners:
       1)  Simply the cost of a pickup. This can run $60,000 and up.  How can a non contactor possibly justify such a purchase.  Even used pickups can cost $20,000.
      2)  Cost of insurance, maintenance, licenses plates.  Here we have a cost of approx. $3,000 per year!  Add depreciation and you have a costs closer to $5,000 per year.
     3)  Many DIY may have a family.  A wife and kiddos don't often ride well in pickups, particularly if the pickup is not a full size 4 door model.
    4)  Fussy about the truck.  Yes, some folks have such a large investment in their trucks they don't want to subject them to getting dirty and roughed up.
    5)  When not using the pickup to haul items (which is 95% of the time) You drive around with a empty bed and pay for higher fuel costs. 

Why a utility trailer?
   1) My utility trailer cost me $640 for a large tire, heavy duty trailer 15 years ago.  Lets say $1000 now.  Much less than a pickup
  2)   The State of Michigan provides for a ONE TIME trailer license for as long as I own the trailer, cheap!
  3)  I pay no insurance on my trailer. 
  4)  I an mot fussy about what I haul, as I don't care if it gets scratched up, its a trailer.
  5)  I can remove the side rails to convert into a flat bed that can haul huge size items, much bigger than a pickup can.
  6)  I can use my same car to haul the trailer or take on a family vacation with all the kiddos in comfort. 
   7)  I can loan it out to friends and clients. Something not likely done with a pickup truck, particularly if the pickup truck is also my personal vehicle.
   In the last 15 years I have put no more than $200 total into maintenance costs!!!! 

The utility trailer is the most versatile cost saving piece of equipment I own.  It is only a 4 x 8 foot (which is my recommended size) yet it hauls larger, longer, and wider loads than any pickup out there.  Imagine that, for just a fraction of the cost.  Obviously the pickup has a place for many contractors, builder, and home owners. But for the vast majority of the Do-it-yourself nation out there, the utility trailer is the wise choice.
  

Tuesday, February 23, 2016

Let's Talk Toilets!

It is interesting that with all the bath remodeling going on, rarely do we think about updating our toilets. With all the talk about water conservation and energy conservation, the toilet seems to be pretty much ignored in all of this.  But that old toilet is not only wasting water resources, it is costing you money!  But why replace a toilet when it is working just fine?

Studies indicate that toilets use approximately 45% of water used in the home.  If a homeowner can cut the toilet water use in half, what type of savings may be realized.  Here is a example from personal experience.  I replaced a old, likely original toilet in a older home that had a tank capacity of 4 gallons.  I replaced it with a 1.3 gallon per flush.  Now I understand that sometimes a 1.3 gallon per flush system may take more that one flush to do the job the 4 gallon did in one flush.  So lets say the new toilet was twice as efficient as the old one, or uses half the water of the old one. That takes the 45% of water used for the toilet down to 22.5%.  My water bill from the City of Grand Rapids water department averaged $140 per 3 month cycle.  However, not all the $140 was water usage. In the $140 were base fees, sewer fees etc.  The water and sewer charges came to $68.74. However, if you lower your water fees your sewer fees are reduced likewise.  So 45% of that amount was $30.93.  Now if I take half of that amount for the new toilet, that means a savings of $15.47 per 3 monhts of service. (or $61.88 per year)

The toilet I selected was $129, with tax and also a new wax ring the total came to $147.34. 
Taking the savings per year into the total cost came to a pay back of approx. 2 years and 4 months.
After that, its all $$$ in your pocket.  Additionally, the new toilet looks better, is quieter, easier to clean, and takes less space.

So consider replacing the old toilet with a new high efficiency one and save your money and our water resources.

Friday, January 4, 2013

It's 2013 and 13 Reasons Why I Love Grand Rapids

13 Reasons to love Grand Rapids, Michigan

1) The People.  The people in Grand Rapids are simply the best people in the world. Kind, friendly, outgoing, energetic, compassionate and generous. 
2) Downtown.  Who can not be impressed with our downtown. Vibrant, alive, exciting, new, fresh, innovative.  And all this in the last 25 years! Remarkable.
3) Lake Michigan.  Fresh water and plenty of it. Fishing, sailing, boating only 40 minutes away.
4) Beaches and Sunsets.  Arguably, the best beaches and sunsets anywhere on the planet.
5) Biking.  Fast becoming biking city USA. Wonderful bike/walking trails in city and surrounding area. If you are a bike enthusiast. GR is the place to be in the Midwest.
6) Beer.  We are "Beer city USA"  Hoist a hometown brew at one of the many Micro Brewery's sprouting up in and around our hometown.
7) Whitecaps Baseball.  Terrific, inexpensive,(what 5 bucks)  outdoor entertainment.
8) Medical Mile.  Fast becoming the place for medical technology and treatment.
9) Free Outdoor Summer Concerts.  Grab a lawn chair your cooler and enjoy any number of venues and music selections throughout the summer.
10) Colleges. Our many institutions of higher education bring youth, vitality, sports teams, drama, music, and much more.  Calvin College's January Lecture Series comes to mind.
11) Museums and Parks.  For the size of our town, our museums are impressive. Parks no less so.
12) Golf. If you love golf, you'll love GR and surrounding communities.
13) Five Guys Burgers.  Rumored to have 2 Five Guy Burger restaurants in 2013.  If you ever had a Five Guys Burger and Fries, you know why this made the list!

There you have it!  What a great place to live and own real estate.  There is one thing I hope to add for 2014.  Pizza!   In the 70's we had bad pizza. In the 80's we had not bad pizza (but not good). In the 90's we had OK pizza.  In the 2000's we had good pizza.  What we need now is GREAT pizza.  Not quite there yet, but heading in the right direction.  Have a safe, happy, healthy 2013!

Tuesday, April 10, 2012

Meijer Gardens, A Grand Rapids Gem


One of the best kept non-secrets, is our own Meijer Gardens. It is no secret to us here in West Michigan, as it is one of the country's most visited botanical attractions. But I somehow feel we don't think of it as the big thing that it is. The gardens is truly a special place that help make Grand Rapids a very special place to live. I love our town. As a real estate agent you would expect me to talk up our town. No faking it here, I just flat out, plain love it, and Meijer Gardens is just another reason.

What a deal! For $60 a year you can purchase a individual annual pass (not season, the gardens are open all year round). This membership allows you to take one guest with you at no charge, for an unlimited amount of visits. So, take your mother one week and take your friend the next week, or the next day. It also gives you and your guest free admission to their weekday summer concert series that showcases our local talent.

The gardens has many sculptures on permanent display from artists from all over the world, in addition to many special temporary exhibits. Enjoy a beautiful walk among the wetlands and woods, to a small farm to waterfalls. There are miles of trails and walking paths to enjoy.(photo shows boardwalk along the natural wetland area) Afterward grab a cup of coffee or a bite in their cafe and enjoy more artwork and beautiful surroundings.

It's one more reason to make Grand Rapids home.

Monday, January 16, 2012

Dog Gone It!


When it comes to real estate, mans best friend is not always so friendly to the bottom line. I have seen pets, being dogs and cats, affect the selling price of real estate in the tens of thousands. I do not own a pet, family allergies have prevented even a consideration of pets. But home owners and potential home owners should realize that the family pet can cost them many, many thousands of dollars at selling time. I have seen pets costs homeowners as much as $20,000. Of course this would be in addition to the routine costs of owning and maintaining a pet. A recent study determined that the average vet bills per year per pet are $1,500. This also translates into the savings a buyer may have for a down payment or closing costs, that can actually prevent the potential buyer from being able to qualify for a home loan. All and all, the family pet is much, much more expensive that one may think.

This happens in a couple of ways. If you are a seller and own a pet, over time you have become accustom to your pets odor. It is something that you don't notice, or you notice it, but do not feel at all as a problem. Well, it is a problem, buyers without pets can tell a home with pets. Even if they are OK, with pets, they can still smell the pet and will add up carpet cleaning, and usually carpet replacement with their offer. In addition, just having a pet will reduce your potential buyer pool, as I have had buyer clients that will not consider a home that has a pet, particularly cat(s). Whenever you reduce your buyer pool you reduce your bottom selling line. Second, often the pet will inhibit showings. If it is a inside pet, sellers will need to make arrangements for pets to be taken off the premises either by themselves or someone else. This makes showings more difficult to schedule, and making showings more difficult make for reduced showings. Third, not always, but sometimes pets will give a home a more 'used' look. Scratches on the door trim, gnawing of corners, matted carpet where the pet sleeps, excessive dog and cat hair, scratches on a finished wood floor, staining, etc. Pets just tend to age a home.
Another example is when the owner cages up the dog for showings. Caging a pet for showings is a viable option when you can not remove the pet for showings, however it can be very costly. I recall a number of caged pets that barked or growled non stop when I was showing a home. This made for a extremely unpleasant showing in that I could hardly talk with the buyers and the dog monopolized the showing. The growling dog adds a safety concern that makes the showing uneasy.

Another, more difficult factor is the dog next door. Many, many sales have been lost due to the neighbors dog barking or growling at the potential homeowners. That is almost always a deal breaker! The buyers just can't see themselves coming home to that every day, in addition to their safety and that of their children. I have been with buyers that would not even go into the home when greeted by the neighbors unwelcoming dog. This is the most difficult situation for a home seller, to be held hostage by the neighbors dog!
Regardless, when it comes to selling real estate, there is not an upside to owning a pet. I have even seen pet owning buyers not consider a home because there was a pet living there and they were convinced that their pet would not take to the home where a pet have previously marked out the territory.

One of the options a seller has is to rent a small machine (about the size of a small dehumidifier, that will filter pet odors and other odors as well. These machines rent for approx $300 for 2 months, but do a good job of eliminating most odors. A high quality carpet cleaning with special solvents for pet stains and odors is another recommended treatment. Air fresheners and cleaning litter boxes and pet areas frequently can also help.

Obviously, pets have contributed to our personal and family enjoyment, and for many, life without a pet companion is just unthinkable. I have been with many pet owning buyers and sellers to know this and appreciate it. But it is good information to know the unseen cost of owning a pet when it comes to selling real estate can be extremely high, and to anticipate some buyer rejection.

Friday, October 21, 2011

A Fitting Tribute to 9-11 in Grand Rapids


Marking the 10th anniversary of the 9-11 attacks on our country, Grand Rapids offered a moving and profound tribute to the fallen on that fateful day. Hundreds of volunteers assembled over 3200 flags, each flag representing a person who lost there lives on September 11, 2001. In addition, tied to each flag pole was the name of the person honored, birth date, and a brief statement about the person. These statements seemed to be written by family members or friends as some were deeply personal. It brought home to me about the suffering and loss experienced by those most closely touched by the attack, as we were somewhat insulated here in West Michigan some 700 miles away. I say somewhat insulated. If you had loved ones or someone you knew, even just by acquaintance, a day of remembering brings more emotion to the surface. But here in West Michigan, we could not see the smoke of the towers. We could not smell the heavy polluted air. Those who live in and around New York City, remember that day in a way that we in West Michigan simply cannot. So for me, that solemn memorial on the hills of Cannonsburg Ski Area, awakened a fresh reality of the day and a renewed appreciation and gratitude for the men and women who rushed into the towers, willingly, giving of their very lives to rescue and save others. A fitting and special recognition was given to these fallen heroes at the memorial.

I was proud of my country as I experienced this memorial. I was proud of my fellow citizens, first responders, emergency and military personal who lost there lives on that day. I was proud of my town, for caring enough to erect this memorial.

There is a time that we move on from these tragic events. I would expect, that we will see less remembering as the years go by. But how tragic to let it become so unfamiliar that we cease to mark or remember that day at all.