Welcome to Grand Rapids Homes for Sale! We're excited to be a resource to you to help you achieve your Grand Rapids real estate goals!
My name is Mike VanderWoude, and I would like to personally extend an invitation to you to browse our website in search of answers to any questions you might have. I consider it my job to be a real estate consultant, providing you with the best possible advice that you would need to reach your own real estate goals.
The mission of Grandrapidshomesforsale.com:
In real estate, I have two primary goals. One is to shape this site, GrandRapidsHomesforSale.com into the finest real estate resource available to consumers in West Michigan.
I won't have the pleasure of meeting every person who comes to this website. For those people, I hope you return time and time again to find more valuable information and share it with your friends and family. If you find this site useful, please tell others and feel free to share it through whatever means necessary.
For the people I do have the privilege to meet, my goal is to leave you with an industry-best experience in pursuing your real estate goals. For many clients, buying or selling a home will be the single largest investment of their lives, and I take that very seriously.
It starts here. Help me help you make this website a valuable resource to yourself and others.
It's no secret that the residential real estate market, particularly in West Michigan, is in a crazy condition (as of today, March 23, 2017). I have heard people express concern that greater availability of lower down payment loans and lower credit score mortgages would create a situation like the crash pre-recession that started going down about 10 years ago.
Generally, I disagree with that sentiment, citing my belief that the loan products out there are nowhere near as crazy as the "fog a mirror" products of the mid-2000s. I’m not a lender, but I do see the type of loan and terms that comes across on every purchase our brokerage is involved in, and I am just not seeing much behavior that I would define as risky. I’m sticking with an opinion I posted late last summer about why I believe we aren’t in any kind of dangerous “bubble” condition. Click here to revisit.
Another positive sign of the health of our real estate market came across in a daily email thread that I follow, which addresses general economics. I’ll share below, but what it says to me is basically that homeowners are keeping equity in their homes versus electing the option to drain it. Smart, right?
I enjoy the “Brief Blog” published 5 days per week by Dr. Elliot Eisenberg. Late last night, this one came across my email:
“Despite a prolonged rise in house prices, bringing them back to where they were prior to the Great Recession, mortgage equity withdrawal (MEW) is a pittance compared to a decade ago. Between 2003 and 2007, MEW averaged 7% of disposable personal income. From 2012 through 2015 it averaged negative 1% and in 2016 it averaged 1%. Tighter lending standards, older, and more credit-worthy borrowers have held it back.”
It's truly tough out there for buyers. There are many, many stories of multiple offer scenarios, and sales happening well above asking prices. As always, it pays to have a strategy. On the other side, I believe most homeowners, who might have an interest in becoming home sellers, still have no idea of the price they could potentially achieve. For a discussion of the value of your home or to put together a plan to sell, reach out to me at email@example.com or (616) 914-1556.
Hardly a day goes by when, in my work as a Realtor, I don’t get asked this question: “Are we looking at another real estate bubble?”. I’m mostly a residential Realtor, and have decent experience as a commercial agent. I’m definitely not an economist, though I do enjoy reading the work of some economists, and I don’t work in a real estate finance job dealing with interest rates and other complex lending information.
These last 4 years, specifically, I’ve been in a “boots on the ground” role, nearly 7 days a week, helping individuals and families make very real decisions on their housing needs. I get to watch human behavior, not all the charts. I supply accurate market data from the very recent past on very specific markets, but myself and the client are left to project the future into their decisions.
The many hours I spend helping people make these decisions leave me with some strong opinions on ‘the bubble question’. Timely to this conversation is a very recent piece published in Real Trends, summarizing recent comments from Dr Lawrence Yun, Chief Economist at the National Association of Realtors. I have enjoyed seeing Dr Yun speak locally, and will take a minute here to add my own comments to his opinions. Dr Yun does not see a bubble on the near horizon.
#1 “ A shortage of supply in both new and resale housing. Bubbles are usually the result of oversupply”. It doesn’t take an economist, a PhD, or an expert of any type to observe this. We are in a state of historically low supply. You have heard this before, you’ll hear it again, and it’s real. This is great for sellers. (See below for some options on getting an idea of your current home’s value)
#2 “Interest rates are lower now than in the bubble years of the mid-2000s resulting in better affordability”. I’m blown away by the low rates at which buyers are locking in long term mortgages. My own mortgage rate is very, very comfortable for the long haul, whether I decide to stay put for 2 years or 20 years. That “move up house” might look really really affordable if you’re willing to make a call to some of the loan officers I recommend.
Those two aspects seem somewhat elementary to me. I was thrilled to read Dr Yun then close with the following comment, because it mirrors and validates what I have been observing for quite some time. This brings me to:
#3 “There is no sub-prime lending causing people who are unqualified to buy housing and then default.” THIS!!!! Those who know me best know I have some rough-around-the-edges tendencies, and I’ve been known to say that I’m very encouraged about the fact that “there aren’t a bunch of sh!$%*ty loans out there”. I attend closings with nearly every buyer, and typically become aware of the solid, conservative loan products being presented by highly capable local lenders, and I’m glad to see the smart choices most buyers make in accepting those mortgages at very low interest rates. This aspect of things gives me optimism for West Michigan’s near future in its housing markets, above any other available information.
There are other comments in the Real Trends piece that deserve further exploration, such as “ real estate markets are local and cyclical - A local market can experience a bubble while the national market is cruising along just fine”. I tend towards optimism, but also believe to my core that West Michigan specifically is in a bit of renaissance stage. We have great housing fundamentals (from the Real Trends article: employment, appreciation, affordability, and supply and demand ratios) and there is a real interest from newcomers interested in settling down in Grand Rapids or its near suburbs or the lakeshore. Nationwide real estate markets could go into a period of adjustment or correction that just might not impact us here.
I was born here in Grand Rapids in the mid-70s, left in the mid-90s, and got observe firsthand the housing market in Chicago, both as an owner and a residential and commercial Realtor. I have seen bubbles, and 2007 basically wiped me out. In 2008, I made my way home to Grand Rapids, and it’s likely I’ll never leave in any permanent way.
In 2008, I would have described West Michigan as an extraordinarily cheap place to live. Housing was cheap. There weren’t the choices there are now, but there were still choices. Since then, we have seen this city grow, and become rich with amenities and opportunities, some of which qualify as world class (Medical Mile, ArtPrize, etc). In 2011 we started seeing a run up in values of residential property which continues to this day. But 5 years later, interest rates make it possible to afford a property that may be selling more than ever before.
I’ll leave you with my two cents on Grand Rapids and West Michigan: we have transitioned from a “cheap place to live” in to a regional center of culture and commerce with costs of living much more in line with a city that has more to offer than the GR of 10-15 years ago. It’s a wonderful time to be in Grand Rapids, and the nature of markets and cycles has left us with a number of good options that we can afford.
To start a search for your next home, go HERE.
East Grand Rapids has been a hot real estate market lately. Here are a few of the newest homes that have hit the market in the last week:
If you want to get an idea of the value of your current home, go here:
New Listings in East Grand Rapids
Negotiating a deal for a property to the best possible price is one way to build instant equity into your property. Remember that buying the property right is the key to your real estate investments. So, how do you get a seller to take less than they might otherwise?
These 7 mistakes can be very costly, but also can be easily avoided. Knowing what to avoid is the first step in creating a good plan. Contact me to discuss your circumstances and to map out your plan.
3. CLOSING COSTS
A great negotiator can assist you in buying under market value in many cases. A poor negotiator can cost you thousands!
There are a few different types of expenses for buyers to prepare for, in addition to the down payment. If you offer $100,000 with a 20% down conventional loan, there's more to the story than showing up at the closing with a check for $20,000.
In a cash deal, closing costs for a buyer are cheap and minimal. The real costs come with getting a mortgage. When working with a lender, the loan officer is required to provide a good faith estimate of all these costs, around the time that the loan application is completed.
A lender's lawyers would not likely allow them to publish a projection of costs like this, but here we are just discussing the costs that I have seen as typical over my real estate career. Costs vary significantly, but can be broken down in to these categories:
At the time that you contact the Mortgage Loan Officer for a prequalification letter, ask for a rough idea of the closings costs that you need to anticipate. Often, you can negotiate the seller to contribute a concession towards your closing costs. This strategy will minimize your cash used up front, and can preserve your cash for things like movers, furniture, and reserves.
Negotiating the best possible price in a real estate purchase is the best method for gaining the elusive 'instant equity' in your property. 'Buying Right' is the key to starting off this major investment. What are some ways we can get a seller to take less than they might otherwise?
Often, your original offer is a set up. The seller may understand that. Be gracious, and reasonable, introduce yourself and your family, and you will separate yourself from the pack.
As a buyer, it is important to recognize the difference between getting a great price and buying a quality property at a discount. Price is only part of the evaluation of a property. You do not have to look further than some of the bank owned foreclosures or short sales in West Michigan to see the difference. There is a trap that many buyers fall into at some point, and that is leaning toward the best price vs the best value.
Imagine that you are buying an investment property, and that you plan to hold it for a minimum of 5 years. There are two hypothetical properties for you to choose from, and they are the same size, number of bedrooms, etc. One property is priced $10,000 below the other. Which one do you purchase? If you said the lower priced one, you would not be alone. Many inexperienced buyers and investors would say the same, but might be making a mistake. They are prioritizing price over the other factors that affect value.
Here are some things to consider about a property in an effort to Buy Quality Properties at a Discount:
You can see that VALUE is more than just price. A savvy buyer is looking for a great value and you do this buying considering these tested methods for Buying Quality Properties at a Discount.
Any time you are considering a new real estate investment and want professional advice, please contact me or a team member.
The tiny village of Caledonia has a history dating back around 170 years, and sits along the roads that were the primary routes between Grand Rapids and Battle Creek. Today, in a discussion of real estate, Caledonia typically refers to the township of the same name, an area southeast of Grand Rapids with a number of fine options for suburban living, and an excellent school district. One of the fastest growing areas in West Michigan, Caledonia prides itself on the ability to maintain its rural, small-town feel through sensible development.
Caledonia Community Schools actually pulls from parts of four other townships, over 100 square miles, and three counties. This diverse school community draws farm families, blue-collar, and white-collar households. Students are enriched by rural and suburban experiences, and are blessed with proximity to the many offerings of the metropolitan Grand Rapids area.
If this sounds like the community for you, contact me to discuss making Caledonia your next home. Call Mike VanderWoude at 616-439-1190 or firstname.lastname@example.org.