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 invite you to browse our website in search of answers to any real estate 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. We 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. Thank you for having this website be a valuable resource to yourself and others.

Aug. 15, 2019

Union Square Open House

See four units in one stop!

Saturday Noon-2pm

Unit 621C- $185,000

Click photo to see unit details.

Unit 621C

Unit 207- $220,000 

Unit 207

Unit 212- $234,000 

Unit 212

Unit 125- $245,000

Union Square 125

Posted in News
Jan. 29, 2019

5 Tricks to Keep Your Pipes from Exploding This Winter



Even if you think they've already started to freeze.


Article From HouseLogic.com

By: Jamie Wiebe

Published: November 02, 2015

New homeowners may have heard that winterization is important, but in the hubbub of your first year living in a home you own (finally!), it can be easy to overlook the need to prepare for the cold weather ahead. After all, it's just not something renters deal with; prepping pipes for winter is often the landlord's job.


Ideally, you should winterize your pipes in the fall, before winter seriously sets in. But if you've forgotten and all of a sudden you're in the middle of a deep freeze, there's still time to prevent disaster.

Here are some easy techniques to save your pipes from bursting:


#1 Turn On Your Faucets


If the temperatures have dropped into freezing and intend to stay there, turning on your faucets -- both indoors and out -- can keep water moving through your system and slow down the freezing process. There's no need to waste gallons of water: Aim for about five drips per minute.


#2 Open Cabinet Doors


During cold weather, open any cabinet doors covering plumbing in the kitchen and bathroom. This allows the home's warm air to better circulate, which can help prevent the exposed piping from freezing. While this won't help much with pipes hidden in walls, ceilings, or under the home, it can keep water moving and limit the dangerous effects of freezing weather.


#3 Wrap Your Pipes


If your pipes are already on their merry way towards freezing, wrapping them with warm towels might do the trick. You can cover them with the towels first and then pour boiling water on top, or use already-wet towels -- if your hands can stand the heat (use gloves for this). This should help loosen the ice inside and get your system running again.


#4 Pull Out Your Hairdryer


A hairdryer (or heat gun) can be a godsend when your pipes are freezing. If hot rags aren't doing the trick, try blowing hot air directly on the pipes. Important note: You don't want to use a blow torch or anything that produces direct flames, which can damage your pipes and turn a frozen pipe into an even worse disaster. You're trying to melt the ice -- not your pipes.


#5 Shut Off The Water if Pipes Are Frozen


Have your pipes already frozen? Turn off the water immediately. (Hopefully you know where the master shut-off is, but if not, now's the time to find it!)


Make sure to close off any external water sources, like garden hose hookups. This will prevent more water from filling the system, adding more ice to the pile, and eventually bursting your pipes -- the worst-case scenario. This also will help when the water thaws; the last thing you want after finally fixing your frozen pipes is for water to flood the system -- and thus, your home.



Visit houselogic.com for more articles like this. Reprinted from HouseLogic with permission of the NATIONAL ASSOCIATION OF REALTORS®Copyright 2019.  All rights reserved.

Posted in Articles
Jan. 18, 2019

Declutter your Home


By: Amy  Howell Hirt
Published: October 19, 2016


Solve the problem of corralling your stuff once and for all.



You purged. You donated. You discarded. Yet, even with excess items banished from your home, clutter is creeping back in. The real culprit? All those household essentials and cherished keepsakes still need a tidy, convenient spot to live. Without accessible storage, these must-haves quickly take over countertops and corners, garages, and the great outdoors. But with a little creativity, you can reclaim these spaces while keeping all your things right in reach.


Get inspired to declutter your home with these clever solutions that turn everyday items and locations into sneaky storage spots right under your nose.


1. Curate Your Clutter


Sometimes the difference between "clutter" and "collection" is all in the presentation. After falling in love with film photography as a student, Nicholas Hendrickx amassed an expansive assortment of cameras -- from $1 thrift-shop finds to high-end brands like Hasselblad -- scattered throughout his home.


To give his treasures the respect they deserve, he invested in a simple display case from Ikea -- white to match the other cabinetry in his work space. Through Hendrickx's careful spacing and grouping, even old flashbulbs and film holders are now part of an artful installation.


"It's nice to be surrounded by these beautiful cameras that each have a memory connected to it," he says.


2. Capitalize on Crevices


That 6-inch space between your refrigerator and the wall can either be a destination for dust bunnies or the answer to your small-kitchen storage woes. Classy Clutter blogger Mallory Nikolaus spent just $110 to build a pull-out pantry for canned goods and spices. The 64-by-31-inch cabinet is constructed of primed pine boards and dowels, with a handle and metal casters that allow it to smoothly slide back into its slim space -- not that this creation deserves to be hidden. The polished yet quirky piece is finished with beadboard on the back and a spray-painted chevron pattern inside.


Because it's supported by the wall on one side and the refrigerator on the other, Nikolaus notes it's important not to pull the cabinet out too far.


3. Conceal an Eyesore, Create Storage


Who doesn't love a double-duty fix? For a mere $10, this yard-sale armoire enabled handy homeowner Melodye Farrar to conceal her home's electric and cable boxes and create built-in storage for a garden hose and cleaning supplies.


Situated next to the back door, the space was a longtime eyesore, but it took just one day to remedy. Farrar and her husband removed the top and back of the armoire and built a concrete-stone foundation to keep the cabinetry out of any standing water. Two L-brackets and concrete anchors secure the top of the armoire to the wall, and a coat of marine varnish protects the wood from the elements.


For Farrar, the cabinet makes it much more enjoyable to entertain in the surrounding garden area, with cleaning supplies close at hand yet out of sight.


4. Beef Up Bed Storage


Your bed takes up prime real estate in your home. And for all but eight hours of the day, it doesn't serve much of a purpose. Why not put that space to work? Beds with built-in drawers are convenient for in-season clothing, while lift-up mattresses like this Ikea model offer a box-spring-size storage area for items you don't reach for every day.


Prefer to DIY your way to clever bed storage? Atlanta-based organizing expert Gigi Miller suggests going the old-school route. Those risers you relied on in your cramped college dorm room will lift your bed from 3 to 6 inches off the ground, providing enough space to slide storage containers underneath. Miller recommends clear containers on wheels for maximum ease, and canvas bins lined with cedar planks for keeping clothing fresh.


5. Pegboard Pots and Pans


Julia Child knew how to cook. She also knew how to keep her kitchen organized. One of its most renowned features? A floor-to-ceiling pegboard for her French copper pots and pans. It's an ideal way to gain storage by using vertical surfaces. And it's affordable. A basic 2-by-4-foot pegboard made of plastic or pressed wood will run you less than $10, and a starter kit with mounting hardware and hooks costs less than $20.


As for the aesthetics, "A kitchen pegboard can be both functional and beautiful if done right," Miller says. Paint, frame, or cover it with fabric for a pop of personality and color, and keep the look polished by grouping similar items -- pots and pans on one board, utensils on another.


6. Make a Mobile Yard Work Station


It's a condition that can afflict even the most organized garage: Little by little, all those yard and garden tools find their way onto workbenches and the floor, crowding out cars and humans alike. Professional organizer Amanda Kovattana fought back, using reclaimed materials to reclaim her garage.


This ingenious rolling cart is constructed from two doors, unused sewer pipe, and salvaged closet rods -- all mounted on four beefy casters. The one material Kovattana purchased for the project: a pegboard for odds and ends that might otherwise end up on the floor.


This project took Kovattana, an experienced carpenter, about six hours to build. But even for a novice, the time invested will pay off in spades when you don't need a search party to find the darn rake.

Posted in Articles
Jan. 18, 2019

Common mistakes in renovating

The information contained in this blog is for general information purposes and entertainment. Before you make any major decisions using this information, we would love to hear from you and discuss your individual situation! Call us today at (616)439-1190

By: Amy  Howell Hirt
Published: May 01, 2017


How not to make money mistakes as a fledgling homeowner.



The negotiations are over. Your mortgage is settled. The keys to your first home are in hand.


Finally, you can install your dream patio.


You can paint the walls without losing your security deposit.


Heck, you could knock out a wall. You're soooo ready to be a homeowner.


So ready in fact, you're about to make some costly mistakes.


Wait, whaaat?


"You have to rein it in and be smart," says Daniel Kanter, a homeowner with five years under his belt. Especially in your first year, when your happiness, eagerness (and sometimes ignorance) might convince you to make one of these eight mistakes:


#1 Going With the Lowest Bid


The sounds your HVAC system is making clearly require the knowledge of a professional (or perhaps an exorcist?).


But you've been smart and gotten three contractor bids, so why not go with the lowest price?


You might want to check out this story from a Michigan couple. Rather than going with a remodeler who'd delivered good work in the past, they hired a contractor offering to complete the work for less than half the cost, in less time.


A year later, their house was still a construction zone. You don't want to be in the same spot.


What to do: Double-check that all bids include the same project scope -- sometimes one is cheaper because it doesn't include all the actual costs and details of the project. The contractor may lack the experience to know of additional steps and costs.


#2 Submitting Small Insurance Claims


Insurance is there to cover damage to your property, so why not use it?


Because the maddening reality is that filing a claim or two, especially in a relatively short period, can trigger an increase in your premium. "As a consumer advocate, I hate telling people not to use something they paid for," says Amy Bach, executive director of nonprofit United Policyholders, which works to empower consumers. But, it's better to pay out of pocket than submit claims that are less than your deductible.


Save your insurance for the catastrophic stuff. "You want the cleanest record possible," Bach says. "You want to be seen as the lowest risk. It's like a driving record -- the more tickets you have, the more your insurance."


Some insurance groups, like the Insurance Information Institute and National Association of Insurance Commissioners, say it's hard to generalize about premium increases because states' and providers' rules differ. But this stat from a report by UP and the Rutgers Center for Risk and Responsibility at Rutgers Law School is pretty sobering: Only two states -- Rhode Island and Texas -- got top marks for protecting consumers "from improper rate increases and non-renewals" just for making:


An inquiry about a claim
A claim that isn't paid because it was less than the deductible
A single claim

Your best protection? Maintaining your home so small claims don't even materialize.


#3 Making Improvements Without Checking the ROI


Brandon Hedges, a realtor in Minneapolis-St. Paul, recalls a couple who, though only planning to stay in their home for a few years, quickly replaced all their windows. When the time came to sell, he had to deliver the crushing news that they wouldn't get back their full investment -- more than $30,000.


New windows can be a great investment if you're sticking around for awhile, especially if windows are beyond repair, and you want to save on energy bills.


Just because you might personally value an upgrade doesn't mean the market will. "It's easy to build yourself out of your neighborhood" and invest more than you can recoup at resale, says Linda Sowell, a REALTOR? in Memphis, Tenn.


What to do: Before you pick up a sledgehammer, check with an agent or appraiser, who usually are happy to share their knowledge about how much moola an improvement will eventually deliver.


#4 Going on a Furnishing Spree


When you enter homeownership with an apartment's worth of furnishings, entire rooms in your new home are depressingly sparse. You want to feel settled. You want guests at your housewarming party to be able to sit on real furniture.


But try to exercise some retailing willpower. Investing in high-quality furniture over time is just smarter than blowing your budget on a whole house worth of particleboard discount items all at once.


What to do: Live in your home for a while, and you'll get to know your space. Your living room may really need two full couches, not the love seat and a recliner you pictured there.


#5 Throwing Away Receipts and Paperwork


Shortly after moving in, your sump pump dies. You begrudgingly pay for a new one and try to forget about the cash you just dropped. But don't! When it comes time to sell, improvements as small as this are like a resume-builder for your home that can boost its price. And, if problems arise down the road, warranty information for something like a new furnace could save you hundreds.


What to do: Stow paperwork like receipts, contracts, and manuals in a three-ring binder with clear plastic sleeves, or photograph your documents and upload them to cloud storage.


#6 Ignoring Small Items on Your Inspection Report


Use your inspection report as your very first home to-do list -- even before you start perusing paint colors. Minor issues that helped take a chunk of change off the sale price can cause cumulative (and sometimes hazardous) damage. Over time, loose gutters could yield thousands in foundation damage. Uninsulated pipes? You could pay hundreds to a plumber when they crack in freezing temperatures. And a single faulty electric outlet could indicate dangerous ungrounded electricity.


What to do: Get the opinion and estimate of a contractor (usually at no charge), and then you can make an informed decision. But remember #1 above.


#7 Remodeling Without Doing the Research


No one wants to be a Negative Nancy, but there's a benefit to knowing the worst-case scenario.


Homeowner Kanter tells the time he hired roofers to remove box gutters from his 1880s home. Little did he know, more often than not aged box gutters come with more extensive rot damage, which his roofers weren't qualified to handle.


"We had to have four different contractors come in and close stuff up for the winter," he says. Had he researched the problem, he could have saved money and anxiety by hiring a specialist from the start, he says.


What to do: Before beginning a project, thoroughly research it. Ask neighbors. Ask detailed questions of contractors so you can get your timing, budget, and expectations in line.


#8 Buying Cheap Tools


You need some basic tools for your first home -- a hammer, screwdriver set, a ladder, maybe a mower.


But if you pick up a "novelty" kit (like those cute pink ones) or inexpensive off-brand items, don't be surprised if they break right away, or if components like batteries have to be replaced frequently.


What to do: For a budget-friendly start, buy used tools from known quality brands (check online auctions or local estate sales) that the pros themselves use.

Posted in Articles
Jan. 17, 2019

Burglary Prevention Tips


The information contained in this blog is for general information purposes and entertainment. Before you make any major decisions using this information, we would love to hear from you and discuss your individual situation! Call us today at (616)439-1190.


By: Stacey Freed
Published: October 05, 2017


Like telling your lights to turn on and off when you're miles away.



Your home: You love it, but sometimes you have to leave it.


Whether it's the eight hours a day or eight days on a dreamy beach, allowing your biggest investment to fend for itself can be stressful. And it's a legit concern; when your home looks empty, break-ins happen. A lot. Ugh.


You could deter burglars by never leaving your house again. Or you could do the next best (OK, way better) thing, and just make it look like someone is there all the time. Here's how.


#1 Light Up a Room (From the Road)


Your parents may still rely on their lighting timer -- on at 8 p.m., off at 7 a.m. That old-fashioned option still works, but apps are more fun. They not only turn your lights on and off, but can do so randomly for a more realistic effect. And you can decide to flip on your porch light while sipping a mojito in Fiji.


You can Google your options, but one affordable example is the Lutron Casta Wireless system (about $80 for the device and $55 per switch). You replace your current wall switches with these wireless ones and "talk" to your lights from afar.

#2 Fake a Netflix Binge


Nothing says "we are definitely home" like the colorful glare of a television dancing in the window.


Put the little FakeTV gizmo where it can project light onto a curtain, and that's exactly what your home will say to passersby.


The device (which runs between about $20 and $40 depending on size) plugs into an adapter and can either work on a timer or with a light sensor, so it can switch on when it gets dark.


#3 Change Up Your Shades Remotely


Leave your window shades down while you're gone and you might as well put out a "Gone Fishin'" sign.


Check out wireless options to throw some shade on the go. Several companies have systems -- including Hunter Douglas PowerView, Pella Insynctive, and Lutron Serena -- that allow shades to go up and down at your command for about $300 to $500 a window.


#4 Make Some Noise


Burglars can change plans in a hurry at the first sound of life inside a home -- they're a bit tetchy that way. So one option when you're just gone for the day is a noise app, like Sleep And Noise Sounds that can play on a homebound phone, tablet, or computer. With noises like vacuuming and a boiling kettle, it can deter a thief who cracks open a window.


#5 Make Them Ring And Run


"Burglars will often ring your doorbell, and if no one answers, they'll go around back and kick in the door," says Deputy Michael Favata with the Monroe County Sheriff's office in New York. Now you can answer the door with the Ring Video Doorbell ($180 for the basic model).


If someone pushes the doorbell, you can talk to them through an app on your phone. Whether it's your nosey neighbor or a sketchy stranger, you can say, "I'm in the basement" while you're really on the slopes. They'll never know. And even if they don't believe you, they know they're being watched (insert devilish laugh here).


#6 Try a No-Tech Technique


Not everything requires a gadget. Here are ways to up your home security without downloading a single app:

Hire a house sitter. Then someone will be home.
If there's snow, have a neighbor walk up and down the path to your door, shovel a passage up to the garage door and drive in and out of the driveway. If it's hot out, ask them to keep your plants looking fresh with regular waterings. And don't forget to bring them a nice gift from your getaway.
Ask friends, family, or neighbors to just be present on your property -- use your patio, play in your yard, or bring in the mail.
Invite a neighbor to keep a car parked in your driveway. During the holidays, they may be happy if they need overflow for visitors.
Install a fake security camera for as low as $8. Burglars may not notice these fakes don't have all the wiring necessary to be real. And their blinking red lights offer reasonable doubt.
Get a dog. A real dog. While you're at work or running errands, nothing deters bad guys and gals like a barking, slobbery security guard. And when you go away, having a pet sitter stay can be as economical as some boarding facilities (especially if you have multiple dogs), and you'll get the benefit of a human and canine sentinel.

Posted in Articles
Jan. 17, 2019

How to be a savvy open house guest


The information contained in this blog is for general information purposes and entertainment. Before you make any major decisions using this information, we would love to hear from you and discuss your individual situation! Call us today at (616)439-1190.


By: HouseLogic
Published: February 27, 2018


Getting smart -- about what to do, ask, and avoid -- can move you ahead of the crowd.



Ah, the open house -- a chance to wander through other people's homes and imagine yourself knocking out walls and gut rehabbing their kitchens. This is what dreams are made of (or at least episodes of HGTV).


In all seriousness, going to open houses (and scheduled private showings) is one of the most exciting parts of the home-buying experience. Beyond the voyeuristic thrill, visiting houses allows you to assess things that you just can't see online.


Anyone who has taken a super-posed selfie knows that a picture doesn't always tell the whole truth. Professional listing photos can make small rooms look spacious, make dim rooms bright, and mask other flaws of a home -- but you don't know any of that until you actually see the house yourself.


You can tour houses at any point, but it can be helpful to first discuss your needs and wants with your partner (if you have one), do some online research, and talk with your agent and your lender. That way, you -- and your agent -- can take a targeted approach, which saves you time and can give you an edge over your buying competition.


So, before you start viewing, follow these tips to get prepared.


Make It Your Job to Know Which Houses Are "Open"

There are four ways to know when a house is available for viewing:


Ask your agent. He or she will have details on specific properties and can keep you informed of open houses that fit your criteria.
Use listing websites. A number of property sites let you search active listings for upcoming open houses. On realtor.com?, for instance, when searching for properties, scroll over the "Buy" tab and click the "Open Houses" link to see upcoming ones in your area.
Scroll social media. On Instagram, for example, you can search the hashtag #openhouse, or similar tags for your city (#openhousedallas, for example), to discover open houses. Many real estate agents and brokerages also post open house announcements on Instagram, Facebook, and Twitter; find ones from your area and start following.
Drive around. Cruise through the neighborhoods you're interested in -- it's a good way to get a sense of the area amenities -- and look for open house signs.

And while you're searching, be sure to jot down the location, time, and date for any open house that strikes your fancy. It will make it that much easier to plan times and routes for hitting as many homes as possible.


Get There Early (and Say Hi to the Neighbors)


If you're seriously interested in a home, show up to the open house early. That way you'll beat the rush, and the agent showing the house (AKA the host) will have time to focus on you and your questions.


And don't be shy! Many home buyers hop from one open house to the next without talking to the listing agent. But chatting up the host can help you learn information that you wouldn't get by only touring the premises.


If a house seems like a match, take a walk around the neighborhood. Strike up conversations with the neighbors to get an insider's perspective on what life in that community is really like -- families, singles, what the vibe on the block is like, and whether the homeowner's or condo association (if there is one) is easy to work with.


Ask Lots of Questions, But Avoid TMI


To make the most of your open house visits, have a list of questions in mind for the host -- and take notes while you're there, so you can keep track of what you learned.


At the same time, remember this: Your interaction with the host could be the beginning of negotiations with them. If you end up making an offer, you'll use the information you've gathered to inform your bid. (They'll also remember that you were an engaged yet courteous person, which can't hurt your cause.)


Equally important: Oversharing could hurt your negotiating power.


Be careful about what information you share with the agent hosting the event. This person works for the seller -- not you. The host can and will use stats they've gleaned about you to counter, reject, or accept an offer.


Keeping that in mind, here are eight questions you can ask a host to help determine whether a house is a good fit for you:


Have you received any offers? If there are already bids on the table, you'll have to move quickly if you want to make an offer. Keep in mind: Listing agents can't disclose the amount of any other offers, though -- only whether they exist. When does the seller want to move? Find out the seller's timeline. If the seller is in a hurry (say, for a new job), they may be willing to accept an offer that's below list price. When is the seller looking to close? Price isn't the only factor for many home sellers. One way to strengthen your offer is to propose a settlement date that's ideal for them. For example, a 30- to 45-day closing is standard in many markets, but the seller may want more time if they haven't purchased their next home yet. Is the seller flexible on price? Most listing agents won't tip their hand when you ask this question, but there's always a chance the agent says "yes." And, in some instances, the seller has authorized their agent to tell interested buyers that the price is negotiable. In any case, you might as well ask. (It's kind of like googling for a coupon code when you buy something online.) How many days has the home been on the market? You can find this information on the internet, but the seller's agent can give you context, especially if the house has been sitting on the market for a while. Maybe the home was under contract but the buyer's financing fell through, or the seller overshot the listing price and had to make a price reduction? Knowing the backstory can only help you. Has the price changed? You can see if there's been a price reduction online, but talking to the listing agent is the only way to find out why the seller dropped the price. Are there any issues? Have there been any renovations or recent repairs made to the home? Some upgrades, like new kitchen appliances, are easy to spot, but some are harder to identify. Specifically ask about the roof, appliances, and HVAC system because they can be expensive to repair or replace. BTW, repairs like a leaky faucet, aren't things that need to be disclosed. What are the average utility costs? Many buyers don't factor utility bills into their monthly housing expenses, and these costs can add up -- particularly in drafty older homes. Ask the listing agent what a typical monthly utility bill is during the summer and during the winter, since heating and cooling costs can fluctuate seasonally. Be prepared for higher utility bills if you're moving from an apartment to a single-family home.


Now that you've got your answers, there's one last thing to do: Thank the host before you go. You never know -- you could be seeing them again at the negotiating table soon.

Posted in Articles
Jan. 16, 2019

Cleaning Your House For Guests

The information contained in this blog is for general information purposes. Before you make any major decisions using this information, we would love to hear from you and discuss your individual situation! Call us today at (616)439-1190



Countdown to a perfectly clean guest-ready home no matter how much -- or little -- time you have.


cleaning floor


By: Anne Miller

Published: September 21, 2018


It feels great to have a clean, organized, well-functioning home when you've got guests coming. Especially around the holidays. It's like your gift to you.


Here's how to get that satisfying feeling -- no matter how much time you have. Just choose your starting point on this checklist:


Three (or More) Weeks to Go


Think big picture. Get anything that requires a pro or installation out of the way now. No one wants calamity to strike when guests are pulling into the driveway.


Get your HVAC maintained if it's overdue.
If you have a self-cleaning oven, clean it now. An oven is most likely to break down during the cleaning cycle, so don't save this task for last.
Replace any appliance on its last legs. You don't want your hot water to go out or fridge on the fritz with a houseful of guests.
Steam-clean upholstery. (Or hire a pro. It's a big job)
Hire a handyman for those repairs you've been putting off.
Check outdoor lighting. Replace old bulbs and call an electrician to address any bigger issues.

Two Weeks to Go


It's not panic time yet. Focus on decluttering and a few deep-cleaning tasks now, and you'll have a more manageable to-do list when the clock really starts ticking down.


Do a deep declutter. It'll make things easier to keep clean.
Dust ceiling fans, light fixtures, and high-up shelves.
Wipe down baseboards.
Clean out and organize the fridge.
Wash windows to make the entire house feel brighter and cleaner.
Toss washable shower curtains and drapes in the washing machine and re-hang. Easy.

One Week to Go


It's strategic cleaning time. Here's what to tackle now -- things your family won't easily undo before your guests arrive.


Declutter again.
Vacuum and dust guest rooms. If they're low-traffic, the cleanliness should hold with just a quick wipe-down right before they arrive.
Wipe down walls.
Wipe down kitchen and dining room chairs and tables, including the legs. You'd be surprised how grimy they get.
Deep clean the entryway -- and make room for your guests' stuff.

72 Hours to Go


The final cleaning stretch is on the horizon.


Do another declutter.
In the kitchen, toss stove burners, drip pans, and knobs into the dishwasher for an easy deep clean.
Wash kitchen cabinet fronts.
Scrub the kitchen floor.
Clean and shine appliances.

48 Hours to Go


Now it's time to get serious.


Clean and sanitize garbage cans to banish mystery smells.
Wipe down doorknobs, faceplates, and light switches. They're germ magnets.
Clean the front door.
Deep clean the bathroom your guests will use, and close it off if possible.
Wash guest towels and linens.

24 Hours to Go


Your guests' bags are packed. Time for final touches.


Do a final declutter - by now it shouldn't take more than five minutes.
Give one final wipe-down to toilets, tubs, and bathroom sinks.
And another final wipe-down in the kitchen.
Do all the floors: mop, vacuum, sweep, etc.
Make guest beds and set out clean towels.
Plug in nightlights in guest baths.
Put out guest toiletries so they're easy to find.
Add a coffee or tea station in the guest room or kitchen.
Get your favorite smell going, whether it's a scented candle, spices in water on the stove, or essential oils.
Use rubber gloves to wipe off pet hair and dust from furniture. It works.
Do the full red carpet: Sweep or shovel porch, steps, and outdoor walkways.



Visit houselogic.com for more articles like this. Reprinted from HouseLogic with permission of the NATIONAL ASSOCIATION OF REALTORS®Copyright 2019. All rights reserved.

Posted in Articles
Jan. 16, 2019

Open House Tips

The information contained in this blog is for general information purposes and entertainment. Before you make any major decisions using this information, we would love to hear from you and discuss your individual situation! Call us today at (616)439-1190




By: HouseLogic
Published: April 12, 2018


Here's what you can do to get your home ready for its big reveal.



Few words get home buyers more excited than these two: open house.


An open house is their opportunity to give your house a whirl. To wiggle the light switches. To admire the crown molding. To, y'know, awkwardly ask to use the bathroom. (Which, by the way, savvy buyers will totally do -- because they'll want to test how the water pressure holds up when they give the toilet a flush.)


For you, seller, an open house is a chance to throw open the doors. To dazzle buyers with the big reveal. To make someone fall head over heels for your charming abode.


These tricks can help you make your open house a massive hit.


1. Time It Right


Your agent will typically hold an open house for two to three hours between 11 a.m. and 5 p.m. on Saturdays and Sundays, when buyers have time and flexibility away from their jobs. To maximize your foot traffic, avoid having your open house during holidays, big community events (marathon days, for example), or unofficial "holidays" like Super Bowl Sunday.

2. Let Your Agent Take the Lead


In your own personal Open House Show, your real estate agent has two roles. To you, they are the director, giving you instructions on how to prepare for open house day, and what to do during the event. To buyers, your agent is the host. They will welcome viewers, introduce your home's impressive features, and take questions from the audience.


Your job is to make your house look like a million bucks -- or more like $300,000, depending on your price range.

The job of your agent, an expert on your local real estate market and what makes buyers tick, is to take care of the rest. That will include:


Staging your home, or recommending a reputable stager that you can hire
Hosting the open house
Communicating with home buyers and buyers' agents
Receiving feedback during the open house and communicating that feedback to you

Your agent will also recommend that, actually, you should probably leave while they show off your house to strangers, who will look under your sinks and peek into your closets. Why should you heed that advice? Because it makes good business sense for you.


A home owner's presence can make it awkward for the buyer. Buyers want to make assessments on their own, without worrying about how the seller might react or try to influence them. Buyers may have trouble picturing themselves living in the house when the owner is right there, say, serving lemonade in the kitchen. Sometimes sellers say too much. You might point out something that you think is a nice feature or amenity of your home, when it's something that might turn off a buyer. (That busy arcade bar down the block may have been your favorite place to meet friends and play Pac-Man during weekends, but it could be a deal breaker for a buyer looking for a peaceful block.) You might blurt out something that could tip your negotiating hand, like how motivated you are to sell (soon!), or that you always wanted to update the retro kitchen -- but just never got around to it.


The last things you want buyers to think after the open house is, "This place needs work," or "This seller is desperate -- I have the upper hand." So, let your agent take the lead. This won't be their first rodeo. They know the nuanced ways to show your home in its best light so that buyers will oooh and ahhh. They also know how to strategically answer questions from buyers to help set you up for success later, during negotiation.


Your agent can also stage a broker's open house on your behalf. Unlike standard open houses -- where buyers can stop by -- at broker's open houses, only real estate agents and other industry professionals are invited to attend. Generally, a broker's open is held within the first few days of a house being put on the market. Complimentary lunch is often served as an incentive to get more people to show up.


There are two main benefits of having a broker's open house:


It gives your listing more exposure. It allows you to get feedback from real estate agents on your home.


If your house "shows well," as they say in the industry, the agents who toured your home may recommend it to one (or more) of their buyer clients. If your home doesn't get rave reviews, your agent will relay that feedback to you, and may suggest improvements before the next open house, such as staging certain rooms.


3. Try Some Simple Staging


You want your home to look its best while it's on the market -- especially during the open house. Many agents say the best way to primp your home for its big day is to stage it.


Depending on what your agent recommends, staging may involve renting new furniture or decor for certain rooms in your home. There are also some easy staging tricks you can try on the day of your open house. Consider displaying a bouquet of fresh flowers in the entryway, setting your dining room table to make it look inviting, or turning on your outdoor sprinklers shortly before visitors arrive to make your lawn sparkle.


4. Clean Like Crazy


When your home is on the market, you need to keep it in showing shape -- not only for the open house, but also for any scheduled showings with buyers. Even though you've already (hopefully) cleaned and organized your home for its listing photos, there's a good chance you've let clutter or dust pile up again, especially if you have children or pets.


Make sure appliances, windows, and mirrors are fingerprint-free. Clean and organize your closets, cabinets, and under the sinks (during the open house, buyers are allowed to be nosy). Clear every bit of clutter and get rid of it or put it in storage.


Don't have the bandwidth to do a deep clean? Hire a house cleaning service to do the work for you. A professional cleaning service costs around $115 to $230 on average. If you're not sure about which service to hire, ask your agent to recommend cleaners.


5. Do a Smell Check


If buyers get a whiff of something funky, they're going to run -- not walk -- out of your open house. A week prior to the open house, ask your agent or a neighbor to do an honest, no-holds-barred smell check. Some possible smell solutions:


If your house has the aroma of your beloved pet(s), deep clean the carpets, relocate the litter box, and take steps to eliminate all olfactory traces of Fluffy.
If the basement is dank and musty, buy a dehumidifier to remove air moisture and run a fan to circulate the air.
If the kitchen drain stinks, drop in a cup of baking soda, then two cups of white vinegar. Enjoy the bubbling, then let the mixture sit for 20 to 30 minutes. Finally run hot water for 15 to 30 seconds to flush the odor.

6. Put Your Pictures (and Valuables) Away


You want your home to feel cozy and inviting, but not like someone specific (you, for example) is living there. Personal belongings such as family photos, awards, and religious art can distract home buyers and make it harder for them to imagine themselves living in your home. You don't have to go overboard -- the idea isn't to eliminate every trace of yourself -- but consider temporarily hiding some pictures and personal effects out of sight during the open house.


There's a safety element to stowing your personal belongings, too: Though your agent will be at the open house, you're inviting strangers into your home.


Securely store checkbooks, jewelry, prescription medications, family heirlooms, and other valuables.
Alert your neighbors to your open house date -- as a courtesy, but also to ask that they let you know if they notice any suspicious activity, in the unlikely event suspicious activity occurs.
Make sure your agent signs visitors in and asks them to show I.D., so that you have a record of who was in your house. (Bonus: With the sign-in sheet, your agent can follow up with buyers to find out if anyone is interested in making an offer.)
Lock windows and doors after the open house.

We're not suggesting that visitors have any intention other than potentially buying your home. It's just a good idea, generally speaking, to keep your home secure.


7. Let the Light In


Light doesn't only (literally) brighten up your space. It also makes rooms look and feel larger. On open house day, open all curtains and blinds to let natural light in. (And in the week before the open house, make sure curtains and blinds are squeaky clean.)


Replace every single burnt-out light bulb in and outside the home -- buyers should see a working light every time they flip a switch.

8. Give Your House Some Extra Curb Appeal


Buyers will judge your house on its outsides. So make last-minute improvements to turn up your home's  start_tip 102 curb appeal end_tip . Cut the grass, prune the trees, and trim the shrubs. Touch up porch fixtures and furniture with a little paint. Heck, paint the whole porch, if your budget allows. Plant new shrubs or set out potted flowers.


Small, relatively low-budget outdoor enhancements will make your home look all the more enticing to buyers -- and can add some last-minute value to its price.


9. Draw Attention to Your Home's Best Features


After your agent signs in and welcomes buyers to your home, they typically will have some time to wander around on their own. Even though you won't be there, you can still draw visitors' attention to features in your home that you'd like to highlight.


Prior to the open house, post (friendly, aesthetically pleasing) signs around the house with calls to action such as, "look down, new hardwood floors," or "gas fireplace, push this button." Buyers will likely appreciate the help, and that they're working with a conscientious seller.


10. Serve Refreshments


Serving warm cookies or freshly baked brownies at an open house is one of the oldest tricks in the book. That's because it works: Buyers love being greeted with a sweet treat and a cold or warm beverage depending on the time of year. Refreshments also give people a reason to stay longer: No one will rush off because they're hungry or thirsty.


Your agent may even have relationships with a local cafe or bakery, which might offer snacks for free advertising at the open house.


What to Do During and After the Open House


Once you've done everything you can to make your house look and feel amazing to buyers -- and your agent is on site to assume their hosting duties -- the time during your open house is yours to enjoy. Go to the park, get a three-course lunch, do whatever you like as long as you're free to take calls.


Your agent may need to get in touch with questions, so make sure you're available and have good cell phone reception. (A movie, for example, is not a great activity for you during the open house for that reason.)


After the open house ends, your agent will share with you what questions buyers asked and any comments they overheard by visitors. Buyers' remarks will likely run the gamut, including some that could be negative. ("Why is the closet such a mess," for example.)


The important thing is to stay open to buyers' feedback, and to follow your agent's advice about how to respond. Based on buyers' reactions, your agent may recommend that you make certain repairs, do some painting, or invest in additional staging before your next open house. Whatever they advise, it's not personal -- it's just the business of selling your home.

Posted in Articles
Jan. 15, 2019

Negotiating Fails

The information contained in this blog is for general information purposes. Before you make any major decisions using this information, we would love to hear from you and discuss your individual situation! Call us today at (616)439-1190




6 Ways to Lose at Negotiating a House Price

Article From HouseLogic.com

By: Leanne Potts
Published: July 12, 2018


Real estate negotiation tips so you can buy your dream home -- and not overpay.



You've looked at enough houses to fill an entire season of House Hunters and finally picked one to buy. Now you're ready to make an offer.


Your agent can help guide you through this nail-biting phase of negotiating a house price, but ultimately, you call the shots. Here's how to negotiate like a boss.


Fail #1: Thinking House Price is All That Matters


That house with a price point $15k below your budget? It may seem like a deal -- until you add on the costs of maintenance and replacing the aging appliances.


Planning on repainting, remodeling, or landscaping, too? Suddenly the price looks a whole lot higher.


When developing your offer, calculate in the costs that will go above and beyond a mortgage payment. Then you can negotiate with an eye on the total cost of owning the house, not just the sticker price.


On the flip side, the price may not be all that matters to the seller, either.


She may have to start a job on the other side of the country in a month and value a quick closing. Or she may be looking to rent from you for a bit after the sale until her next home is ready. Sometimes being accommodating is negotiation gold.


Fail #2: Refusing to Back Down on Small Repairs


Before you draw a line in the negotiation sand over, say, a deck with some rotten boards, ask yourself if it's worth losing the house over a repair that would cost less than a thousand dollars.


Say the house price is $250,000, which makes that deck repair less than half of one percent of the cost of the house. There's a lot of emotional energy at this point in the process, so give yourself a break rather than dickering over it.


A house negotiation is not about winning for the sake of winning. It's about getting the house you want at a fair price on good terms.


Fail #3: Waiving Formalities Because You're So in Love With the House


Don't be so blinded by house love that you do something silly like skip some of the formalities of home buying, such as the home inspection or the appraisal, in an effort to close the deal.


Those steps, and others like a termite or septic inspection, are known as contingencies. They're there to protect you from ending up with a six-figure money pit.


Imagine how quickly the house-honeymoon would end if you found a termite colony or that the identical house across the street sold for much less?


Besides, if you're taking out a mortgage, your lender won't let you skip an appraisal because they don't want to loan money on a house that isn't worth the loan amount. So even if you want to make it easy for the seller, your lender may stop you.

If this is your first house, speed is an ace up your sleeve because you can move faster than someone who can't buy a new house until they sell the old one (another type of contingency).


And remember, while there's a lot of emotion tied up in choosing a house, it's still a business deal.


Fail #4: Getting Hung Up On a Few Grand


You offered $198,000. The seller won't budge from $200,000.


Before you walk away, consider this: Two grand is a lot of money, but in the house-buying world it's not so much. At an interest rate of 4%, with 20% down on a 30-year mortgage, that additional $2,000 will add just $8 a month to your payment.


If you can swing it -- maybe you can cut a small thing out of your budget each month -- it could be worth it.


Fail #5: Folding Because the Inspection Turned Up Issues


A good home inspection is going to turn up something. Usually several somethings. That's good. It means the inspector is doing their job. It's a rare day when a home passes inspection with no problem at all.


Plus, many things that turn up on an inspection are easily handled. You can ask the seller to do the repairs or knock some off the price so you can pay for repairs.


And while some problems may seem scary at first, like a roof leak or plumbing problem, they're almost always fixable and negotiable.


Fail #6: Offering Less Because the Decor is Hideous


The faux-Tiffany swag lamp and trippy orange-and-brown wallpaper make your eyes itch. So you're planning on offering less -- way less.


Before you do that, know the market. If it's a seller's market, your offer may be seen as an insult especially if the home's in good shape. And just like that, you've lost your dream home.


When you're ready to make that offer, look past the little stuff that you can easily change, and focus your negotiations on what matters, like the location and the bones of the house.




Visit houselogic.com for more articles like this. Reprinted from HouseLogic with permission of the NATIONAL ASSOCIATION OF REALTORS®Copyright 2018.  All rights reserved.

Posted in Articles
Jan. 15, 2019

The Best Time of Year to Buy Things for Your Home

By: Amy  Howell Hirt

Published: November 27, 2018




When to look for sales on mattresses, appliances, tools, furnishings, and materials.


Buying stuff can be stressful. Cheap out, and you could regret it. Overspend, and you'll cut into your budget. Knowing the best time of year to buy appliances and other household items can lessen the anxiety.

Buying stuff can be stressful. Cheap out, and you could regret it. Overspend, and you'll cut into your budget. Knowing the best time of year to buy appliances and other household items can lessen the anxiety.


 Here's a list of the best time of year for sales -- or download the one-page calendar here.


 Furniture: January and July


  include_photo best-time-buy-furniture 


 You could save 30% to 60% buying furniture in January and July, as stores try to clear out inventory and make way for new pieces, which manufacturers introduce in February and August.


 Floor samples especially often sell for a song, so don't hesitate to ask.


 Storage Essentials: January and August


  include_photo best-time-buy-storage 


 In August, retailers slash prices and offer free shipping on shelving, organizing systems, baskets, and storage bins, baiting parents who are packing kids off to college or getting organized for a new school year. (No offspring? No problem. Proof of parenthood is not required to qualify for deals.)


 It happens again in January, when stores roll out more sales -- and selection -- to help you find a home for all those holiday gifts and meet your organizing goals for the New Year.


 Linens and Towels: January


  include_photo best-time-buy-linens 


 Department store "white sales" -- launched in 1878 -- are still a favorite marketing tactic and make January the best time to binge on high-quality bedding and towels. If the exact color or style you're seeking is out of stock, ask in-store for a rain check, so you can get exactly what you want at the price that can't be beat.


 Major Appliances: January, September, October, and the Holidays


  include_photo best-time-buy-appliances 


 The prices on this year's appliances bottom out when they suddenly become last year's models. With the exception of refrigerators (more on that below), you can pick up last year's models for way less in September, October, and January, when stores are making room for new inventory.


 For good deals on this year's models, wait for Black Friday and the holidays. The season rivals inventory clear-out bargains as the best time of year for sales on appliances. And if you've got more than one appliance on the fritz, holidays are often the time to find incentives for buying multiple items.


 Mattresses: February and May


  include_photo best-time-buy-mattresses 


 Even the most obscure holiday seems to inspire mattress sale commercials. Annoying, yes, but also a reminder that you should never pay full price for a mattress. The best time of year for sales is February (courtesy of Presidents Day) and May (Memorial Day).


 Many department stores offer coupons for additional savings on the sale price, while specialty chains -- which have the biggest markups -- can drop prices 50% or more. But don't waste your time price shopping: Manufacturers have exclusive deals with retailers for each model, so the only way to find a lower price is to snuggle up to a different mattress.


 Refrigerators: May


  include_photo best-time-buy-refrigerators 


 Unlike other big-ticket appliances, new fridges are released in May. Combine the need for retail turnover with Memorial Day sales, and you get epic savings nearly all month long, making it the best time of year to buy a new refrigerator.


 Snow Blowers: March and April


  include_photo best-time-buy-snowblower 


 The best time to pick up a low-cost snow blower is exactly when you DON'T need it: in March and April. That time of year, no store wants them taking precious floor space away from spring merch like patio furniture and grills.


 Vacuums: April and May


  include_photo best-time-buy-vacuums 


 New vacs debut in June, so last year's models go on sale in April and May -- just in time for spring cleaning.




 Roofing: May


  include_photo best-time-buy-roofing 


 For the lowest price on materials, buy in May.


 But if you're paying a pro to install a new roof, contractor rates begin their climb April 1 and stay high through fall. So if weather allows for wintertime installation, you could save big.


 Gas Grills: July and August


  include_photo best-time-buy-grills 


 Come July 5, there's still smoke in the air from Fourth of July fireworks, but stores are already moving on to Halloween, with Christmas not far behind. So, they'll cook up juicy savings on grills and other summer staples in July and August. Sales peak by Labor Day, so you could pick up a new grill and still have time to host one final summer hurrah.


 Lawn Mowers: August, September, and May


  include_photo best-time-buy-mowers 


 August and September are the perfect time to retire an ailing mower. You'll find the lowest prices of the year (but also the slimmest selection) as stores replace mowers with snow blowers. Retailers also kick off the season with sales every April. You generally won't save quite as much, but you'll have more choices.


 Perennials: September


  include_photo best-time-buy-flowers 


 Unlike non-perishable goods, there's not much retailers can do with last season's perennials, so September brings savings of 30% to 50% and two-for-one offers on plants like hostas, daylilies, and peonies. And note that independent gardening stores can typically offer deeper discounts than big chains.


 Cooler weather also makes this a great time of year to plant. How's that for a win-win? If you prefer planting in the spring, many nurseries offer 10% to 20% off when you pre-order in February or March.


 Power Tools: June and December


  include_photo best-time-buy-tools 


 Power tools are a favorite go-to gift for Father's Day and the holidays, so June and December are the best time to buy tools like cordless drills.


 Paint: January, May, July, November, and December


  include_photo best-time-buy-paint 


 Prices for interior and exterior paint bottom out when the mercury (and demand) falls -- in November, December, and January, but also when it rises back up, in May and July.


 HVAC equipment: March, April, October, and November


  include_photo best-time-buy-thermostat 


 Like snow blowers, the best time to buy furnaces and whole-house air conditioning systems is when you don't need them. Prices are lowest during months with moderate temperatures -- generally March and April, then October and November.


 Many installers also run promotions during these slow seasons to help load their books. They also may be more willing to negotiate a lower price or throw in a free upgrade like a fancy thermostat.


 Flooring: December and January


  include_photo best-time-buy-flooring 


 From mid-December and into January, homeowners tend to take a break from major remodeling projects because of the holidays. Flooring retailers and installers are looking for business, so that gorgeous wide-plank flooring or luscious carpet can be yours for an even more scrumptious price. Happy Holidays to you.


Posted in Articles