4 Free Classes in December that will teach you how to renovate a home


Home Repair Services of Kent County offers educational and repair services for all homeowners. Most recently, the “Rookie Renovators” Series is comprised of regularly offered free classes each focusing on one area of a home. According to the web site, depending on your household size and income, you may qualify additional home repair assistance.

December 7, 2019: Basic Plumbing (at Home Repair Services)
December 10, 2019: Drywall (at KROC Center)
December 14, 2019: Basic Electrical Workshop (Home Repair Services)
December 20, 2019: Lunch & Learn about Home Repair Services
January 14, 2020: Plumbing
February 12, 2020: Home Maintenance

Class & Events Schedule

Home Repair Services has roots tracing back to the mid 1970’s and the local faith community, Home Repair Services has been a civic response for vulnerable homeowners facing critical health and safety repairs.   Always located in the Hall and Division area of Grand Rapids, Home Repair Services became an independent nonprofit agency in 1979 and moved to its current home, a converted Oldsmobile dealership, in 1999.  Home Repair Services has grown through the years to offer services that not only build up safer and healthier homes but it has added programs that build up the homeowners that live in them.  Over 35,000 Kent County homeowners have benefited from the work of Home Repair Services over the years.


Family Promise Wins GRR Voting, and WYCE Gets Full Matching Funds!


Thanks to everyone who participated in Grand River Realty’s efforts to support two great local nonprofits this week! Because of your generosity and dedication to our community, we were able to donate $1000 in matching funds to WYCE.

Additionally, Grand River Realty clients and friends voted for Family Promise to receive a second donation of $1000. What a fun event! We’ll have to do this again soon.

Here’s Pete’s fundraising show in case you missed it. $3004 was raised in total for WYCE, and $1000 to Family Promise of Grand Rapids.

Grand Rapids on All the Lists! (Updated 10/2019)


Fox Business: Best US Cities for Early Retirement (highest-ranked Midwestern city)

Realtor.com: Hottest Zip Codes in US – #1 is 49505

Reuters: Grand Rapids MI Recognized as “Superstar” City

Wallethub: Grand Rapids among Best Cities to Buy a Home in 2019

Realtor.com: #1 Safest, Affordable Metro

Business Insider: The top 10 cities to buy a house in 2019, where jobs are plentiful, construction is booming, and young people are moving in

Realtor.com: The 10 Surprising Housing Markets Poised to Rule in 2019

Trulia: So Long Silicon Valley, Hello Heartland: Top 10 Markets in 2019

MLive: Millennials put down roots

Lending Tree: #3 for first time buyers

Forbes: Americas Fastest Growing Cities

Forbes: Where to Invest in Housing in 2018

Realtor.com Market Hotness Index

Realtor.com: The New Boomtowns

Rentcafe: August Rents Rose at Fastest Pace in 18 Months

USA Today: Top 10 US Housing Markets

US News: #12 Best Places to Live in USA

Wallethub: Fastest Growing Cities in America

Wall Street Journal: #2 Best Place to live in USA

Global Trade Magazine: Top 10 Emerging Cities

Forbes: Best City for Raising a Family

Wallethub: Best Cities to Flip Houses

Rightplace.org: Why West Michigan?


Pete Bruinsma – Celebrating 15 Years as a Michigan Realtor


15 years ago today, my first Realtor license arrived to the Westdale company. Facebook had launched the day previous. The front desk was asking me if I knew about these things called “blogs?” and Canadian underground darlings Arcade Fire were about to release their dangerous debut album, Funeral.

Its been a wonderful trip, through ups and downs in the economy and housing market, every day I’ve thoroughly enjoyed selling houses to and for an amazing group of people that have given new meaning to my life. I’m lucky and thankful to have been considered worthy to hire as an independent contractor for so long, and I owe my thanks to each of you. Whether im selling $15,000 homes or $500,000 homes, I’m enthusiastic to work with great people of all types, shapes, sizes, personalities and finances. Its so fulfilling to see people succeed after years of time invested. If you have time for me, I will always make time for you, its what I love to do.

Thank you to my own Canadian darling Liz for being such a supportive partner in every way. My thanks also to everyone in the industry who have been considerate enough not to nail me to a wall when I’ve messed up, and those to whom I’ve asked a dumb question and received a genuine response. Here’s to the collaborators.

Tear-down planned soon, Dégagé open to Suggestions


Since moving to Grand Rapids in the 1990’s I’ve been intrigued by this whimsical carriage house and what it would be like to live here. I am sure its the same for many other fans of history, architecture, and Grand Rapids Michigan. This structure, next to Dégagé Ministries, is the last remaining evidence of the pre-industrial era of downtown Grand Rapids. It even pre-dates the period of protection governed by Historic Preservation. This is one of the reasons it is coming down.

Carriage House currently owned by Dégagé, used as a temporary pass-through from Sheldon to Division

Another reason the building is not long for this location is that it just doesn’t make a lot of sense in its current location. Times have drastically changed, and it is more of a museum piece now than a useable structure.  The building is wedged in between two commercial buildings, no stand-alone single family residences exist nearby. It’s a workaround spot right now, currently set up as a walk-through connection from the Dégagé building on Division to the building on Sheldon, with several steps up into the carriage house, and then several steps back down into their other building.

Dégagé Ministries is launching a capital campaign to remove this home and replace it with a more accessible building, adding much-needed services for women in need. The existing program has helped over 4500 women to date and is in need of expansion. They plan to move the dining hall & gathering area, currently on Division, to their building on Sheldon. It is notable that this may incidentally cause a minor shift in the amount of loitering along Division avenue.

To be clear, this plan is already in motion, already approved by the City of Grand Rapids and passed through the Historic Preservation Committee. Funds are being raised. Yet, the local organization admits it would be a bit of a shame to tear this building down if there is a will and a way to save it.

Current law office, former carriage house moved from Heartside Neighborhood

Buildings like this have been moved before. Take for example the law office that currently resides at State & Lafayette. This is a former brick carriage house from the same era and location as the Dégagé building.

I’ve been asked by Dégagé to check around and see if there is any interest from the community in possibly moving the structure to a new location. This process would need to begin with an engineering assessment to see if the place would withstand a move. Then, an intricate plan would have to be made for digging it back out of its current location then moving it somewhere uphill.

The process of moving a home is costly, especially a very old one, and there are some additional special considerations such as stop lights, automobile traffic, power lines, but surprisingly people exist around town who can move things like this. I first encountered Rollaway Movers in 2009 when I had a rental property on National Street that was shifting in a counter-clockwise direction. The foundation was giving out in one corner and I had to have it rebuilt in order to save the home.

National Basement Overhaul

Rollaway also gave me a quote on moving the Magnum Opus building at 1422 Wealthy. My company Life Cycle had been managing the property, had just finished 90% of its rehab when it was sold and slated for tear-down. The buyer eventually decided to save it, but not before I’d received a reasonable quote for moving the building. I was highly impressed!

Rear of referenced Dégagé carriage house, built into a commercial structure

For further information or any questions please don’t hesitate to contact Pete Bruinsma at Grand River Realty.

Announcing our New Location! 330 Fuller.


Kent County MI population increased by 8% in 8 years


According to Mlive.com on April 16, 2018:
“With jobs losses hammering the state, the population dropped to 9.88 million by 2011, based on Census Bureau estimates. It’s slowly increased since, and Gov. Rick Snyder has said he would like to see the population hit the 10 million mark again by 2020. Below is a look at year-by-year population estimates for all 83 counties from 2010 to 2017.”

Interactive Map

Michigan Investors: File your Gast Act

It was hot news in 1976, but today who knows about Michigan’s Mathieu-Gast Act?

If you’ve ever put a considerable amount of capital into rental maintenance in a single year, this is worth checking out. As long as a simple form is filed by the end of the year in which the work was completed, the typical increase on property taxes through an increase in Assessed Value can be halted until the next time the home is sold.

The Mathieu-Gast Home Improvement Act of 1976 was co-sponsored by state Sen. Harry Gast, R-St. Joseph, and state Rep. Thomas Mathieu around the concept that homeowners and landlords should not be penalized with higher taxes for making home improvements that benefit the community around them.

Certain stipulations do exist; for example, work conducted without necessary permits does not qualify. The Mathieu-Gast Act only applies to “normal maintenance.” According to Michigan.gov Bulletin 7 of 2014, the following repairs are considered “normal maintenance” if they are not part of a structural addition or completion:

(a) Outside painting.
(b) Repairing or replacing siding, roof, porches, steps, sidewalks, or drives.
(c) Repainting, repairing, or replacing existing masonry.
(d) Replacing awnings.
(e) Adding or replacing gutters and downspouts.
(f) Replacing storm windows or doors.
(g) Insulating or weather stripping.
(h) Complete rewiring.
(i) Replacing plumbing and light fixtures.
(j) Replacing a furnace with a new furnace of the same type or replacing an oil or gas burner.
(k) Repairing plaster, inside painting, or other redecorating.
(l) New ceiling, wall, or floor surfacing.
(m) Removing partitions to enlarge rooms.
(n) Replacing an automatic hot water heater.
(o) Replacing dated interior woodwork.

The Michigan.gov form complete with instructions & guidelines for filing are hosted HERE.

– Pete Bruinsma, Broker, Grand River Realty & Life Cycle Property Management


sources: Harold-Palladium, John Dobberstein, Jun 26, 1999, RPOAonline.org, GRcity.us

Grand Rapids Michigan