Grand Rapids on All the Lists


Updated April 2024,
Originally Published 2021


10 Best Towns to visit in 2024 by CNN

Best “Right-Size” City by Forbes


Best Places to live in the US (#20, quality of life, value) by US News & World Report

#1 City in US for Millennial Homeownership (63%) by Apartment List

10 Best Cities to See Amazing Art by 10 Best

The Ten Best Real Estate Markets of 2023 by USA Today

The 25 Best Places to Live in the U.S. in 2022-2023 by US News

US Cities Offering the Most Bang for Your Buck in 2023, GoBankingRates

Most Beautiful & Affordable Cities to Live in the U.S., Travel + Leisure

Top 10 Cities for Young Female Professionals, Pheabs

The Best Places to Live in the U.S., U.S. News & World Report

Best Places to Retire in the U.S., U.S. News & World Report

Best Place to Live in Michigan, U.S. News & World Report

Best Places to Live for Quality of Life, U.S. News & World Report

Best Cities for Young Professionals in America, Niche

America’s Best Cities, World’s Best Cities

America’s Best Run Cities, Wallethub

Best Cities for Wallet Fitness, Wallethub

Healthiest Cities in America, Wallethub

Best Cities to Start a Career, Wallethub

Best Places to Find a Job, Wallethub

Best Cities to Work for a Small Business, Wallethub

Best Cities in Michigan to Live and Visit, Touropia

Best Suburbs to Buy a House in Michigan – Hudsonville and Forest Hills, Niche

Best Place to Raise a Family in Michigan – Forest hills and East Grand Rapids, Niche

Best Neighborhoods to Buy a House in America – Eastgate, Grand Rapids, Niche

Best Business Climate (Mid-Sized), Business Facilities

#1 – Best Manufacturing Hubs (Large) – Grand Rapids–Kentwood, Business Facilities

Where GR fits into + anonymous reviews


Rocket Mortage Names Grand Rapids #1 Place to Raise a Family

USA Today Reader Voting Awards Best Beer, Best Label 2021

SmartAsset: Grand Rapids #1 on Top 40 Cities for First-Time Buyers (Fall 2020)

Reuters: Grand Rapids named ‘Superstar’ City

Business Facilities: Grand Rapids ranked #1 Mid-size City for Economic Growth Potential

Fox Business: Best US Cities for Early Retirement (highest-ranked Midwestern city) Hottest Zip Codes in US – #1 is 49505

Cities Most Dependent on Small Businesses, Global Trade Magazine

Reuters: Grand Rapids MI Recognized as “Superstar” City

Wallethub: Grand Rapids among Best Cities to Buy a Home in 2019 #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 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 Market Hotness Index 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 Why West Michigan?

Best Convention Cities and Centers Global Trade Magazine

Amazon’s Giant Leap to Grand Rapids, Global Trade Magazine

Top Cities for Global Trade (2018) Top 5 Best Cities to Start or Relocate a Business, Global Trade Magazine

First Time Buyer Resources


The first time buyers market seems pretty impossible sometimes, and now the Spring Market is almost here again. We expect the competition will heat up with the weather, and prices will rise.

If it feels like you are getting outbid over and over again, the very best thing to do is talk to a trained, experienced professional at Grand River Realty. Our agents will bolster up your offer and actively advocate on your behalf with other agents and sellers. That said, here are a few additional incentives available only for first time buyers.

Advantage, you say? First time buyers?? Yep. We’ve collected as many as we can find for you, and we’ll keep adding to this list.

Hot Tip
Tired of offer deadlines and multiple offers? View some homes that have been on the market for a week or more. Here’s an active list of homes in Kent County that have been listed for 8-366 days. This avoids the hottest listings that will sell in the first few days on the market. This list does include new construction, condos, and multifamily investment properties:,18
Note, with some browsers the user will need to hit “refresh” 1-2 times before the “Days on Market” filter will kick in. We have a ticket into technical support about it. If you hit “refresh” 1-2 times and the number of matches drops, you’ve experienced this issue.

Please keep in mind that promotions do expire, details change, and additional stipulations exist. The following links are posted as a starting point and omit many of the specifics of each program in the interest of keeping the post concise, and in a “list” format. 

Fifth Third Down Payment Assistance Program
Get up to $3,600 toward your down payment or closing costs depending on the loan type you choose, no payback required

State of Michigan, MSHDA
$10,000 and $7500 DPA programs (These are no-interest loans)

Michigan Buyer Savings Account
This is new in 2022, its kind of like saving for college or retirement, the max you can save is $5,000, or $10,000 for joint filers. The benefit to doing this is “favorable state tax treatment.”

Freddie Mac Home Possible and BorrowSmart programs
Smaller incentives available from participating lenders.

Grand Rapids Homebuyer Assistance Fund (income qualified)

Here are some federal incentives
Nothing much new here but worth a first-time browse.

Flagstar Gift Program
• Borrower must qualify for the Fannie Mae Homeready product or Freddie Mac Homepossible program
• Borrower is able to receive a gift up to $7500 towards down payment or 3% of purchase price (whichever is less). There is no repayment on this gift from Flagstar Bank.
• Income limit varies based off location of home
• Minimum loan to value 95% ( borrowers can’t put more than 5% down payment )
• 620 credit score
• Conventional with PMI

Flagstar Destination Home Product
• 100% financing, no down payment, however borrower is responsible for 1% of the purchase price to be applied towards closing costs
• Income limit varies based off the location of the home

Rent to Own
Grand River Realty has partnered with an REIT to purchase homes with cash that are listed on the MLS. You become a tenant. When you are ready, refinance into homeownership with a mortgage. Qualify or get started here:

Appraisal Rebates
Coast One Mortgage, Gold Star Mortgage, others
Some banks have these and there are various qualifiers and stipulations. Its worth asking your loan officer.

Chenoa Fund
Down Payment Assistance for FHA Loans

Questions on any of these offerings? Want local contact numbers for one of these programs? Please ask Grand River Realty by filling out the contact form or by contacting your favorite Grand River Realty agent. You will receive an immediate response.

2022 Pinnacle Award goes to Tedros Fremichael of Grand River Realty


West Michigan’s annual GRAR installation and awards ceremony was held December 9, 2022. Pinnacle Award winners are announced at this event in front of top industry leaders and peers.

photo by Harr Creative

The Pride of Ownership/Rehab award was given to Tedros Fremichael of Grand River Realty! The Pride of Ownership/Rehab Award is designed to recognize those individuals within the REALTOR® Family (REALTORS®, affiliate members, etc.) that have purchased a “fixer upper” home during the current calendar year and made significant upgrades to the home to assist in raising property values.

Congrats to all of the 2022 Pinnacle Award recipients!

At the ceremony, Tedros received further recognition as a 2022 graduate from the prestigious GRAR Leadership Academy, GRARLA.

photo by Harr Creative

Coworker Pete Bruinsma of Grand River Realty also received a Pinnacle Award that day.

Grand River Realty’s Pete Bruinsma takes home second Pinnacle Award in two Years


West Michigan’s annual GRAR installation and awards ceremony was held December 9, 2022. Pinnacle Award winners are announced at this event in front of top industry leaders and peers. Pete Bruinsma was thrilled to be recognized with a Committee Service Award.

photo by Harr Creative

The Government Affairs Committee meets as needed, stays in contact with regional politicians and interviews political candidates. 2022 was a big year for that, and the committee put in quite a bit of work. Congrats to all members of the committee who worked so hard in 2022!

photo by Harr Creative

Coworker Tedros Fremichael also took home an award at the 2022 ceremony, and was further recognized as GRARLA graduate.

photo by Scott Rider

Pete took home a Pinnacle Award last year for Pride of Ownership/Rehab.

photo by Harr Creative

Congrats to everyone involved, and thanks to the staff of the Greater Regional Alliance of Realtors (GRAR)! Here’s the list of 2022 recipients.

photo by Harr Creative

Congrats Kristi and Ernie!


Its been a little while since we snapped this up in a highly competitive situation. Its nice to see the saltwater pool is being enjoyed this summer. Thanks again!


You can’t usually say this


Home Prices in Comparable Markets to Grand Rapids MI


This is a comparison of Zillow charts that show average home prices in Grand Rapids Michigan and some comparable markets. Average Sale prices as of March 2022: Grand Rapids $252k, Ann Arbor $470k, Detroit $65k, Battle Creek 161K, Madison WI $265K, Indianapolis $217K, Cape Coral FL $393k.

Is it still possible for a regular person to buy a home in Grand Rapids Michigan in 2022?


Information is swirling about the housing market as buyers make plans for 2022. Interest rates are still attractive, payments are pretty affordable compared to rents. The question is, can a regular person just buy a home in this market?

This “active residential listings” chart has been receiving attention, and rightly so. Current Active listings are at a modern-day low. Currently, the number of homes with “sale pending” signs is 140% of the number of homes with active “for sale” (active) signs.

How about total number of new listings submitted to the MLS annually? Comparing 2015 to 2021, it looks like the annual number of homes listed is down by a total of 15%. That’s 2268 fewer annual listings per year, or 189 fewer listings per month. 2015 was a year when Realtors were fighting to prove a 2-5% increase to appraisers, often falling short, as many appraisal reports still somehow showed the Greater Grand Rapids market as “stable” as opposed to “appreciating.”

The red box illustrates an era when local inventory was flooded, with homes eventually ending up selling for pennies on the dollar. That took a few years to get past, and took homes away from a lot of people. People were trending out of homes fast, loans were harder to get, and rental investors made up a large portion of buyers. That’s one reason we saw the epic first time buyer tax credit in 2008-09.

Here’s an interesting chart. Number of homes sold does not seem to change much from year to year. This chart compares number of homes sold in January each year since 2012. The population of West Michigan is pretty stable. Confidence in 2022s housing market is high as people watch property values quickly increase. The group of active first time buyers, which drive the housing market, is increasing. Loans are easy to obtain and cheap, rents are going up, and the generation of Millennials in the age range of 26-41 are rapidly entering the market.

Solutions to low inventory are not super encouraging in the short term:
*Redistribute some rental homes from investors back to owners, left over from the foreclosure era. Offer investors incentives to sell rentals, possibly a reduction in capital gains tax or a creative local state or federal tax incentive
*More new construction, address labor shortages, address supply chain issues, incentivize builders?
*Interest rates raising, making homes less affordable
*Reduction in conglomerate purchases or REITs
*Reduced foreign investment
*Restrictions on short term rentals
*Buyer Fatigue
*Shift in demand
*Shift in population

Is it still possible for a regular person to buy a home in 2022?
Yes. A successful buyer will align with an experienced agent who understands the current market, property values, and has a strategy for this market. Agents at Grand River Realty have the knowledge, training, experience, and strategy that is necessary to be successful as a buyer in this competitive market. Here are some great Realtor® options.

Posted by Pete Bruinsma, Broker.
Pete’s Buyer Stats from 2021

Working with buyers in 2021

Hello, Im Pete Bruinsma. In 2021 I was able to help many clients find a home and I hope to work with you in 2022! Please view my resume here.

Pinnacle Award goes to Grand River Realty broker Pete Bruinsma


West Michigan’s annual GRAR installation and awards ceremony held December 10, 2021 included 9 annual Pinnacle Awards. The Pride of Ownership/Rehab award was given to Pete Bruinsma of Grand River Realty.

The Pride of Ownership/Rehab Award is designed to recognize those individuals within the REALTOR® Family (REALTORS®, affiliate members, etc.) that have purchased a “fixer upper” home during the current calendar year and made significant upgrades to the home to assist in raising property values.

Congrats to all of the Pinnacle Award recipients!