Winner – Best of the West 2021

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Thanks so very much for your “Best of the West” votes this year!

As we celebrate successes and enjoy recovery from a tough year, it is important to remember the independent organizations doing great work in our community who need replenishment. While asking for votes we asked for your favorite local charities and received many suggestions. GRR will be making donations to WYCE, Grand Rapids Urban League, and a new one to us, Streams of Hope.

We’d like to thank Revue West Michigan for their tireless coverage of our entertainment scene. Congrats also to our friends and colleagues including Katy Batdorff Photography, The Pyramid Scheme, The Intersection, Furniture City Creamery, Gaia Cafe, Wealthy Theatre, All In Hospitality Group, The Mitten, Harmony Brewing, GR Noir, Uncle Cheetah, Speciation, Logans Alley, Lake Michigan Credit Union, Vertigo Music, Peaches B&B, Patty Pershayla and Earth Radio. Thanks AJ Paschka for the awesome laser-like trophy-like artwork.

Fox 17 Lead Story May 12, 2021: Open houses generating more interest in Grand Rapids

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Grand River Realty Broker Pete Bruinsma was interviewed on Fox 17 news this week after his Instagram photo generated mixed feelings, displaying lines out the front door of a Saturday open house on a sunny afternoon along Riverside Park. While Mr. Bruinsma never mentioned a housing boom or lack thereof, the interview touched on a few points of interest:

  • Sustained and increased demand is fueling the market with unparalleled competition.
  • Markets in which prices are doubling and tripling are the outliers. For example, Colorado resort towns are experiencing a boom due to some absolutely stunning market shifts fueled by the super rich.
  • Grand Rapids prices are rising quickly, but this is not connected to the “insane” figures coming from outlying “exceptions.”
  • Median prices for single family homes in Grand Rapids have increased by 12.5% in the past 12 months from $189,000 to $212,000. This is explainable, and not part of a “bubble” like 2008’s lending-fueled Great Recession.
  • The median sales price for the same period the preceding year was close to 8% (from about $176,000 to $189,000).

Why does this housing market favor sellers so heavily?

  • Millennials are the largest living generation and are currently more ready than ever to make big, long-term financial decisions.
  • 2020’s COVID restrictions disallowed many buyers from entering homes, with Real Estate activity nearly halted temporarily. Even long open house lines outside of a home make many onlookers uncomfortable, after Michigan has achieved a 50% vaccination rate.
  • New home starts are behind pace in such a demand-rich environment, due in part to supply chain and labor shortages making it very hard for new construction.
  • Grand Rapids is a desirable place to live, with home prices often still priced below the cost of leasing.

Fox 17 Post

Home prices recovered from 2008’s crash and have been increasing since 2009. People’s memories of the trauma stemming from the foreclosure flood and sustained shadow inventory, are all too fresh. Here’s an article Mr Bruinsma wrote in 2015 when many people were worried about sustained housing appreciation.

Median single family home prices on the rise in the City of Grand Rapids are currently on a sustained rise:

Link to Fox 17’s blog post about the open house photo:

Heritage Hill Historic 6656 sqft Peck Mansion for Sale! $699,900

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345 Washington St SE | Grand Rapids MI | Heritage Hill Historic District | $699,900

The Peck Mansion is for sale! This 6656 square foot Queen Anne Victorian home on a 1/3 acre lot once boasted the largest ballroom and living room in town. The home has significant architectural features (see attached), with a rich history of notable owners and a dramatic murder trial.

Use is flexible with this 3-6 family home. Abounding Heritage Hill charm would make this a flagship addition to a distinguished investment portfolio, or a grand primary residence with prime entertainment capabilities and additional supporting income. Enter into a grand foyer with towering staircase and ornate wood floor. Continue throughout through cavernous twists and turns, built ins, nooks, and a heap of 1880s charm.

Expect evidence of loving upkeep as well as plenty of room for improvement. This Treasure has been through much change over the years including multiple units in the basement and a Carriage House outside, all offering exciting potential for customization and new positive changes. Roof tear-off + replacement happened 9 years ago, boiler was replaced 3 years ago.

Dream your future today in a home that tells many stories!

Full listing and more info on GRAR: https://www.grar.com/property/mls/21003404

victorian-hh-common use

Michigan Historic Tax Credits are Back

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Senate Bill 0054 has Just Passed!
Michigan Senate 32-5
Michigan House 81-24

With a proposal that has been in the works since January 2019, Michigan historic preservation tax credits toward individual income tax are back. This is great for Grand Rapids, which has a thriving historic district within its city core. Countless buildings have been saved though similar credits in the past.

This popular program and economic development engine has consistently proven to be a sound investment for Michigan, returning $9.58 for every $1 put into the program, but was eliminated with other incentives in 2011.

This will make investment into historic properties easier and less restrictive, with both federal and Michigan tax credit resources now available. One major significance with the state credit is that while federal credits assist with mostly large-scale projects that must be income-producing, Michigan State credits offer less limitation on who can take advantage of the incentives.

According to the bill, qualified taxpayers may apply for a 25% income tax credit for qualified repairs. Those qualified include owner-occupants of homes in historic districts, as well as owners of commercial and residential investment property.

Technical info and link to the bill:
https://mirsnews.com/bills/details/38519

Grand River Realty continues to stay informed on incentives and promotions available to our clients. Contact an agent today for more information.

State Historic Tax Credits a Possibility for 2021

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With a proposal that has been in the works since January 2019, it now looks like Michigan historic preservation tax credits toward individual income tax are back on the table. This would be great for Grand Rapids! The Senate Economic & Small Business Development Committee has scheduled a hearing on Senate Bill 54 for Noon on November 12th.

What to do:
(1) Send a letter of support to the committee: OfcSCC@senate.michigan.gov
Please include your name, organization represented (if any), Senate Economic Development and Small Business Committee, SUPPORT SB 54, your address. No letter or additional detail required.
(2) 
Email your senator (search Reps by your address)

If passed by the Committee, SB 54 will move quickly to the Senate Floor, possibly even the same day. Therefore, contacting your Senator TODAY is extremely important.

Bill Sponsors
The Bill

In person attendance at the hearing is extremely limited because of COVID precautions. However, the meetings are livestreamed at https://misenate.viebit.com/index.php?folder=ALL.

Help get this bill passed before the session ends 12/31.

Paul Lind, We Will Miss You.

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Paul Lind, 1955-2020

We are so sorry to have to say goodbye to our agent Paul Lind, a good friend and Realtor. He was a well-respected and wonderful human being with a big heart. We also knew him as good softball player and coach, a dedicated fan of excellent independent music. A person who brought other people together and liked to create enjoyment for others. Miss you Paul!
Obituary

We are also saddened to share the news that Paul Lind w/Grand River Realty passed away on October 1 at the age of 65.

Paul’s Broker and friend Pete Bruinsma, shared this message: “So sorry to have to say goodbye to agent Paul Lind, a good friend and 15+ year Realtor. He was a well-respected and wonderful human being with a good heart. We also knew him as good softball player and coach, a dedicated fan of excellent independent music. A person who brought other people together and liked to create enjoyment for others. Miss you Paul!”
  • Paul’s friends in Grand Rapids are organizing an informal memorial gathering. Anyone interested in attending may email Pete Bruinsma for more details.
  • In lieu of flowers, the family welcomes donations in Paul’s memory to WYCE (an eclectic radio station with a focus on local musicians, programmed by volunteers, that was especially near and dear to Paul’s heart) – https://grcmc.org/wyce/support.

 

From Paul’s Softball Team, “Dangerous at Any Age”:

A celebration of the life and times of our friend Paul Lind hosted by the “Dangerous at Any Age” softball team, of which Paul was the chief organizer and manager.
It is with great sadness that we share the news that our friend Paul Lind passed away on October 1. According to his brother, Paul didn’t want a service. However, the softball team needs to pause for a moment to celebrate his life with some feasting, merriment and music that he would have enjoyed. Please spread the word to others you know who knew Paul.
It’s fair to say that our team, Dangerous at any Age and its predecessors would not have continued in various forms without Paul’s organizing and prodding. The team members and our social events were very important to him. Rest In Peace, Skipper. https://www.facebook.com/events/2724469971160172
By James Gathany

COVID-19 FAQs Updated Fall 2020

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Real Estate in West Michigan and COVID-19

Current recommendations for Real Estate related gatherings such as showings and open houses, based on the recent MDHHS Epidemic Orders:

Recommended Practices for Sellers Permitting Showings and/or Open Houses

  • If at all possible, Sellers should not be present during showings or open houses.
  • Prior to any scheduled showing or open house, Sellers should turn on all lights and leave interior doors, drapes and blinds open.  This will ensure that anyone entering the home will not need to touch light switches/doorknobs.
  • Prior to and after any showing or open house, Sellers should clean and disinfect all frequently touched surfaces, such as doorknobs, handles, light switches and countertops.

Recommended Practices for Buyers During Showings

  • Buyers attending showings/visits should meet their agents at the property and wait in their car for the agent to arrive.
  • Buyers should not bring anyone to the showing who does not need to view the property. All adults attending the showing should sign a Showing Certification and Release.
  • Buyers should not touch any surfaces in the property. Buyers should not turn off lights or close interior doors. They should not share phones, pens, tablets etc. with anyone else attending the showing.
  • Buyers are encouraged to wear gloves and masks while viewing a home. Buyers should use hand sanitizer immediately prior to entering the home and upon exiting prior to getting into their car.
  • Buyers should minimize the time physically present at a home. Talk about the showing outside.

Summer 2020 Update:

We are back to work! Practicing social distancing, wearing proper PPE with every encounter, and being very cautious will ensure that the Real Estate business contributes in a positive way to keeping our cases on a downward trend.

Here’s a story about how wearing proper PPE can help tremendously:
Two hairstylists with COVID-19 see 140 clients, no infections.

Donations to Kids Food Basket emergency fund and Grand Rapids Service Relief are still strongly encouraged.

 

COVID Resources:

Here is a tremendous collaborative resource for everything COVID-19 in West Michigan, facilitated by theRightPlace.org
Michigan Executive Order 2020-110 Opens up most remaining restrictions on Real Estate
Michigan Dept of Insurance and Financial Services Update (March 30)
Michigan’s Executive Order 2020-59 (the latest)
Michigan’s Executive Order 2020-21 (the first)
Michigan COVID-19 Page
What to do if you think you Have COVID
Chief Economist of National Association of Realtors
Is the US Hurtling Toward Another Housing Crash?

Quarantine Streaming Concerts and Entertainment:

Local Spins West Michigan Calendar
Billboard Calendar
Vulture Calendar
We’re Going on a Bear Hunt (game for Kids)

FAQs

How is the West Michigan Housing Market Doing as Compared to 2019 at this time?
Long story short, activity was about 40% down from mid March-April. A lot due to buyers, agents, photographers not being able to enter properties.

Is the US Hurtling Toward Another Housing Crash?
How Do We Do Real Estate Closings?

Update (4/9/20): Michigan Governor Whitmer has signed a new Executive Order permitting the use of remote online notarization (RON) in real estate closings.
Can I buy or sell a house right now?
Realtors are urged to stay home in order to curb the spread of COVID-19. Showings are prohibited as are many services related to preparing a home for sale.
Update (3/30/20): Home Inspectors and Appraisers are considered Critical Infrastructure Employees under the Order.
Update (3/29/20): Despite the recent CISA memo that was published defining real estate as an essential service, this memo does NOT change the State of Michigan’s position since this new memo is only advisory and specifically defers to states for their own regulation.
Update (4/27/20): Showings, photos, signs, keyboxes etc are prohibited as are many services related to preparing a home for sale through May 15, 2020.

When will it get back to normal?
This is a liquid situation with daily changes and updates. Right now Realtors are planning on the market opening back up on Monday April 13.
Update: (The federal deadline has been extended through April 30. While Michigan has not yet extended the April 13 date, this should be expected).

If I want to buy what should I do?
Monitor recently closed sales, there are many. Lenders are still taking on new clients, get in touch, line up a pre-approval. Talk to your agent over Zoom or Skype, refine your desires and define your goals.

Is the Mortgage Industry at full strength?
Yes, they are working from home, but they are working harder than we’ve ever seen taking new applications, refinancing and pending sales.

If I want to sell?
We are expecting to walk right back into an incredible selling market mid-April. Home values are up, interest rates are down. Get in touch with your agent to get everything lined up to hit the ground running.

What if I have a sale already in progress?
Title insurance is functioning at near full strength, so is the lending sector. Your sale should be able to progress.

What does the market look like right now?
The market is not declining, it is paused, there is a big difference.
We still have less than a month of inventory, interest rates are still low, West Michigan is an affordable and desirable place to live. Expect more of what we’ve seen so far this year, which is a vibrant real estate market and a safe investment opportunity.

What about that stimulus money?
The federal government is pumping $2 Trillion into the economy in the form of grants, loans, and deferments. Does that mean Michigan gets its fair share, $40 Billion of federal stimulus money? Probably.

What can I do with Rentals?
In the short term it seems mutually beneficial for landlords and residents to stay in place and defer changes. Maintenance is allowed, but must be filling an immediate necessity.

Any Benefits to this?
We’re going to be rolling into a pretty exciting time in the world of Real Estate. What we can’t do now we’ll make up soon. We have extremely low interest rates that will provide an incentive to upgrade and to buy, stimulus money for the economy…It’s going to be a great year! Hopefully we were able to focus on our families, do some reading and self improvement, got organized, accomplished some projects and planning, got some exercise and a renewed faith in our fellow humans.

What is my home worth?
You are most welcome to contact us.

Recent Local Statements Issued

March 24,2020
MAR (Michigan Association of Realtors)
GRAR (Greater Regional Alliance of Realtors, formerly Grand Rapids Association of Realtors)

This evening, March 24, 2020, the Governor’s Office issued further guidance on real estate services under Executive Order 2020-21. The FAQ makes clear that real estate brokers and salespersons are not “critical infrastructure workers” and therefore may not leave their homes for work.  The only narrow exception to the order is the instance where work is absolutely necessary to assist those with a genuine and emergent need, such as an immediate lack of shelter.  The FAQ also uses the ambiguous term of “real estate service employees” which we do not know how to interpret. We have already communicated our concerns over the wording of this FAQ.

As for now, Michigan Realtors® current interpretation of Executive Order 2020-21 still stands. Real estate services, like the showing of homes and other property, open houses, and other client contact should be considered to be non-critical and travel to do so is prohibited through April 13, 2020.  Willful violation of the Governor’s Order is a Misdemeanor. We have already received reports of law enforcement officers enforcing the Executive Order on the streets and establishing communications for the reporting of non-essential services that continue to operate.

For those Realtors® with clients with a scheduled closing in the next three weeks, we have been advised that a number of Michigan title companies and appraisers will continue to do business under the federal government’s general category for financial/insurance services and that closings will proceed. Realtors® should check with the specific title company/appraiser regarding its policy.

Real estate brokerages have the ability to participate in closings via conference calls or other video conferencing methods to comply with the Governor’s order.

If you have a purchase agreement in place and the parties wish to agree to an extension, this can be accomplished by utilizing the Michigan Realtors® Amendment to Purchase Agreement. As with any contract, please make sure that you are consulting with legal counsel

March 26,2020
RPOA (Rental Property Owners Association of Michigan)

The RPOA has just received information from the Michigan Governor’s office regarding how landlords should handle various aspects of their operation under the current “stay at home” executive order. In a nutshell, any essential activity necessary to provide shelter or the health and safety of housing is allowable—with cautionary measures. This activity includes move-ins/outs, lease closings, repairs for items related to health and safety and nuisance code issues such as trash removal.

These activities should be carried out, when possible, remotely. Where they can’t be, cautionary measures should be practiced, such as keeping your distance from others and limiting the number of people involved to the greatest extent possible and using protective wear.

Services and retailers such as moving companies and hardware stores are being allowed to continue under the same premise and cautionary advice.

What isn’t included are showings of property for lease or for sale and repairs and maintenance not related to providing safe and healthy housing. On the topic of grass mowing or other nuisance type related issues, landlords are advised to contact their local housing inspection department to ascertain where the locality stands on the issue since those may be local ordinance violations. (At this time, the RPOA has requested information regarding the City of Grand Rapids’ stance on this issue but has not yet received a response.)

With all of that said, the RPOA recommends using caution when determining what activities to engage in. Local governments may activate even more stringent “stay at home” policies and be more aggressive in their enforcement…especially in hard hit areas such as Oakland County.

Grand River Realty is “Best of the West” Winner 2020!

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Thanks so very much for your “Best of the West” votes this year, we finally won the thing!

GRR will be making a donation in honor of this award to NIVA and #saveourstages. We’d like to thank Revue West Michigan for their tireless coverage of our entertainment scene. It is also important to recognize our beloved local entertainment venues in the midst of these tough times, and the euphoric and irreplaceable experiences we’ve shared because of their efforts.

Congrats also to our friends and colleagues including Katy Batdorff Photography and Lake Michigan Credit Union. Thanks AJ Paschka for the awesome laser-like trophy-like artwork.

Mi-Biz: Grand River Realty eager to resume in-person work amid pent-up demand

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>Full MI Biz Article<

Published in Real Estate/Development

Grand River Realty eager to resume in-person work amid pent-up demand

BY 
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unday, May 10, 2020 06:40pm

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GRAND RAPIDS — Real estate workers in West Michigan returned to in-person activities on May 7 after being halted for six weeks because of the COVID-19 outbreak.

From March 15 to April 15, housing sales in the region and the surrounding area were down 40 percent from the same time last year, according to the Grand Rapids-based Greater Regional Alliance of Realtors. 

Trapped in his home office, Grand River Realty LLC owner Pete Bruinsma said the drop felt much more dramatic. Moreover, the deals that did manage to go through were likely already in process since February or March. In a timeframe when he would normally sell about 10 properties, Bruinsma said he closed on just one vacant house, a sale that was in motion before the shutdown. 

Under the state’s stay-at-home home order and the classification of real estate agents as non-essential workers, realtors were forbidden from conducting business outside of their own homes from late-March until last week. Some relied on photos and virtual tours to show properties but most activities were curbed, according to Bruinsma, who said Michigan is the 49th state in the nation to allow real estate agents to resume showing properties with social distancing, including gloves and face masks.

“I started keeping a list of states who allow in-person real estate activity and quit when the list got too long,” Bruinsma said. 

Real estate open houses are still prohibited, but workers can now enter homes and conduct in-person meetings to develop a new listing. As well, clients can enter a home to view the property or to sign necessary documents.

Although housing activity in West Michigan had been effectively frozen during the state’s stay-at-home executive order, the markets are not expected to exit the crisis chilled, according to Bruinsma. 

“I highly anticipate the market picking up right where it left off before the shutdown,” he said. Spring is a critical time for real estate activity, especially in West Michigan where people avoid moving during the cold and snowy winter months, he added. 

“All of that pent-up demand over the winter kicks in in the spring and it kind of defines the year,” Bruinsma said. 

The housing market in the Grand Rapids metro area has consistently ranked among the “hottest” in the country during the past several years. In 2019, houses in the region were averaging just 10 days on the market with a median listing price of $178,050, up 11.3 percent from the year before, according to data from Realtor.com. 

After a normal lull for the holidays, market activity had already started to surge this February, according to Bruinsma, who said the spring sales spike has begun earlier and earlier each year. 

“It’s crazy. Right at the beginning of the year, when people started coming back out, I saw people bid way too much for stuff because there was just no supply,” Bruinsma said, noting that any suppressed inventory from the past several weeks will not fill the gap. “People have such high confidence in the value of real estate right now, especially in Grand Rapids. It’s kind of an anomaly because even if they think they’re not going to get their full value or they’re going to have to compromise on value at the moment, they’re going to maybe delay on listing it.” 

Those decisions will keep competition high in the area in the short term, but seasoned realtors are still wary of the effect a recession spawning from the COVID-19 crisis and widespread unemployment could have on their businesses. 

“There are no precedents for something like this,” Bruinsma said. “Yet, despite it being an entirely different type of situation, we have the 2007-2009 housing crisis in close memory and it affects perception.” 

Blackout Tuesday

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The shocking, senseless death of George Floyd is tragic. Our deepest sympathies are with the Floyd family and other families who understand and feel this pain and grief. Our neighbors in the communities where we work and live across America should feel safe and free from discrimination. As longtime champions of fair housing, equality and inclusion are among a REALTOR’s most cherished values, and certainly those of Grand River Realty.

Today we have initiated a $500 donation to ACLU Michigan‘s Smart Justice campaign. Please join us today in recognizing the need for justice in the United States of America for black lives, the need to be anti-racist in America, and the calling to make active, positive contributions on the subject with our time and resources.

Donate Now to ACLU Michigan

Blackout Tuesday is a collective action by elements of the music industry to protest racism and police violence. The action, organized in response to the deaths of George Floyd, Ahmaud Arbery, and Breonna Taylor, is scheduled to take place on Tuesday, June 2, 2020.

See what local media outlets affiliated with the Community Media Center are doing in Grand Rapids Michigan today:

WYCE is modifying its programming to include black artists, revolutionary musicians, and non-profits making an impace:

Wealthy Theatre is suspending curbside concessions and a film event, as well as sharing these resources:

Smart Justice Campaign
Black Lives Matter
Blackout Tuesday