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 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 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,,

Grand Rapids: Trulia’s Top Market to Watch in 2016

Grand Rapids, MI topped the December 2015 list from Ralph McLaughlin of (owned by Zillow). On December 9, 2015, Trulia released the list of “10 Hot Real Estate Markets to Watch in 2016.”


According to the study, “Each city was examined for affordability and strong job growth, plus other factors including vacancy rates, to determine which areas are contenders for growth in the year ahead.”

Full Article Here at, which includes the full list of top 10 markets.


Grand Rapids MI: Almost the Best Place to Own a Home

According to this survey published on, the Grand Rapids area is the second-best place in the US to own a home. A local poll shows that residents are pretty happy with second place, but we’re still coming for you Denver.

Here are the stats.

best place

Renting vs Buying in Grand Rapids Michigan | Summer 2015 Update

You think you’re having a tough time looking for a place to buy in this market? Try renting one! Grand Rapids is currently at nearly 100% rental occupancy, the lowest rental vacancy rate in the US. Home prices have been back to pre-crash levels for about a year now, and the market is increasingly competitive if you are looking to purchase. No surprises here!

So, what’s the best route to go? You’re putting all of this effort in…should you rent or buy? Lets take a look at typical scenario in a great rental area, Eastown, a popular Grand Rapids neighborhood near downtown, where there is a high demand and quantity of both rentals and purchases.

The Eastown Comparison:

52 homes recently sold
(What’s currently for sale in Eastown? Glad you asked.)
Average sale price: $131,780
Average #BRs: 3.5
Avg SQFT: 1743

Average Rent for a 3-4 BR 1750 sqft home in Eastown: $1400/month.

Here’s how it looks, running this scenario through the calculator:


The Upgrade

Looks like buying in Eastown quickly pays for itself, comparing $1400/month rent to a purchase of a $132,000 home. But what if you’re already leasing a home in that price range, but you’re ready for an upgrade and/or increased square footage. You want a home with a nice bit of land, an entry-level home in East Grand Rapids, maybe a distinctive spot in East Hills, or something in an historic district. Your lender says you can afford a $230,000 purchase price. Here’s how that looks:


Try out your own scenairo! Here’s a tool from

Rent Vs Own Calculator Link

Awards Week

In the spirit of Awards Week, in which we have last night’s Grammys as well as the Jammies hosted by WYCE in Grand Rapids this Friday, Trulia decided to recognize me with a badge that places me, Pete Bruinsma, among the top 1% of Realtors.

In the Realty business, we take what we can get–certificates, designations, badges, plaques, trophies, star ratings, reviews, Christmas cards–So in the spirit of Awards Week, I humbly submit my award to you all, and send my congratulations to all other award winners.


What’s Your Neighborhood Score? New GVSU Data Released

A long term project of GVSU, overseen by Jeremy Pyne, geographic information systems manager at the Johnson Center, has just released new data on neighborhoods in West Michigan.

You can compare your neighborhood score to others in town, even output a custom report based on a specific home’s location.



The first phase of the CRI Community Profiles 2.0 aims to build upon CRI’s existing work in housing and economics within the City of Grand Rapids and to further the development and use of neighborhood information and data systems in local policymaking and community building.

This tool allows you to:

  • Map housing and economic patterns within a community or neighborhood
  • Compare multiple neighborhoods and indicators simultaneously
  • Trend information over time and across geographies
  • Score neighborhoods based on multiple indicators
  • Generate profile reports for your defined or customized geographic areas; and
  • Save all of your work through a registered account for future access.

The Recession is Over, Tell a Friend

Here’s an excerpt from a great article about West Michigan’s economic recovery published last week in Rapid Growth GR.

Here’s the follow-up article about wages, which suggests an across-the-board wage increase to invest in our local economy.


“Household income is up, nearly 10% in the last year alone. We’re almost caught up to the national average in household income. But apparently that’s not good enough for local pundits.

“Home sales in the Grand Rapids area are at a record high. Homes (listings) on the local real estate market are at an all time low, at about 2.9 months of inventory (ask your Realtor what that means). We’ll give you a hint: homes priced competitively are being snatched up at a breakneck pace. Homebuilders are seeing a pace of construction they haven’t seen in about 6 or 7 years. But apparently still not good enough.

“Apartments in the Grand Rapids metro area are, according to many sources, going on waiting lists. Downtown developer 616 Development has reported that they have close to 800 people on a waiting list for the 50 or so apartments they have under development. Suburban apartment complexes are reporting similar situations. Still not good enough.”

More here.

Eastown Environmental Sweep Launches January 2011

The BetterBuildings for Michigan program has launched and it’s coming to Eastown! This three year, $30M American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA) supported program uses a community approach to deliver energy efficiency improvements for homes and businesses by providing access to incentives and affordable loans.

>>note updated Meeting Dates and times: It’s now January 13 and 20 at 6 p.m., January 15 and 22 at 10 a.m.

The program was developed by a multi-stakeholder group including the Michigan Department of Energy, Labor & Economic Growth (DELEG)Michigan Savesthe City of Grand Rapidsthe Economic Development Corporation of the city of Detroit; and the Southeast Michigan Regional Energy Office. BetterBuildings for Michigan will leverage each dollar of the federal funds available within the program with a minimum of five dollars from other investments, thereby leveraging over $150M in private and public funding.

Here’s the link to the Detroit article.

The objective of the BetterBuildings for Michigan program is to create

  • a sustainable energy efficiency market by providing outreach and education to increase demand,
  • a skilled energy efficiency workforce to meet that demand, and
  • the tools for lenders to make ongoing investments in energy efficiency in residential, commercial, industrial, and public buildings.

The City of Grand Rapids, the West Michigan Environmental Action Council (WMEAC) and Eastown Community Association (ECA) will be performing outreach in a portion of Eastown. Those within the outreach target area have access to $1050 in basic energy efficiency upgrades as well as a comprehensive home energy assessment. Based on the assessment, a resident may decide to upgrade to other energy efficiency measures that may be supported by attractive financing up to $12,500. More information can be obtained by contacting the West Michigan Environment Action Council at 451-3051.

Additional information on Eastown Sweep

The targeted neighborhood in Eastown is outlined between Fulton, Fuller, Lake, and Wilcox Park/Aquinas College and includes an estimated 429 homes. This neighborhood will be receiving advance notice of the program and events starting the week of January 3rd this may come in the form of a direct mailing, door2door invitation, or door hangers.

The official program kick off in Eastown starts on Wednesday, January 12th, 2011

Residents will not be able to officially sign up for the program until January 12th.

Information Meetings will be held at St. Thomas Church in the basement community room.

Program sign up meetings:

January 13 and 20 at 6 p.m., January 15 and 22 at 10 a.m.

Door-2-Door Canvassing Events: WMEAC will be canvassing the neighborhood the week of January 17-22 for program information and sign up. Deadline for resident sign up is

February 12th, 2011

Also, starting on January 12th, the WMEAC office at 1007 Lake Drive SE & the ECA Office will become home bases for the neighbors to visit, get more information, and sign up during normal business hours of both offices.

The program website should be available by the official program kick-off on January 12th.

That site will be

Questions from residents about the program can be directed to WMEAC.

Ann Erhardt

Outreach Project Manager

616-451-3051 x24


Pete Bruinsma, Broker/Realtor

Pete Bruinsma

Realtor/Broker, Grand River Realty | Owner/Broker, Life Cycle Property Management

Pete is a licensed Michigan broker with over 15 yrs experience, focusing on representing buyers and sellers the Grand Rapids area. He lives in Heritage Hill, loves local music, cuisine and entertainment, and has renovated many homes. He is a strong but equitable negotiator, and can offer advice on a wide variety of topics. Expertise is balanced evenly between listing and purchasing.

Certifications and Designations
Licensed Michigan Real Estate Broker and Saleperson
C2EX (NAR Commitment to Excellence)
Graduate, Realtor Institute (GRI I,II,III)
Master of Brokerage Principles
Grand Rapids Association of Realtors Leadership Academy
At Home with Diversity
Certified Tourism Ambassador (In process)
E-Pro (Internet Professional)
Accredited Buyers Representative


Revue Magazine – Top 3 “Best Realtor” 2019
Revue Magazine – Top 3 “Best Realtor” 2018
Grand Rapids Real Producers – Top 300 Agent
Zillow 5 Star Agent
Trulia Top Agents
Westdale Company “Rookie of the Year” 2004

Grand Rapids City Commissioner (Historic Preservation) 2019-2022
Music Director of Community Radio Station, 88.1FM WYCE 12 Years
Volunteer Programmer at Community Media Center 1995-Present
City of Grand Rapids | Downtown Management Board Marketing Committee, Former Member
Big Brothers Sisters of Grand Rapids | Former Big Brother

Employment and Business History
Grand River Realty | Broker/Owner 2017-Present
Life Cycle Property Management | Broker/Owner 2001-Present
Real Estate Certified Investor
Westdale, Coldwell Banker, Grand Rapids Realty | Licensed Real Estate Salesperson 2004-Present
Cosmopolitan Home Magazine | Sales 1997-2003
Alt & Witzig Engineering | Senior Engineering Technician 1992-1996

Services I Offer:

Buyers Agent
Listing Agent
Transaction Coordinator
Investment Property Consultation
Property Management (Life Cycle Property Management)

Pete Bruinsma reviews



B.A. Telecommunications
A degree integrating marketing, business, communications and technology
Calvin College, Grand Rapids MI