Thursday, December 30, 2010

$70,000.00 Price Reduction on Lake Michigan Cottage!!!
12841 Wilderness Trail, Grand Haven, MI 49417
Price Drop on:
987 Acorn Drive Holland, MI 49424
MLS# 2944491
Price Reduction on Beautiful Baldwin Waterfront Home! MLS# 2817822
10854 Burger Road, Baldwin MI 49304


Monday, December 27, 2010

Price Drop on parcel located on 16th St zoned C-5.
941 16th Street MLS # 2829488
NEW PRICE $109,900.00
Price Reduction on 56 Acres in Holton Michigan
Meinret Road MLS # 10047263

Monday, December 20, 2010

Great Price Drop on nice condo
790 Harbor Village Ct.
Holland, MI 49423
MLS# 10045675

Friday, December 17, 2010

Mulligan's Hollow Ski Bowl in Grand Haven Michigan

Mulligan's Hollow Ski Bowl is located in Grand Haven, Michigan, with 9 ski trails, served by 2 lifts. A small local ski area catering to kids, beginning to intermediate levels. 6 ski trails, 8 snowboarding trails, night skiing, Terrain Park. Open midweek for night skiing only and weekends for day skiing only.

The Ski Bowl at Mulligan’s Hollow was established in 1960, with a mission to provide area youth with affordable winter snow sports in a family oriented environment. The Ski Bowl is a unique community asset, providing winter recreational opportunities for thousands of area residents and tourists.

Mulligan’s Lodge was built in 2005 with funding from the Grand Haven Rotary, City of Grand Haven, GHACF, the Ski Bowl support group, area businesses and many hours of volunteer labor

Ice Rink
The Ice rink is lit at night. It is maintained by volunteers. It is open when below freezing temperature, if closed please come back at another time

Mulligans does not offer rentals but Buffalo Bob's Skate in Grand Haven, MI offers snowboard rentals.

Buffalo Bob's is 616-847-0019. You may find further information at their site:

Ski rentals may be found at Reliable Sports in Holland, MI. Their phone number is 616-396-7795.

All Ages Thu-Fri: $12 Weekend: $14
SEASON PASS PRICES Season Pass All Ages: $65

Mulligan's Hollow Ski Bowl is located on Y Drive in Grand Haven, Michigan, 175 miles from Chicago, IL and 35 miles from Grand Rapids, Mi.

Mulligan's Hollow Ski Bowl
1 Y Drive
PO Box 969
Grand Haven, MI 49417
Phone: (616)842-0634

For more information on purchaseing a home in this area contact the Andrea Crossman Group.

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

From The Andrea Crossman Group

Friday, December 3, 2010

Looking Back at 2010

As the year comes to an end we look back on 2010:

January 4: World's tallest skyscraper in Dubai - United Arab Emirates

January 15: The longest annular solar eclipse of the 3rd millennium occurs.

January 27:Apple Announces iPad

February 8: The Boy Scouts of America Celebrates its 100th Anniversary

February 12–28: The 2010 Winter Olympics are held in Vancouver and Whistler, Canada.

February 19: Tiger Woods Publicly Apologizes for Sex Scandal

February 22: President Obama Presents Overhauled Health Care Reform Bill Following Setbacks

March 2: Oral Arguments for McDonald v. Chicago

March 7: Kathryn Bigelow Becomes the First Woman to Win the Academy Award for Best Director

March 10: Corey Haim Dies

Mar 20 to May 23: Eruption of Eyjafjallajökull

April 5:Upper Big Branch Mine Disaster

April 20: Offshore Oil Rig 'Deepwater Horizon' Explodes Off the Gulf of Mexico

May 2: The Eurozone and the International Monetary Fund agree to a €110 billion bailout package for Greece. The package involves sharp Greek austerity measures.

May 6: Flash Crash of Stock Market

June 1: U.S. Military Ends Major Relief Operations in Haiti

June 17:First Dead Whale Found in Gulf Oil Spill

June 18: Toy Story 3 released

June 24: Isner beats Mahut 70-68 in Wimbledon's Longest Tennis Match, 70-68 in the fifth set, after a record 11 hours, 5 minutes spread over three days.

July 8: The HB-SIA 'Solar Impulse' Becomes the First Solar Powered Plane to Complete a 24-Hour Flight

July 11 – The 2010 FIFA World Cup is held in South Africa, and is won by Spain.

August 10: The World Health Organization declares the H1N1 influenza pandemic over, saying worldwide flu activity has returned to typical seasonal patterns

August 17: Jury Finds Rod Blagojevich Guilty on One Count (Lying to the FBI), Hung on 23 others

August 19: Last Combat Soldiers Leave Baghdad, Ending Operation Iraqi Freedom

October 8: Liu Xiaobo is Awarded the 2010 Nobel Peace Prize

October 13: Thirty-three miners near Copiapó, Chile, trapped 700 metres underground in a mining accident in San José Mine, are brought back to the surface after surviving for a record 69 days.

November 15: Mark Twain's Complete Autobiography Published 100 Years After His Death

December2: NASA Discovers New Life Form

Major Disasters
13 oil spills world wide in 2010 Deepwater Horizon lasted from April to July

Total number of named storms for the Atlantic Hurricane season reached 19, 12 hurricanes, and 5 major storms

45 plane crashes world wide

Nobel Prize Awards
Chemistry – Richard F. Heck, Ei-ichi Negishi and Akira Suzuki

Economics – Peter A. Diamond, Dale T. Mortensen and Christopher A. Pissarides

Literature – Mario Vargas Llosa

Peace – Liu Xiaobo

Physics – Andre Geim and Konstantin Novoselov

Thursday, December 2, 2010

Holland, MIchigan

Trulia's weekly report
Market Activity in Holland

                     Week ending 2010-11-20                    Week ending 2010-11-27

New Listings                        53                                                       28

Price Reductions                  32                                                       26

Avg. Listing Price             $223,139                                           $219,666

More Holland market trends from Trulia

For information on purchasing a home in this area contact the Andrea Crossman Group

Friday, November 19, 2010

Coldwell Banker Homes Magazine Adverting

Coldwell Banker Homes Magazine Adverting is Now Available!

If your business is related to the home buying and selling process to advertise in this widely read publication. There are over 200 sites that stock this magazine. In addition to an add in the magazine all display advertisers receive a FREE business directory listing/ free website listing on Also Coldwell Banker's 100+ agents recommend and utilize the services of those who advertise and support us to their clients.  If you are interested in taking advantage of this opportunity contact Andrea at 616-355-6387 or
Print this form and fax to Andrea at 888-355-6387 or email to to reserve your add in the magazine!

Thursday, November 18, 2010

Happy Thanksgiving!

Wishing you and all your loved ones a
Happy Thanksgiving!


Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Lake Macatawa Real Estate Market Update

The height of the market in West Michigan real estate in general was 2005 (in terms of most numbers of sales at close to 1,500 units) and that number was down to about half that many in 2009. As it relates to Lake Macatawa, going back from Nov. 15 to Nov 15 by year here is the breakdown of number of sales (homes and condos) on Lake Macatawa:

2006 to 2007: 8 homes and 2 condos sold. Average sales price was $819,818. Highest sales price that year was $2,072,500. Average days on the market was 262 days for those 10 sales.

2007 to 2008: 12 homes sold and 5 condos sold. Average sales price was $724,010. Highest sales price that year was $1,590,000. Average days on the market was 263 days for those 17 sales.

2008 to 2009: 3 homes sold and no condos. Average sales price was $504,508. Highest sales price was $613,625. And average days on the market for those 3 that did sell was 527 days.

2009 to 2010: (A BIG improvement, especially in the last 6 months): 10 homes sold and 5 condos sold. Average sales price was $629,333 in part because one of those sales was a very small condo at Lake Ranch near the General Store at $68,000. Without that sale in there, the average sales price would have been $669,428. Highest sales price was $1,600,000 but there were 3 sales over $1 million in the past year. Average days on the market is still quite high with 518 days on the market on average for those that did sell (in large part since almost nothing sold last year). There definitely seems to be some increased consumer confidence and 2nd home, lakefront and upper end home buying.

Mortgage rates are phenomenally low. And most people are not having a hard time finding financing for 2nd homes or high end residential loans. Some things have changed in the banking world (such as most banks requiring 20 to 30% down now vs. 10% for a 2nd home). Jumbo rates (those loans over $417,500) are not far from "conventional" rates. And we just closed on one Jumbo mortgage with a rate in the low 3% range.

For more information on purchasing a home or condo in this unique area contact the Andrea Crossman Group.

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

10 reasons you should buy a home now

10 reasons you should buy a home now

1. You can get a good deal
You can get a house at a bargain price now -- especially if you play hardball. This is a buyer's market. Most of the other buyers have vanished since the tax credits on purchases expired.

We're four to five years into the biggest housing bust in modern U.S. history. And prices have come down a long way -- about 30% from their peak, according to the S&P/Case-Shiller Indices, which track home prices in cities across the country. Yes, it's mixed. New York's prices are down only 20%. Arizona's have been halved.

Will prices fall further? Sure, they could. You probably won't catch the bottom, but it doesn't really matter so much in the long haul.

2. Mortgages are cheap
You can get a 30-year home loan for about 4.3%. What's not to like? These are the lowest rates on record. As recently as two years ago, they were about 6.3%. That drop slashes your monthly repayment by a fifth.

If inflation picks up, you won't see these mortgage rates again. And if we get deflation and rates fall further, you can refinance.

3. You'll save on taxes
You can deduct mortgage interest from your income taxes. You can deduct your real-estate taxes. And you'll get a tax break on capital gains -- if any -- when you sell.

Sure, you'll need to do your math. You'll get the income tax break only if you itemize your deductions, and you may be better off taking the standard deduction instead. The tax breaks are more valuable the more you earn and the bigger your mortgage. But many people will find that these breaks mean owning costs them less, often a lot less, than renting.

4. It'll be yours
When you own, you can have the kitchen and bathrooms you want. You can move the walls, build an extension -- zoning permitted -- or paint everything bright orange. Few landlords are so indulgent; for renters, these types of changes are often impossible.

Also, you'll feel better about your home if you own it. Many years ago, when I was working for a political campaign in England, I toured a working-class northern town. Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher had just begun selling off public housing to the tenants.

"You can tell the ones that have been bought," said my local guide. "They've painted the front door. It's the first thing people do when they buy."

It was a small sign that said something big.

5. You'll get a better home
In many parts of the country, it can be hard to find a good rental. All the best places are sold as condos. Money talks.

But this is a case-by-case issue: In Miami right now there are so many vacant luxury condos that owners will rent them out for a fraction of the cost of owning. Generally speaking, however, if you want a good home in the best neighborhood, you're better off buying.

6. It offers some inflation protection
Although housing can't entirely protect you from inflation, studies by professor Karl "Chip" Case, of Case-Shiller, and others suggest that over the long term, housing has tended to beat inflation by a couple of percentage points a year. That's valuable inflation insurance, especially if you're young, raising a family and thinking about the next 30 or 40 years.

In the recent past, inflation-protected government bonds or Treasury inflation-protected securities offered easier forms of inflation insurance. But yields there have plummeted of late. That also makes homeownership look a little better by contrast.

7. It's risk capital
Your home isn't the stock market, and you shouldn't view it as a way to get rich. But if the economy does surprise us all and start booming, sooner or later real-estate prices will head up again, too.

One lesson from the past few years is that stocks are incredibly hard for most normal people to own in large quantities -- for practical as well as psychological reasons. Equity in a home is another way of linking part of your portfolio to the long-term growth of the economy -- if it happens -- and still managing to sleep at night.

8. It's forced savings
If you can rent an apartment for $2,000 a month instead of buying one for $2,400 a month, renting may make sense. But will you save that $400 for your future? Most people won't.

Once again, you have to do the math, but the part of your mortgage payment that goes to principal repayment isn't a cost. You're just paying yourself by building equity. As a forced monthly saving, it's a good discipline.

9. There's a lot to choose from
There is a glut of homes in most of the country. The National Association of Realtors puts the current inventory at around 4 million homes. That's below last year's peak but well above typical levels and enough for about a year's worth of sales.

More homes keep coming onto the market, too, as the banks slowly unload their inventory of unsold properties. That means great choice as well as great prices.

10. Sooner or later, the market will clear
Demand and supply will meet. The U.S. population is forecast to grow by more than 100 million people over the next 40 years. That means maybe 40 million new households looking for homes.

Meanwhile, this housing glut will work itself out. Many of the homes will be bought. But many more will simply be destroyed -- deliberately or by inaction. This is already happening. Even two years ago, when I toured western Florida, I saw bankrupt condo developments that were fast becoming derelict.

And, finally, a lot of the glut simply won't matter to you. It's concentrated in a few areas, such as Florida and Nevada. Unless you live there, the glut won't have any long-term impact on housing supply in your town.

Article found on

For more information on taking advantage of this buyers market contact the Andrea Crossman Group.

Thursday, October 14, 2010

Odds and Ins Around Holland Michigan

The Macatawa Watershed has been drastically altered and wetlands removed over the past 100-or-so years. Artificial wetlands, although not as effective as natural ones, will help to filter water as it returns to the watershed. They also provide a habitat for native plants and animals. LG Chem’s $300 million lithium-ion battery plant on the south side of Holland includes a little more than two acres of wetlands. By law, LG has to create 1.5 times that amount of artificial wetlands. So to obided by the laws LG has started building artifical wetlands at Van Raalte Farm on 16th Street. Right now, it looks like a giant pile of dirt that is thousands of yards of fill coming from an LG project to build two ponds with a berm in between. About this pile of dirt the Parks and Recreation Director Gray Gogolin said. “It’s not anything permanent.” The company also will pay to plant native species as well as build trails around the ponds and integrate them into the farm’s existing trail system.

Perrigo Job Fair
Hundreds of people lined-up at a job fair Tuesday, hoping to land a job with a West Michigan drug company. Perrigo is hiring up to 70 people for its Holland and Allegan locations. The hugh turnout shows how tough the local job market remains. Many of the applicants who lined up at the Holland Michigan Works! office were among the long-term unemployed, people whose job searches have extended from months into years. The prevalence of long-term unemployment may be one reason that use of Michigan’s Bridge Card for food assistance has risen sharply in Ottawa County (up 42.9 percent in 2009 to an astounding 13,172 families). As we and others have written on this page many times, there are many reasons to be optimistic about the Holland area economy, but it’s clear we have a long, long way to go to make a real dent in the ranks of the unemployed and underemployed.

Statics for Holland Area

Existing home sales rise, supply edges down
Sales of previously owned homes rose in September, but remained at subdued levels that did little to undermine the case for additional monetary stimulus next week from the Federal Reserve. Existing home sales increased for a second straight month, rising 10 percent from August to an annual rate of 4.53 million units, the National Association of Realtors said on Monday. Although the increase far exceeded economists' expectations for a 4 percent rise to a 4.30 million-unit pace, they remained below the 5 million-unit pace normally associated with a healthy market.

"The September data shows that the post-tax-credit bust in home sales has come to an end and we are now on a gradual recovery path," said Zach Pandl, a U.S. economist at Nomura Securities International in New York. U.S. stocks extended gains on the report, while Treasury debt prices were steady at higher levels. The U.S. dollar trimmed losses versus the euro. The report came ahead of the Federal Reserve's meeting next week at which policymakers are expected to decide to inject more money into the economy through bond purchases, to drive borrowing costs down further and stimulate demand.The Fed cut overnight interest rates to near zero in December 2008 and has already bought about $1.7 trillion worth of Treasury and mortgage-related debt.
The housing market is showing signs of having bottomed after hefty declines in the aftermath of the end of a popular tax credit for home buyers. Activity, however, remains very subdued and recovery will be very slow given a 9.6 percent unemployment rate. Last month, the inventory of previously owned homes for sale fell 1.9 percent to 4.04 million units from August, representing a supply of 10.7 months. The national median home price fell 2.4 percent from September last year to $171,700.

But an investigation into the processing of foreclosures by some banks is casting a cloud over the housing market, which was the main catalyst of the 2007-09 recession.
There are concerns that the investigation could slow the housing market correction as banks hold back foreclosures. "The current foreclosure (situation) is a potential negative. Less foreclosures mean the supply of these homes for sale will go down and people will be more reluctant to buy them," said Jim O'Sullivan, chief economist at MF Global in New York. According to the NAR foreclosed properties constitute about 20 percent of homes on the market. The Realtors group cautioned against any government mandated moratorium. Last month foreclosed properties accounted for 23 percent of sales while short sales made up 12 percent.

More Facts about area Townships

Building Permits from January 2010 to date
The total number of building permits in Park, Holland, Laketown, and Saugtuck townships from January 2010 to October 2010 is only 47 permits with an average price of permits is $191,146. Of the 47 permits pulled 43 of the permits were for under $500K. Only two township of the four had any permits for over $500,000 and there were only 3 over 500K in Park township and Saugutuck township only had one permit filed.

Information below is West of US 31 from Grand Haven township south to Saugtuck/Douglas.

Vacant Lots
153 lots currently listed for sale
2 pending (one is Chapel Lane)
13 sold
4 of the 15 lots the Andrea Crossman Group represented either the buyer or seller.

Homes Built in 2009 or later $225-300
2 sold (both in Chapel Hill)
13 Listed and 9 of the 13 listed are proposed construction nothing is planned to be built until sold (ghost listings) one of the 4 being built is in Chapel Hill.

Homes Built in 2009 or later 300-500
0 sold
2 listed one is a 2009 Parade home and the other is a ghost listing

Homes 300-500 price range
69 homes sold High list price was 488,500 Ave sale price was 350,000
23 homes sold with .5 acre or less Average sale price was 362,974
13 homes sold with .5 acre or less that did not have Lk Mich or Lk Mac access average sale price $344,215
14 homes pending sale. The highest list price was 499,900 with an average price of $390,450. Of the 14 pending sales 8 were with no Lk Mich and Lk Mac access.

Homes 225-300 Price range
83 homes sold any size lot
49 homes sold with .5 acre or less ave sale price286,886
1 home pending with .5 acres

Homes for sale 225-300
137 active listings
75 active listings with .5 acres or less

Homes for sale 300-500
131 active listings
63 active listings with .5 acres or less

Friday, September 24, 2010

Michigan's ArtPrize 2010

September 22 - October 10 2010

After a wildly successful debut in 2009, ArtPrize returns to downtown Grand Rapids. Designed as a very different art competition, the goal is for the general public and artists to collide. Art is the focus of the competition, but the main event is community. ArtPrize turns the city of Grand Rapids into an art gallery for two weeks. Galleries, office lobbies, restaurants, courtyards, parks are just some examples of an ArtPrize venue. Artists take over the city, visitors explore and new relationships form.

The art competition is open to anyone in the world. This year, 1,713 artists will display their work at 192 venues, all located within a three-mile radius of downtown.

It's a 19-day open art competition where the public votes on which piece of art they like best. The winner takes home $250,000. Voting is open to the public and is completely free to anyone 16 years old or older. You must be a registered voter to vote at voter registration sites located around the city.

There are two rounds of voting; during week 1 (September 22-29) each voter can vote up or down for any artist, and can only vote once for each entry. Results will be available online in real time until voting ends at 11:59 p.m. on September 29. The top 10 finalists will be announced September 30. Week 2 voting (September 30-October 6) for the top 10 begins immediately after the finalists are announced. During this round, you only get one vote, but can change your vote as often as you like until 11:59 p.m. on October 6. The top winner will be announced at a gala event on October 7th.

To insure a fair chance for all art to be viewed, all venues will be open (at minimum) during these hours:

Monday-Thursday 5PM-8PM
Friday & Saturday Noon-10PM
Sunday Noon-6PM

North - Leonard Street
South - Wealthy Street
East - College Avenue
West - Straight/Alpine Avenue

For more information visit

Real Estate Sales In Holland/Saugatuck, Michigan

Although other areas around the country have seen very low numbers for sales it may not be the same for the Holland/Saugatuck area of Michigan. Now that prices are at a more affordable level home sales continue to improve. With all the rumors going around about the real estate market across the country we took a look at the numbers for Holland and Saugatuck area.

We have seen an increase in sales of homes and condos on Lake Macatawa and Lake Michigan over the past year compared to last year. Compared to 2009 we have seen a double in sales on the waterfront in the Holland Area. So far 2010 has produced much better numbers in the unsteady real estate market.

The graph below shows the average selling prices of homes and vacant land sold in Holland/Saugatuck area. The graph shows the years starting from 2005 and going through August of 2010. The recession that begin in 2007 may be starting to climb three years later. As the graph shows there has been an improvement in average selling price already in 2010 than last year.

The graph below shows the annual number of homes and vacant land sold in the Holland/Saugatuck area of Michigan. Through August of this year we have sold over 1315 homes already. The average selling price for 2010 so far is is over $142,000 and the average number of days on the market is 115 days.

For more information on purchasing a home in the Holland area contact the Andrea Crossman Group.

Coldwell Bankers Most Affordable and Most Expensive Cities in US and Canada

Coldwell Banker Real Estate LLC today released its Home Listing Report (HLR), a snapshot survey of four-bedroom, two-bathroom home listings in Canada and the U.S. Reporting on a home size many homebuyers would aspire to own - the HLR found a $1.7 million difference between North America's most expensive and most affordable housing markets.

Rank--Most Expensive -------Avg. Listing Price for Feb. - Aug. 2010 In U.S. $

1.---Newport Beach, Calif.--------$1,826,348
2.---Palo Alto, Calif.------------$1,479,227
3.---Rye, N.Y.--------------------$1,325,500
4.---San Francisco, Calif.--------$1,325,103
5.---Vancouver, BC----------------$1,289,179
6.---La Jolla, Calif.-------------$1,210,300
7.---Greenwich, Conn.-------------$1,195,614
8.---Wellesley, Mass.-------------$1,080,458
9.---Pasadena, Calif.-------------$1,043,683
10.--Honolulu, Hawaii-------------$1,026,821

Rank--Most Affordable------- Avg. Listing Price for Feb. - Aug. 2010 In U.S. $

1.---Detroit, Mich.-------------- $68,007
2.---Grayling, Mich.------------- $84,625
3.---Sioux City, Iowa-------------$85,967
4.---Cleveland, Ohio------------- $87,240
5.---Muncie, Ind.---------------- $100,314
6.---Norfolk, Neb.--------------- $107,814
7.---Kansas City, Mo.------------ $112,449
8.---Canton, Ohio---------------- $114,325
9.---Port Huron, Mich.----------- $116,267
10.--Topeka, Kan.---------------- $116,343

For more information to purchase an affordable home allond the lakeshore contact the Andrea Crossman Group.

Digital Journal

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

The Coolest Small Towns in America

Saugatuck was rated one of the coolest small towns in America according to Yahoo Travel.

Saugatuck, Mich.
Pop. 954

A lake town where time stands still! One weekend in Saugatuck was all it took for Philippe Quentel. After two days of taking in arts and crafts homes, picket fences, and upper Midwest charm, he made the 140-mile drive back to Chicago, sold his art gallery—then one of the city's largest—and opened Affordably French, right in the heart of Saugatuck. To residents of this sleepy Lake Michigan town, Quentel's story is nothing new. Then again, little in Saugatuck is. Spared the big-box modernization seen by many of its neighbors, it retains a charm from another era. On Butler Street, 70-year-old Saugatuck Drug Store is the source for everything from Kleenex to kites. Chain restaurants are nonexistent. And to get to Saugatuck's white-sand Oval Beach, visitors cross the Kalamazoo on an 1838 hand-cranked chain ferry. "In old black-and-white pictures, Saugatuck looks just as it does now," says Lindsay Tringali, 31, owner of Bella Vita Spa and Suites, a clean-lined, six-room inn downtown. "Beyond some fresh paint and paved roads, it never changes."

For more information on living in this beautiful small town contact the Andrea Crossman Group.

No. Bedrooms Jun - Aug '10 y-o-y 3 months prior 1 year prior

2 bedrooms $109,500 +31.1% $82,450 $83,550
3 bedrooms $121,012 +27.4% $128,000 $95,000
4 bedrooms $175,000 +6.1% $134,770 $164,900
All properties $110,000 +10.0% $106,250 $100,000

The median sales price for homes in Holland MI for Jun 10 to Aug 10 was $110,000. This represents an increase of 3.5%, or $3,750, compared to the prior quarter and an increase of 10% compared to the prior year. Sales prices have depreciated 21.4% over the last 5 years in Holland. The average listing price for Holland homes for sale on Trulia was $224,750 for the week ending Sep 08, which represents an increase of 2.8% or $6,087, compared to the prior week and a decline of 2%, or $4,635, compared to the week ending Aug 18. Average price per square foot for Holland MI was $97, an increase of 26% compared to the same period last year.

Average Listing Price $224,750 +2.8%
Median Sales Price $110,000 +10%
Average Price/sqft $97 +26%
Number of Sales 301 -23%

Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Obama Administration Plans Loans for Mortgage Aid

The Obama administration has been concerned since the day they took office and implemented multiple bail-out programs designed to stem the tide of home foreclosures and provide a much-needed boost to housing sales.

The Obama administration, seemingly at a loss for fresh solutions to jump-start the nation's moribund economy plans to sink millions more dollars into the housing market to help unemployed homeowners keep their homes by providing refinance assistance.

The administration will begin a Federal Housing Administration refinancing effort to help borrowers who are struggling to pay their home mortgages, and will start an emergency homeowners’ loan program for unemployed borrowers so they can stay in their homes, Mr. Donovan said on “State of the Union” on CNN.

Despite the nation's unemployment rate frozen at 9.5% and countless others out of work for longer than 26 weeks, the administration is hell-bent on beginning a Federal Housing Authority refinance program in an effort to keep folks struggling to pay their mortgages in their houses, while starting an emergency loan program for the unemployed.

While it is admirable that the administration would like to keep as many unemployed folks in their homes as possible---selling the notion that it is to help the unemployed----it is far more likely that in doing so, they hope to manage the number of homes currently in default, thus preventing them from piling on to the existing record number of foreclosures.

No matter how many times a loan is modified or re-written for anyone, under any circumstances who remains out of work and unable to generate income, all that is happening is the postponement of the inevitable. It doesn't take an M.B.A. from the Wharton School of Economics to figure out that any stipulated monthly payment will default with the absence of income.

To view full articles visit and The New York Times

Mortgage rates hitting record lows

The 15-year fixed-rate mortgage hit a record low of 3.86 percent last week. And a one-year adjustable-rate mortgage averaged 3.52 percent, more than a percentage point lower than a year ago, according to Freddie Mac.

Today’s mortgage rates are the lowest recorded since Freddie Mac, a government-controlled firm, started monitoring mortgage rate back in 1971. The average 30-year fixed mortgage is around 4.375% today, with an APR of 4.559%, down from Friday’s average of 4.36% and and 5.14 percent from last year.

Are you a current homeowner? If you haven’t refinanced your mortgage in the last year or two, does it make sense to do so now? One of the first things to do before you make any decision is to examine your own credit history, credit score, and your payment history, especially over the last two years. If you’re consistently on time with your current mortgage payments, credit card payments, auto loans, etc., then you’re in excellent shape. But even just one or two late payments can impact your credit grade. Lenders will also look at your overall debt situation.

One other key piece of information for refinancing is the “loan-to-value” ratio. It’s simply the amount you’re borrowing as a percentage of the home’s value. So if you want to refinance $75,000 on a home worth $150,000, your loan-to-value ratio is 50 percent. In general, a lower ratio means a lower mortgage rate.

We haven’t seen rates this low for, well, for forever — not since anyone has been tracking mortgage rates here in the U.S. If you plan to stay in your home for five years or more and haven’t refinanced already, it’s probably to your advantage to refinance now. If you’re not sure, ask a lender to run the numbers for you.

Try to keep your mortgage payoff date roughly the same as your current mortgage with any refinancing option you consider. So if you are 10 years into a 30-year mortgage, try to refinance with a term no longer than 20 years. Doing so will help to lower the overall interest costs on your loan.

You may be able to benefit greatly by refinancing your current mortgage. If you are paying more than 1 point over the current offered rate, you should absolutely consider refinancing your existing mortgages. Through refinancing, many borrowers are able to save thousands of dollars in interest payments over the total life of the mortgage, and many can save hundreds of dollars in monthly mortgage payments.

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Real Estate Market: Priced to Buy

According to RealtyTrac, a total of 1.65 million U.S. properties received foreclosure filings during the first half of 2010. As of March, U.S. banks had an inventory of approximately 1.1 million foreclosed homes, which was up 20 percent from a year ago. Somehow U.S. banks have to get rid of this giant mountain of homes. Needless to say, this is going to have a significant depressing effect on housing prices.

The truth is that this is not a short-term downturn in the housing market. During the past two decades, an insane amount of debt fueled an artificial housing bubble that drove home prices to ridiculous levels. Now the U.S. housing market is trying to correct itself, and no matter how many trillions of dollars the U.S. government throws at the problem the fundamentals of the marketplace are still going to have their way eventually. According to Business Michigan has 38.5% of the mortgages are underwater.

Now is the right time to bargain for a better price. The housing market has options across all categories: affordable, mid-income and luxury homes. The spurt of launches in the real estate market is not news anymore. With new names getting added to the list every month, there's already a supply glut. And, the pertinent question now is whether it makes sense to buy a house at this point. The basic law of demand and supply tells us that when supply goes up, the prices should fall. According to Trading when the market started recovering towards the end of 2009, developers gradually moved from affordable housing to mid-income housing, according to data available with PropEquity Analytics Pvt. Ltd, a Gurgaon-based property consultancy firm. In fact, in the last six months, the shift has become more pronounced with quite a few launches in the premium and luxury segments.

Real Estate Contract Conditions You Should Have

When you formally make an offer on a home you want to buy, you'll fill out a lot of paperwork specifying the terms of your offer. Aside from the obvious things like the address and purchase price of the property on which you're making an offer, here are some items you should be sure to include in your real estate purchase contract. Even though these forms are common and standardized and a good real estate agent would not let you leave anything important out of your contract, it is still a good idea to educate yourself about the key components of a real estate purchase agreement.

Finance Terms
If you are like most people and you won't be able to buy the home without obtaining a mortgage, your purchase offer should state that your offer is contingent upon obtaining financing at a specified interest rate.

Seller Assist
If you want the seller to pay part or all of your closing costs, you must ask for it in your offer. The offer should state the amount of closing costs you are requesting as a dollar amount (e.g., $6,000) or as a percentage of the home's purchase price (e.g., 3%).

Who Pays Specific Closing Costs
The agreement should specify whether the buyer or seller will pay for each of the common fees associated with the home purchase, such as escrow fees, title search fees, title insurance, notary fees, recording fees, transfer tax and so on. Your real estate agent can advise you as to whether it is the buyer or seller who customarily pays each of these fees in your area.

Home Inspection
Unless you are buying a tear-down, you should include a home inspection contingency in your offer. This clause allows you to walk away from the deal if a home inspection reveals significant and/or expensive-to-repair flaws in the structure's condition. For example, if the home inspection reveals that the home needs a new roof at a cost of $15,000, the home inspection contingency would give you the option to walk away from the deal.

Fixtures and Appliances
If you want the refrigerator, dishwasher, stove, oven, washing machine or any other fixtures and appliances, do not rely on a verbal agreement with the seller and do not assume anything. Specify in the contract any fixtures and appliances that are to be included in the purchase.

Closing Date
How much time do you need to complete the purchase transaction? Common time frames are 30 days, 45 days and 60 days. Issues that can affect this time frame might include the seller's need to find a new home, the remaining term on your lease if you are currently renting, the amount of time you have to relocate if you are moving from a job, and so on. Occasionally, the buyer or seller might want a closing as short as two weeks, but it's difficult to remove all the contingencies and obtain all the necessary paperwork and funding in such a short time period.

Sale of Existing Home
If you are an existing homeowner and you will need the funds from the sale of that home to buy the home you are making an offer on, you should make your purchase offer contingent upon the sale of your current home. You should also provide a reasonable time frame for you to sell your home, such as 30 or 60 days. The seller of the property you're interested in is not going to want to take his property off the market indefinitely while you search for a buyer.

Acrticle found on SF Gate

For more information on purchasing a home contact the Andrea Crossman Group.

Friday, August 6, 2010

The Housing Market Stabilizes

Recovery in both real estate and employment has taken longer than we ever anticipated, and even though there are signs of stabilization in both areas, we are managing to a lower set of expectations for the foreseeable future. Underwater borrowers, along with continued high unemployment, remain the biggest threats to the housing recovery. At the end of last year, among all U.S. homes with a mortgage 24 percent were underwater. Those properties are mostly in California, Arizona, Florida, Michigan and Nevada.

It is predicted that home prices will decline into next year, Fannie Mae said, reversing earlier projections that the housing market would stabilize this year. After the expiration of the home buyer tax credits, transactions began falling immediately and were down to around 30,000 at the end of July. Although, foreclosures, though down from their 2009 highs, still average well over 300,000 homes per month. While it takes a record 461 days to complete a foreclosure, on average. Fannie Mae said that it expects its inventory of repossessed homes "to continue to increase significantly throughout 2010."

The market got a major lift from a federal tax credit for first-time home buyers, a program that spurred sales but is no longer available to new buyers, that boost did not ripple after the tax credit ended. The first-time home-buyer tax credit, which expired April 30, helped 2.5 million people buy a home, while the Home Affordable Modification Program, which helps borrowers modify mortgages rather than face foreclosure, is on pace to help 3 million to 4 million homeowners by 2012.

The rumors are continuing to grow louder that the Obama administration is planning to announce a massive stimulus via the housing market later this month. Earlier this week, the word was that the government-sponsored enterprises (GSEs) Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac might subsidize mortgage refinancing at below-market interest rates. But today, a possibility is being talked about where the GSEs instead (or maybe also) forgive the principal on the underwater mortgages they own or guarantee.

Home prices, as best we can judge, have really flattened out in the last year. And while it is true that most economists expect a small dip from here largely as a consequence of the ending of the home buyer tax credit, the data does not show that at this particular stage.

Here's a look at the number of foreclosure filings since the Home Affordable Modification Program began its first trial modifications in March 2009. Permanent modification of loans began in July 2009.

For more information on purchasing a home please contact the Andrea Crossman Group.

Friday, July 16, 2010

President Obama Visits Holland, Michigan

President Barack Obama on Thursday opened the nation's ninth advanced battery plant funded with economic stimulus money, leveraging taxpayer dollars to build a new national industry.

Compact Power Inc., Holland's second advanced battery plant half-funded by $151 million from the stimulus, will manufacture batteries for the Chevrolet Volt, a plug-in hybrid electric car, with a projected 52,000 to be produced each year. It will also supply the power for a new electric Ford Focus. It is only a part of a $2.4 billion federal commitment to the fledgling industry, financed under the economic stimulus.

White House economists say the U.S. produced less than 2% of the world's advanced batteries in 2009. By 2012, plants in the U.S. will have the capacity to produce 20% of the world's production. By 2015, that share will be 40%, the White House says.

But capacity is one thing. Demand for electric vehicles is another, and the market has been fickle in the past. Menahem Anderman, chief executive of Total Battery Consulting in California, estimates that the capacity to produce advanced automotive batteries just from the stimulus-funded U.S. plants will be three times greater than global demand by 2014.

To view the full article visitWall Street Journal

Noting that a shrinking US economy is now growing due to the steps being taken by his Administration, President Barack Obama asserted that his country would emerge stronger than before from this turmoil.

Addressing a meeting in Holland, Michigan, on clean energy, Obama asserted that because of the series of steps being taken by his Administration, the US would emerge from this period of turmoil; and come out stronger than it was before. Referring to the economic recession, he said it was a decade in which it seemed like the values that built this country were turned upside-down.

"It got even worse when the financial crisis sent our economy into a freefall and cost eight million Americans their jobs. Michigan was hit harder than anywhere else. An on top of this recession, you were also rocked by the near collapse of the domestic auto industry," he said.

"That's why, when my administration began, we cut taxes for small business owners and for 95 per cent of working families here in Michigan and across the country. We extended unemployment insurance to help folks get through these storms," he said.

"And we are seeing results. There are 4.5 million unemployed workers already hired whose employers are eligible for a payroll tax exemption, a tax break that I signed into law earlier this year," he said.

To view the full article visit Business Standard

Friday, July 9, 2010

Davey Ramsey: Finding a For-Real Realtor

Question: Dan and his wife want to sell their home. What are the criteria by which they should choose a realtor? Dave thinks this is a great question.

Dave Ramsey's advice: I'm always looking for high-octane, high-protein realtors. About 80% of the sales are made by 20% of the people. You don't want one of the other 80% to do the work here; you want a stud. This is your largest asset, and we're in tough times, so only the studs can sell. They won't fool around and list your property for too much, and they won't under price it and make you mad. They get stuff done.

When you interview them, ask how many houses they sold last year. If they sold four, get them out of your house. If they sold 44 houses, that's a different story.

Ask them what you need to do to get this house sold. If they can't give you good pointers and tell you what you need to fix in a diplomatic way, you don't need them.

Find out how much property they've moved in your area and within a 5-mile radius. If all the houses they've sold are on the other side of town, that worries me. Don't hire your aunt Sally or some guy you sit next to in church. Interview them and rake them over the coals. If they don't show up on time for the appointment with you, they will do the same when showing the house. Get someone who will return your phone calls.

For more advice for Dave Ramsey click the link.

For more information on selling your home form a for real realtor contact the Andrea Crossman Group.

Friday, July 2, 2010

Michigan Department of Education Ranks Area Schools

The list ranked public schools according to their scores on the MEAP and MME standardized tests, based on the number of students who scored well enough to be considered “proficient” in English language arts and math and on how much schools were able to improve the scores between the 2007-2008 and 2008-2009 academic years. This is the first year the schools have been ranked comparatively. Black River Public School, Eagle Crest Charter Academy, Hamilton High School and Hamilton Middle School also posted scores at or higher than the 90th percentile. Holland High School was ranked in the 42nd percentile, making it one of the lowest-ranked high schools in the greater Holland area.


School Percentile
1. Saugatuck High School 99
2. Black River Public School 97
3. Hamilton High School 90
4. Zeeland West High School 81
5. Zeeland East High School 74
6. West Ottawa High School 63
7. Holland High School 42
8. Fennville High School 24

For the extended list visit the Holland

For more information on purchasing a home along Michigan's waterfront contact the Andrea Crossman Group.

Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Holland Michigan's Downtown Is Changing

New in town, New Downtown Holland Businesses

Fustini's Olive Oil and Vinegars tasting room
At Fustini's they offer you a broad selection of Aged Balsamic Vinegars and the freshest Extra Virgin Olive Oils you can find in Michigan. Their products are imported from artisans and small batch producers worldwide to shops in downtown Traverse City, Petoskey, Holland & Ann Arbor where you can taste each one, and where they bottle and seal them for you right before your eyes. Fustini's offers 21 different Oils and 20-some Balsamic Vinegars in the store that you can mix to make a perfect marinade.

Newb's a jewelry boutique offers a large variety of jewelry, accessories and some woman's clothing. The name is an acronym for necklaces, earrings, watches, and bracelets. Newb's has name brand jewelry, items are priced at amazing deals, and they take great pride in finding the best quality items at the best possible prices.
Newb's is located at 182 South River Ave.

Thistle Gallery relocated from a different part of town to Eighth Street. Thistle Gallery features a unique collection of fine handmade creations from professional artists in varied mediums. This gallery features work from more than 80 different artists in mediums including painting's, jewelry, pottery, glass, and more.

Holland Clock Company is a retail outlet for German Black Forest Cuckoo Clocks, German Novelty Clocks, Black Forest Miniature Clocks, Dutch-style Clocks, and other unique Clocks. Holland Clock Company opened for business located on College Avenue downtown in March.

Warner Vineyards invites you to explore, taste and experience their award-winning wines and champagnes. Enjoy complimentary wine tasting in the tasting rooms. Warner also produces a line of French hybrid wines and two flavorful non-alcoholic sparkling fruit juices, as well as dessert wines such as Cream Sherry and Port. Warner Vineyard tasting room is located at 208 College Avenue.

Out with the old in with the new location

Kilwin's is a confectionery shoppes that also offers our customers a unique online shopping experience. Kilwin's has moved to a newly renovated store on the corner of Eighth Street and College Street. With over 20 shops in Michigan Kilwin's continues to satisfy our sweet tooth with their confectionery delights including chocolates, fudge and ice cream.

Tip Toes is a unique baby boutique. Tip Toes offers a wide selection of baby shoes, strollers, wall decor, furniture, baby books, toys, and gear for babies to young children. Tip Toes has also moved to a newly renovated storefront on Eighth Street next to Kilwin's.

Second story artist

Holland's downtown is know for its quaint shops and welcoming atmosphere but now more culture is being added to the second story. Most shoppes second stories are used as apartments, business offices, or condos but that is slowly changing. Artists have opened studio spaces and retail galleries on the upper floor adding more to the unique and vibrant downtown atmosphere. The upper story of the Model Drug/Apothecary Shop is a studio and gallery for four local artists. Readers World across the street is also a location for a second story gallery.

Downtown Street Performers

Every Thursday evening from 6:30 pm to 8:30 pm June 10 to August 26 Downtown Holland comes alive with street performers. features 70 different performers in 29 different locations over three blocks of the downtown streets. During the Series, artists from all backgrounds perform free for the public, filling the streets of Downtown with musicians, aerial acrobats, jugglers, dancers, balloon twisters, theatrical troupes, magicians, caricature artists, and much, much more.

For more information on purchasing a home in Holland, Michigan contact the Andrea Crossman Group.

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Obama's Mortgage Modification Program

Excerpt from: Borrowers face foreclosure after Obama loan assistance program fails to provide help.

The Obama administration's flagship effort to help people in danger of losing their homes is falling flat. More than a third of the 1.24 million borrowers who have enrolled in the $75 billion mortgage modification program have dropped out. Borrowers that have left the program total 436,000 since it began in March 2009. Most of those borrowers likely defaulted on their modified loans, but a handful either refinanced or sold their homes. That exceeds the number of people who have managed to have their loan payments reduced to help them keep their homes. Analysts expect the majority will still wind up in foreclosure and that could slow the broader economic recovery.

Obama administration officials contend that borrowers are still getting help -- even if they fail to qualify. The administration published statistics showing that nearly half of borrowers who fell out of the program as of April received an alternative loan modification from their lender. About 7 percent fell into foreclosure.

As more people leave the program, a new wave of foreclosures could occur. If that happens, it could weaken the housing market and hold back the broader economic recovery. Even after their loans are modified, many borrowers are simply stuck with too much debt -- from car loans to home equity loans to credit cards.

Another option is a short sale -- one in which banks agree to let borrowers sell their homes for less than they owe on their mortgage. A short sale results in a less severe hit to a borrower's credit score, and is better for communities because homes are less likely to be vandalized or fall into disrepair. To encourage more of those sales, the Obama administration is giving $3,000 for moving expenses to homeowners who complete such a sale or agree to turn over the deed of the property to the lender.

A major reason so many have fallen out of the program is the Obama administration initially pressured banks to sign up borrowers without insisting first on proof of their income. When banks later moved to collect the information, many troubled homeowners were disqualified or dropped out. Many borrowers complained that the banks lost their documents. The industry said borrowers weren't sending back the necessary paperwork.

Graphic shows the number of permanent modification loans active and the number all loans canceled.

Treasury officials now require banks to collect two recent pay stubs at the start of the process. Borrowers have to give the Internal Revenue Service permission to provide their most recent tax returns to lenders. Requiring homeowners to provide documentation of income has turned people away from enrolling in the program. Around 30,000 homeowners started the program in May. That's a sharp turnaround from last summer when more than 100,000 borrowers signed up each month.

Obama's program is designed to lower borrowers' monthly payments -- reducing their mortgage rates to as low as 2 percent for five years and extending loan terms to as long as 40 years. Borrowers who complete the program are saving a median of $514 a month. Mortgage companies get taxpayer incentives to reduce borrowers' monthly payments.

About 340,000 homeowners have received permanent loan modifications and are making payments on time. Administration officials say the housing market is significantly better than when President Barack Obama entered office. They say those who were rejected from the program will get help in other ways.

For full article click: Borrowers exit troubled Obama mortgage program.

For more information on purchasing or selling your home contact the Andrea Crossman Group.

Friday, June 18, 2010

Dave Ramsey: Don't Try Selling Your House Yourself!

Dave Ramsey is a financial author, radio host, television personality, and motivational speaker. He has worked in the real estate business for many years in . He gives financial advisor that counsels folks hurting from the results of financial stress to help them avoid the mistakes he himself has made.

Q: What are the advantages of using a real estate agent versus going the for-sale-by-owner route when it comes to selling a home?

A: I've had a real estate license for 30 years. If I were to put my personal residence on the market today, I'd use an active real estate agent who really knows his or her stuff in the marketplace. I'd gladly pay them their commission, too.

Now, why would I do that if I could just sell it myself and save the commission cost? For starters, if I do a for-sale-by-owner. I'm only getting my place in front of buyers I can attract from seeing a newspaper ad, Craigslist and anyone who happens to drive by the house. If I go with a high-octane real estate agent, I'll have the advantage of being exposed to their entire pool of buyers. More importantly, I'll be in the MLS, or Multiple Listing Service, database. There, you'll immediately have thousands of potential buyers. So, who do you think will have the best chance of selling my house? Market exposure is everything in the real estate game!

And think about this: Even if you went the or-sale-by-owner route, every time you moved, you might do three or four of these transactions in a lifetime. A good agent closed three or four deals last week! They'll know all the ins and outs of buying and selling a home, and they'll walk you through every step of the process. Research has shown that between basic mistakes, pricing errors and lack of negotiation skills, you'll cost yourself more than the agent's commission by trying to sell it yourself.

Trust me, you'll get a much better deal - with a lot less hassle - by using a top-flight real estate agent!

Dave Ramsey: Real estate agent or for-sale-by-owner?

For more information on selling your home with an experienced realtor team contact the Andrea Crossman Group.

Friday, June 4, 2010

Michigan's On A Slow Upward Climb!

The State of Michigan no longer is on the steep downward slide that began when the national financial crisis hit in fall 2008, although it's a long way from climbing back to the level of economic activity it saw as recently as five years ago. Auto sales are rising after dropping to their lowest level in 50 years, and the three domestic automakers could see their share of the U.S. market rise this year after years of decline, University of Michigan economist George Fulton said.

Michigan's unemployment rate still leads the nation after peaking at 14.5 percent in December, ending a year in which 285,600 jobs disappeared, including close to a fifth of the auto jobs present in 2007. Job losses so far this year have been far fewer, allowing unemployment to ease down to 14 percent.

The Michigan Association of Homebuilders announced in April that it was seeing a modest recovery and expects permits to build single-family homes will be up 35 percent through October compared to a year ago.

Among existing homes, houses that used to get no interest from buyers now are getting several offers. The competition for homes costing $600,000 or less is growing.

Other business owners also are becoming cautiously optimistic, said Rich Studley, Michigan Chamber of Commerce president and CEO.

Starting about two months ago, "All across the state people were coming up with a smile on their face saying, 'I think we've hit the bottom,'" he said. "What they were saying was, 'We've stopped losing money, we're going to survive, we're confident that the worst is behind us.'"

Many residents are still discouraged about Michigan's economic future, however. A full quarter of the 600 likely voters questioned in a recent poll said they think Michigan's economy will get worse. Among the 73 percent who think the economy has bottomed out, only 35 percent think it's starting to improve, while the rest feel it isn't getting any better.

The May 22-26 poll was conducted by Lansing-based EPIC-MRA for the Detroit Free Press and television stations WXYZ, WOOD, WJRT and WILX. The margin of sampling error was plus or minus 4 percentage points.

Shaky Michigan economy slowly starting to recover

For more information on purchasing a Michigan home contact Andrea Crossman Group.

Tuesday, June 1, 2010

Michigan Motion Picture Industry

Michigan Motion Pictures Studios LLC has been promised local government assistance to build a $60 million film studio here at the Centerpoint Business Campus. The Oakland County Economic Development Corp., a public-private entity, has authorized the issuance of $28 million worth of tax-exempt bonds to finance the Raleigh Michigan Studios.

With the funds, the company will renovate a 425,000-square-foot existing office building formerly used by General Motors. The company will also build a 185,000-square-foot studio. The project should be complete by January, according to a statement by the county.

The funds will help add to the emerging film industry in Michigan, according to County Executive L. Brooks Patterson. “Such growth depends on the ability of the industry to build studios such as this,” he said in a statement. Patterson appoints local bankers, real estate developers, lawyers and other members of the community to the economic development entity, which then has the authority to issue bonds.

Michigan has joined the competition for studios since it created its film incentive, officially called the film production credit. The refundable, assignable tax credit is offered for up to 42% of the amount of a production company’s expenditures (depending upon type) that are incurred in producing a film or other media entertainment project in Michigan.

An estimated $325 million has been generated so far in Michigan with more than 87 major film productions and TV projects creating 7,000 jobs. Films include Gran Torino, Dreamgirls, Transformers, Up In the Air and 8 Mile to name a few. In 2010, three more major studios are expected to open in Michigan with the number rapidly growing.

For more information on purchasing a home in Michigan contact Andrea Crossman Group.

Friday, May 14, 2010

Real Estate Market Forecasts For After The Expired Tax Credit

The near-collapse of the housing industry has actually had one beneficial effect: It has increased affordability for those with the ability to consider making such a high-ticket purchase. The National Association of Home Builders/Wells Fargo Housing Opportunity Index (HOI) showed that 72.3% of all new and existing homes sold in the second quarter of 2009 were affordable to families earning the national median income of $64,000. The large inventory of homes continues to push prices down, and that combined with continued low interest rates has made housing more affordable than it has been for several years. In fact, Michigan is one of the most affordable housing markets in the nation. Several Michigan cities ranked highly in the survey, including Detroit/Dearborn, Grand Rapids, Bay City and Lansing.

Home prices rose in 91 U.S. cities in the first quarter as states hard hit by foreclosures began to recover and a tax credit cut the number of properties for sale. Cities with the most foreclosures a year earlier had the biggest price increases as a tax credit of as much as $8,000 boosted demand and drove the supply of unsold homes to a four- year low in January.

The National Association of Realtors has lowered expectations for sales of U.S. resale homes in 2010. Only time will tell how the residential real estate market will be affected by the expiration of the home buyer tax credits. Consumers remain unsure about the direction of the housing market, but are optimistic about real estate values

Lawrence Yun, the national group's chief economist, said favorable affordability conditions have been working with the tax credit. "Clearly the home buyer tax credit has helped stabilize the market. In the months immediately following the expiration of the tax credit, we expect measurably lower sales," he said. "Later in the second half of the year, and into 2011, home sales will likely become self-sustaining if the economy can add jobs at a respectable pace, and from a return of buyer demand as they see home values stabilizing."

For more information on how to take advantage of this affordable market please contact the Andrea Crossman Group.

Friday, April 30, 2010

Manistee: Beaches, boutiques and bumming around in this port city

MANISTEE — Imagine Manistee -- a place where boutiques and the beautiful beaches of Lake Michigan are within walking distance of one another. Street musicians wander the sidewalks every Saturday in the summer. A farmers market sets up shop near a marina.

A barrier-free river walk takes people on a waterfront tour of the downtown shopping district. And every building in sight — from a combination wine shop and art gallery to an inn built as a bank in 1891 — is on the National Register of Historic Places.

“There’s a ‘hidden gem’ mentality to this place,” said Travis Alden, director of the Manistee Main Street and Downtown Development Authority.

Downtown Manistee is both quaint and lively during the summer.
Once known as the “Victorian Port City,” Manistee was a booming part of Michigan’s lumber era in the late 1800s, claiming more millionaires per capita than any other place in the state.

In recent years, the city of 6,500 year-round residents is better known for its splendid fishing; unparalleled access to inland lakes, rivers and the Big Lake; and, of course, the Little River Casino Resort just five miles down the road on U.S. 31.

“We’re glad the casino’s here. It brings people to this county that might not otherwise come,” Alden said, “but there’s more to Manistee than fishing and the casino.”

There’s River Street: Manistee’s main downtown corridor that stretches from U.S. 31 to the shores of Lake Michigan. It’s enjoying a renaissance of its own, a revitalization that’s drawing not just tourists, but people who are learning to see their hometown through new eyes.

“I love being an ambassador for Manistee,” said Jennie Marie Naffie, editor and publisher of the Women’s LifeStyle Northshore magazine that has a circulation from Muskegon north to Manistee. “As a kid, I think I took it for granted.”

Now a resident of Muskegon, Naffie returns to her hometown of Manistee regularly on business.

While there, she makes a point of shopping at its cluster of women-owned and operated businesses, including The Ideal Kitchen, Surroundings Candle Factory & Fine Cigars and Moving Spirit-Lloyd Henry’s Great Wine and Great Art — all on the same block on the west end of River Street.

“There’s a local touch to downtown that you don’t see other places. There’s no ‘big box store’ feel to the downtown. It’s just really special,” Naffie said.

Draw for business

That’s what drew Shelley Doyen to River Street to open Ideal Kitchen, a full-service gourmet kitchen shop, four years ago.

“I fell in love with downtown, all the unique shops ... all the possibilities,” Doyen said.
Few shops are more unique than her next-door neighbor, Surroundings Candle Factory & Fine Cigars, with its walk-in humidor and smoking lounge where people who enjoy cigars will be still able to indulge in a fine smoke even after the May 1 no-smoking law goes into effect in Michigan.

“Well, we’ve got something you’re not going to see everywhere,” said Karen Carlson, who owns the store with her husband, Oscar Carlson.

Unique features

Just like at Moving Spirit, a one-of-a-kind business that is a wine shop and an art gallery that sells the work of local artists. But the true star is the building itself with its original zinc ceiling and other historical elements from the 1800s, said store manager Theresa Burke. Burke said the family atmosphere is another reason to visit the area.

While mom shops, the kids can enjoy themselves on the beaches of Lake Michigan — just a few minutes away on foot, less than that by bike or car. Dad can fish, dock a boat at the marina, enjoy a cool one at any number of pubs along the way, some of which have outdoor decks overlooking the Manistee River and river walk.

“We like to think of this as our own ‘Magnificent Mile,’” said Alden.
“If you go west on River Street from U.S. 31 to the beach, you have shops, restaurants, art galleries, a marina, the river walk, two historical museums, recreational parks and boat launches. There’s just so much in a compact area.”

Inn again

The Ramsdell Inn, built as a bank in 1891 and renovated into an inn in 2003, anchors one of the most spectacular corners on River Street. The inn takes full advantage of its historic splendor, including turning an ancient bank vault into a gift shop.

“It literally takes you back in time,” said manager Julie Feliczak. “It’s a little piece of history ... that doesn’t have that franchise feel to it.”

T.J.’s Pub, which offers libations and food, shares space in the same building as the inn. Visitors walk downstairs to the pub, which occupies what was once Manistee’s first drugstore.

There’s history around every corner in Manistee. The celebrated Ramsdell Theater, where actor James Earl Jones got his professional acting start, is just a couple blocks away on Maple Street.

The North Pier Lighthouse acts as sentinel on the other end of town. The Manistee County Historical Museum can’t be contained to one site. It has its main “branch” on River Street, as well as the Water Works Museum near the waterfront.

But the city’s downtown isn’t stuck in the past.

This summer, four new shops will open on River Street just in time for tourist season that swells Manistee to twice its year-round size: The Bookstore; a meat market/deli/party store named River Street Stockyard and Spirits; The Glenwood with foods from the popular restaurant by the same name in Onekama; and finally an antiques-home furnishings store on the corner of River Street and U.S. 31.

Add to that a new Mexican restaurant, La Familia, and the established Boathouse Grille that overlooks the river and river walk.

The big draw

But it’s the water — Lake Michigan and the Manistee River especially — that brings so many people to the city’s confines.

“In Manistee, there’s constant and immediate access to water,” Alden said. “On your way home from work or shopping, you can make an impromptu stop at the beach.
“I know people who always have their fishing gear in their vehicles ... that’s just how it is in Manistee.”

And if that’s not enough, a band shell on the river walk is home to free concerts every Thursday night from June through August; the Manistee National Forest Festival is celebrated the first week in July; and The Port City Street Fair runs the first weekend after Labor Day in September.

Information: Go to or
Call Manistee County Convention and Visitors Bureau at (231) 398-9355 or (877) 626-4783; Manistee Chamber of Commerce at (231) 723-2575; or Manistee Main Street and Downtown Development Authority at (231) 398-3262. Events, attractions, festivals, maps and other information are all provided on those websites.
Water, water everywhere: Manistee is one of the busiest shipping and recreational ports on Lake Michigan. Watch 700-foot-long Great Lakes freighters navigate the narrow Manistee River Channel. During summer, Great Lakes cruise ships frequently visit. Maritime history buffs will enjoy visiting the S.S. City of Milwaukee, a historic car ferry ship and museum berthed on Manistee Lake.
Side trip: Little River Casino Resort is five miles northeast of downtown on U.S. 31, near the juncture of M-22. Info:, (888) 568-2244 or (231) 723-1535.

Manistee: Beaches, boutiques and bumming around in this port city
Article found in the Grand Rapids Press

For more information on purchasing a home in Manistee contact the Andrea Crossman Group

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Great Lakes Housing Market for 2010

The Great Lakes region is leading the U.S. out of the housing downturn as lower home prices trigger an increase in buyers with government incentives. The shake-up in Housing Predictor's best 25 housing markets for 2010 leaps Detroit, Michigan one of the worst impacted markets in the nation to the #1 position. Detroit is now forecast to experience double-digit appreciation in home prices for the year.

The Best 25 markets for 2010 are taken from housing markets forecast by Housing Predictor in all 50 states and are updated as conditions demand over the course of the entire year.

Best 25 Housing Markets 2010 Update

Rank Real Estate Market Forecast
1. Detroit, MI 21.5%
2. Cleveland, OH 17.8%
3. Cincinnati, OH 12.7%
4. Columbus, OH 10.3%
5. Grand Rapids, MI 8.4%
6. Lafayette, LA 6.8%
7. Marquette, MI 6.4%
8. Des Moines, IA 5.7%
9. Baton Rouge, LA 5.5%
10. Arlington, VA 4.8%

Friday, April 16, 2010

Holland, MI — Reflections on Happiness — Let me count the ways

In the wake of the Holland area’s No. 2 national ranking in the Gallup-Healthways’ Well-Being Index, The Holland Sentinel is printing readers’ reflections on why they’re happy to live in Holland. Submissions may be e-mailed to (put “happy” in the subject line) or mailed to Sentinel Newsroom, 54 W. Eighth St., Holland, MI 49423.

What makes me happy about Holland:

1. Max bus transportation for the handicapped.
2. Sidewalks and paths for casual biking.
3. Kollen Park, Window on Waterfront, Windmill Island, Sanctuary Woods, the path to the lighthouse, Laketown Township Steps, Saugatuck Dunes State Park, Mount Piscah
4. Herrick District Library Sunday concerts, computer classes, bookstore, DVDs
5. Tulip Time flowers.
6. Farmers Market
7. Max Transportation handicapped bus drivers.
8. Hope College women’s basketball
9. Street performers on summer Thursdays downtown
10. Dutch Village
11. $1.25 kiddie cone at Holland State Park
12. Local theater
13. Variety of events at Hope College available to public
14. Lake Michigan beaches
15. Evergreen Commons fitness staff.
16. Local Happenings on Channel 24
17. Evergreen Commons coffee shop
18. Fireworks at Kollen Park.

— Norma Noordijk, Holland

For more information on purchasing a home in Holland, Michigan visit the Andrea Crossman Group.

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Property Tax Issue In Saugatuck, Michigan

Readers of the Holland Sentinel have voiced their opinion on the change in property tax in Saugatuck that has an unfair effect on Aubrey McClendon. Andrea Crossman and Evonne Gritter have wrote in as reader contributor expressing their thoughts on the issue.

MY TAKE — Aubrey McClendon is standing up for his rights

Holland, MI — For months I have remained silent in response to articles in the newspapers regarding Aubrey McClendon and his fight with Saugatuck Township over rezoning his land and over-the-top property taxes. I have never met the man, but I would much rather recall the entire Saugatuck Township board than to vote to raise property taxes and give the township even more power to fight you and me and Mr. McClendon in our right to appeal our property taxes when we feel they are out of line.

The millage on the May 4 ballot would allow the township to fight every one of its property owners when they appeal their taxes, although the newspapers and the township board seem to be unfairly singling out Mr. McClendon, whom I believe is already the township’s largest taxpayer by far. As a Realtor I have seen every municipality that I deal with fight tooth and nail for all the tax dollars they can by raising property assessments and ignoring the fact that average real estate values have gone done nearly 30 percent since 2006 in West Michigan.

Some of the salient points relating to the McClendon (former Denison) property that I have tracked from reading the news articles: The Saugatuck Township board, at the 11th hour before the sale to McClendon closed, unfairly changed the zoning to severely limit what he could do with it, “downzoning” the land from one home per 1.5 acre to only one home per five acres. The township should have worked with McClendon and not against him to come up with a great plan that involved green space but still allowed higher density development and a marina on the less environmentally sensitive areas. The township also took away any rights to build within the first 100 or 150 feet from the river’s edge and to have a marina or any multi-family development. All of those uses were permitted prior to his purchase.

After the McClendon purchase, the township assessor took the taxes in 2006 (at the height of the market) while in the Denison family name from about $100,000 (on the parcels on both the north and south sides of the channel) to nearly $1 million. Mr. McClendon is now being asked to pay nearly 10 times as much in taxes on the same parcels as three years ago despite a huge decline in the value of real estate in West Michigan and stricter limits on what can be developed on the land.

This is not fair to Mr. McClendon. Taxes far exceeding $1 million could be raised if the township would only work with its property owners. And just think of how full the coffers of the township would be if it collected property taxes on the kind of business and waterfront homes that were proposed for the northside parcel.

Mr. McClendon compromised in selling the southern, more ecologically sensitive parcel to the a city/conservancy group. Now let’s see the township use some common sense and compromise with Mr. McClendon. Who knows, maybe those new taxes generated could even help keep the Kalamazoo River dredged and cleaned up?

Saugatuck Township is asking residents to pay for a fight that I not only disagree with but takes millions of sustainable tax dollars annually out of the public’s hands — money that is desperately needed for schools. Why not ask the unemployed builder who has a chance at millions of dollars worth of contracts?

Private property rights are one of the last vestiges of private enterprise that we should all enjoy. Please vote “’no” to raising a special millage to give Saugatuck Township even more power to hire attorneys to fight property owners who have a right to complain about their property tax bills and fight back against unfair zoning changes.

— Andrea Crossman is a real estate broker in Holland.

LETTER — Saugatuck Township has given Aubrey McClendon no choice

Saugatuck Township, MI — Thank you for the well-written commentary by Andrea Crossman on the opinion page Monday. I am a resident of Saugatuck Township and am very disturbed by the actions of the township against Aubrey McClendon. They have taken away both the former value of the property and then have not been reasonable on reducing the taxes on the reduced value. Their handling of this matter has left Mr. McClendon with little option but to go through the courts to protect his rights as a property owner and now they want the taxpayers to foot the bill.

This could be a great development for the township with a much needed economic stimulus for the retail stores, golf courses, harbor and schools in the area. The township should have been willing to wait for the development plan and then worked with Mr. McClendon to make it the best possible for all parties.

The township has done all the taking and none of the giving and I am disturbed at the use of taxpayer money in this way. If they want to put up roadblocks to development, then they should not come back to the taxpayers for increased taxes, as they are making the choice to cut off sources of funding.

Evonne Gritter

Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Holland Hospital Ranks High

According to an article in the Holland Sentinel the Holland Hospital was named among the Thomson Reuters 100 Top Hospitals today. Holland Hospital was one among 20 in the category for mid-size community hospitals with 100-249 acute-care beds by the Thomson Reuters. The Thomson Reuters study evaluates performance in 10 areas: mortality, medical complications, patient safety, average length of stay, expenses, profitability, patient satisfaction, adherence to clinical standards of care, and post-discharge mortality and readmission rates for acute myocardial infarction, heart failure, and pneumonia, according to the Thomson Reuters Web site.

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Help Is On The Way

The U.S. Senate will try to pass another short-term extension of federal unemployment benefits this week. The one-month extension should allow the House and Senate enough time to iron out their differences on the $154 billion jobs bill the Senate passed earlier this month that extends federal unemployment benefits through the end of the year.

The five worst housing market states, California, Nevada, Michigan, Florida and Arizona are getting $1.5 billion in government help. The only catch is the states need to find "innovative" ways to spend the money in a short increment of time, 6 weeks. The money be divided between the states according to a formula based on unemployment rates and housing price declines. Of the $1.5 billion Michigan is getting $154.5 million and only six weeks to come up with plans on how to spend the money. The money can be spent, for example, to help families who can't pay their mortgages because of job losses, unable to refinance because plunging home values have left them "underwater," or to give relief from second mortgage payments.

Three different sets of issues the states can tackle with the funding are outlined according to the biggest set of problems, unemployment, underwater mortgages and second liens. The combination of unemployment and a housing market crisis is a serious problem because homeowners who have lost their jobs used to be able to sell their property. Now that property values have decreased exponentially, the unemployed are left only with foreclosure options or loan modification.

Distressed properties made up 48.1 percent of home purchases in February. This was an increase from the 37.3 percent level recorded as recently as November. Distressed properties include homes that are bank owned or whose market values are below the balance of the homeowner's mortgage. It was also the highest distressed property market share seen since last July.