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.