Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Price Reduction: 17578 Duneside Dr. Grand Haven, MI MLS#:11033489 Call the Andrea Crossman Group for a showing today!

Monday, August 29, 2011

New Listing: 1703 South Shore Dr. Holland, MI 49423. MLS#: 11048341 Lake Macatawa Frontage! Call the Andrea Crossman Group today! https://picasaweb.google.com/113823270671707632274/SouthShore1703#slideshow/5646295732480469826
Price Reduction: 2295 Tunnel Breeze. Holland, MI MLS#:11020627. Call the Andrea Crossman Group today for a showing! 616-355-6387

Friday, August 26, 2011

Michigan Rated Number One State For Job Growth

Newsweek rated Michigan the top in job potential as number one in the 20 best states for job growth. To find the 20 best states in America for job growth they considered three factors.  

First, a new poll and index from Gallup, which asked more than 100,000 employed people whether their companies are expanding or contracting, and provides an index score from the difference between the two.  

Second, the change in seasonally adjusted unemployment rates, from the annual average for 2010 to the annual average to date, with data from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics.  

Finally, each state’s 2010 average annual income, also with BLS data. Using z-scores (a measure of each state’s performance relative to the mean), each factor was equally weighted.
The first two data sets examine opinions on job creation and raw unemployment numbers, while the third takes into account how well, in general, jobs in each state tend to pay.

1. Michigan
Employers with expanding workforces: 32%
Gallup job-creation score: 14
Average annual income: $44,438
Unemployment change, 2010 to 2011: -1.99%

2. Indiana
3. Massachusetts
4. Virginia
5. Minnesota
6. Oklahoma
7. South Carolina
8. Pennsylvania
9. Ohio
10. Arizona
11. Wyoming
12. District of Columbia
13. Wisconsin
14. Missouri
15. Illinois
16. New York
17. Vermont
18. Alaska
19. North Dakota
20. Delaware

Full article can be found by visiting this link

Thursday, August 25, 2011

Check out our new site, http://www.waterfront-luxuryhomes.com
Check out our new website!

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Holland-Area Shore Named For Debris From 1880 Shipwreck

Ask those who have been around Holland for a while and you may find a few who still remember why the stretch of lakeshore at the west end of Lakewood Boulevard is called Alpena Beach. It’s got nothing to do with the city in Alpena County or the old Getz Farm zoo there that used to draw thousands of visitors in the 1930s with its exotic animal display. No, Alpena Beach is named for a shipwreck; a lost vessel that Great Lakes wreck sleuths consider to be among the most sought-after discoveries the lake has yet to reveal.

Oct. 15, 1880, was a beautiful day when the Alpena left Muskegon, said Craig Rich, author of “For Those in Peril: The Shipwrecks of Ottawa County.”
The Goodrich Transportation Co.’s single-stack side-wheel steamer stopped in Grand Haven for passengers and freight before heading southwest across the lake, top-heavy with an estimated 80 people and 10 carloads of West Michigan apples loaded on its main deck.
Capt. Nelson W. Napier of St. Joseph steered the ship toward Chicago, away from the lakeshore that had become known as the city’s playground.
All was well by 1 a.m. according to captains who saw the Alpena in transit, Rich said. But the barometer pressure was dropping and the “worst gale in recorded history” soon swept across the lake, turning an idyllic weekend trip into a disaster in a matter of hours.
The Alpena was spotted by other captains at 6, 7 and 8 a.m., “laboring mightily” in the high seas about 35 miles off Kenosha, Wis. A large oil on canvas imagining of this hangs in the Holland Museum.
She was spotted again later, lying on her side with one large, distinctive paddlewheel facing the sky. Some say she swamped and sank. Some say she drifted the rest of Saturday and perhaps until Sunday morning.
I don’t know if her wheel was still turning, but I like to think of it that way,” Rich said.
Over the next couple days, pieces of the upper decking and debris from the wooden-built steamer began to wash upon on the beaches between Holland and Saugatuck. Bodies also began to wash up.
Newspapers reported thousands of apples were found bobbing in the surf. The largest debris to beach in the area was the ship’s grand piano, the fat brown leg of which survives in the museum. “Weird melodies” emitted from the instrument strings, according to the museum exhibit.
Because the only manifest was onboard, there is no exact accounting for the lives lost. Reports estimate approximately 80. Newspaper records show crew estimates around 26, Rich said.
The editor of the Grand Haven Herald, W.S. Benham, and his wife, perished in the sinking. Other passengers hailed from Grand Rapids, Grand Haven, Chicago and as far away as New Mexico and Philadelphia. An inquest found Goodrich in contempt following the sinking.
As for the beach, it wasn’t the only thing to be named after the disaster. The storm itself became known as the “Alpena Storm.” And Lakewood Boulevard was once called “Alpena Beach Road.”
The beach may not have formally received its informal name until 29 years later, when the ship’s side-wheeled nameboard washed ashore north of Tunnel Park in 1909.
Rich, a member of the Michigan Shipwreck Research Associates, is optimistic the wreck will someday be found and identified by the engine type and paddle wheels.
The problem, he said, is that “we don’t know where to even start looking.” The ship is thought to be mid-lake somewhere between Holland and Racine, Wis. — a potentially huge search grid.
That’s why it’s such a mystery.” 

Monday, August 15, 2011

The Art Of House Hunting

Armed with your down payment and your pre-approval letter for a mortgage loan, the next step is finding the house that will best meet your family's needs. With realistic expectations, patience and plenty of research, you'll be well on your way. 

Once you narrow the search to neighborhoods you like, you'll want to determine the maximum house price you can afford. Even though you're pre-approved for a set loan amount, it doesn't mean you can afford it. You'll want to factor in other expenses, including retirement and college savings, vacations, and home maintenance and repairs, when you calculate how much you can afford for a monthly payment. And don't forget to budget for homeowners insurance and property taxes. There's also homeowner's assocation fees, especially in newer developments. 

Next, differentiate your needs versus your wants. You need three bedrooms, but a fourth room would be nice for a play room or guest room. You need a two-car garage, but a larger one would be nice for storage. You need a functional kitchen but want hardwood floors. You need two bathrooms but want a luxurious master suite.

As you begin your house-hunting venture, prepare a checklist. Break it down between exterior and interior characteristics. Make notes on each feature and make notes. Some people give each a 1 to 10 score, which is fine, but the first few houses you see will score differently than the last few because you have many more to compare against. Also, after viewing many homes, the numbers begin to lose meaning. 

Some of the exterior features to rate might include size of yard, quality of fence, paint condition, roof condition, window conditions, garage, back yard. When it comes to interior, think about square footage; the floor plan; condition of walls; the size, quality, and functionality of the various rooms and closet and storage space. 

Your checklist should also include any other factors you deem important—the amount of traffic, the appearance of the neighborhood, safety in the area, the reputation of local schools, etc. 
Here are some other suggestions from industry experts: 

  • Take a camera with you to capture an image of each house you look at that makes it to the "maybe" list. 
  • Don't make a hasty decision, especially if you feel yourself becoming guided by emotion. Selecting a home takes time, thought and analysis. You should carefully weigh the pros and cons of each house you like. 
  • Review your checklist and notes and compare it against your needs, wants and budget. 
  • Bring your spouse, friend or family member with you to get a second opinion. They may notice a shortcoming that you've overlooked. 
  • Find out how much utilities and maintenance cost. 
  • Stay on top of newly listed houses via a Multiple Listing Service on the Internet. 
  • Remain in close contact with your agent. This is extremely important if you're in a strong seller's market and/or in which homes that are priced right go fast. You want a good agent who will alert you of new listings and who will show you the houses as soon as they're listed. 

Be prepared to look at the potential of a house rather than what you see in front of you. Set your priorities and decide what can be sacrificed. It's more important that the layout of the house and the number of bedrooms you need fit your needs and that all major systems are functional versus your dislike for the avocado green carpet or the lack of landscaping. Those types of cosmetic shortcomings can be easily remedied once you buy the house. 

If you find a house you like, offer a competitive bid. Keep in mind you'll likely be competing against other offers—especially if interest rates are low and the spring buying season is in full bloom. 
And don't forget—once you make an offer, make it contingent upon the findings of a professional home inspection. If any major defects surface, you'll want to have the leverage to renegotiate or back out of the deal completely.

Monday, August 8, 2011

The Importance Of Landscaping

A beautiful yard is a head-turner, no doubt about it. The good news is that even if you can’t tell a tulip from a turnip at the garden center, you can still create eye-catching curb appeal by paying attention to the basics of good landscaping. Ignoring your yard, or doing something that’s out of character with the neighborhood can jeopardize the assessed value of your home.

“We have several categories for design and appeal,“ says Frank Lucco, a real estate agent and professional appraiser in Houston. “That’s where we make those adjustments. Poorly maintained landscaping can be as much as a 5 or 10% deduction.”
Appraisers are quick to praise the allure of a well-tended lawn and good-looking landscaping when it comes time to sell your home, but most do not assign any specific increase in monetary value for upkeep.

Nevertheless, most professionals agree that curb appeal and a well-maintained appearance prevent your property from losing value. Here are the top suggestions from real estate agents, appraisers, and landscape designers for boosting the curb appeal of your yard:

Green Up The Grass

If your house has a front yard, make sure it‘s neat and green. You don’t want bare spots, sprawling weeds, or an untrimmed appearance.

“It’s so simple to go to Home Depot, buy fertilizer, apply it every six weeks, and water it,” says Mitch Kalamian, a landscape designer in Huntinginton Beach, Calif. “It will green up.”

If the yard looks really scruffy, you may decide to invest in some sod. According to the National Gardening Association, the average cost of sod is 15 to 35 cents per sq. ft. If you hire a landscaper to sod your yard for you, labor will add 30% to 50% to the total cost of the project.

Another alternative is to plant low-maintenance turf grasses. Turf grasses are durable and drought-resistant. Expect to pay $18 to $30 for enough turf grass seed to plant 1,000 sq. ft. of lawn area.

Add colorful planting beds

Flower beds add color and help liven otherwise plain areas, such as along driveways and the edges of walkways. In general, annual flowers are a bit cheaper but must be replaced every year. Perennials cost a bit more but come back annually and usually get larger or spread with each growing season.

If you’re not sure what to plant, inquire at your local garden center. Often, they’ll have a display of bedding plants chosen for their adaptability to your area. Also, they‘ll be inexpensive because they’re in season. Try pansies in the summer, and asters and mums in the fall to add vibrant color.

Valerie Torelli, a California REALTOR® who dresses up her clients’ yards to sell their houses faster and for more money, says that in her market, she can put in a bed of colorful annuals and bark, as well as cutting down overgrown shrubs, for less than $500. “We can buy gorgeous plants for $3.99 to $15.99,” she says.

Add landscape lighting

For homeowners who have made a size-able investment in landscaping, it makes sense to think about adding another 10% to 15% to the bill for professional lighting. “You can’t see landscaping after dark,“ says Brandon Stephens, vice president of marketing for a landscape lighting firm in Lubbock, Texas, “and buyers are not always looking at houses on a Saturday afternoon.”

The cost of a system runs from $200 for a DIY installation to more than $4,000 for a professional job. If you‘re doing it on your own, the key is to light what you want people to see, such as mature trees and flowering shrubs.

Plant a tree

The value of mature trees is particularly difficult to determine. Lucco says that in his market, mature trees contribute as much as 10% of a $100,000 property’s overall value. In addition, a properly placed shade tree can shave as much as $32 a year on your energy bills. Expect to pay $50 to $100 for a young, 6- to 7-foot deciduous tree.

You can make your own initial assessment of the value of your property’s trees by visiting the National Tree Benefit Calculator. For example, a mature Southern red oak tree with a diameter of 36 inches in the front yard of a house in Augusta, Ga., would add $70 to the property value this year, according to the calculator.

Monday, August 1, 2011

Why A Home Remodel May Be Better Than A Savings Account

Are you keeping your home longer than you expected, due to the sluggish and uncertain home-resale market?? If you are, you've got company. Only 43% of homeowners believe they would get their asking price if they sold today, according to the latest American Express Spending & Saving Tracker.
That lack of confidence, coupled with interest rates on personal savings accounts that are at or near record lows has a lot of homeowners investing in their homes instead of deposing money in their banks.
In fact, nearly 2/3 of homeowners will be remodeling in 2011, says American Express. Improving your home can be a smart strategy over the long run. In the meantime it cam make your home more comfortable and convenient while you are living there.
Now is the time to ask yourself if putting your hard-earned savings into your house is right for you. You wont see the retuning on your investment in the near-term, but when you factor in a quicker sale or higher sale price, you could end up with more profit than savings account interest rates can provide.

Improvements that pay:
Experts recommend that you stick to improvements likely to increase your home's resale appeal and value. There's no such thing as a guaranteed return on investment, but some home improvements have better value track record than others. A basement remodel will recoup 70 percent of its cost at resale, according to the 2010-2011 remodeling magazine Cost vs. Value Report. Adding a bathroom returns more than 53 percent of your investment, while modernizing a kitchen can brings back 72.8 percent.

Build a bath:
If you plan to install a bathroom, laundry or wet bar in an area that lacks below-floor plumbing drainage, you can dramatically reduce your installation cost with macerating technology. Installing drainage in a basement attic or garage can be messy , time-consuming and expensive. But with macerating, or up flush technology, you can have plumbing virtually anywhere in your home, without breaking through floors or jack-hammering concrete.
Want to make your new bath seem larger? Let the light in! If a skylight isn’t in the budget, use recessed ceiling lights and large mirrors. Also choose a warm semi-gloss paint and install 12 X 12 or larger tiles to minimize grout lines.
A walk-in shower is a smart and cost effective space-saver. If you don’t need storage space, a pedestal sink is another good alternative. Two surefire ways to give the illusion of space are a recessed medicine cabinet and a packet door instead if a traditional hinged door.
Rebuild a kitchen:
An average rebuild of a kitchen takes nine months to plan and three months to build, according to the National Kitchen and Bath Association. You can improve the overall look and feel of a kitchen with a lot less work and money by simply refurbishing what you have. Some refurbishing options include refaced cabinets instead of new, resurfaced counter-tops or an added back-splash, updating flooring and under cabinet task lighting. Regardless of the project you plan to undertake, there are a few things you can do to ensure you get the most for your money. Here are some general tips from the National Association of the remodeling Industry.
  • Establish a budget
  • Hire a qualified re-modeler
  • Compare products and prices before you begin
  • Work with a contract

From: 2011 Answer Book, The Holland Sentinel