Friday, November 18, 2011

Park Place Homes Collects for Shelterhouse

Last year, Shelterhouse staff aided over 1,000 victims of domestic and/or sexual violence. During the holiday season, many of these victims and their children will not be at home; they will be seeking solace amongst themselves and the staff at Shelterhouse.
Please join Park Place Homes in providing some hope, cheer, and good fortune to the individuals at Shelterhouse. Again this year, we will be setting up a Shelterhouse Tree at our office for donations to be made through December 13th. Their wish list is filled with items of necessity, items for children, and items of convenience. A good rule of thumb is: if you use it in your home, they can use it at their home. A complete list can be found below.
Donations can be made at our office during business hours: weekdays 8:30 am to 5:00 pm, Mondays and Thursdays 8:30 am to 6:30 pm, Saturdays 10:00 am-2:00 pm, and Sundays by appointment. No gift is too small when giving a family a new start. Please call 989-698-1100 with any questions.
Shelterhouse Wish List 2011

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Chili Taste Off This Saturday!

This Saturday, September 24th, the agents and staff of Park Place Homes will be serving up some of the most amazing chili you've ever tasted! Have you ever heard the saying "Everything is Better with Bacon." It's true and chili is no exception. The taste off is in Downtown Midland this Saturday from Noon to 2pm. Tickets are $5 and there will be over 40 chili and salsa's to sample. This is a competition and we could really use your support!
Click for More Info

Thursday, September 1, 2011

What is a Short Sale?

At Park Place Homes, a common question we get is “What is a Short Sale?” A Short Sale occurs when a homeowner’s lender agrees to allow the sale of the house for an amount “short” of what is owed on the loan.

There are many scenarios that happen warranting a short sale. Most commonly, the homeowner is in financial distress: they are stretching to make ends meet, and to make the house payment, so they try to sell only to discover they owe more on their loan than the house is worth in the current market. This is when the short sale process begins.

Typically, the negotiation with the bank to determine if they will allow the short sale is managed by a qualified real estate professional, and a qualified short sale negotiator. Be aware, the word "short" in short sale is a misnomer! Short sales on average take 4 months before the buyer and seller will know IF the lender will accept the terms of the short sale. Purchasing a home listed as a short sale should not be considered if the buyer is working within a time frame.

The benefit to the home owner to do a short sale is it prevents a likely foreclosure. The homeowner's credit rating is not damaged as much, and they will likely be able to purchase a home again in 2 years, if they choose.

The benefit to a buyer of a short sale is the possibility of buying a home below current market value. Homes sold on a short sale will often sell for 10-15% below current market value. Another benefit is, unlike foreclosed homes, the short sale home has been lived in and has been maintained. Many foreclosed homes have been left vacant and not taken care of for months.

Friday, August 12, 2011

You have to laugh!

Need a Good Laugh?!?

The following blog was written by nationally reknowned real estate speaker and young professional Jared James. I had to repost this because it is just THAT perfect of a story...and it made me laugh.

August 10, 2011 by Blog Contributor · PN News

Jared James

By Jared James

We live in a world where everywhere you look everyone seems to be arguing about something because everyone has their point-of-view. And, of course, they are always right. Sometimes when I flip through the channels while I am at home or on the road in my hotel room, or I read a particular blog, I am left to wonder if the person that I am listening to or reading their words actually even believes what they are saying.

For many years this couldn’t have been more true, as I have read articles and heard people make the argument that you are better off selling your house on your own and not paying a broker… especially in today’s world of the Internet. What in the world do you need a REALTOR® for, anyway? As long as you have access to the Internet, why waste 6 percent, right?

And then I came across a recent Wall Street Journal article written about Colby Sambrotto, the former CEO and founder of many REALTORS®’ most favorite website, Stick with me here because you can’t make this stuff up. Apparently, the Godfather of the “you don’t need a Realtor” movement had tried to sell his house on his own for some time and finally got tired of wasting his time and did what he knew had to be done… HE HIRED A REALTOR®! You can check out the article for yourself here:

Not only did Mr. Sambrotto hire a broker and pay them 6 percent, but he also ended up getting multiple offers on his home and eventually accepting one for a whopping $150,000 over his asking price. Yes, you did just read that right.

The interesting part was that when the broker he hired came in to do a market analysis, he actually told Mr. Sambrotto that his house was UNDER priced which was resulting in him attracting the wrong type of buyers. So much for just needing the Internet to sell a home. This is a great example of real world expertise at work.

This is an important story because it not only proves that REALTORS® are needed in this economy more than ever before, but also that simply putting a house on the Internet does not guarantee its sale, even if it is priced below market value. Of course, there are exceptions to every rule and outliers to every probability, but the fact remains that REALTORS® are needed in today’s market for their intelligence, professionalism, contact base and overall knowledge of the market.

It is easy to argue a point based on theories and statistics, but I wonder if Colby Sambrotto would argue with me now after actually going through the process?

Jared James is the CEO and founder of Jared James Enterprises (JJE) and travels around North America speaking to and coaching REALTORS®. Connect with Jared at, on, or follow him on Twitter @jaredjamestoday.

Friday, July 8, 2011

Take a Troll Stroll in Midland MI!

If you find yourself with nothing to do on one of these warm summer evenings, consider visiting downtown Midland, grab an ice cream cone from Pizza Sam’s or Heather & Holly and take a Troll Stroll. This summer marks the 10th anniversary of the Downtown Midland sculpture series and for the second time Main Street (and the surrounding area) is home to some fantastic Tridge Trolls.
The level of detail that some of the artists thought to add to their sculptures is amazing. Make sure to look closely at the Garden Granna (#11) and RVB the Fisherman (#13) and see what you can pick out.

Grab the family or friends and the camera and make some memories. Like C.H.A.S.E the Troll’s (#16) suitcase says; “Midland or Bust”!

For more information on upcoming events downtown visit:

Monday, June 13, 2011

How Is the Real Estate Market in Midland, MI?

How is the Real Estate Market?
There are few days that pass when I do not get this question from friends and clients. In the past, each time I attempt to answer that question, I have been caught off guard because it is so easy to see the market in a negative light. Network news portrays the real estate market in shambles with an emphasis on foreclosures and the mortgage crisis.
This question is a bit like a job interview question: in most interviews, one is asked, “Why do you want this job?” Even with rehearsal, it is easy to fall into the trap of anticipating what answer that person is fishing to hear.
So with this in mind, here is how we answer the question, “How is the Real Estate market in Midland?” We answer with honesty, confidence, and a positive perspective. We consider the glass half full. We consider the market to be UNBELIEVABLE! Why unbelievable? Because the opportunities out there are just that…unbelievable.
At Park Place Homes the real estate market in Midland is vibrant, exciting, challenging, and unbelievable. So the next time I am asked this question I will simply say, “The market is great in Midland and especially vibrant (and unbelievable) at Park Place Homes.”
To prove that point, here is how Park Place Homes stacks up:
In 2010, we sold 29% more of our homes than the board average. We sold these homes, on average, 34 days faster, AND we sold them at over 2.5% closer to list price. Call us to find out how we can sell your home, too!

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Simple Home Staging Advice for Selling Your Home

HGTV has created a powerful new era of home buyer. To meet their expectations, Staging your home before selling is a necessity. But, let’s keep it simple with some basic rules.
1) The adage, “If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it” does not apply when selling your house. That Harvest Gold refrigerator will do nothing to help your house sell. I don’t care if it runs. Replace it for at least a dollar for dollar return on your investment!
2) Another common mistake: “It’s old, but there is nothing wrong with it”. See above. Yes, there is something wrong with it. It is old and detracts from the home. If you don’t replace/repair it, then the buyer will charge you for THEIR pain and suffering if they have to do it. You will ultimately lose money on your offer.
3) The way you LIVE in your home and the way you SELL your house are two different things. Put everything away that you can live without while selling. You need to start packing anyway!
These are just a few simple rules that are easy to remember.

Thursday, May 5, 2011

Real Estate Market and Absorption Rates

An absorption rate is used to predict the future real estate market based on the past 90 or 180 days. When a seller is pricing their home, they want to know they are pricing it fairly, but they also want to know how long will it take to sell? Well, I would need a crystal ball to really answer this question, but we can use statistical information to predict the answer.
If you were pricing your home to sell at $150,000, then I would consider your ‘micromarket’. Using the city of midland for an example, there are 37 homes currently for sale from $130,000 to $170,000 ($20,000 either side of your $150,000 list price). In the last 90 days, 29 homes have sold or accepted offers in the same price range and location. So, if it took 90 days to sell those 29 homes, how long will it take to sell 37? 114 days, or under 4 months. This is a great absorption rate! Now, if you want to sell faster, price your home more conservatively to shave days off your marketing time.

Friday, April 8, 2011

Rental Homes are Hot in Midland

Whether you are an investor renting homes as a business, or a homeowner deciding to rent out your existing home instead of selling, a favorable rental market will welcome you.

 Why is the rental market so vibrant? There are several factors that contribute to our active rental market today but a few seem to stand out.

  • Changes in lender requirements can make it more difficult for a buyer to qualify for a mortgage.

  • Families faced with short sale or foreclosure options must rent until they restore their option to qualify to purchase a home.

  • Potential tenants are acting quickly because the demand is greater than the supply. It is in effect a “sellers” or landlords, market for rentals.

While we are seeing an upturn in the Midland area home sales market, the residential rental market in many price ranges is booming. Rental rates are on the rise as the demand for single family rentals increases. Rentals are not lasting long particularly in the $600 to $800 range and our waiting list increases weekly.

If you are a potential tenant you will need to make your decision quickly. If you are a landlord you should see your property occupied in no time at all.  If you are considering becoming a landlord, this is the market to do it in.  Call me at Park Place Homes, 698-1100 for more information on how I can help.

Monday, March 21, 2011

Spring Break Events in Midland

Sprouts and Snouts

Space Studios is hosting two Spring Break workshops for children grades K-12. Participants get a hands on clay experience, creating functional pieces of pottery start to finish. The kids will be crafting flower pots on March 29th and pig banks on April 31st. Each two hour workshop will also include a visit to our Glaze Bar. Cost is $45 per session; save $5 when you sign up for both. Space is limited so call or stop by the studio to register today!

Spring Break Mini - Day Camp


Come enjoy the wonders of Spring in Michigan at this three-day day camp! Campers will be divided into smaller "camp groups" based on their age and will play games, sing songs, do art projects and more, all while exploring the CNC property.

Registration Deadline: 3/25/11.   Cost is $90.  Ages: 5-12.  Phone:  989.631.0830

Spring Break 2011 at Valley Lanes.

8:00 pm to Midnight; High School only with ID.

  $5 entry gets you Unlimited Bowling & Mini Golf, Billiards, DJ/Dancing & MORE!

Please call (989) 832-3256 for information.

Contact Name: Kathryn

Golf Expo at Dow Diamond

The Great Lakes Loons and Citadel Broadcasting have partnered to host the first-ever Golf Expo on Saturday, March 26th and Sunday, March 27th at Dow Diamond.

The Golf Expo, presented by King Par Golf, Hole in One Golf Book and Bid Al's Golf Discount, will feature over 20,000 square feet of the latest and greatest of golf and golf-related exhibits and vendors. Vendors from all over the Great Lakes Bay Region and beyond will have golf merchandise and services for sale. In addition, there will be golf pros on hand conducting a range of game improvement seminars, factory reps from an assortment of golf equipment manufacturers on hand to demonstrate their latest technology and designs, and courses such as Apple Mountain, Buck's Run, Tree Tops, Bay City Country Club and more!

The Golf Expo will be open from 9AM to 5PM on Saturday and 10AM to 3PM on Sunday. Throughout the Expo there will be prize giveaways, seminars and presentations by a variety of speakers.

The event is open to the public and admission is $5 for adults, $1 for kids 5-12 years and kids under will receive free admission. Dow Diamond concessions stands will be open in the heated, enclosed concourse throughout the Expo.

Vendor space is available, but is very limited. If your company or course has an interest in participating the Golf Expo at Dow Diamond, contact Tom Clark of Citadel Broadcasting at 989.776.2138 or

Phone: 989.837.2255

Q&A: Do I need a home inspection to finance a house?

Q:   If I buy a home and its listed "as is", do I have to have a home inspection before the bank will approve the loan, and will the bank give a loan on a home where repairs are needed?

In answer to the first question, no, you are never REQUIRED to conduct a home inspection prior to purchasing a home.  However, it is very strongly encouraged.  Consider  that you are spending  approximately $200, give or take, to protect your multi-thousand dollar investment.  It only makes sense.

 Now, as far as the loan, mortgage underwriters have become far more conservative with not just lending, but also with repair issues than in the past.  The lending crisis caused by more lenient lending terms has now caused the pendulum to swing far the other direction.

 In the past, FHA VA and other government backed loans were the only loans that required basic condition criteria to be met.  They addressed such things as roof life expectancy, peeling paint, broken windows, and the likes for repair prior to lending.  Now, it is not uncommon for all loans, including conventional, to review the notes of the appraiser or the and request repairs based on the appraisers comments.  The rules are not hard and fast, however.  It is independent for every lenders’ underwriter.  I will say, I have seen things in the last year that I have not seen in the previous 12 years, so this is an ever-changing market.  So, yes, it is possible the lender will require repairs prior to lending.

Real Estate Minute #2: Good News in Real Estate!

I am here today to tell you there is GOOD news in real estate!
Many economists have stated the housing market is still frail and positioned to fall another 15%, 20% or even 25%. I think they are dead wrong, at least in our community. Those of us working this local market have our finger on the pulse of housing locally. We know what is happening here. And we like it!
Over ½ of the 100 major housing markets nationally are showing improvement. Take a look at these local statistics on residential, single family home and condo sales:
• Average Sales price from 2009 to 2010 was up 9.3%
• 2011 average sales price is already up almost 11% this year over last year.
• Number of sales from 2009 to 2010 was up 15.25%
• Year to date, the Midland Board MLS reports 188 sales
I think we can all breathe a collective sigh of relief. True, prices are not recovered back to where they were in 2005/2006, but we are forging down the right path.

Thursday, March 10, 2011

Finally, a Critic of the Critics!

I watched the Today Show last week in the morning and was positively ecstatic to hear a segment on the housing market.  Guest consultant on the topic was Barbara Corcoran, real estate mogul and business expert, founder of The Corcoran Group in Manhattan.  Barbara came out in opposition of the economists and the housing market.  What I felt had the most impact, was that a person in a knowledgeable position on the topic of real estate, and someone in the trenches, gettting down and dirty with selling real estate, had something POSITIVE to say!

Many economists are stating the housing market is still frail and positioned to fall another 15%, 20% or even 25%.  Barbara Corcoran's comment: "I think they are dead wrong...of all the major markets, over 100 of them, more than half have already come off the bottom and are rising..."  She further supported this claim with details pertaining to open house traffic being up all over the nation.

Those of us working the market, especially in a local market, have our finger on the pulse of the housing market in our cities.  National economists have national statistics, and project what they personally think will happen.  Enough of the doom and gloom.  As Ms. Corcoran said, "This is a bell weather change in the real estate're crazy if it passes by."

Some local statistics on residential, single family homes or condos in the Midland Board of REALTORS MLS:

  • Sales price from 2009 to 2010 was up 9.36%

  • Number of sales from 2009 to 2010 was up 15.25%

  • 2011 average sales price is already up another 11% over last year.

  • Year to date, the Midland Board MLS reports 163 sales, 79 of which occurred in the month of February.

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Seniors Real Estate Specialist Now Available at Park Place Homes.

Gwen Holt of Park Place Homes just obtained her Seniors Real Estate Specialist designation from the National Association of Realtors! Gwen is one of a handful of SRES designee’s in Michigan and the only senior specialist in the tri-city area.

The senior market does not always mean wheelchairs and nursing homes. An SRES Realtor is trained to help clients based on their individual housing needs and financial situations. They are also able to recognize and protect their clients from shady mortgage and loan schemes that target older buyers.

Gwen’s training is designed to help clients who are 55 and older navigate the ever-changing real estate market; distinguish trends related to the 55+ population; housing, finance, and retirement income considerations; and counseling strategies to help clients plan ahead for life transitions.

Gwen will be able to provide many options, including type of housing such as age-restricted communities and age-in-place developments, as well as financing, moving, and renovation contacts.

The SRES designation was established in 2007 and the mission is to offer high quality training and tools necessary to position the SRES designee as the trusted real estate resource for the senior market.

If you are over 55 and are either buying or selling, you should consider choosing and agent who has an SRES designation. An SRES agent has specialized training in many areas that impact the home buying and selling experience for seniors. The SRES agent is ideally suited to counsel 55+ clients on their real estate decisions. For more information call Gwen Holt at 989-698-1100 x130.

Monday, January 3, 2011

2010 Was a Good Real Estate Market...Really.

Residential sales are up 13% from 2009. Median home sales price is up 11% from 2009. So, yes, really, 2010 was a good real estate market in Midland.

Currently, interest rates are still fluctuating around 5% for a 30 year loan. The recent rise in those rates from around 4.25% has spurred a recent rash of residential home sales. The "threat" of rates rising to 5.5% or even 6%, is enough to get buyers moving. (As a reminder, in early 2000, interest rates were around 8.25%.  6% hardly seems like a drastic rise in rates!)

What buyers should know: Our market likely has made the turn. Prices likely will not drop any further. If you are waiting to purchase a home, waiting much longer means watching interest rates grow higher, and prices will slowly begin to increase.

What sellers should know: The home market has begun to recover. However, the VALUE of your home will not instantly return to pre-recession prices. The full recovery will take time. But, those interest rates are looking very attractive to buyers. And not only will it help those sitting on the fence make the decision to jump into home ownership, it will also benefit you when you purchase your next home.

If you are considering stepping up to a larger home, consider the math.  A 30 year mortgage on a $250,000 home at 5% interest is over $200 less per month than financing at a 7% interest rate.   This reflects in a savings of $2400 per year.  Assuming home owners remain in their home for an average of 5 years, you just saved yourself $12,000.

2010 was good for Midland residential sales. And 2011 brings a lot of promise to our current market.