Thursday, March 28, 2013

Before and After: The Professional Touch

With over 90% of home buyers beginning their search online, it’s safe to say that curb appeal no longer starts at the curb- it starts online. 

Listing photos are the very first impression a potential buyer has of your home; and that first impression means everything.  If a buyer is unimpressed with the listing photos, they may never make it in the front door!

Carol Park, Park Place Homes veteran REALTOR®, recently listed an extraordinary home at 912 W. Lake Forest on Sanford Lake. In order to capture the details of this stunning home, Carol hired a local professional photographer, Steve Simpkins, to take the listing photos.  A comparison of the photos used in a previous listing of this home to the new photos is remarkable.  The use of proper staging, smart angles, and lighting helps to highlight the true beauty of this home.

Carol’s decision to use a professional photographer, in our opinion, was a great choice.  Because 912 W. Lake Forest is such an architecturally unique home, its rooms are not easily captured in a picture.  But does every listing require a professional photographer?  Part of a REALTOR’s job description is taking listing photos and while it isn't always easy, many do it quite well.  

So we’re curious… do you have a house that you think would benefit from a professional photographer, and why? Leave a comment and tell us what you think.

For more information and pictures of 912 W. Lake Forest click here. If you have questions about this home or any listings, please contact Carol at 989-698-1100 or

Thursday, March 21, 2013

Goodbye Newport, Hello Detroit!

After five years with The Angels in sunny Los Angeles, Major League Baseball player Torii Hunter has made the move to Motown.  During the off season, he signed a two-year $26 million dollar contract with the Detroit Tigers; and while the sports gurus could tell you all about how Hunter may be the key to the Tigers’ next World Series, we’re more interested in the Newport Beach mansion he left behind.
The home was built in 2006 and purchased by Torii Hunter in 2007 for $3.8 million.  Today, the 4,346 square foot house is on the market for $3.975.

Even with five bedrooms, six bathrooms, hardwood floors, and a gourmet kitchen, the back yard may be the biggest selling feature.  The massive pool and spa are complimented by a fire pit and outdoor kitchen that make the space a perfect LA retreat.
The master suite has its own private seating area and deck; and if you still aren’t satisfied with the luxurious space offered, you can check out the detached casita and pool house.  Oh, and one last selling point- NBC broadcaster Bob Costas lives right next door!

Monday, March 18, 2013

Maintaining Comfort

Some people refer to heating and air conditioning systems as "comfort systems".  If you've ever had to be without one in the dead of winter or the heat of summer, lack of comfort may be an understatement. Simple maintenance with a HVAC checklist is something that every homeowner can perform.


  • Change your filter every 90 days; every 30 days if you have shedding pets.

  • Maintain at least two feet of clearance around outdoor air conditioning units and heat pumps.

  • Don't allow leaves, grass clippings, lint or other things to block circulation of coils.

  • Inspect insulation on refrigerant lines leading into house monthly and replace if missing or damaged.

Annually, in spring

  • Confirm that outdoor air conditioning units and heat pumps are on level pads.

  • Pour bleach in the air conditioner's condensation drain to clear mold and algae which can cause a clog.

  • Avoid closing more than 20% of a home's registers to keep from overworking the system.

  • Replace the battery in the home's carbon monoxide detector.

Even with the attention that perfoming this list will provide, it is recommended that you have your units serviced annually by a licensed contractor. Furnaces can be inspected for carbon monoxide leaks and preventative maintenance may help avoid costly repairs. Click Here if you'd like a recommendation.

Friday, March 15, 2013

Spotlight Listing: 4716 Gray Hawk

4716 Gray Hawk has many wonderful attributes, but you can’t beat its quality. Hardwood floors, a finished basement, and all the high-end features you've dreamt about can be found under this roof.  Location is no issue either- the home is nestled in a wonderful neighborhood perfect for a family.
GH Front
Is your interest piqued?  We thought it might be!
Your first steps into the house bring you into the foyer.  This space features soaring ceilings and plenty of natural light.  The builders thought ahead and even placed outlets on the decorative ledge! The recently installed oak hardwood floors flow from this great space throughout most of the main floor- this makes sense because the open floor plan leads you right from the front door into the formal dining room or the kitchen.
Speaking of the kitchen- this one is fabulous! It has an informal dining area and is completely open to the main floor living room.The bar ledge is perfect for a couple of stools, and maybe even a bowl of cereal or some homework!  The sliding doors that lead to the deck let in more natural light (are we sensing a theme?) making the space bright and inviting. 

Just beyond the refrigerator is the entry door to the two and a half car garage where there is plenty of space for all your toys.  Also just off the kitchen is the spacious laundry room with brand new shelving, and a beautifully remodeled half bath.  If you can manage to tear yourself away from the kitchen, you can wander right into the cozy living room where you’ll find a gas fireplace and beautiful newer carpeting.
Up the open staircase you’ll find the home’s three generous bedrooms.  The large master bedroom has fabulous vaulted ceilings and a walk in closet.  The tastefully updated master bath has a private stool room, a Jacuzzi tub surrounded by tile and separate stand-up shower.  The other upstairs bedrooms have large closets and share a full bath with a combination tub/shower.

Downstairs you’ll find a basement that doesn’t feel like a basement at all!  The brand new drop ceiling has can-lighting which makes the space fresh and bright.  There’s even more space for fun in the fenced-in back yard- lot dimensions are 122x140. 
Looking for a little icing on the cake? Consider these last few incentives: the 2003 high-efficiency furnace and newer water heater keep utility bills low, the home qualifies for a Rural Development zero-down financing, and there has just been a price reduction!  4716 Gray Hawk can be yours for just $228,900.
This is a home that will not be on the market for much longer, so call today for your private showing.  You can contact our agent Logan Richetti at the office 989-698-1100, on his cell 904-294-7883, or anytime via email:

Tuesday, March 12, 2013

Your Deduction...Your Choice

Taxpayers are allowed to decide each year whether to take the standard deduction or to itemize their deduction when filing their personal income tax returns. Roughly, 75% of households with more than $75,000 income and most homeowners itemize their deductions.Itemized Deductions.png
The 2012 standard deduction, available to all taxpayers, regardless of whether they own a home, is $11,900 for married filing jointly and $5,950 for single taxpayers.
Let's look at an example of a homeowner couple with a $150,000 mortgage at 3.5%. The standard deduction would give them $2,650 more than the total of their interest paid and property taxes of approximately $9,250. If they were in the 28% tax bracket, the actual tax savings would be $742.00.
When mortgage rates were considerably higher, many people expected the interest and property taxes to easily exceed the standard deduction but with today's low rates, a comparison is certainly justified.
There are other things that could come into consideration like charitable contributions, medical expenses and casualty losses. Tax professionals will compare available alternatives to find the one that will benefit the taxpayer most.
For more information, see and consult a tax advisor.

Friday, March 8, 2013

Five Quick Tips to Boost Wintertime Curb Appeal

  The weather may be bleak, but your house doesn't have to be!  Help potential buyers see past the snow and ice by following these quick and simple tips:

1. Break out the shovel. Clear the snow from your driveway, walking paths, and sidewalks.  This tip is as much for curb appeal as it is for safety.  You would like your potential buyers to make it to your front door without slipping, wouldn't you?  Removing snow early and often will prevent ice from building up and make it less likely that you’ll need to salt.  If you have too much snow for just a shovel to clear, remember that you can rent a snow blower!
2. Don’t stop in the front.  Shovel off the back deck to show its size and to make the area more inviting.  Leaving the grill uncovered during showings and setting out some weather resistant patio furniture is a great way to help buyers envision themselves in the space despite the unwelcoming weather.
3. Keep it light.  With fewer daylight hours, it is more likely that buyers will be looking at your house while it’s dark outside.  Replace any exterior light bulbs that have burnt out and be sure to leave those lights on in the evenings.  If weather permits, think about adding pathway lighting or accent flood lights to highlight your home’s architecture.
4. Boost the color.  Wreaths are a great way to add color during the drab winter months.  A simple green wreath or a sprayed metallic wreath with colorful (and tasteful) ribbon, will add visual effect to your home.  Also consider adding planters to your front door area.  Use terracotta pots, baskets, or even a galvanized tub filled with plants that can tolerate the winter weather such as evergreen, holly, and ornamental cabbage.
5. Tidy up.  Make sure those toys from last fall aren't peeking through the snow.  Rakes, soccer balls, and bikes should be neatly tucked away in an appropriate place.  Winter boots and weather wear should also be put away during showings.  Be sure to set out a mat in your entryway for buyer’s snowy boots and shoes.
Do you have any other tips for wintertime curb appeal?

Monday, March 4, 2013

Low Inventories Indicate a Trend

Low inventory is a relative term depending on how you're comparing it. Would the comparison be to total number of homes on the market last year, homes in a certain price range or homes in a certain area? In some situations, it's a combination of all of those things.

In any given market, inventories will fluctuate based on area and price range. The National Association of REALTORS® considers a balanced market to be six months' supply of homes. If it takes longer than six months to sell, it is thought to be a buyer's market and less than six months, a seller's market. Most buyers and sellers probably feel inventory equilibrium is more like three month's supply of homes.
Inventory has a direct impact on price. During the housing bubble, demand decreased, supply ballooned to four million houses and prices dropped dramatically. Increased inventories due to foreclosures, bank' revised lending practices and builder's lack of new housing starts each contributed to the dramatically lower prices.
As the market has recovered, economic conditions have improved, banks have loosened their requirements, interest rates have remained low, foreclosures have slowed and gradually, the inventory has been reduced to approximately two million houses. When demand is constant but inventory is reduced, price tends to increase because the same number of people are trying to buy a smaller than normal number of homes.
Based on the low mortgage rates that have been inching up each week in 2013 and an improving consumer confidence level, most markets are experiencing some increase in demand. With inventory decreasing, buyers in the marketplace can see that prices are increasing.
Just as signs of spring can be seen to be just around the corner, it should be recognized what direction prices will be moving. Hindsight is 20/20 but we can't purchase or sell in the past. We need to make decisions today on what we think will happen in the future.
If you're curious to know what inventory conditions are for your specific market, send our REALTOR® Shelley Park an email with the price range and area and She'll  send you a report: