Friday, December 19, 2008

Christmas Holiday Eating Tips

1. Avoid carrot sticks. Anyone who puts carrots on a holiday buffet table knows nothing of the Christmas spirit. In fact, if you see carrots, leave immediately. Go next door, where they're serving rum balls.

2. Drink as much eggnog as you can. And quickly. It's rare..You cannot find it any other time of year but now. So drink up! Who cares that it has 10,000 calories in every sip? It's not as if you're going to turn into an eggnog-alcoholic or something. It's a treat. Enjoy it. Have one for me. Have two. It's later than you think. It's Christmas!

3. If something comes with gravy, use it. That's the whole point of gravy. Gravy does not stand alone. Pour it on. Make a volcano out of your mashed potatoes. Fill it with gravy. Eat the volcano. Repeat.

4. As for mashed potatoes, always ask if they're made with skim milk or whole milk. If it's skim, pass. Why bother? It's like buying a sports car with an automatic transmission.

5. Do not have a snack before going to a party in an effort to control your eating. The whole point of going to a Christmas party is to eat other people's food for free. Lots of it. Hello?

6. Under no circumstances should you exercise between now and New Year's. You can do that in January when you have nothing else to do. This is the time for long naps, which you'll need after circling the buffet table while carrying a 10-pound plat e of food and that vat of eggnog.

7. If you come across something really good at a buffet table, like frosted Christmas cookies in the shape and size of Santa, position yourself near them and don't budge. Have as many as you can before becoming the center of attention. They're like a beautiful pair of shoes. If you leave them behind, you're never going to see them again.

8. Same for pies. Apple, Pumpkin, Mincemeat. Have a slice of each. Or if you don't like mincemeat, have two apples and one pumpkin. Always have three. When else do you get to have more than one dessert? Labor DAY?

9. Did someone mention fruitcake? Granted, it's loaded with the mandatory celebratory calories, but avoid it at all cost. I mean, have some standards.

10. One final tip: If you don't feel terrible when you leave the party or get up from the table, you haven't been paying attention. Re-read tips; start over, but hurry, January is just around the corner. Remember this motto to live by:

"Life should NOT be a journey to the grave with the intention of arriving safely in an attractive and well preserved body, but rather to skid in sideways, chocolate in one hand, body thoroughly used up, totally worn out and screaming "WOO HOO what a ride!"

Have a great CHRISTMAS season

Sunday, December 14, 2008

November 2008 Ann Arbor Condo Sales Report

After a spike in unit sales of +31% for October 2008 over October 2007, there was more than a 60% swing to the negative in Condo unit sales with only 25 units sold in November 2008.

Here are the latest statistics from the Ann Arbor Board of Realtors. These numbers are for Condominiums. Please see earlier post for Single Family Home sales statistics.

Condo Listings in November 2007: 111
Condo Listings in November 2008: 93
Decrease: 17%

Condo Listings Y.T.D. 2007: 2,531
Condo Listings Y.T.D. 2008: 1,843
Decrease: 17.2%

Condo Sales Nov. 2007: 41
Condo Sales Nov. 2008: 25
Decrease: 39.1%

Condo Sales Y.T.D. 2007: 615
Condo Sales Y.T.D. 2008: 558
Decrease: 9.3%

Condo Avg. Days on Market Nov. 2007: 89
Condo Avg. Days on Market Nov. 2008: 74

Condo Avg. Days on Market Y.T.D. 2007: 87
Condo Avg. Days on Market Y.T.D. 2008: 95

Condo Median Sales Price Nov. 2007: $152,288
Condo Median Sales Price Nov. 2008: $140,000
Decrease: 8.1%

Condo Median Sales Price Y.T.D. 2007: $158,000
Condo Median Sales Price Y.T.D. 2008: $144,250
Decrease: 8.8%

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

November 2008 Ann Arbor Home Sales Report

Single Family Home sales, in units, were down by 4.3% over a year ago, and are up by a scant 1.2% year to date.

Average sales price is down by 25.2% from November 2007, and YTD comparison shows 14.6% average sales price decline.

Here are the latest statistics from the Ann Arbor Board of Realtors. These numbers are for Single Family Homes (SFH) Residential, and do not include condominiums:

SFH Listings in November 2007: 623
SFH Listings in November 2008: 428
Decrease: 30.2%

SFH Listings Y.T.D. 2007: 10,691
SFH Listings Y.T.D. 2008: 8,120
Decrease: 24.9%

SFH Sales November 2007: 211
SFH Sales November 2008: 202
Decrease: 4.3%

SFH Sales Y.T.D. 2007: 2,826
SFH Sales Y.T.D. 2008: 2,860
Increase: 1.2%

SFH Avg. Days on Market Nov. 2007: 73
SFH Avg. Days on Market Nov. 2008: 73

SFH Avg. Days on Market Y.T.D. 2007: 77
SFH Avg. Days on Market Y.T.D. 2008: 80

SFH Avg. Sales Price Nov. 2007: $245,359
SFH Avg. Sales Price Nov. 2008: $183,738
Decrease: 25.2%

SFH Avg. Sales Price Y.T.D. 2007: $250,643
SFH Avg. Sales Price Y.T.D. 2008: $214,456
Decrease: 14.6%

Tuesday, December 9, 2008

"The Best Way to Predict the Future is to Create it" --Peter Drucker

I invite you to join me in creating your own successful future by writing your own success book. Here are a few suggestions to get you started:

Step I. Write Your Personal Mission Statement. Eternity is a long time. If we're lucky, we're on this earth for 100 years, which is the blink of an eye. We'd better figure out how our earthly life fits into the big picture. If you need ideas, I suggest the teachings of Rick Warren and The Purpose Driven Life

Step II. Write Your 10 Year Big Hairy Audacious Goals. If you're going to have goals, you might as well have big goals. It does not cost you any more to create big goals than it does to create small goals. Be inspired by those who create BHAG's based on: This Definition and This Strategy

Step III. Break Down Your BHAG's into One Year SMART Goals. SMART stands for: Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Realistic, and Time-Phased. Use This Worksheet:

Step IV. Each Month, Create Your 30 Day; 80:20 Vilfredo Pareto Goal to Action Worksheet The Pareto Principle states that 80% of our results come from 20% of our efforts. You must focus on that 20% of your actions that deliver the 80% of your results.

Step V. Implement 52 Week Networking Success Strategies, one per week for the next year based on The Book: The 29% Solution by Ivan Misner. This is one of the best Networking Books written. If you implement these strategies, you simply cannot fail.

Step VI. Meet a Personal Trainer and Create Your Personal Workout Plan (including 2 Yoga classes per week). 3 Cardios; 2 Strength; 2 Yoga = You're rockin'

Step VII. Get a Grip on Your Personal Financial Picture, based on the Worksheets Found Here

Step VIII. Find, Write, and Speak Loudly and Often Several Positive Daily Affirmations based on the teachings of The Pitbull of Personal Development, and my hero, Larry Winget

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Good Food Served With Good News on Turkey Day

Attitude is not everything, because the most positive attitude alone will not help us pull out of our current economic crisis. A positive attitude accounts for a lot. A positive attitude is the starting point for success, but more importantly, a positive attitude, teamed with a focused strategic plan AND action can become an unstoppable force.

Let's get busy.

Each Tuesday morning, at Real Estate One in Ann Arbor, MI, we hold an office business meeting of probably 50 to 75 full-time agents who are in the marketplace every day. A good chunk of these meetings focus on a market 'pulse' of what we experience, what other people tell us, and more importantly, how we respond, and what our approach is to the marketplace. It is somewhat natural, and very easy to go with the flow of our endless bombardment of bad news, and perpetuate a "woe is me" mentality. Or, we can go out into our individual worlds, and 'be the change' that we want to see. We can achieve that by maintaining focus on the fundamental elements of the real estate market here and now: If you want to buy, it is a great time, and there are lots of financing options available. If you need to sell, you will take a hit. However, if you are selling a house in Ann Arbor, you will take less of a hit than you would if your house were in many other markets, and chances are you will get a better deal in your new location.

Stepping back for a bit wider view, several of us agents see the mountain in front of us, and are choosing to climb the mountain rather than lay down and die at the foot of the mountain or whine about how big the mountain is. When we are bellying up to the Thanksgiving table, filling our plates with a Michael Phelpsian sized meal, you will not hear us say that the market sucks even though the market does suck. You WILL hear us talk about climbing the mountain with a focused plan. You will hear us talk about the proactive plan being advanced by the National Association of Realtors to stabilize and stimulate the real estate market on a national level.

The NAR® has recommended to Congress a four-point plan to stimulate home sales and stabilize housing valuations. The four-point plan’s principles are consumer-driven to help foster a housing recovery to support an economic rebound. Here are the 4 Points:

1) Eliminate the repayment piece of the first-time home buyer tax credit that was passed in the February stimulus bill, and to expand the tax credit to include all home buyers.

2) Making the increased FHA and conventional loan limits permanent to stimulate home sales and stabilize prices.

3) Urge that the Troubled Asset Relief Program be put back on track by targeting the funds for mortgage relief through a mortgage interest rate buy-down.

4) Finalize legislation to prohibit banks from entering into the business of real estate brokerage and property management.

I'm very pleased that the NAR leadership has decided to be proactive, unlike some other business leaders that come to mind.

Positive attitude is step 1. A solid, focused Plan of Action is step 2. Implementation of the plan is step 3. I hope you will join me in taking these 3 steps, which will lead you to a great 2009!

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Tell Us Something We Didn't Know

It's definitely always nice to receive third party validation of something you know in your heart. For the third time this year, Ann Arbor has been named by a notable publication, as one of the best places to live in the United States. This article, on gives all the highlights of the ranking.

While we have our share of difficulties, being both in Michigan, and somewhat in the shadow of Detroit, Ann Arbor is a spirit filled, vibrant, enthusiastic, optimistic, and energetic town. I'm very proud to call Ann Arbor home. While I have had multiple opportunities to move elsewhere, I cannot think of anyplace I would rather live and raise my kids.

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

October 2008 Ann Arbor Condo Sales Report

Good News: Unit sales up 31% over last year. Bad News: Median sales price down almost 16% over October 2007, and down an average 1.06% per month for 2008 YTD.

Here are the latest statistics from the Ann Arbor Board of Realtors. These numbers are for Condominiums. Please see earlier post for Single Family Home sales statistics.

Condo Listings in October 2007: 169
Condo Listings in October 2008: 146
Decrease: 13.7%

Condo Listings Y.T.D. 2007: 2,421
Condo Listings Y.T.D. 2008: 1,753
Decrease: 17.6%

Condo Sales Oct. 2007: 42
Condo Sales Oct. 2008: 55
Increase: 31%

Condo Sales Y.T.D. 2007: 574
Condo Sales Y.T.D. 2008: 532
Decrease: 7.4%

Condo Avg. Days on Market Oct. 2007: 90
Condo Avg. Days on Market Oct.. 2008: 115

Condo Avg. Days on Market Y.T.D. 2007: 86
Condo Avg. Days on Market Y.T.D. 2008: 165

Condo Median Sales Price Oct. 2007: $160,500
Condo Median Sales Price Oct. 2008: $135,000
Decrease: 15.9%

Condo Median Sales Price Y.T.D. 2007: $159,000
Condo Median Sales Price Y.T.D. 2008: $142,250
Decrease: 10.6%

Monday, November 10, 2008

October 2008 Ann Arbor Home Sales Report

Good News: Sales, in units, are up over a year ago, and are flat year to date. Bad News: Average sales price is down over 20% from October 2007, and YTD comparison shows 13.7% average sales price decline.

Here are the latest statistics from the Ann Arbor Board of Realtors. These numbers are for Single Family Homes (SFH) Residential, and do not include condominiums:

SFH Listings in October 2007: 776
SFH Listings in October 2008: 655
Decrease: 16.6%

SFH Listings Y.T.D. 2007: 10,069
SFH Listings Y.T.D. 2008: 7,677
Decrease: 25.8%

SFH Sales October 2007: 232
SFH Sales October 2008: 249
Increase: 7.3%

SFH Sales Y.T.D. 2007: 2,610
SFH Sales Y.T.D. 2008: 2,648
Increase: 0.014%

SFH Avg. Days on Market Oct. 2007: 80
SFH Avg. Days on Market Oct. 2008: 70

SFH Avg. Days on Market Y.T.D. 2007: 77
SFH Avg. Days on Market Y.T.D. 2008: 81

SFH Avg. Sales Price Oct. 2007: $233,858
SFH Avg. Sales Price Oct. 2008: $186,324
Decrease: 20.4%

SFH Avg. Sales Price Y.T.D. 2007: $251,128
SFH Avg. Sales Price Y.T.D. 2008: $216,833
Decrease: 13.7%

Sunday, November 2, 2008

Why I Don't Post More Frequently

Here's the deal: My original vision for this blog was for it to be a valuable source for news and information primarily about real estate, but also including information about business growth in the Ann Arbor area.

Well, little did I know when I created the blog that the housing market would take the turn that it has. The internet and news is saturated with the negative news out of the real estate industry. I saw, and still see no point in perpetuating the bad news. There is plenty of it elsewhere.

Likewise on the business growth front. There was a time when there was significant 'buzz' in the area about job growth, or about new businesses coming to town. I felt it possible for me to add information that would not readily have been published elsewhere. Now, while I would not call these job growth as 'back door deals', whatever 'buzz' there may have been in the past has simply turned into downright speculation, and anyone who claims to know the inside track is either lying or delusional.

The attraction of companies and jobs now often require the involvement of politicians and local business leaders, because these deals almost always involved tax or other incentives. All the principals keep these deals very close to the vest, and they are never published until after the fact.

These two changes in the landscape have caused me to rethink my goals for the blog. I am involved in several other exciting projects and ventures, but somehow don't think that this subject matter would be a good fit. I am seriously considering a few 'Spin-off' Blogs that are more closely focused on individual topics.

In the meantime, I know I have a growing following, and for that, I am deeply appreciative. Bottom line, I don't want to Blog to see myself writing. I think that writing exclusively about Ann Arbor area real estate is duller than dishwater.

Still searching for a comfortable Blog 'voice', I wish, hope, and pray that all your dreams come true!

Saturday, October 25, 2008

What if Socrates Sold Real Estate in Ann Arbor?

One of the most common buyer questions I get as a real estate agent, especially from folks moving in from out of the area is: "What is this town, neighborhood, subdivision like?" And: "What is this neighborhoods school like?" Both simple, obvious, and good questions. Now, there are certain real estate laws and rules that preclude an agent from discussing certain aspects of these questions, and we are relegated to directing buyers to such places as the U.S. Census website, school websites, crime statistic websites, etc. So as agents, we are faced with the choice of spitting out a robotic mantra, therefore not being much help, or by tempering comments based on our perceived "read" of our client. But, I digress.

Each time I am asked about what a particular area is "like" I am reminded of the classic story of the Philosopher Socrates. This story is about attitude, but is perfectly applicable to real estate. The bottom line is that the market is what it is. The economy is what it is, but people still need a great place to live their lives and raise their families.

Anyway, the story goes that Socrates was often found just on the outskirts of Athens just greeting total strangers. One day, a stranger came up to him and asked: "I would like to live in your city. What kind of people does it have?"

Socrates replied, "What kind of people are in the city you've come from?"

To which, the man replied, "Oh, they're not very nice. They lie, cheat and steal. That is why I'm moving out."

Socrates, in his wisdom, replied: "It's the same way here. If I were you, I'd keep looking."

A short time later another man came up and asked about the people of Athens. Socrates again asked the man about his own city. The second man replied: "They're wonderful. They always help each other. They're truthful and industrious. I just thought I'd like to see other parts of the world."

Socrates, in his wisdom, replied this time, "It's the same way here. Why don't you go into the city? You'll find it just as you imagine it will be."

When we move to a new place, we bring our attitudes, ideas, and images wherever we go. Your neighborhood, city, job, career, and life will be what you choose to make it to be. Choose to make it all great!

Friday, October 17, 2008

Ann Arbor Condo Sales Report - September 2008

Ann Arbor Condominium sales in September 2008 were down by 27% compared to September 2007. Year to date, Condo sales, in units are down by 12.6%, and median sales price, Year to Date, is down by 9.7%, or 1.08% per month.

Here are the latest statistics from the Ann Arbor Board of Realtors. These numbers are for Condominiums. Please see earlier post for Single Family Home sales statistics.

Condo Listings in September 2007: 168
Condo Listings in September 2008: 137
Decrease: 18.5%

Condo Listings Y.T.D. 2007: 2,252
Condo Listings Y.T.D. 2008: 1,607
Decrease: 28.7%

Condo Sales Sep. 2007: 52
Condo Sales Sep. 2008: 38
Decrease: 27%

Condo Sales Y.T.D. 2007: 537
Condo Sales Y.T.D. 2008: 475
Decrease: 12.6%

Condo Avg. Days on Market Sep. 2007: 107
Condo Avg. Days on Market Sep. 2008: 89

Condo Avg. Days on Market Y.T.D. 2007: 86
Condo Avg. Days on Market Y.T.D. 2008: 89

Condo Median Sales Price Sep 2007: $155,000
Condo Median Sales Price Sep 2008: $123,750
Decrease: 20.2%

Condo Median Sales Price Y.T.D. 2007: $159,400
Condo Median Sales Price Y.T.D. 2008: $144,000
Decrease: 9.7%

Monday, October 13, 2008

From My Friends at The Red Cross

I’d like to remind everyone that October is “Fire Safety Month”. Home fires often don’t make headlines, but they are truly devastating to those who experience them. Here are a few quick and simple things you can do to make your home and to keep your family safe:

Test your smoke alarms once a month and replace the batteries every six months.

Replace your smoke alarms every 10 years; they become less sensitive over time

Consider having at least one fire extinguisher in your home

Plan at least two escape routes and practice them twice a year.

If a fire does occur, once you’re out, stay out!

If you have to exit through smoke, crawl low under the smoke.

If you need to open a door, feel the door first and try a different route out if the door is warm.

If your exits are blocked use a bright colored cloth in the window to signal for help. If there’s a phone in the room, use it to call the fire department and tell them where you are.

Friday, October 10, 2008

You're Invited: Ann Arbor Home Buyer Market Update

Please join us for a fast-paced, fact-filled 45 Minute Seminar on the Ann Arbor and Washtenaw County Real Estate Market, updated with new financing options, which have just become available within the past few weeks. We will cover what you need to know to buy a home in today's market. We'll discuss the following topics:

1) What is a Buyers Agent and why you need one.
2) How to assemble your home buying 'team'
3) Current Ann Arbor market conditions
4) Regular sales, Short Sales, and purchasing a Foreclosure
5) Financing programs, options, and Q & A
6) Negotiating Tips
7) What Home Inspectors Look for
8) Much more
Presentation will be made by Brian Bundesen of Real Estate One and Amaechi Udoji of Huron Valley Financial.

Please feel free to invite friends, neighbors, and business associates.

This Seminar is FREE of charge, with no obligation. We know it will be a valuable use of your time, and we hope you can join us.

Where: Ann Arbor District Library - Mallets Creek Branch - Conference Room "A"
3090 E. Eisenhower
Ann Arbor, MI 48108

When: Tuesday, October 28, 2008: 6:30PM - 7:30PM

See the full event details at

Thursday, October 9, 2008

September 2008 Ann Arbor Home Sales Report

Usually, when the Ann Arbor Board of Realtors releases their monthly sales report, it is accompanied by a cover letter which attempts to find some kind of silver lining in what has been some consistently poor news. Well, anyway, today the report was released without a cover letter. I'm not quite sure how to interpret this. Needless to say, the same trend is continuing for September, as it has been for quite some time. Listings are down, sales (in units) are flat, and the average sales price continues to drop at just below 1.5% per month.

Here are the latest statistics from the Ann Arbor Board of Realtors. These numbers are for Single Family Homes (SFH) Residential, and do not include condominiums:

SFH Listings in September 2007: 762
SFH Listings in September 2008: 633
Decrease: 17%

SFH Listings Y.T.D. 2007: 9,298
SFH Listings Y.T.D. 2008: 7,021
Decrease: 24.5%

SFH Sales September 2007: 258
SFH Sales September 2008: 244
Decrease: 5.5%

SFH Sales Y.T.D. 2007: 2,388
SFH Sales Y.T.D. 2008: 2,398
Increase: 0.006%

SFH Avg. Days on Market Sep. 2007: 74
SFH Avg. Days on Market Sep. 2008: 80

SFH Avg. Days on Market Y.T.D. 2007: 77
SFH Avg. Days on Market Y.T.D. 2008: 76

SFH Avg. Sales Price Sep. 2007: $234,233
SFH Avg. Sales Price Sep. 2008: $188,744
Decrease: 19.5%

SFH Avg. Sales Price Y.T.D. 2007: $252,724
SFH Avg. Sales Price Y.T.D. 2008: $220,099
Decrease: 13%

Wednesday, October 8, 2008

Ann Arbor Real Estate: Here and Now

One of the advantages to working at the most successful office at the largest real estate company in Michigan is the opportunity to get a very real representation of the pulse of the market at our weekly agent office meetings. Frankly, sometimes these meetings can be dull, but more often than not, encouraging indicators and valuable information comes out of these meetings. Yesterday's was one of the latter.

Real estate agents, are, by nature, loners, and often keep their own business and techniques close to the vest. Where our office differs is that most of our offices' top producing agents are willing to share information, strategies, and tactics to help others grow their own businesses in both good times and bad.

The subject of yesterday's meeting was: Ann Arbor Real Estate: Here and Now. It was not a 'woe is us' meeting, but was a factual analysis of the current market in the area, and a call for us to go into the marketplace and do what we do best: Bring buyers and sellers together.

The factual analysis is that the number of residential home sales in Washtenaw County (demand), in units, year over year (Year to date) for the past four years has remained pretty constant:

2008: 2,141 Units
2007: 2,130 Units
2006: 2,396 Units
2005: 2,617 Units

By contrast, over the same four year period, the number of listings on the market has dropped fairly dramatically (supply):

2008: 6,389 Listings
2007: 8,536 Listings
2006: 8,815 Listings
2005: 8,052 Listings

This scenario has played out in my own neighborhood of Briar Hill, in Pittsfield Township, which currently has 5 homes on the market, where last year there were 12 homes on the market at this time.

Long story short, the conclusion is that this narrowing of supply and demand, as indicated in the graph above, is a good market indicator, at least for Washtenaw County.

From a Buyers viewpoint, this indicates a very strong stability of the market in the Ann Arbor area. From a Sellers viewpoint, the lowering of supply means less competition when your home is on the market. From the Realtors viewpoint, while the market is challenging due to the overall economic situation, Washtenaw County has been, is, and will continue to be better than other areas of the state.

Sunday, September 28, 2008

A Sunday Fun Run With 3,365 Close Friends

There are several unique Ann Arbor experiences. We have the Art Fair, Zingerman's Corned Beef, Paddle Boating in Gallup Park, breakfast at the Fleetwood, dinner at the Chop House, and several others. There is, however, a (relatively) new experience that has quickly gone to the top of my list as a must-do Ann Arbor experience.

I believe this is the second year for the Big House/ Big Heart 5K and 1K fun run and walk to benefit Mott Childrens Hospital and ALS. Tragically, one of the race organizers was just diagnosed with ALS 60 days ago. It can really make problems seem small when viewed through that lens.

The weather was perfect, there was music in the air, and the obvious highlight of the race, as a participant, was the opportunity to run through the tunnel of the Big House, and finish the race on the field at the 50 yard line as your image is shown on the Jumbo-tron.

I am not a runner by any stretch of the imagination. As a matter of fact, I have never participated in a 5K before, but I made the commitment to do this back in January. Going in, my goal was to not finish last, and to just go as fast as I could for as long as I could. I was not able to run the entire time, but I ran more of the course than I thought I could (thanks to Rolling Stones on the MP3), and finished the race with what I feel was a quite respectable 40:50 time.

Anyway, it is a pretty indescribable experience to run down the tunnel of the Big House, with folks at the entryway high-fiving you, and then running to the south end zone, and sprinting up the middle of the field to the finish line, with your fellow runners cheering you on. I cannot wait until next year!

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Burns Park Home Sales Year to Date

Periodically, I post a real estate market snapshot for selected neighborhoods in Ann Arbor, Michigan. Today's snapshot is for the Burns Park neighborhood. Burns Park is one of the oldest and most desirable neighborhoods in the area. It is just south and slightly east of the main campus of the University of Michigan. It is home to a large number of student rentals, and several professors and other staff of the University.

The sales statistics for this neighborhood fall pretty close to the overall statistics that I publish each month. As detailed below, in the last year, the average sales price is dropping at about 1.2% per month, which is slightly better than the area average. Here is a bit more detail from a report I ran yesterday from numbers provides by the Ann Arbor Board of Realtors.

Burns Park Home Sales: 2007 - 2008 Comparison Jan 1 - September 23 Totals:

Number of Sales (Units) 2007 YTD: 45
Number of Sales (Units) 2008 YTD: 40
Decrease: 12%

Average List Price YTD 2007: $476,422
Average List Price YTD 2008: $441,713
Decrease: 7.3%

Average Sales Price YTD 2007: $448,612
Average Sales Price YTD 2008: $400,784
Decrease: 10.7%

Sales Price Per Square Foot YTD 2007: $214.84
Sales Price Per Square Foot YTD 2008: $198.80
Decrease: 7.5%

Saturday, September 20, 2008

You're Invited: Big House/ Big Heart Fun Run!

This is an open invitation for all of my friends, associates, networkers, Tweeple, LinkedIn connections, Plaxoites, Plurkers, Powncers, Bright Kiters, MeetUppers and Facebook friends to join me next Sunday for the Big House/ Big Heart Fun Run.

Since I learned about it, I thought it was one of the coolest ideas for a Fundraiser: A no pressure, fun walk/ run where at the end, you run down the tunnel of the University of Michigan Stadium, finish on the 50 yard line, and watch yourself finish on the Jumbotron. All that, plus the money goes to a few great causes.

I will be running with a few friends from my Networking Group, and if the weather cooperates, it will be a great day.

If your interested, shoot me a comment, Tweet, or email to

I hope to see you there!

Monday, September 15, 2008

Ann Arbor Condo Sales Report - August 2008

Ann Arbor Condominium sales in August 2008 were down by 32.5% compared to July 2007. Year to date, Condo sales, in units are down by 10.3%, and median sales price is down by 8.5%, or 1.06% per month.

Here are the latest statistics from the Ann Arbor Board of Realtors. These numbers are for Condominiums. Please see earlier post for Single Family Home sales statistics.

Condo Listings in August 2007: 245
Condo Listings in August 2008: 163
Decrease: 32.5%

Condo Listings Y.T.D. 2007: 2,084
Condo Listings Y.T.D. 2008: 1,470
Decrease: 29.5%

Condo Sales Aug 2007: 80
Condo Sales Aug 2008: 54
Decrease: 32.5%

Condo Sales Y.T.D. 2007: 485
Condo Sales Y.T.D. 2008: 435
Decrease: 10.3%

Condo Avg. Days on Market Aug. 2007: 74
Condo Avg. Days on Market Aug. 2008: 80

Condo Avg. Days on Market Y.T.D. 2007: 84
Condo Avg. Days on Market Y.T.D. 2008: 94

Condo Median Sales Price Aug 2007: $147,750
Condo Median Sales Price July 2008: $148,000

Condo Median Sales Price Y.T.D. 2007: $159,000
Condo Median Sales Price Y.T.D. 2008: $145,500
Decrease: 8.5%

Sunday, September 14, 2008

Make Your Plan For Personal Growth

Quick back-story: I'm privileged to be one of the leaders of a local Ann Arbor business networking group called A2 Biz Insights. In my role, I have been publishing a weekly motivational email, which I called the Monday Morning SMART Start. The email was designed to help the members of the group focus on their annual goals in a seven day 'bucket.' The SMART Acronym is in reference to our groups SMART Goals: Goals that are Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Realistic, and Time-phased.
About three weeks ago, I decided to make these motivational emails into a blog post. Subsequently, I have heard from a few of my readers who are not members of the networking group, but who seem to enjoy these posts. That said, here is todays entry.

I can't stop thinking about that statistic I quoted in last week's post that 97% of people who have written goals don't actually follow through on them. I plead guilty to sometimes being among that 97%. It is my goal to become one of the 3%. Being in that 3% is the only way to realize your full potential, and the only way to become content with your life.

Continuing to cherry pick from John Maxewell's "Your Road Map for Success," he has a great section on personal growth. He has 10 major principles for growth. Today I am drawn to his #8: Develop a Plan For Growth. Again, the key is in the follow-through. His plan, which I will do this week, is a plan that requires one-hour per-day, for 5 days out of the next 7. I invite you to join me. Maxwell's principle was adapted from Earl Nightengale, who said: "If a person will spend one hour per day on the same subject for five years, that person will be an expert on that subject." What an incredible promise! It shows how far we are capable of going when we have the discipline to make growth a daily practice.

John Maxwell recommends the following growth plan to participants of his Leadership Conferences:

Monday: Spend one hour with a devotional to develop your spiritual life.
Tuesday: Spend one hour listening to a leadership tape.
Wednesday: Spend one hour researching quotes and reflecting on Tuesdays tape.
Thursday: Spend one hour reading a book on leadership.
Friday: Spend another 30 minutes reading the book, and 30 minutes reflecting.

As I've said before, one of my goals is to read one book per week, and listen to one tape per week. If you do that, in 10 years, you will have read over 500 books. How much smarter will you be after you have read 500 books, and listened to 500 tapes!

Make it a plan, make it a daily routine, and have an OUTSTANDING Week!

Saturday, September 13, 2008

August 2008 Ann Arbor Home Sales Market Report

We've heard this song before. August 2008 Ann Arbor real estate market statistics as compared to August 2007 shows the following: Inventory Down 36%; Sales (in units) are down over 6%; and Average Sales price is down by almost 33%. Year To Date, Number of listings are down over 25%; Number of sales, in units, are flat; but over the first 8 months of 2008, the Average Sales Price continues to drop by 1.51% per month.

In my opinion, the key market indicator is the average sales price. The way I look at it, the average sales price needs to flatten out for a period of at least 90 days before we can declare the market as having hit bottom. We're not there yet.

Here are the latest statistics from the Ann Arbor Board of Realtors. These numbers are for Single Family Homes (SFH) Residential, and do not include condominiums:

SFH Listings in August 2007: 1,062
SFH Listings in August 2008: 677
Decrease: 36%

SFH Listings Y.T.D. 2007: 8,536
SFH Listings Y.T.D. 2008: 6,389
Decrease: 25.2%

SFH Sales August 2007: 365
SFH Sales August 2008: 343
Decrease: 6.1%

SFH Sales Y.T.D. 2007: 2,130
SFH Sales Y.T.D. 2008: 2,141
Increase: 0.005%

SFH Avg. Days on Market Aug. 2007: 74
SFH Avg. Days on Market Aug. 2008: 80

SFH Avg. Days on Market Y.T.D. 2007: 76
SFH Avg. Days on Market Y.T.D. 2008: 83

SFH Avg. Sales Price Aug 2007: $283,544
SFH Avg. Sales Price Aug 2008: $218,626
Decrease: 32.9%

SFH Avg. Sales Price Y.T.D. 2007: $254,988
SFH Avg. Sales Price Y.T.D. 2008: $224,287
Decrease: 12.1%

Sunday, September 7, 2008

Plan Now To Make 2009 Your Best Year Ever!

I am making plans for a kick-ass 2009. Both professionally and personally. It begins with a detailed, written plan. It happens with daily commitment, self discipline, and action.

One of my favorite books on goal setting is John Maxwells "Your Road Map for Success." In it, he quotes the famous German Poet Johann Wolfgang von Goethe, who said:

"Thinking is easy, acting is difficult, and to put ones thoughts into action is the most difficult thing in the world."

I think we are all guilty, to some degree, of being great on the thought part, but fizzling out on the action part. Maxwell sites a survey done by Gregg Harris which shows a pretty dramatic drop-off of those who create goals in comparison to those who actually reach them. In Harris' survey, 67 out of 100 people set goals. Two-thirds. Not bad. However, out of those 67, only 10 had made written plans to reach them. AND, of those 10, only 2 followed through to make them happen. That means that of those with written goals, only 3% actually follow through.

The good news is that even if you have been among the 66% who have goals but are a bit behind in the achievement category (like I am), today is a NEW day, full of hope, sunshine, and God's promise for a brighter future. You CAN achieve virtually anything you truly set your mind to. I have an unwavering faith in that concept.

Our SMART Goal system is solid. Use it, commit to it, work it, achieve it, and help others achieve their goals. Make it a GREAT week!

Tuesday, September 2, 2008

Sep. 2008 Ann Arbor On Market Snapshot

What will the fall market bring in Ann Arbor real estate? Well, the kids are back in school, and those who must sell but have been putting it off now need to get serious. What kind of competition will they face?

As of today, in the immediate Ann Arbor area only, there are 1,036 Single Family Homes and Condominiums on the market, broken down in the following price ranges:

Up to $100K = 53 Units
$100K - $200K = 363
$200 - $300K = 269
$300K - $400K = 110
$400K - $500K = 51
$500K + = 176

There are 33 Single Family Homes, and one Condo listed at over $1 Million in the Ann Arbor area. Topping the list, at an asking price of $5.599 Million is this home in the Barton Hills neighborhood. The pictures with snow give you a hint as to how long it has been on the market, but this home features over 18,000 square feet; 9 bedrooms, 10 bathrooms, 700 feet of waterfront footage, a guest house, etc., etc. By the way, the property tax bill comes in at just a shade over $23K per year. We can dream, can't we?

Friday, August 29, 2008

YOU Can Help Michigan's Economy

Several of us who live and work in Michigan simply refuse to participate in the so-called one state recession. Here is a fantastic idea, first floated by Detroit's Hour Magazine, confirmed by the Michigan Agritourist Department, and more recently circulating around via email. Think and act! Instead of moaning about how bad things are in Michigan economically, this is an opportunity to make things better.

'If we all spent $10 per week on Michigan products, more than $36 Million would be pumped into the state's economy - EVERY WEEK!'

How powerful is that? The idea is to consciously shift at least $10 of your weekly grocery budget to products that are from Michigan companies. Take this a step further by making your purchases at grocery stores which are also Michigan owned. There are several of these: Spartan stores are a cooperative; this means that if you buy a Michigan made product from a Spartan affiliated store, you get a 'triple-dip'. The product is made in Michigan, the store is independently owned by a Michigan family, and Spartan Stores headquarters is located in Grand Rapids. Other independent stores include Randazzo's and Westborn markets. Meijer is located in Grand Rapids, and also counts as a 'double-dip.'
The website Buy Michigan Now has more great information.

Here is just a partial list of Michigan products, brands, and company locations to get you started:

Flatout Bread - Saline, MI
Kellogg's Cereal - Battle Creek
Reny-picot Cheese - Benton Harbor
Yotta Bar granola bars - Warren
Morley's Chocolates - Sterling Heights
American Spoon condiments - Petoskey
Keebler cookies - Battle Creek
Baremans Dairy - Holland
Melody Farms Dairy - Livonia
Nature's Select snacks - Owosso
Cole's Garlic Bread - Grand Rapids
Basha Hommus - Ferndale
Kowalski Hot dogs - Hamtramck
Old Orchard Juice - Sparta
Weight Watchers Muffins/ snacks - Jackson
Koegel's Lunch Meats - Flint
Jiffy Mix Muffins, etc. - Chelsea
Eden's Natural Foods - Clinton Twp.
Faygo soda pop - Detroit
Aunt Mid's produce - Detroit
Better Made snacks - Detroit
Absopure water - Plymouth
St. Julian wines - Paw Paw

Monday, August 25, 2008

Rules for a Perfect Day

I consider Tom Hopkins to be one of the worlds greatest motivational speakers. I had the opportunity to see him in person more than 20 years ago, and his speech that day has stuck with me until this day. His rules, strategies, and success plans are as true and relevant today as they were 20 years ago. He published a simple sheet with his rules for a Perfect Day, which I am happy to share with you today. I hope these rules will help you as much as they have helped me. Make it a great day!

I always live in the delight and reaity of being alive. My past is forever gone, my future -- an uncertainty, so I will be happy and thankful for each moment.

I never allow negative input into my mind . . . happiness is a choice and I choose to be happy.

I am thankful to God for my health, my loved ones, my business, and my country. I am also thankful for any pain in crisis that helps me grow because God has said: "Be thankful in all things."

I always take care of my body, realizing the importance of the words "moderation" and "balance" knowing that as I bring my flesh under control how much easier it will be to control my will and my actions.

I treat everyone the way I would like to be treated. I strive to have them like themselves better when they're with me.

I always avoid gossip, jealousy and negative thinking. Most people don't think about what they think about. I always make a conscious effort to hold loving and beautiful thoughts in my mind.

I always write down my priorities, thinking of my loved ones and my responsibilities. I may not get everything done, but I do the most productive thing possible at every given moment.

I always strive to humble myself before others, controlling my ego and making other people feel important.

I continually invest time in study, learning how to better serve my fellow man. I know my growth in all areas is in direct proportion to the service I give to others.

I never take rejection personally. I am first and foremost in the people business and thus, realize they can only reject my proposal, not me. I keep on keepin' on.

I consistently invest time in prayer, asking God to let others see the light of His shining love through me.

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

The Michael Phelps - Ann Arbor Connection

Michael Phelps called Ann Arbor home for the past four years leading up to his incredible accomplishments in Bejing. The fact that he trained here is pretty neat in and of itself, but deeper than that, the fact that he trained here was indicative of the stimulating vitality of Ann Arbor that makes this town such a great place to live and work.

Here's what I'm trying to explain. I came to Ann Arbor ten years ago to join a company (Borders) that was born in Ann Arbor, and at the time was going through it's greatest growth period in it's history. That was just one piece of Ann Arbor. The town is dominated by the University of Michigan, and the accomplishments of it's staff, students, and alumni are too numerous to mention. This sense of accomplishment, achievement, and striving to be the "Leaders and the best" permeates through the town, and gets into your blood. After being in Chicago for forty years, Ann Arbor has gotten into my blood. It is encouraging, uplifting, and inspirational to live in a place where you can watch others grow to their best potential.

I have had multiple opportunities to relocate to other areas of the country, and to even return to Chicago. I have chosen to stay in the area despite the struggling economy and housing market, and despite all the doomsayers who feel that Michigan is a dead, rust-belt state.

The Ann Arbor and Michigan that I have come to know is a vibrant area, populated by people who know adversity, deal with adversity, and overcome adversity to maximize their potential, and become the best that they can be. It is epitomized by Phelps and other world class athletes like Tom Brady, Kara Lynn Joyce, Alison Gregorka, and others. While they all have an unquestionable commitment inside themselves, it cannot be denied that a part of their successes come from the Ann Arbor environment.

Thursday, August 14, 2008

Ann Arbor July 2008 Condo Sales Report

Ann Arbor Condominium sales in July 2008 were down by more than 18% compared to July 2007. Year to date, Condo sales, in units are down by 4.3%, and median sales price is down by 9.4%, or 1.34% per month.

Here are the latest statistics from the Ann Arbor Board of Realtors. These numbers are for Condominiums. Please see earlier post for Single Family Home sales statistics.

Condo Listings in July 2007: 219
Condo Listings in July 2008: 154
Decrease: 30%

Condo Listings Y.T.D. 2007: 1,839
Condo Listings Y.T.D. 2008: 1,308
Decrease: 29%

Condo Sales July 2007: 79
Condo Sales July 2008: 65
Decrease: 18.8%

Condo Sales Y.T.D. 2007: 397
Condo Sales Y.T.D. 2008: 380
Decrease: 4.3%

Condo Avg. Days on Market July 2007: 81
Condo Avg. Days on Market July 2008: 101

Condo Avg. Days on Market Y.T.D. 2007: 87
Condo Avg. Days on Market Y.T.D. 2008: 95

Condo Median Sales Price July 2007: $159,900
Condo Median Sales Price July 2008: $160,000

Condo Median Sales Price Y.T.D. 2007: $159,900
Condo Median Sales Price Y.T.D. 2008: $145,000
Decrease: 9.4%

Wednesday, August 13, 2008

Ann Arbor July 2008 Home Sales Statistics

July 2008 Ann Arbor area market statistics continue to show a significant drop in inventory over 2007. Down over 23% year to date. Sales, in number of residential (Single Family Home) units, are up slightly at plus 2% over July 2007. Average sales price continues to drop by 1.34% per month

Here are the latest statistics from the Ann Arbor Board of Realtors. These numbers are for Single Family Homes (SFH) Residential, and do not include condominiums:

SFH Listings in July 2007: 1,008
SFH Listings in July 2008: 791
Decrease: 21%

SFH Listings Y.T.D. 2007: 7,414
SFH Listings Y.T.D. 2008: 5,715
Decrease: 23%

SFH Sales July 2007: 342
SFH Sales July 2008: 349
Increase: 2%

SFH Sales Y.T.D. 2007: 1,730
SFH Sales Y.T.D. 2008: 1,794
Increase: 0.4%

SFH Avg. Days on Market July 2007: 64
SFH Avg. Days on Market July 2008: 79

SFH Avg. Days on Market Y.T.D. 2007: 97
SFH Avg. Days on Market Y.T.D. 2008: 84

SFH Avg. Sales Price July 2007: $264,404
SFH Avg. Sales Price July 2008: $236,209
Decrease: 10.7%

SFH Avg. Sales Price Y.T.D. 2007: $248,715
SFH Avg. Sales Price Y.T.D. 2008: $225,447
Decrease: 9.4%

Sunday, August 3, 2008

Meeting Online Connections Offline

I love meeting new people, both online and offline. The famous motivational speaker Charlie 'Tremendous' Jones has a mantra: "The only difference between where you are now, and where you'll be next year, are the books you read and the people you meet." He has said it for more than 50 years and has influenced hundreds of thousands of people with that single sentence. Me included.

There are a 'Tremendous' number of social and professional networking websites to meet and interact with some very nice and interesting people. Sometimes, you have to create the opportunity to meet folks in person, who you have met online. That brings me to this Thursday at Banfield's Westside Grill, at the corner of Jackson & Zeeb roads in Ann Arbor, Michigan.

Offline, I have a Professional Development, Mentoring and Referral Group called A2 Biz Insights. It is a really dynamic group of local business leaders who have made a commitment to help each other in business and in the community. We meet regularly to help each other grow professionally, and we also meet regularly on a social basis.

Online, I have met and connected with literally hundreds of people on: LinkedIn, Facebook, Twitter, Plurk, Pownce, Xing, ECademy, Naymz, BizNik, Plaxo, MeetUp, Motor City Connect, and a few others I have lost track of.

Back to Thursday. I and a few of my networking friends are hosting a "Speed Networking" Happy Hour at Banfield's, starting at 6PM. This event will be a combination of A2 Biz Insights members and their friends, as well as a Networking Group, and other folks invited from other networking sites. Everyone who comes will receive a printed Dance Card, and are encouraged to meet and engage with everyone else in attendance to get their contact and business information, in anticipation of continuing a business relationship after the event. It is a low pressure, fun, casual environment to meet other local, energetic professionals who want to grow their businesses.

If you're reading this, and would like to join us, please call me at (734) 678-9032 to let me know you are coming. Guests are welcome. There is no cost, nothing to join, and nothing to do but meet new folks and have an enjoyable evening. You can even watch the Tigers and Lions on the Big Screen TV.

I hope to see you Thursday!

Monday, July 28, 2008

Host a USA Hockey Player

One of the many very cool things in Ann Arbor is that the USA Hockey National Team Development Program (NTDP) makes it's home here. There are more than 25,000 young hockey players who participate in this program nationwide, and each summer, USA Hockey chooses the best 46 from around the country to take part in the elite NTDP program.

Each year, dozens of exceptional Ann Arbor families open their homes to these 46 of the finest American amateur hockey players in the nation, who are aged 15 to 16. These selfless families "adopt" a player to come live with them for the school year. These families become vital to the success of the program. USA Hockey is always in need of families to take in players and provide homes and a family environment for the student-athletes who attend Pioneer High School.

Since the NTDP was founded in 1996, a total of 19 alumni have gone on to play at the University of Michigan, three of whom went on to serve as Captains -- Eric Nystrom, Matt Hunwick, and Kevin Porter. Porter was named the winner of the 2008 Hobey Baker Memorial Award, given annually to college hockey's top student-athlete.

The NTDP was created to prepare student-athletes under the age of 18 for participation on the US National teams and success in their future hockey careers. It's efforts not only focus on high-caliber on-ice performance, but in creating well rounded individuals and good citizens off the ice.

Over 140 NTDP players have been drafted by NHL Teams, including number one overall selections -- Rick DiPietro, Erik Johnson and Patrick Kane. Over 40 NTDP alumni saw action in the NHL last year. More than 300 NTDP players have signed national Letters of Intent with NCAA Division I hockey programs.

Mary and I "adopted" a NTDP player, who stayed with us for two years. He was a great young man with a great work ethic, who was an inspiration to our whole family. Not only that, we have become life-long friends with his family. He has gone on to play collegiate hockey, and is currently playing for Yale University.

If you choose to become a host family, not only do you get the opportunity to help the program and create great friendships, you also get the opportunity to watch some pretty incredible hockey.

All host families receive a monthly stipend from USA Hockey, as well as free season tickets. If you would like more information on becoming a host family, please contact USA Hockey at (734) 327-9251 x24

Wednesday, July 23, 2008

Avoiding House Pricing Torture

If you currently have your house for sale, what is your pricing strategy? If you are considering putting your house on the market, what will be your pricing strategy? Unfortunately, some of the typical pricing strategies we see in the market do not correlate with the reality of today's real estate market. If you want to sell your home, you need to face some hard market facts.
Understandably, sellers are emotionally attached to their homes, and can have a tendency to be in denial that their home is not the exception to the market rule.

Step 1 is to emotionally detatch yourself from your home. The minute you decide to sell, your home is a house, a commodity, a product. It is no longer your "home". The sale of your home becomes a business transaction.

Step 2 is to determine your pricing strategy. The most common pricing strategy is to pick an inflated "Let's test the market" price, which, frankly, does not work. Home buyers are smarter and better informed that at any time in history. We even know of buyers who 'Google' home sellers to find out the sellers Bios and possible motivations to sell. By the time home sellers realize that this strategy does not work, valuable marketing time has been lost, the home becomes "market worn" and buyers theorize that the seller is unrealistic.

In today's market, if you really want to get your home sold, you will need to price your home 10% below what comparable homes have been selling for. This is a big pill to swallow, and is often too big for many sellers to handle. The unfortunate consequence is that people price their homes at above market value, and over time, reduce the price at a rate lower than the decline in the market, and never truly get their home priced in the market range. This is known as Pricing Torture. Sellers reduce the price, bit by bit, over time, and still cannot understand why the lowering in price does not result in increased showings and/ or offers.

The statistics are showing that the Ann Arbor real estate market is flat to down just under 1% per month. The moral of the story is that if you need to drop the price, make one large cut. Not baby steps.

Monday, July 14, 2008

How Much Home Will $300,000 Buy in Ann Arbor?

A quick search of the Ann Arbor Multiple Listing service shows 74 homes currently on the market in the immediate Ann Arbor area, priced between $275,000 - $325,000. As you can imagine, there is a wide variety of styles, ages, and designs. On the one end of the spectrum is an 825 square foot home for sale at $285,000 ($343/ sq. ft.) and another home over 3100 square feet at $299,000 ($87/ ft.). The average $300,000 home is just shy of 2000 square feet, at an average asking price at $143/ ft.

Saturday, July 12, 2008

Troy VanderStelt

I cannot stop thinking about Troy VanderStelt. I did not know him, yet I feel as if I did know him.

Troy was a fellow father, husband, and Michigan Realtor. From what I have read, much of what he did focused on doing the best he could in those three roles.

Troy was not responsible for the depressed Michigan real estate market. He did not misrepresent the state of the market. All he did was go in to work on July 1, and work to provide for his family and service his clients to the best of his ability in an extremely difficult market. For those efforts, Troy was shot and killed in his office on a Tuesday morning.

It is extremely easy to attempt to rationalize the irrational by application of the 'lone nut' theory, or by speculating that he or some other individual 'must have' said or done something that somehow contributed to this heinous and unspeakable act. This attempt at rationalization allows us to convince ourselves that something like this could never possibly happen to us. You might as well just stick your head in the sand.

The fact is that we currently are living in very stressful financial times. And that is putting it mildly. We know that our home is often our largest investment, and we have come to depend on our home as an appreciating asset. We also become so emotionally attached to our homes that we choose to ignore the realities of the declining market around us. It is when the reality actually begins to set in that we lash out with a knee-jerk reaction of shifting blame. We live in a self-centered, self-obsessed, instant gratification, the rules-don't-apply-to-me world.

We, as a society, have collectively created and perpetuate an environment where we do absolutely everything possible to place blame for our individual circumstances everywhere else than where the blame actually resides. The tragic examples of this phenomenon are, unfortunately, endless. School shootings, workplace shootings, postal shootings, and other random shootings continue to multiply. It seems to me that there are no efforts being made to get to the root of these problems. I don't have the answer. I can only pray for the VanderStelt family, and pray the Serenity prayer:
God, grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change, the courage to change the things I can, and the wisdom to know the difference.
I encourage you to do the same. That's a start, anyway.

Friday, July 11, 2008

A Tragedy Beyond Measure

On July 1st, 2008, Troy VanderStelt, a Real Estate Agent with Nexes Realty Inc. of Muskegon Michigan, was brutally murdered at his office by a former client who, unfairly and unjustly, blamed Troy for the declining housing market and his home’s falling value.

In a premeditated act, the murderer tossed a folder on the desk for distraction, pulled his pistol, and executed Troy with a single bullet below the left eye. Troy was gone in that instant.

Troy has left behind his loving wife, Bridget, and four children, Matthew (16), Lainey (14), Corbin (2 1/2) and Ava, (18 mos.) Troy will also be dearly missed by his two younger brothers Todd and Trent, his two parents, Dennis and Carole, and a community of family and friends.

The void left by Troy’s passing is heartbreaking. His family has been ripped apart. His youngest children will never know the man who loved them with his whole life. He was the leader of his family. His Christian values were strong, and the life he lived, exemplary. To say he will be missed is terribly inadequate.

None the less devastating however, Troy was the bread winner of his family. He was torn from this world at the time his family needed him the most, leaving his four children to be raised on a single income.

To help overcome, an educational trust has been established to support Troy’s children. Donations can be made online through the “Donate” link on this page (PayPal and Credit Cards Accepted) or can be mailed directly to:

“The Children of Troy VanderStelt Educational Trust”
C/O Community Shores Bank
1030 W. Norton Ave,
Muskegon, MI 49441

This Post is a reprint from the Please help the family of Realtor Troy VanderSteldt Facebook Group.

Thursday, July 10, 2008

Ann Arbor Condo Sales Report: June 2008

Ann Arbor Condominium sales in June 2008 were up by 3% compared to June 2007. Year to date, Condo sales, in units, are flat, and average sales price is down by 13.3%.

Here are the latest statistics from the Ann Arbor Board of Realtors. These numbers are for Condominiums. Please see earlier post for Single Family Home sales statistics.

Condo Listings in June 2007: 279
Condo Listings in June 2008: 200
Decrease: 18.4%

Condo Listings Y.T.D. 2007: 1,772
Condo Listings Y.T.D. 2008: 1,154
Decrease: 35%

Condo Sales June 2007: 93
Condo Sales June 2008: 96
Increase: 3%

Condo Sales Y.T.D. 2007: 318
Condo Sales Y.T.D. 2008: 315
Decrease: 1%

Condo Avg. Days on Market June 2007: 75
Condo Avg. Days on Market June 2008: 89

Condo Avg. Days on Market Y.T.D. 2007: 83
Condo Avg. Days on Market Y.T.D. 2008: 85

Condo Median Sales Price June 2007: $158,000
Condo Median Sales Price June 2008: $140,000
Decrease: 21.4%

Condo Median Sales Price Y.T.D. 2007: $159,945
Condo Median Sales Price Y.T.D. 2008: $142,500
Decrease: 11%

Wednesday, July 9, 2008

Ann Arbor June 2008 Home Sales Statistics

The dramatically positive Ann Arbor home sales uptick we experienced in May did not carry over into June the way we had hoped. Yes, the number of listings continue to trend down from a year ago, which we continue to hope translates into price increases due to increased demand, but we are definitely not there yet. There is still plenty of inventory.

June 2008 sales were down by 2% compared to June 2007 after a 25% sales spike of May 2007 - May 2008 numbers. Year to date, residential sales, in units, are up 4%, and average sales price is down by over 9.5%.

Here are the latest statistics from the Ann Arbor Board of Realtors. These numbers are for Single Family Homes (SFH) Residential, and do not include condominiums:

SFH Listings in June 2007: 1,216
SFH Listings in June 2008: 808
Decrease: 33%

SFH Listings Y.T.D. 2007: 6,746
SFH Listings Y.T.D. 2008: 4,926
Decrease: 27%

SFH Sales June 2007: 364
SFH Sales June 2008: 357
Decrease: 2%

SFH Sales Y.T.D. 2007: 1,380
SFH Sales Y.T.D. 2008: 1,436
Increase: 4%

SFH Avg. Days on Market June 2007: 75
SFH Avg. Days on Market June 2008: 77

SFH Avg. Days on Market Y.T.D. 2007: 83
SFH Avg. Days on Market Y.T.D. 2008: 85

SFH Avg. Sales Price June 2007: $267,571
SFH Avg. Sales Price June 2008: $232,162
Decrease: 13.3%

SFH Avg. Sales Price Y.T.D. 2007: $246,269
SFH Avg. Sales Price Y.T.D. 2008: $223,082
Decrease: 9.5%

Sunday, July 6, 2008

Friday, July 4, 2008

3898 Mill Pond Ann Arbor Home for Sale

Gorgeous Home for Sale, MUST SEE!

You're Invited! Local Ann Arbor Real Estate Investors Group

This group has been created to help YOU learn about creating wealth by investing in real estate in the south east Michigan area. We take a long term, strategic, disciplined, and educational approach. It is NOT a get rich, find-and-flip group. Meet local Ann Arbor, Michigan area experts, seasoned investors, money people, vendors, and fellow Real Estate owners, buyers and investors. Come to this new, dynamic local Real Estate Buying & Investing group to:
1) Learn how to create successful investment strategies
2) Learn how to evaluate opportunities
3) Learn how to create and assemble your investment team,
4) Discuss Case Studies of successful and unsuccessful deals
5) Analyze properties currently on the market
6) Learn contract negotiation strategies
7) Learn about financing options
8) Anything else about land and realty.

We will discuss single family homes, duplexes, triplexes, quad-plexes, multi-family apartments, student rentals, vacant land, commercial, Limited Partnerships, foreclosures, and much, much more!
Our meetings will be informational, fact-filled, and valuable.
We ARE NOT selling "systems", subscriptions, books, CD's or other programs.
We will become a part of the National Real Estate Investors Association, the Ann Arbor Chamber of Commerce, as well as other local and national real estate organizations.
Come and check us out, you'll be glad you did!
Our next meeting is Tuesday, July 8, 2008 at 6:30PM at Real Estate One; 555 Briarwood Circle #333, Ann Arbor, MI
We'd love to have you come! If you'd like to join us, please RSVP to Brian Bundesen

Wednesday, June 25, 2008

You're Invited: FREE First Time Home Buyer Seminar

Purchasing or selling Real Estate requires extensive due diligence. You cannot get all the information from newspapers or the internet. You need to talk to, and hear from Full Time, Professional Agents who are in the marketplace all day, every day. PLUS, with the state of today's market, including Bank Foreclosures, Relocations, and Short Sales, the purchase of a home can become pretty complicated.
You are invited to join us for our next FREE, Fact-filled, fast paced, and informative Real Estate Seminar.

At our “How to Buy a Home or Foreclosure” 45 Minute Seminar – You Will Learn:
--The Latest Market Updates
--How Much House You Can Afford
--Financing Alternatives
--Why You Need a Buyer’s Agent
--Searching for Homes Efficiently
--Differences in purchasing Short Sale or Foreclosure properties
--Viewing Homes Like an Inspector
--Contract Negotiating Strategies

This Seminar is completely FREE of charge, and are our service to YOU as Educating Real Estate Professionals. There is no obligation, nothing to sign, and no commitments to make. Please come to learn how you can purchase a home with the knowledge and information you need to make the right decisions.

The Seminar will be presented by myself (Brian) and Amaechi Udoji of Huron Valley Financial.

Please join us Tuesday, July 1, 2008 at 6:45PM at the Office of Real Estate One; 555 Briarwood Circle #333, Ann Arbor, 48108

For more information, call Brian at (734) 678-9032

Saturday, June 21, 2008

What Will $200,000 Buy in Ann Arbor, MI?

Just a few short years ago, if you called an Ann Arbor Real Estate agent, and asked for help finding a home under $200,000, you would likely get the "you've got to be kidding" response. Well, as we all are painfully aware. The times have changed. That is good news for those buyers who realize the cyclical nature of the real estate business, and have confidence that buying at the low end of the market is really a good idea.

A search of the Ann Arbor MLS today shows 170 homes on the market priced near or below $200,000. The average size of these 170 is a 3 bedroom, 2 bath, 1300 square foot home, with an average price of $183,000, or $150 per square foot. At the top of this search is a 5BR; 2BA 2300 square foot home.

This link will show you a virtual tour of one of the homes on the market in this range which looks to be a great value for the $199,000 asking price. This one does not look to be a foreclosure or short sale, and is move-in ready.

One of our specialties is working with first time home buyers. If you have any questions about homes on the market, or about the home buying process, we would love to chat with you.

Wednesday, June 11, 2008

Good News! Get Your Ann Arbor Real Estate Good News Here!

Real estate agents complain that the newspapers only print bad news about the market. Well the fact is that recently, that is all there has been. We're happy to note a dramatic POSITVE trend in the market during the month of May that we hope is a sign of a strong market turnaround. Number of listings are down, and number of sales are up by over 25% May 2007 - May 2008, and number of sales Year to Date are up over 16% in 2008.

Here's the latest snapshot from the Ann Arbor Board of Realtors. These statistics are for Single Family Homes (SFH) Residential, and do not include condominiums:

SFH Listings in May 2007: 1,368
SFH Listings in May 2008: 886
Decrease: 35%

SFH Listings Y.T.D. 2007: 5,313
SFH Listings Y.T.D. 2008: 4,118
Decrease: 22.5%

SFH Sales May 2007: 242
SFH Sales May 2008: 303
Increase: 25.2%

SFH Sales Y.T.D. 2007: 1,003
SFH Sales Y.T.D. 2008: 1,074
Increase: 16.2%

SFH Avg. Days on Market May 2007: 80
SFH Avg. Days on Market May 2008: 86

SFH Avg. Days on Market Y.T.D. 2007: 86
SFH Avg. Days on Market Y.T.D. 2008: 88

SFH Avg. Sales Price May 2007: $244,404
SFH Avg. Sales Price May 2008: $217,849
Decrease: 10.9%

SFH Avg. Sales Price Y.T.D. 2007: $239,028
SFH Avg. Sales Price Y.T.D. 2008: $216,882
Decrease: 9.3%

Thursday, June 5, 2008

Be the Change

There have been a significant number of lessons learned this week. It has been a roller coaster of a completely different sort than I am used to, and it is not over by a long shot. The message through it all is perseverance, the unflinching faith that tomorrow will be better, and renewing the commitment to being the change that you want to see in your world.

On the business front, this has been a pretty dark week in Ann Arbor, and southeast Michigan. Borders Group, one of the areas largest employers, cut 20% of it's corporate work force, Spirit Airlines is closing it's Detroit hub. Pick up Truck and SUV Sales are down double-digits. Even our real estate office has seen administrative and corporate staff cutbacks. Heck, we are even trying to sub-lease some of our office space because there are no new people coming into the real estate business. Trying to sugar coat this challenging state of affairs serves no purpose. Wallowing in it is less productive. The only good that can come out of it is figuring out what we can learn from it, and how can we take what we have learned to make things better in the future.

On the real estate front, we like to think that Ann Arbor is one of the first markets on the rebound. Actually being on the rebound really requires the concerted effort of all those in the real estate transaction being part of that rebound. Unfortunately, that scenario has not played out in our most recent transaction. Long story short, an appraisal came in $35,000 below the sales price. Now this was not a home in a cookie-cutter subdivision. This was a great home which was meticulously cared for in a great neighborhood. The appraiser had many factors to consider, many metrics and comparables which could have justified the agreed on price, yet he chose the 'safe' route of the lowest comparable sales. Perhaps this is the result of being beaten down for the past 18 months of market decline, but the net result is that this action actually perpetuates the downward slide when there are indications of recovery, and is very unsettling to all parties concerned.

Anyway, this Post has been a bit of a ramble, as the situation is both complicated and distressing. I guess my underlying prayer is for people to have the courage to be part of the force that makes positive change. It is way too easy to follow the momentum of negativity.

Sunday, June 1, 2008

To the Saline 'Party Bus' Parents:

I don't know if you're aware of, or have followed the Saline Parent 'Party Bus' story, but the gist is that during the High School Prom, a group of parents decided to have a bit of a Prom Party of their own, and were drinking alcohol on a bus in the parking lot of the school while the Prom was going on. Other than it being against the law, the obvious irony is that our greatest fear as parents are our children drinking at Prom. That's not the worst of it. In what unfortunately has become the American Way, the parents have gone on to deny, cover up, and berate law enforcement for enforcing laws.

Anyway, this pervasive attitude really grinds my gears, and I have taken the 'Letter to the Editor' approach, have sent the following to the Ann Arbor News, and write an open letter to these parents:

Please, do yourselves and your children a favor: Do the RIGHT thing. Walk in to the Police Station, admit a lapse in judgment, take responsibility, pay the fine, and move on. That simple act would leave a lasting positive impression on your family for generations to come. Your actions regarding this incident and it's aftermath are yet another shining example of the "We can do whatever we want, the rules don't apply to us" attitude that permeates today's world.

Instead, you have chosen to take the road MOST travelled by: 1) Committing a crime; 2) Denying responsibility; 3) Covering up by not cooperating with police; and 4) Chastising law enforcement for doing their jobs. You don't drink alcohol on school grounds, period. Is it the crime of the century? Of course not. If you don't like the law, take it off the books. Yet again, the denial and cover up are much worse than the original crime. What a waste of time, resources, and taxpayer money.

Have we STILL learned nothing from Nixon, Clinton, Kilpatrick, et. al? I hope you are proud of yourselves when you look into the mirror each morning that you are helping to raise another generation of citizens who will go through life and do everything EXCEPT take responsibility for problems of their own making.
I doubt it will do any good, but it is now off my chest. Thanks for reading, and if you'd like, please share a comment.

Saturday, May 31, 2008

What I Like About the Real Estate Business

Although it seems like it happens about as often as Halley's Comet, once in a while, the planets align, timing is right, a transaction proceeds with a minimal number of bugs on the windshield, and EVERYONE involved walks away happy. Here's a quick recap of how this one played out:

Three weeks ago Monday, I meet a young couple through the internet, relocating from Utah, going to Grad School at U of M, and would like to buy their first home. We look at 3 foreclosures Monday, one home on Tuesday, and 3 more on Wednesday, just for good measure. I don't care what you say, and we as real estate agents find ourselves always trying to "sell" homes all the time. Agents do not sell homes, the homes sell themselves. They fell in love with home #5, and it was so nice, we were scratching our heads as to how it could have still been on the market.

Anyway, we start search Monday, find perfect home Tuesday, offer made and accepted by Friday, and it closed yesterday, two weeks later. Inspection issues were resolved quickly and amicably, Appraisal hiccup was burped and resolved. The seller, who had an emotional attachment to the home, took much comfort in the fact that she was helping a nice young couple with twin 4-month old daughters get their first home. The Sellers agents, lender, and Title Company were a joy to work with. The buyers have a lovely new home, and were smart enough to realize the value of owning real estate vs. paying rent for the 4 - 6 years they will be studying at the U of M.

Mary and my enjoyment in the business goes far beyond the commission. Our joy comes from helping nice people through real estate transactions. Today's market is very tightly wound, too many people are under way too much financial pressure, and most real estate transactions are highly charged, emotional, and often less than satisfying (to say the least). When Seller, Buyer, Agents, Lender, and Title company walk away from the table looking forward to doing business again, it is time to take a moment to smell the roses.

Congratulations Adam and Jill: We love doing business with nice people, and REALLY love doing business with REALLY nice people.

Tuesday, May 27, 2008

Fast Facts: Where We Promote Our Listings

According to the National Association of Realtors, more than 88% of prospective home buyers begin their home search on the internet. This means that when the time comes for you to sell your house, it would behoove you to list your home with a company that will maximize the exposure of your home on the Web.

Real Estate One is the largest real estate company in the state of Michigan. Period. We have more than 1,700 agents, 65+ offices throughout the state. This size gives us the leverage to market our home listings in the most comprehensive ways. Among these is the syndication of home listing information throughout the internet. When you list your home for sale with a Real Estate One agent, your home will receive the following internet exposure:


Monday, May 19, 2008

Ann Arbor Neighborhood Spotlight: Burns Park

(First in a series). As you get acquainted with the town of Ann Arbor, you will want to become familiar with it's diverse neighborhoods. Sometimes defined geographically, and often defined by elementary school district. Roughly, the area is bounded by Hill Street on the North, Stadium on the South, the area around Packard on the West, and Washtenaw on the East. The area east of Washtenaw is known as Ives Woods, but is also considered by many to be part of Burns Park.

Burns Park is one of the oldest neighborhoods, is often considered one of the most prestigious, and has the distinction of sharing the area with a large amount of University of Michigan student rental housing. The area combines student housing, sometimes referred to as student "ghetto", with lovely estate-style homes which are predominantly owned by professors and U of M Administrators.

Burns Park Elementary School is very highly regarded, due to many factors, notably a proportionately high level of parental involvement. It is a highly desireable neighborhood as far as real estate is concerned, due to its many unique styles of homes, and obviously, it's proximity to campus and downtown.

A snapshot of Burns Park Real Estate shows 38 homes on the market (as of the date and time of this post), with prices ranging from $199,000all the way up to near the Million dollar mark. Quite often, you can find homes over a million in this area.

Friday, May 16, 2008

New Ann Arbor High School District Boundaries

If you are moving into the area, or by chance have not been closely following the construction of our new area high school, here is a link to the residential boundaries that are taking effect with this upcoming Fall 2008 school year.

Obviously, if you have school age children who will go to high school in the area, you should be aware of these new boundaries as you plan your home search.

We have two fairly distinctively named schools, and team names, and the third, new school, which was named via a very thinly veiled attempt to satisfy the widest base of people by generic compromise. First, on the northeast side of town, we have the Huron River Rats. On what is now the southwest part of town, we have the Ann Arbor Pioneer Pioneers. The new school is called Skyline, and the team name is Eagles. Wasn't that the High School on Beverly Hills 90210?Blandola. Personally, I liked the idea of Schemford High, named after Bo Schembechler and President Gerald Ford.

Wednesday, May 14, 2008

Ann Arbor Area Links of Interest

Ann Arbor City Guide
News, Attractions, Maps, Hotels, Jobs, Travel, History, Real Estate

Ann Arbor Area
Links to Parks, Sports, Recreation, Hobbies and Clubs

Arbor Web Calendar of Events, Ann Arbor Observer

Detroit's Festivals and Fairs
Find upcoming festivals happening in the Detroit area! Voted #1 Sports City 2007!

Michigan Events
Plan your next trip using this event calendar - exhibits, shows and more

To learn more about the Ann Arbor region, check out

Why Hold FREE Homebuyers Seminars?

Why go to the time, trouble, and expense of holding FREE Seminars for people who have not yet committed to hire Mary and I as their real estate agents? That is a question I often get from both friends and business associates. My answer is easy. The process of purchasing or selling real estate is quite lengthy, often emotional, and increasingly complicated. It is very often the biggest financial obligation people make. We like to put ourselves in the shoes of first-time home buyers who can become overwhelmed with the available options, and who often don't know what they don't know. I don't know about you, but when I make a major purchase, I like to be armed with as much objective, current and accurate information as possible.

Have you ever had the experience of going to the doctor, the doctor examines you, and then calls in another doctor. They proceed to talk about you using jargon you don't understand, and then don't explain to you what they are talking about?

We feel that often happens in real estate. Quite often, the first exposure someone has to a real estate agent takes place in a sales situation. A person calls, visits an open house, makes an internet inquiry, or requests a market analysis. More often than not, the agent shifts into sales mode, and can often develop what we call "Commission Breath." We feel that the adage holds true that people want to buy, but they do not want to be sold. Thus, the creation of the Buyers Seminar. Our objective is to provide current, accurate, and detailed information about the home buying process without developing "Commission Breath." We want to provide real estate information to folks in a non-sales setting, so no one need feel uncomfortable. We work hard to hold ourselves up as Educating Real Estate Professionals. Certainly, we would love to work with the folks who come to our seminars as their agents, but if they are only in the information gathering stage, are not ready to take the next step, or simply choose not to work with us, that is OK. We are pleased when we get positive feedback from our seminars, and are told by our attendees that they learned a lot that they did not know before.

Monday, May 12, 2008

Ann Arbor Condo Market Update: April 2008

Condo Market Update From the Ann Arbor Board of Realtors:

# of Listings April 2007: 230
# of Listings April 2008: 246
Increase: 7%

Y.T.D. 2007: 1,114
Y.T.D. 2008: 780
Decrease: 30%

Sales April 2007: 41
Sales April 2008: 43

Sales Y.T.D. 2007: 165
Sales Y.T.D. 2008: 151
Decrease: 9%

Median Sales Price Y.T.D. 2007: $160,000
Median Sales Price Y.T.D. 2008: $139,000
Decrease: 13.2%

Sunday, May 11, 2008

Happy Mother's Day

I'm deeply thankful for all the Moms in my life:

My mom Jayne, who has had an incredible life, has shown inspiring resilience, and has provided me with unequivocal love through innumerable storms.

My wife Mary, for whom I thank God for placing in my life. She has given me two fantastic children, and is strongly molding them into great people. I constantly wonder how she unflinchingly supports me despite my antics.

For my sisters Lynne and Karin, who have been more supportive than they know, especially at the lowest points on my life's roller coaster.

For my cousins, in-laws, and other moms throughout my family.

For the lives of my Grandmothers, who died when I was young, but endured hardships and stayed strong for the sake of their families.

And, for all of my colleagues, business associates, and friends who are mothers. I know your 'job' is often thankless, and is the toughest job there is, but please know you are appreciated.

I can never properly express my gratitude and appreciation for all you do. I am thankful.

Saturday, May 10, 2008

Seminar Location Change

Due to a scheduling snafu at the Library, our upcoming Home Buyer & Foreclosure Seminar has been moved to our office conference room at Real Estate One.

It will be this Tuesday evening at 6:30PM at 555 Briarwood Circle #333 in Ann Arbor.
We hope to see you there!

Market Update April 2008

Here's the latest snapshot from the Ann Arbor Board of Realtors. These statistics are for Single Family Homes (SFH) Residential, and do not include condominiums:

SFH Listings in April 2007: 1,118
SFH Listings in April 2008: 872
Decrease: 23%

SFH Listings Y.T.D. 2007: 3,945
SFH Listings Y.T.D. 2008: 3,234
Decrease: 18%

SFH Sales April 2007: 225
SFH Sales April 2008: 229
Increase: 1.8%

SFH Sales Y.T.D. 2007: 756
SFH Sales Y.T.D. 2008: 767
Increase: 1.45%

SFH Avg. Days on Market April 2007: 87
SFH Avg. Days on Market April 2008: 90

SFH Avg. Days on Market Y.T.D. 2007: 88
SFH Avg. Days on Market Y.T.D. 2008: 88

SFH Avg. Sales Price April 2007: $250,971
SFH Avg. Sales Price April 2008: $222,798
Decrease: 21.3%

SFH Avg. Sales Price Y.T.D. 2007: $238,888
SFH Avg. Sales Price Y.T.D. 2008: $217,631
Decrease: 8.9%

Wednesday, May 7, 2008

Let's Look at Some Homes!

So, there are lots of homes on the market, and if you think you'd like to buy, where to begin? Obviously, there are tons of websites with home listing information on them. There are national websites, local Broker websites, and individual agent websites which carry varying degrees of information. The best (in my opinion), and most accurate information on homes for sale in Ann Arbor, Michigan, would be the feed from the Ann Arbor Board of Realtors, of which Mary and I are members. This system allows us to send our clients FLASH emails on homes that fit their search criteria, the instant the homes come on the market. This is a very valuable tool, especially in light of the recent uptick in the market. Anyway, as a start to this series, I have created a link to 31 homes in the immediate Ann Arbor area which have come on the market since April 1, and are in the price range of $225,000 - $275,000. If you would like further information on any of these homes, please shoot me a quick email, or call me at (734) 678-9032