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

Tuesday, May 6, 2008

Good News for Ann Arbor, MI Real Estate

A few posts ago, I summarized the recent National Association of Realtors report that led off with the header: "No Bottom Yet". Well I'm here to report that there are at least three encouraging indicators, at least for our south east Michigan market. Today's office meeting, here at Real Estate One in Ann Arbor, coupled with this article from the Detroit News, and this article from the Washtenaw Business Review indicate that our market is definitely starting to rebound in a big way.

At our Tuesday meetings, we get the opportunity to learn the pulse of the market. At today's meeting, one of our offices top agents reported that he was working with a Buyer recently, scheduled showings for 20 homes, and found that 15 of the 20 went under sales contract between the time he scheduled the appointment, and the time his showing was scheduled. Another agent reported a similar experience, with 7 of 10 homes going under contract within just a few days. I myself, have also had this experience with buyers recently, who have found homes on the internet that they want to look at, only to find out when I go to set the showings, that the homes have gone under contract.

The consensus was that there has been a great burst of market activity. Not only that, but the gap between offering price and listing price seems to have narrowed significantly. More on this topic later, as I'm off to show homes!

Monday, May 5, 2008

Ann Arbor's Living Economy Network

In 2004, a group composed of long-time local business owners, new business owners, and community members began to meet and talk about their concern that it was becoming more and more difficult for locally owned businesses to survive in this area.

This group shared a common belief that strong communities begin with businesses that are part of the fabric of our community, and that express their connection to and respect for their community in their choices of goods and services and the way in which these are provided.

To strengthen these locally owned businesses, the group formed a non-profit called the Living Economy Network (LEN). Recently, LEN decided to launch a 'Think Local First' campaign to help promote and support these locally owned businesses, who have deep roots in the community, and have a long term commitment towards making Ann Arbor a great place to work and live.

For more information on this campaign and the work of LEN, please visit:

Saturday, May 3, 2008

How Much Home Can I Afford to Buy?

If you are considering buying a home for the first time, you need to do some prep work before you begin home shopping. You would not want to get your heart set on a home, only to learn that it is beyond the scope of what a mortgage firm will loan you. Also, you should be aware that with the current housing situation and mortgage crisis, lenders are becoming much more stringent in their qualifications than they have been in the past few years.

A good starting point is to meet with a banker at the bank you regularly do business with. Your banker or financial advisor can help you get an estimation of your buying power. You should probably also shop around on a website like Once the time comes to estimate what you can afford, be aware that any lender will take the following elements into consideration:

- Your gross income
- The amount of money you have available for a downpayment
- The amount of your debt
- Your credit score and history
- The type of mortgage you choose
- The current interest rates

You can learn more about the financing piece of the real estate transaction if you join us at our upcoming Homebuyers Seminar (see post below). Happy house hunting!

Friday, May 2, 2008

Real Estate Sales: First Quarter 2008

When the headline of the National Association of Realtors First Quarter Press Release says: “No Bottom Yet” there’s not much else to say. Here is a snapshot of real estate nationally and locally based on the most recent reports:

Nationally: The March sales rate for resale homes dropped 19.3 percent and the median resale home price fell 7.7 percent compared to March of 2007. The NAR Report does not provide actual unit sales, but does their calculations based on a revolving 12 month seasonally adjusted average.

State of Michigan: First Quarter 2008:
Number of Units Sold: 20,759; Down 3.42% from 2007
Average Sales Price: $118,779; Down 11.63% from 2007

5 County Metro Detroit Area: First Quarter 2008:
Number of Units Sold: 9238; Up 7.3% from 2007*
Average Sales Price: $92,968; Down 29.3% from 2007

(*Anomaly was Detroit city, with an increase in unit sales of 41% and a decrease in average sales price of over 66%, down to an average sales price of $10,000)

Ann Arbor Area: First Quarter 2008:
Number of Units Sold: 673; Down 9.18% from 2007
Average Sales Price (Single Family Homes): $216,488; Down 2.01%
Average Sales Price (SFH + Condos): $175,000; Down 11.4%

Thursday, May 1, 2008

You're Invited to Our Home Buyers 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, May 13, 2008 at 6:30PM at the Mallet's Creek Branch of the Ann Arbor District Library, 3090 E. Eisenhower, Ann Arbor, 48108

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

Lower Town Development Update

Since I last wrote about the Lower Town Development six months ago, I fell a bit obligated to provide an update. Besides, I am curious myself. Anyway, with great fanfare back in September 2007, there was a greoundbreaking and much enthusiasm that this project would finally get underway, and move at a steady pace. Well, in January 2008 the last of the demolition phase took place, and the next step is the 'remediation' phase. I'm not sure what exactly is involved in remediation, but my guess is that it is a pretty complex process, as the definition of remediation is:
Also known as clean-up, remediation is taking action to reduce, isolate, or remove contamination from an environment with the goal of preventing exposure to people or animals...."

According to the website of Strathmore Development, the remediation phase is/ was scheduled to begin in the "Spring of 2008". There is no real indication of how long this process will ultimately take. I remain optimistic about the potential for this development, and am pleased that it is still moving forward, albiet a lot more slowly than folks would like. If you take a look at the schematic of the final project, it will be a great asset to the city of Ann Arbor, and hopefully, the catalyst for additional development on the northern end of the city.

Aerotropolis Getting Off the Ground

Amidst the relentless barrage of negative news surrounding the real estate market, both nationally and locally, there is reason for optimism. There is a project in the works for the southeast Michigan area called: Aerotropolis. This is an incredible vision, and would be an unbelievable boost to the local area economy.

The vision of the project is to create a business development hub between and around Detroit Metro and Willow Run airports.

The project involves development of over 25,000 acres in seven communities would become home to logistics companies, international headquarters, mixed-use developments and spin-off services.

This article in today's Ann Arbor News elaborates on the project, which has had a few starts and stops, but the most encouraging quote from the article states:
"These ideas of aerotropolis in other parts of the country are nonsense except in Detroit," said Mike Boyd, president of The Boyd Group, a Colorado-based aviation forecasting and strategic solutions company. "You can literally draw a line from Windsor (Canada) to Jackson (Michigan) that's going to be the growth corridor, and the aerotropolis is right in the middle. ... You have a skills base, an industrial base, jobs base and resource base - it does work."

Back on Track

Obviously, its been awhile since my last post. It feels good to reincarnate my Blog under the name arboritis. (I will explain the choice of name as the Blog evolves).

I have actually spent too much time in: Searching for a niche, debating about my voice, and generally waiting for the perfect time to relaunch, which really doesn't ever come. The result is the realization that I need to get in the game, bloom where I am planted, not worry about creating the perfect Blog, but just get down to the business of sharing my little corner of the Blogosphere in a more simplified, straight-forward manner.

I hope my Blog will be worthy of your time in following it. I would truly welcome comments, dialog, ideas, or questions. For better or worse . . . here goes.