July 2007

About six months ago my broker purchased Visual Tour software that allows all tripod.jpgof the agents with my company to photograph their own virtual tours.  Getting my tours just right has taken some time to master, but I think I finally have the hang of it. 

Being able to film my own tours is a huge benefit to my sellers.  Who better to do the tour – Obviously I know more about the features of the house I want to highlight than anyone else. 

So check out this tour that I photographed today and please grade me.


calendar.jpgA few days ago someone found my blog by using the search phrase “when is the best month to buy Lansing real estate?”  I’ve been thinking about the answer to that question so I’ll take a stab at it…

I think the best month to buy real estate is any month when you’re ready.  I could argue that summer months are best to buy because there is typically a high inventory of homes on the market in the summer.  I could argue that winter months are the best to buy because sellers desperate enough to try and sell over the holidays might take low-ball offers.  I could argue fall months are the best time to buy because everyone else is busy watching MSU football…

All joking aside, any month of the year is a good time to buy in this market.  In Lansing we’re experiencing a buyers market.  So as a buyer as long as you have a competent real estate professional researching prices and negotiating for you, you’ll be able to get a very good deal no matter the date on the calendar.

This is the first post in what will someday be a snazzy resource for buyers looking to research all the different neighborhoods in Lansing.  Each Friday I’ll give you the dirt on a new neighborhood in the Greater Lansing area. 

My plan is to start by reviewing neighborhoods with housing options in a typical first-time buyer’s price range – $150,000 and below. 

My first target is Lansing’s Colonial Village Neighborhood.  Colonial Village sits in south Lansing and is bounded by Mt. Hope Ave. on the north, MLK on the east, Holmes Rd. on the south and Pleasant Grove on the west.  Colonial Village has a very active neighborhood association.  On top of their other duties, the CVNA provides residents with an annual garage sale, neighborhood picnic and holiday lighting contest.

The neighborhood boasts two parks, Holly Park & Elmhurst Park and has easy access to schools, shopping and the freeway.  This neighborhood appeals to a wide variety of buyers.  You’ll find retirees, newlyweds, families and singles all living in Colonial Village.

Typical homes in Colonial Village are between 900 and 1500 sq ft.  Many of the homes are cape cods, but there are also ranches and some larger two-story homes.  The homes were built anywhere from 1930 through the 1970s.  From the exterior, most of the homes in the neighborhood are well-maintained.  The residents here seem to take pride in keeping their homes looking good and keeping their neighboorhood neat.  Residents volunteer to plant flowers in the public spaces throughout the neighborhood.  Regular speed bumps keep the already light traffic moving slow. 

Right now there are 56 homes for sale in Colonial Village with listing prices from $80,500 to $154,900.  5 homes have sold in the past 30 days.  Here are the details on some of the recent sales in the neighborhood.

2116-quentin.jpg2116 Quentin Ave.
Sale Price: $130,000
Sq Ft.: 1,400
Beds: 3  Baths: 1.5
Days on Market: 98

1628-victor.jpg1628 Victor Ave.
Sale Price: $124,500
Sq. Ft.: 1,179
Beds: 3  Baths: 1.5
Days on Market: 37

1821-rundle.jpg1821 W. Rundle Ave.
Sale Price: $115,500
Sq. Ft.: 816
Beds: 2  Baths: 1
Days on Market: 28

I’ve said it before, but Colonial Village is one of my favorite Lansing neighborhoods, especially for first-time buyers.  If you live in Colonial Village or if you’re a buyer who passed on the neighborhood I’d love to hear your thoughts.

It seems like home staging is all the rage, but professional staging hasn’t really hit the Lansing area yet.  Even without a pro there is a lot of basic staging you can do on your own.  These 9 tips I just saw from Lowe’s are a good place to start.

9 Tips for Staging Your Home on Your Own:

  1. First impressions count. Roll out the red carpet for potential homebuyers by sprucing up your entryways, especially the one on a lockbox. Welcome mats, planters filled with seasonal flowers, and clutter-free foyers and hallways set the stage.
  2. Sell the space, not your stuff. Remember that the goal of a successful showing is to make a prospect feel at home – like it’s theirs, not yours. Put away your extensive personal collections. Less is more: open up your space so prospects can actually see what they’re buying.
  3. Paint and elbow grease work wonders. Fresh paint and a thorough cleaning will give you the greatest “bang for your buck.” Remember that neutral walls are your best bet when staging a home for sale.  Lowe’s has all the right shades to make your home more inviting. Check out fun tools like the Lowe’s Paint Visualizer.
  4. Go with the flow. Arrange furniture for easy traffic flow. Consider placing a major piece of furniture at an angle, such as a couch or desk. Angles add interest and can create a more open feel.
  5. See the light. Move lamps to dark corners and arrange window treatments so that natural light floods your rooms. Brighter is better, and your rooms will look larger.
  6. Go green. Live plants can add decorative flair, without spending a bundle. Plants and cut flowers have a way of warming up a room.
  7. Don’t forget the outdoors, especially this time of year. If you have a porch, deck or patio, clean the furniture and replace worn cushions. Breath new life into your deck with a fresh finish.
  8. Make the kitchen sparkle. De-clutter the countertops by removing toasters, food processors and other non-decorative items. If you have a breakfast table or counter, put out a couple of table settings complete with place mats, napkins and dinnerware.
  9. Warm up an empty home. If your home is vacant, consider renting furniture for key rooms, but don’t go overboard.

I know this is an extensive list, but doing these things is actually important.  If you’re a seller and you can’t commit to everything on the list I’d suggest prioritizing by doing 3, 1, 2 and then 5.  After completeing those four steps you can move on to the rest.

If you’re a Lansing homeowner check out the LSJ for an update on when and where your next Lansing neighborhood association meeting is happening.

Neighborhood News Briefs

Even if you’re not a Lansing homeowner you can check out the brief for news on upcoming events like the farmer’s market, concerts in the park and more.

When you’re a seller in a buyer’s market it can be hard to find a silver-lining.  Maybe the only good news is that Realtors are competing hard for any scrap of business they can find.  We’re competing harder and that means buyers and sellers are both getting better service.  With so many agents soliciting your business how do your chose one to sell your house, your biggest asset?

I think you should interview at least 3 agents (gasp, I’m advising you to check out the competition) and I think you should know what questions to ask during those interviews.  The 3 following questions aren’t the only ones you should ask, but they are questions you shouldn’t miss.

• What is your marketing plan?
Any agent worth hiring will have a marketing plan and they’ll have it in writing.  A few important things the plan should include are print advertising, an open house schedule and most importantly a plan to maximize your listing’s online presence.  More than 75% of buyers start their home searches online.  If your agent doesn’t have an online marketing plan that encompasses more than dropping your listing in the local MLS system you need to hire somebody else. 

• How much experience do you have?
Getting a real estate license in Michigan is easier than getting a driver’s license.  Make sure your agent knows how to get from taking a listing to closing a deal.  I’m not saying that you need to pick an agent who has been in the business for 25 years.  Newer agents often have fresher ideas, more time to spend on you and more drive to get a deal done so don’t discount them.  Just make sure your agent isn’t using you for practice.   

• Are you a full-time Realtor?
In a challenging market like we’re in now, if your agent isn’t working full time at their profession – don’t bother.

If you want to know more about what to look for in a quality listing agent just ask.

The sales staff at Townsend on the Park in Grand Ledge have unveiled a new marketing campaign.  Mazda 3Buyers are being enticed with a 2 year lease on a Mazda 3 when they purchase any of the available condos.  Townsend on the Park has 1, 2 and 3 bedroom units with starting prices at $101,000, $115,900 and $129,900 respectively. 

Crippen Auto Mall is providing the leases on the Mazda 3s being dangled.  Cars.com gives the Mazda 3 an average rating.   

An average condo and an average car might make for an above average deal.  If you’re in the market for a condo it can’t hurt to check it out.

Note: Townsend on the Park isn’t being represented by my broker and I haven’t been bribed with money or cars to write this entry. 

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