Friday, October 23, 2009

Don't Want to Sell on Land Contract? Take Another Look.

If you're like me, you're sick of hearing the phrase, "Think outside the box." I've been outside the box for so long now, I can't even see the dang box anymore!

I have had some success this year by utilizing some unorthodox means to get my real estate deals in Oceana County closed, however. The most prominent, by far, is not even original, just a resurgence of an old practice from the '80's. That's right, the infamous LAND CONTRACT.

I have two pending sales right now that I wouldn't have had I not been able to educate both buyer and seller as to the benefits of a land contract (or a purchase money mortgage, but that's a whole 'nother blog in and of itself).

In one of these deals, I represented the buyer, and the seller was not offering LC as one of the terms. My buyer had a three year old foreclosure, was working on repairing some credit divots, and financing wasn't looking likely. My home buyer needed a home, though, so I got flexible. I took the time to prepare a package that would excite the seller, and convince him to entertain a land contract. This is the step that I think a lot of people are missing.

The package contained a credit report, a letter of explanation regarding the failings of the credit report, income verification (including length of employment), proof of funds for the down payment, our offer, and our earnest money deposit. Working with the seller's agent, we presented the package, and the seller accepted our offer.

Now, I have had many calls from agents who will call on one of my listings and just ask, "Will the seller take a land contract?" In most cases, the answer would simply be, "No." (Unless, of course, the seller and I had already agreed to that in the original listing contract.)

I have taken to getting in the practice of asking the agent to prepare a package like I described above. I then present the whole package to the seller, and have been pleasantly surprised when a few of them changed their stance and accepted a land contract offer.

I'm not suggesting that land contracts are the answer to everything. Obviously there are issues that come into play that must be addressed, such as "due-on-sale" clauses which are in most every mortgage agreement. The seller may also need the funds to move onto their next home. So no, LC's are not for every situation.

I do firmly believe, however, that if you're not educating your buyers and sellers on the possibilities of a land contracts and purchase money mortgages, you're missing out on business, and I don't know anyone in Michigan that can afford to do that these days.

Tuesday, June 9, 2009

Mortgage Rates Begin to Climb


After staying fairly consistent around 4.75% through late April and most of May, mortgage rates began a climb last week. Today they are a full percentage point higher than they were this time last month. This is not entirely unexpected, since noone believed we could maintain historic low interest rates forever.

So how does this affect the average home buyer?

Let's assume you are borrowing $100,000, at a fixed rate, for 30 years.

If your rate were 4.75%, your monthly payment (principal & interest only) would be $521.65.

If your rate were 5.75%, your monthly payment (principal & interest only) would be $583.57.

With an interest rate difference of just 1%, you would pay an additional $61.92 per month.I don't know about you, but I could use an extra 60 bucks a month. It might buy me a tank or two of gas at today's prices.

But let's look at the bigger picture: How much interest you will pay over the course of the 30 years.

At 4.75%, you will pay $87,794 in interest on your loan after 30 years. At 5.75%, you will pay $110,085 in interest. That's a difference of $22,291!

I'm writing this with the hope of visually demonstrating to you how critical it is that you buy a home at the lowest interest rate possible. I know many people are holding out on buying a home, waiting for the best time to get the best deal. If interest rates continue to climb, you may have already missed the peak opportunity.

If you wait, and interest rates climb another percentage point to 6.75%, you stand to pay an additional $23,411 more in interest than if you bought today at 5.75%.

In addition to still being able to get a good interest rate, the first time home buyer tax credit is only available for 5 more months. Combine the $8000 from the tax credit with what you would save in interest, and you are looking at over $31,000 in savings.Do you have $31,000 to waste?

I'm not even going to start in on how low the home prices are today. I think you can see already that now is truly a great time to buy. If you would like more information on the benefits of buying a home today, please visit my website and contact me today for a personalize home buying plan that fits your individual needs.

Friday, May 1, 2009

Just Listed! 6111 N Oceana Dr Hart, MI 49420

6111 N Oceana Dr Hart, MI


This beautiful ranch home features an open floor plan in a country setting. The main floor includes a living room, dining area, and kitchen under a cathedral ceiling. Master suite includes a full bath and walk-in closet. Two bedrooms and another full bath are located on the opposite end of the home from the master suite. There are lots of closets for storage, and main floor laundry.

The home sits on an unfinished walk-out basement, and is pre-plumbed for a future bathroom. A built in egress window allows for a future basement bedroom.With 1344 square feet of finishable basement space, this could become a 2600+ sqft home with 4 beds, 3 baths, and added living areas.

The exterior is maintenance free vinyl, and since everything is new, you don't need to fear having to replace the roof or furnace. Many of the home's products are still covered by manufacturer's warranties.

Back view 6111 N Oceana Dr Hart, MIThe two car attached garage includes an electric opener. Relax on the 10x12 deck and enjoy watching birds and deer. Lots of trees provide privacy. The deck has a retractable awning to provide shade on a summer day. The home sits on over 3 1/2 acres of land with lots of trees and a view of the neighboring pond.

Located just a few miles from Pentwater and Silver Lake, this home would make a great year round home or summer vacation getaway. The location is just a couple of mile from US-31, which is on the West Michigan Fall Color Tour circuit. At this new price, this one won't last long. To see more of the home, visit

First time home buyers are eligible for a tax credit of $8000 when purchasing this home.

Tuesday, April 28, 2009

It's Mushroom Hunting Time in Michigan!

Let the mushroom hunting begin!


It's official, morels have been spotted in West Michigan.

Don't bother asking where, as a good spot is worth more than gold to the avid mushroom hunter. I will tell you that Oceana County is a good place to start. Western and Northern Michigan is a great place to find these delicious little critters, and we take our mushroom hunting seriously.

A friend of mine here in the office was kind enough to rub it in my face this morning that she found some yesterday.

It's a bit early, but I suspect the big ones will be showing up soon.

You can get more information about morels at

In the spirit of mushroom hunting season, here's a recipe for the tasty little buggers I found at The Great Morel.

Sautéed Morels with Cream

This is a classic French preparation my husband learned years ago from working in a European cuisine restaurant. He is an Executive Chef trained in many styles of cooking. The ingredients are easy to find except for veal stock which must be made by roasting veal bones for hours, perhaps a good chicken stock could be used instead. Enjoy!

  • 15-20 fresh morels or reconstituted dried, cut in half if large
  • 1 large shallot chopped fine
  • 1 large clove garlic chopped fine
  • 2 TBS butter (best with unsalted)
  • 2 TBS olive oil
  • 3/4 cup chicken stock
  • 1 cup heavy cream
  • salt & fresh ground pepper to taste

Put olive oil in heated pan over medium heat. Add garlic and shallots, stir and sauté until softened but not brown. Add butter until melted then add morels. Stir and cook until mushrooms start to brown, about 4 min. Add chicken stock and cook for 2-3 minutes. Add cream and cook on low until reduced and thickened. Classically served on toast, but the best on grilled New York Strip steaks.


Sunday, April 26, 2009

A Veteran's Viewpoint on the Torture Debate

OIF VeteranI am a Marine who served in Iraq. I led a Marine company level intelligence cell in western Fallujah. I have seen firsthand the attitudes displayed by insurgents when threatened with the prospect of being interrogated by Coalition Forces. The most common response was laughter.

The insurgents know all too well how limited we are in what we can and cannot do to them, and they use it against us regularly. I remember one particular insurgent that we detained in Al Saqliwiyah.I knew he had information regarding a high value target I had been pursuing. He refused to cooperate, however, and practically begged us to send him to the CF detention facility. He told me that life in American prison was better than life in Al Anbar. He would get more sleep, more food, and better medical care. I would have had better luck using the prison threat as a bribe.

Now let me tell you why I wanted the information this guy had. I had been tracking his nephew for several months. The nephew specialized in recruiting adolescent males as suicide bombers. That January and February, three children detonated themselves outside of Iraqi Police checkpoints in our AO (area of operations). I received a tip that the nephew was back in the area, and the uncle (my detainee) knew where he was. Had I been able to use even some of the techniques Iraqi Police used, I most likely would have got the information. Instead, I was forced to release the detainee, and the nephew left the area shortly thereafter.

About a month later, three more young boys died when they detonated themselves following an attack on a local sheik. The sheik was friendly with coalition forces, and was killed in the attack also.

I've seen a lot of discussion about the latest witch hunt being conducted by liberals in Washington in blogs and on the news. I wonder, though, how much research anyone has really done on the subject. I researched the subject prior deployment, received training in it as we deployed, and learned a lot on the fly as we were pursuing terrorists across Iraq. I think a lot of people are confused as to what is really happening in the world.

ACLUThe ACLU has issued a call to "Demand Accountability for Torture!" and has published the "torture memos" on their website. They seem to feel that by not pursuing and prosecuting the senior government officials that were in place at the time the memos were published, we (the American people) are in danger of losing our civil liberties.

Read the memos, please. I am certain that you will find the idea of prosecuting the authors as ridiculous as I do. The fact that law enforcement personnel have to request permission, IN WRITING, to slap a detainee is ridiculous. How can you expect our military and intelligence agencies to protect you if you handicap them at every turn?

I do not condone the use of torture. At least not in the sense that most sane people would define torture. Beating people with sticks, burning them with branding irons, breaking their fingers; these are all torture in my mind. I might add being forced to listen to Britney Spears albums to that list.

Anyone in the intelligence field will tell you that physical torture will only lead to bad information, as the subject will say anything to make it stop. But the techniques referenced in the memos are an entirely different matter. These techniques are routinely used on military members undergoing SERE training. Read this excerpt from one of the memos:

"These same techniques, with the exception of the insect in the cramped confined space, have been used and continue to be used on some members of our military personnel during their SERE training. Because of the use of these procedures in training our own military personnel to resist interrogations, you have consulted with various individuals who have extensive experience in the use of these techniques. You have done so in order to ensure that no prolonged mental harm would result from the use of these proposed procedures."

SERE stands for Survival Evasion Resistance Escape. It is training that selected military personnel undergo to learn to resist interrogation efforts. Our government is not condoning any activity or behavior in intelligence gathering that anyone with a military background finds dishonorable.

At the end of the day, THAT's what matters. When the ACLU straps on a flak jacket, goes condition one, and steps out to patrol in a combat zone, then, and ONLY then, will I lend any credence to their opinion of what is right and wrong in warfare.

Dear Mother Nature

Dear Mother Nature,

Thunder CloudI am writing this letter to you to express my unhappiness with your selection of weather today. I gave two weeks notice that I was planning open houses this weekend for some highly valued clients. You have apparently either missed the notice, or you received the notice, and chose to quite literally rain on my parade anyway.

This is not cool. As I was driving to Grand Rapids this morning, the rain had stopped, and I began to think that maybe, just maybe, you had softened your heart. As I pulled into Avalon Pointe, there was still no precipitation. You seemed to have decided to be kind, and perhaps would allow some favorable weather.

Then, just as I exited my car, and was putting out my sign, you felt the need to release a downpour of rather cold water from the sky. I am now soaked, and will remain so for the duration of this open house. Gee, thanks.

In case you haven't been watching Fox News, "Mother", the real estate market is already plenty full of challenges. There are lots of homes for sale in Grand Rapids, and the prices are low. As a Realtor, I am working harder than ever, and overcoming these challenges one at a time. I do not need you placing additional obstacles in the way of my success.

For future reference, kindly save your inclement weather fits for Wednesdays. That day works for me, and I have no problem with you throwing a meteorological fit on that day. In addition, because I am thoughtful and generous, I would have no objection to you throwing a thunderstorm tantrum between the hours of 9pm and 5am Eastern Standard Time.

Please take this message to heart, and rethink your actions. Should you not, I shall have no further recourse but to begin buying Styrofoam dinnerware, stop recycling plastic, go back to buying AquaNet hairspray loaded with CVC's (despite my rapid hair loss), and attempt to annoy you in general.

Get your act together, and behave accordingly.


Tim White - Realtor, Coldwell Banker Woodland Schmidt, Hart, Michigan

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