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Wednesday, May 30, 2012

Go fly a kite...

You can quite  literally go fly a kite this weekend in New Hudson, just south of Milford Township. The event is the Lyon Township Kite Festival which will be held on Saturday June 2, 2012 at James F. Atchison Park, 58000 Grand River Ave, New Hudson, Michigan 48165.

The festival features kite flying of all types and for all ages. Kite kits will be available to decorate and assemble for the children and to purchase for adults. A food stand with beverages will be available along with inflatable moonwalks to entertain the youngsters.

The hours of the festival are 11am to 5pm. Admission to the festival and parking is free. For more information call (248) 437-2240.

I think we should all go fly a kite. There’s real benefit for all of us to slow down and do something completely fun and relaxing – like flying a kite. The site of th this event in New Hudson always has a good wind for kite flying, so you won’t have to huff andf puff your way along trying to get your kite into the sky.

So, go fly a kite this weekend!

Check out other upcoming events in the area at my Move To Milford Web site.

Tuesday, May 29, 2012

Prime selling season underway...

In the real estate world we are in the prime selling season right now and local statistics show the results - more houses are selling this year than last and the inventory is down to less than 4 months worth of houses in most areas. Prices have also started to come back, but not such that sellers have recovered all the value that was lost in the recent recession - that will take years, if not a decade or more. It's not unusual to see multiple bids on good homes right now, which again helps drive up the prices.

I'm not sure which group is more frustrated right now - would be home buyers who can't find what they want on the market or might-be sellers who are still under water on their mortgages and can't afford to sell. Both groups find the current market unsatisfying. There is a third group of people who are also experiencing frustrations - would be renters/leasers. The lease market is even tighter that the sales market for good houses, because so many displaced families (read that foreclosed) have snapped up the lease inventory. That may start opening up a bit later in the year, because there are likely many who are about to exit their 3 years of real estate foreclosure purgatory and be in the market to buy again.

In the area that I cover I've also noticed a good trend back to new-build housing coming onto the market. Many builders who headed for the bomb shelters a few years back are now active again and several failed or stalled developments have taken on new life. That's a good thing. I also note that many of the builders are offering more affordable models with less frills, which is a reflection of a still fragile economic environment.

I've just posted the sales statistics for the areas that I track on a weekly basis - Milford, Highland, White Lake, Commerce, West Bloomfield, South Lyon, Green Oak, Brighton and Hartland - on my Web site . Check them out for yourself. There is still weakness and a high rate of distressed sales - foreclosures and short sales - in a few of the markets; however, most are down to much more reasonable distress levels. The averages for cost per square foot are still low when compared to where they were a few years back, so good deals are still to be had. Combine that with historically low mortgage rates and it's a great time to buy.

So, hey, relax and enjoy the summer. Have a hot dog and a beer. Watch a baseball game. Buy a house. It's a tradition!

Monday, May 28, 2012

Memorial Day Parade in MIlford

Today is the day for one of our three major parades in Milford, Michigan, and the one that my wife likes the best. She likes the Memorial Day Parade the best because it is the most honest and straightforward of all of the parades - no clowns, no politicians, no advertisements for businesses, just a parade of veterans and fly-overs by military and vintage planes. The streets of Milford are lined with thousands of people who clap for the veterans through the whole parade and say "Thank You" as they walk by.

I march in this parade every year and it does give me, and I'm sure the other vets, a sense of pride in what we did; no matter whether they were in a war or just served in peacetime. The parade organizer - Joe Silva of the Milford Am Vets tries to line up the vets in chronological order, with WWI and WWII vets first, then Korea and so on, although he does let currently serving military participants go at the head of the parade. My group, the Viet Nam vets is slowly (and sadly) working it's way towards the head of the parade as fewer and fewer WWI & II and Korean War vets survive to participate.

Joe has several jeeps lined up each year to transport those no longer able to walk the parade route. The parade also features military vehicles of various sizes and types and a Scottish bagpipe marching band at the front. There are fly overs by vintage WWII planes and usually some current military jets from Selfridge airbase. 

The local florist passes out carnations to the children who line the parade route and they then hand them to vets as they walk by. The parade starts off at the Oldenburg VFW Post 216 on Commerce and goes down Main St ending at the War Memorial in Central Park. There is always a brief ceremony following the parade to honor those who have sacrificed their lives in service to their country. Many people who line the streets will have framed pictures of loved ones who have passed and some relatives of vets who are gone actually march in the parade carrying pictures of their lost vets.

So look for me out there today. I'll be in the Viet Nam vets group (I usually try to get near the front of that group). Some vets wear their old uniforms or bits and pieces of uniforms. I have nothing left from those days that I can still wear, so I'll just be in civilian clothes. I'll see you there.

Tuesday, May 22, 2012

Houdini Dog

You know those ads for the postal service where the scary Gnome is across the room and then, magically, is right there in the doorway – reminiscent of scenes from more than one scary movie about dolls. Well my dog Sadie is like that some times. One minute she is in her fenced in enclosure and the next she is standing next to you wagging her tail.

I bought an “escape-proof” five-point harness for her a few months back and she escaped from it three times before I could get the fencing put in to “hold” her. When we last took her in for grooming the folks at Club Pet told us that she has learned how to work the latches and open the doors there to let herself into or out of various areas. Spooky!

 Pretty soon, I’ll be wheeling her around on a dolly, all trusted up like Hannibal Lector in “Silence of the Lambs”, but we all know how that ended up. One of my "friends" at work suggested concertina wire for the top of the enclosure, but I suspect that the Village would have issues with that and it probably wouldn't hold her anyway.

 It would be spooky if it weren’t so darn funny sometimes – but it’s still scary. She can get out of anything. Most of the time she just runs off and we get a call from somewhere in town that someone has her. I bought her a couple of tags that tend to stay with her that basically say – “Hi, my name is Sadie and I don’t belong here. Please call my owners to come get me.”
She’s so friendly that she stops to be petted by anyone she encounters and she will hop into the car with anyone that opens the door. The Milford Police have brought her home enough to kow where she lives. Since we got her as a rescue dog last September, we often wonder if that’s how she ended up at the pound – running free and finally picked up by animal control.
My concern is that she is also oblivious to traffic when she’s running around loose and has been captured at The Milford House and by the waterfall at the Mill Valley complex. For some reason she likes to go downtown when she’s loose. She does have a computer chip in her.  We had that put in the first time she escaped. So, if a vet ends up with her we’d probably get a call.
So if you see Sadie running around Milford, please get control of her and give us a call – the numbers are on the tags. She’ll sit there and let you pet her until we arrive. Thanks in advance.

Monday, May 21, 2012

How's the market? Test you knowledge.

I just posted the updated sale numbers for May on my Move To Milford web site, but before you rush off to see them, let's see how good your feel for the market in this area is. Below are a series of questions that can be answered by looking at the stats posted on the Move To Milford site.

1. Match up the market area with its current statistic for distressed home sales and a percentage of overall sales, where "distressed sales" are defined as foreclosed homes and short sales -

Milford   Commerce   White Lake   Highland   West Bloomfield 

40%   68%   34%   56%   53% 

2. Which has the higher average sale price so far in May, Commerce or West Bloomfield?

3. Which market has the higher average cost per Sq Ft, White Lake or Highland?

4. Which market currently has the shorter median days-on-market (indicating quicker sales), Milford or South Lyon?

 Understanding the statistics within a market area that you may be looking in or in which you may be ready to sell can help you make a better offer or help you price you home better to the market.

In general the answer to the Title question for this post is that the market has flipped over to a seller's market, with many homes receiving multiple bids and prices holding fairly firm at or in many cases above the asking price. There is every indication that the pent up demand that has been building in the market is now showing itself; however, home owners who aer still underwater on their mortgages are holding back from the market causing a shortage of inventory. We are now down to about 4 months supply locally, whereas a 6 months supply would be considered a balanced market. 

Friday, May 18, 2012

Your Chamber of Commerce – an off-line version of LinkedIN

I was at a well-attended wine tasting event sponsored by the Milford Rotary Club last night and noticed that I knew about 1/3 of the people there, mainly through my Chamber of Commerce activities. That keyed of the thought that being involved with the Chamber is sort of like an off-line version of LinkedIN. Or maybe, said a different way, social media sites like LinkedIN are really an on-line version so of what people have been doing for a long time in organizations like the Chamber. The social media site allow for a longer reach, but at the sacrifice of the face-to-face time that events like this morning’s Coffee Club gathering provide.

I’ve had an account on LinkedIN almost since it began, although I run hot and cold on how often I visit or what things I participate in on that site. Like Facebook it has grown and morphed quite a bit from its original implementation. I kind of got away from LinkedIN a bit when I started using the ActiveRain site, which is a forum for Realtors.  The relationships that one might forge through LinkedIN, that could do you or your business good, is the same value that one gets at a smaller, more local level out of Chamber of Commerce membership. For some more local business people, like Realtors, plumbers, bankers, local store owners and others the value of the Chamber may be much greater than an account on LinkedIN.

The value of a Chamber membership probably varies quite a bit, based upon how active and how successful the local Chamber of Commerce is, in terms of on-going programs and member support. Here in the Huron Valley Chamber area we are blessed with an extremely creative and active Chamber staff and a very active membership. There are weekly events and networking opportunities sponsored by our Chamber – Ribbon cutting ceremonies at new businesses; Coffee Club gatherings every other Friday at one of the local Chamber-member businesses; after hours social mixers on a monthly basis; local referral groups that meet bi-weekly; and many other events throughout the year. Of course all of the events in the world wouldn’t lead to success unless the Chamber members actually participated and the members of the Huron Valley Chamber do.

I’ll admit to having been complaisantly ignorant of the benefits of the Chamber until a couple of years ago when I started attended Chamber events on behalf of The Digital Document Store, a local company for which I was doing some market development consulting. I joined on my own dime as a Realtor late last year.  The people I’ve met and the relationships that I’ve forged in those two years have been great. Many more people in my market area now know that I’m a Realtor and some have already given me business referrals. Not only that; but, I now know to whom to refer my friends and clients for most of the local goods and services that I get asked about.  I certainly can’t say that about people I’ve met through LinkedIN or ActiveRain or even Facebook.

So, I’ve become an Ambassador for the Huron Valley Chamber of Commerce with the mission to reach out to non-Chamber members and explain the benefits of membership to them. I also get to greet new members and help host some of the Chamber events. It’s a fun way to expand my local network even further. I can wholeheartedly endorse our local Chamber and recommend that you at least check out your local Chamber. You may be pleasantly surprised. Think of it as an off-line version of LinkedIN. Maybe that will help you understand some of its value.

Wednesday, May 16, 2012

Change of venue for May Historical Society Meeting

There's a change in venue for the Milford Historical Society meeting this Thursday, May 17. The General Membership meeting of the Milford Historical Society will take place this time at the Christ Lutheran Church ay 720 General Motors Rd in Milford. The meeting klicks off with a pot luck dinner at 6:30 followed by a short meeting and a program.
Our May 17th Speaker Ron Rademacher will be here to get us in the “Pure Michigan” mood.  Ron is a author of three books about out of the way places and small towns in our Great Lakes States.  He manages two sites about Michigan and produces a free monthly web magazine.  He does know his Michigan.  His presentation includes color photos, both educational and entertaining (Q & A and chat time will follow).

Come and hear about our lesser-known towns, festivals, unique shops, great food and the people who call Michigan their home sweet home.  Do I hear Road Trip anyone?  Websites to explore on your own without leaving your comfy chair:, and his web magazine:

Pack your Pot Luck with your favorite Michigan recipes bring your questions to ask Ron and we will see you on Thursday May 17th, 6:30 p.m. Michigan time.

Monday, May 14, 2012

Milford Museum Open House - fun for the whole family

The Milford Historical Museum is now open for our 36th season. In honor of our opening the Historical Society will be hosting an open house from 1 p.m. to 4 p.m. on Saturday, May 19th. The museum is located just one block east of Main St. at 124 E. Commerce St in Milford. Come enjoy the museum and then stroll around downtown Milford or stay for diner at one of our great restaurants.

This family friendly event will allow guests to visit our museum and see display's depicting Milford over the years. We will also be holding demonstrations inside and outside the museum. On our front lawn you will be able to see candle dipping, woodworking, yarn spinner, basket weaving, and blacksmith demonstrations thru out the day. A tent will be set up allowing visitors to see how Civil war soldiers lived during the war.

Visitors will see demonstrations on candle dipping, wood working, and a blacksmith. Also on hand will be the Huron Valley Numismatic Club that will be able to answer questions from coin collector enthusiastic. Inside the museum hear stories on Milford Civil War Veterans interned at Oak Grove Cemetery and learn customs from the Victorian Era. Hands on demonstration will take place in our log cabin display where kids will be able to make a corn husk doll and in the kitchen see how butter was made.
It will be a day full of fun activities for the whole family! Admission to the museum is free and open to all; you do not need to be a member to attention.

Join us for a fun filled afternoon!
I'm always amazed when I talk to life-long residents of Milford who admit that they have never been to the Museum. It's a fun place to visit and is full of interesting bits of Milford's history. This Open House is a great way to get acquainted with the museum and the kids will surely find interesting and fun things to see and do.

Friday, May 11, 2012

I can see clearly now...

Sometimes you can’t see yourself clearly until you see yourself through the eyes of others.” (Ellen DeGeneres) from my favorite daily blog – Jack’s Winning Words

The problem for many of us is probably actually being able to see ourselves through the eyes of others. That usually means that someone has taken the time (and risk) to tell you how they see you or something that you have said or done. Most of the time the kind of feedback that we need just goes unsaid and we don’t realize that something that we may have said or done was insensitive or at least not received as we intended. That can be particularly true in real estate where we really don’t have the kind of personal relationships with clients that would allow or encourage them to provide feedback on our behavior.

More than once in my real estate career I’ve heard back later, usually through a mutual acquaintance, that something that I did wasn’t well received by a client. Usually it had to do with appearing to be “pushing” the client to make a decision or seeming to be “taking the other side” in a deal. As I reflected back on those situations I can now see that what I thought was just trying to keep the dal moving along could have been perceived by the clients as pushing them. Real estate transactions are often full of emotions and being sensitive to the emotional needs of clients is something that I have to constantly work on, because it just doesn’t come as naturally to me as it should. I get wrapped up in the process details and lose site of the emotional side sometimes.

The other thing that gets in the way sometimes is logic. There are just lots and lots of places in a real estate deal where logic appears to be trumpeted – again by emotion. Sometimes I realize that I’m almost arguing with clients, especially young, first-time buyers, because I’ve taken the side of logic and they are coming from the emotional side. I have to step back and remind myself that I’m not playing a parental role in the deal, just an advisory role. I need to present them the facts and options without interjecting opinion, especially a parental sounding opinion.

So, as hard as it might be, it is good advice to try to step back every now and then and see yourself as others are seeing you. Sometimes you won’t like what you see, but then you have the opportunity to make corrections and be the person that you hoped you were. Here’s a little ditty to end these thoughts.

If I can understand how others see me,

Maybe I can become the person I’d like to be

Wednesday, May 9, 2012

Sometimes doing nothing is the best option…

There was a story this morning in the Realty Times real estate news feed that I get every day about the California Association of Realtors (CAR) opposition to the new law proposed by the California Attorney General which would make laws out of many of the provisions of the recent class action lawsuit concerning foreclosures (robo-signing and the like were the issues in the suit). In this case, while the CAR applauded the lawsuit and the settlement, it is opposing the new law. The logic is simple – the proposed law would effectively hamstring lenders in any future efforts to foreclose on bad loans and extend too wide of an umbrella of protection over so-called “strategic defaulters” and deadbeats. Another part deals with the eviction process for tenants in foreclosed homes and greatly extends that process. A similar law passed in Nevada and has effectively shut down the foreclosure process there.

Those seem like fair things to put in a law, so why the opposition? It’s that old legislation bug-a-boo – the unintended consequences of seemingly good laws. In this case the fear is that lenders, faced with onerous restrictions on their future ability to take foreclosure action, will shut down lending.  The argument is, “why would lenders take the risks involved in mortgages without the ability to take foreclosure actions at a reasonable cost and within a reasonable timeframe?”

This is probably a classic case of where doing nothing is the best course of action. Unfortunately it is not playing out at the Federal level where doing nothing is the order of the day. It is also playing out right now in California, one of the most liberal and activist states in the union. I suspect that most people might agree that lenders needed to be taken to the woodshed for some of their foreclosure practices; however, the thought of a bunch of legislators (no matter where) trying to figure out and put into law “what is good for us” is just scary.

Please help us all out here and do nothing. Thank you.

Tuesday, May 8, 2012

Don't believe everythng that you read...

The headline of the top story on Page 1 of the Oakland Press today was “Foreclosures Down 45%”.  

Of course it was very large type to draw maximum attention to that tidbit of information as a sound bite. The accompanying story talked as much about why the numbers reported by Oakland County are a more accurate reflection of the market that the numbers reported by regional or national groups. Apparently some of those “others” report every event within the foreclosure process as if it was a new foreclosure. That means that the delinquency notice, the Sheriff’s sale and the eviction notice would all be reported as foreclosures – three reported for the price of one. The Oakland County numbers only report the Sheriff’s sale, which is the best indicator that a foreclosure has indeed taken place.

I track and report on real estate sales in 8 local township/city/village markets and I report what I call distressed sales. These are sales recorded in the public records as either a foreclosure (where there was a Sheriff’s sale) or as a short sale (reporting of short sales is required by the local Multi-List Services). I can report that, in general, distressed sales are down; however, there are still a few Townships – West Bloomfield,  Highland and White Lake – that are still showing distressed sales near or above 50% of all sales, so far this year. The Lyon/South Lyon Market is the best in terms of low distressed sales right now.

Below are some distressed sales numbers comparing the most recent full month (April) over the last three years:

Milford – April, 2012 – Total Sales – 12, Distressed Sales – 5 ( 42%),  4 out of the 5 were foreclosures

Milford – April, 2011 – Total Sales – 17, Distressed Sales – 6 (35%), 4 out of the 6 were foreclosures

Milford – April, 2010 – Total Sales – 10, Distressed Sales – 5 (50%), 4 out of the 5 were foreclosures

Highland – April, 2012 – Total Sales – 21, Distressed – 15 (71%), 13 out of the 15 were foreclosures

Highland – April, 2011 – Total Sales – 15, Distressed – 8 (54%), 6 of the 8 were foreclosures

Highland – April, 2010 – Total Sales – 19, Distressed – 15 (79%), 5 out of the 15 were foreclosures

Commerce – April, 2012 – Total Sales – 40, Distressed – 22 (55%), 16 out of the 22 were foreclosures

Commerce – April, 2011 – Total Sales – 51, Distressed – 26 (51%), 22 out of the 26 were foreclosures

Commerce – April, 2010 – Total Sales – 30, Distressed – 21 (70%), 16 out of the 21 were foreclosures

These local market numbers don’t necessarily support the report that foreclosures are down, at least not in these three markets. They are up in Highland and about the same over the three year period in Milford and Commerce.

For data on all of the Townships that I track go to my web site .

There are all sorts of regional and national articles and news reports that spout off numbers, usually in the headlines, that really don’t reflect the local market; so, stick with the reports that you’ll get on my site to be really in-the-know about our local markets.

Monday, May 7, 2012

May real estate stats now available

Many of you know that I track several local township real estate markets in my little corner of SE Michigan – Milford (of course), Highland, Commerce (including Walled Lake and Wolverine Lake), White Lake, Lyon Twp (including South Lyon), and West Bloomfield in Oakland County. I also track Green Oak, Brighton (including the city) and Hartland in Livingston County.
I’m well aware that some of the local papers provide weekly reports on what sold and for how much and that is a part of the story. As Paul Harvey might have said, you should go to the Move To Milford web site for “the rest of the story.”

Of course I report the listed and sold prices for the homes that I track, which are sales above $20,000 in each of the those areas. I also report the percentage of sold vs. listed, the Michigan SEV value and the ratio of sold price vs SEV, plus the days on market, the Sq Footage of the homes and the listed and sold price per Sq. Ft.

Those statistics are all good indicators of the state of the market and become more valuable if you can look at them over time. I provide running Y-T-D statistics for each market and up to three years of history (more for a few of the markets).

In addition there are market absorption reports, up to the minute market charts for things like inventory and days on market and more, all available at my two real estate Web sites – and Check them out!

If you are in distress financially right now and at your wits end about what to do about your mortgage and your home, please go to another of my web sites – and read through the material there that discusses short sales as an alternative to foreclosure or bankruptcy.

Friday, May 4, 2012

The Doug Kilolingbeck Memoerial Canoe Race

This is an important upcoming Community Event -

Doug Killingbeck Memorial Canoe Race

When: Saturday, May 12, 2012.

Time: 12:00pm until 6:00pm.

Where: Milford’s Central Park

This race is in memorial of Doug Killingbeck, who gave his life to help two drowning teenagers. Concessions will be available for purchase at the event with a donation to the Memorial fund. Prize money will be awarded to the top finishers in each Pro class.

Noon - Pro C-1 Race begins; registration opens at 11

3 PM- Pro C-2 Race

Business/ Amateur Class begins at 3:30 pm

Awards follow each race.

The MCRA is also raffling off $400 worth of merchandise

to participating paddlers!