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Sunday, September 30, 2012

Two MIlford restaurants close does not end...

The Milford Times had a big headline in the paper this week announcing that two of our family-oriented restaurants closed recently – Klancy’s and The Villa. Klancy’s was a typical. American family diner that featured comfort food and The Villa was a classic Greek Coney Island. Of course there was the immediate reaction by some that “there are too many restaurants in Milford.” I’m not sure that I buy that excuse. I just don’t think those two places offered what enough people want these days.

There was certainly more, direct competition within the Coney Island genre for The Villa.  Demetries  Coney Island has been a Milford fixture in the Prospect Hill Mall for decades and the new Americus Coney & Grill was literally just across the street from The Villa. Both have strong followings. As Mr. “T” might have said – “I pity the fool, who open another Coney in Milford.”

While there is no direct counterpart to Klancy’s in the Village, there are certainly a number of restaurants north of its location that feature American comfort food – Hector and Jimmy’s in the Village and places like Dukes, MVP Bar & Grill, The Comeback Inn and others on Milford Road in Highland – plus they have liquor licenses. If you just wanted breakfast there’s also D’s CafĂ©, which is famous locally for breakfast.

The point is that it was more likely good, honest competition for the loyalty of local diners, which Klancy’s and The Villa lost; rather than just “too many restaurants.” Neither place offered the food, service or surroundings necessary to be successful in today’s economy. We also had four new eateries open this year – Le Rendez Vous, The Blue Grill, Tavern 131 and Palate. I suspect that at least 2, maybe 3, of them will do fine.

So, how many restaurants can Milford and this immediate area sustain? More than just the local population and demographics might suggest. Several of our best local eateries are destination restaurants, drawing people from Commerce, White Lake, Highland, Brighton, South Lyon and even West Bloomfield into Milford for diner. The draw is great food, good service, reasonable prices and the quaintest little Village setting in the area.

Restaurants will continue to come and go in Milford. It’s not cause for panic or concern. Some just don’t get it right and they lose. The ones that do the best jobs will survive and prosper. It’s like the jungle law – survival of the fittest. So, come on out to Milford next weekend and sample our best. They’re still here and still serving up great meals. Now, if we could just get a German restaurant to open here…

Saturday, September 29, 2012

You've got to love it...

This morning as I walked my dog and before it was even light out, there was lots of activity on Main St in Milford. Crews of volunteers were out delivering and setting up the hay bales, corn stalks and pumpkins to decorate Main St from end-to-end. You could almost see Aunt Bea running around giving the youngsters who were out there fresh baked cookies and warm cider and Sheriff Andy directing any traffic that came along. What a Mayberry-like scene.

To complete the picture, last night was Homecoming at Milford High School, so many of the downtown stores had hand painted decorations to their store windows urging on the Mavericks football team to victory. There was also the Homecoming Parade down Main St last night, complete with all of the homemade floats from each class. You can’t get any cuter than that, unless you’re holding a flop-eared bunny.

I’ve written lots about what a great place Milford is to live and it’s nights like last night and mornings like today that make it so. There are lots of factors that contribute to the appeal of Milford and what allows it to stay so nice. Probably one of the biggest is that it’s off the beaten path – far enough away from the major highways that the big box stores haven’t come in an completely put the downtown merchants out of business – yet close enough to attract a big enough population to sustain the Village. The other major factors, of course, are the people. Milford is full of people who volunteer to do things and provide the organization and drive for all of the events and activities that we have going on.

So come on out to Milford and see how nice our downtown looks with all of the decorations. You can see an amazing display of pumpkins in front of the new Palate restaurant, too; including a couple that had to be fork-lifted into place. The other nice thing is that while you’re here you will find shops that actually sell stuff that you might need and restaurants that have great food at very reasonable prices. While you’re here visit our Historical Museum. It’s open on Saturdays from 1 – 4 pm.  And who knows, maybe you’ll see Aunt Bea out passing out cookies.

Friday, September 28, 2012

Nowhere to run to…

There was an old 1960’s song that had the line “nowhere to run to, nowhere to hide…” It was done by Martha Reeves and the Vandelas (click here to hear and see the song on YouTube). I thought of that song as I was thinking about the current tight real estate market. There’s almost literally nowhere to go if you are forced out of your home through foreclosure or because of a short sale. The rental market is extremely tight right now; or at least it looks that way. 

As a Realtor®, I get calls all the time from people looking for a place to lease or rent. Usually these are people who’ve just gone through an event that forces them to rent for a few years, which they repair their credit. I try to help, but often I have to advise them to get in the car and start driving the streets. That’s because, with the market so tight, landlords are just throwing a “for rent” sign in the yard or window and attracting renters within days (if not hours). The landlord avoids having to pay any commission on those rentals.

One issue that would-be renters don’t realize is that they will need to provide financial information, including a credit check, to the landlord, so that he/she can make a decision on whether to rent to them or not. Landlords are looking for good renters whom they can count on to be there with the rent every month. They don’t want deadbeats in the place that they later have to evict.

Quite often I will have the would-be renters write a letter to the landlord explaining the situation that brought them to this point and also explaining why they are now a good rental risk. This usually applies to someone who may have had a temporary setback in life that caused them to lose their house, but who still has steady employment and a reasonable current debt load. 

Things that landlords generally don’t like to see include bankruptcies, someone with temporary or part-time employment only or people whose current debt load is more than 50% of their monthly take-home pay. Those are red flags for a landlord and may point towards problems ahead. People with those things in their lives may be best off in an apartment setting for a while.

If you find yourself in the unfortunate situation where you need a place to live for a couple of years as you get your life back on track you can’t be too picky in the current market. You may also have to make some hard choices, especially as far as pets are concerned. Trying to find a place that will accept your 100lb Great Dane along with you is a BIG challenge.  Some landlords will also accept small to medium dogs but not cats. You just have to live with that, it’s their right to refuse to rent to you on that basis alone.

So, it’s not that there’s absolutely nowhere to run to, but temporary places are harder to find. Call me and let me know what area you need to be in and I’ll look for you. In the meantime, do some driving through the neighborhoods and watch for those little “For Rent” signs that the landlord may have put out in the yard or in the window, if it’s a condo complex. Get your credit report ready and write that letter to the landlord explaining why you’re a good risk for him/her to take.

Thursday, September 27, 2012

Rent vs. Buy - we live in interesting times...

Recent research by Zillow has shown rather dramatically that now is a time to buy vs. paying to rent. Zillow created a new measure that they’ve called the “breakeven horizon”, which purports to show how long you would have to live in a place while renting before you would break even and start saving money by having bought. Generally, with favorable mortgage rates and other advantages of home ownership you will always reach a breakeven point and cross over into saving money; however, in the past a price to rent ratio method was used to calculate how long it would take to break even and the standard was 15 years.

With many people moving (or planning to move) more often than that time horizon, it used to make sense to rent. Now many areas of the country have seen purchase prices drop so dramatically and mortgage rates remain so low, that the time horizon for that cross over into saving by buying is much shorter. The Zillow people also created a new comparison method called the breakeven horizon, whioch takes more factors into consideration.  Click here to read the Zillow article that explains this and shows some of the major cities in the U.S.  Interestingly the Detroit area is rated at 1.7 years to break even. The Detroit number is so low because of the dramatic fall in home prices in that market.

If you read through the material at Zillow the point really is that the combination of low prices and great mortgage rates makes this a very good time to buy vs. renting. Even if the breakeven horizon is 3-5 years, it still makes sense. It also makes sense because we are at or near the bottom of the market, so far as value drop is concerned. In our area we’ve actually already started back (re-gaining some of the value lost to the recession), so you’ve missed the bottom. So, the fact that values are on the rise again makes the argument to buy even more compelling.

So, if you’ve been renting or considering renting, it might be time to look at buying instead, assuming that you plan to stay in one place for 3-5 years. Of course, if you just trashed your credit with a short sale, foreclosure or bankruptcy, you’ll still need to me to recover from that and renting may be your only option. If you’ve been rebuilding your credit for 3 years or more it may be time to look at whether you can buy again. Give me a call. I’ll put you in touch with some mortgage people who can evaluate your current qualification to take advantage of the current rent vs. buy breakeven horizon.

Wednesday, September 26, 2012

So you think you want to do a short sale...

Because so few people really understand what’s involved in the short sale process, many contact me to see if I’ll help them with it. Quite a few never get past that initial contact, once we’ve had time to chat about their situation. A short sale is not just something that you decide that you want to do, because you no longer want to pay for an underwater property, but that’s what a lot of people think. It’s not designed to help the guy who just retired unload his home so that he can move to the home in Florida that he just bought.

A short sale requires that a real hardship exists for the would-be short seller, not just an inconvenience. Hardships may include a job loss or pay cut for one or both wage-earners, a divorce, an illness or death a requirement to move and other real issues. It’s not a hardship that your home is worth less than what you paid for it or that you’d really like to move to a better home. A hardship is something that has happened in your life that materially impacts your ability to continue to service the mortgage payments. It’s also something that you’ll have to prove to a complete stranger.

In addition to proving your hardship, you’ll need to be ready to bare your financial soul – to reveal everything about your finances and assets to that same stranger. While they won’t go after anything in your retirement account(s), they will see and want any cash that is lying around and want to know why you can’t or won’t use any non-retirement liquid assets to help satisfy that mortgage debt. Most people who have reached this stage don’t have to worry about that, but a few who are trying to game the system do and they will get caught by the process – it is thorough.

And if you were one of those people who reached for the brass ring of home ownership using an 80%-20% set of mortgages, so that you had to put no money down, guess what – you have two strangers to convince to give you a break. It gets a lot harder with two (or more) loans outstanding. It’s not impossible, just harder.

To better understand the process and the requirements for documentation of your hardship and your finances, go to my web site and read the material there. The site’s not meant to make you feel all warm and fuzzy, but it is meant to get you prepared for the long and sometimes frustrating short sale process.

So; is there any good news to this post? Yes. The good news is that that process is a lot better now than it was and the banks are being a lot more realistic and getting better with the timing of decisions. It’s still a long process, often taking 3 to 6 months; but is used to take 6 to 9 months, so there has been improvement. If, after you’ve read through the materials at the site, you believe that a short sale is right for you, send me an email. I’ll call you and and we’ll have that initial conversation.

Tuesday, September 25, 2012

Fear not, but be not the fool...

“When we’re afraid, it’s because we don’t know enough. If we understood enough, we would never be afraid.” (Earl Nightengale), from the Jack’s Winning Words blog.

This is an interesting quote, because it give one great latitude to expand upon the basic premise. I’ve often commented in my blogs about fear and how it drives people’s behavior. Fear most often freezes people in their tracks. Fear prevents people from doing things, some of which are important to their success. Certainly taking the time to understand what  it is you are fearing and why will help you get over those fears and move on in life.

Most of the fears that people have in life grow out of ignorance – not knowing or not understanding.  However, there is another reaction to ignorance that some occasionally display – foolhardiness. The old saying “fools rush in where wise men fear to go” is based upon that premise. So perhaps Nightengale should have added that if we understood enough we would also not do stupid things.

That brings me around to a thought that I saw today in the Frank & Ernest cartoon in the paper the gist of which is “what makes life so scary is that there are no betting limits.” People without fear take life threatening risks, sometimes completely out of ignorance of the possible consequences. The difference between the professional stunt man who drives a car off the end of a pier into the sea and walks away, verses some idiot, who does the same and dies, is that the stunt man understood the risks, took the necessary precautions and was prepared. The ignorant person just did it on a dare. The problem was there were no betting limits on that fool.

Most of us impose our own betting limits in life through wisdom, common sense, our conscience; and yes, sometimes through fear.  If a person is missing one or more of these, life could be a short adventure indeed. So, I guess the moral today is that sometimes fear might be good as a betting limit on the truly stupid things we might do in life; however, understanding the things that you fear is the best way to overcome our fears and make the best decisions in life.

Monday, September 24, 2012

Michigan takes on the banks...again...

The State of Michigan has thrown another monkey wrench into the real estate market with a new strategy for trying to collect unpaid non-homestead taxes from banks and government entities that have foreclosed on properties. They are now putting state tax leins on the properties, which is causing many title companies to refuse to write title policies on them. See this news article from the Michigan Associagion fo Realtors web site. There is also a good video on YouTube about this issue at -

Basically the argument is that when a bank or one of the governmental (or quasi-governmental) bodies, like HUD or Freddie Mac , takes over a home through foreclosure they become the owners; and, since they are holding the property purely as an investment, they do not qualify for the Michigan Homestead Exemption. That exemption is sigificant, usually impacting taxes by as much as 30%. The Michigan Treasurer is trying to collect those unpaid extra tax dollars from the banks/governmental entities for the time between the Sheriff’s Sale and the sale to another owner.

The banks, et al, are resisting paying, using the argument that they are not really the owners,since the old owners might still be living in the place. That argument is fairly weak, since many homes are abandoned once the bank forecloses and th4e banks themselves often force the occupants out. The banks are just trying to skate of this issue. I suppose the enties like HUD and Freddie Mac are tryign to claim some sort of exemption, based upion representing a hgiher taxing authority.

This has screwed things up in some counties in Michigan (it was first used in Ingam County) because the State has filed tax leins on those properties and those leins don’t show up until a title company does a thorough title search. Once thery do show up the title company will either refuse tro write a title policy or only write one that has a big exception written into it concerning that lein. In most cases the sale won’t close under those circumstances.

For now this is a big game of chicken between the State of Michigan and the banks and entities. Unfortunately the poor would-be buyers of these properties are caught in the middle.  This issue, like the MERS issue concerning robo signing and lack of original mortgage documents, will work itself out over time. I hope the State wins, because it’s just not right that these big banks and entities get to live by a different set of rules than the citizens of the state.

Sunday, September 23, 2012

Don't be a no-show in life...

“The world is run by those who show up” (attributed to Richard Winegardt). This looks like at typical quote from my favorite blog – Jack’s Winning Words, but it’s not. This was in an article in the paper today. I tried to look it up the source of the saying and the best that I could find for an attribution was Richard Winegardt, an engineer. There are lots of variations of the saying to be found.

The intent of the saying is the important point. In life as in sports, you have to show up in order to have the chance to play or to win. And those who do show up end up making the decisions and doing the work – running things. There will always be those who sit back at a distance and criticize those decisions or the work that is done, but they didn’t show up, so their opinions are worthless or worse.

Little volunteer organizations, like churches or groups like the Milford Historical Society or the Rotary Club of Milford or the local Optimists Clubs are essentially run by those who show up – the volunteers who do more than sit off at a distance and critique what’s going on. Sometimes those who don’t participate get so upset by things that are going on that they storm off; leaving the group (an event that seldom causes big damage to the group, since they were not doing anything anyway) as a method of protest. If they were financial contributors to the group that can cause temporary pain to the group, but overall the group is probably better off without their often negative input.

In real estate the people who show up are the ones in local offices who are doing floor duty and sitting in open houses on the weekends. They are out hustling for listings or showing houses to potential buyers. There are also those who sit by tut-tutting about how they don’t do those things anymore (if they ever did). Some are fairly successful and have just forgotten that they got that success by showing up for those duties earlier in their careers. The really successful ones never forget those roots to their success and help mentor new comers through those processes and career stages.

So, today, think about the opportunities that are there for you, if you just show up. What things could you be doing in life or in business to be more successful? What activities are there to be done if you’ll just show up and make the effort? Maybe it’s prospecting, maybe it’s doing an open house, maybe it’s following up from an open house or prospecting calls. Maybe it’s just a little volunteer job with a local charitable group. No matter what it is, it won’t get done if you don’t show up. You can run things in your life and your business by choosing to show up.

Friday, September 21, 2012

Short Sales still a fact of the current market…

I had another short sale closing this week and have had more inquiries about short sales lately. Short sales are still a significant part of the current market, although, like foreclosures, they have declined as a percentage of total sales.

Just about the only thing that most people know about short sales is that the sale of the house is done for less than is owed to the bank. In other words, it’s a sale of a house that is “under water”. There are lots of misconceptions about short sales and some mis-information out there about them, too. I have created and run a Web site just for short sales in Michigan called There is lots of good reading material there about the process and the potential consequences on a person’s credit and taxes. If you or someone that you know is contemplating a short sale, that would be a great site to visit to find out more about this alternative to foreclosure.

I get asked a lot, “Can my family just buy the house in the short sale and rent it back to me?” The short answer is NO! Due to the amount of fraud in the early days of this recession, lenders all require the buyers and sellers to sign an affidavit that specifies that none of the parties in the sale are related in any way. That means that neither your relatives nor your in-laws can be a party to the sale. The way the affidavit is worded, even a family friend would be excluded. The bottom line is that you are not going to be in the house when it is all said and done. It’s gone. You’re out. Deal with that and get on with life.

There are lots of other questions that I get asked about short sales and they are covered in the FAQ section of the mishortsales web site. One of the big points that I try to get across at that site and help people understand is that a shot sale is way better than letting the property go into foreclosure or declaring bankruptcy. There are great articles to read about the credit and tax consequences of the various alternative routes that can be taken.

Another point that I make there is that this is a process that involves both real estate issues and legal issues related to negotiating with the lender(s) involved. I’m a Realtor® and I can take care of the real estate issue; however, I am not a lawyer, so I engage the help of a company that specializes in short sale negotiations and has lawyers on staff to help with those aspects. People considering short sales should understand how both sets of issues – real estate and legal – are going to be handled and by whom. I’m also not a CPA or financial advisor, which is why I have links to articles on the website by people who are experts in those areas and can help you understand some of the financial and tax issues involved.

One aspect of short sales has remained fairly consistent – they take a long time. I normally advise people looking to do a short sale that they should plan on at least three months and as much as six months (sometimes even more) for the short sale process. Even though the banks have been doing these short sales for years now, they are still way understaffed and the internal process within the banks way to convoluted and committee oriented. It can take weeks to even get an answer to the simplest question or request.

And during this time, the crazy thing is that the bank can be pursuing a parallel course of foreclosure. Even though you have an accepted offer for the sale in-house they will often continue that foreclosure process, which can be confusing for the sellers, because they are getting two different sets of letters and communications from two completely different groups within the same bank. The problem is that the two different bank groups don’t talk to each other and don’t know what the other group is doing. Crazy? Yes!

So is a short sale right for you? Is it the right thing to do in your circumstances? Only a meeting with your Realtor can tell. You can read about the process and the things that you should have in order to pursue a short sale on my web site. Also on that site are some guidelines about what the expectations are on the banks, in terms of the reason (most often call the “hardship”) that they should accept as your justification for the short sale. Read the stuff there and then give me a call. We’ll discuss your situation.

Wednesday, September 19, 2012

The Milford Car Show - Was that cool or what?

The Milford Car show this past weekend was maxed out, in terms of cars. Over 300 cars showed up and stretched from one end of Main St to the other – from Commerce Rd on the north end to GM Rd at the south end, with some cars parked in Central Park as well. Cars started showing up as early as 6:30 am, with quite a line by the 8 am registration time. The picture to the right was taken at 6:45 by Rich Harrison.

The show was organized by Keith Wilson (on the left in the picture to the left) and his wife, with some early volunteer help from Rich Harrison (on the right in the picture) with the registration process. Cars of all types showed up, from original historic cars to radical street rods. Cars lined up on both sides of Main Street and the lineup stretched for about 6-7 blocks. The actual show ran from 11 am until 3 pm, with awards for best cars in various classes and sponsors' awards taking place at 3 pm.

The Sponsors Choice winning car that will appear on next year’s T-Shirt was this wonderful 1955 Chevy Nomad street rod. The Nomad was the only 2-door station wagon of that era.

Keith has already started planning for an even bigger and better Car Show next September, so watch the Web site – for details on that.

The pictures of street scenes were provided by Rich Harrison and the picture of the car that will be on next year's Milford Car Show T-shirt was by Keith Wilson.

Monday, September 17, 2012

Good time was had by all ...

We had perfect weather over the weekend for the Home Tour and the Car Show. The Car Show drew a record number of cars on display and had a very good spectator turnout. The Home Tour also did well on a cool fall weekend. Some past Home Tours have been too hot, especially since many of the historic homes on the tours do not have central air conditioning. From what I could tell the Tractor Show had a good turnout, too. I didn’t get to see any of the Duck Race events, but the Rotary Club of Milford always does a good job with that.

So, now, it’s on into autumn.  Football is in full swing at all levels and the air is starting to crisp up a bit. I tend to measure the passing of another year by Halloween. I’m not sure why, but that’s the last holiday of the year where we can normally still sit or stand outside to give out the candy to the kids that come by.  Since we live in the Village, we get lots of Halloween trick-or-treaters. Many family from outlying areas in the Township will load up a van with kids and bring them into the Village to trick or treat; that’s fine with us. Hopefully we’ll have a crisp, but not cold, evening for that holiday.

We also had a birthday party over the weekend. Our only granddaughter turned 8 this year. This was the family party, since she is “too old” to have family at her real birthday party with friends. It’s funny how that happens. Her mom told us that she no longer has “play dates” with friends; now they “hang out together.” How fast they grow up!

The real estate sales data for last week is posted. I noticed a decline in sales, which had been running in the range of 70 to 80 sales a week, down to just over 50 last week. Distressed ales were generally down again, with the three markets in Livingston County that I track – Brighton, Green Oak and Hartland- showing n9t a single distressed sale. I’ve added the ability to see the sales data for the entire 9 township market on a weekly basis as the month progresses. Several markets are now running consistently above $100/Sq. Ft., which is another good indicator of the recovery that is under way.

Friday, September 14, 2012

You haven't lived in MIlford until you've...

gone on the Home Tour. The 36th annual Milford Home Tour is Saturday and Sunday this weekend, so this’ll be my last post about it until next year. The Milford Home Tour is organized and run by the Milford Historical Society and gives visitors a chance to go through five of our nice historic homes each year. You also get to read about the history and background of each house in a special Home Tour supplement that the Milford Times publishes. It’s a fun way to spend a day in Milford. The homes are open from 11 am until 5 pm both days. Tickets are $15 for adults and $13 for seniors and may be purchased at the Museum or at any of the houses (look for the signs to the houses).

In addition to the 5 homes that are on the tour, the ticket is good to get you in several other venues on those tow days. The Museum is open both days, as well as the log cabin next to the fire station on Huron St. The Pettibone Creek Powerhouse just off Central Park is also open both days. You can get to the Powerhouse by parking in the upper parking lot at Central Park or by taking Cabinet south off W. Commerce Rd and then going east on Liberty. Liberty on that side of Main St dead-ends at the railroad tracks. Either way that you get there, it’s worth the effort to see this Albert Khan designed vestige of the Henry Ford Village Industries era. Ford built the Powerhouse to provide electricity to his Ford Carburetor Plant in Milford. The log cabin is also interesting since it is a replica that depicts the lifestyle of Milford’s earliest settlers.

In addition to the five house and other ventures, there will be a privy dig going on at the site at 119 Oakland St. Privy digsd involve actually digging up the sites of the outhouses that used to serve the bathroom needs before indoor plumbing became the norm. Past privy digs have unearthed interesting bits and pieces of history – pottery and glassware for the most part. You can observe the dig and talk to the privy diggers at the site.

On Sunday there will also be The Milford Car Show on Main St – the biggest area car show of the year – and a vintage tractor show out at the Huron Valley State Bank parking lot near the corner of S. Milford Rd and GM Rd. The cars will start lining up for the Car Show at 8 am and the show officially runs from 11 am until 3 pm. Also in Central Park on Sunday the annual Rotary Club Duck Race will take place – festivities there kick off at 11 am with events for the kids. So, you can see that there’s plenty to do in Milford this weekend.

While in Milford for the Home Tour, save some time to visit our great downtown stores on Saturday and to eat at one of our fabulous restaurants. All of the restaurants will be open on Saturday and many on Sunday. Some downtown stores will be open both days, too. Please visit our Home Tour sponsors and supporters – The Palate restaurant, Fresco Pizza (at the southwestern edge of town – close to the tractor show),The Milford House, Bar & Grill, and Tequilaritas. Your Nesting Place, Main Street Art and Acorn Farm are three merchant supporters downtown. If you want to see some of the other places that have been featured in this series, the Mill Valley waterfall in behind the Mill Valley shopping complex and the Milford Feed Company is at the end of Houghton St, off Atlantic St.

I’ll be helping out at some of the venues, so look for me and say hi if you see me. For more information about the Home Tour and the Milford Historical Society click here.

Wednesday, September 12, 2012

Start gettin' started...

“The secret of getting ahead is getting started.” (Agatha Christie) from the Jack’s Winning Words blog.

Jack certainly has a knack for finding quotes that seem to be particularly applicable to real estate and life in general. Procrastination is perhaps the biggest roadblock to success in real estate and life. There are many reasons for putting off getting started on things – fear of failure being one of the biggest. Other reasons include poor time management or poor prioritization of the use of your time, lack or planning or preparation for the task at hand and lack of personal accountability.

The point is that if you’ve identified something that needs to be done in order to increase your success, to get you ahead; then you should commit to get started on it. Sometimes getting started is putting together a plan and allocating the time and resources needed for the task. Not everything can just be jumped into immediately without prep time; however, you need to give yourself encouragement that the work you are doing to prepare IS part of the task. You are getting started when you have started preparing.

One thing that many personal coaches will tell you is that you should hold yourself accountable and a way to help yourself do that is to tell someone else (usually a life mate or friend) that you are going to do whatever it is that is at hand , so that you also feel a sense of obligation to get the task done, now that you’ve told people you were going to do it. That, too, is part of getting it done. I kiddingly tell my wife that I’m in the “fixin’ to” stage at that point – I’m fixin’ to do something. Sometimes I get stuck in the fixin’ to stage and she has to gently remind me that I never really got around to the actual doin’ stage. That helps me get started.

Sometimes the  big roadblock to actually getting started can be the imagined size of the task at hand. If you have a really big project that is daunting and causing you to pause before getting started, experts will tell you that a way to overcome your inertia is to break the task down to smaller sub-tasks and start by tackling a few of those small parts. Then the accomplishment of each little sub-task will feel like a win and make moving on to the next part easier. Still the real challenge is to get started. So look at your to do list of tasks and figure out the best approach to each, but GET STARTED. I’m fixin’ to do that right now.

Tuesday, September 11, 2012

Things are looking up in the Milford market…

I took a look back at the last three years’ worth of sales data that I’ve collected for the Milford market for the month of August. Several things jump out. Distressed sales have fallen dramatically. The size and prices of houses that are selling have greatly increased. The SEV multiplier that people are getting for homes now has dramatically increased. And the sales price per square foot has increased quite a bit. We are now back over $100 per square foot, after languishing well below that value for the last few years.

2012 August

Percent Distressed Sales - 5%


Listed Price
Sold Price
% sold/
SEV value
 SEV factor
Sq. Ft.
$/SF listed
$/SF Sold


2011 August

Percent Distressed Sales - 38%


Listed Price
Sold Price
% sold/
SEV value
 SEV factor
Sq. Ft.
$/SF listed
$/SF Sold


2010 August

Percent Distressed Sales – 54%


Listed Price
Sold Price
SEV value
 SEV factor
Sq. Ft.
$/SF listed
$/SF Sold


What all of this points out is a greatly improved market in Milford (Village and Township). If I run the numbers from the other eight markets that I track they show similar, if still somewhat uneven, improvements. What this is telling me is that we have indeed turned the corner locally in the real estate market. Bigger houses are selling again and for better prices. The low DOM numbers are also indicative that we are in a seller’s market with low inventory. Homes are selling relatively fast and at 98% of asking price, they are selling for what the sellers want to get.

In our hey days (some might say in our crazy, real estate bubble days) Milford normal properties in good condition were selling for between $124 to $144/Sq. Ft. Luxury homes were well over $200/Sq Ft. We have a ways to go before we get back to that level, if we ever do again.

Appreciation in this market is running about 6% so far this year, which is above the historic average of 4%, but which is indicative of the tightness of the market. Demand is outstripping supply right now. That has builders putting up new-builds as fast as they can in several areas.

So, is the market back, or is this just a temporary uptick? We’ll see how thins progress as we head into the slower real estate seasons of the late fall and early winter holiday seasons. My gut feel is that there is a pent up demand that is still not being met – there are people who want to sell who are still trapped in underwater homes and there are buyers frustrated by not seeing anything that they want to buy.

As values appreciate more and more would-be sellers will reach at least a breakeven point and get on the market so they can get on with life. Then buyers will have more to choose from. Things might also benefit from getting past the uncertainties caused by the upcoming presidential elections, no matter which way it goes. I think we’ve turned a corner and I don’t see us sliding back into a housing recession; however, things need to continue to improve before we will get back to a more normal, balanced market.