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Thursday, April 23, 2015

Meet the serial entrepreneur who owns the Milford Anytime Fitness

anytimne fitness logo
Many times when I meet small business owners I see that they are people who have a special passion for what they are doing and I always wonder how they got to this point, to this particular business at this time in their lives. Well before I joined Anytime Fitness in Milford, I met Christine Wierenga, the owner, at a Chamber of Commerce event. It was an after business hours mixer at a local bar/restaurant in Milford.  I’m a Huron Valley Chamber of Commerce Ambassador and one of our Ambassador duties is to attend events like that one and to make sure that members, especially new members, Christine Wierengaget introduced around and get the opportunity to meet their fellow local business people. I met Christine that night and took it upon myself to introduce her around. We’ve been friends ever since and I eventually joined her Anytime Fitness gym in Milford and began my personal fitness journey.
I asked Christine to answer the question that she gets often about how she got into the business of gym ownership and below is her answer -
A question I am frequently asked is “How did you get into the fitness business”? I never mind answering that question because telling the story reminds me of the seemingly random way I came into gym ownership. I won’t go into too many details, but here’s how it happened.
I bought a classic car after I graduated high school and I wanted a custom interior in it. I couldn’t afford to pay someone to do the job, so I taught myself to sew and bought an upholstery sewing machine. It turned out well, so I invested in a bigger sewing machine and starting doing upholstery repairs for gyms in Michigan (while also doing automotive restorations). I grew my upholstery repair business to include gyms across the country, specializing in on-site repairs. As I went from gym to gym, I realized that many gyms were very poorly run and were severely lacking in customer service; so, I decided I could do it better. I did my research on the gym industry and bought an Anytime Fitness franchise on the East Side.
After running the fitness equipment upholstery business for almost 10 years (and having been a member of at least 8 different gyms) the decision to open an Anytime Fitness was an easy one!  That decision was fueled by my experiences with those facilities - ranging from overwhelmingly positive to shockingly horrible!  What set the exceptional clubs apart anytimne fitness logofrom the rest?   Customer service!  Or as we call it here at Anytime Fitness – Club Culture.  It’s an atmosphere that welcomes you, encourages you and keeps you coming back!   We know that most people have a difficult time making fitness a habit - It is my team’s goal to make sure that our members feel at home in the club.   We strive to keep our clients motivated and engaged. After all, they trust us to help them with their fitness journey!    
Since opening my first location in 2007, I purchased two other locations (the latest in Milford) and subsequently sold off the two East Side gyms to focus upon the Milford location. I have often looked back to see how I got here. Sometimes in life, you don’t understand why a project isn’t working out or you’re pulled in a different direction. In hindsight, I know that every stumbling block, every closed door, every “coincidence” was there for a reason. When I was asked in school “what do you want to be when you grow up”, I always found it difficult to narrow it down to one profession.  As a small business owner, I don’t have to just “pick one”!  With Anytime Fitness, I'm involved in everything - all of the things I love. I am able to help people get started on their fitness journey. I have an excellent team (of who I am incredibly proud!), that I get to see grow professionally and personally.  As a numbers geek, I even love the back-office work….yes, even spreadsheets!  
Anytime Fitness of Milford is much more than just a business to me.  The people there are my family – staff and members alike.   I’ve been amazed by the transformations I’ve seen our members undergo – Not just the physical changes you’d expect to see, but the even more incredible changes in their confidence, self-esteem, health and energy levels!  It may have taken a strange turn of events to get me here, but I am sure glad I’m here!
Yours in Health,
Christine Wierenga
So, now you know Christine’s story. I encourage you to come into Anytime Fitness in Milford and meet Christine or her
 gym manager Willa Danowski. Right now (Ed.- April 2015) is a good time to do that because they man lifting weightsare offering Free Workout Saturdays to introduce people to the gym. You can try out the gym for free! While you’re there pick up one of the free 7-day membership cards and come back to try it out during the week. If you get there in the early mornings, (Ed. - I define that as between 8:00 and 10 AM) you are likely to see me there, too. I go to the gym 5-6 days a week, most weeks. I know of no better way to start my day than with a good workout.
Like some of the ads that you’ll see on TV, the Anytime Fitness gym in Milford isn’t full of “lunks working to feel the burn.” It is full of people like you and me, just trying to get back into a little bit of shape. Joining means that you get a free older couple exercisingassessment from one of the personal trainers to help you understand where you are starting from and them they give you a workout schedule to help you get started on your personal  journey to fitness. The gym has lots of exercise machines and, of course, free weights.They also offer lots of free classes for members, from the Saturday Morning Boot Camp, to Spinning, to Zumba to Cross-training to you-name-it. Choose how many or how few you may wish to participate in or just decide to work out on your own whenever you can get in. It took me a while to work up the courage to try the boot camps, but now I’m fairly regular on Saturday mornings.
The great thing about the atmosphere in the Milford Anytime Fitness is the sense of family that you quickly get to be a part of. The same people tend to show up at the same times and you soon meet everyone who is on your workout schedule by their first names. Sometimes I think some of the ladies who come in the early morning spend more time socializing than exercising, but that’s OK; they’re getting out and getting some time on the treadmill or the elliptical or the other machines and theyplank
 are enjoying the time spent at the gym. Life’s too short not to enjoy it, so come on out to Anytime Fitness, at  141 South Milford Road, Milford, MI 48381 (in the old Farmer Jack’s Shopping Center near the corner of Milford Road and GM Road)  Phone: (248) 685-8373 and start your fitness journey. Maybe I’ll see you along the way. And if you think you're up for a real workout right away, join us Saturday mornings at 8 AM for Boot Camp.

Tuesday, April 21, 2015

Make a Difference on Earth Day…

We celebrate Earth Day April 26th and earlier this year we celebrated Make A Difference Day. I think we should combine the two thoughts and Make a Difference on Earth Day. If on Earth Day everyone on the planet did one little things to help preserve our planet; that would
be billions of little things that help. As they seem to say in Washington – a billion here and a billion there and pretty soon you’ve got something real.

There are lots of events going on around the country to celebrate Earth Day. Most of them have something to do with conservation of natural resources or lessening the impact of man on the planet through recycling or use of less polluting fuels. It is always sobering to read about or see on TV that entire species are about to be wiped out, but that is happening. The impact of global warming is finally being felt and realized by more people and the fact that the oceans are not limitless is now understood. Whether these revelations come soon enough to save what is left is still in doubt.

We are a throwaway society. We have become accustomed to just discarding something when it has been used for a while or when the “next big thing” comes along. Unfortunately we’ll not be able to see the next big thing once we have used up this planet that we live upon. Maybe a million years from now some space-roving explorers will discover a lifeless planet that shows signs that it once supported a primitive civilization that could only figure out how to make energy by burning things, with a people who had a penchant for killing things. They will wonder at the stupidity of a planet of people who committed such a slow and avoidable suicide. Of course, by that time the planet will be rules by the bugs that remained and not by the apes as their movies predicted.

So, maybe this coming Sunday you can begin the re-write of that scenario by making a
difference, by doing something, anything to change your personal behavior towards the planet. It can be a simple as not rolling down your window and tossing your fast food bag out as you drive, or maybe planting a tree instead of burning a pile of leaves, or maybe walking to the store instead of getting in the car for the 3- block trip. Every little bit helps. You don’t have to go out and hug a tree (however, that might make you feel a little better) or find a whale to save; but, you don’t have to do a lot of other things that are causing harm to the planet either. Just think about things before you do them; then don’t do some of the bad things and do go ahead with the good one. This isn’t rocket science, it’s earth science and that’s the only rocket that we have to ride on.

If you’re in the Milford Michigan area, here’s a great way to spend a part of the day - Earth Friendly Family Fun Festival 2015 - noon until 4 PM at Carls Family YMCA, 300 Family Dr, Milford, MI  48381. Help celebrate the Earth with lots of activities for the whole family. Click here to view the event flyer.

Monday, April 13, 2015

Come listen to the stories of our own Main Street Brat

The Milford Historical Society presents Mary Lou and Main Street - Our Thursday  April 16th General Meeting at 6:30 p.m. at the Milford Methodist Church at 1200 Atlantic St and it will be a Potluck. Pot Luck assignments are as follows:  A—F–  Salad or Side Dish   G—Q   Main Dish      R—Z— Desserts.

The Guest Speaker that night will be our own Mary Lou Gharrity (shown on the left
with Marlene Gomez, our recently retired Museum Director). This is a Meeting you will want to attend for sure. Come listen to the stories of the Main Street Brat! Mary Lou grew up in Yea Olde Hotel on Main street and has decades of Milford stories to share.

The Milford Historical Society holds general membership meeting every other month, with guest speakers talking about topics of historical interest from the area and from Michigan. Past speakers have talked about topics like the founding of Detroit and the early settlers who migrated out to found Towns and Villages like Milford, about the impact of the railroads on the small towns that they passed through, about the work of the CCC during the Great Depressing and the CCC camps that were set up in Michigan, about the Vernors soft drink company and about being in the Nazi concentration camps (from a concentration camp survivor).

This months speaker is lifelong Milford resident Mary Lou Gharrity, who spent at least a part of her childhood living in Yea Olde Hotel, Milford's downtown hotel, which her parents ran. Later she and her husband owned and ran the Milford Times. Mary Lou, as much as anyone can represents a living history of Milford, and her stories of the old days are fascinating. we hope that you will join us.

The Milford Historical Society was founded in 1973 by a group of citizens who recognized the importance of the heritage of their community and wished to share it with their contemporaries and preserve it for those who will follow. To these ends, the members have established a museum, a research and archives room, and have sponsored, in conjunction with the Milford Township Library and the State of Michigan Library, the microfilming of the Milford Times newspaper beginning with the first issue in 1871. The Society is currently involved with a project in conjunction with Central Michigan University's Clarke History Library to convert that microfilm library into a searchable, on-line database.

The Milford Historical Society is chartered as a 501c3 Non-Profit organization and as such is eligible to accept tax-deductible contributions. The Society supports the Milford Historical Museum at 124 E. Commerce St (one block east of Main St) and all of its projects from membership donations and fund raising efforts and received no outside support. The Society’s continuing projects include an annual home tour, various research projects and an effort toward local architectural preservation. Through it’s own Sesquicentennial Committee, the Society published a book titled TEN MINUTES AHEAD OF THE REST OF THE WORLD – A History of Milford  as another step towards preserving and disseminating the history of Milford, Michigan.

Thursday, April 9, 2015

I know I signed a contract, but what are my “outs”?

There was an interesting article by Benny L. Kass in my daily Realty Times news feed recently that covered the topic of when real estate sale contracts become binding.  You can read Benny’s article at -

Benny is apparently from the Washington D.C. metropolitan area and the advice that he gives and contract that he references represent not only the legal side of things, but also the local real estate customs.

I suppose that some lawyers might argue that there is no such thing as a binding contract, just contracts that make it very onerous to cancel or get out of for cause. Locally (in Southeastern Michigan) almost all of the various Purchase Agreements (PAs) that I have seen from the companies
that do business in this area are binding when both parties have signed the contract; however, all of them have several clauses that provide “outs” for the purchasers. Those are contingency clauses that specify certain things that the buyer must be happy with in order to proceed or which must at least have outcomes that are to the buyers’ satisfaction. Usually there are time frames associated with each contingency during which the buyer must perform some inspection or test or complete other actions necessary to proceed to the closing. Perhaps calling then “outs” is a somewhat misleading term. They are not things that the Buyer actively looks for or uses to get out of the contract; but they are the contingencies that allow the Buyer to decide not to proceed with the deal and which allow the Buyer to get their earnest Money Deposit back in full. In most cases there are also provisions for the Seller to try to resolve any issues to the Buyers satisfaction. In every case there are also set time frames within which things must occur. Failing to meet the deadline requirements is considered to be acceptance by both sides of the state of things “as is”.

The first big hurdle that the deal needs to get over is usually the home inspection, which in this area is typically required to be done within 7-10 days (sometimes less) after the Seller and Buyer have both accepted the Purchase Agreement. The wording on most home inspections clauses usually specifies
how the Buyer is to express to the Seller his dissatisfaction with the findings and within what time frame. Most PAs then give the Seller some opportunity at a retort to the Buyers issues. Some contracts, however, let the Buyer move right to declaring the contract null and void, based upon his dissatisfaction with the inspection. If the contract wording allows the Seller time to respond it is usually short and the response requires that the Seller tell the Buyer what he is offering to re-mediate the issues. That could be an offer to have the problems fixed to the Buyers satisfaction or to reduce the agreed upon sale price by an amount that would allow the Buyer to resolve the issues after closing (that would be called a Seller Concession).  Should the Buyer and Seller fail to come to a mutually acceptable agreement on the issues the Buyer will normally have the option to declare the agreement to be void and get their Earnest Money Deposit back in full.

The next big hurdle is normally the appraisal, which is a key part of the Buyer’s ability to get the mortgage that he needs to buy the place. The contract normally specifies a window within which the Buyer must make his formal application for the mortgage, usually within a similar timeline as is set for the inspection deadline. Once the Buyer has applied for the mortgage, the mortgage company will order the appraisal. Getting the appraisal scheduled can take a week or more, so about 2-3 weeks
might pass from the time of acceptance of the contract until this appraisal actually takes place. The appraiser may take 3-5 days to get the report back through his management and into the hands of the mortgage company. If the Buyer gets one of those “Houston we have a problem” calls from his mortgage company another round of negotiations starts with the Seller.

The options for dealing with a low appraisal are that the Seller concede the difference between the strike price and the appraised value or the Buyer throws extra money into the deal to make up the difference or they reach some compromise in the middle.  Failing an acceptable compromise, most Purchase Agreements in this area would allow the Buyer to walk away from the deal and get his Earnest Money Deposit back. Appraisal issues have been the biggest cause of failed deals for the last couple of years, because the mortgage companies and the appraisers have been very conservative and have not kept up with the rising property values in the market.

Another part of the mortgage contingency language in Purchase Agreements also provides an “out” for the Buyer if the mortgage company turns down the mortgage, even if the house did appraise. OK, how can that happen? There are lots of things that can cause the underwriter at the mortgage company to turn down the mortgage, even if the mortgage originator (the mortgage agent that the Buyer was dealing with all along) thought that the Buyer was golden. Buyers can get a “Pre-Approval Letter” based on nothing more than the preliminary information that they give to the mortgage agent and a quick credit check.  Once the mortgage is actually applied for the file goes to the underwriter (that mysterious man behind the curtain) who begins an in-depth review of the deal and the Buyer. The Buyer is asked to provide all sorts of detailed financial information that wasn’t required initially and the devil is usually in those details.

The underwriter may look at up to two years’ worth of financial statements and tax returns (sometimes more), check on employment and review all recent credit purchases looking for any red flags that might indicate that the Buyer doesn’t have the wherewithal to carry this new debit load. Things like getting some money from mom and dad to make the down payment may seem to the Buyer to be his own business, but to the underwriter that is a red flag that must be explained and documented. Was it a gift or a loan? The underwriter also reviews the PA, the title work and any other documentation that may have a bearing on the deal; because his job is to protect the bank from undue risk.  This contingency, like the others in the PA, has a deadline; usually the mortgage must be approved (or denied) within 30-45 days from the date when all parties signed the deal. If the Buyer is turned down for the mortgage, most PA contracts contain provisions for the Buyer to back out of the deal and get his Earnest Money Deposit back.

There is another contingency written into most PAs that could occur between those two steps. When a real estate deal is signed one or both of the Realtors® involved will engage a title company to do the research on the title to the property to make sure that it can be passed to the Buyer at closing. Depending upon the office practices of those Realtors and t3he provisions within the PA, the title search could occur anywhere from a few days to a week or more after the PA is signed. The title search is done at the County Register of Deeds office and any and all recorded encumbrances upon the title are usually found. That may include recording for the sale of mineral rights (usually oil and gas), recordings of any tax liens against the property, recordings of any trades liens (sometimes called mechanics liens) against the property, all recorded easements for utilities, or access rights and any rights-of-way.

The “Title Commit” that comes back from the title company, based upon that search, gives a detailed list of any issues that were found or which need to be resolved in order to insure the title at closing. The PA language usually specifies both a deadline for getting title work done and to the Buyer for review and any objections, as well as provisions about how the Buyers objections must be expressed to the Seller.  Usually the Seller is given some time frame to rectify any issues with the title that the Buyer has; however, if the issues cannot be rectified to the Buyers satisfaction, this is another “out” for the Buyer and he gets all of his Ernest Money Deposit back. Deals have fallen through because of issue with the encumbrances on the title that could not be resolved.

So, let’s assume that the Buyer has gotten through all of these things and was satisfied with each; is it now full steam ahead to closing and the Buyer is now locked in? Well, almost. There is one final “out” that the Buyer could end up using. That last hurdle is the final walk-through. Most contracts
have a provision for the Buyer to walk through the house right before closing to be sure that the house is in substantially the same condition as the day that the offer was written and that the Seller has not damaged the house or removed items that were in the contract or considered to be a part of the house at the time of the offer. I have not had a deal fall apart at that late point, but I have heard of it happening. Sometimes Sellers do something stupid that dramatically changes the house as far as the Buyer is concerned and the Buyer is within his contractual rights to refuse to go through with the closing, if that is the case. Once again the Seller is usually given the opportunity to correct the issues.

If it seems like there are many places where the Buyer could back out and the deal fall apart, there are; however, in most deals both parties really want the deal to go to closing, so most of these “outs” are never used. The Buyer and Seller usually work out some compromise on any and all issues. It may be that the Seller makes repairs, offers price concessions, or corrects issue with the title or that both reach some agreement on how to handle the low appraisal. Most of the time, the sales go to closing.

There is one condition for which the Buyer really has no “out” and that is just getting cold feet and the last minute, sometimes called “buyer’s remorse”. This can occur for many different reasons and at any time, but it is usually after all other contingencies have been met and the closing is scheduled.  If, at that point, the Buyer has signed off on the home inspection and title work and been approved for the mortgage, he cannot just change his mind and back out, without consequences. No one can make the Buyer go through with the closing; however, at that point he will usually lose his Earnest Money Deposit, which will be given to the Seller (usually split between the Seller and his listing broker) as compensation for having taken his house off the market for the time that the deal was in-process.

If you are a Buyer, your Realtor should go over the Purchase Agreement with you in detail and explain all of these contingencies, so that you know what your rights are at every phase of the deal. If you are the Seller, you must understand that the Buyer has the right to back out of the deal and get his Earnest Money Deposit back if you cannot resolve these issues to his satisfaction. Most of the time the issues that come in a deal can be resolved and it makes no sense to blow the sale up and lose the Buyer over an issue that may have a relatively low price tag for resolution. If the home inspection finds Radon in your basement and you refuse to put in or pay for a Radon remediation system for $800, you have just bought your house back for that $800. Is it really worth it on a $200,000 to $300,000 sale? There may be some things that you just can’t fix or that you can’t offer a big enough price concession to overcome and the deal will fall apart. You’ll have to resolve those issues before you get another buyer, one way or another, because they will come up again. As the Seller, you have no ”outs” on those issues.

Hopefully, as either a Buyer or Seller, you now better understand the contingencies that may be within a real estate Purchase Agreement. Whichever side you are on, read that PA carefully before you sign and know your obligations and your outs.

Wednesday, April 1, 2015

Spring has sprung...get on the market

Spring has officially arrived, even if the weather sometimes doesn't feel like it yet. If you've been waiting until Spring to list your house, now is the time to act. The inventory in the area and especially in the Village is very low, so there will be less competition for buyers right now. And believe me, buyers are out looking! In fact many buyers have recently complained that they are getting frustrated because they want to move to Milford, but can't find many houses to look at. Take advantage of that to get the best price and the quickest sale for your house.

Another positive factor that could change if you wait is the low mortgage interest rates. Mortgages rates are still hovering right around 4% (up and down on a weekly basis) and mortgage lenders are hungry for business again. Programs allowing buyers to get into a home for only 3% down are back and some programs offering zero down loans are available. It won't get any better than that.

So, if you have been holding off making that move into a bigger house (or downsizing) or maybe trying to get closer to relatives, now is the tie to put your home on the market. In order to get ready, I suggest that you invite me in for a market analysis of your home. I'll need to do a quick walk-through visit and you'll end up getting tow valuable things - an estimated current market value for your home AND a to-do list of the things that you can do quickly to get it ready for market and achieve a higher price and quicker sale. The analysis is free but the information may be priceless.

If you've been looking in the Milford area and you're getting frustrated by not finding what you want, let me take some of that frustration off your shoulders and search for you. Many times a local Realtor like me will hear about homes that are going to be going on the market before they are even listed and can give you a heads-up. I might also be able to save yo some time by recommending that you not waste a visit on a listing that I know won't fit or that you won't like.

Give me a call today at 248-763-2497 and let me start helping you fulfill your dream. Whether your desire is to move away from Milford or to move into Milford, I can help.