Info on Grand Rapids Real Estate

Grand Rapids

Home Staging Room by Room: The Kitchen

Home Staging the kitchen is crucial when it comes to selling your home. The kitchen includes much more than just walls, floor, and ceiling.  With so many components in the kitchen, many buyers evaluate the condition of the entire home based upon this one room.  A sparkling, well maintained and organized kitchen speaks volumes to buyers that you have attended to every detail in maintaining your home.


The first step in staging a kitchen is to eliminate any unneeded “stuff”.  Grand Rapids home buyers look for kitchens that are functional and spacious therefore the goal is to maximize all counter and cabinet space.  Countertops should be clear of all items except for a few decorative pieces displayed in the corners.  Leaving appliances on your countertops gives buyers the impression that your kitchen has limited cabinet space.  Also, eliminate any items inside the cabinets that you will not need for the short-term.  I recommend taking everything out of each kitchen cabinet and drawer and putting back only those things you absolutely can’t live without.  While you are at it you may as well have some cleaning supplies handy and wipe out the cabinets.  When putting items back in the cabinetry be sure to arrange them neatly and orderly.  Remember that you want the kitchen to look as organized as possible.

Next, depersonalize the kitchen spaces.  The biggie here is to totally clear off the front of your refrigerator.  Sorry, but no more photos, kid’s drawings, notes, or magnets while your home is on the market.  We all need a calendar handy so I suggest hanging it on the inside of a kitchen cabinet door.  In addition, the telephone station should be free of any papers, mail, pens, etc.  You have already cleared out the cabinets so you should have plenty of space to put these items in a cabinet or drawer near the phone.

Now it’s time to address any repairs needed in the kitchen.  Inspect the entire kitchen including the lighting, faucet, sink, appliances, floors, walls, cabinets, and countertops.  Look carefully at the caulk along the countertop and backsplash.  In many cases it is wise to freshly caulk in order to achieve the goal of an immaculate kitchen. 


Now that your kitchen is clutter- and repair-free, you are ready to tackle the most important “C” of home staging CLEAN!  A kitchen can never be too clean so clean like you’ve never cleaned before.  Here’s a list to get you started cleaning your kitchen:

  • Sink, including the disposal (freshen with a fresh lemon)
  • Countertops
  • Backsplash, including grout
  • Cabinets – inside and out – don’t forget under the sink too
  • Floors and baseboards
  • Stove top – use a good degreaser
  • Oven – inside and out
  • Exhaust fan and hood – degrease and change filter
  • Microwave – inside and out
  • Refrigerator – inside and out

When home staging your kitchen, please don’t ignore any of these items.  I have clients ask, “Do they really look in the cabinets and the oven?”  My answer is a definitive, “YES!”  A buyer will inspect any and everything they are considering buying.  A little elbow grease and organization will have your pristine home screaming, “BUY ME!”

Contributed to by:

Heidi Herbruck at Simply Staged


Grand Rapids Real Estate Market Watch: January


Home buyers are beginning their Grand Rapids Home Search and the Spring Real Estate Real Estate will be here before you know it.Over the past week there has been an up swing in activity in my office. One listing has sold and many showings. It has been slow all through December as people enjoyed the holidays. But all signs point to the spring real estate market, which will be upon us soon.

I have noticed internet research starting and coming on very strong over the past week. Over the last week Grand Rapids Resource Blog had 100 hits per day and my featured listing on had 300 viewings during listing week.

I believe it will be a strong spring real estate market. Price will be down but buyers will be out buying. If your home has being on the market for a long time or if it has expired in the past month this information should encourage you to get back on the market soon.

If you would like a second opinion on your current listing or would like me to take a look at what you could sell your home for in the coming spring market feel free to call. We can sit down together, with a cup of coffee, and decide best how to sell you home in 2008.

What I need for a Homeowners Insurance Quote:

Year Built: Most insurance companies need to know what year your home was built.  The age of your home affects the type of risk it is for an insurance company to insure.  A lot of insurance companies also offer discounts on newer homes.For instance, Farmers Insurance offers a “New Home Discount” on homes that were built within the last 10 years or newer.

Square Feet:

The size of your home is very important.  Most Homeowners Insurance policies will insure by Replacement Cost rather than Actual Cash Value, and the size of your new home is a necessity when configuring the Replacement Cost.

Type of Home:

Is your home a 1 story

  •  1 1/2 story
  • 2 story
  • Ranch
  • Tri-level
  • Mobilehome
  • Modular Home
  • Townhouse
  • Condo, etc.

Roof Type:

  • How old is the roof? 
  • Is it Asphalt Shingles? 
  • Does it have a warranty?

Insurance History:

  • Have you ever had a Homeowners Insurance Claim?  If so, how long ago and for how much?


  • Is there a basement? 
  • Is it finished? 
  • What percentage is finished? 
  • Is it a walkout basement? 

Garage Type:

  • Attached/Detached? 
  • How many Stalls?

Interior Information:

  • Is the interior of the home Drywall or Plaster? 
  • Covered in Paint or Wallpaper? 
  • Is the flooring mostly Carpet, Hardwood, Tile, Laminate, etc.?


  • How many baths does your home have?
  • Full baths?  
  • Half Baths?  
  • Custom Baths?


  • Is there a fireplace?  Gas, electric? 
  • What’s the homes main heating source?
  • How many chimneys?


  • When was the electric updated? 
  • How old is the Furnace? 
  • Has the plumbing been updated?

Farmers Next Generation Homeowners Insurance Policy offers discounts for all three of these types of Renovations.

Additional Features:

  • Does your home have a Deck?
  • Jacuzzi?  
  • Swimming Pool?
  • Skylights?  
  • French Doors?  
  • Sliding Glass Doors?  
  • Hot Tub?  
  • Trampoline?

Contributed to by:

David Gregwer at Farmers Insurance

First Time Home Buyer Road Map in Greater Grand Rapids

I truly enjoy working with first time home buyers. First time home buyers have so many options available them and so many different things to learn along the way. Over the coming weeks we will help you, the first time home buyer, understand the process of buying your first home in Greater Grand Rapids and why it works the way it does.

The questions we will try to answer are:

How do I get my loan figured out?

  •             MSHDA Loan?
  •             Costing Cost?
  •             How Much do we need Down?


  •             Who is representing me?

Where do you want to live?

  •             City of Grand Rapids?
  •             Or a suburb?

What kind of home are you looking for?

  •             Two story or ranch
  •             How many bedrooms and bathrooms?
  •             Condo or single family?

Are you willing to do some work?

  •             How about a foreclosure?

How do we make an offer?

  •          Do we bid low and see what happens?

When the offer is accepted then what?

  •             Title Work?
  •             Inspections?
  •             Appraisal?

What happens at the closing?

  •             Do I need to bring my ID?
  •             What is a HUD Statement?

When do I get the keys to move in?

  •             Do I get to move in the same day as close?
  •            What does 30 days after close mean?
  •            Do I get paid for the people living in the home?

Over the next few weeks, the Grand Rapids Resource Team will try to help you understand this process better. So when you’re ready to buy your first home you will know whom to call, when it will be their turn to help you and we hope that this will make the process of buying your first home easier and less stressful.

If you are currently looking at homes now and can’t wait for the following articles please feel free to call or email me today. I would be honored to help you through this process.

Contributed to by:

Steve Volkers at Keller Williams Realty

Home Staging Room by Room: The Living Room

Home Staging a living room need not be a daunting task.  Keep in mind that the function of a formal living room is plain and simple, a cozy room to invite friends to sit to have a conversation.  If you are fortunate enough to have a formal living room, it is wise to market the “formal” in the room.  This means no televisions, exercise equipment, or toys.

When determining how to stage the living room, stand in the doorway at which buyers will first be entering, usually the foyer.  Ask yourself, “Does the room invite me to want to come in and sit? Is there a clear path to maneuver around the room without having to swerve around the furniture?”  If not, the furniture needs rearranging and if your home is like most, it may have too much furniture for marketing the house for sale.  Furniture should also fit the scale of the room.  Oversized couches and chairs make a room look smaller.


In Grand Rapids, fireplaces are a sought after feature so if your living room has a fireplace it should be played up as the focal point of the room.  This is accomplished through the placement of furniture and decor.  Personal items and collections should be packed away so they do not distract buyers and little hands don’t disturb them.  When selecting décor, keep in mind that Grand Rapids is generally a conservative community.  Simple décor is what we are looking to achieve so remove any excess books or knick-knacks and replace them with a few larger, tastefully selected items.  Remember, a buyer is looking to purchase your house, not your stuff – effective home staging places the emphasis on the product for sale, the house.


 Ample lighting, especially in the winter months, also helps to reveal the appeal of your living room.  Make sure you have enough lamps to light the entire room sufficiently.  All drapes and blinds should be open to let in as much natural light as possible.  This may unveil some flaws that you haven’t noticed so carefully inspect the carpet, trim, and walls.  Freshly cleaned carpet, painted walls (in a warm, neutral color), and sparkling windows will impress buyers that you have taken care of the home.

Contributed to by:
Heidi Herbruck at Simply Staged

What Is Title Insurance and Why Am I Paying For It?

What is title insurance and why am I paying for it?  This is a question that is asked a lot at the closing table.  The easiest way to explain why you might need title insurance is to give you an example of what CAN happen.   

Let’s take a look at Jane and Jason (fictional).  They’ve lived in their house for 35 years.  They have several acres.  They want to split two of their acres off of the main parcel and sell them to Dawn and David, their children.  They work with the township to acquire the split.  Dawn and David’s lender orders their title work.  Once the search has been done the title work comes back with an issue.  When Jane and Jason purchased the property, they bought it from the City of Danville.  Upon searching the property, we found that the City of Danville had never received a Deed when THEY purchased the property.  SO, they never had the legal right to sell. OOPS. Even though Jane and Jason have lived there for most of their lives, the property is technically not all “theirs” since it was never properly deeded to the City of Danville to begin with.   

This is a situation where title insurance comes in VERY handy.  It seems odd that something like that can happen, but it does.  Our job is to protect our customers and make sure that title is free and clear of any liens or interests.   

Contributed to by:

MJ Knauss at Sun Title Agency