Category: Selling

February 28th, 2017 by homehappily

Help! I listed my home with an agent, but the listing expired and now my home is off the market!

__ My Real Estate Agent didn’t help me maximize curb appeal

__ My Realtor did not know how to make my home look it’s best inside

__ My Realtor did not take great photographs

__ My Realtor’s online marketing did not attract enough people

__ Other. What else did your Realtor do or not do that you think may have impacted the failure of your home to sell?

The reason your Grand Rapids home did not sell is that the market thinks your home is overpriced.

As an expert in real estate marketing, I would like to offer you a free review of how the following items could increase the market’s perception of the value of your home:

  1. Curb appeal
  2. Staging (full or partially)
  3. Professional quality photographs (this can not be overstated!)
  4. Online Marketing to generate leads (more people interested in buying your homes = more demand)

Your FREE review will include specific suggestions to help your home stand out from all the other homes in the market and get you top dollar in this challenging market.

Request your free review now.

Get Your Free Home Value Now!
Sylvia’s Website
Ultimate Guide to Home Selling
Homes Close to Where You Work
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Sylvia Dana
Realtor
Coldwell Banker AJS-Schmidt, 3744 28th St. SE, Grand Rapids, MI 49512
616-570-8864
Licensed In: MICHIGAN
License #: 6501400118
Contact Me

You Can Also Visit Us At:        

Posted in For Sale By Owner, Home Values, Listings, Selling

February 28th, 2017 by homehappily

Just because you are selling your Grand Rapids home yourself, doesn’t mean your marketing has to suffer!

Get FREE PROFESSIONAL versions of the tools that I use to sell homes!

Requests yours now!


Craigslist

50,000,000 people a month, your home posted every week.

Facebook

Hundreds of millions of people visit a day!

Virtual Tours

Buyers love virtual tours! You will get a virtual tour to share with prospective buyers via the web, email and social media.

YouTube Video!

The 3rd most visited website on the internet and your home will have a video to show people that like videos.

ActiveRain

The largest real estate blog platform in the United States. 2,000,000 people visit ActiveRain month looking for real estate and real estate information!

eFlyers

Get up to 5 different eFlyers to send out to people at different times of your sale to keep up the interest and keep buyers coming!

Single Property Website

A FREE Single Property Website for you to share with buyers.

Twitter

People by the millions are on Twitter!

Open House Tools!

A great set of tools to help you market any open house you may have to better show off your home!

FREE QR Code and Short URL!

Let Buyers scan your QR Code to get all your properties information right on their smartphone!

RealTown

The second largest real estate blog platform in the United States popular with both consumers and real estate professionals looking for real estate and real estate information!

 

Get Your Free Home Value Now!
Sylvia’s Website
Ultimate Guide to Home Selling
Homes Close to Where You Work
Free Home Values
Avoid Foreclosure
MY REVIEWS
Sylvia Dana
Realtor
Coldwell Banker AJS-Schmidt, 3744 28th St. SE, Grand Rapids, MI 49512
616-570-8864
Licensed In: MICHIGAN
License #: 6501400118
Contact Me

You Can Also Visit Us At:        

Posted in For Sale By Owner, Homeowners, Selling Tagged with: , , , , , , , , , ,

February 22nd, 2017 by homehappily

Home Repair Services strengthens Kent county homeowners. They are located at 1100 South Division Avenue, Grand Rapids, Michigan 49507.

I recently went to one of the monthly lunch and learns offered by Home Repair Services. And, wow! If you’re a homeowner in Kent County, this is an organization you NEED to know about.

Home Repair Services is a non-profit organization focused on strengthening Kent County homeowners post purchase. It offers a repair team for vulnerable homeowners, as well as DIY services for all Kent County Homeowners.

For example, low income homeowners could get repair assistance to replace a furnace, a roof — or even a leaky faucet — for about 15 percent of the cost. Homeowners, and also renters, with mobility issues could get help adding a ramp for easier access to their home.

And no matter the income or ability, any Kent County homeowner can take advantage of the organization’s Home Maintenance Check UpRemodeling Together, or Financial Coaching programs.

Scroll down for more detailed information on each program and service offered.

Follow the links for:

Home Repair Assistance

DIY Self Help Registration


Speaking of remodeling… the following is a short, but cool video on three Kent County homeowners who remodeled their kitchens DIY style, with coaching and discounted materials with Home Repair Services. Any Kent County home owner qualifies, as long as they reside in the home!


Quick Summary of Offerings by Home Repair Services in Kent County

(Each heading is a link to its associated webpage)

Repair Team

Each working day, Home Repair Services sends professional service technicians into neighborhoods to handle minor or even the most urgent and critical repair problems facing qualifying lower-income homeowners. More info…

Money Matters Classes

These are free financial coaching classes to any Kent County resident who can attend. The next set of classes begin March 1, 2017. Class titles include: 21 Day Financial Challenge; Cash is King; Managing Credit; Insurance; Foreclosure. There are no income restrictions. Download the PDF schedule OR get more info…

Home Maintenance Check Up

This is amazing! I want to recommend all Kent County homeowners take advantage of this service! It’s a free program in which the HRS Self-Help team will work with you to help plan for regular maintenance and home repairs. This routine maintenance and long-term planning will help save time and money, as well as maintain the value of your home. More info…

During the check-up you will-

  • Learn about how your house works
  • Learn to estimate repair costs and where to buy materials
  • Plan for which things to do now and which to postpone
  • Learn how to make simple repairs yourself
  • Receive a free Home Maintenance Tips booklet

Help to Avoid Foreclosure & Financial Coaching

Last year, HRS handled about 20 pre-foreclosure cases per month. They helped 112 people avoid foreclosure. Financial coaches assist in getting in contact with the mortgage company and working out a payment plans. There are no income restrictions. Flyer. HRS Financial coaches also spotted 20 households with 2015 tax exemptions and were able to help these homeowners get a refund for up to three years in over payment. More info…

Access Ramps & Modifications

Qualifying lower-income residents throughout Kent County with mobility impairments can request home access modifications from Home Repair Services. These include wheelchair ramps, bathroom grab bars, handrails and bathtub modifications. The copay for services is based on a sliding fee scale and ranges between 10% and 20% of a typical job’s total cost. More info…

Fix it School

HRS offers DIY classes in plumbing, electrical, drywall, ceramic tile, flooring and cabinet installation. All classes take place at 10 a.m. every Saturday, are free and open to the public. Download the PDF schedule of upcoming classes. There are no eligibility requirements. Just walk in and have a seat! Participants who complete all six sessions of our “Rookie Renovators” series will receive a certificate of completion. More info…

Remodeling Together

Thinking about remodeling your kitchen? What about your bathroom? Remodeling Together offers resources you need to do it yourself successfully and at a lower cost. There are no income restrictions. The program includes free in-home design support, hands-on classes, lots of time with experienced remodeling coaches and a large selection of high quality kitchen cabinets, countertops and tile with passed on discounts. If you own or are buying your home and are willing to do some home remodeling work yourself, then Remodeling Together is a great option! (Scroll up to see video posted earlier in this blog post)  More info…


 

Get Your Free Home Value Now!
Sylvia’s Website
Ultimate Guide to Home Selling
Homes Close to Where You Work
Free Home Values
Avoid Foreclosure
MY REVIEWS
Sylvia Dana
Realtor
Coldwell Banker AJS-Schmidt, 3744 28th St. SE, Grand Rapids, MI 49512
616-570-8864
Licensed In: MICHIGAN
License #: 6501400118
Contact Me

You Can Also Visit Us At:        

Posted in DIY, Foreclosure, Home Repair, Home Values, Homeowners Tagged with: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

February 15th, 2017 by homehappily




I’m Sylvia Dana, a realtor with Coldwell Banker in Grand Rapids. Find me at www.shesellsgr.com

Mid-Monthly Real Estate Market Activity Reports for Grand Rapids and its Neighborhoods

 

> Click on the heading links to view PDF reports — viewable for 30 days from each link’s post date.

> If you want to keep the PDF longer, please download the report to your computer.

> Follow this post for monthly updates as the links will be updated on a mid-monthly basis.

> Looking for a report in regards to a specific Michigan neighborhood, zip code — or around a specific address? Ask Sylvia at www.shesellsgr.com


Grand Rapids, Michigan, Market Activity Report

Last updated: 2/15/2017

Grand Rapids, Michigan, median estimated home value $159K and median listing price is $151K as of Feb. 15, 2017.


Eastown, Grand Rapids, Michigan, Market Activity Report

Last updated: 2/15/2017

Eastown, Grand Rapids, Michigan median estimated home value $177K and median listing price is $203K as of Feb. 15, 2017.


Alger Heights, Grand Rapids, Michigan, Market Activity Report

Last updated: 2/15/2017

Alger Heights, Grand Rapids, Michigan median estimated home value $129K and median listing price is $130K as of Feb. 15, 2017.


East Grand Rapids, Michigan, Market Activity Report

Last updated: 2/15/2017

East Grand Rapids, Michigan median estimated home value $321K and median listing price is $499K as of Feb. 15, 2017.


Heritage Hill, Grand Rapids, Michigan, Market Activity Report

Last updated: 2/15/2017

Heritage Hill, Grand Rapids, Michigan, median estimated home value $216K and median listing price is $420K as of Feb. 15, 2017.

 


Looking for a report in regards to a specific Michigan neighborhood, zipcode — or around a specific address? Contact Sylvia at www.shesellsgr.com

 
Get Your Free Home Value Now!
 
Sylvia’s Website
Ultimate Guide to Home Selling
Homes Close to Where You Work
Free Home Values
Avoid Foreclosure
 
 
MY REVIEWS
 
 
 
Sylvia Dana
Realtor
Coldwell Banker AJS-Schmidt, 3744 28th St. SE, Grand Rapids, MI 49512
616-570-8864
Licensed In: MICHIGAN
License #: 6501400118
Contact Me

You Can Also Visit Us At:        
 

Posted in Buying, Home Values, Homeowners, Selling

February 10th, 2017 by homehappily

You might think you’re buying time by holding off from purchasing or selling a home right now, but it’s more likely you’re wasting time and losing money.

Buyer

It might not be in your best financial best interest to wait to buy a home as home values are on the rise. The chart of historical listings below explain how this market continues to see healthy appreciation due to the low housing inventory. See Figure 1.

Based on statistics from the Grand Rapids Association of Realtors, a buyer who waited from 2015 to 2016 to buy a home, so that they could “save money,” actually paid $15K more due to the appreciation. “This also does not factor in how higher interest rates decreased their buying power in addition to the increase in average sales price,” said Scott Reilly, loan officer at Mortgage 1 in Grand Rapids.

Seller

On the other hand, as a seller waiting to list your property until home values go up more, or it’s summer, or whatever the case may be … be on notice: the time is now. According to GRAR, there is only 1.7 months of inventory on the market. This means there is very little competition and your home is likely to sell faster and for more money, if you list your property now with Sylvia Dana.


Figure 1


Figure 2

 

Get Your Free Home Value Now!
Sylvia’s Website
Ultimate Guide to Home Selling
Homes Close to Where You Work
Free Home Values
Avoid Foreclosure
MY REVIEWS
Sylvia Dana
Realtor
Coldwell Banker AJS-Schmidt, 3744 28th St. SE, Grand Rapids, MI 49512
616-570-8864
Licensed In: MICHIGAN
License #: 6501400118
Contact Me

You Can Also Visit Us At:        

Posted in Buying, Homeowners, Selling Tagged with: , , , , , , ,

February 7th, 2017 by homehappily

Perhaps you’ve decided, or circumstances have decided for you, that you’re losing your home to foreclosure.

If foreclosure is imminent or you’ve recently gone through a foreclosure, the next step is to pick up the pieces and figure out what to do next.

The first stop is easy. Just breath. Take a big sigh of relief. Then, inhale the positive energy and exhale the negative. You more than likely have been dealing with a lot of stress over the last few months, and everything you’ve been dreading and fighting agains is upon you. But, it’s not the end.

Yes, there is life after foreclosure. I don’t mean you get to just walk away and forget it. Instead, this is a time of reflection, evaluation, rebuilding.

I’m Sylvia Dana, a realtor with Coldwell Banker in Grand Rapids. Find me at www.shesellsgr.com

It might not be easy. In fact — if you’re lucky — this might be the worse thing you’ll ever have to go through. Yes, there are worse things than foreclosures. Still, the next few months will require “pull up your bootstraps” kind of effort to get yourself to the next step. I’ve compiled a list below of what you’ll need to think about now, beginning with where to live…

If you know you’re facing foreclosure, but a sheriff sale hasn’t taken place on your home yet, you still might have options instead of foreclosure. Read my recent post “Facing Property Foreclosure & How to Fix It.”

Your Obligations and Options After Foreclosure:

Live in the Home – If your state provides a redemption period after the sale, you often have the right to live in the home payment-free during this time period. For example, in Michigan, most homeowners get a six-month redemption period (up to a year in some cases) during which time they can live in the home.

Redeem the Home – Some states permit a foreclosed homeowner to buy back the home within a certain period of time after the sale. This is called a redemption period. To redeem the home, you would have to pay the total purchase price, plus interest, and any allowable costs, to the purchaser who bought it at the foreclosure sale. (Learn more general information about the right of redemption.) In order to redeem, the former homeowner has to come up with another source of financing. However, getting a bank to lend you money after a foreclosure can be very difficult, even if you have a steady income, since your credit score will have taken a bit hit.

Move Out or Get Evicted – If you don’t move out after the purchaser gets title to the home (typically either after the sale or after the redemption period), the new owner (often the foreclosing party, i.e. the bank) will start eviction proceedings to remove you from the property.

Rent – Most people become renters after experiencing a foreclosure – purchasing another house right away is usually not feasible. However, since a foreclosure appears on your credit report and most landlords check credit reports, finding a rental is not always a piece of cake either. The best thing to do is be honest and up-front with potential landlords. Explain why you were unable to keep up with your mortgage payments, and why paying your rent won’t be a problem (e.g., your mortgage payment increased and the rent is much lower, you were out of work for six months but have a job now). If you have a positive payment history for other bills, such as a car loan or utilities, mention it. Offering a higher security deposit, if you have the cash, or a co-signer with a positive credit history can also help. (They don’t have to live with you – just sign the lease, which makes them on the hook for rent payments if you don’t pay. Of course, you’ll need to find someone who is willing to be a co-signer.) Individual landlords are often more flexible and willing to overlook a foreclosure than a management company running a large apartment complex.

Understand the Deficiency Balance – The deficiency balance is the difference between the balance remaining on your mortgage and what the lender is able to get for the property. So if you owed $325,000 on your mortgage and the house sold for $200,000, you would have a deficiency balance of $125,000. In Michigan, the lender may obtain a deficiency judgment following a nonjudicial foreclosure, but the borrower can contest the amount of the deficiency if: the lender was the purchaser at the foreclosure sale, and the foreclosure sale price was substantially less than the fair market value of the property.

It is possible that you will be sued and your wages garnished. You can apply for a hardship exemption to stop garnishment, although this can be difficult to get. Filing for bankruptcy is another way to stop garnishment, but it will further damage your credit report. It is also possible that the lender may be willing to set up a payment plan or forgive the deficiency balance. In general, the IRS considers forgiven debt income, and requires you to pay taxes on it. However, under the Mortgage Forgiveness Debt Relief Act, you do not have to pay taxes on a forgiven deficiency balance if the home was your primary residence and the mortgage was used to build, purchase, or improve the home. (Refinanced mortgages are covered to the extent of the balance on the original mortgage at the time of the refinance.) Resource: Filing Bankruptcy Before or After Foreclosure

Consider Your Next Tax Bill – Uncle Sam always wants a cut, and it’s no different when you go through a foreclosure. It comes as a shock to many people, but the federal government considers a forgiven debt as a form of income, which means you might have to pay income tax on a foreclosure.

Repair Your Credit – The first step on the road to recovery is to start repairing your credit. The best way to repair your credit is to continue using credit, but make sure you keep up to date with your payments. People often make the mistake of closing credit lines or cutting up credit cards when their scores take a major hit. But shunning credit altogether only leaves a large gap in your credit history, which is nearly as troubling to lenders as a bad credit history.

Learn to Budget and Save – Regardless of whether you are a millionaire or making minimum wage, the foundation of financial success is the same – budgeting. Budgeting means analyzing what you have coming in, then developing a reasonable and goal-oriented plan for what goes out. Essentially, a budget is a tool that can help you make the most of your money. One of the best things you can do to prepare for the unexpected is to save. With savings, you don’t have to put car repairs or medical bills on your credit card or worry about how you will pay your rent or electric bill if you lose your job. Set yourself up for success by making saving an automatic process via direct deposit through work and periodic automatic transfer of funds from your checking account to your savings account.

Think About the Next Home You’ll Own – Repairing your credit is only one part of the waiting game. You’ll still need to find a lender willing to offer you a mortgage. Unfortunately, after a foreclosure, many lenders will give you the cold shoulder. However, there are some government-backed loans that can help speed up the process. For many people, an FHA loan will be the quickest path back to homeownership. After a foreclosure, the government body requires a three-year waiting period before you can qualify for another FHA-backed loan.

Related Links:

Short Sales and Deeds in Lieu of Foreclosure

What to Expect Once You Decide to Let Your Foreclosure Proceed

Your Options After the Foreclosure

How to Bounce Back After Foreclosure

Life After Foreclosure

Deficiency Judgements After Foreclosure in Michigan

 
Get Your Free Home Value Now!
 
Sylvia’s Website
Ultimate Guide to Home Selling
Homes Close to Where You Work
Free Home Values
Avoid Foreclosure
 
 
MY REVIEWS
 
 
 
Sylvia Dana
Realtor
Coldwell Banker AJS-Schmidt, 3744 28th St. SE, Grand Rapids, MI 49512
616-570-8864
Licensed In: MICHIGAN
License #: 6501400118
Contact Me

You Can Also Visit Us At:        
 

Posted in FHA Loans, Foreclosure, Selling Tagged with: , , , , , , , , , , ,

January 17th, 2017 by homehappily

If you’re trying to sell your home on your own, you’re a FSBO (For Sale By Owner.) That’s what we call you in the real estate biz: FSBO. Think of it as a term of endearment.

While your DIY desire is respectable, it might not be the smartest thing to do if you want to sell your property for the highest dollar and you want to do it fast.

Did you know that Colby Sambrotto, founder of ForSalebyOwner.com, which is one of the most popular and robust FSBO sites on the Web, ended up listing his home with an agent AND paying a full commission?

If he couldn’t get the job done for himself using his website, how effective do you think this approach will be in getting your home sold for the highest possible price in the shortest amount of time?

There are several reasons to hire an agent to sell your home. Firstly, a state-licensed realtor has worked hard to pass a difficult test in order to be licensed to handle real estate transactions. Secondly, they’ve invested a lot of money into practicing the trade, educating themselves on real estate issues and keeping their license current. Thirdly, you need a license to practice real estate in the State of Michigan. These reasons speak for themselves.

FREE RESOURCES FOR FSBOs

Here are 10 more reasons to list your property with a realtor: 

1. Trust & Credibility –  Qualified buyers know that FSBOs aren’t bound by the Code of Ethics that Realtors are. FSBO sellers could do and say whatever they want to get their home sold.

2. Safety & Showings – Because FSBOs don’t have lockboxes, that means the FSBO will need to be present for every showing. There are numerous challenges with this situation, the most important of which is safety. Is the person who wants to see your house legitimate or not? Even if you accept an offer from a potential buyer, how do you know whether the person meets the income and credit requirements to close the deal?

3. Negotiation & Documentation – Throughout a real estate transaction, there are many back and forth negotiations going on. This is because real estate agents are hired to best represent their clients, and to handle the complexities involved, including: the disclosures, offer, counter offers, addendums, closing date, financing terms, comps, appraisal report, inspection report, daily occupancy rate, and more.

4. Qualified Buyers & Sale Price – Buyer’s who are represented by an agent are more prepared and qualified to buy, and they are willing to pay for quality. On the other hand, a FSBO attracts buyers who are looking for deals. The result is that many FSBOs end up selling for up to 20 percent less on average as compared with sellers who hire a Realtor. I used to sell cars. If you visit Kelly Blue Book’s website, you can enter data about your used vehicle and find out how much someone will pay for your car if you were to sell it on your own versus the price a dealer could get for the car. The dealer gets a lot more. The same goes for real estate and using an agent.

5. You Pay Either Way – Most FSBO decide to sell on their own because they think they will be saving money by not paying a commission. But, a buyer might have a contract with a realtor that states that they will pay a buyer’s agent commission of 3% (for example) and if the seller does not pay it, then the buyer must. The buyer will factor it into the price of the house. FSBOs should state in their advertising what commission they will pay a buyer’s agent. FSBOs will get more buyer agents to bring their clients in. If there is a buyer’s agent involved, you will be paying her/him either as a straightforward commission or the buyer will deduct it from the price of the house.

6. Buyer Perception – Along the same lines regarding qualified buyers, it’s easy for buyers to question a FSBO. Buyers think a FSBO is broke; otherwise they would’ve hired a professional real estate agent. If the seller is broke, then what happens if the home doesn’t appraise for the agreed price? What if the inspection report reveals the furnace and roof are on their last leg and need replacing? FSBOs deter those buyers who are willing to pay top dollar. These types of buyers aren’t likely to purchase from someone who might have also cut corners on their home instead of paying a professional to fix the plumbing, electrical, roof, etc.?

7. Buyers seek rich content — 
A realtor will list your property on the local Multiple Listing Service (MLS), which is the primary tool used by buyer’s agents who can bring qualified buyers to see your home and make offers. In addition, an agent’s broker publishes your listing to hundreds of websites, helping your property stand out online.

8. Instant gratification —
Potential buyers searching the internet are seeking instant gratification. Most will only visit a website once and stay for 15-30 seconds. If a FSBO has no strategy for capturing the lead’s contact information or for immediately following up, the lead moves on to the next website. Even if the lead does contact the FSBO, unless the buyer gets back to the FSBO quickly, that lead is gone.

9. The needle-in-the-haystack effect
A major challenge for FSBOs is the needle-in-the-haystack nature of the internet. There are millions of websites including the hundreds of thousands of company and agent sites. Without search engine optimization, meta tags and a host of other branding strategies to achieve high Google search placement, the probability of the online buyer finding the FSBO’s single listing online is small.

Of course, you could post on sites such as ForSalebyOwner.com, ByOwnerMLS, or utilize the “Make Me Move” feature on Zillow. The challenge is that unless the buyer specifically wants to purchase a FSBO, it’s much more efficient to search on the brokerage or MLS sites.

The FSBO could also put his home on Craigslist. There are two challenges, however. First, the FSBO has to repost the ad regularly for it to appear near the top where it can be found. Second, there have been so many rental scams and unsavory people using that site to identify targets for possible criminal activity that listing there could be a major safety issue.

10. Internet leads are reluctant to share contact information —
Another issue FSBOs must face is that most Web buyers are reluctant to provide contact information to a stranger, especially during the search process. Instead, buyers identify homes they want to see and then normally contact a single agent who can show them everything they want to see, not just a single home. Buyers are actually more comfortable working through an agent.

(Portions of this post were adapted from articles published lightersideofrealestate.com: “5 reasons you shouldn’t buy a For Sale By Owner (FSBO) home” and on inman.com: “8 reasons FSBOs should list with a realtor.”)

 

Get Your Free Home Value Now!
Sylvia’s Website
Ultimate Guide to Home Selling
Homes Close to Where You Work
Free Home Values
Avoid Foreclosure
MY REVIEWS
Sylvia Dana
Realtor
Coldwell Banker AJS-Schmidt, 3744 28th St. SE, Grand Rapids, MI 49512
616-570-8864
Licensed In: MICHIGAN
License #: 6501400118
Contact Me

You Can Also Visit Us At:        

Posted in For Sale By Owner, Selling Tagged with: , , ,

January 3rd, 2017 by homehappily

My name is Sylvia Dana and I’m a realtor. In 2006, I was a homeowner who found herself behind in house payments and facing foreclosure.

Once a homeowner gets behind on house payment, the effects can easily compound into a snowball, turning into a seemingly unstoppable avalanche in the lives of a family. Dealing with an impending foreclosure feels embarrassing, shameful and paralyzing. It can negatively affect your job, your relationships and even your health. I know it well.

I was a young teacher and a single mom of a 11-year-old boy. I was paid a fixed salary once per month and I didn’t have the money to save my home. I stopped picking up the phone. I didn’t open the mail. I thought I had time. I was wrong.

It was only two days before my house was to be auctioned at a sheriff’s sale when a realtor came to my door, alerting me to the reality of my situation. He didn’t tell me what to do next and he didn’t tell me what he wanted from me, or if he could help. But the day I realized I would lose my house in two days’ time, is the day I finally took massive action.

The problem is: being out of time makes one that much more desperate. Remember, my experience took place early 2006. It was immediately before the economic downturn and people knew a lot less about foreclosure issues than they might know now. I certainly didn’t know anything about foreclosure or how to fix it, so I got online to find some answers and fell into a trap of scam artists — “lawyers” charging hundreds of dollars to simply take a call and give advice.

Like I said, there wasn’t a lot of information available at the time, so I wired almost $900 to a company claiming they could help me by letting me talk to a lawyer over the phone. During the phone call, the “lawyer,” if he was a lawyer, told me to file Chapter 13 to stop foreclosure. Then he told me I needed to give $179 more to get the correct paperwork faxed to me. I didn’t know what else to do. It seemed I had no choice. I did exactly what I payed a stranger over the phone to tell me what to do — I went to the US Bankruptcy Court and filed Chapter 13, effectively stopping the foreclosure on my home.

(To file Chapter 13 in Michigan, as of 2013, you have to have proof you talked to an approved credit counselor before you file.)

Immediately after filing Chapter 13, I felt a huge relief from the stress of facing foreclosure. I could finally breathe. I was smiling again. I bought myself time and peace of mind, for a little while anyway. Once I stood in front of a judge and trustee, I discovered it was going to be a long road ahead. Getting squared away on my house payments and other debt wasn’t going to be easy, but the court granted me Chapter 13 bankruptcy because I had proved I could make enough income to catch up.

For some, filing Chapter 7 bankruptcy or making the decision to walk away from a mortgage could be the only option. But for me, filing Chapter 13 was the right thing to do. I wanted to stay in my home and prevent a foreclosure on my credit report. With Chapter 13, there were a few hoops to jump through, but it was worth it. I went into the Chapter 13 with the purpose of catching up on my mortgage payments so that my son and I could stay in our home. But then something happened.

My neighbor Krista, who lived across the street from me, listed her home with a realtor. She put a sign in the front yard and her house sold two days later, and for more money than she was asking. When I learned of her success, I asked Krista for the realtor’s contact information. I wondered if her realtor could work some of the same magic for me. Later that day, Lisa — my realtor — came to my home. She told me how much money I might be able to sell my home for and how soon it might sell. She told me she was fairly confident I could get a lot more than what I bought the home for three years prior. The profit from my the sale of my home would help me, not only pay off my home loan, liens and closing costs, but also pay off other debt. So, I decided to list my house with Lisa. I was completely open and honest with my realtor about what I was going through, so she could give me the best guidance.

Once I listed my home, I filed a motion with the bankruptcy court to dismiss the Chapter 13 case. (I’ve learned since that I could have simply asked for permission from the judge and trustee overseeing my case to sell my home while in Chapter 13, but I didn’t know any better. And since Lisa was my realtor, not my lawyer, she couldn’t tell me what exactly to do. And after paying $900 to talk to talk to a lawyer for three minutes, I was capped on lawyer funds. So, I winged it on my own.)

As blind luck would have it, I accepted an offer on my house one week after listing it. Lisa held my hand through the process and made it as easy as possible. Still, there was some stress to work through and obstacles to overcome while the contract on my home sale was pending. For example, there was a point the buyer of my home thought about pulling out of the deal, but then had a change of heart and stuck with the terms of the contract. Then, since I dismissed my Chapter 13 case all together, instead of just getting permission to sell my home while in Chapter 13, the credit union holding my car loan came to repossess my car while I was packing! My home sale transaction hadn’t closed yet, so I didn’t have the money from the sale to get my car. My realtor Lisa helped me by renting me a car for a couple of days, until I got the check from the sale.

After all was said and done, Lisa handed me a check for $15K, which was enough for me to go to the credit union to get my car and pay it off in full for $8K. I had another $7K left to re-start my life.

For me, filing Chapter 13 to stop foreclosure, and then listing my home for sale was the best thing I could have done. Is the same strategy right for you? That’s something you’re going to have to decide for yourself. The realtor that came to my door two days before my home was to be auctioned helped me take action. But he wasn’t my Lisa.

I want to be different. I want to be your Lisa. I want to help those who might be facing foreclosure. I’m not a lawyer, I’m a realtor — and fairly new to the real estate industry. I plan to continue learning more about this issue to be of even better service, but for now I hope sharing a bit from my own experience stopping foreclosure is helpful.

The following are some links to foreclosure and bankruptcy information to help you decide which path might be the right one for you:

Stages of Foreclosure in Michigan

Kent County Foreclosure Financial Coaches

Foreclosure & Eviction for Homeowners in Kent County

Last Minute Strategies to Stop Foreclosure

5 Ways to Stop Foreclosure

Avoiding Foreclosure (Tips of Attorney General for the State of Michigan)

How to Fight Foreclosure (in pictures)

Avoid Foreclosure Overview from Fannie Mae

Deed in Lieu vs Short Sale

Strategic Default: Reasons to and Reasons Not to Walk Away from a Mortgage

What is Chapter 13 Bankruptcy in Michigan?

Credit Counseling Requirements before Filing Chapter 13 (with list of approved credit counselors)

Credit Counseling FAQS (requirement before filing for any type of bankruptcy)

Before you File Bankruptcy PDF

Eligibility & Advantages of Chapter 13

Can I sell my house while in Chapter 13?

Filing Chapter 13 in West Michigan

Filing Bankruptcy “Pro Se” (without an attorney)

Checklist for Filing Chapter 13 “Pro Se” (without a attorney)

 
Get Your Free Home Value Now!
 
Sylvia’s Website
Ultimate Guide to Home Selling
Homes Close to Where You Work
Free Home Values
Avoid Foreclosure
 
 
MY REVIEWS
 
 
 
Sylvia Dana
Realtor
Coldwell Banker AJS-Schmidt, 3744 28th St. SE, Grand Rapids, MI 49512
616-570-8864
Licensed In: MICHIGAN
License #: 6501400118
Contact Me

You Can Also Visit Us At:        
 

Posted in Buying, Foreclosure, Homeowners, Selling Tagged with: , , , ,

November 26th, 2016 by homehappily

Are you looking to buy a home? Sell a home? Or do you just love houses? If so, you might try visiting some open houses to get your feet wet and see what’s out there.

I’ve compiled a  map list of open houses (http://bit.ly/2ghnAWl) taking place Sunday, Nov. 27, 2016, within the city of Grand Rapids, Michigan.

Ok, so I’m only a little bit impressed with myself for doing this. Along with the address, I also included the times, prices, bed and bath numbers in the description. They are in order of the earliest starting open house times to the latest closing times. However, these mapped locations aren’t in order for the most efficient route. I’ll figure out how to do this better in the future, but I think it’s a good start.

Click on the image to get to the Google Map. If you have questions about any of these properties, please contact me.

screen-shot-2016-11-26-at-3-52-03-pm

I'm Sylvia Dana, a realtor with Coldwell Banker in Grand Rapids. Find me at www.shesellsgr.com

I’m Sylvia Dana, a realtor with Coldwell Banker in Grand Rapids. Find me at www.shesellsgr.com or contact me.

 

Posted in Buying, Open Houses, Selling Tagged with: , , , ,

November 26th, 2016 by homehappily

I took some buyers to see a house recently. It was my first showing. New to the real estate business, I shadowed another realtor. We arrived early and took a look at the house before the buyers arrived.

We opened the front door and walked in to what looked to me like either a natural history museum or a serial killer’s trophy room. It was filled with 30+ dead animal heads hanging on the walls, a pair of stuffed coyotes and a zebra rug. Maybe this kind of entrance would impress you. But for me, it was a turn off. It just wasn’t my thing. Especially being an animal lover, animal rights supporter and vegan, it really was not my thing.

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When it comes to staging your home for buyers, be sure to remove items that speak strongly to your personality.

Say, for instance, you’re a college football fan. Your team is Michigan, but you walk into a room filled with Ohio State paraphernalia. Or maybe you are creeped out by clowns and “Chuckie” movies, but during your house hunt, your realtor walks you into a room filled with clown dolls, marionettes and mannequins  — staring, smiling…waiting.

You get the idea. Theses types of environments might trigger such an emotional response you cringe and want to turn around and walk out, never to return and certainly not to buy that home.

So, rule No. 1 I’ve learned so far about home selling: When it comes to staging your home for buyers, be sure to remove items that speak strongly to your personality or lifestyle.You’ve got to depersonalize. Your space for sale should be more neutral, appealing to a wide variety of buyers, allowing a buyer to be able to envision their own style in their potential new home.

If you’re listing your home for sale, there are three simple things you can do to depersonalize and make it more appealing to potential buyers.

The following three items are described in detail in the article “What is depersonalization? Stage your home to appeal to buyers” , published on “Blue Matter,” Coldwell Banker’s blog.

  1. Neutralize – By removing personal items such as pictures and framed degrees along with utilizing neutral colors, it is much easier for home buyers to see how their own furniture and personal style would mesh with the house they are viewing. Placing neutral-colored throw pillows on your couch and having complementary wall colors and window treatments, you create an inviting space for people of all tastes.
  2. Clean – Have your home thoroughly cleaned before showing it. A clean home is much more inviting and appealing to potential buyers than a home with dust, clutter, and dirt. Be sure to tidy up every morning or evening. For example, unwashed dishes in the sink, an unmade bed, and dirty laundry overflowing in a laundry basket are unappealing.
  3. Extra Touches
    • Make sure the trashcans are empty and the toilet lids are down. Remember to stow away grooming items such as makeup, toothbrushes and shaving kits.
    • Turn on some lights. In rooms without windows or rooms with heavy drapes, turn on lamps and recessed lights. An adequately lit home is warm and comforting to buyers.
    • Place flower arrangements in communal spaces such as kitchens, living rooms, and dining rooms. Fresh flowers bring a cozy, earthy feel into a home without being too personal.
    • Consider using mild air fresheners throughout your home, especially near trashcans, pet areas, bathrooms, and laundry rooms. Avoid overpowering fragrances, though, as they may distract buyers.

By depersonalizing your home and appealing to a broad range of buyers, you increase the likelihood of receiving a viable offer and decrease the likelihood that your home will sit on the market for an extended period.

 

Get Your Free Home Value Now!
Sylvia’s Website
Ultimate Guide to Home Selling
Homes Close to Where You Work
Free Home Values
Avoid Foreclosure
MY REVIEWS
Sylvia Dana
Realtor
Coldwell Banker AJS-Schmidt, 3744 28th St. SE, Grand Rapids, MI 49512
616-570-8864
Licensed In: MICHIGAN
License #: 6501400118
Contact Me

You Can Also Visit Us At:        

Posted in Selling Tagged with: , , , , , , ,