Ann Arbor & Ypsilanti Real Estate and Community News

Dec. 8, 2019

5 Top Reasons Why Selling Real Estate is Great

Our 5 Best Reasons to START SELLING Real Estate

1. Real Estate Salespeople Learn About Business From the Top Down

Especially when it comes to agents who are willing to dip into commercial as well as residential and residential income properties, individual sales agents are able to jump into real-world business deals and really see how things work from a top-down ownership & investment perspective as those owners' and investors' Realtors without needing to start from the very bottom or pay for this education; this means an agent with some success will have access to mentors and experts in various facets of the housing industry. Agents are independent contractors which means they are solopreneurs/microbusinesses in their own respect. Agents often find themselves at the table with people from all walks of life.

2. There's Always More to Learn & A New Niche

Since Realtors are quite literally selling space, every property is different and even within various types of property there are sub-types and niches (or specializations) which can be studied, applied, and mastered. Here are a few just from top of mind:

  • Probate & trust sales
  • Historic properties
  • Investment & Multi-Family properties
  • Rehab/flippers
  • Religious properties & houses of worship
  • Condominiums
  • Offices
  • Industrial
  • Agricultural
  • Cannabis Real Estate
  • Municipal properties
  • Bank-owned properties
  • International Sales

Options are limitless because even within primary categories like residential real estate, we'll have agents who specifically market and brand themselves into sub-categories within the broader categories of Residential, Commercial, Industrial, etc. So if you're someone who has a passion for learning, like me (I can't turn it off)-- you should consider entering my trade, and find something you want to specialize in. Remember the old phrase: "there're riches in the niches"

3. The Intersection of Work and Pleasure

When is the last time you were able to pay your bills from something you do purely for enjoyment, like playing cards or hiking or bowling with friends? Due to the social nature of sales work, selling real estate is a relationships business. Knowing people, and being known is the first step in being hired since being likeable and trustworthy is how many will decide to choose an agent. The relationship between a real estate agent and their client is still a fiduciary relationship based on trust and ethics; similar to a healthy relationship between an attorney and their client, the professional's value is maximized by their consumer having a level of trust and comfort so that the agent is aware of and can focus on their client's needs, concerns, and interests. Because of this and the nature of friendships and social interactions, a friend can easily turn into a client and a client can easily turn into a personal friend. I have met many amazing friends through my work and I know of several agents who make a habit of acquiring business in unexpected places and creative ways.

4. Full Control Over Your Time

Since the vast majority of agents are 1099'ed independent contractors, they have full control over their own time commitments. This allows the sales person to decide whether to implement a structured plan of how to spend their time each day similarly (which for many a consistent schedule is vital to their success), or to operate each day completely differently. So if the professional chooses not to spend time cooped up in an office, they can build their business so that they spend more time in the field thru things like networking, prospecting, etc. Likewise if they prefer to stay inside or closer to home, they can build their business through "pajama prospecting", things like online or social media marketing and other avenues where they can reach and solicit people without being out and about.

The definition of full time, for a self-employed contractor or small biz owner, can vary depending on what's going on in their life because of the flexible nature of the work. So if I had a child, for instance, I would shift more of my time investment from sales and business growth-related activities into family activities. We generally do not get paid time off or maternity leave, so that will require us to plan accordingly in order to ensure we have time for ourselves and our families; success in sales will allow for that especially after the foundation of your business (and network) is laid.

5. Lower-cost Investment with Good Returns

Today in Michigan, the real estate pre-licensing component is a ~40hr investment and agents are able to complete that in about 1-3wks depending on how much time they can set aside to get that done and into the practice. Compare that to the roughly 1,800hrs of coursework required to become a barber, and you will likely notice that starting your real estate career is going to be faster and cheaper than many other businesses are to enter. Note that just because entering the career is relatively easy doesn't mean that building your business and staying in the career is; doing well as an agent will require significant time investment (if you want to make six figures, plan to spend 40-60hrs/wk working your butt off). Failure for a real estate agent is about common as failure for independent restaurants, which is a very hard industry to build staying power in, so the wash-out rate is significant and the individual agent will have to work hard to make sure that they're not part of the roughly 80% of agents who will not be selling real estate beyond 24mo. But if you have the dream to succeed and the drive to make it a reality, there is no glass ceiling or maximum income in real estate sales.

Dec. 6, 2019

Munro Reviews the Cheapest Standing Desk Available

Ypsilanti Realtor Reviews Amazon's Cheapest Desk

the SHW Electric Height Adjustable Standing Desk: 24" x 48"

Standing desks have been common and around now for about a decade in workplaces and studios. As an Ypsi Realtor I'm acutely aware from my own experience that sitting for extended periods, especially with poor ergonomics, is a recipe for future health problems. I had always wondered about standing desks and whether or not they were worth the hype.

Enter the SHW Electric Height Adjustable Standing Desk, shipped via Amazon Prime for $258.00 -- making this the rock-bottom dollar standing desk option I could find, shipped, coming in about $50 cheaper than Autonomous' models.

6 months of usage in an Ypsi real estate office later...

The desk has held up well over our first 6mo of use. No problems with stability or the electric motorization components to the desk. Raising and lowering the desk is easy and it has a few heights defaults you can set, eg, if 1 or 2 people work at the desk at different heights. Surface finishing appears to be a clean man-made laminate in light cherry for a wood grain look.

But a concern was noted!

Biggest drawback with the desk, compared to many of its competitors, is that the desk's surface is actually 2 pieces which are connected in parallel (long-ways) via dowels. Assembling the desk was easy but upon finding this I was a little disappointed-- would it really be much of a cost difference to use 1 solid top piece rather than binding two together? Perhaps it was a shipping consideration since most of these products are made in PRC (which was why I figured I'd try the low-end first).

In conclusion...

We'd give it a 4/5 rating for this desk-- happy with the purchase but not quite a 5/5.

Next time we'll have to try the Autonomous and let you know!

Posted in Products
Aug. 7, 2019

Introducing the Ypsilanti Senior Center

One of my favorite places in Ypsilanti is the senior center @ 1015 Congress.  Monica Prince, the Director, does an amazing job running the place. Everyone loves her.  Besides her vast responsibilities running the place, Monica teaches a very creative art class.  She says, “Lets try to see all the possibilities in our lives.” She makes everyone welcome, the true artists as well as those who specialize in stick people.

 

Exercise classes are free for seniors.  One very popular class, Exercise with Mark, improves balance, strength, strength and cognitive capabilities.  All this while having a great time. It’s easy to forget you’re exercising! Gentle Fitness is a low impact class that is easy on the joints.  Line Dance with Dee is so much fun. It doesn’t matter if you are an experienced dancer or you just want to do your own thing. All are welcome.

 

Additional services offered for a small fee include acupuncture, massage, a visit with a foot nurse, and best of all, lunch.  Most of all the social benefits are free. Stop in for a coffee, great conversation, make new friends or just have a laugh.  

 

Friends from the senior center

July 12, 2019

Best Office Printers

Welp Magazine gave Munro Real Estate a mention for our recommendation for #1 best printer for small offices (like us)-- the Xerox Versalink C7000.

The Xerox is a must for an Ypsi Realtor since they print gorgeous ledger-size prints at a professional print shop quality.

Full article here: https://welpmagazine.com/8-best-compact-office-printers/

June 30, 2019

FAQ - Can a REALTOR also be a wholesaler?

Question: “Can Realtors also work as wholesalers?”

Depending on the situation, but in many scenarios they cannot; clarifying the question or using a specific example might help explain. This is a question I've heard a couple of times during conversations about real estate in Washtenaw and surrounding counties.

First, let’s specify: By 'wholesaler' I assume you mean a wholesale buyer, which would be a buyer who is purchasing a property with the intent of re-selling the property or assigning the contract to purchase a property over to another entity to settle/close that purchase in exchange for a margin or a profit built into that assignment. “Wholesaler” is a type of buyer, so as any other buyer who also holds a real estate license in Michigan would, a real estate licensee should disclose whether they are also acting as a buyer in a transaction. 

There should never be a situation where a licensee is working both as an agent for a seller while also working as or on behalf of a buyer (including a “wholesaler” buyer), since doing so could create a conflict of interest between the two parties. For example: Agent A goes to meet a Homeowner B to interview to sell his condo in Ypsilanti; but Agent A becomes interested in buying the condo for themselves; Agent A should then disclose themselves as a buyer before Homeowner B divulges confidential info to them and before Agent A enters into a listing agreement to market the property for Homeowner B. This way the agent can work for themselves as a buyer, and the seller can accept an offer without having to market and show the home to the public (and without unwittingly sharing confidential information intended for their agent/fiduciary, to the buyer on the other side of the deal instead).

I've noticed Ann Arbor and Ypsi Realtors using marketing techniques similar to what wholesalers use, and sell properties with contract clauses including options, assignment clauses and unconventional financing. These practices aren't inherently problematic if they're done legally and ethically (with disclosure, etc). So to recap, a Realtor can be a wholesaler if they are working as or on behalf of a buyer when they follow state law and abide by the NAR code of ethics.

Posted in Education, FAQ, Information
June 21, 2019

Historic Real Estate Guide: Windows

Historic Real Estate Guide: Windows

 

If you’re looking at purchasing a property in Ann Arbor or Ypsilanti’s historic districts, or have preservation of historic aesthetic as a priority for a home you’re renovating there are some considerations you should make with regards to windows.

Replacement or Restoration?

Oldies can still be goodies!

A lot of historic homes in Ypsilanti and the Ann Arbor area still have original, wooden double-hung sash windows. Knowing a reputable and experienced finish carpenter will be very helpful in determining whether a window’s sashes and panels are restorable or whether they have been neglected to the point of needing to be rebuilt or completely replaced. In many cases homeowners may find that the historic lumber used in previous construction eras is of a higher quality and a tighter wood grain than more modern lumber styles, so sashes and frames may be a bit more forgiving than their initial appearance might suggest. Restoring these double hung windows is also popular in DIY circles, with many historic preservationists on YouTube giving detailed step-by-step instructions on how to re-glaze and restore these windows for yourself. In our experience we’ve found specialty carpenters who focus in the restore of double hung windows can cost more, less, or roughly equivalent to newer replacement windows.

 

Leaded & Stained Glass Windows

Leaded or stained glass leaded windows can also still be found today, eg in certain commercial, industrial, or religious or historic educational buildings. Since restoring leaded glass windows usually involves soldering and glass cutting we would recommend leaving this endeavor to the professionals. Specialty carpenters who restore leaded glass windows are few and far between, it really is a dying art, but there are still historic preservationists practicing in metro areas like Detroit and Chicago who can restore these to near perfection.

Efficiency Considerations: Interior Storm Windows

From what we’ve seen, historic windows can be restored and re-glazed so as to approach modern efficiency standards, but for efficiency and draft concerns an extra measure can be very helpful: Interior storm windows. Interior storm windows can be built on a lower-end DIY budget for about $200 or $250 using either glass, vinyl, or even shrink wrap-style plastic or bubble wrap. Bubble wrap should be mentioned as an option for an absolute zero-budget DIY improvement simple enough for grandma, don't believe us, Google it. Local carpenters can often build custom interior storm inserts, local contractor Ypsilanti Restorations in town quoted about $315/ea in 2019 for them to fabricate interior storms out of wood. There are also online outfits like https://indowwindows.com/ where you can measure and order vinyl interior storm inserts to be shipped to your door from online. In addition to eliminating drafts, increasing your energy efficiency (to take the edge off those winter heat bills), interior storm windows are also great for reducing noise transmission if your property is located in a downtown area or along a more heavily trafficked street. Only downside would be that the inserts would need to be simply removed and re-inserted anytime the homeowner wants to open their windows. Since interior storms are temporary inserts and do not require exterior modification to the property, they usually won’t be regulated by historic committee like replacements often are.

I can’t/won’t/don’t care to restore these windows. So who makes the best replacements?

For historic properties in districts subject to historic committees or councils, homeowners may find that those committees want to retain as much of the original window frame and sash style and appearance as possible-- so for instance if a homeowner wanted to replace a double hung original wood window they may have to replace it with another wood double-hung window (and a full frame replacement rather than re-framing a new window into an existing, older frame) of the same material or a similar material. Some committees, like ours in Ypsilanti, may approve replacing a wood window with a metal-clad window of a similar style but not any vinyl replacement windows of any style whatsoever.

And the Winner for Best Replacement Windows Goes To...

Our favorite brand for historic committee-approved replacement windows is the Marvin Window Company - www.marvin.com - particularly their Ultimate Magnum Double Hung series since the rail and stile parts of their sashes create a thinner profile where more glass is visible in the window, which provides for a very close (if not identical to untrained eyes) match to the original double hung windows we see all too often dating back to the late 1800’s and early 1900’s.

Example of Marvin Magnum Double Hung Windows from their catalogue.

From Marvin’s Product Catalogue: Magnum Double Hung Windows

 

We’ve also seen historic approvals for wood-clad Andersen and Pella brand windows, however, consumers going thru committee approvals should expect to be required to select the highest-end lines from either company. Last we checked that would be the Andersen A-series or the Pella Architectural Series, we respect both manufacturers for having been known to produce quality windows and are deserving of mention.

Posted in Education, History
June 3, 2019

Michigan Ave Re-Development Update

Progress update for an extensive redevelopment project in Downtown Ypsilanti on the 100th block of Michigan Ave (Across from Terry's Bakery), a rooftop patio area with views of downtown is beginning to take shape!

June 1, 2019

Michigan Cannabusiness Real Estate

Michigan Cannabusinesses Have Arrived: History and 2019 Market Overview

What is a cannabusiness?

A cannabusiness is a business that sells cannabis or cannabis-related products. Since Michigan passed recreational cannabis for adult use in 2018, reports expect Michigan’s pot market to rival Colorado’s due to how generous the law is in weight and quantity limitations for both end user and commercial facilities.

Use History

Medical marijuana began in 2008 during the passage of Proposition 2, which allowed patients and caregivers to be licensed through the state's Dept. of Health; provisioning centers (retail dispensaries) and manufacturing facilities soon followed. Members-only small businesses quietly opened. Home occupations and personal grows discretely started in basements, garages, and pole barns. Due to the law being vague and failing to provide specifics for the retail and distribution of marijuana, some commercial property owners and property managers initially refused to lease to medical marijuana businesses. Concerns had also been voiced in residential transactions.

Several local municipalities created ordinances to handle things like zoning, inspections, and licensing for the budding facilities along with moratorium ordinances to prohibit them from opening in certain areas.

The recreational component was added to the law in 2018. At the time of this posting (summer 2019), cannabis provisioning centers in Washtenaw County are popular, well-advertised and visibly marketed. Local municipalities have begun issuing manufacturing licenses for discrete, secure facilities which have tended to avoid notice. Local cannabis dispensaries have spurred extensive renovation and new construction projects, and some property owners have seen value appreciation based on new, more valuable uses creating higher projected valuations and driving investment. The state has been working to implement the new consumer law but the state's licensing and other delays put most expectations around 2020 for over the counter marijuana.

The Big Picture

Projections have suggested that Michigan's marijuana current marijuana business will generate $1.4 - $1.7 billion dollars in revenue. State and area municipalities plan to raise taxes from licensing and taxes-- and a white market industry for the product should also lend towards tourism and increased residential and land resale values.

As the real estate market was rebounding over the next decade, Michigan cannabis businesses were investing into the community and growing and improving their facilities to expand operations to create readiness for the coming recreational cannabis laws. Notable examples would include The Patient Station, a cannabis dispensary which was built out of a long-neglected former gas station in Ypsilanti. Another Ypsilanti dispensary in the historic downtown has undertaken a structural overhaul and made significant renovations to an adjacent property (the former Ypsi Bike Shop) for future dispensary use: Herbal Solutions -- the construction of their rooftop garden can be seen downtown.

Michigan Residential Cannabis Real Estate

Residential home medical cultivation has seen a significant increase over the past decade of legalization. We've toured many of these properties, seeing home occupations in Ypsilanti condos and Saline townhouses, Ann Arbor homes, garages, pole barns, etc.

With commercial properties, value-add, rehab and construction projects, it's always important to consider knowns and unknowns and understand all your risks before jumping in. Municipal ordinance review may also be required, and if the municipality hasn't created ordinances addressing medical marijuana than it may be necessary to reach out to an appropriate local council member, zoning, or planning official. As commercial licensing became adopted by the state, banks soon followed and now offer banking services to these licensed businesses.

May 31, 2019

Ypsilanti History: A Look at the Water Tower and Beyond

Downtown Ypsilanti can always be defined by its incredible architecture, from the revival style houses to the unique apartments, all of which surround the Eastern University of Michigan. Perhaps the most prominent feature in Ypsilanti is the water tower which has easily raised interest in Ypsilanti Real Estate over the years. Droves of rental properties and other prime examples of Ypsilanti MI real estate surround the massive structure, drawing attention and helping to contribute to this monument of Ypsilanti history. Visitors to the area often ask questions about it; Why is it here? Who built it? When was it built? The story starts in 1889.

Back to the Start – A Brief History of the Water Tower

To the tune of $21,435.63, William R Coats designed and built the water tower at the highest point in Ypsilanti. It was likely unknown that the tower’s shape and placement would quickly render it a landmark, making it a perfect starting point for directions. Once the tower was built, an ordinance was passed that brought a yearly rate schedule to the residents of Ypsilanti dictating how their water would be paid for. At the time, the rate was based on the number of faucets in the home as well as the amount of livestock the person owned. Unlike today, failure to pay a water bill came with steep fines and even potential jail time.

Until 1956 the iconic water was the only tower in the system, ultimately taken over by the Ypsilanti Community Utilities Authority in 1974. Today the tower is a designated Historic Civil Engineering Landmark as ordered by the Michigan section of the American Society of Civil Engineers.

Buying Property Near the Tower

The draw of living in Ypsilanti rather than A2 is the historic structures and the amazing views reminiscent of a time gone by. If you look at the houses on Normal street for example you will see that many of them were built as early as 1939 with their structures still intact. Well maintained and prominently placed near the Eastern University of Michigan campus, they normally cost around $130,000-$300,000 depending on the location and proximity to certain amenities.

Normal Park and Beyond – A Perfect Place to Settle Down

Normal Park and the surrounding areas are within range of some of the best amenities that Ypsilanti has to offer. With close proximity to Michigan Avenue, one can easily access shopping centers and medical facilities along with the nearby Depot Town that bears some of the area’s most historic buildings. Also keep in mind that there are multiple parks nearby including Riverside and Frog Island, both of which have something unique to offer residents of Ypsilanti.

Even more interesting for current and potential Ypsilanti residents is the way the area has managed to resist gentrification in a big way. Ypsilanti real estate, both commercial and residential is surrounded by small, independent Mom and Pop shops that still thrive thanks to the persistence of residents and the need for specialty items. While larger chain stores definitely have their presence in the city, it’s a good balance between the old and the new.

It could be argued that life starts at the water tower and then spreads outward, sprawling across the cityscape of Ypsilanti. In a way the area is a time capsule, slowly growing and changing but keeping the old-world charm that once inspired a song. If your goal is to move here, then you couldn’t have chosen a better place.

May 21, 2019

Energy Saving Tips for your New Home

Tips for Increasing Efficiency and Saving Energy At Home

 

Energy savings is a big deal for your new home; you need to make sure you’re not spending more money than you have to, and you want to help the environment. Today we have a few tips that you can use to make your home more energy efficient, from lighting, to air flow management, all of which will get you closer to a more manageable energy bill as you live in your Ypsilanti MI home.

Check your Windows – Ypsilanti MI Homes can Get Cold

As a northern state, Michigan sees its share of cold fronts and you need to make sure that your home is prepared. Not only will preparation make you more comfortable, It will prevent a massive energy bill. In the past, household windows were made with metal frames and as we know, metal conducts energy quite well. Wood frames were a better choice but today the most energy efficient option you can go with is nylon. These window frames conduct very little energy and when closed, they will ensure that cold or hot air remains where it belongs: in your home.

Make Use of Reflective Surfaces

Lighting in your home can account for a lot of the energy use but it doesn’t have to with a bit of strategic placement. Kitchen counters and mirrors work as reflective surfaces and as they reflect light, you can get away with having fewer bulbs burning in your home. One of the greatest energy saving tactics involving light is to use low energy under-cabinet bulbs that reflect from the kitchen counter, making the space brighter and ultimately more useful.

Use Energy Efficient Bulbs

For many years incandescent bulbs were the default for housing, but as we move forward we start to discover better, more sustainable options. Replacing incandescent bulbs with Compact Fluorescent Lights (CFLs) is a great move as they consume less energy, burn brighter, and last longer. The same can be said for LED bulbs which can last for years longer than the incandescent models. LED’s use a more directed light meaning less energy is wasted and while they can be a bit more expensive, they are certainly worth it.

Cut out Electric Lights with Natural Lighting

Lighting in your home is important but that doesn’t mean you need to have it on 24/7. If you want to cut back on your electricity usage, then you might try something as simple as opening your blinds. Many homes today come equipped with larger windows combined with an open floorplan which ensures that natural light can reach every corner of the home. To reduce heat conduction, it would be wise to have your windows tinted so that you can enjoy the light without overheating and causing your air conditioner to kick on.

Close the Doors!

The most important piece of advice that we can give you when it comes to energy conservation is to seal and weatherize doors and windows and always keep them closed, especially if you are running your air conditioning system. This directive applies any time of year though it is far more problematic in a place like Ypsi where the temperature tends to travel very far in either direction. If you need to leave doors or windows open, make sure your air conditioner or heater is not running.

Try Stormers - Interior and Exterior Storm Windows

This is particularly important for historic-style double-hung and single-hung windows; historic window construction did not have all of the same energy sealing products which today's modern construction utilizes. Stormers can usually be put on either the exterior, or the interior of windows. Historic, original windows may require re-glazing and refurbishment over time, and adding a second pane of glass on the interior in the form of a storm window can create an air barrier which will defeat most drafts. If you're renting or maintaining a home in Ypsilanti with drafty windows, consider building (you can Google or YouTube guides on how to build storm windows) or purchase them custom-built from your local finish carpenters. Call us for a recommendation; 734.272.6612

Update your Appliances

Finally, make sure that you are updating all of your appliances. That includes the stove, toaster oven, and even the refrigerator. Consider Energy Star rated appliances since they will do a far better job of conserving energy than older appliances, and as a bonus they also tend to be quieter and also safer.

These are just a few tips that will help you to cu t down on your energy use and you can rest assured that there are many more. While energy is just one facet of financial responsibility, it is a big one. Shut your doors, turn your lights off, and open your blinds!

Posted in Education