Saturday, May 30, 2009

Loving my "job"

Started out this morning on The Manistee River showing beautiful acreage properties to a wonderful couple from Chicago looking to buy a family getaway. It was sunny and 70 degrees and we had a terrific time and helped them gain some valuable knowledge about the market. I spent the afternoon working with a long time client looking to buy a home for retirement on The AuSable River in rain and low 50 degree temps. I think we found two great options for them. I now sit on the banks of The Boardman River where I stopped to visit a client's property on my way home. The sun is shining and it is absolutely a spectacular evening. These are the days where I truly appreciate where I have the pleasure to work and play! I hope we'll get the opportunity to see you soon in Northern Michigan!

Thursday, May 28, 2009

The Buying Process, Part III

this is the third installment that is following a transaction currently in process with one of our sellers and our buyer. scroll down to older posts to get the full story.

The property appraisal established the value just above purchase price, so the bank is moving forward! The results of the required point of sale septic inspection were good as well. It's a non traditional system, but seems to be functioning well and the county signed off. The results of the water test should be in soon. The seller and buyer are going to sit down together before closing to talk a bit about the history of the cabin and any odd details that need to be conveyed. It's great to have two parties who are both very kind and are interested in not just buying a piece of land, but carrying on the tradition of stewardship of a great property! Looking forward to close in a few weeks pending any unforeseen problems with the title work or lending process.

Let There Be Light

I found an article recently that I thought might be helpful to some of our sellers. So often we focus on the appearance of our properties during daylight hours, but neglect to think of the importance of the use of lighting in enhancing a property's appearance and level of safety. The article is from CSN Lighting. Check out their inventory of great products at

While the inside of your home may easily impress potential buyers, it’s essential to find a way to lure them into your property with an attractive view from the outside. Often times homeowners focus on the presentation of the interior of their home when really it’s important to maintain a manicured, stylish look both inside and out in order to create the “full package” look that buyers are looking for in their search. Just as the addition of interior lights can set a welcoming tone to any room in your home, exterior landscape lighting also has the ability to attract visitors’ interest quickly when installed correctly. Before installing several different types of exterior lighting to your lawn and driveway, get a feel for your property and decide which features need to be accented to obtain the ultimate curb appeal.

The first rule of thumb to follow is that all driveways should be lined with lighting in some way such as a set of tall lanterns or solar landscape lights in order to incorporate a lighted pathway leading up to the house. Lighting along the driveway will create a safer environment as well as add a charming touch to your home’s exterior. In addition to the driveway, consider highlighting the time you put into the decorative landscaping that lines that front of the house such as a group of flowers and plants or a stone wall adjacent to the lawn. Lights that are directed toward the front and side of your house will create an alluring accent and welcoming environment to the property as a whole while highlighting the stately structure of the building. Flood and deck lights can illuminate a large portion of a blacktop driveway or porch area and serve as a great way to guide guests as they arrive or leave your home.

While interior lighting can be a decorative accent in any room, exterior lighting is also able to add the same effect with hanging lanterns or elegant path lighting installed along a sidewalk or between a two or three car garage. Choose a set of light fixtures that complement the existing exterior style whether it is a modern, traditional, country, or rustic home construction. Decorative lighting found along a pathway, within a gazebo, or in a garden setting adds character and charm to your property, creating the curbside appeal you’re looking to achieve. Incorporating a few lighting accents to your outdoor space will certainly get your home ready for the market and entice a large crowd of buyers.

Wednesday, May 27, 2009

The Splendor of Leelanau

There is nothing quite as beautiful as a sunrise over a lake in Northern Michigan. I had the opportunity to view some spectacular colors this weekend as my family and I camped on Lake Leelanau. What a great weekend to kick back and relax by the water.

I was reminded by my RV neighbors just how lucky we are to live in such a wonderful place. They travel here from downstate many times in a summer and they can "feel the stress melt away" as they get farther and farther north. It is too easy to get wrapped up in the day to day and forget that we live in one of the most beautiful places on earth.

As we drove around the lake in our boat, I noticed more and more of the cottages and summer homes are no longer shuttered and vacant. Smiling faces were hard at work putting the docks in the water, cleaning up the yards, and soaking up the sunshine. Now is a great time to visit us in Northern Michigan to see those waterfront properties you have been dreaming of all winter. I would love to share the wonders of Leelanau County with you and maybe help you find your own little piece of heaven. Email me at

Friday, May 22, 2009

Homewaters Staff Meeting

I don't think it's ever been said that we are a "traditional" company. We definitely take a lot of pride in that fact and our non conventional methods have allowed us to grow and prosper as other firms have faltered. A great example of how we do things a little different are these photos of our most recent "office meeting". Associate Broker, Lance Weyeneth, services The Inland Waterway region of Northern Michigan, including Burt Lake, Mullett Lake and The Indian River. We feel it's important that all of our agents are familiar with each other's service areas, so we all loaded up the boat and headed out on the water to see first hand what this area has to offer. With our schedules, you have to get together when schedules, not Mother Nature dictates. 30+ mph winds and big waves added some excitement to the trip, but we had a great time everyone now has a base of knowledge they didn't prior to the trip. We believe in being very hands on in our approach to the business. We had an opportunity to visit with one of our clients who owns a terrific parcel with 330' on Mullett Lake complete with a 5 bedroom main house and 5 small guest cottages. It will be hitting the market next week, so check back in for details. Enjoy the holiday weekend and don't hesitate to call if you have questions on any property. You can also make use of our new mobile site if you see a for sale sign on any property in Northern Michigan. From your web enabled phone, just go to and enter the street name of the property you're looking at to receive the complete mls information. Searches by body of water are also available.

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Spring Has Sprung

Today was busy and a great sign of things to come for the spring and early summer. This afternoon I closed a deal in Cadillac with a client for a cabin on Bear Creek. This happened to be a bank owned property that was under contract and we had been watching. The other party withdrew their offer, the bank changed realtors and we put together an offer almost immediately. It was a case of hurry up and wit and it paid off! We had an accepted offer from the bank the first of April and it finally closed today. Congratulations goes to Kate and her new cabin on Bear Creek! Thank you.
Also, this afternoon I got a great new listing on a wonderful little, 73 acre private lake, in the northern edge of Lake county, Cool Lake. This is the head waters of a tributary creek to the Little Manistee and the lake gets salmon, steelhead and brown trout that come up it and some end up staying. There is no public launch and it is a great little lake that is only 50 minutes from Traverse City, 20 minutes to Manistee and in the heart of great rivers, trail systems and the National Forests of Northwestern Lower Michigan. This is a turnkey cabin that would be suitable for year around living as well with the dock, pontoon, fishing boat swim raft to all stay! Oh, yeah not to mention a 28X40 drive thru pole barn for all the toys! On the market last year for $369,900 and back on the market this year at $289,900, making this an incredible deal.
While I was in the listing meeting I received a signed contract back of acceptance of a counter offer made earlier this week for one of my seller’s on a lot on the Betsie River. That should close in the next two weeks. Things are moving in a positive direction and there has been quite a bit of interest in the properties we have on the website. Now is a great time to buy. Drop me an e-mail at if you have any questions on this great new listing on Cool Lake.

The Buying Process, Part II

The home inspection and appraisal took place on the property on Monday, the 18th. The home inspection came out clean. A few minor dings here and there, but nothing out of the ordinary for the age of the structure. The buyer has agreed to move forward without asking for a concession. We should have the appraisal results back tomorrow. The Health Department will be on site tomorrow to conduct the mandatory Well and Septic Assessment for Kalkaska County. This is a new point of sale requirement as of April 1st in Kalkaska and Manistee Counties! The buyer is gettting more excited to get into the property mid June! It will be perfect timing for them to enjoy some terrific fishing during the Hex hatch!!!

Monday, May 11, 2009

The Buying Process

I thought it might be helpful to many potential buyers out there to see, step by step, the process that occurs when someone buys a property in Northern Michigan. Over the weekend we put together a transaction on a unique riverfront property and I thought I would update the blog as the process moves forward to give a little window into the process. It may be a smooth transaction with no glitches or it may end up being a mess somewhere in the middle. I don't know at this point, but it will be an interesting experiment as we move along. Here's the setup.

The week before last I was contacted by two separate parties who had an interest in a very nice riverfront property. One party came up on Saturday (Buyer #1) to take a look. We showed them this parcel and three others on the same river that I thought they might be interested in. After that day, I think they had a pretty good sense of the property that would best suit their needs, but they wanted to return in a few days to look at a few properties on another river to get a better base of knowledge before making an offer.

On Monday, the other party (Buyer #2) came to look at the same property. Because it was the only one they really had an interest in, it was the only one we showed them. Just the husband was able to make the trip, so we set up a time on Friday when he and his wife could return.

On Wednesday Buyer #1 spent the afternoon looking at more properties and it seemed like they had all the information they needed. I let them know that we had another interested party so they had that information when or if they decided to make an offer. The next day, they came into my office to draft an offer, which I presented to The Seller. The Seller wanted to wait to see if another offer might come in the following day when Buyer #2 returned with his spouse.

On Friday Buyer #2 returned to the property and decided it was just right for their needs. They already have one river property that they will subsequently sell, but this transaction was not contingent upon that sale. Buyer #2 drafted an offer so strong that The Seller accepted it as written.

I had the unenviable task of contacting Buyer #1 and letting them know that their offer was not accepted and that the other party was able to come to terms with The Seller. They chose not to place their offer in a back up position in the event Buyer #2 could not carry out the transaction.

Today I provided a copy of the accepted purchase agreement to The Lender for Buyer #2 and ordered a Title Insurance Policy through a local title company. I'll also get contact information to The Buyer for a few local home inspectors so they can set up the home inspection. The county where the property is located requires a septic and well evaluation and The Seller agreed to do this at their cost. I'll help The Seller coordinate the well and septic evaluation today as well.

We're underway now. We'll have to wait and see how the home inspection goes and an appraiser should be contacting me shortly to set up a time for that end of the process.

Check in soon to see how things go between now and the closing which is going to take place on or before June 20th according to the purchase agreement. Please feel free to comment on this post if you have any questions as we go through the transaction. Because of confidentiality concerns, I'll be very careful not to include any personal or detailed information about the parties involved in this transaction or the property itself.

Thursday, May 7, 2009

Manistee and Kalkaska County Point of Sale Septic Regulation

As of April 1, 2009, both Manistee and Kalkaska County adopted a regulation that requires a septic inspection to be conducted at the point of sale of any property within those counties. As you might imagine, this has raised a number of concerns, both financial and logistically, within the real estate community in those areas. To view the actual regulations, go to

An important item to point out is that the health department is not going to require that all systems are brought up to modern code, but that they are properly functioning to safely remove sewage from the residence and not affecting the safety of nearby water wells. It's important to read the entire document because there are some differences between Kalkaska and Manistee County's rules.

In a nutshell, no property can be sold in either county until the owner has an inspection completed and their system is considered "satisfactory" or it has been given a "satisfactory" rating within the prior 12 months. Sale to a direct family member and a few other categories are exempt from the regulations. If the system has not been pumped within the past two years and documentation can be provided to prove such, the sytem must be pumped prior to the inspection.

The fee for The Kalkaska County Health Department (Distrit Health Department #10) to conduct the assessment is $240. The assessement may be conducted by a certified private company and their fees are individually set.

Should a system be deemed "unsuitable", the system must either be repaired to The Health Departments Standard or an amount of money equal to 1 1/2 times the estimated amount of repair must be placed in an escrow account until the repairs can be completed. This will certainly be the case for properties sold during the winter months.

For those selling their properties in Kalkaska or Manistee Counties, we would recommend that you have your system assessed well in advance of receiving an offer to purchase in order to avoid a delay in closing and the possibility of running into unforeseen costs that may cause the transaction to fall apart.

More information and contact information for the health department is available at

Now featuring all Grayling area listings

When Homewaters was first founded late in 2006, a couple of the major offices in The Grayling Area did not allow their properties to be fed into other sites through what's called the IDX feed. Web users could find most company listings on or our mobile site,, but they would have to jump to other company sites to get a full representation of available properties. The last holdout has recently changed their policy and now allows their properties to be displayed on ours and all other mls fed sites. If you're looking for property on The AuSable, Manistee, Lake Margrethe, Bear Lake, or other area bodies of water, there's now no need to go anywhere else but And, of course, we're happy to represent buyers on properties listed by any firm! Our goal is to help people find their ideal property in Northern Michigan and that doesn't change because some properties may be listed by other firms. We're fortunate to represent more than our share of the premium waterfront properties in the area and would love to show those as well. So settle in and enjoy the most complete, most user friendly real estate website Northern Michigan has to offer!

Wednesday, May 6, 2009

Going, going, gone

Just got word that the Manistee river cabin I was supposed to show on Saturday has an accepted offer on it. We're closing the deal on the other Manistee cabin this buyer was originally interested in next week as well. If you're waiting to look at properties until June or July, the better deals may very likely be gone.

Monday, May 4, 2009

Pine River Trout Unlimited Banquet-Conservation at Work

Direct Results on the Betsie River
This past Saturday I had the wonderful opportunity to attend the annual banquet hosted by the Pine River Chapter of Trout Unlimited. The event was held at Caberfae Peaks and there were a great number of prizes and auction items up for raffle and bid. These types of grass roots and national organization efforts are of great importance to having projects done on local waterways and streams. Many of the projects on streams in this area are direct results of conservation groups such as Trout Unlimited.
The Conservation Resource Alliance had a representative on hand to provide the audience with a powerpoint presentation on many of the river erosion and restoration projects performed locally with funds coming directly from the Pine River TU Chapter’s past fund raising efforts. One of the highlighted projects is the Dair Creek Fish Passage on the Betsie River that will greatly help to facilitate cold water temperatures through the summer months for better trout survival in the Betsie River was started with funds that were donated by this local chapter of Trout Unlimited. This presentation was very important in taking a look at many of the erosion sites and areas that have been rehabilitated by Conservation Resource Alliance, the DNR and Trout Unlimited. Check out some of the projects at
On trout opener, I had the opportunity to fish the Betsie River with a client that recently purchased 180 acres from Home Waters this past year and he is looking into putting a portion of the property in a conservation easement. We found a few steelhead that were pretty hot to handle, but what were really surprised by was the quality of the trout fishing. Until the banquet presentation, I had not really given much thought to the trout fishing on the Betsie River, but witnessing it first hand was incredible.
It’s really rewarding to see direct results of these streamside restoration projects and be a part of responsible river stewardship as a real estate agent and member of groups such as Trout Unlimited. That is one of the many things that separates the agents and philosophy we share at Home Waters. Not only are we concerned about the waters we represent, but we all take active roles in the conservation organizations and are able to give a bit back to the resources we are able represent as sales agents. It was great to see such a nice attendance at the Pine River TU Banquet and raise some monies for coldwater conservation projects. It was great to catch up with some clients and visit with everyone at the banquet

Sunday, May 3, 2009

The Homewaters Difference

A lot of new clients, especially sellers, start their questions about our firm with, "how is Homewaters any different than other firms"? Rather than being a traditional firm with a few "differences", Homewaters is a completely different business model built around working with buyers and sellers of primarily waterfront property. We strived to balance the use of leading edge technology and old fashioned hard work, customer service and integrity to make sure that our clients are well represented and the properties we represent are well cared for.

Recently we were asked to present our services to a client who is interested in selling a spectacular riverfront property. During the visit, they showed me an old private trout pond on the property that had fallen into disrepair. They were curious as to whether or not they should try to rebuild the small dam to refill the pond or look to remove it as a whole. Because of my background with various conservation organizations and our extensive experience dealing with wetland issues and Natural Rivers Zoning Ordinances, I was able to give them a level of insight they simply couldn't get from another broker.

By weeks end, I had met on site with a local group who specializes on working with private land owners to re mediate exactly this type of situation. In the coming months we'll be coordinating with the landowner, local and state organizations and our own pool of conservation minded individuals to put together the funding, permits and man power to completely remove the small dam, returning the small creek to it's natural flow. Dams are a major source of increased water temperature which is one of the main enemies of Northern Michigan's trout streams. A failure of this dam could potentially put a tremendous amount of sediment into the river which would cover gravel which is invaluable to the insect life and spawning habitat of trout.

This is just one example of how Homewaters was willing to take on additional work and effort at no additional charge to ensure that our seller does not open themselves up to potential liability in the event of a dam failure, our future buyer will not have to take on the cost and effort to re mediate the situation on their own and the river will we healthier due to cooler water and the reduced risk of that dam failing and dumping large amounts of sediment into the river.

It's very important to us that we not only put deals together, but we do it in a way that protects all parties involved. With Homewaters those parties include our buyers, sellers, and the watersheds that we live and play in. Spring has sprung! Flies are hatching, trout are rising and the flowers are blooming. It's a great time to be up north!!!