Wednesday, October 28, 2009


Yes, Winter Fun is just around the corner and Kalkaska County offers one of the best groomed snowmobile trails in Northern Michigan - the Blue Bear Trail which provides miles and miles of outdoor fun!! Trails throughout Kalkaska County taking you through forest wonderland and picturesque rides. Now might be the time to think about purchasing that get away that can be used year around in Kalkaska County. There are 183 properties on the MLS today in Kalkaska County up to $100,000 and many of these are located within minutes of state land and snowmobile trails. Why not consider purchasing your Homewaters on one of Kalkaska County's 90 lakes or 3 rivers and enjoy it year around. Kalkaska County provides easy access to I-75 and a short trip to Boyne Mountain, Shanty Creek or Crystal Mountain for skiing and snowboarding fun. An investment in your recreational property will provide 12 months of fun for the entire family!! Come visit and see the possibilities of owning real estate in Kalkaska County, Michigan.

Monday, October 26, 2009

8 Tips for Your Home Search

Tips for looking for a full time residence or your ideal recreational property can be exciting and fun. It also can be exhausting and frustrating. The choice is up to you. There is a great inventory available on the market; you’ll never have the time to see everything that strikes your fancy. Nor do you want to. Chances are that many of these listing will not be right for you for one reason or another. Narrow down your list before you set out in your car to look at property. Consider contacting a buyer’s agent who can help you find exactly what you are looking for. Here are some general tips to get you started:

1. Research before you look. Decide what features you most want to have in a home, what neighborhoods you prefer, and how much you’d be willing to spend each month for housing.

2. Be realistic. It’s OK to be picky, but don’t be unrealistic with your expectations. There’s no such thing as a perfect home. Use your list of priorities as a guide to evaluate each property.

3. Get your finances in order. Review your credit report and be sure you have enough money to cover your down payment and closing costs. Then, talk to a lender and get pre-qualified for a mortgage. This will save you the heartache later of falling in love with a house you can’t afford.

4. Don’t ask too many people for opinions. It will drive you crazy. Select one or two people to turn to if you feel you need a second opinion, but be ready to make the final decision on your own.

5. Decide your moving time line. Is there a job transfer involved? Do you have children who need to be enrolled in school? In Michigan, sometimes the weather plays a role; want to be settled before the snow arrives? Review your calendar and set a date.

6. Think long term. Are you looking for a house with plans to move up in a few years, or do you hope to stay in this home for a longer period? This decision may dictate what type of home you’ll buy as well as the type of mortgage terms that will best suit you.

7. Insist on a home inspection. If possible, get a warranty from the seller to cover defects for one year.

8. Get help from a REALTOR®. Hire a real estate professional who specializes in buyer representation. Unlike a listing agent, whose first duty is to the seller, a buyer’s representative is working only for you. Buyer’s agents are usually paid out of the seller’s commission fee.

Real Estate Needs? Mark Bear, Home Waters ~ 989-889-5037 

Monday, October 19, 2009

Home Inspections

Before you make your final buying or selling decision, you should have the home inspected by a professional. An inspection can alert you to potential problems with a property and allow you to make an informed decision.

What a Home Inspection Should Cover
Home inspections will vary depending on the type of property you are purchasing. A large historic home, for example, will require a more specialized inspection than a small condominium. However, the following are the basic elements that a home inspector will check. You can also use this list to help you evaluate properties you might purchase..

Structure: A home’s skeleton impacts how the property stands up to weather, gravity, and the earth. Structural components, including the foundation and the framing, should be inspected.

Exterior: The inspector should look at sidewalks, driveways, steps, windows, and doors. A home’s siding, trim, and surface drainage also are part of an exterior inspection.

Roofing: A well-maintained roof protects you from rain, snow, and other forces of nature. Take note of the roof’s age, conditions of flashing, roof draining systems (pooling water), buckled shingles, loose gutters and downspouts, skylight, and chimneys.

Plumbing: Thoroughly examine the water supply and drainage systems, water heating equipment, and fuel storage systems. Drainage pumps and sump pumps also fall under this category. Poor water pressure, banging pipes, rust spots, or corrosion can indicate problems.

Electrical: Safe electrical wiring is essential. Look for the condition of service entrance wires, service panels, breakers and fuses, and disconnects. Also take note of the number of outlets in each room.

Heating: The home’s heating system, vent system, flues, and chimneys should be inspected. Look for age of water heater, whether the size is adequate for the house, speed of recovery, and energy rating.

Air Conditioning: Your inspector should describe your home cooling system, its energy source, and inspect the central and through-wall cooling equipment. Consider the age and energy rating of the system.

Interiors: An inspection of the inside of the home can reveal plumbing leaks, insect damage, rot, construction defects, and other issues. An inspector should take a close look at walls, ceilings and floors, steps, stairways, and railings.

Ventilation/insulation: To prevent energy loss, check for adequate insulation and ventilation in the attic and in unfinished areas such as crawlspaces. Also look for proper, secured insulation in walls. Insulation should be appropriate for the climate. Excess moisture in the home can lead to mold and water damage.

Fireplaces: They’re charming, but they could be dangerous if not properly installed. Inspectors should examine the system, including the vent and flue, and describe solid fuel burning appliances.

10 Questions to Ask Home Inspectors
Ask these questions to prospective home inspectors:
1. Will your inspection meet recognized standards? Ask whether the inspection and the inspection report will meet all state requirements and comply with a well-recognized standard of practice and code of ethics.

2. Do you belong to a professional home inspector association? Insist on members of reputable, nonprofit trade organizations; request to see a membership ID.

3. How experienced are you? Ask how long inspectors have been in the profession and how many inspections they’ve completed. They should provide customer referrals on request.

4. How do you keep your expertise up to date? Inspectors’ commitment to continuing education is a good measure of their professionalism and service. Advanced knowledge is especially important in cases in which a home is older or includes unique elements requiring additional or updated training.

5. Do you focus on residential inspection? Make sure the inspector has training and experience in the unique discipline of home inspection, which is very different from inspecting commercial buildings or a construction site.

6. Will you offer to do repairs or improvements? Some state laws and trade associations allow the inspector to provide repair work on problems uncovered during the inspection. However, other states and associations forbid it as a conflict of interest.

7. How long will the inspection take? On average, an inspector working alone inspects a typical single-family house in two to three hours; anything significantly less may not be thorough.

8. What’s the cost? Costs can vary dramatically, depending on your region, the size and age of the house, and the scope of services. The national average for single-family homes is about $320, but customers with large homes can expect to pay more.

9. What type of inspection report do you provide? Ask to see samples to determine whether you will understand the inspector's reporting style. Also, most inspectors provide their full report within 24 hours of the inspection.

10. Will I be able to attend the inspection? The answer should be yes. A home inspection is a valuable educational opportunity for the buyer. An inspector's refusal to let the buyer attend should raise a red flag.

Real Estate Needs? Mark Bear, Home Waters ~ 989-889-5037 

Sunday, October 18, 2009

Manistee...The Finest Trout River in Michigan?

The case can easily be made that The Upper Manistee River is not only the finest trout river in Michigan, but possibly the Eastern United States. While The AuSable gets much more press and adoration, those who spend time on The Manistee and know what sections to fish will tell you The AuSable is much better.......... so you won't bother them on The Manistee! Just about every year there are trout of 30" taken in The Manistee and rarely do you hear of 24" fish on The AuSable, especially the flies only section. We recently helped a client purchase a large acreage parcel on The Manistee and are selling their cabin they've had on The AuSable for 5 years. I received a text from him a week after closing letting me know he'd taken 3 fish over 20" in front of his new cabin. When I asked the last time he caught a fish of that size on The AuSable, the response was never. The largest trout he had taken in 5 years was 16". A week later, he caught a 26" Brown Trout right in front of his new cabin! Because of the prolific hatches on The AuSable, the trout can be extremely difficult to catch unless you do everything absolutely perfect. On The Manistee, the fish tend to be a bit more optimistic and will often take a fly that's "good enough" making for a happy angler on the other end. There are also portions of The Manistee that are extremely private in relation to most of The AuSable. If you're looking for large acreage parcels, The Manistee is also the place to go. Many parcels were protected by deed restrictions by Consumers Power long ago which has kept large stretches of The Manistee largely undeveloped. I'm anxious to see some responses from AuSable fans or maybe even Mark Bear, our AuSable agent, but it's definitely worth taking a look if you want privacy, scenic beauty, great property at a relatively reasonable price and some of the best trout fishing to be found East of The Mississippi. Here are just a few examples.

Wednesday, October 14, 2009


If you haven't checked out Facebook yet, you may want to reconsider. We originally began using it as a way to stay in touch about property updates, price changes, company news and other information with other Realtors and the agents within our firm. It quickly snowballed into a way for me to personally stay in touch with family and friends through a personal profile and to drive business through our Facebook Page. In the last month, it has actually become the second leading source of leads coming into our website, We're getting more active with the page now and posting advanced notice of price changes, new listings, market conditions and more. It's just one more way for us to stay in touch with a different audience through a rapidly growing communication form! Just click the Facebook logo to view the page and select "become a fan" once there. You'll automatically receive the latest and greatest from the brokers and agents of Homewaters when you log in to your Facebook account!

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Kalkaska the Beautiful!

What a beautiful time of year to visit Kalkaska County and all that it has to offer. There are two special places that are particularly enchanting in the Fall. Rugg Pond is located on Valley Road North of Kalkaska and is a beautiful place to visit. Rugg Pond is an historical site and is a damn which at one time provided power to the village of Kalkaska. Watch the mighty rush of water as it feeds into the Rapid River. Next, travel down Valley Road to Seven Bridges a 314 acre preserve owned by the state of Michgian and managed by the Grand Traverse Regional Land Conservancy. Take the hiking path which has seven different bridges all crossing the Rapid River as it winds through this property. It is an amazing hike for all family ages. People are surprised to learn that Kalkaska County boasts 90 lakes and 3 rivers within its borders. It also has state land within minutes from anywhere in the county. Many of these lakes are small quiet natural lakes. However, three of the cleanest lakes in the state of Michigan are here - Starvation Lake, Big Blue Lake and Bear Lake. These three all-sports lakes are deep, clean and great recreation. If you have ever driven west out of Kalkaska towards Traverse City you have also seen the spectacular Skegemog Lake from the highway. Skegemog is also an all-sports lake which provides boaters and fishermen access to both Torch Lake and Elk Lake. If you have any Fall color tour time at all on your calendar I suggest you make time for a trip to Kalkaska County - you won't be disappointed. Also, while you are here stop by Cherry Street Market - the infamous little Farm Market on M-72 for the best selection of fresh fruits and vegetables plus deli and landscaping items.