Monday, November 30, 2009

Updated Agenda for Flies Only Change

Just talked to someone at NRC and they provided this link for an "updated" version of the proposed changes. The flies only sections that are currently in existence will remain according to this document. They will be combining type 5,6, and 7 water into one category, but will keep special language in place to protect the flies only water. Sorry about any confusion. Take a look at the document yourself because there are many more changes presented and you never know what might come up next!!!

Change to flies only regs on AuSable and others?

I've received a number of e-mails over the weekend in regards to an upcoming meeting of The Natural Resources Natural Resources Commission. Apparently one of the topics to be discussed is the possibility of a change in regulations that would open sections of river currently regulated as "flies only" to allow for use of artificial lures as well. This would dramatically change the make up of the fisheries on most of the better trout water in our state. From a private property standpoint, it would diminish the value of those properties currently located on sections of rivers that are currently regulated as "flies only". Because these sections end up being much more productive due to the regulations, values on these sections can be as much as 20% higher than other sections of the same river. The AuSable River Holy Water, North Branch, and South Branch as well as the flies only section of The Manistee are prime examples of this. I've not been able to see any detail on the proposed changes other than the agenda for the meeting which will take place at 9:00 a.m. on Wednesday in Lansing, MI at The Diagnostic Center for Population and Animal Health 4125 Beaumont Road. The meetings are open to the public if you can make time to attend. You could also reach the director of The Michigan Department of Natural Resources, Rebecca Humphries at her e-mail to voice your concerns. Here is a link to the names and contact numbers for the members of the commission.,1607,7-153-39002_11862-26986--,00.html. It's very special to have these sections of river that have been proven to have much higher survival catch rates than sections of river regulated with more generous parameters. This serves to not only provide a fantastic fishery that draws a tremendous number of people to our state each year, but allows for terrific reproductive rates that help all sections of these rivers to flourish. The number of miles of "flies only" water is a small percentage of the total miles of high quality trout water in our state and is a truly unique and special resource that will hopefully remain so for quite some time.

Long Lake is "Honey Hole" for Marble Eyes

Long Lake, Grand Traverse County’s largest inland lake at 2,860 acres, and one of the areas favorite all-sports lakes, has been rated as one of the top four lakes to jig this winter for walleye, by Tracy Breen, pro Walleye extraordinaire.

Breen gives Long Lake two gills up for winter fishing and goes on to say in the Dec/Jan issue of
Michigan Sportsman Magazine, that Long Lake is one of his favorite lakes to fish in the winter and is often overlooked even by serious anglers. He states it is not uncommon to catch walleye in the 21”-25” range. What makes it ideal for the marbled eye monsters are the “humps” and “points” where fish like to hang out. Even slight disturbances in “clean water” can easily spook walleye so be sure to tip toe and be very very quiet! Although there may be a fish or two lurking for a mid-day snack, the most active and productive times are early morning or just before dark. Simply a fish tale, directionally challenged or typographical error, Breen also favors fishing off the public boat launches on the south east side of the lake. (For the record the boat launches are located on the northwest/southwest side). Another suggestion; and one which I would second, is to take a few days off and fish while everyone else is working!

Saturday, November 28, 2009

Standing Out in a Sea of Many

In these tumultuous economic times, many sellers or potential sellers might be a little discouraged about the likelihood of selling their home or cabin. There are many buyers out there ready to buy, the rest is up to you and your Realtor.

Standing out in a sea of many is the way to make the sale happen. Wondering how to do just that? Pricing is the most important factor right now. Sellers must be realistic about the market and be priced competitively. Next, make sure your property shines! It can be as easy as clearing clutter and touch up paint. Be ready for your agent to take pictures of your property. Clean up the counters, touch up scuff marks on the walls and trim, remove extra furnishings that could crowd the rooms. Working with your agent to make sure the pictures posted on line are the best of the best in your home or cabin can help your home be listed on the buyer's "Must See list." So many buyers are researching properties on line and will disregard viewing a home based on how it feels in pictures.

When preparing for showings, the simple things matter. Cleanliness counts! Dust, paint, scrub and organize. Buyers will look everywhere to make sure they have room for all of their belongings. Boxing up things you use once in a while to make more room in the kitchen cabinets, and linen closets are easy fixes. Have you been wanting to change out a light fixture,ceiling fan or cabinet hardware? No time like the present. Buyers are looking for a move in ready home. Small changes can make a big difference in the appearance of your home or cabin and will help your property stand out. One of the Homewaters agents can help you figure out where to start, or can assist you in finding a handyman to make those small changes.

Sunday, November 22, 2009

I Love My Job!

Living and working in Northern Michigan has allowed me to live my dream every day. I worked 9-5 every day for too many years inside an office looking out. I have lived in Northern Michigan most of my life. I have traveled extensively but nothing compares with the beauty of the forests, the calming of the rivers and streams, and the backdrop of some of the most beautiful clear clean lakes anywhere.
There is nothing I like more than going out with clients and looking for that perfect property that fits their needs exactly. We have a perfect storm in our market right now where prices are at their lowest level in years and mortgage rates are also. The expectations of both buyers and sellers today need to be realistic. There are some very motivated Sellers who understand our market and are willing to negotiate. There are some very bright Buyers who are really doing their market research and are finding the best deal to fit their needs. A Buyers Agent can help find your perfect fit at the right price.
On a personal note, a year ago right now we had snow on the ground and the ski areas were opening up. Today, when I took the picture above on Starvation Lake, it was 65 degrees out - the same temperature as in San Diego when I was there the week before. Gotta love Michigan - if you don't like the weather, just wait, it will change! Happy Thansgiving to all.

Friday, November 20, 2009

Grandpa always said....

When I was a little younger, I was talking to my grandfather about the new pontoon boat he had just bought for his cottage on Higgins Lake. He had traded in one that was in pretty good shape and he shared with me what he got on trade in. I couldn't believe how he had been taken advantage of by the boat dealer. I made the comment that he should have called me and I would have given him more. I'll never forget his response. "That guy has to make a living too".

Just a few years ago I asked for some advice on a transaction from my former business partner, Dave Felker, of 45th Parallel Realty. It was in regards to a transaction I was negotiating in which I had to potentially offer up a share of the total commission to make sure the deal came together. His words of advice were, "Pigs get fat and hogs get slaughtered". I had the opportunity to put a few bucks of my own money aside and, in the end, help a seller move on with their life and a buyer begin building memories for their family. A pretty easy decision when I thought about it in those terms.

I keep both of these little words of wisdom at the forefront of my mind and use them as guiding principals in my business and personal life. Maybe more now than at any point in my career, I've had the unfortunate experience of working with clients who are in a real financial bind and really need to get their property sold or suffer serious consequences. On the flip side of this is a mentality among some buyers that these are the ideal sellers to find because you can really "stick it to them". I'm not saying that we don't help buyers get good deals when opportunities arise. After all, any seller is only going to put together a transaction that helps them out of a sticky situation. It is a fantastic buyer's market and I also believe that it's important that those buyers get the best price and terms possible.

I just hope as you move forward in the process of finding the right property that you try to keep these bits of wisdom in mind. If you've found your dream property and it's listed at an attractive price and you've been able to even get some movement off that price with your offer, try to consider your fellow man before you make the decision to really turn the screws. Have a wonderful holiday season and please let us know if we can be of any help.

Friday, November 13, 2009

Homeowner's Tax Credit 101

Is it true, did the government actually extend the tax credit? The answer is “Yes” they did! Officially it is known as the Worker, Homeowner and Business Assistance Act of 2009. Originally the program was to run from January 1, 2009 through November 30, 2009. The extension, however, took effect November 6, 2009 and will run through April 30, 2010. Some circumstances will allow for the end date to extend to June 30, 2010. The extension allows for an increase in income limits for eligibility and adds a benefit for current homeowners as well.
The program was originally designed to allow for a tax credit for first time homeowners. A “First Time Homeowner” is defined as someone who has not owned a principal residence in the last three years. If married, neither spouse can have owned a principal residence in the last three years. Now, current homeowners are also eligible for a tax credit if they have lived in their current principal residence for five consecutive years of the last eight.
The modified extension pertains to those individuals who earn less than $125,000 annually or married couples earning $225,000 jointly. Reduced allowances are available for individuals with a modified adjusted gross income of $145,000 and couples earning $245,000. It is important to contact your tax advisor about your specific situation. Home purchases must be closed with title transferring on or before April 30, 2010 to be eligible. Though the principal residence cannot be purchased from a family member, the definition of principal residence does include many options home buyers. Single family dwellings, condos, townhomes, manufactured homes and even houseboats can all be considered for the tax credit. New construction also qualifies for the credit as long as possession occurs before the deadline or a binding sales contract is in effect prior to the deadline. The tax credit for first time home buyers is equal to 10% of the purchase price up to $8,000 and current homeowners are also allowed the 10% up to $6500 in credit. The maximum allowed purchase price for either is $800,000.
Claiming the tax credit is as easy as adding the amount determined by completing IRS form 5405 and entering the amount on line 67 of your 1040 income tax form for 2009 (you may also claim it on your 2008 taxes by adding the amount to line 69 of your 2008 1040). For those purchasing in 2010, make sure to contact a tax advisor to determine the appropriate line to enter the information. There are no applications or pre-approval necessary; however, it is important to make sure you qualify for the credit. Attach a copy of your closing statement (HUD-1 settlement form) to your tax return as proof of the home purchase.
If waiting until you file your taxes seems a daunting task, there is another option for prospective buyers. Qualified homebuyers can reduce the amount of income tax withholding on their W-4 or through quarterly estimated tax payments up to the amount of the tax credit. This money can then be applied to the down payment. If the tax credit qualified home purchase does not take place, then you will be responsible for repayment of the income tax along with possible interest charges and penalties. HUD has also decided to allow buyers using FHA Insured mortgages to preemptively apply the anticipated credit to their home purchase. This is done by FHA approved lenders allowing short term loans up to the maximum amount of the tax credit. These funds can be put toward certain expenses such as down payment and closing costs. Some government and housing finance agencies may also be issuing additional tax credit loans to allow home buyers to reach the FHA requirement of a 3.5% down payment. Make sure to ask your lender about all possible tax credits or discounts available.
The tax credit does not need to be repaid by the homeowner; however, he or she must occupy the home for three years. If the property is sold prior to the three year mark, the full amount of the credit will be recovered at the time of sale. For more information about the tax credit, visit the IRS website at,,id=204671,00.html for more details.
Contact Cheri Wickman at or 231-392-9365 to start looking for your new home!

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Iceman Cometh to Kalkaska and Grand Traverse Counties

Saturday, November 7, 2009 bike riders from throughout the U.S. and Canada converged to participate in one of the premier cross country bike races in the country - The Iceman Cometh . Having watched the start of this race many times in its 20 year history, the weather was outstanding on Saturday. I also watched the start of the race last year with 6 inches of snow on the ground and it was still coming down. Racers started in the Village of Kalkaska, rode a grueling 27 mile race through the trails of the Pere' Marquette National Forest and finished in Traverse City at Timber Ridge. Economically, these bike riders were a huge boost to the area's tourism. Why not find your homewaters and discover all the fun to be enjoyed in Northwest Michigan.

Friday, November 6, 2009

Where Blue Meets Green

Where Blue Meets Green is the new logo for the Environmental Committee of the Traverse Area Association of Realtors. Our environment is so fragile and being good stewards is supported by the Realtor Association. 20% of the World's Fresh Water supply is located in the Great Lakes Basin. Northwest Michigan boasts some of the most pristine Lakes, Streams and Rivers in Michigan. Northwest Michigan is home to thousands of acres of inland lakes, Lake Michigan, rivers and streams providing sport fishing, boating, recreation and unsurpassed beauty. We have nature in abundance. Why not find your Homewaters
and discover for yourself what makes our part of the World so special!