YOU have to make it happen

March 12, 2013

The people who get on in this world are the people who get up and look for the circumstances they want and if they can’t find them, make them. – George Bernard Shaw

I have a whole raft of sayings by Shaw that I keep on hand for inspiration and reflection. This saying is one of Shaw’s inspirational sayings. Basically it admonishes us to take action to create the success (circumstances) that we desire. It is way too easy to just look around and not immediately see the circumstances that we desire and resign ourselves to living with what we do see. The harder decision is to take action to create what we do not see.

A key ingredient to achieving success would seem to be unwavering optimism. It is hard enough to keep plugging away in the face of adversity, much less trying to do so with an attitude of pessimism. I like another saying, this one by Paul Harvey to cover that topic – “I’ve never seen a monument erected to a pessimist.” That applies whether or not what you are trying to do is deserving of a monument.

I think another; more subtle message in the Shaw saying above is that you must be looking for that success (circumstances). This gets back to the message that forms the base of most self-help advice – you must visualize what you want before you can start to accomplish it. The antithesis of success is not really failure, it is apathy. Out of failures one can learn and move on; however, apathy tends to lock us in place.

So get up today and look around. If what you see is not what you want your life to be, visualize what you want, where you want to be, what you want to be doing and get started towards those goals. It won’t just happen; you’ve got to make it happen.

Local real estate market report

March 11, 2013

I had posted the final numbers for February before leaving on vacation and now have posted the real estate sales in my market areas for the first 10 days of March. Continuing the trend that has been evident since the beginning of the year, the total number of sales in February and the first part of March are down this year, when compared to last. That’s mainly due to the lack of inventory in the market, but also aligning with the national trend of sales being off a bit.

report with chartLocally, Average and Median sale prices continue to trend up in my markets, as does the recovery of the Cost per Square Foot stat. The average for sale value vs. SEV continues to run between 2.4 – 2.6 times SEV in non-distressed sales, which continues to show that the assessors have overshot on the downside and the market has reversed and is rising faster than assessed values. Lower than sale price appraisals continue to top the list of concerns of local Realtors.

The recovery locally has been uneven, with 3-4 of the 9 markets that I track doing very well and 2-3 lagging behind. Those laggards also still have the highest foreclosure and short sale rates. New builds continue strong in Lyon Township and have come back in Milford, too. New build costs per Sq Ft are now running between $115 – 135/Sq Ft, depending upon the quality of the builds. You can see all of the stats for March and 2013 Y-T-D by going to my web site and clicking on the choice – What have homes in this area sold for?

The tight market has also made it more difficult for Realtors and appraisers to find “Comps” to use for Comparative Market Analyses (CMA’s) or appraisals. That has also affected Broker Price Opinions (BPO’s) that are used by banks to evaluate short sale and foreclosure offers. I’ve had a tough time doing CMA’s lately and have had to expand out further in distance and time than I would normally like in order to fine any similar home sales to use.

What this all means for buyers and sellers?

Well, it’s a great time to be a seller – the tight inventory and rising prices have resulted inhome repairsan environment where you will get the most for your house that the current market will bear, without having a lot of competition. You still need to keep your house in good condition. The market has shifted a bit towards favoring the move-in-ready houses, rather than the fixer-uppers. So if you’re getting ready to put your house on the market, work yor way down that to-do list of deferred maintenance items that you’ve been meaning to get to for some time.

For buyers it’s a frustrating market – there is less to choose from and, with more buyers chasing the reduced inventory, it is not unusual to see bidding wars for good houses. In addition, buyers are finding it tougher to get the mortgage that they had supposedly “pre-qualified” for once they have and accepted offer. Stricter underwriting policies mean that buyers need to get the best advice that they can find from their mortgage agent about credit reportwhat to do and not to do during the process. Even the most innocent misstep can put something on your credit report that the underwriters will see and use to disqualify you for that mortgage. If you’re a first time buyer or have not owned a home for at least three years, remember that MSHDA is still offering grants of up to $3,000 for non-military and up to $5,000 for military buyers. That money can be used to cover some of your closing costs and does not have to be repaid.

What’s happening on the low end of the real estate market

March 10, 2013

This may help explain what’s happening in the low end of the market –

Press Release: February 26, 2013  – Strong Homebuyer Traffic, Rising Home Prices Fail to Lift Market for Damaged REO, New HousingPulse Survey Finds
WASHINGTON, DC (February 26) – Strong homebuyer traffic and limited housing inventory continued to push overall home prices upward in January. But the latest Campbell/Inside Mortgage Finance HousingPulse Tracking Survey results also reveal a growing divergence between prices for non-distressed properties and prices for damaged real-estate owned or REO. (Ed. – I am definitely seeing this trend in the markets that I cover.)
While HousingPulse data shows that home prices overall, based on a three-month moving average, are at the highest level – $236,100 – seen in nearly three years and have been climbing since last spring, those average numbers don’t tell the complete story when it comes to home price trends. (Ed. – See the sold homes data at for the average and median sale prices in the nine markets that I cover.)
Yes, home prices are on the rise for non-distressed properties, which accounted for 65.0 percent of total home purchase transactions tracked by HousingPulse in January. In fact, average home prices for non-distressed properties were up a healthy 5.1 percent on a year-over-year basis – rising from $264,700 in January of 2012 to $278,200 in January of 2013. (Ed. – Again, these are national averages. See my local data for the averages here.)
But no, home prices for REO properties in need of repair – the type banks look to unload after a foreclosure – have not been rising along with prices for non-distressed properties. They have been moving in the opposite direction.
According to HousingPulse results, the average price for a damaged REO property sold in January was just $88,100. That was not only 17.1 percent below the average damaged REO price recorded a year ago – $106,300 – but also the lowest level ever recorded by HousingPulse in its four-year history.
One reason for the decline in home prices for damaged REO is the fact that both current and first-time homebuyers have reduce their interest in this type of property for the better part of the past year. HousingPulse results for January show current homeowners with a record low 15.0 percent share of the damaged REO purchase market, while first-time homebuyers had a near-record low share of 19.6 percent. (Ed. – I have definitely seen this locally. More first time buyers are passing on fixer-uppers and going for move-in ready homes.)
Meanwhile, investors, lured by low prices and the growing opportunities for flipping, have significantly increased the purchase share of damaged REO properties in recent months. During January, investors accounted for 65.4 percent of damaged REO home purchases, according to HousingPulse numbers. That was up from 58.1 percent a year earlier and the highest level recorded in the survey’s four-year history. (Ed. – In this area we are also seeing cash rule the lower end of the market. Basically anything under $150,000 is going for cash and many have multiple cash bids.)
The Campbell/Inside Mortgage Finance HousingPulse Tracking Survey involves approximately 2,500 real estate agents nationwide each month and provides up-to-date intelligence on home sales and mortgage usage patterns. For more information on the survey, contact John Campbell at Campbell Surveys at (202) 363-2069 or
Ed. – So now you know for sure that it wasn’t your imagination. The market at the low end has shifted mainly to investors with cash offers. And the prices at that end have actually declined for damaged houses, rather than rise with the overall market.

Women’s Enrichment Day

March 8, 2013

March 9, is the date for the 10th annual Women’s Enrichment Day at the White Lake Middle School at 1450 Bogie Lake Rd in White Lake. This event is organized by the Highland – White Lake Business Association and features workshops, shopping and lots of fun for area women. It’s a day of no chores, no cooking and no kids to watch; a chance to learn about a number of interesting topics for women in the workshops and a chance to shop at the tables of over 40 vendors who will be in attendance. Lunch will be available for purchase and there will be door prize drawings throughout the day.

Women in meetingWorkshops will range from how to download books from your library onto your Kindle, iPad or Nook, to learning how to knit to tips for improving your personal energy level. Other workshops will focus upon helpful tips like how to make small drywall repairs and how to make a felt Easter basket for your little egg hunter. There will be beauty tips and financial planning tips and lots of wellness tips. The admission is $5, which goes to the Huron Valley Educational Foundation. The event starts at 8 am and runs until1:30 pm. The first 200 women through the doors will receive a gift bag and an opportunity to have a continental breakfast.

Obviously the content of the workshops is enriching, but just getting together with other women to network, shop. learn and have fun is enriching in and of itself. Give yourself a break Saturday morning and join your sisters at Women’s Enrichment Day. For more about the event read the event brochure by clicking here.

Hosed again by my dependence on Microsoft…

March 7, 2013

I’ve been sitting here all afternoon trying to recover what I can from my wonderful Windows Live Email app that decided that it can no longer see any of my email folders and important business emails. What a waste of time. And when I did a search on my problem the responses usually started with , “Yeah, it happens all the time with Windows Live Mail.”

It is pathetic that we have had PC and PS apps for this long and they still can’t make them stable and reliable enough to use for business. I’m convinced that if I could load Windows and the Microsoft Office suite on the world’s most powerful computer;  that computer would be driven to its knees within minutes and crash minutes later.

I used to get frustrated watching a little hour-glass flip over – over and over – while some bloated Microsoft app started or tried to figure out what to do. So I bought the latest and greatest multi-core system with maxed out memory. Now I get to watch a little circle chase its tail around and around, while some even more bloated and inefficient Microsoft Office app tries to open or figure out what to do. And when it gets really confused it just hangs up and forgets where all of its files are located. TO be fair the latest Adobe Reader app is just as bloated and just as slow. And don’t even get me started on how bad Microsoft’s IE browser is these days.

And before you ask, Yes, I do have a backup…an image back up that I’m confident would work…from a little over a week ago. I was on vacation this week and didn’t get a chance to do one before I left. So, I could recover to that time and then sit here rebuilding all of the work that I’ve done in the interim. That would be a waste of time of a different sort.

What could have caused this? Well I did do a scan and repair sing RegCure Pro, a Microsoft partner just before the Windows Live Mail app got a case of amnesia. I guess that’s not surprising either. Many of the complaints in the various on-line forums talked about this happening right after a Live Update from Microsoft, which has also happened to me.

So, once I get this mess straightened out and best that I can, I’ve got to find a better, more reliable alternative to Windows Live Mail – something not a prone to forgetfulness or crashes. I already have a GMail account, so maybe that’s the answer. I was hoping to have something that would store my email files locally, so that I could work with them off-line, if needed. I’ll have to reconsider whether that is really an advantage or just another point of possible failure.


To thine own self be true…

March 4, 2013

“Today you are you, that is truer than true. There is no one alive who is youer than you.” (Dr. Seuss) from a recent post by Jack in the Jack’s Winning Words blog.

I like today’s saying because it serves to reinforce that people should just try to be themself. Too many people seem to be trying to be someone or something that they are not. That is certainly true in how we market ourselves sometimes. There are all sorts of designations and certifications that one can obtain by paying a few bucks and sitting through a few hours of classes. Does that make you an “expert”?  No. Does stating on your card that you are a “Certified Whatever Specialist” make you someone that you really aren’t? No. Only time and experience will truly give you the expertise to make those claims.

I think the gist of how to apply the lesson of Dr. Seuss’ saying is to focus more on understanding the you that he says nobody is youer than and finding the things in that that allow you to offer better services, unique services or at least services that clients will appreciate. That really takes more soul searching that just trying to be someone else. What is it, after all, that attracts people to you – your spouse, your friends and others? What traits or qualities do they see and admire in your that make you a person that they feel comfortable being around? Use those things to advertise yourself and let people know what they can expect with your, not what you’re trying to fake for them.

So maybe, if we take a little liberty with Dr.Seuss’s saying it becomes; “Today you are you, so do what you do. There’s no one alive who can be more youer than you. And if to yourself you are truer than true, there is no limit to the things you can do.”

Village Fine Arts Association brings PAN to Milford

March 2, 2013

VFAA_PAN_GraphicThe Village Fine Arts Association (VFAA) has put out the call for artists and musicians to participate in the 12th annual Poety Art Night (PAN) on Saturday, April 13, 6:30 p.m. in the Milford Public Library Community Room, 330 Family Drive . Milford.  Tickets will be available at the door -Adults $10, Children 17 and under $5.

The VFAA has been greater Milford’s premier independent art organization for over two decades, holding art shows, monthly meetings with informational speakers, workshops open to all skill levels and numerous events and projects within the community.

PAN is a visual arts and poetry competition and sale. Artists are invited to enter their 2 or 3 dimensional artwork, accompanied by a poem. The poem should be either the inspiration for the art piece, or inspired by the art. The poem can be an original by the artist, or someone else or a previously published poem. Only original poems by the artist or commissioned by the artist for the show will be judged and eligible for prizes.

To enter the PAN competition artists should go to the VFAA website and download the prospectus. The entry deadline is March 16, so hurry to get your application in to participate in this event. As for the rest of us, we’ll just have to wait until PAN comes to Milford on April 13.