Winter Fun Comes to Milford – Community Snow Day

January 31, 2014

Milford Community Snow Day 2014Bundle up the kids and come join the fun at the Milford Community Snow Day at Central Park. Mark your calendars for February 8th from 3:00 to 5:00. This event is brought to you by the Milford Township Parks and Recreation and is free to all.

Sometimes you just have to go for it, even if it’s cold or snowy and this is one of those times. This winter event is designed to get everybody out and moving and give families something fun to do.

There will be lots of activities, including winter crafts and games (one might assume that there could be a snowball fight or two, whether planned or not), sledding and skating and a visit with a sled dog. A storyteller will also be on hand to entertain the young.

More physical activities will include snowshoeing and kayak tobogganing (much less dangerous than kayaking on the river at this time of the year). There will be a bonfire and, of course, cocoa and cookies and S’Mores.  Maybe there’ll be a stray marshmallow or two to roast.

So, starting getting your outdoor fun outfits ready and plan on joining your neighbors at Milford’s Central Park for this afternoon of fun. To view the event poster full size, click here.

Divorce and real estate – it takes a team

January 30, 2014


When things go south in a marriage and divorce seems to be the only way out, the people involved may think of calling their priest or pastor and they may call friend s to commiserate; they may even have already called a lawyer; but, they seldom think of calling a Realtor® and they should.

Divorce is an extremely emotional process, filled with remorse, doubts, regrets and sometime (maybe too often) distrust and hate. It is a time of great vulnerability for all parties involved and a time when there are many decisions to be made, none of which should be made in haste or in hate and without professional advice.

While it may not be top of mind at the time, making good decisions about the single largest asset that most married couple have – their home – is critical for the future of both parties. Make bad or hasty and ill-advised decisions and they might haunt you for years, as you try to rebuild your life.

There is so much complexity surrounding the real estate (and other assets) that may be involved in a divorce that you really need to assemble a team to help you and your Realtor can be the person who does that for you. On the team, you’ll need a good divorce lawyer, your Realtor, your insurance agent,  a tax/financial adviser, an appraiser and a mortgage adviser. Your Realtor can probably make recommendations or assemble the rest of this team.

Why all of those folks? Well, each one will either be providing you with advice about products that you already have (insurance, for instance) or products that you will need to get (a new mortgage) in order to move on with life. You need to understand your current homeowners policy – who’s listed as the policy owner (s) and who as the beneficiaries? What happens to that insurance when the divorce is final? Who needs to be listed then and who will be paying for it? As for the tax adviser or financial adviser (it probably will take two people for this), you need to understand the tax consequences of the divorce and make sure that you can file for your fair share of things after the final decree. You may need a good value appraisal if the family home is to be sold as part of the decree. You also need to understand the consequences on any long-term financial plans or policies or shared assets that you had in place. And, when the dust settles, you may need to get a new mortgage, in order to move on with life. How will this divorce leave you in terms of qualifying on your own for a mortgage? Can you do anything until your name is off the old mortgage or that mortgage has been discharged? Where will you go may be an easier question to answer than how will I afford it?

So, why I’m I writing about this? Because I care, for one, and because I have the team members already in mind to be able to help, from one of best family and divorce lawyers that I know, to a great insurance person, to a very thorough financial adviser and a great tax accountant and a mortgage rep that can make it possible for you to move on in life. These are people that I’ve worked with and trust to advise you on the aspects that go beyond my real estate capabilities. More importantly they are people that I trust with your fragile emotional state during this very trying time. I can introduce you to a team of professionals that will work with you through this process in a caring, respectful and empathetic way that will lift a lot of burdens from your shoulders and let you start the healing process.

So let’s start off by agreeing that divorce sucks and try to go forward from there the best way that we can, with a caring professional team of people on your side who can make sure that you make the right decisions during the process to come out whole on the other side. Call me and put my team to work for you. If you already have some people for some of these roles, great; let’s just add them to the team. If you don’t even know where to start; call me quickly so that you don’t spend another day by yourself in this process.

Recommended local business – Nicholson Appraisal Services, Inc.

January 28, 2014

Nickolson header

As a Realtor® I work with appraisers quite a bit on home sales. These days appraisers are assigned mainly through appraisal management companies, but not always. There are many other reasons why you may need to call an appraiser, which I will discuss here. When you do, you can’t do better in this are than Nicholson Appraisal Services, Inc.

Obviously if you are buying an individual home (house or condo) or if you are buying a rental property of up to 4 units, you will need to have the property appraised. If you are refinancing those same properties or taking out a home equity line of credit, you will also need to have them appraised. Norma Nicholson, owner and principal at Nicholson Appraisal Services, Inc., has been a licensed appraiser for over 20 years. Norma covers many of the counties in Southeastern Michigan – Oakland, Livingston, Wayne, Macomb, Washtenaw and Genesee.

Appraisals are also critical when major life changes occur, such as deaths and divorces. In most divorce cases the division of the real property in the divorce settlement requires that the home either be bought out by one of the two parties or that it be sold outright and the proceeds split. That requires that the value of the home be determined and the courts often require that an appraisal be done. The same thing happens in estate settlements when the surviving owner dies. In order to settle most estates the property must be sold and the proceeds split. Again it is critical to get a good appraisal.

Do you feel you are carrying too much of the Property Tax Burden in your community? Have an appraisal report completed by a professional licensed appraiser that will provide supportable documentation of the true market value of your property within the present market, not a market value that was assigned to you years ago. You stand a much better chance of getting your tax basis lowered when you go to the appeal process prepared with a professional appraisal.

If things have gone south for you and you are considering bankruptcy you will need to have your home appraised. Why do you need an appraisal for a bankruptcy filing? Because the court will order one and/or sometimes two if the final opinion of value has a wide range. A licensed appraiser must generate the appraisal report. The courts will not accept what is termed as a CMA (Certified Market Analysis) by a licensed realtor. So get ahead of the game and get an appraisal from Nicholson Appraisal Services.

Other reasons or times to use a professional appraiser include:

Insurance Claims for Fire, Wind and Water Damages – There needs to be a restoration value established before you should settle any claim, especially if the damage is such that replacement of the structure is required.

For Sale by Private Owners – the most common mistake made by FSBO sellers is pricing. You need to know the value that someone is going to be able to get a mortgage for, before set a price for the property; otherwise you wasting your time and that f potential buyers.

Pre-Marriage Estate Planning and Pre-nuptial  agreements – you don’t have to be Donald Trump in order toe have a pre-nup agreement, but you do need to know what the value of the things are that you are trying to protect in the agreement.

Nicholson Appraisal Services uses state of the art appraisal software that includes digital photography and they are are EDI compatible for timely turnaround time via email transmissions. As they state on their web site – “Our Company is small enough to hold quality as the number one priority. That also allows us to extend the lowest appraisal fees within the area on to you.” To visit the Nicholson Appraisal Services, Inc. web site click here. Nicholson Appraisal Services, Inc. is located in Milford at 786 S. Milford Rd, Milford, MI 48381

Nicholson Appraisal Services, Inc. accepts VISA, Mastercard and American Express. Call Norma Nicholson if you have any of the needs discussed above. You’ll be glad you did. Office: 248-684-7987 or Cell: 248-342-9637

Where there is hope there can never be complete darkness…

January 27, 2014

Pastor Jack Freed, the retired pastor at my church, was a guest pastor this past weekend and preached on a theme of hope.  I get quite a bit of the inspiration for my blog posts from Jack’s daily blog posts in his blog – Jack’s Winning Words. In his sermon, he told the story of the four candles- the candles of peace, faith, love and hope.

I looked up the story he used on the internet (as you can almost everything these days).  There were lots of results returned, as the story has been told and retold many times. I chose to watch the YouTube Video about the story of the four candles that I have linked to here.

Candle Stock Photo By Arvind Balaraman, published on 15 September 2010  Stock Photo - image ID: 10020552

Candle Stock Photo By Arvind Balaraman, published on 15 September 2010 Stock Photo – image ID: 10020552

I am struck by a two things in this story…the sadness of the first three candles slowly going out; as first peace and then faith and then love were extinguished, as much caused my being ignored or cast aside in our modern world as anything else.

It sometimes may appear that no one wants peace anymore, but I suspect that for those caught up in the ongoing conflict in Syria, peace is very dear to them and something that they would welcome into their homes. For most of us the concept of peace in our lives probably does not include a stoppage of bombings and killing; but, it probably does include the secession of many disturbing things going on around us.

Faith often gets hidden because it seems not to be hip or “with it” and then eventually it gets pushed aside in the pursuit of material things or power in our very secular world. Faith also requires a humbleness that the hubris of our world is want to deride. Faith also requires a letting go of the concept that we can solve everything ourselves. It depends upon believing in a higher power that we can call upon in times of need.

Love, one would think would have stayed lit, even in the face of the loss of peace and faith; however, when peace and faith are taken away, fear often becomes one of the strongest emotions in many people’s lives and perhaps that crowds out love, too. Fear also causes isolation, so loved ones may be forgotten or pushed away.

In the end, with peace and faith and love seemingly gone we really do only have hope left to light the way out of whatever darkness in which we find ourselves.  For many people that is a darkness of the mind, sometimes called despair. It is a darkness unlike any that we have ever experienced.

I recall a trip I took with my son when he was little and we were in Indian Guides together. We spent the night in a cave. As part of that trip we took a boat ride on the underground river that flowed through the cave. When we were well underground the guide stopped the boat, which had headlights to see where we were going, and extinguished the lights. I had never been in total darkness like that before. It was scary. Then the guide lit a single match and in that total darkness there was enough light to see everything around us from that one tiny flame. Hope is like that tiny flame. As long as you keep hope lit you will not be in total darkness.

The second thing that struck me is the use of the image of the little child as the means of relighting the candles of love and faith and peace. That is an image of innocence and purity. It is the image of the ability to love without questioning or demanding. It is the image of that state of humbleness and acceptance that lets faith back in to our lives. And, it is the image of peace of the little child playing in a home or street without fear.

So watch the video (again, if you already did) and ask yourself if you have let the candles of peace or faith or love go out in your life. Maybe you have been through experiences that caused these things to be extinguished in your life and maybe things look pretty bleak; but, remember that as long as you cling to hope you are not in total darkness and you have the means of reigniting the other three candles in your life. Never lose hope. Drop the adult façade and become a child again and light the other three candles in your life. The darkness in your life will quickly drop away.

Help the Milford Historical Society when you shop at Kroger

January 23, 2014


Shop at Kroger and help the Milford Historical Society

Did you know that you can sign up your Kroger Rewards card for the Kroger Community Rewards program and the Milford Historical Society will receive quarterly donations from the Kroger program, based upon how much you spend at Kroger on groceries, gas and at the Pharmacy?

This program is part of Kroger’s give-backs to the communities that they serve and does not impact at all the points that you get for gas discounts. It is an additional donation that Kroger makes to support local non-profit organizations in the communities that they are located in.

Click here to read a Frequently Asked Questions article about the program. The Historical Society will be registered, but each person who wishes to contribute will have to re-register annually.

Click here or on the Kroger graphic to go to the Kroger Community Rewards site and sign up.

A new rewards year starts MAY 1st and you must sign up each year, so there’s still plenty of time to sign up for the current year and get the donations rolling before the May 1 renewal date.

The Non-Profit Organization (NPO) number for the Milford Historical Society under this program is 91661. Write that down, because you’ll need to enter it at the Kroger Community rewards site. You do not have to live in Milford in order to support this effort, just shop at your local Kroger store and register your Kroger Rewards card to this worthy charity.

If you don’t have a computer or feel comfortable using one, bring your Kroger card to the next Milford Historical Society General Membership meeting and we’ll help you sign up. You can find out when and where those meetigns are taking place by going to our Web site –  You can also come into the Museum when it reopens on a Wednesday or Saturday between 1 & 4 PM and we’ll help you register your card to help the Milford Historical Society. While you’re there, if you aren’t a member, you can join the society, if you’d like. Remember our motto – you don’t have to be a relic to be a member.

Even if you aren’t a member of the Milford Historical Society, you can register your card to help support the MHS and the Milford Historical Museum. Having a group dedicated to preserving and sharing our area history and a museum right in town is not something that many local communities have, so we hope that you will help out in this painless way to help keep Milford the great place that it is to live and work.

Make your dreams come true – share them…

January 22, 2014

“A dream you dream alone is only a dream.  A dream you dream together is reality.”  (John Lennon)

Lennon was a dreamer and his song Imagine became the anthem of his time. It is true that a dream not shared seldom becomes more than a dream. A dream shared with others can quickly becomes an idea or a goal and a commitment to reach that goal. It turns into a project, with milestones and measurable and one can quickly become accountable for making that dream come true. It becomes real.

dreamsSo the lesson here is to share your dreams, maybe with your life partner or maybe with workers or members of an organization. Turn it from an abstract notion into something that can be discussed and refined and debated. Embrace your dreams as aspirations, a part of your bucket list. According to the power of positive thinking theories, once you turn your dreams into goals and plans, your subconscious mind will start working to help you achieve those goals. Good things will start to happen, because you will now believe that you can accomplish your dreams and that you are on a mission to do that.

So why is it important to share your dreams? Because it is all too easy to suppress your subconscious mind by keeping your dreams in and a secret. You can convince yourself that it’s all just a silly dream and that’s there’s no way you can ever accomplish it. That’s the pessimist in you coming out. History is full of great inventions, great novels and plays, great works of art and other great accomplishments that began as someone’s dream. In many cases those dreamers had to endure initial ridicule when they first shared their dream, but eventually they found others who believed and persevered until they made that dream come true.

Many dreams are very personal and are really only meant to be shared between life partners; but, what better support system could you have than the sharing and support of your dream with the one that you love?  Sometimes achieving a dream means sacrifice and suffering on the front end, in order to get to the goal at the end. Who better to share the pain than the one who has perhaps already pledged to stick with you through good times and bad and through sickness and in health, in this case, not until death do you part, but until your dreams come true.

So, dream it, share it and make it a reality. It’s your dream; don’t dream it alone.

Fish or Cut Bait? How do you make the decisions?

January 18, 2014

“One of the hardest decisions you’ll ever face in life is choosing whether to walk away or try harder.”  (Ziad Abelnour ) from the Jack’s Winning Words blog.

It seems that as I get older I find more and more excuses to avoid trying harder. It is mainly my personal trait of hating to walk away from things that I’ve begun that keeps me hanging in there on many things. I suspect that it is also the wisdom gained through much trial and error in life that gives me pause more often to think about whether I should try some things in the first place.

There is an ad running currently on TV that shows a bunch of people doing things and has the tag line that “there is no fear” amongst the people shown in the activities that they are enjoying with great abandon. I can’t even recall what the ad is for right now; but, it got me to thinking about the influence that letting fear creep into our lives has on us. Fear is probably a good deterrent to doing really stupid things. Fear is something that can be overcome through knowledge and experience. Once one has done something that they feared and gotten through it, that fear is lessened because the element of the unknown is removed. It may still be scary and dangerous and something that you will still try to avoid, but you no longer have to fear it.

women looking at direction signChoosing to walk away from something, rather than try harder may also be something that benefits from knowledge and understanding (which we eventually call wisdom). There are things that are literally impossible, no matter how hard we try. Remember that Albert Einstein defined of insanity as doing the same thing over and over again and expecting a different result. Sometimes no matter how hard you try the desired outcome cannot be achieved. Choosing to walk away from those things in life just makes sense. Other things that may seem impossible can be accomplished through trying harder and perhaps trying smarter. The ability to differentiate between the two is probably what keeps us from going insane.

Insanity aside, there is also the personality trait sometimes called “bull-headedness” that keeps some people trying things that bull-headedthey should walk away from. The difference between being resolute and being stubborn is a fine line, but one that age and wisdom eventually allow most people to see more clearly. Some, of course, never “get it” and are just bull-headed to the end. Sometimes that very bull-headedness brings that end sooner than otherwise would have occurred.

So, when faced with one of those tough life decisions about trying harder or walking away; it’s important to take a few moments to reflect on what you are attempting (is it really possible) and why you have been continuing the effort up to this point – bull-headedness or intelligent perseverance. In many cases you might find that the time that has passed while you were stubbornly pursuing the goal has caused things to change so much that the goal is no longer worth the stubborn effort. In some cases taking that time for reflection on the situation may allow you to see a different path to preserver and  reach the goal; and, in some cases, it just may make sense to walk away and forget about it.

Dr. Seuss might have made a good story out of this topic…oh wait, he did – are you the North-Going Zax or a South-going Zax?