Real Estate sales restart…

May 9, 2020

The Governor of Michigan has modified her Executive order to allow for the resumption of real estate sales activities, with necessary precautions. The COVID-19 pandemic is anything but over in Michigan and elsewhere across the country; however, economic and political pressures have reached the breaking  point and states across America are “re-opening”. 

What does that mean for home sellers or potential homebuyers?

First, it means that the risk of catching the Corona Virus and getting very sick is still very real. Let’s not discount that. It appears to be a risk that many are willing to take in order to get back to work; but are the home buyers and sellers willing to take the same risk? Apparently, so.

Given the fact that your home purchase (or sale) is likely the biggest financial transaction that you will ever make, let’s look at what is being done to make this transaction as safe as possible during this pandemic.

First off, the real estate brokerages, multi-list services, title companies and others involved in the sale are creating and agreeing upon a set of health safety guidelines for doing in-person visits to homes that are for sale. They have used guidance from the CDC, Federal and State health officials to create a set of recommended protocols for listings and showings. These protocols have the expected requirements for visitors to use PPE when doing in-person visits and for sellers to take the necessary steps to clean and sanitize the property before and after each visit.

Actually, the first thing they did was to have their lawyers draw up release of liability forms – one that sellers must sign in order to list a property and one for buyers to sign before going on an in-person visit. This is acknowledgement that the Realtors involved don’t (and can’t) know if the sellers have sick members in the home or if the buyers may be sick without knowing it. So, these are “buyers and sellers beware” forms that hold the broker and agents harmless is someone (on either side) contracts the virus due to a visit.

The PPE requirements for buyers/visitors include wearing a mask and gloves during the visit (with shoe covering also recommended), not touching anything during the visit and using hand sanitizer after the visit. Visits are also limited to 4 people max, so bringing Mom and Dad and Uncle Joe is discouraged. It is probably best to leave any children at home, too. Many Realtors will have PPE available for visitors, if they don’t have their own by now.

Recommendations for the sellers include having all lights on and all interior doors already open and re-sanitizing after each visit, just in case anything was touched. Realtors and visitors are admonished not to turn lights off, so they don’t have to touch the switches. Sellers are advised to take their homes off the market or stop showing it, if anyone in the household is sick with the virus. With increased testing and tracking, that may include people who have been in contact with someone who is confirmed to have the virus.

The ancillary functions and services like home inspections, appraiser visits, movers  and the like are allowed; however if alternatives like drive-by appraisal are available, that is recommended. Services like picture taking for listing pictures will also be allowed, but under the same PPE guidelines as for any visit.

Given all of this, the questions remain, is it a good time to sell or buy a house.

From the seller’s perspective, even though there is extra work involved in getting the home ready and keeping it safe for visits, it is still a good time as far as the selling price is concerned. The inventory of homes on the market is still low. Prices have not dropped like they did in the 2007/08 Great Recession and mortgage rates remain at a historic low. On the downside, the time to get to a closing has stretched out a bit and mortgage underwriters have tightened up requirements and lowered appraisal values (especially if they could not do an in-person appraisal visit). The pool of potential buyers has also shrunk, due to people being laid off from work. Still, ,it’s not a bad time to be a seller, one just has to be more patient and work a little more at it.

The buyer side of the equation has been impacted quite a bit more, with a significant number of people who might have been buyers now sidelined by layoffs or outright loss of jobs. For some, the prolonged loss of income has also decimated the down payment savings of many, pushing their plans to buy further out into the future. For others, who perhaps were able to continue to work from home and not dip into their savings, this isn’t a bad time to buy, just a strange one. Everything that you need to do to buy a home is do-able; you just need to proceed with caution.

Buyers should try to minimize their exposure to in-person visits by doing most of your shopping on line. Take the time to look through the pictures  and virtual tours that are available on-line to eliminate homes that you can see have obvious things that you don’t like. It used to be just a big waste of everyone’s time to make lots of visits to homes that you really hadn’t evaluated with the data and pictures that were available to you on line. Now it is also dangerous, as well as a waste of everyone’s time. This is not “tire kicking” time. There will also be no open houses allowed during this pandemic.

For many Realtors this is a tough time. It is not possible to just throw a switch and turn on a business like real estate sales. Those who had clients at the beginning of this probably still have them, although some may have wandered away and decided to wait a while longer to sell or buy. All agents will be advertising that they are using safe practices with sellers and buyers and all will be trying to do that; however, this is called the invisible enemy for a reason – you can’t see it coming. Buyers, sellers and agents are advised to consider anyone that they come in contact with, or who visits a home, as a COVID-19 carrier and take the necessary precautions to protect yourself and your family.

Welcome to the “new normal”. Want to buy or sell a house? Message me and let’s talk.


Time for Plan “B”…

March 31, 2020

(NOTE: Most of this post was originally the contents of an email to the Milford Business Association members in Milford, Michigan.)

Anytime a crisis hits people quite naturally formulate a quick plan to deal with it. If you recall, I wrote about having a plan way back on March 20 in my post “What is your plan?” Doesn’t that seem like a long time ago? The Corona Virus crisis is turning out to be one in which that plan (we’ll call it plan “A”) isn’t working out for most. It’s time for plan “B”.

Plan “A” is the one that most bought into initially, which said, “I’ll just wait out the next two weeks” or “I’ll just close until April 3 or April 13”. That last plan was what many small business owners used as Plan “A” in my area. Plan “A” was a very passive plan – the hunker down and wait it out plan.

Now we have been told it will be at least April or May before we can even think about easing the restrictions on travel, crowd gatherings and working. It is clear that at least half of the year will be gone before America starts the road back to something approaching “normal”. No matter what you may have believed going into this crisis, it is clear that it is time for Plan “B”.

For the small business person, Plan B is a proactive one that deals with the reality that this situation is liable to be with us until late summer and that you need to figure out how to do business under the rules that have been imposed by government. For almost all, that means finding a way to do business without being able to welcome visitors into your physical stores.

Many small businesses already had a web site or a presence on Facebook and other social media sites. Now is the time to expand and leverage that presence to allow your customers to do business with you. If your web site didn’t have an eCommerce capability before, now is the time to add it or highlight your alternative. You need a way for customers to order and pay through your web site or via a phone call. It is also the time to figure out how you are going to deliver products to customers – on-site pickup or delivery, somehow.

For some small businesses in the services industries, it may well mean delivering your services via on-line sessions, either interactive in real-time or pre-recorded. Churches are using both methods during the shutdown and some fitness and health related businesses, such as personal training and yoga have already launched on-line classes.

The keys to creating a Plan “B” that will get you through this is understanding the needs of your customers and making it as easy as possible to do business with you while the shutdown lasts. You can do that through advertising, offering incentives and making the shopping and delivery experiences as easy as possible.

You can start with the assumption that the customers do not know what you are doing during the crisis. Begin your road back by informing them of your plan B – how to do business with you; what your hours of “operation” will be; where to go on line (web site or Facebook) to see your goods and how to order products; what incentives you will be offering; and how they will get the goods or services that you provide. For some, it is also about informing the customers about your new, spring product lines. This crisis hit right when that seasonal transition was to take place.

In the same “What’s your plan” blog post I described the four phases that people go through in crisis situations. Most are now exiting phase three and entering phase four. They are starting to put some creative thought into how they will live under the constraints imposed by this crisis and they are looking for ways to get the things that they need and want. It is up to you to tell them how to get those things from you.

Communications with your customer base is more important now than ever. Using ads in your local paper (like the Spinal Column in the Milford, Michigan area) to reach your local base is a critical part of that communications. People are home all day and have time to read those papers. Your ad in the local paper can tell the customer base many things – “I am still here”, “I am open for business”, “I am working hard to help you get through this crisis”, and “We will get through this together”.

So, take some time to craft your message for plan “B” and get it out there to your customer base. I think you’ll find a very receptive audience that is ready to find a way to do business with you.


Lots to do in Milford today!

September 16, 2018

Today is day two of the Milford Home Tour, with homes open from 11 Am until 5 PM.800 E Commerce There are 6 really nice homes to visit, as well as the Milford Historical Museum and the Log Cabin next to the fire station.

Tickets may be purchased at the Museum at 1124 E. Commerce Rd or at any of the houses on the tour.

For more on the home tour, go to our web site – http://www.milfordhistory.org.

2018 Car Show pictureThe annual Milford Car Show is going on in downtown Milford today, too. Over 350 cars of every type and description will be on display from 9 AM until about 3:30 PM this afternoon. This is a free event.

 

Finally, there is also a vintage tractor show going on out at the Huron Valley State Bank tractor_show_graphicparking lot at the corner of S. Milford Rd and GM Rd.

This is a free event.

 

 

Finally, don’t forget to stop by the Rivers Edge Brewery this weekend or anytime this Resized - Feelgood Tap Sept2018 Historical Societymonth to buy a “feel good tap” beer and support the Milford Historical Society.

The Rivers Edge Brewery donates $1 from each beer purchase of the featured “feel good tap”beer to a non-profit in the area and this month that is the Milford Historical Society.

 


Milford – a sense of community…

September 9, 2018

In a recent post to his blog, Jack’s Winning Words, Jack Freed posted these words –

“Do you want to live on Flip Flop Lane in Margaritaville?”  (Parade Magazine 8/12/18)  The new trend in housing is to develop neighborhoods which attract people with common interests: singles, children, Boomers—even one for veterans with PTSD.  “The hot word is communal!  People are looking for a new kind of living, real neighborhoods.  “The old has become new.”

Perhaps that is why the little Village of Milford where I live and work has become so popular of late. I’ve posted here before about what a great place it is to live, with a very walkable and useful downtown and a density that allows and encourages neighbors to get to know each other. It is probably just a fortuitous thing that it located far enough off the major highways (about half way between I-96 to the south and M-59 to the north) that it did not attract the attention of the big box stores. Local merchants and locally owned restaurants remain viable in the Village.

I don’t think of the Village of Milford in Margaritaville terms. For me it’s more like the fictional town of Mayberry in the Andy Griffins show Mayberry R.F.D. That image is a romanticizing things a bit too much, but it is a little more like that sleepy little town in South Carolina than like a party town such as one imagines with the name Margaritaville.

While Milford certainly has its little cliques, there is a sense of belonging and community that one feels which seems to transcend any feelings of exclusion. If one was not born and raised in Milford, they will forever be an outsider to those who were; but, that group is now a minority of the overall population of the Village. Things are changing in the Village and, for the most part, that’s a good thing. The changes are mainly associated with the growth of the Village and growth is certainly better than the alternative being faced by many small towns in America which are slowly dying out (quite literally).

We are fortunate in Milford that most “newcomers” to the Village appreciate its historic housing stock and the quaint downtown stores to want to keep it looking that way. There are no restrictive ordinances in place to prevent making updates to the old homes, but most do so with an eye to maintaining the style and appearance that make them so appealing. Inside they be very modern; but, from the street, they still look much like they looked when they were built in the late 1800’s and early 1900’s.

Perhaps the biggest draw to the Village is its walkability – the fact that most Villagers can walk to the stores and restaurants in the downtown area and to the parks and the concerts and the Farmer’s Markets and all of the other activities and events that are staged during the year. Probably 75% of the Village residents live within 5-6 blocks of the downtown area, and 85 % within 10 blocks. Combine that accessibility with a downtown that still has useful places to shop, as well as wonderful restaurants, and a plethora of services locations and churches, and you have the formula to support the feeling of community.


Granny’s Attic Sale in Milford

July 10, 2018

The much anticipated and always fun Granny’s Attic Sale is this weekend in Milford, Michigan at the Milford Historical Museum. This annual sale date at the Historical Museum is now used by local merchants to host the annual Milford sidewalk sale. I’m not sure which sale came first, but both have been going on for  along time.

Granny’s Attic is much more than just a rummage sale. One of our members does estate garage salesales during the year and almost always returns with things that didn’t sell then but which give the Granny’s Attic sale a unique flavor and content. There’s furniture and unique items, as well as the expected glass and china items. You’ll find things in this sale that you’d normally only see in antique stores. The sale runs Friday and Saturday fro 9 AM until 4 PM both days.

I’ve posted a few pictures of some of the items that will be available at the Milford Historical Society web site.  Get there early for \the best selection. Avid antique hunters always come to this sale.


It was a great weekend in Milford…

September 18, 2017

Every year, the third weekend in September is a great time to be in Milford, Michigan, and this year was no exception.

The weekend kicked off with the Huron Valley Chamber of Commerce Brewed In Brewed in MIchigan logoMichigan event out at the Bakers of Milford restaurant. This event, now in its ninth year, featured beers, ales, meads, hard ciders and wines from over 35 Michigan based craft breweries/wineries. It also had tasty foods from more than 10 local restaurants, as well as music and lots of fun for everyone.

On Saturday, the 41st annual Milford Home Tour started the first day of its two day run DSCN0555which features tours of five local homes, as well as the Milford Historical Museum and the Log Cabin in South Park. The Oak Grove Cemetery was also open with self-guided tours of the grave sites ofOak Grove Cemetery entrance the many of the people who built or lived in the homes that were on the tour and information on those and the graves of Milford’s WWI veterans was provided by local historian Linda Dangenhardt.

On Sunday the Home Tour continued and the 33rd annual Milford Car Show took center CAR SHOWstage all the way down south Main Street and into Central Park. Over 340 cars were in display from 8 AM until 3 PM. There were cars and trucks of every age, description and type – from un-restored antiques to modern street rods. The sights and sounds during the day were enough to satisfy any car enthusiast. In addition, there was an antique tractor show outTractor Show at the Huron Valley State Bank parking lot featuring tractors from collectibles to day-to-day working farm tractors and equipment.

So, it was a busy and very entertaining weekend in Milford, Michigan; of course, every weekend is great when you live in Milford…just sayin’.


The Fourth of July Parade in Mayberry

July 4, 2017

Many people like to think of Milford, Michigan as a modern-day version of the fictional town of Mayberry that was the setting for the Andy Griffith Show Mayberry RFD. There are some seminaries. Milford is a small town in a somewhat rural setting. We have a basically a two block long downtown, with a light at each end (which Mayberry didn’t have). We have quaint little stores and a barber shop in the middle of the downtown. But there the similarities probably end. We have a vibrant set of restaurants within the downtown area, as well as three jewelry stores, an exercise place, a bridal boutique and a women’s store that is known state wide for its “social ware” (think weddings and special occasions requiring a gown and not just a dress).

But getting back to the Mayberry theme, we do have several parades a year, starting with the big Memorial Day Parade, which is one of the biggest and best in Southeastern Michigan for honoring our veterans, and then the Independence Day Parade, which was today and ending the year with the Christmas Parade, which takes place on Thanksgiving weekend. Interspersed before, after and in between are a bunch of minor parades – the Martin Luther King Parade in January, the Little League Parade down Main Street at the start of the baseball season, the Homecoming Parade for the local High School are three that come to mind. There are several other occasions that close down main street; an event that seems to average about one closure per month. That’s small-town America at its finest.

start of paradeSo today we had the Fourth of July Parade. Well over a thousand local people lined Main Street, many staking out their favorite spot by leaving blankets and/or chairs on the sidewalk on main street as early as the night before the parade. The parade didn’t start until 11 AM, but there were people out before 10 AM. Some came much earlier and had breakfast in one of our downtown restaurants before claiming their spot for the parade.  The local AmVets group walked up and down the parade route handing out small American flags, so that the kids and their parents had something patriotic to wave as the parade passed by them. An entrepreneur also walked up and down selling cotton candy to excited kids who awaited the start of the parade. How Mayberry-like is all of that?

The parade stepped off precisely at 11 Am with the Village Police Chief leading the parade. I can just imagine Sheriff Taylor doing the same in his police car in Mayberry. Then came the procession of walking groups, homemade floats, decorated vehicles and Rotary Duck Race kidsbicycles and the horses. This year we had the Huron-Kensington Metroparks 6-horse Clydesdale wagon in our parade, which is like the Budweiser Clydesdales that we see on TV coming to Mayberry. We also had horses from the Cowboy Church of Michigan and from the local Kensington Trail Riders organization.

Of course we also had politics in the parade, with many local politicians marching to remind their constituents to vote for them in the next election for whatever elected position for which they might be running. And this year, we had the pro- and anti-Trump groups, which is something in national and local politics that would have been out of Bridge to Unity floatplace in Mayberry and perhaps was a little too political even for a Milford parade. But we got through it without incident. We also had a fly-over with a single plane from the Tuskegee Air Museum making several passes over the parade route. It was an old T-6 Trainor from WWII, which might have been a modern plane back in the time depicted on TV in Mayberry.

All–in-all, it was a great parade in small town America and the absolute best way for those who came to view it to pause and celebrate this great country. Where else but America could you go see such a parade that is set in, and filled with the small town values of, Mayberry.  Maybe you had a parade like ours, too, in your little piece of Mayberry.