Tuesday, December 31, 2013

Latest News on Metro Detroit Home Prices Still Good News

Yes, home prices in metro Detroit are still going up, and going up faster than the national average.  Of course, they are still well below national averages and still 25% below peak.  Still, this continues the positive trends.

Incidentally, the article from the Freep notes a shortage of available inventory locally as part of the reason for the higher prices.  There certainly is a shortage of choices out there these days.


Tuesday, December 24, 2013

NJ Realtors Use Listing for Hookups

Sometimes you can't make this up.  Two New Jersey real estate agents are accused of using a listed home for their own dalliances.

Robert Lindsay, a former president of the Passaic County Board of Realtors, and Jeannemarie Phelan.
Our two lovebirds.
What is apparently ethically objectionable about that is they apparently deliberately listed it at a higher price so that it would continue to be available to them.  Oh, and apparently there is a rule about doing anything with a client's property outside of business purposes.

Robert Lindsey, who actually listed the house, is a former former president of the Passaic County Board of Realtors.  He left the firm he was at when the alleged conduct occurred.  At the time of the move, he was described as:

“a rarity in real estate – he’s not only among the very top producers, but he does things right.” 

No word on if Jeannemarie Phelan agrees with that or not.


Monday, December 23, 2013

Merry Christmas, Happy Holidays, Happy New Year!

We will be on a break from this blog and will resume our normal publishing schedule after the New Year.  We might, however, publish something if it is particularly timely and strikes us as important.

Thank you to all of our readers.  You're the best!

Thought for the Day

Don't think outside the box. Think like there is no box.

Metro Detroit Travel Alert: Planes are Sliding off of Runways




Mortgage Fraudster is on the Lam

Ronnie Duke, a 46-year old Fenton, Michigan resident, did not report for his prison term and there is a warrant for his arrest.  Duke was ringleader of a huge mortgage fraud ring and had previously entered a guilty plea.

Have you seen this guy lately?  The FBI hasn't.

He was to begin serving a 13-year federal sentence (and make arrangements for $94 million in restitution), but did not report to the U.S. Marshals after being released on bond to wrap up his personal affairs (a not uncommon thing after guilty pleas of this type).  Duke had been cooperating with federal authorities for years and provided information on the other 15 people convicted in the scheme.  Apparently his time of reckoning was too much to handle.

Although I am not familiar with how his particular scheme was structured, I imagine it was similar to the one Tony Soprano put together in Newark with his corrupt friends the social agency director and the state senator.  If Tony was a real person, I would now have to tell you that he was never convicted.

A similar scene played out in the Duke house, apparently.


Sunday, December 22, 2013

Old Farmer Jack Property to Become Nursing Home

Demolition has begun on the old Farmer Jack property at Fort and King in Riverview, which will become a nursing home.  The property has sat vacant for awhile now, and was probably one of the most prominent vacated strip mall in the Downriver area.

The News-Herald has the details, which includes a video of demo work.


Saturday, December 21, 2013

Boost Your Christmas Curb Appeal

Home with Christmas curb appeal

The good folks at zillow bring us some holiday decorating tips in a timely fashion.


In Which the Detroit News Catches Up to This Blog

Yesterday, we talked about the Hecker-Smiley mansion on Woodward Avenue being for sale.  Today's Detroit News tells their readers what we knew yesterday: it is for sale.

Thought for the Day

When you have no goals or plans, opportunities mean nothing to you. 

Friday, December 20, 2013

Awesome Mansion for Sale

Curbed Detroit has the info, but I should tell you that I look with longing on this place every single time I drive by it on Woodward Avenue.  Why, I even thought about interviewing at Charfoos & Christensen just so I could see the inside of the place up close.

This would look great as my office.

$2.8 million, 21,000 square feet, 49 rooms.  A carriage house with 5,900 square feet out back so that your guests aren't underfoot (can they ever be underfoot in a place this big?)  Not to mention a great facade and roofline.

Thought for the Day

Opportunity wastes no effort looking for the person who is wasting time through idleness or destructive action.

Thursday, December 19, 2013

Video Update: I Was Right!!

Thought for the Day

Set high standards for yourself and others, then let them do their jobs.

Want to be Roommates?

So, you thinking of doing the roommate thing?  You can cut your rent that way, you know.  But at what cost?  Privacy?  Destroying a Friendship?

There are positives and negatives that should go into the decision on this.  Credit.com discusses it on MSN.com here.

I will confess to a very mixed record on picking roommates back in the day.  My first house with two friends sharing it went fairly well, but we were awesome friends going in and even then there were strains as we all tried to live together.  It didn't help that one guy was always having better luck with women than the other two of us.  We drifted apart a bit and called it off before any permanent damage was done.

The next adventure was much more risky, and did not pay off.  Three other guys, one of whom we had to quickly kick out because he never paid anything, including his share of the rent.  One never really was there.  That left me and another guy in the house, and we had issues.

Then I got married, and have shared a room for over twenty years now with the lovely Rebecca.  Finally I got the roommate thing right.


Wednesday, December 18, 2013

Packard Plant Buyer Is "Best Opportunity in the Whole World"

At least that's what developer Fernando Palazuelo tells Bloomberg about his latest purchase.

He also goes on to talk about his plans, which include a go-kart track and living on-site while the work is being done.  Palazuelo's observation that the plant complex is structurally intact is definitely arguable, however.  And George Jackson, who today is head of the Detroit Economic Growth Corporation but might soon be fired by incoming Mayor Mike Duggan, is apparently dubious about the whole project.


Will Charlie's Good Luck Get Him This House?

You have kids, you see their TV shows whether you want to watch them or not.  One thing I always wondered about "Good Luck Charlie" on Disney is "How did an exterminator afford that house."  I mean, look at the thing:

Apparently, I am not the only one.  Hooked on Houses, an interesting blog, agrees with me.  BTW, the pictures here are from her blog and I think some may be captures from the tv show.  

In addition to being really big and apparently in a great neighborhood in the Denver area, the house also features some cool, colorful decor inside.  It's what the kids in a younger family would want their house to look like.


Thought for the Day

Stop saying " yes " all the time, people tend to respect those who set boundaries. It's okay to say " no."

Tuesday, December 17, 2013

Frederick Fisher Manse in Boston-Edison Tour

Built by the oldest Fisher brother, Frederick, this gem was one of the highlights the recent Boston-Edison neighborhood home tour.
Nothing screams old money like a house built by old money.  Here it is.  Built in 1918 by an original auto magnate (Frederick J. Fisher), with premium craftsmanship that has been preserved intact, this is how the rich lived in the Roaring Twenties in a town that was the center of the Roaring.

Both FDR and Senator (and future President) Kennedy at here.  They probably liked the floor pattern and the color of the walls.
First, a word about the neighborhood.  Boston-Edison.  The homes we see there today sprung up as an area for wealthy Detroiters after the turn of the century, built with auto and industrial fortunes.  The neighborhood is filled with other gorgeous estates, too, including several homes originally owned by other Fisher brothers. Over the years, this has remained a viable high-end neighborhood in the city of Detroit.  However, like Indian Village, it remains a great neighborhood with devastated neighborhoods nearby.  The neighborhood is located near Woodward and Chicago.

Thought for the Day

If you want a job done promptly and well, get a busy person to do it. 

Monday, December 16, 2013

Thought for the Day

The best way to secure the commitment and unending cooperation of others is through the simple application of the Golden Rule. 

Landlord Monday: Postlets and Craigslist

Properly marketing you property to prospective renters is crucial.  If they don't know, they will not rent from you.

The most important thing you can usually do is put a sign in the yard.  I am still convinced that renters pick a neighborhood and look through it for available properties.  One way many still do that is to physically drive around.  Your sign is critical.  Make sure the phone number is big and easy to read.  Some signs have a tube to put flyers in, but I am not sure flyers are helpful.

The other tool you should always use is the internet.  Younger renters, in particular, are looking there.  Two great places there are Craigslist and Postlets.com.  Postlets puts your listing up on multiple websites at once for you.  I recommend both.  Don't forget to refresh your listings so that they stay at the top of the list.


Sunday, December 15, 2013

Emergency Manager Trends, Part One

Part One of a Two Part Series.

Kevyn Orr
Kevvvyn Orr: It's hard to say good bye.

When an Emergency Manager leaves a city, they no longer just turn the whole thing back over to elected officials.  The Freep has a good article on a new determination to keep controls in place even after the state-appointed EM leaves.  Mike Duggan may be waiting a lot longer than September.

Link: http://www.freep.com/article/20131215/NEWS05/312150069/Kevyn-Orr-Mike-Duggan-Detroit-emergency-manager-Pontiac-Rick-Snyder

Featured Listing: A Lighthouse

Dreamed of living in a lighthouse?  Here it is, an actual, still working lighthouse.  the Detroit News gives us this week's Featured Listing, which was delayed because of illness.  Yes, thank you, I feel much better now.

The U.S. Government actually takes care of the ship-warning light part, but you are the one who can go up in the tower and look at the ships who won't crash on shore because of your property.  Own a piece of history.

The residence itself is relatively updated, with clean white decor throughout the house.  However, it was built in 1866 and will need a high level of maintenance.

The property itself is actually the lighthouse tower and the attached keeper's residence. It is for sale for $999.600.  It has 3 bedrooms and 1.5 baths.  2400 square feet.  I don't believe the tower is included in these measurements.
Honestly, this kitchen did not wow us...

Saturday, December 14, 2013

Thought for the Day

No matter what accomplishments you make, somebody helped you.

Friday, December 13, 2013

Packard Plant Paid For

As predicted on the pages of this blog, the beleaguered Packard Plant is now under new ownership, as developer Fernando Palazuelo completed paying his auction bid on the property yesterday.

Palazuelo has six months to secure the property from vandals and trespassers and has to keep current on taxes, which were just under $1 million, but now may be reduced because of the auction sale.  He will now doubt contest a high assessment on the property.

Link: http://www.detroitnews.com/article/20131212/METRO01/312120149/Peruvian-developer-makes-final-payment-buy-Packard-Plant?odyssey=tab|topnews|text|FRONTPAGE


Thought for the Day

A closed mind stumbles over the blessings of life without recognizing them.

Thursday, December 12, 2013

Slideshow: Kitchen Design trends

Kitchen trends?  We've got kitchen trends.  Click for a slideshow on the trends for 2014.  Here are some examples:

Thought for the Day

Do not let others define you to yourself.  You define who you are and then live up to those expectations.

Wednesday, December 11, 2013

Thought for the Day

If a man does his best, what else is there? -George Patton

Homes for Ron Burgundy

Stone and Mahogany Staircase in Vero Beach, Fla.
This would impress the ladies, eh Ron?

If only Ron Burgundy were alive, and not a creation of Will Ferrell, these are the homes he would probably live in.  Of course, it would depend on which city news station he was the star news anchor at, but still.

Will Ferrell as Ron Burgundy

We're talking classy places with rich mahogany, cultured marble, and other awesome materials.  Somewhere you can throw a great party, but also somewhere to bring home that special someone for the night.  Stay classy.  HGTV has some great places for us.

Tuesday, December 10, 2013

Frank Sinatra Penthouse in New York

Frank Sinatra's New York penthouse is still amazing after all of these years.

Check out the view of the East River:

The home features two wrap-around decks.

Link: http://purplemangomadness.tumblr.com/post/69552931869/a-look-inside-of-frank-sinatras-new-york-penthouse

Thought for the Day

 If you were born with less than most, don’t resent others who seem to have more advantages. In truth, the real advantage is yours, for you will develop the self-confidence that comes only from meeting life’s challenges on your own terms. 

Monday, December 9, 2013

Thought for the Day

Discipline is the fuel of achievement.

Rental Property Purchase, A Step by Step Example

Rental Property Analyze

Brandon Turner has a great article detailing his analysis process and how he actually acquired a property that he was planning to rent out.  In this case, it is a tri-plex (three units), one for the main house, one for the basement, and one for part of the garage.

It's helpful to see how he found it, calculated what he wanted to pay, and whether it was a good deal or not.  There are some simple math calculations spelled out for you.  It even includes a video!


Friday, December 6, 2013

Featured Listing Friday: 30581 E. Pointe Drive

Three bedrooms on a canal in Gibralter for a decent price.

Waterfront.  Is that what you are looking for?  Here is one you might be interested in.  Three bedrooms with unobstructed canal access to Lake Erie and the Detroit River for just under $160k.  If you go to the listing, there is a ton of pictures in addition to the ones here.

The property is located at 30581 E. Pointe Drive in Gibralter.  It is listed by Zanglin and Associates in Trenton.  You can call them at 734-675-7500 or go to their website.  MLS  213111262.

Thought for the Day

Scientists suggest that there are 24 galaxies in the universe for every person living on Earth.

Thursday, December 5, 2013

Wednesday, December 4, 2013

Train. 30 Minutes and counting.

This train has been blocking Vreeland near Telegraph for 30 minutes so far.  No apparent reason why. 

Analysis: So a Judge Rules Detroit is Bankrupt

All of southeast Michigan is affected by Detroit.  Today's ruling was an important development, but the story will be playing out for years yet.

Most people were not surprised when Judge Steven Rhodes declared Detroit eligible for bankruptcy.  His basic reasoning: Detroit is in such bad shape that negotiations are futile, was perhaps not as obvious.

Odds are high that The Thinker will remain where it is, bankruptcy ruling or not.

Thought for the Day

The average person would have quit at the first failure. That’s why there have been many average men and only one Edison.

Warrendale: Demographics of a Downriver City

(Part of a continuing series on Downriver communities)

This one is cheating just a bit, as the Warrendale neighborhood is in Detroit around Warren Avenue and Southfield and the closest river it could be downriver to would be Grand River.  Still, I think it is worth talking about as a viable neighborhood in Detroit that is near Downriver.

Any discussion about a Detroit neighborhood has to start with crime and emergency response times.  Warrendale suffers from the safe deficit in city services that the rest of the city has.  I will predict right now that city services will be markedly better in the future as Detroit resolves its financial challenges.  Looking at crime statistics, it is not as hard hit as other areas.


This neighborhood has significantly deteriorated in the last 20 years or so.  Once a home to many Detroit police, fire, and city employees, it suffered when residency requirements were relaxed.  Driving through the neighborhood today you can see some blocks are still holding up quite well and some blocks are plagued by burned out houses and empty lots filled with trash.  Things seem generally better south of Warren and closer to Ford Road.

 My friend, Frank Nemecek at the Warrendale (Detroit) blog will be sad to hear that the neighborhood has less single females than the city average (18.7% vs. 22.4% city wide).  It also has a higher median household income than the rest of the city.

Warrendale is a neighborhood that has taken the worst and kept battling.  Houses are cheap compared to neighboring communities, and it might be a great place to live again in the future.  My family lived here when I was a little boy and so it will always have a place in my heart.

Here is a link to more information, from Zillow:


Tuesday, December 3, 2013

Thought for the Day

Remember, it takes at least two people to carry on a quarrel.

A Pretty, Pretty Good Mansion

Larry David, executive producer and writer of Seinfeld and star of Curb Your Enthusiasm, has put this Pacific Palisades beauty on the market, and even cut it $2 million when it didn't sell right away.  Still, the house is pretty, pretty good.  It's now listed at $12.995 million.  7 bedrooms, 10 bathrooms, and 11,300 square feet of space built in 1950.

Curb Your Enthusiasm reference to this room at the end of this article*

Monday, December 2, 2013

Thought for the Day

Do just once what others say you can't do, and you will never pay attention to their limitations again.

Thought for the Day

Just what are you waiting for and why are you waiting?

Drama Tenants Need Not Apply

Here's a great post about tenants who are all about the drama.  Using a real-life example, the author explains why to avoid them and gives tips on how to spot them during the application screening process.

The final quality of a great tenant is something I call their “stress quotient” or the amount of stress a tenant will cause you, the landlord. Some tenants are very high maintenance and constantly demand time and attention. Unless you are having a hard time finding quality tenants – these types will only cause more problems.

I can give you a personal example from my own landlording.  I had an applicant call about a property I had for rent.  I offered to show her the property and told her I lived about 60 miles away and had a limited time window for this.  She explained that she was fresh out of the military, had medical issues, had a service dog who really was not a service dog, and that she was looking at several properties in wildly different areas of the state.

When showing time came the next day, she was nowhere to be seen.  She called and said that she had been tied up with a crisis related to work but was on the way.  Then she called to say she had got lost.  I told her I had to go, but she could walk outside of the house and look through the windows.  She said she would be there in 30 minutes.  Two hours later, she called and said that she had stopped for ice cream, but had just got to the place and it was wonderful and she wanted to apply.  Fortunately for me, I had locked in another tenant during that two hours and told her she could send in an application but it would be on hold.  Needless to say, she never sent it.


Sunday, December 1, 2013


That's right, 300 posts to our humble blog.

We enjoy bringing news, trends, and analysis to you.  This milestone is a step on the way of a long journey.

Saturday, November 30, 2013

Trending: NYC Walk-Up Apartments

Apparently, it is cheaper to purchase an apartment in New York if you don't have extra costs like doormen, or elevators.  With that in mind, the New York Times reports that Walk-Up Apartments are Trending Up.

The lady in the picture said the third floor stairs are a part of her daily exercise.
I don't get why people would accept a place on the fifth floor, say, that they have to walk up to.  I didn't like living on the third floor in my dorm in school, and that's when I was young and in shape.

Only in a place like New York does this make sense to the real estate owners.


Thought for the Day

Friendly cooperation will get you far more than unfriendly agitation in any market.

Friday, November 29, 2013

Post Thanksgiving Reflections

Here at the Downriver Homes Blog (related to JOK Homes LLC), we wanted to express our thanks to our readers.  Some of you share our writings with your social media.  Some of you comment on our work.  Some of you read what we put out there.  All of you are valued.

As for those involved in our landlord property management business, we appreciate our vendors and renters.  You are all good people who it has been a pleasure working with.

Thought for the Day

If you really are smarter than others, show them with your actions.

Black Friday-type Discount on Most Expensive Listing in America UPDATED January 14, 2014

Here's your featured listing for Friday, Black Friday edition.

Not one, but two turrets.  And the place is on discount.

UPDATE (1/14/14): The price has been dropped to $130 million!  

Got a $140 million mortgage pre-approval, but thought that $190 million dream house was stretching yourself a little too much?  Well, here is good news for the day.  You can get that house after all, and bargain down enough from there to afford the furniture you need for it.  The asking price has recently been cut a staggering $50 million.

Thursday, November 28, 2013

Wednesday, November 27, 2013

Truck Runs Into Wyandotte Real Estate office, Was it Deliberate?

I guess this is one of those things that you will have to make your own judgement on.  Here is today's post on the News-Herald:

A black Ford pickup truck reportedly rammed into the building occupied by Re/Max On the Boulevard, 1200 Ford Ave., in Nov. 15. Police received a call about the incident just before 9 p.m. A witness said the truck ran into the building, then fled west on Ford Avenue. An officer arrived to find fresh damage to the north side of the building. A portion of the wall had collapsed, with bricks scattered about. The witness, an employee of a nearby business, said she was outside at the time the crash occurred. She observed the vehicle traveling north on 12th Street, without its headlights on. The truck never slowed down as it rammed into the building. She ran across the street to check on the driver, however, the truck backed up and fled.

Thought for the Day

You don't get what you wish for, you get what you work for.

Homes for Sale Should Look Lived In

Oddly enough, you can pay to professionally stage a home and have it look too perfect.  Potential buyers need to be able to envision things being just a tad askew in order to feel comfortable with the space.  Especially families.  Or so says this writer, who is a real estate agent.

But a couple of these homes lacked that warm, lived-in feeling. This turned off the young couple with the two small children. I saw them squirm and cross their arms. They made generic statements about how this is nice and that looks pretty, but not buying-sign comments.

Tuesday, November 26, 2013

Green Home of Gisele Bündchen and Tom Brady

Gisele B├╝ndchen and Tom Brady's Los Angeles home
Yes, it does have a moat.  Stocked with Koi.
The Brentwood, California home of Tom Brady and Gisele Bündchen has got to be epic, right?  One is a future Hall of Fame quarterback, the other is a supermodel.  Well, it is epic.  

Architectural Digest gives us some details, along with great pictures.  

Thought for the Day

If you do the work you get rewarded. There are no shortcuts in life. -Michael Jordan

Monday, November 25, 2013

Thought for the Day

Far too many people spend their entire lives waiting for that glorious day when the perfect opportunity presents itself to them. Too late, they realize that each day held opportunity for those who sought it out.

Dress Up That Front Door!

You know the old saw about first impressions?  Remember the saying about curb appeal?  How about the one that goes that nobody sees the interior if they don't get out of the car?  How your house looks is important, whether you are trying to sell or trying to get tenants to rent it.

The front door is the key to the whole curb appeal thing.  Is yours a boring white, maybe a little bit scuffed?  Well, Bob Vila has some ideas that work a lot better than you would guess at first glance.


Saturday, November 23, 2013

Live View Weather Report from Downriver


View out the Back Window

Mistakes Young People Make About Real Estate

There is an excellent article in the Huffington Post about mistakes young people make concerning real estate.   It is well worth a read.

Probably the biggest mistake is not putting in the time and effort to make an informed decision when buying.  You can buy a car and sell it in a couple of years if you don't like it.  Real estate is more difficult to undo.  Yes, you can sell it, but there are transaction costs.

An interesting fault the author finds is those who live at home with their parents because it's free and they want to blow their income on other things.  For that, I blame the parents for letting it happen..

Thought for the Day

Knowledge is only potential power. It becomes power only when, and if, it is organized into definite plans of action and directed to a definite end. 

Friday, November 22, 2013

Featured Listing: 104 Superior, Wyandotte, Michigan 48192

This week, we are all about the curb appeal.  Just check out this outstanding appearance:

Some of the details: 5 Bedrooms, 2 Bathrooms, 2459 sq. ft., $259,900, all on a corner lot.

Built in 1891, this Victorian is gorgeous with leaded glass detailing inside.

Interested?  Downriver Real Estate Group is listing it.

Judging by the address, this would be within easy walking distance of the Detroit river.

Thought for the Day

The person who complains that he or she never had a chance probably hasn’t the courage to take a chance.

Thursday, November 21, 2013

Wednesday, November 20, 2013

The Check Got Here!

Fernando Palazuelo, Peruvian/Spanish Developer (and potentially a stunt double for the Most Interesting Man in the World) has wired his deposit to the Wayne County Treasurer and is therefore still on track to acquire the Packard Plant.  Even though he sent the money yesterday, Wayne County had trouble receiving it until today.  In any event, he is about $40,000 in and $360,000 to go before he gets title.

Here is an electric DIY project you can do yourself.

Thought for the Day

With supreme confidence, determination and disregard for obstacles and other people's criticisms, go after your dreams.

Tuesday, November 19, 2013

Thought for the Day

When you start giving out, you’ll soon begin taking in.

Most Expensive Celebrity Homes on the Market

It's Mansion Tuesday, but instead of focusing on just one ultimate abode, we are going to give you access to views and information about a slew of them.  Zillow.com compiles the list.

Bob Hope's Home
You'd never guess who had this built for them.

Who has their places up for sale?
  • Celine Dion
  • Richard Gere
  • Bob Hope
  • Jon Bon Jovi
  • Bob Weinstein (producer)
  • Tommy Lee Jones
  • Barry Bonds
  • Michael Jordan
  • Tim McGraw and Faith Hill
Keep in mind that these people all have more than one place

Monday, November 18, 2013

Are You Cut Out to Be A Landlord?

Some people should be landlords.  Many people should not.

Wondering if you have what it takes?  Here's a test.

Thought for the Day

IF you're tired of starting over, STOP GIVING UP!

Saturday, November 16, 2013

Video: Latest News and Analysis from the Packard Plant

Featured Listing: 14105 Helen, Southgate

14105 Helen St, Southgate, MI 48195

Our featured listing this week (one day late, sorry about that) is a fine ranch in Southgate.  It is a short sale, so you cannot plan on immediately taking possession.  However, it features four bedrooms, which is a rare find in this neighborhood.  It is one of the cheaper listings in Southgate, at $49,000.  Considering that I used to routinely see home listed for under $25k as recently as two years ago, you might want to jump on this.  It is listed by Century 21 Riverpointe.