Saturday, June 29, 2013

Reminder: We Take Our Sundays Off

See you with some fresh content on Monday.

Historic Home Shows Attention to Detail

This charming historic home has been renovated with careful attention to details, and it shows it.  Yes, Northville is not Downriver.  But this house, location aside, is similar to ones that can be found in Wyandotte or other Downriver communities, and maybe you can get some good ideas from here.

I absolutely love the color of it, although the bushes could maybe be trimmed back a little bit.  On the inside though, it is a bit overdone.  The kid rooms, in particular, go beyond whimsical to jarring.  It's as if this designer felt she had to put a lot of different elements in it when fewer elements repeated would have worked better, in my humble opinion.

According to some of the comments in the article, the house was bought for $400,000 or so in 2009 and would be worth $500,000 today.  I'm not an expert on home values in downtown Northville, so I will take their word on it.  It does sound about right.|newswell|text|FRONTPAGE|p

More People Listing Their Job as Real Estate Agent

In another sign of the housing recovery, the number of people working as real estate agents in Michigan is on the rise.

When prices dropped and (almost) nobody  was buying, people dropped out of the profession because they could not make a living.  Now, with listings up and prices increasing, old agents are coming back and enrollment for license training is surging.|topnews|text|FRONTPAGE

100 Posts!

Thanks to Chesea Clinton, the Downriver Homes and Real Estate Blog has now made 100 posts.  We hope you have enjoyed our blog so far.

Chelsea Clinton Upgrades Condos

Chelsea Clinton and her husband are trading in their $4.5 million condo in New York City for a $10 million one.  Since hubby Marc Mezvinsky bought the first one before they were married, they apparently aren't paying for this new one just out of wedding gifts and her salary at NBC.

Feel free to comment.

Thought for the Day

The greatest glory in living lies not in never falling, but in rising every time we fall. -Nelson Mandela

Friday, June 28, 2013

Trulia Confirms Housing Rebound

Real estate website Trulia, in their latest blog entry, confirmed nationally what I have been seeing locally: home prices are bouncing back in a big way.

Their housing barometer, looking at new construction, home sales, and the delinquency+foreclosure rate (indicator of future troubled properties) is above 60% for the first time since 2007.  Still, we're not completely out of the woods yet.  As Trulia observes:

The recovery is now in its teenage years: awkward growth spurts and on the verge of having to support itself.

The barometer reading of 61 means that the market is now at 61% of it's peak.  Note that this is more than housing prices, as it also includes the foreclosure counts and new construction starts.

We are starting to see home hints of new construction perking up Downriver.  Brownstown at one point had new subdivisions popping up everywhere.  Now, after years of no new subdivisions and builders scaling back the projects already underway, we may see our first new development later on this year.

Thought for the Day

Opportunity lets you put your foot inside the door of success, but it doesn’t break the door down for you.

Thursday, June 27, 2013

Transformers 4 Fresh Construction Downtown Will Blow Up Soon

Next to videos of buildings blowing up, writing about the Transformers might rank as one of my favorite things to post right now.

Construction of some "buildings" that are supposed to be part of Hong Kong is taking place downtown, where the old Statler Hotel used to be.  The temporary construction is scheduled to be destroyed as part of filming the movie.  Presumably one of the Decepticons is going to be at fault.  My guess is Megatron, but what do I know.

This does raise a bigger issue, which is that downtown should not have empty spaces available for this sort of thing, but I actually have confidence that this situation, almost unique to Detroit, may someday soon be rectified.  As others have observed before me, no other downtown features a gas station where a major freeway ends at the road that goes along the river (Jefferson and I-375).  Someday soon, Dan Gilbert is going to buy that gas station like the rest of downtown.

Deadline Detroit has the scoop:


Thought for the Day

Every time you smile at someone, it is an action of love, a gift to that person, a beautiful thing. -Mother Teresa

Tom Hanks, Pacific Palisades, Bosom Buddies Star House Must Be Extra

I've always taken personal pride in the fact that I was a fan of Tom Hanks from the original episode of Bosom Buddies, which I remember watching.  His career has blossomed, and his house collection has also blossomed.  Well, here's one he is getting rid of.

Looking at the pictures, I am a huge fan of the kitchen.  I'm sure just about everyone is.  On the other hand, the rest of the house is the same color, which has got to be really boring to actually look at every day.  Which is probably why he has another place nearby worth $26 million when this one is worth about a tenth of that.

4 bedrooms, 5.5 baths (I love it when there are more bathrooms than bedrooms), 6289 square feet.

By the way, Hanks' wife Rita Wilson also appeared in Bosom Buddies and was in an episode of the Brady bunch in 1972 as well as Sleepless in Seattle.

Wednesday, June 26, 2013

Another Building Demolished

There was a good deal of interest in the video of the demolition of the Hotel Charlevoix recently, so I thought it might be gun to post another, unrelated building demolition.  This was in Texas.

A Missle Silo for a House?

An intercontinental living experience.

Unusual, but definitely NOT my cup of tea.  This "home" in upstate New York is listed for $750,000, missile not included.  It was converted by an Australian architect who was looking for an interesting project.  Well, he found it.  To his credit, he kept the red "launch" button, which is in what is now the bedroom.

The actual quarters are in what used to be the control area.  The silo part is not living space, but might make a good mushroom garden.

Thought for the Day

The difference in winning & losing is most often, not quitting. -Walt Disney

Nigella Lawson and Her House Because It's On My Mind

One neat thing about doing a blog is that you can write and publish about things that you want.  Yes, I started with a deliberate focus, so I try to stay on topic.  And yes, I am trying to build an audience, so I have to take into account what my readers may want to learn about and be interested in.

What Your Life In Nigella Lawson's House Might Look Like

But I doubt that many of my readers will care about what kind of home Nigella Lawson lived in three years ago or the neighbor troubles she was having at the time.  Nor is an article about her going to drive too many search bots here that will stick around and raise this blogs profile.  Even though the London mega-flat looks darn impressive from the outside (see above) and there is the message here that rich celebrities have neighbor problems just like us regular folk, the real point here is that I am a fan and love that I can post about her.

Incidentally, her father was Chancellor of the Exchequer for six years, which is a pretty big deal in English government.

Metro Detroit Left Out of Housing Rise in April

So it turns out that our area here was the only one of the top 20 markets not to see an increase in home prices in April compared to March.  13 of the top 20 saw double-digit gains.  Metro Detroit was flat.

Before we get too upset, however, we should realize that a good part of the reason for that is because we have gone up so much over the last year compared to the rest of the country.  Home prices in this area are up 40% compared to a year ago.  That's huge.  Sadly, they are still down about 35% from their peak in 2005-06.

So the trend is definitely up with room to run.  I'd still call that good news.

Tuesday, June 25, 2013

Hotel Charlevoix Demolition

Here at the Downriver Homes and Real Estate Blog, we vow that discussions about decorating ideas and trends in the real estate market downriver will never get in the way of videos of buildings blowing up.

The Hotel Charlevoix was in Detroit close to the Bucharest Grill (a great place), near where the new Illitch Entertainment District is going.  It hadn't been a hotel in awhile, and was not even conceived as one when it had been built.  So I will shed no tear, even if others do.

I take particular pleasure in the guys to the left.  About 25 seconds in, they suddenly realize all of that dust is heading their way.

Refinish Hardwood Floors

This is another blog post inspired by what I actually needed to learn to do.

Essentially, the process can be explained as:

  • Sand your floors, eventually using a very fine sandpaper.
  • Clean all of the dust off.  
  • One final cleaning
  • Stain
  • Two coats of polyurethane.

One landlord I know strongly suggested to me that I should go with the oil-based polyurethane.  He says it is much more durable.  This video argues for the water-based.  I leave that up to you.,,20238356,00.html

Thought for the Day

There is never a better measure of what a person is than what he does when he's absolutely free to choose.

Downtown Rents Increase

This is very good news.  Although limited to the midtown area, the fact that any part of Detroit is now a hot rental market is a tremendously good sign.

There are many reasons people have to live downtown.  Some prefer the urban life experience, especially when they are young.  You are closer to work and to cultural institutions.  You meet interesting people.  Still, a good majority of these people who have children end up moving out of downtown and end up somewhere else.  Having never lived in Detroit's downtown, I can only speculate that the lifestyle downtown is not child-friendly.  Or maybe it's not parent-friendly. 

Either way, the crowd that is coming to midtown is the type journalists from out of town gush over, so this is a positive.  Young, creative, professional.  As long as the jobs keep coming, they will stay.|topnews|text|FRONTPAGE

Monday, June 24, 2013

Courtroom Update

I've had to break out the attorney mad skills lately.  In court on one matter earlier today, filing for a court date on another issue tomorrow.

Slowly, but surely, I am having to learn an entirely new (for me) area of the law.  In a way, it is weird.  On the other hand, it is a great feeling to master a new area.  Walking into district court on a civil case is a new experience on both levels for me.  I am used to being a Prosecutor and knowing exactly what to do and say when I got to court.  If I had a question, there were 150 colleagues to ask.  Now I am not even sure where to sit while I am waiting for my case to be called, much less what the next step in the process will be.

President Barack Obama's House

Ever wonder what President Obama and Michelle lived in before they moved to the White House?  Wonder no more!  This house is in Chicago at 5046 S Greenwood Ave.  Privately owned, it is not available for inside viewing.  You can expect to see security on the grounds to keep you off.

Incidentally, the usual internet ways to find information about the interior give off wildly conflicting answers, but most agree that it is worth about $1.5 million currently.

Thought for the Day

Hate is not the first enemy of love. Fear is. It destroys your ability to trust.

Saturday, June 22, 2013

Never on Sunday

Here at the Downriver Homes blog, we have decided not to normally publish new content on Sunday.  Six days a week is enough, don't you think?

Enjoy your day tomorrow.

Thought for the Day

Finish each day & be done with it. You have done what you could. Learn from it; tomorrow is a new day. -Ralph Waldo Emerson

Handling Neighbor Troubles

Everybody has neighbor problems.  Mr. Wilson was constantly frustrated by Dennis the Menace.  We've certainly had them in our current abode in Brownstown.  I'm pretty sure Lindsay Lohan has neighbors who wish she moved.

Sometimes the only way to deal with them is the direct approach.  If they are constantly having parties and too loud, then go over and tell them so.

Other ideas from Zillow:

Friday, June 21, 2013

Follow Me, Please

Note: The below information was lifted pretty much verbatim from the Warrendale Blog (see link on right), mainly because it says what I want to say and I don't need to come up with a different way to say it.  Thanks, Frank.

A great way to keep up to date with this site is to subscribe to it, in whatever fashion best suits your preferences.

One of the best ways to keep up with this blog is to subscribe to it via email. In the right-hand column on this page is a section labelled "receive email alerts." If you enter your email address in the marked field and hit "subscribe me" then you will get an email alert when I publish a new article. Your email address will remain private and you can unsubscribe at any time.

For those who prefer to follow multiple blogs simultaneously, there is Google Reader and the other RSS aggregators (Newsgator, Netvibes, etc.). For the other RSS feeds that are available, simply select your preferred RSS feed from the drop down menu under "Subscribe to RSS Feed" in the right hand column.

As always, you can bookmark this blog and visit the site periodically. The other options simply automate things for you nicely.

Horrible Landlords Going to Jail

A friend sent me a link to this article.  Apparently these two were more concerned about ruining their tenants' lives than anything else.  Although nobody would think these two despicable people are representative of all landlords, the profession does not have a good reputation.

But is that because of how they act or is it because of what they do?

A landlord provides a place to live in exchange for money.  They make a profit on the deal, usually.  They also put up capital to buy the place, fix and clean it between tenants, and risk losing money.  It can be a good bargain for the owner, but it can stink if the wrong people get access to your property.  I've already had my share of deadbeat tenants, renters leaving before their lease is up, and damage to my property.  And without renting to Axl Rose, yet.

If it were as easy as flicking a switch, everyone would be doing it.

Anyways, here is the link to the article.  It is kind of crazy what these people would do to mess with their renters:

Thought for the Day

"Never lose your temper, except intentionally." -Dwight D. Eisenhower

Thursday, June 20, 2013

From Russia, With Love?

Looking over recent audience tracking, an interesting phenomena is occuring:

After the United States, the largest audience for this blog is from Russia.

These domes are checking out JOK Homes?


I looked again at what I posted recently, and nothing really stood out as driving Russian traffic.  It's not like I referenced Josef Stalin or even Catherine the Great.  No mention of Moscow, Communism, the Great Patriotic War, or Cossacks.

It might be some kind of automated bots scouring the internet for things, but why would ones originating in Russia think this blog is worth scouring?

Maybe it is some international crime syndicate who is looking for soft targets for hacking.  I did mention banks, after all.  I hope not, although I have no idea what they could gain from the secrets of wall hangers.

Maybe it will just remain a mystery.

Queen Anne in Birmingham

The 1895 Queen Anne style home is in the heart of Birmingham. It has been completely restored, updated and expanded. It has 5 bedrooms, 4.5 baths, updated kitchen, 3 car garage in 4,569 square feet with beautifully manicured grounds for $1,495,000.
This is one awesome looking house.
The 1895 Queen Anne style home is in the heart of Birmingham. It has been completely restored, updated and expanded. It has 5 bedrooms, 4.5 baths, updated kitchen, 3 car garage in 4,569 square feet with beautifully manicured grounds for $1,495,000.

Remember how I sometimes say that this house is not my style?  That we lean more towards the traditional?  Well, here it is, and we are sad that we cannot afford it.  Although it's near-downtown Birmingham location has a lot going for it (and adds a ton to the price tag), we're not sure that it would fit our lifestyle.

That doesn't mean that we don't appreciate the awesome detailing on the exterior.  Or the magnificent wood details inside, including the original staircase from 1895.  The most recent owners added the turret.

You can see a lot more pictures, click here.

For an article in the Freep about this house, click here.

Third floor in the turret.
Third floor turret room.

Master bathroom.

Thought for the Day

— Train harder. — Run faster. — Aim higher. — Be stronger. — Play tougher. IF YOU REFUSE TO BE STOPPED. YOU WON'T BE.

Wednesday, June 19, 2013

What to do When the Bank Threatens Foreclosure

So you got THE letter.  First impulse is to put it away and get on with the rest of your life.  Bad impulse.

There are protections and timelines built into the foreclosure process, whether you live in Michigan, Ohio, California, Canada, or anywhere else.  Hiding the letter and letting the foreclosure control you means giving up those protections and speeding up those timelines.  The absolute worst thing is to do nothing.  Let me explain further:


Get legal advice.  You might think you can't afford it, but you really can't afford not to.

Respond to that first letter from the bank.  They sent it because they have to and they are hoping you ignore it so that they can move on in the process.  Don't make them happy.

If you can get help from your family, then do so.  This is no time for pride.  If you feel embarrassed, imagine how you'll feel if you don't tell them until things are much worse.

Do your research.  You can learn a lot online.  You are not the first.  I'll help get you started:

You got a letter?

Finding an attorney.

Thoughts for the Day

The expression a woman wears on her face is far more important than the clothes she wears on her back -Dale Carnegie

Tuesday, June 18, 2013

A Better Life Through Tenant Screening

When you have a good tenant, it makes all the difference.  I vow to do a better job figuring out who gets to live in one of my homes.

Thought for the Day

People who act like experts in things they know nothing about should be shot. In my professional opinion.

Median House tops $100k in Metro Detroit

This is an important milestone for this area, as it is the first time in four years it has topped this mark.  Here is what it means and what to think about:

  • Inventories of homes available for sale, which had been bloated for the last three years with foreclosures, are dwindling.  Be warned, however, that listing inventories are also market-sensitive.
  • In that same vein, keep in mind that, as prices go up, there is a backlog of people who wanted to sell or move and did not because they did not want to sell for less than what they owe or paid for the house.  Rising prices mean that these people may put their homes on the market, which would increase inventories and negatively impact prices.
  • I am no longer seeing the jaw-dropping bargains that used to comprise about five per cent of the market a year ago.
  • Detroit prices are still low, with a median of $11,000 or so.  Keep in mind that figure includes houses in exclusive neighborhoods that can significantly  impact that number.  I am a big believer in Detroit, and I have invested there, but I would still be selective about where to buy there.
  • Banks still have a large number of foreclosed properties on their books, which they have not yet released to the market.  That overhang is still being worked off.
  • Early estimates that the County Treasurer's tax foreclosure auction will set records in volume this year.  That is not a favorable sign.
Anyways, a Freep article with a lot of quotes not on point is here:

Monday, June 17, 2013

Frank Lloyd Wright House in Palmer Woods

I find Frank Lloyd Wright's work intriguing, but his designs never seem practical.  Although no one can argue his impact on architecture, I would not want to live in one of his houses.  However, one style of his, Usonian, might be a template that could be adaptable for the masses.  This particular example, with more pictures in the article linked to below, is in Detroit.

Wright envisioned this style of design as modular, adaptable for the specific needs of the person building the house.  Built of concrete, glass, and steel rods, it uses practical materials.  He designed about 60 houses in this style, around the country, and usually put them on cheap and odd-sized lots.  And the classic FLW blending of indoors and outdoors is in full effect.

Still, I see a wall of windows in Michigan and I shudder thinking of winter heating bills.  I think about a long hallway which has storage and displays but uses up space without being a room.  The kitchen is great, but small and it was updated not in the style of the original design.  There is no basement, attic, or garage.  Apparently you are supposed to find somewhere else to store the typical household's possessions.  Although it looks great, the practical side of me abhors the flat roof.

Incidentally, as a human being, Wright was basically a cad.  He was fired by the guy who gave him his first big break when he took secret outside design jobs and didn't share those commissions with the firm.  He almost destroyed his career again around 1910 by having an open affair with a client's wife and the two traveled to Europe together while still married to other people.  He ignored his children, by and large, his second marriage lasted only a short time, and he cheated on all three of his wives.  He spent money as fast as he could earn it and was perpetually in financial trouble.

Anyways, here is the article and more pictures:

Flowers That Are Perennially Great

20 favorite perennials for flaunting your curb appeal, from MSN Real Estate

Forget-me-not (Myosotis sylvatica)  (©  Photo courtesy of Proven Winners)

Catmint Nepeta x faassenii  (© Sunset)

Thought for the Day

When we judge, we invite judgment. When we hate, we invite hatred. But when we are kind, we invite kindness and when we love, we invite love.

Cory Booker

Sunday, June 16, 2013

Lincoln Park: Demographics of a Downriver City

It's helpful to take a look at the communities in Downriver, and so we will do so every so often.  Here we can start with Lincoln Park, which is one of the core communities in the region.

Let me start by saying that I love Lincoln Park as a perfect example of Downriver. It is also an outstanding place to invest in, with houses reasonably priced, a decent group of people who want to live here, and rents that are pretty stable.  I think home prices will do well over time, especially the area south of Southfield Road.  The only caveat here is the future of municipal and school finances, which is a concern for me.

17.5% are 60 years old and over, which strikes me as a little bit lower than average.  About 30% of households have children, right on pace with the national averages.  Average income is about average, too.

I am curious about the 4% who spend more than an hour commuting to work.  Considering Lincoln Park's central location and ready access to I-75, we are talking about people who are driving to Lansing or Jackson every day.  That seems a bit far to go every day, but one out of every 25 workers here does it.

Here is a link to more information, from Zillow:

Saturday, June 15, 2013

Extra Thought for the Day

The individual with a negative mental attitude attracts troubles as a magnet attracts steel filings.

Thought for the Day

I'm a great believer in luck and I find the harder I work, the more I have of it. -Thomas Jefferson

Real Life Monopoly Prices

So what if you had to pay the real-world prices for those places on the Monopoly board?

Click on the board to see the answers.

Friday, June 14, 2013

Home Prices Continue to Climb

U.S. Home Prices have continued their pattern of accelerated increases, jumping the most in seven years according to real estate data provider CoreLogic.  The national 12% jump, unfortunately, meant that Michigan, at 7.6% higher than a year ago, lagged the national market gains.  Those percentages are based on prices now compared to prices one year ago.

An increase in buyers is welcome news, and fewer homes are on the market.  That's partially because the worst of the foreclosure glut is now behind us, I believe.  However, banks will now be more likely to go to foreclosure quicker if they can recover their money as home values increase, which could impact home values negatively.

So things are generally looking good.  Michigan could use a little bit better recovery, but I can tell you from personal observation that prices are definitely up and absolute steals are getting harder and harder to find.

Here is a link to a Free Press article on the subject.

Edsel Ford's Summer Home

Now this is living!

This property in Bloomfield Township has  3 bedrooms with 4 1/2 baths in 6,065 square feet plus 4,000 in the finished lower level.

Michigan House Envy takes us to a 1922 home on Wing Lake Road in Bloomfield Township. Detroit industrialist Frank Book of Book-Cadillac and Edsel Ford were owners of the home. It has 3 bedrooms with 4 1/2 baths in 6,065 square feet plus 4,000 in the finished lower level.
We're a big fan of these paneled walls.

Protecting Your Home from Burglars

Thought for the Day

Everyone falls down. Only the best get back up.

Thursday, June 13, 2013

Fertilizing Your Lawn

Do you religiously fertilize your lawn?  I know I don't.  I may have done it a couple of years ago.  Well, that has got to change, for me and for you.

A scheduled program will give you a healthy lawn with fewer pesky weeds.  It will require less watering to thrive.  Like they say over on the Scott's website:  "If you put your lawn on the regular feeding schedule outlined below, it will look lush and green, and your neighbors will turn green with envy."

By the way, I also would urge you to get a spreader from a brand company and use it.  I have tried those so-called universal spreaders and can never figure out where the setting should be to drop the proper amount of fertilizer.  I'm going to get the Scott's one, use Scott's fertilizer, and conquer my fear of over-fertilizing the lawn.  In fact, I plan to do that today.

Plus, they have cell phone app.

Decorating with Pictures

Decorations are critical to creating a homey feel in the house.  The more expensive the house, the more money tends to be spent on decorating.  Here is one idea that will increase value without too much more money out of pocket.

How to Install a Curtain Rod

Grand House in Metamora

Maybe we dwell too much on grandiose houses that are gorgeous.  No, we don't dwell on them enough, actually.  We love the magnificent stone work and wonderful decor.  Plus all of them are in Michigan!

The home has 7,800 Sq. ft. and it was built in 1994. It sits on 9 acres. There are 4 fireplaces with beautiful mantles, 7 bedrooms, 6 bathrooms and 2 half baths, and an indoor swimming pool.

Detroit News article about Zoo and DIA

Here is a link to their article:

Detroit Zoo and DIA millages

Many Wayne County homeowners have had their local communities divert part of the taxes collected for the Zoo and Detroit Institute of Arts to their own Downtown  Development Authority.  It is unclear under state law whether that is proper.  So some of the cities and townships sued to get clarification.

Well, yesterday, a judge ruled that, yes, it is proper to keep that money the way the law was drawn up.

At the same time, there have been people in the state legislature who would like those taxes designated for the Zoo and DIA to all go to the zoo and DIA.  There has been a bill that was introduced last fall, but it had not yet passed.  Yesterday, after the judge's ruling, it did.  It is now awaiting the Governor's signature.

Opinion: I will admit that I have a bias on this.  I am Treasurer of the Wayne County Arts Authority, who takes the millage money collected and sends it to the DIA.  I am happy that, assuming the governor signs the bill, that the money will all go to the intended purpose.  I don't think anyone who voted for those millages thought any of the money would go to their local DDA, instead.

Thought for the Day

We do not worry over conditions once we have reached a decision to follow a definite line of action. 
Napoleon Hill

Tuesday, June 11, 2013

What A Great Picnic

Just came back from the REIA of Wayne County picnic.  Great bunch of people, very easy to talk to.  Lots of ideas and opinions about the real estate investment business.  The best news is that everyone that I spoke to is VERY optimistic about the money to be made in the metro Detroit area.  I, of course, was preaching the virtues of Downriver to those who would listen.

Just count me as fired up.

Home Depot

Too cute!

Good Morning!

Busy day today, but at least the police didn't call about any of my tenants last night.

Thought for the Day

It is not what you speak that most matters but your inner voice - the one no one hears but you. It is your indomitable will that counts; the heart and grit inside of you that tells you to fight on despite discouragement, despite the odds, despite the pain, despite the sadness, or despite the cruel chorus of others who tell you that you aren't good enough. No one can silence this voice but you. You can never lose, you can never be beaten, as long as you are obedient to your voice that compels you to never give up.

Cory Booker

GAR Building to Re-Open

This has always been one of my favorite buildings in Downtown Detroit, but sadly it was in disrepair for most of my adult life.  Maybe not anymore.

Tours of the G.A.R. Building and other historic buildings in Detroit are available through the Detroit Historical Society. For information, contact: 
Rebecca McDonald 
Manager of Programs 
Detroit Historical Society 
(313) 833-7935

From The Detroit News:

Monday, June 10, 2013


We are happy to say that visitors from Poland have now digitally visited our blog.  We hope they brought some good food to share.  Welcome!

Inside Alicia Keyes' Stunning Central Park Penthouse

Could you believe she decided to get rid of this?

From Zillow:

It took a price chop, but Alicia Keys and husband Swizz Beatz finally found a buyer for their New York penthouse.
The musical couple bought the home from fellow musician Lenny Kravitz for $12.75 million in 2010 and only spent two years in the place before hoisting it on the market for $17.95 million in March 2012. Once upon a time, Kravitz tried to get the same price for the apartment; he completed a full renovation on the home and listed it but had to cut the price over a span of a few years before Keys made an offer.
Although prone to price cuts, the penthouse isn’t any less fabulous. Located in SoHo, the Crosby Street condo is uber modern, with floor-to-ceiling windows, high ceilings and a floating staircase. The apartment has 6,167 square feet of living space, which doesn’t include the additional 3,000 square feet of terraces.
Keys and Beatz listed the home after deciding to move to the suburbs. The two bought a sprawling Englewood, NJ mansion from another A-lister, actor Eddie Murphy, in October 2012 for a reported $12 million.  (More pictures!)


Filed eviction papers on my back-door escape artist.

Judge Judy's Pad

Fifth Avenue, great address, but is it worth it?

Above the Law gives us insight into Judge Judy's recently sold Manhattan apartment.  2 bedrooms, 3 baths, $8.5 million for the place.  The new owner will pay $17,411 in maintenance each month, in addition to whatever mortgage and taxes.  Oh, and there is a maid's room, but it is being called home office/storage since people don't have live-in maids much anymore.

So my day started with a call from police about one of my rental properties.  When I went there and knocked on the front door, the tenants ran out the back door.  How about your day so far?

Thought for the Day

Go out, everyone, and seize the day!

Home Buyers With Foreclosures On Their Credit Get Back In The Game

Home Buyers With Foreclosures On Their Credit Get Back In The Game

Sunday, June 9, 2013

2013 Parade of Homes

The Home Builders Association of Southeastern Michigan announces the winners in its 24th annual Parade of Homes architectural judging. It is an exhibition of 43 new model, under construction and pre-construction homes and condominiums located throughout southeastern Michigan. The showcase takes place June 1-30, 2013. All 43 homes are featured at
We're partial to the one in the lower right.

The Home Builders Association of Southeastern Michigan announces the winners in its 24th annual Parade of Homes architectural judging. It is an exhibition of 43 new model, under construction and pre-construction homes and condominiums located throughout southeastern Michigan. The showcase takes place June 1-30, 2013. All 43 homes are featured at

Other Countries Are Heard From

Who knew that our blog about Downriver would have a worldwide audience?  Today, we welcome visitors from the United Kingdom, Indonesia. and Spain.  Welcome to all of you!

These Stonehenge structures are actually 21 inches high.


Since my children asked where Indonesia was, I am including a helpful map.

No animals were hurt in the making of this blog post.

Another Pleasant Valley Sunday

Hope everyone is enjoying their Sunday. After church and a retirement party for some teachers at the kid's school, I took a nap. After dinner, I plan to catch up on some DVR'd tv shows

Modern Inside a Colonial

We are not fans of modern decor, preferring a more traditional approach, but we have to admit that this remodel comes out pretty nice inside.

Kitchen ideas, bathroom ideas, and more ∨

Browse living room ideas, from sectional sofas to chandeliers and floor lamps, for your next interior design project.
Collect and share photos of bathroom tile, bathroom vanities, shower curtains and bathroom mirrors to create your perfect home decorating style.

WJR's Annette Compo Weighs in on Foreclosure Legislation in Lansing

I will take this up later, but thought it important to get Annette's press release out there.  As an investor, I have mixed emotions.  As a homeowner, I oppose this legislation.


Annette Compo, Real Estate Broker
(877) Annette

Legislation has been drafted in both the State House and Senate that aims to shorten Michigan’s 6-month foreclosure redemption period.

Michigan’s current 6-month redemption period is vital to completing short sales, loan modifications and other types of homeowner to homeowner transactions that avoid vacant and foreclosed homes. Home Owner to Home Owner sales is the most attractive due to nature of transferring the real estate as well as the sales price in much higher. By allowing the set of Bills to be pushed through will not only affect consumers negatively but also affect anyone that owns a home due to the nature of volatility that our Real Estate Market has been in since 2007. We have begun to experience an increase in sale prices across Michigan and consumer confidence has begun to recover as well. These Bills will create a foreclosure Tsunami and will affect every neighborhood within Michigan and the little consumer confidence that has begun to grow recently will be washed away.
Here is how you can help: We are asking you to tell your elected officials actual stories about how the redemption period benefits Michigan home values by allowing short sales and other types of transactions to close for the betterment of all. Below is a link to find your State Representative and State Senator. Let them know of your experience in working with homeowners during the foreclosure process, and how vital the current redemption period is to complete homeowner to homeowner transactions that preserve Michigan’s neighborhoods and home values.
Michigan Senate:
Michigan State House of Representatives:

Annette Compo is the popular host of Real Estate 411, heard weekly on Saturdays from 6-7pm on 760AM WJR. Annette is a Real Estate Broker and has been helping consumers understand all options when making decisions with their largest investment, their real estate.

Michigan Real Estate Trends

There is no doubt that prices for homes in metro Detroit, and Michigan in general, are rebounding.  Here is one man's review from February.  My own experience is that prices are continuing to go up, especially at the low end of the marker.

Nick Saban's House for Sale

Maybe he is moving the house to Alabama?

No explanation in the photos, so I'm not sure if this is his primary residence or not.   Not a fan of the guy as a coach, but I love the house.

Another Detroit Perspective

Many people think of Detroit as being entirely composed of slum housing, most of it vacant.  Keep in mind that there are still 700,000 people living there, and a lot of them are living in very normal houses in decent neighborhoods.

At the high end, Detroit still has some outstanding mansions any of us would love to live in.  I stumbled across this video depicting some of the homes in the Boston-Edison neighborhood.


Not Enough Construction Workers?

One of the challenges builders face in Southeast Michigan these days is finding enough workers with the skills to build houses.  According to the Freep:

An estimated 60,000 carpenters, re-modelers and other skilled tradesmen and women in the state’s residential construction sector were put out of work when the real estate market collapsed construction stalled.
Many of these laborers are believed to have left the state in search of work or quit the building trades.
Now that Michigan’s construction industry is on pace for a potential 37% increase this year in single-family home construction permits, builders are wishing they could rehire some of the labor they shed during the past six years. Yet despite a statewide unemployment rate of 8.4% in April, one in three members of the Home Builders Association of Michigan reported in a May survey having had difficulty finding enough skilled workers.

Common Repairs

This has never happened to me, yet.

Sometimes it is the small, annoying repairs that cause us the most grief.  We know there is probably a simple solution, but we don't know what that is.  Well, here are some ideas.

I am amazed at the number of solutions I can now find online.  I recently had this experience with a floor repair.  It did not take but a minute to find the repair.

Mullett Lake Mansion is Impressive

For Michigan house envy this week, we see a home in Mullet Township outside of Cheboygan that sits on 28 acres. It is a 1990 estate surrounded by three sides of water on northern Michigan's Mullett Lake
Surrounded by water on three sides, this could be yours for $12.9 million

According to the Freep , who is relying on, this is the most expensive house for sale in Michigan right now.  At $12.9M, you expect a lot of finery, and this house delivers.  10 bedrooms. 10 bathrooms and five half baths.  A guest house.  A commercial french fryer in the commercial-type kitchen (I really like that touch).   All 14,400+ square feet secluded on 28 acres.  You get the idea.

The place was built by Peter Paisley, who has since passed away, and his wife, Beverly.  Since she wants to sell, I'm thinking it was his dream house, not hers.  Doing some quick research, I found out that Peter was the founder and owner of Korex Corporation.  I really could not see what all exactly Korex does, but they are based in Wixom, Michigan and claim to be the world's largest manufacturer of automatic dishwasher powdered soap.  Which goes to show Peter Lynch's point that boring businesses can sometimes be the most profitable.

But I digress.  Back to the house.  I still do not understand why Mrs. Paisley would not want to keep living there.  They say they are always having family and friends over.  Maybe they would like to adopt me?

The 1,400 square foot great room leading to the dining room.
Not sure about the furniture, but love the ceiling.

Thought for the Day

"Love life, engage in it, give it all you've got. Love it with a passion, because life truly does give back, many times over, what you put into it” 
Maya Angelou

Most Buyers Look Online

When my wife and I bought our first house, we and our agent traipsed from listing to listing.  Rebecca and I hit the open houses hard, before and during the home buying experience.  There was a book with the MLS listings in them, it was thick and only agents and brokers got them.  I think they were updated every week.  That was 1991.  After we were done looking for the day, I went home and my computer told me "You've Got Mail."  (Obscure reference to then-dominant America On Line) and wondered if anybody was going to be as successful as Vanilla Ice.

Today, brokers usually don't do open houses.  On the other hand, Mr. Ice apparently works on them.  Still, I was surprised when one was held in my neighborhood last weekend.  I think it might have been the first in years around here.

You don't see these signs nearly as much as you used to.

What's taken the place of the Open House?   Looking at listings from the internet.  Each broker now puts their listings online.  You can also go to Zillow or Trulia.  Looking online lets you eliminate lots of properties quickly and narrow your visits to those who, on the surface at least, might work.

There is still no substitute for boots on the ground.  I was just driving through a neighborhood looking at listings from my car yesterday.  This is especially important for me because many of the listings I focus on only have one picture or none at all.  In addition to the listing, you need to get a feel for the neighborhood and the houses around it.

Thanks to the REIA of Macomb County for this helpful article:

Repairing Hardwood Floors

I actually looked this up for my own reasons.  I've had some tenants who, for some reason, pulled up some of the floor boards in the dining room.  Anybody want to comment and speculate why?


We had tremendous success purchasing a foreclosure.  It was in pretty good shape when we acquired it.  We repainted it and took the old moldy carpet up.  We bought it for a cottage, and it worked out pretty well for us.

Then we bought another one for a rental.  It worked out great.  It's our favorite unit.

Foreclosures present a tremendous opportunity to get your home at a discount.  Sure, it will not have stainless steel appliances or granite counter tops (at least usually it won't), but you have got plenty of money for things left over

And if you want it for quick resale, here are some thoughts:'

Saturday, June 8, 2013

More International Fans?

I couldn't help but check back in on the traffic stats on the first day of this blog.

Now we have 2 visits from Japan.  And one from Germany.

Maybe this is our blog visitor from Germany?

Someone here would not need a home Downriver, unless they want to live on Grosse Ile.

Ideas? Comments?

Our first day here on the new blog is ending.  Not all of our material is transitioned over, obviously.  Plus we are coming up with even more new ideas to add content.

However, I am genuinely interested in your own thoughts.  Where are good cities to live Downriver?  Do you see prices continuing to go up?  What can this blog do better?

You can post them as comments, or you can email them to me.


My wife, Rebecca, and I.  She wants to know what you think, also.

Wall Anchors

Homeowners need to know how to effectively install these devices.

Really Tiny Homes

Gather no moss (©

There has always been a following out there for small footprint homes.  Some of it seems to be a perverse pleasure in seeing how little space is needed to live in.  Some of it can be attributed to a desire for a simple, easy to maintain abode.  And some of it stems from people who just want to be different.

It's definitely not a trend fitting in with my life needs, but still is interesting.

Houses Fit for Game of Thrones

Not sure if all of them would be up to Lannister standards, but I'm sure the Starks would be happy to be able to take refuge in any of them.

$$$ to Demolish Vacant Buildings is a Good Thing

State to get $100 million in federal funds to fight blight

Detroit will be among five cities in Michigan that will share $100 million in Federal money to tear down abandoned buildings.  The money, originally meant for mortgage holders having trouble, has been redirected.  The original mortgage rescue plan was so narrowly drawn that few people actually qualified who could use it. I'm glad the money was repurposed. Thanks to Congressman Dan Kildee for his work on this.

On the other hand, this will take care of about 4,000 buildings.  Another 36,000 remain.  

Channel 7 has video:

Hello, Japan!

Big Shout Out to the guy or gal from Japan who, Blogger tells me, checked out this blog.  I hope you come back.  In honor of you, we are designating this as a post from Tokyo.

Awesome Detroit House

The Detroit News tells about a gorgeous house, but the best part is that they brought plenty of pictures with them.  You have got to see these.


One place to get great appliances at a discount is on Craigslist. I wouldn't use them for a kitchen remodel, but if you want to put a beer fridge in your basement or add a washer and dryer to your cabin up north, this is a great option. Here is the link for people in my neck of the woods.