Sunday, December 21, 2014

http://thenewsherald.com/articles/2014/12/21/news/doc5496df0ee4aa1264207025.txt


Friday, November 21, 2014

Using Ceiling Fans in Winter


When it gets cold, your ceiling fan can help.  Here in Michigan, we can use all the help we can get.  The recent cold weather burst reminds us that, to quote Game of Thrones, "Winter is Coming."  As Family Handyman reminds us, we can use our ceiling fans to help keep the house warmer and reduce those awful heating bills.  They were even kind enough to include a video.

Link:
http://www.familyhandyman.com/video/v/62195686/ceiling-fans-and-saving-on-winter-home-heating-bills.htm


Tuesday, November 11, 2014

Thought for the Day

Success seems to be connected to action. Successful people keep moving. They make mistakes, but they don't quit. - Conrad Hilton

Monday, November 10, 2014

Thought for the Day

You become like the 5 people you spend most of your time with. Choose wisely.

Sunday, November 9, 2014

Thought for the Day

Remember that the tone of your voice often conveys more accurately what is in your mind than do your words.

Saturday, November 8, 2014

Thought for the Day

Discouragement and failure are two of the surest stepping stones to success.

Friday, November 7, 2014

Thought for the Day

Sometimes the smallest things take up the most room in your heart. -Winnie the Pooh

Thursday, November 6, 2014

Thought for the Day

It you haven’t the willpower to keep your physical body in repair, you also lack the power of will in other important circumstances that control your life.

Wednesday, November 5, 2014

Thought for the Day

When you show by your actions that you lack self-confidence, other people also begin to doubt your ability to perform.

Tuesday, November 4, 2014

Thought for the Day

Instead of complaining about your circumstances, get busy and create some new ones.

Monday, November 3, 2014

Thought for the Day

The best & most beautiful things in life cannot be seen, not touched, but are felt in the heart. -Helen Keller

Effective Tenant Screening


Getting a good tenant, who pays on time and keeps the property decent, is key to having a profitable rental property.  Trust me, I've dealt with the opposite, and it is not fun.  But how do you weed out bad prospects?

You start with an application, I hope.  You can charge an application fee.  In fact, I recommend it to weed out those who are not serious about renting from you.

Once you get the application, start by looking at the income.  Some people use a standard of three times rent per month.  I weed out anyone who has prior evictions, but foreclosures are different.  A lot of people walked away from homes when the market collapsed or when their balloon mortgage came due and they could not refinance at that valuation.  Those people still have jobs and can pay you rent.

That's one thing to think about.  Of course, you don't want to violate the law by illegally discriminating on the basis of race, sex, marital status, etc.

Follow the link to see what else you should be thinking about.


Link:
http://www.biggerpockets.com/renewsblog/2014/10/16/the-landlords-guide-to-effective-and-legal-tenant-screening/


Sunday, November 2, 2014

Thought for the Day

Disappointments are just God's way of saying: "I've got something better"' Be patient, live life, have faith.

Saturday, November 1, 2014

How a Septic Tank Works



For many people,the most they know about septic tanks is that they do not want to empty them.  Still, if you have one (and many still do), then you need to have at least a basic understanding of how they operate.

Key tip: don't use a garbage disposal as they don't really help as much as you think.

Link:
http://www.familyhandyman.com/plumbing/how-a-septic-tank-works/view-all


Thought for the Day

There is always a shortage of people who get the job done on time without excuses or grumbling.

Friday, October 31, 2014

Thought for the Day

If you’re going to be thinking anyway, you might as well think big. - Donald Trump

Thursday, October 30, 2014

Hottest Real Estate Markets, Overpriced in California



Fortune magazine has a list of 13 of the hottest real estate markets.  In this instance, "hottest" includes overvalued.  Most of the list are places in California (are you reading this, Neil Kramer?), but the number one market where prices have outpaced reality is in Texas.

Michigan did not have any places on this list, which is not really a shock.  Truth be told, this is a list of overbought areas where values are likely to drop or at least stagnate.  It is not the kind of list you really want to be on.  One of the things I like about this area is its affordability.

So let's be glad this is one list of top places that Michigan is not on.

Link:
http://fortune.com/2014/10/23/hottest-real-estate-us/?utm_content=buffer3eb88&utm_medium=social&utm_source=plus.google.com&utm_campaign=buffer

Wednesday, October 29, 2014

Strathmoor Leads Group Who Bundled

Developer Herb Strathmoor has taken credit as being the focal point of the consortium who bid on the huge bundle of Detroit properties and has now won them.  Keep in mind that these properties were bundled together with the idea that they would not sell and then the Detroit Land Bank could try to make something of them.

I will have my own take on their plans later this week, but for now it is important to know that mr. Strathmoor already has tax leins on properties in Detroit.  Oopsie.

Link:
http://www.detroitnews.com/story/news/local/wayne-county/2014/10/29/developer-won-detroit-property-auction-outstanding-liens/18117195/

Art Van Elslander Mansion Sells at Auction

Aerial of the rear of the Art Van Elslander estate. To register to bid in the "absolute auction," a $200,000 certified check payable to the escrow agent, wire transfer or a personal check along with bank letter of guarantee is required, according to the brochure listing the sale.

The wonderful mansion of Art Van founder Art Van Elslander, after a year on the real estate market for $15.9 million, was sold at auction yesterday.  We have a link to the Detroit News story on this, but it was covered in other places as well.  It was for sale for a year before being put on the auction block.

Not just any ordinary auction.  In order to bid, you needed to deposit $200,000 in cash or certified funds.  How much the place went for and who bought it is still undisclosed.

We have previously covered the sale of the place, here and here.  It is absolutely stunning and might be the best residence in Michigan.

I'm just hoping the undisclosed bidder is not my wife.  Like many, she would love the place.  But we can't afford the yearly upkeep on a place like this.

Link:
http://www.detroitnews.com/story/business/real-estate/2014/10/29/van-elslander-mansion-sells-reserve-auction/18098043/

Previous:
http://downriverhomes.blogspot.com/2013/10/you-can-buy-art-van-founders-mansion.html

http://downriverhomes.blogspot.com/2014/10/art-vans-spectacular-estate-on-auction.html



Tuesday, October 28, 2014

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.

Monday, October 27, 2014

How People Violate Fair Housing Laws

When you are selling or renting a property, you want to avoid running afoul of the various anti-discrimination provisions.  Even if the Federal Government does not think you are worth going after, an aggrieved potential buyer or renter could bring their own lawsuit and hit your wallet.  Not to mention that some organizations, including government agencies, send undercover folks to see if they can find examples of discrimination.

Don't let your mistake on one day be the basis of legal trouble.  Instead, read up on the laws and stay clear of the kind of questions or comments that can get you in hot water.

Link:
http://www.biggerpockets.com/renewsblog/2014/06/27/completed-fair-housing-act-compliance/


Saturday, October 25, 2014

Top Professions of Renters



So, when it comes to homes, who rents and who buys?  The answers might surprise you.

You probably think that people who own make more money.  And that is partially true.  But what about lawyers renting more than firemen?  And why are ballerinas renting so much?

Fortunately for us, the Wall Street Journal is on the case.

Part of the reason may lie in the fact that a lot of fireman have second jobs in some type of home improvement business.  Being handy, it is easier to own a home that you can DIY yourself.  At least that is my theory.

What do you think?  Any other results surprise you?  Feel free to leave your comments below.

Link:
http://blogs.wsj.com/economics/2014/10/15/optometrists-to-dancers-which-americans-are-most-likely-to-own-homes/


Friday, October 24, 2014

Thought for the Day

Once you eliminate the impossible, whatever remains, no matter how improbable, must be the truth.

Thursday, October 23, 2014

Apps for Real Estate Investors

realestateinvestors-apps-1
Memphis Real Estate Investing has a great post talking about apps investors should be using for their smart phone.  I plan to check out a few of these that I did not know about.


I especially am interested in the app for CRT.  By the way, there are good suggestions for both Apple and Android phones.






Link:
http://blog.memphisinvest.com/inventions-and-apps-for-real-estate-investors?utm_source=hs_email&utm_medium=email&utm_content=14281274&_hsenc=p2ANqtz-_93j5oCk8NkPge49mLwXB64NzNQO6XOK0rm2BSDmhKFxWZMv2jjDLlJlbIhk_iUi0mo9Vk4vccOHhU7s5kUxhFhkFyiA&_hsmi=14281274

Thought for the Day

If you don’t believe it yourself, don’t ask anyone else to do so.

Wednesday, October 22, 2014

Thought for the Day

Rage against the Dying of the Light!

My Thoughts on the Detroit Bankruptcy

I posted these thoughts on Bigger Pockets in response to this thread, but thought it might be interesting to see what blog readers think.  The discussion basically centered on why Detroit went bankrupt and what the future held.  Feel free to comment below.
1) A portion of Detroit's deficit can be attributed to changes in the state's municipal funding system, changes which victimized urban and fully developed areas and rewarded small towns and open areas.  When the state ran into their own financial issues, they chose to cut local revenue sharing (meant to replace other money lost in another tax change).  That change alone meant $200 million less for Detroit.
2) The real estate collapse hit Detroit worse than just about anywhere else.  Tax revenues plummeted.  Then, thanks to certain unique aspects of Michigan law, residential taxes did not bounce back when prices bounced back up.  It will be 2028 before taxable valuations are at 2008 levels.

Tuesday, October 21, 2014

UPDATED: 6000+ Homes Bundle in Tax Auction Has a Bidder

Wayne County bundled 6,350 properties together in their most recent round of tax auctions.  Instead of the usual starting price of $500, these were grouped together.  Probably about 2,000 of those are vacant lots, and another 3,000 or so are beyond help and will need to be demolished.

The $3,183,500 bid relieves the Detroit Land Bank of the estimated $24 million cost to demolish those homes, so Detroit officials have got to be happy about that.  Rumors are that others may yet bid and drive the price up. 

So the buyers get 1300 decent houses, 3000 that need torn down, and 2000 vacant lots. $24 million to demolish the bad ones should be figured into the bid. The vacant lots are not worth anything, really. $27 mil to 1300 decent houses works out to about 21000/house, unless they figure they can do the demolitions cheaper. Sounds like a win-win to me.

The auction ends in seven days.

Link:
http://www.detroitnews.com/story/news/local/wayne-county/2014/10/21/m-bid-placed-bundle-foreclosed-properties-detroit/17659389/

Bam! The House Won't Sell!





Poor Emeril Lagasse.  His New Orleans mansion has been on the market since March of 2013, cut the asking price several times, and still has not sold.  You can read my own theory on why after the jump.

I know you want to see what the kitchen looks like.  Here it is.

6700 square feet, great location, four bedrooms, four baths, three first floor powder rooms, a 1500 sq. ft. kitchen (bigger than many people's entire houses), this place has it all.  And yet, from the initial ask of $1.625 million dropping down to $1,45 mil, nary a purchaser in sight.

Bam!  Living Room is kicked up a notch!

Thought for the Day

Successful people are decisive people. When opportunities come their way, they evaluate them carefully, make a decision, and take appropriate action. 

Monday, October 20, 2014

Thought for the Day

Too many people spend more time planning their weekends than their future. 

Friday, October 17, 2014

Thought for the Day

Money has no character, no personality, no values. Its actions only reflect the desires of its owner. 

Wednesday, October 15, 2014

Miters for your Mouldings

Glue and Sand for a Seamless Fit

Family Handyman is a great site for good information for non-professionals (like YOU!).  Here are some tips on mitering corners if you follow the link.

Link:
http://www.familyhandyman.com/carpentry/trim-carpentry/how-to-tips-for-tight-miters


Thought for the Day

Don't compare your progress with that of others. We all need our own time to travel our own distance.

Tuesday, October 14, 2014

Kelly Ripa Sells Her NY Place

kelly ripa's living room
Living room of the penthouse, featuring a great staircase.

Kelly Ripa and her husband have sold their New York penthouse for $20 million.  I'm not going to go into all of the details (that's what links are for), but I will put up a gratuitous picture of Kelly.



Link:
http://realestate.aol.com/blog/2014/09/22/kelly-ripas-nyc-penthouse-sells-for-20-million/?cps=gravity


Thought for the Day

Sometimes it is wiser to join forces with opponents than to fight them.

Monday, October 13, 2014

Fear the Professional Tenant


There are unscrupulous tenants out there who will game the system and make life miserable for you if you rent to them.  Even though you treat them fairly and are honest, they will lie to your face and use legal delays to live rent-free in your place until you can finally get rid of them thousands of dollars later.  Then they will move on to their next victim.

I had a bad experience with one of these, although he was more passive and played on my sympathies for his family than anything else.  He just wanted to live there as cheap as possible and did, until I got a court order to evict them.  Sadly, future tenants needing a bit of understanding will pay the price for his manipulations.

A landlord and attorney in Massachusetts with some experience in these matters offers some helpful hints on spotting these people before they get approved to live in your place.

I'd be interested in hearing from the other side of this,  Anybody want to share a bad landlord story?

Link:
http://realestate.aol.com/blog/2014/08/30/professional-tenants-and-how-not-to-fall-victim-to-them/


Thought for the Day

Instead of complaining about what you don’t like about your job, start commending what you do like and see how quickly it improves.

Sunday, October 12, 2014

Metro Detroit Home Prices Soar, Especially in Hot Spots

DFP 1010_real_estate_hot_spot.jpg
This nice couple from South Lyon are in the middle of a real estate
market upswing more dramatic than we are seeing Downriver.
It's no secret that Metro Detroit real estate prices are going up, and have been for a while.  After the big crash in the second half of the last decade, up is about all they could go.

What is not so apparent, but should be known, is that not all areas are going up uniformly.  Some areas lead the pack and some areas lag.  In our area, we have no leaders, at least according to the article.  We do have a laggard, Romulus.

Statistics don't lie.  I am not shocked that the Grosse Pointes are once again in vogue.  What I don't understand is why more people do not realize the great neighborhoods and cities Downriver and give them a little love.  Our area gets an unfair rap, in my humble opinion.

Oh well, read the story in the Free Press anyways.

Link:
http://www.freep.com/story/money/real-estate/home-sales/2014/10/12/real-estate-hot-spots-michigan-housing/17107651/


Thursday, October 9, 2014

Thought for the Day

Never stand begging for that which you have the power to earn. - Miguel de Cervantes

Wednesday, October 8, 2014

Thought for the Day

If you have the will to succeed, you will somehow find a way, regardless of the obstacles you encounter.

Tuesday, October 7, 2014

Florida Mansion is Most Expensive Listing in USA

I could not resist.  I had such fun last year covering a Greenwich, CT listing (Copper Beech Farm) which, at $140 million, was the most expensive listing in the country at the time.  I told our intrepid readers when it had a Black Friday sale moment.  I shared when it finally sold.

In my mind, part of the value of that property was the location.  This new mansion seems to be priced more on the basis of the building itself, although to be sure it is still an awesome location with a lot of oceanfront.

Monday, October 6, 2014

Ellen DeGeneres, Real Estate Mogul


0706-ellen-degeneres-house-launch-v4

This is worth a look, even if the news is from the summer.

Ellen DeGeneres bought a house in Los Angeles for $40 million.  Right after she did her renovations, Napster founder Sam Parker wanted to buy it for $55 million.  So Ellen said, "Uh, okay" or something like that.

TMZ has the scoop.

Link:
http://www.tmz.com/2014/07/07/ellen-degeneres-i-just-made-more-money-flipping-my-brand-new-mansion/?adid=hero7


Sunday, October 5, 2014

Thought for the Day

I may not have my dream life at this moment, but each day it's worth striving to reach toward that dream to make it a reality.

Thursday, October 2, 2014

Art Van's Spectacular Estate On Auction Block

The Lake St. Clair-facing rear view and back yard of the Art Van Elslander estate in Grosse Pointe Shores.  The estate of the Art Van Furniture founder and his wife, Mary Ann, is up for auction. It was initially listed for $15.9 million on the Grand Estates Auction Co. website.

The founder of Art Van furniture is selling his house.  Everything must go!  You get the bargains!  Buy now!  Free financing for five years!

We're kidding about the financing, but the exclusive abode of Art Van Elslander has been for sale for over a year at $15.9 million without a sale, so now it is going up for auction, instead.  Considering that this is the highest listing price ever in Michigan, it was going to take a certain type of buyer (paging Dan Gilbert!) at the right time to make a sale on this.  So to the auction house it goes.  The Detroit News has the info, along with a ton of great pictures from the auction listing.  Put your bids in on October 28th.

We wrote about this place before, when it first went up for sale last year.  Actually, we had a wittier headline when we wrote about it before, too.  At the time, we called it "the best place in Michigan to live."  It is spectacular.  A lot more pictures after the jump:

The Art Van Elslander estate in Grosse Pointe Shores.

Thought for the Day

It is easy to be objective when it comes to criticizing our friends, family members, and business associates, but it is far more difficult to be honest about our own shortcomings.

Tuesday, September 30, 2014

Island Home in Michigan



The Detroit Free Press has some great pictures of this Oakland County house, which is in an awesome setting. It is fair to say that it is also an awesome house, even if it were not on a one-acre island in Lotus Lake which you get to by taking a boat ride of 100 feet or walking across the ice in the winter.


Link:
http://www.freep.com/article/20140720/BLOG46/307200012/House-envy-lotus-island-Michigan

Monday, September 29, 2014

Kitchen Remodeling Done Cheap



OK, by now you surely know that kitchens are what sell homes, right?  They also are important to renters.  And people who own and live in a house want a great kitchen, too.  So I think we can narrow the number of people who don't make remodeling the kitchen a priority wish to some bachelor guys and those who just had it done.

That doesn't mean you have to spend twenty grand if you don't have it.  Sometimes you can get a lot of good for only a little money.  Here are some examples.


Buy (almost) new appliances © SeanPavonePhoto/Shutterstock.com

Link:
http://www.bankrate.com/lite/smart-spending/kitchen-remodeling-ideas-under-500-1.aspx

Thought for the Day

When starting out in real estate investing aim for the path of least resistance

Sunday, September 28, 2014

Thought for the Day

Be very selective in your choice of friends. 

A Dramatically Transformed Detroit is Coming

John Gallagher suggests in the Freep that Detroit in ten years could look very different, and for the better.  Yes, we've heard it before, like for the last 50 years or so.  But now we can point to specific changes that have already happened.  So I agree with him.

Remember this look, because it will be changing soon.
How about the new Red Wings arena/entertainment district?  The growth of neighborhoods surrounding downtown?  M-1 Rail?  The re-birth of Capitol Park from ashes?

Detroit in ten years will have an active, walkable downtown core.  Maybe Dan Gilbert will have sold some of his 60 buildings by then.  Or maybe he will own 100.  More about that later this week.

Neighborhoods will benefit from improved services, although this will not happen overnight.

By the way, what do you think about the idea of filling in I-375 and turning it into a surface street?  Feel free to post comments below.

Link: http://www.freep.com/story/news/local/michigan/detroit/2014/09/28/downtown-m-rail-arena-bridge/16343825/

Thursday, September 25, 2014

Thought for the Day

If the thing you wish to do is right, and you believe in it, go ahead and do it!

Shipping Container Condos Coming to Corktown

rosa-park-condo.jpg


Wow, that is a lot of words starting with C in that headline.

Now that we have got that out of the way, let's get to the meat of the story, which is that condos made from shipping containers are going to go up in the Corktown area (near the old Tiger Stadium) of Detroit.  I think you will be able to see them from I-75 after they are completed.  Models should be in place to spur sales in the spring.

Not sure what we are talking about?  Check out our previous posts on the subject.

Link: http://www.detroitnews.com/story/business/2014/09/23/shipping-containers-condominiums-corktown-detroit/16096663/


Wednesday, September 10, 2014

Thought for the Day

The past cannot be changed, forgotten, edited or erased; it can only be accepted.

Suspicious Package Closes 33rd District Court

33rd District Court in Woodhaven has been closed due to a suspicious package.  Although these types of incidents usually prove harmless, you would probably be well advised to avoid the area altogether until it is cleared up.

Sunday, August 10, 2014

Thought for the Day

None of us can think we are exempt from concern for the poor and for social justice - Pope Francis

Saturday, August 9, 2014

Thought for the Day

You are either honest or dishonest. There can be no compromise between the two.

Sunday, July 27, 2014

Thought for the Day

Let the refining and improving of your own life keep you so busy that you have little time to criticize others.

Monday, July 21, 2014

Thought for the Day

Some people create their own storms, then get upset when it rains.

Wednesday, July 16, 2014

Thought for the Day

The climb upward will be easier if you take others along with you.

Monday, July 14, 2014

Thought for the Day

Wisdom comes from taking the time to study yourself, to know why you are the person you are. 

Saturday, July 12, 2014

Friday, July 11, 2014

Thought for the Day

Decide where you are going and how to get there. Then make a start from where you now stand. 

Taylor Home Near All of the New Movie Screens



13650 Pardee Rd, Taylor, MI 48180
See update at end.

With all of the discussion last week about new movie theaters coming to Taylor (see here and here), we thought maybe one of our intrepid readers may be interested in buying a home close to all of the cinema excitement.  So here is a listing for that person.

13650 Pardee, Taylor, MI  48180
1 bedroom, 1 bath, 3 car garage
$64,900

This listing is instructional in how NOT to use photos to promote your listing.  See below after the jump.

Thursday, July 10, 2014

Thought for the Day

Losers quit when they're tired. Winners quit when they've won.

New Emergency Manager Doesn't Understand Municipal Finance


I hate to say someone making $150,000/year in taxpayer money does not understand a key part of his job, especially when Lincoln Park residents are affected by his decisions, but it's true here.

New Emergency Manager Alan Coulter gave an interview to the News Herald on his second day on the job.   Among his observations was that he did not know how much more cost-cutting could be done, but that he thought a key was to bring crime under control and grow property values.  He reasons that the increased property values will raise the tax base and catch up to costs as time goes on.

The problem with that reasoning is the peculiar (in Michigan) cross-effects of Proposal A and the Headlee Amendment, both products of the 1990s.  Regular readers of this blog will remember this discussion from previous posts.  The point is, property tax revenues can go up by inflation or five per cent, whichever is less.  And, as property values go up, the overall tax rate goes down a fraction.  So, while property values can go up and up, tax revenues from them in Lincoln Park (and everywhere else in Michigan) are going to creep slightly higher falling further and further behind inflation each year.  This is only counteracted if you have a lot of undeveloped land, which Lincoln Park does not.


But Coulter does not understand this.  Or at least he did not on his second day on the job.  You can't blame the guy, but it is an issue that other qualified people who were not appointed would know.  Betcha this was not in his EM orientation packet from the Governor's office.  He's probably a smart guy and will learn it soon, though.  Then it will be on to Plan B.

On the other hand, Coulter should be commended for saying he was going to work with the elected mayor and council rather than just make all of the decisions himself (which he is allowed to do under the law).  Even if the advisory-committee training wheels (like in Ecorse today) are put on Lincoln Park when he leaves in 18 months or so, these are the people who will eventually have to assume responsibility for keeping the city out of further trouble down the road.

BTW, he is an appointee of the state who are paying his salary.


Link:
http://thenewsherald.com/articles/2014/07/09/news/doc53bc393e7b28e334710141.txt?viewmode=fullstory

http://downriverhomes.blogspot.com/2014/01/a-broken-system-of-funding-local.html



Wednesday, July 9, 2014

Fix That Leaking Toilet!

Cross-section of toilet

I'm not going to go into a lot of details, but toilets are one thing you overlook until they aren't working right.  If they're leaking or running too much, you should try to fix it.  The Family Handyman offers some solutions to the usual problems.

Photo 7: Prep for the extender ring

I have seen too many instances of unrepaired leaking toilets that have rotted the floor they sat on.  It would be so much easier to address the issue before that kind of damage is done.

Link:
http://www.familyhandyman.com/plumbing/toilet-repair/how-to-repair-a-leaking-toilet

Kenny Rogers Mansion Not For Gamblers

House, Celebrity house for sale: Realtor.com

Kenny Rogers, successful country singer, is putting his Atlanta-area ranch up for sale.  Apparently he has decided it's time to fold 'em.

As the picture from Bankrate says below, he is asking $4.8 million.  For that, you get a great place, from the looks of it.  Six bedrooms, twelve baths (8 full), and almost 12,000 square feet.  Sounds like a great place for entertaining, with a pool  that has a swim-up bar (no need to walk away unless the dealing is done).

Celebrity house for sale: Realtor.com, Kenny Rogers: © PR Photos.

There is also a home theater and a basketball court.  Yep, this is not a place where you keep to yourself.

We are kind of liking the style of this place.  It is so inviting and warm.  Like this hallway, for example:

Foyer, Celebrity house for sale: Realtor.com

Thought for the Day

You have to expect things of yourself before you can do them.

Tuesday, July 8, 2014

North Branch Tudor has Russian Flair

A curving staircase goes to a second-level balcony where there's room for a library or an orchestra.
Even the floors are awesome in this room.

Ed May, a businessman who spent time each year in Russia on business, bought this 7,000 square foot house in 1973 and has constantly been changing and upgrading it.  The result is a house filled with detailed workmanship with a Russian accent.

Some listing-type details: 38 acres of land in North Branch, Michigan.  Heated five-car garage plus two other garages.  Guesthouse with six bedrooms.  Outdoor pool with a cabana.  Sauna in a separate building. Fishing pond on the property.  All-glass atrium.  Asking price a shade below $3 million.

The home is full of special touches like classic Burberry wallpaper, stunning greatroom or ballroom with large balcony.
But this house requires a specific buyer, one who is willing to accept someone else's decorating, because there are so many details in the design of this house.

Take the Brazilian cherry floors in the living room, for example.  That's not too unusual, but it is in a herringbone pattern, which is spectacular.  The ceiling has hand-painted highlights.  There are painted and wood details all over the house.

The room has 11 alcoves, which May filled with paintings of the 12 apostles. (Peter and Paul had to double up.) The owner commissioned these from a Russian priest who is a famous iconographer.
This kind of extreme detailing is common here.
May and his wife are pictured in a painting on one wall in a sleigh with St. Peter nearby.  It's going to be tough for the next buyer to paint over that, so you're probably looking at the old owners while you live there.


Thought for the Day

You cannot escape the responsibility of tomorrow by evading it today. -Abraham Lincoln

Monday, July 7, 2014

Thought for the Day

Opportunity will not interest itself in the person who isn’t interested in it.

Tenant Red Flags

If their current place looks like this, they will live like that in your place later.

If you're a tenant, don't do these things.  If you are a landlord, watch out for these things; it will not end well.

Dave Van Horn has managed rental properties for over 25 years, and has developed some sure signs of trouble to come.  I have seen some of these signs in tenants I approved when I did not know better.  Those were the bad tenants that I later had to file eviction proceedings on.  Had I known then, I could have avoided them and saved myself a lot of money.

Easiest one: if they don't have the security deposit up front, they will have trouble paying the rent later.  I learned that one the hard way.





Link:
http://www.biggerpockets.com/renewsblog/2014/04/24/13-red-flags-troublesome-tenants/

Sunday, July 6, 2014

Thought for the Day

If you don’t know why you failed, you are no wiser than when you began.

Update: Coulter is Lincoln Park Emergency Manager

Brad Coulter
Brad Coulter has been named by Governor Rick Snyder as the Emergency Manager in Lincoln Park.  He comes from a background in the private sector and is known as a corporate turnaround expert.

We posted earlier this week that this move was rumored to be imminent.  As it turned out, the announcement came out later that same day.

We must confess some curiosity as to why Lincoln Park's City Council took the unusual step of asking for an Emergency Manager from the state when they probably could have operated under a consent decree and retained local control.  Instead, the local elected leaders voted to just abdicate their authority and give up.  For most of them, they were there and voting when the deficit budgets were approved in prior years, and now they will not be making the tough choices to fix the fiscal carnage.

We don't approve of that sort of action, and hope they will not continue to draw a paycheck for what is now a symbolic role in their local community that they served so poorly.

In any case, good luck to Mr. Coulter and the citizens of Lincoln Park.

Link:
http://www.thenewsherald.com/articles/2014/07/05/news/doc53b57476cc69c446412338.txt?viewmode=fullstory

Previous post: http://downriverhomes.blogspot.com/2014/07/breaking-lincoln-park-gets-emergency.html

Radon: Silent Odorless Killer

Safety Siren Pro Series 3 digital continuous radon meter.

A silent, colorless, odorless radioactive gas that can cause cancer.

You might have got a radon test when you bought your current house, and that was the last time you thought about this dangerous gas and the cancer it can cause.  Think now.  Get a detector (they're cheap!) and educate yourself here.

Don't just brush by this and not act.




Link:
http://www.familyhandyman.com/smart-homeowner/home-safety-tips/what-is-radon/view-all#step1


Saturday, July 5, 2014

Robbie Krieger's House and Treehouse

Studio: Robby Krieger’s California Home

Robbie Krieger, amazing guitarist from The Doors, gave HGTV a peek inside his southern California home.  Since I am a huge Doors fan going back to my youth, I have to share it with you here.

In his Doors days, Krieger was a popular fan choice for favorite guitar player.  Keep in mind that this was during the same time as Jimmy Page, Jimi Hendrix, Carlos Santana, and Eric Clapton were all playing.  Pretty distinguished company.

Guitars: Robby Krieger’s California Home

Thought for the Day

Don't compare yourself to others. Compare yourself to the person from yesterday.

Friday, July 4, 2014

State Road Projects Ignore Downriver


The Michigan Department of Transportation list of road repairs, all $114,942,610 of it, has been released.  And, except for a small project in Allen Park and one in Riverview, it virtually ignores Downriver.  

Yes, there is a $3 million appropriation for Allen Road in Woodhaven, to fix the railroad crossing that every day ties up trafffic and causes ambulance and police nightmares.  But that money is nowhere near enough to complete the project and will possibly never be accessed.  It's like me promising my 15-year old $5,000 towards a new Escalade, but he needs to find the rest.  If he's driving a Cadillac, it won't be because of me.

By the way, the original request was for $5 million to rework utilities at the crossing when they widened it.  I guess they have enough to move half a pipe.

The Michigan legislature came up with this list, which oddly enough allocates virtually all of the money to districts represented by Republican legislators who control both houses of that legislature.  So they spent it on their own districts in high-traffic locales as Clyde Township and Gogebic County, both of which get projects more expensive that the two Downriver improvements.  

The potential Allen Road grant has only come after continuous protests from leaders and citizens over the problems caused by the train crossing, including petitions, signs, and an active Facebook campaign.  Although Rep. Somerville is taking credit for it, the real credit should go to Woodhaven Mayor Pat Odette who has been a leader in the fight for a new train crossing.

Shame on the Republicans for putting politics over good government.





Link:
http://www.scribd.com/doc/232386603/MDOT-Road-Project-List


Thought for the Day

Our Independence has been won and kept with blood.  Our imperfect but best form of government has proven itself resilient.  Let us celebrate.

Thursday, July 3, 2014

Breaking: Lincoln Park Gets Emergency Manager Today

Rumor has it that Governor Snyder will appoint an Emergency Manager for Lincoln Park today.  No details to share, yet.  This move has been expected.

Movie theater Coming Across Street From Another Theater Not Far From Another Theater (Update)

Rendering of the Cinemark NextGen theater, planned for the former Mervyns space at Southland Center in Taylor.The owners of Southland Mall announced that they will be tearing down the vacant Mervyn's (which I never went to and did not know had closed) and will be building a cineplex movie theater with leather recliners and digital sound and stuff like that.  It will be operated by Cinemark.

That would be great, except for the announcement the day before (discussed in this blog) that MJR would be putting a cineplex movie theater with leather recliners and digital sound and stuff like that at the former Star Taylor/Spotlight location, which is on the other side of Eurkea Road from Southland.

Anybody think the two can operate virtually identical operations across from each other?  I don't.  I'm not even sure that both of them will actually happen, now.

MJR also operates at their Southgate location, a mile or two away.  And I already had my doubts about MJR keeping two places so close together in the long run.




Links:

Previous post:
http://downriverhomes.blogspot.com/2014/07/but-will-it-be-more-fun.html

Freep article:
http://www.freep.com/article/20140702/BUSINESS06/307020112/Southland-mall-new-movie-theater

Thought for the Day

Don’t be afraid to aim high when choosing your life’s goal, for no matter how high you aim, your achievements may fall below it.

Wednesday, July 2, 2014

Thought for the Day

The person who works harder when the boss isn’t around is headed straight for a better job.

Have We Found Batman and Superman in Detroit?

Construction near Howard and Sixth Streets in Detroit on June 26, 2014 could be a signal 'Batman v. Superman: Dawn of Justice' will be filming in the Motor City this summer. The movie is already being made in metro Detroit, but filming thus far has largely been out of the public view inside Michigan Motion Picture Studios in Pontiac.

A parcel downtown with construction sprouting of an apparent temporary nature?  Shipping crates nearby? Could it be a movie set in the making?  Considering this was the same piece of property that was used filming the latest "Transformers" movie, it should not be shocking that Sixth and Howard (near the old State of Michigan building) in Detroit will be used for the upcoming "Batman vs. Superman" blockbuster.

We know star Ben Affleck is in town, so work must have already begun.

Tuesday, July 1, 2014

But Will it be More Fun?



MJR Taylor will take over the old Star Theater location in Taylor, right across from Southland mall.  I will warn you that details are kind of sketchy at this point.

Speaking as someone who lives in Brownstown, it will be nice to have a shorter drive to an MJR theater, but the drive is only a little bit shorter.  Besides, there is is still an Emagine in Woodhaven.

My first thought was to wonder how this would affect MJR Southgate.  Apparently, MJR feels the two locations can thrive together.  At least that is what I would like to think.  An alternate thought would be that the Southgate location lease may be coming due and the Taylor location is cheaper.  I guess only time will tell.

Link:
http://thenewsherald.com/articles/2014/06/30/news/doc53b1eb2323e8b843490878.txt

Thought for the Day

Why not go out on a limb? That's where the fruit is.

Monday, June 30, 2014

Thought for the Day

One sound idea is all that one needs to achieve success. 

Sunday, June 29, 2014

Wilford Brimley Sows Oats in Town, Instead

I bet he'll miss this part.




Wilford Brimley, who is turning 80, has decided he is at the time of his life when he downsizes.  As a result, he is selling his 275-acre ranch and has moved his oatmeal eating, diabetic self into town, instead.  Here he is blacksmithing at his place.


Thought for the Day

Count your blessings, not your problems.

Saturday, June 28, 2014

Downriver Auction Properties Need Diligence Before Bidding

It may be listed as a four-bedroom on zillow, but got torn down last week.

Scott Held from the News-Herald takes a look at some of the recent Downriver listings in the recent Tax Foreclosure Auction from the Wayne County Treasurer.

Apparently, many of them are vacant lots and houses about to fall on themselves.  No big surprise there.  If the property has substantial value, then odds are the owner keeps the taxes up.

My experience with the auction is that there were bargains to be had, but you needed to drive the properties in order to see if they were in the ballpark.  The second round, starting at $500, is easier, but the sensational values are gone by then.

Buyer beware.  Go to the actual place you plan to bid on and find out as much as you can first.


Link:
http://thenewsherald.com/articles/2014/06/27/news/doc53ad8c3e1ef31621771679.txt?viewmode=fullstory

Thought for the Day

You can be comfortable or courageous, but you cannot be both.

Friday, June 27, 2014

Thursday, June 26, 2014

Thought for the Day

Those who are quick to see their limitations generally are slow in seeing their opportunities.

Wednesday, June 25, 2014

Charter Schools Have Clout in Lansing, Part One

Lobbyists really do sometimes hang out in the lobby while a legislative group is in session.

We continue to follow the excellent series in the Detroit Free Press focusing on charter schools in Michigan.  What first drew our attention for this blog was the article focusing on Summit Academy schools Downriver.  Having started there, we can't help but follow up.

Today's focus is on the clout the lobbyists for charter schools have in Lansing, particularly among Republicans.  Their lobbyists can bring an impressive amount of money for a legislative supporter, or against one who votes against them.

Part Two will be a video commentary.  Look for it.


Link:
http://www.freep.com/article/20140625/NEWS06/306250030/charter-lobby-Michigan-GLEP

Thought for the Day

Failure is a blessing when it pushes us out of a cushioned seat of self-satisfaction and forces us to do something useful.

Tuesday, June 24, 2014

Thought for the Day

Be more concerned with your character than your reputation.

More on Charter School Issues



Yesterday's news about Summit Academy has been followed today by a broader examination of the role of school board members at a charter school.  It is well worth the time to read.

Essentially, board members are responsible, but can be removed if they cause too much of a fuss.  The real power belongs to the management company and the chartering university or school system, both of which can profit handsomely at the expense of the kids they are supposed to educate.

Pictured above are Michigan Board of Education members John Austin and Casandra Ulbrich.  They are quoted int he article from the Free Press as opposed to this type of practice.

Stories of charter school board members being denied basic financial information and being forced off of the board when they persist bode ill for this system.  Board members should have some stability in their post, and should be provided with relevant information about the school they are responsible for.  And if a majority of them want to insist on using vinegar-based cleaning products for some reason, then so be it.  (Read the story for context on that.)

Our children deserve better than this.



Link:
http://www.freep.com/article/20140624/NEWS06/306240042/charter-school-boards