Friday, January 31, 2014

Featured Listing: 28735 Sugar Island Court, Gibralter

28735 Sugar Island Ct, Rockwood, MI 48173

Jetted tub in the master bath.  8 skylights.  Nice neighborhood in a good city with good schools.  This house offers a lot.

Thought for the Day

Whether you think you’re ready or not, just start right now. There is magic in action.

Thursday, January 30, 2014

Thought for the Day

No one can upset you or make you angry unless you allow them to do so. 

Hey, Look at that Cornice!

Okay, nobody ever really says that.  But maybe they should.

Building a Window Cornice Box

Cornices can add a finishing touch to a window, and it is my thought they are under-used.  If I had my druthers, there would be a lot more cornices in the world.  Maybe this blog post will start a trend.

HGTV has some thoughts on the matter.  They also have instructions on how to make your own.


Wednesday, January 29, 2014

Thought for the Day

Change your mental attitude, and the world around you will change 

Riverview, Grosse Ile Among Safest Places in Michigan

One view of the safest community in Michigan.
It's true, you can't find a safer place to live in Michigan.  No murders or forcible rapes last year in Riverview.  Grosse Ile either.  In fact, Grosse Ile was number one in the whole state, with Riverview coming in tied for eighth.  There weren't any robberies reported in Grosse Ile, either.

Looking at the list, I am thinking that it may have been compiled by zip code.  I will contact the author of the study and find out. Some communities, including Dearborn and Brownstown, are not on the list at all.  Sadly, Lincoln Park is #89 of 102.  Since the list does not include cities of less than 10,000 residents, Melvindale, Ecorse, Rockwood, and River Rouge would not be on the list.

The News-Herald has a story on it with some discussion with those cities.

The list was released by a real estate brokerage company, Mototo.  Obviously it is good news for the Downriver area, especially those two communities.


Tuesday, January 28, 2014

Mansion Tuesday: Grosse Ile With a River View is Available

22220 E River Rd, Grosse Ile Twp, MI 48138

Mansion Tuesday at the Downriver Homes and Real Estate Blog frequently looks at places in Beverly Hills or New York City, places owned by celebrities like Nigella Lawson, Brandon Inge,  Tom Hanks, Drew Barrymore, or Frank Sinatra.

This week, we're going local.  This place is on Grosse Ile, right here in Downriver, Michigan.  Located at 22220 East River Road, it offers a great view of the Detroit River and Canada.  Watch the freighters go by from the comfort of your living room.

Thought for the Day

You're not just buying a house, you're buying into a community.

Metro Detroit Winter is Unprecedented

John Black hauls snow as far away from his drive as possible on a rural Michigan road, as another bout of subzero weather arrives in the state.

Baby it's cold outside.

If you're in Metro Detroit, you know.  If you're not here, then you may not know just how unusually cold and snowy it has been.


Monday, January 27, 2014

So your Tenant Lost His Job

Even though the economy has gotten better, people still get fired, laid off, and otherwise join the unemployed.  What if they are your tenants?  How do you handle it?

Also, if you are a tenant, it is probably helpful to look at things from a landlord's perspective.

This has never really come up for me yet, but partly because my tenant did not tell me when he lost his job. On the whole, you have to evaluate whether the tenant will be able to get another job quickly and how much slack to give them.  The alternative is to suggest they move, which will probably involve you forgiving some rent to get them out.

I would be interested in what landlords and tenants have experienced in this.  Please comment below.


Thought for the Day

Highly successful people know that there are many ways to capitalize on an opportunity. 

Sunday, January 26, 2014

Downtown Detroit Rent Rates Soar

So it turns out that downtown Detroit (and Midtown and Corktown) are experiencing a revival.  If you want in on it, it will cost you more than it would have a year ago.  A lot more.

As the Freep reports, rents in the trendy areas are up, it seems by about $400/month all of a sudden.  Young white collar urban pioneers and hipsters are being forced out of their rentals because of the increase.  Taking their place are professionals and other people higher up the income ladder.

The David Whitney

Since I have friends in New York, Chicago, LA, etc., I will steal their thunder and agree that a $1,500/month rent for a two-bedroom in a desirable neighborhood downtown is not remotely possible where they live.  But we're talking about Detroit, where six months of that kind of rent can buy a house.

Saturday, January 25, 2014

Thought for the Day

Fear is a part of life. How you deal with it (or if you do at all) will dictate whether you'll become successful.

Friday, January 24, 2014

Thursday, January 23, 2014


That's right, 400 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.

Thought for the Day

Make your money on the buy, not the sell; this is true in any investment whether it's real estate, business, or the stock market.

A $500 Auction Buyer's Story

“Just looking at it, it’s a lot of work,” the neighbor across the street said, figuring I would give up after a month or two.

Ever wonder about those auctions of Detroit houses where you can get a house for $500?  Well, this guy went through with it and his story is interesting.  It's about a house he bought in 2009, but it is also about the neighborhood around it.  It's about the challenges of being an urban pioneer, and of living with no heat or water but with a shotgun handy just in case.

The bottom line is that it makes for interesting reading.  Go to the link.  You won't regret it.


Wednesday, January 22, 2014

Thought for the Day

Seldom is there any single right answer in business. Often there are any number of right answers. 

Metro Detroit Home Sales? Still Going Up

The Detroit Free Press is reporting that metro Detroit home sales for Wayne, Oakland, Macomb, and Livingston counties in December averaged $120,800, an increase of 40% over the previous December.  The actual number of sales remained fairly constant.  Those statistics come from RealComp.

Still not a good investment.
Anecdotally, I can confirm that it is hard to find the idiot-proof bargains that once were prevalent across the MLS landscape.  Sort of like the Buffalo, they once were all over the place and now are hard to find.

Days on market, an important measure, dropped significantly.  It is also worth noting that Wayne County was up 60% while the other counties were all around 20% or so.

Why the huge increase in Wayne County?  Perhaps a realtor who reads this can help us understand by leaving a comment.  My guess is that Detroit no longer has as many houses that are basically being given away, although an increase across the board still seems to be there.

These numbers are good news for the local market and continue the trend of local home prices recovering to their 2005-06 levels.  Another year like 2013 and we will be at all-time highs.


Tuesday, January 21, 2014

Venus Williams Selling Her House (No Tennis Court?)

Venus Williams bought this home in the Hollywood Hills thinking that she would use it as a staging point for all of the L.A. socializing she would do.  But, it turns out, she'd rather be in Florida.  So, this house is for sale.

3 bedrooms, 2 baths, with a view and a pool.  No tennis court, but I'm sure she was using a private club nearby.

Thought for the Day

Complaining about your current position in life is worthless. Have a spine and do something about it instead.

Monday, January 20, 2014

Thought for the Day

The ultimate measure of a man is not where he stands in moments of comfort and convenience, but where he stands at times of challenge and controversy.” -Dr. King

Boost Curb Appeal in Winter

Here in Downriver Michigan, it gets cold.  If you didn't realize it, you got reminded of that last week.

That cold makes it more challenging to generate curb appeal for your for sale or rental property.  You can't just plant some flowers in the front yard, so you have to be a little bit more clever.  RentPrep has some ideas about that.

Personally, I like their idea to...

Historic MLK Homes

Downriver Homes and Real Estate blog observes the Martin Luther King holiday with a look at some of the historical homes associated with this great man.

Martin Luther King Jr. not only had a Dream, he had places he lived.  One such place was his birth home in Atlanta, Georgia.  Fortunately, you can tour the home as it is a National Historic Site maintained and operated by the National Park Service.

You want to take the tour, according to the Parks Service, to get the most out of your visit.  There are other sites nearby related to Dr. King which you can also see, and those are self-guided.

There is also the home in Montgomery, Alabama, which was bombed in 1956 and in 1957.  That home was the parsonage for the church that Dr. King was the pastor of, and was owned by the Dexter Avenue Baptist Church.  It was targeted for violence after Dr. King emerged as a leader and organizer of the local bus boycott, a boycott widely considered to be the launching event for the modern civil rights movement.  The home is now a museum.

So, both of these places are open to the public and would be worth a visit if you are ever in Montgomery or Atlanta.


Sunday, January 19, 2014

Million Dollar Home Sales Soar

The number of homes selling for more than (cue Dr. Evil voice) one million dollars shot up in 2013 in the metro Detroit area.  Tri-county, there were 210 such sales, a new record.

Bad news for those looking to score a discount on their next mansion, but good news for the local economy.  These homes are being bought by executives moving into the state or moving up the ladder.


Thought for the Day

You would do well to view obstacles as stepping stones to success.

Saturday, January 18, 2014

Dress Up Those Stairs

Putting some design touches in your stairway, whether on the risers, on the walls, or the stairs themselves, can in effect add another room to your house that transitions from downstairs to upstairs.  The Detroit News reports that this is becoming more accessible for the DIY crowd, too.

We like this.  See the full effect in the next picture.


Thought for the Day

The days you are most uncomfortable are the days you learn the most about yourself.

Friday, January 17, 2014

Featured Listing Friday: 22085 Thorofare, Grosse Ile

Sometimes, a property does not show well, but would be a great value if you can get past the surface flaws.  This may be the case here.  Although it is in a great place with wonderful schools, a glance at some of the pictures shows a house that needs some work.

For example:

22085 Thorofare Rd, Grosse Ile, MI 48138

and this...

Breaking: Woodhaven Kmart Roof Collapse, Flooded by Burst Pipe

Photo credit: News-Herald

The now-empty former Kmart at Allen and West roads in Woodhaven now has a serious roof problem after flooding caused part of the roof to collapse, the News-Herald is reporting.

After a pipe burst, water flooded the roof during the recent bitter cold spell.  When the water turned to ice, the weakest part of the roof gave way.  Since the building is vacant, no one noticed from then until now.

There have been rumors that the site will soon be converted to another use.  This latest development may delay that.


Thought for the Day

If you don’t know what you want, don’t say you never had a chance.

Thursday, January 16, 2014

Thought for the Day

When you win, say nothing, when you lose, say less.

Camereon's House and Garage Were Made From? Anyone? Anyone? Glass. Now You Can Buy It.

Cameron Frye's garage from Ferris Bueller's Day Off - real estate listing

Ferris Bueller's Day Off.  If you saw the movie, you remember the garage.  It's glass, it's over a ravine, and a Ferrari drove out the back of it through a glass wall.  The garage from the movie, along with the house (which I don't remember if it was in the movie or not) has actually been on the market off and on in greater Chicago since 2009.  At one point, there was a possibility it would be demolished.  Originally listed at $2.3 million, it is now down to "just" $1.5 million.  Car not included.

Ferris, I don't think you have $1.5 mil.

What you do get, though, is four bedrooms, four baths, and 5,300 square feet of space.  There is a huge living room (40 x 25).  All wrapped up in cinemascope history and placed in suburban Chicago.

As for the garage, it has glass walls and fits three cars.  The back wall has been fixed.

Photo by Southeby's

Wednesday, January 15, 2014

Thought for the Day

Most of us are just about as happy as we make up our minds to be.

Wyandotte: Demographics of a Downriver City

Wyandotte, Michigan is one of my favorite cities Downriver.  It has affordable housing, charming older homes, good schools, great riverfront parks, and a thriving downtown.

City of Wyandotte photo
Wyandotte is in a great location, next to the Detroit River.  It is a little over five square miles.  There is a mix of houses, from early 20th century to recent construction.  The city had an incentive program to improve your home, not sure if it is still in effect, but many credit it with refurbishing a declining housing stock.  You can get from downtown Wyandotte to downtown Detroit in a little over 30 minutes.

Tuesday, January 14, 2014

Thought for the Day

Don't let your past mistakes get in the way of your future potential.

Mansion Tuesday: David Cassidy Slept Here

The man best known as Keith Partridge (and role model for Justin Bieber) is selling his Ft. Lauderdale, Florida house.  Originally on the market for $4.495 million, it is now available "24 hours a Day" for only $3.9 million.

Five bedrooms, including a guest suite.  Six full and one half bath.  Exercise room.

My cousin had this poster on her bedroom wall.

Monday, January 13, 2014

Home Staging and Mistakes to Avoid

Properly staging a home will increase the selling price.  I will confess a little doubt whether it is always worth it, as professional staging costs money on top of your other expenses.  On the other hand, you should think about staging your house or condo for sale as a DIY project, or at least think about how the house is looking to prospective buyers when they come by for a look.

Staging can be as simple as cleaning up, getting the spots and stains out of the carpet, and painting over the mauve walls that you did thirty years ago for something more marketable.  It also means removing family photos so that prospective buyers can see themselves living in the house instead of you.  For a professional staging, furniture and accessories are brought into the house just for the showings.

It also involves de-cluttering, which will make the space look bigger to prospective buyers.

However, there are some definite things to avoid.  Here is one of them:

green dining room-Jess
Nobody can see themselves living in a horrid green nightmare.

Follow the link below for more staging mistakes.  We'll talk about staging more at another time.

Thought for the Day

Your reputation is what people think you are; your character is what you are.

Sunday, January 12, 2014

Update to a Future Post About David Cassidy


Tuesday, we will be posting about David Cassidy's Ft. Lauderdale home being for sale, complete with our own opinions about the place.  As a special bonus, there are going to be pictures of Susan Dey, sister Laurie from the famous Partridge Family.

David in happier times

The pressure must have been too much, because David got picked up for drunk driving (third time) on Friday.  He should have stayed home and used his weight room, instead. Or played the grand piano in the living room.

Maybe all of this will make more sense on Tuesday.


Saturday, January 11, 2014

A Broken System of Funding Local Services in Michigan

The State of Michigan has discovered it has a revenue surplus it wasn't planning on.  Part of that money should go to increase funding for local governments and replace the funding that was stolen from them.  Detroit's bankruptcy and emergency managers in more and more cities is shining the spotlight on a broken municipal funding model in Michigan.

This is not to excuse the failure of civic leaders in Detroit and elsewhere to clean up their own act.  Lord knows that they sometimes have made horrible decisions for years.  But when just about every city, township, and village in the state is having budget problems to a greater or lesser degree, than the problem is not only a failure of local leadership.  Local units of government are in trouble, and it is not always their fault.

Thought for the Day

There always remains an opportunity to make a new start.

Friday, January 10, 2014

Thought for the Day

No matter where you are now, whatever you can conceive and believe, you can achieve.

Featured Listing: 625 Mayflower, Lincoln Park

Sometimes you have to look past the surface to find a good value.  This Lincoln Park home is listed for $34,900 which is a good price for the neighborhood.  But, you say, it is only a one bedroom.  That's because it had some work done inside converting it from a two-bedroom house.

Thursday, January 9, 2014

Thought for the Day

Success is a journey, not a destination. Make sure you enjoy the trip

Tenant Kills Landlord

In a tragic story, a landlord was apparently beheaded by a tenant and his body left in the basement of the building in New York recently.

Although I have never thought myself in danger from any of my tenants, that is not to say that it will never be possible.  I have stumbled upon squatter situations in houses for sale that were supposedly vacant.  Safety has got to be a constant concern in this business.

I'm sure I will add more thoughts on this, either adding to this later or in a future post on the topic.


Wednesday, January 8, 2014

Inexpensive Upgrades for Your Home

Sound system © Keith Muratori/

Maybe you don't have ten million dollars for a mansion where every detail is handmade and perfect.  Maybe your house is a very normal house.  Most houses are like that, you know.  What makes that house your home are the little things you do to make it nicer for you.  Here are some ideas for that:

'Lemme upgrade ya' © Marjan Veljanoski/


Thought for the Day

Whether you think you’re ready or not, just start right now. There is magic in action

Tuesday, January 7, 2014

Mansion Tuesday: Bel Air Estate Checks in at 60,000 Square Feet

Chateau des Fleurs
We're talking about the white one in the foreground, although the one above it looks good, too.
Construction on Chateau des Fleurs (translation: chateau of the flowers) in Bel-Air, California is almost complete.  We have to admit we misled you a bit with our headline, as it technically is only about 40,000 square feet of living space with the remainder devoted to parking and storage.  That means it is not even the biggest house in town, as the former Spelling home now owned by Formula One heiress/jet set debutante Petra Ecclestone measures up at 56,000.  

Still, this place, which took five years to construct and, if sold, could possibly be listed for over $100 million, points to a resurgence of super luxury homes in greater Los Angeles, the kind that weren't being built when the market tanked.  Seven other homes over 20,000 square feet are estimated to be finished this year in Bel-Air alone.  Some of them will be for owners, but some may have been built for sale.  

The builder of Chateau des Fleurs, mobile home park owner Jeffrey Kaplan, has not been public with his plans for the place.  He may be planning to live there with his family.

As for the place itself, it has a ballroom, three elevators, guesthouse, and a pool (of course).  It also has separate wings for the husband and wife which meet in the middle shared rooms for them.


Thought for the Day

Not everything that is faced can be changed, but nothing can be changed until it is faced.

Monday, January 6, 2014

Thought for the Day

Make it a point to look for the good in yourself — and in others. Nurture the good character traits and work on the ones that may need improvement. 

Landlord Monday: How Long to Wait?

I have a dilemma.  One tenant has still not paid December rent.  His transmission needed repaired, which he uses the van for his work, and he told me on December 1 that he would pay me December 20.  Well, he still has problems and now is talking about mid-January.

In the meantime, there is a $5/day late fee (now $10/day since January 2nd), which is being added on.

This tenant moved in during September, so I don't have a long history to go by.  Previous rentals had gone well for them when I checked.

When should I start the eviction process?  What do people think?

Saturday, January 4, 2014

Need Some Encouragement or Motivation?

Each weekday, we post to our blog a thought for the day.  It is our hope that that little bit of motivation can inspire our readers, and it is rare for the thought to go beyond a single sentence.

We usually do not share it to Twitter, Facebook, or other social media.  You read it by going to the blog at

Try it out.  You'll be glad you did.

Thought for the Day

Follow your hopes and not your fears.

Video: A Farm in Brightmoor

Reit Schumak is an amazing woman.  She and her husband have bought a house in one of the worst neighborhoods in Detroit, Brightmoor, and turned it into a farm using adjacent lots.  It's not clear from the inspiring video whether she actually bought the abandoned adjacent lots or not, but they provide space for neighborhood children to grow crops and the kids get to keep the profits.

Like we said, amazing.


Friday, January 3, 2014

Thought for the Day

Nothing in this world can take the place of persistence.

Featured Listing: Brandon Inge's House

Update (March 10, 2014): The home has not sold yet.  Still on the market.

There have been some snarky reviews of the Ann Arbor estate of former Detroit Tiger Brandon Inge, which is currently on the market for $2.6 million.  The home is apparently decorated in a French Country motif, and some have taken to calling it too frilly for a baseball player.

Thursday, January 2, 2014

Top 5 Posts of 2013

In case you were wondering.  Number one was not even close.

The update on June 10th was about evicting some tenants.  The Black Friday article was on the most expensive listing in America.  I don't even remember what the awesome Detroit house was, but I think it was in Indian Village.

It's Official Now

Looking back, I don't know why we did so many posts on the auction of the Packard Plant in Detroit.  Maybe because it was so symbolic of the hopeless situation that parts of the city were in.  Maybe because the sage turned into a huge soap opera with two failed purchasers.  Maybe because parts of the story were not being covered enough by the media.

The Packard Plant on January 2, 2014. The deed for the property is now in the hands of Peruvian Developer Fernando Palazuelo.

Whatever the reason, the sale is now official and the deed has been recorded.  Peru developer Fernando Palazuelo paid for it and now the Register of Deeds has put title to the property in his name.

Next step: development.