Monday, March 31, 2014

Selling Your Real Estate Empire

As a real estate investor, you know why you buy what you buy.  Maybe you have a personal niche, or maybe a certain product works best in your market for your buy-and-hold strategy.  For me, it is definitely single-family homes.  I can find them in plentiful supply Downriver, that's for sure.

But maybe you bought apartment buildings, or four-plexes, or even duplexes.  Those are not as simple to sell when you decide to cash in your chips.

Although it is not the only consideration, appreciation and ease of sale should concern you before you buy.  Ten or fifteen years down the road, you may be selling.  Has it gone up in value?  Who is looking to purchase something like that?

As usual, BiggerPockets is on the ball with this topic.  I definitely recommend this article for anyone thinking about real estate investing.  And Kevin Park is one of my favorite writers over there.


Thought for the Day

No one can keep you down but yourself.

Sunday, March 30, 2014

A Barn in Detroit?

Scott Lowell and Carolyn Howard, the married co-owners of the Traffic Jam and Snug Restaurant in Midtown, want to erect an ancient barn in Detroit.
No, this isn't the Detroit location.
The married owners of a Detroit landmark restaurant want to move a barn from her parents rural farm to Midtown Detroit.  Actually, it has already been disassembled and trucked down here awaiting a plot of land to put it on.  Best guess is that a  barn has not been built in that area for over 100 years.

It sort of makes some sense after you read about it in the Freep.  It may not be the best idea, but it has some possible value.


Thought for the Day

Don’t be satisfied with being good at your job. Be the best, and you’ll be indispensable.

Saturday, March 29, 2014

What Does $19,000,000 Get You In Michigan?

What does $19 million get you?  A lot, actually.

The most expensive listing in Michigan right now is on the market for $18.9 million.  Okay, we cheated just a bit to get a better headline, but you can just figure that's your landscaping for the first year.

A fireplace in the kitchen, of course.

The Hazelbank Estate is sited in Holland, Michigan on 38 lakefront acres.  Five bedrooms, seven bathrooms.  13,500 square feet.  There is also indoor and outdoor pools, and the usual horse facilities (barn, paddock, trail, etc).

Thought for the Day

Who told you it couldn’t be done, and what great achievements has he performed that qualified him to set up limitations for you?

Friday, March 28, 2014

Unpaid Taxes for Section 8 Landlords

Some landlords are taking advantage of the system, buying cheap properties, renting them to poor tenants who get federal section 8 subsidy, then not paying the taxes.  They milk the property for as long as they can, then abandon it.

The Detroit News exposes this scam, which is particularly prevelant in Detroit because many houses can be bought for a couple thousand dollars.  As far as I am concerned, this type of behavior is unethical.

Thought for the Day

Your choices decide your fate. Take the time to make the right ones. If you make a mistake, that's fine; learn from it and don't make it again

Thursday, March 27, 2014

Five Questions Before Investing in Real Estate


Investing in real estate is different than investing in mutual funds or gold coins.  Before you get yourself in a situation you are unsituated for (like that turn of phrase?), you need to ask yourself five things:

  • Do you really know what you’re getting into? 
  • Do you understand how real estate fits into your investment profile?
  • Have you explored the risk factors?
  • Are you asking the right questions?
  • Are you in it for the long haul?

Actually, these five questions come courtesy of the Bigger Pockets blog, which I continue to recommend to you if you are interested in any aspect of real estate investing.  The amount of content there is extraordinary.


500 Posts!


It sort of snuck up on us, and in the middle of the week at that.

Someday, we will look back and laugh at the humble beginnings of this blog, but for now it is sufficient to say that we have enjoyed writing these 500 posts and look forward to seeing what the next 5000 bring.

Thought for the Day

Do it now!

Wednesday, March 26, 2014

Lighting Up Your Lives

Which light bulb to buy?  I'm old enough to remember when you didn't buy light bulbs, you got them for free from Detroit Edison.  I also remember when the only choices were incandescent bulbs or florescent ones that were for commercial uses.  Okay, and maybe the basement work room used a couple of tubes for bulbs.

Now we have an array of choices, with the old bulbs being phased out.  LED and CFL bulbs are becoming cheaper and more practical.  In Glenn Haege's article, he discusses all of these choices and the trends in the industry.

He also mentions rebate programs for DTE Energy and Consumer's Power.  I did not know about that.  If anybody has any experience with these rebates, let me know in the comments below or send me a private message.  I want to do a follow-up post about that.


Thought for the Day

If you don’t want your life to be “messed up,” don’t fool around with those who have messed up theirs.

Tuesday, March 25, 2014

Thought for the Day

A positive mind finds a way it can be done. A negative mind looks for all the ways it can’t be done.

Mansion Tuesday: Bring the Horses, Too

The first is the human house--red brick and pillars, 6,400 square feet, a handsome kitchen, eight bedrooms and a turret listed for $795,000.

If part of your wealthy lifestyle includes horses, this is the place for you.

Set in Livingston County (Arcadia Township), this estate includes a 6400 square foot house with eight bedrooms.  From the front, you can tell this is a wonderful property on 44 acres.  It is currently for sale for $795,000.

A gourmet kitchen comes with oak cabinets, pantry, granite counters and island.

The kitchen is awesome.  the house features lots of Brazilian Cherry and Tigerwood flooring.

Monday, March 24, 2014

Landlord Monday: Better Tenant Relations

How a landlord relates to tenants can have a profound effect on the profitability of the business.  On the one hand, you don't want to roll over and cater to unreasonable tenant demands if it costs money.  On the other hand, you should always treat your tenants with respect and listen to what they say openly.

Chris Clothier, who manages properties in Memphis, has some thoughts on the subject.

Personally, I have been guilty in the past of being too quick to roll over for tenants.  Some of them have taken advantage of that.  Although I still try to be understanding and treat people with the benefit of the doubt, I also do not give people the same long leash to take advantage of.


Thought for the Day

Never tear down anything unless you are prepared to build something better in its place.

Sunday, March 23, 2014

DTE Rebates on Light Bulbs?

If anybody knows anything about DTE Energy giving rebates for light bulbs, please send me a message or comment below.  I am researching for a future post.

This Fountain Seems Easy Enough to Make

As part of my constant theme of posting items to this blog that interest me and I might follow through on, I present the Home Depot project idea for a water fountain using terra cotta pots.

Aside from using a drill to make holes in some of the pots, there does not seem to be a whole lot of skill to this project.  After it is done, you can enjoy your backyard fountain.


Saturday, March 22, 2014

What Does $3,000 Rent?

New York 1
"Take me to your bedroom, Mr. Wall Street.  Oh, never mind."

Wondering what $3,000/month will get you in some of America's most expensive cities?  Wonder no more.

At it's most extreme, it's a 400-square foot studio in the best places in New York City.  You can get a small one-bedroom in San Fransisco's Mission District.  Other places, like Chicago, offer a lot more.

Around here, you could rent a 3-bed, 3-bath house in a gated community in Dearborn, which is not a bad deal at all.

Photo -29


Thought for the Day

Indecision creates the worst kind of paralysis and, left unattended, can permanently damage you and your organization. 

Thursday, March 20, 2014

Thought for the Day

Offer results, not alibis.

Knowledge Without Action is Useless, But Three's Company Will Live On Forever

Ever since I saw Mr. Roper on Three's Company, I was interested in landlords.  Yes, I was also interested in Chrissie and Janet more, but I was like twelve at the time.  What can you expect?

If I was really energetic today, I could have photoshopped my face over Jack Tripper's.

Here's Mr. Roper. I get that same look when the tenants are late on their rent.

His successor, Mr. Furley, did not like late rent, either.  Love the shirt.
Like I said, I was interested in landlords.  The more I learned about real estate investing, the more I thought it was a way I could make money.  When I got out of school and started working, the idea of buying an investment property and being a landlord still interested me, and I bought a couple of books and did some reading.  Still seemed like a good idea.

However, it wasn't until 20 years later that I actually acted.  Part of the reason involved rents and the costs of the property, but the truth was I knew some, but did not follow up.  After I did, it turned out to be quite profitable.

Still, as Seth Williams observes, you have to apply your knowledge for it to have value.  Taking action involves making a commitment, of money, time, and risk.  That is the difference.


Wednesday, March 19, 2014

Thought for the Day

Remember that no one is ever rewarded or promoted because of a bad disposition and a negative mental attitude.

15 Great Kitchen Storage Ideas

Bob Vila has been around forever, and part of the reason is because he just keeps coming up with good ideas for around the home.  Take, for example, these ideas for kitchen storage.  It's stuff like this that makes us agree that Bob Vila Rules!

None of them are going to change your life, but they could make it easier.  It is worth looking and seeing if any of them work for your own kitchen.


Before all the gray hair, but otherwise looking about the same.


Tuesday, March 18, 2014

Business is Booming in Allen Park

The downtown streets in Allen Park are all about business, and business is booming.

As the News-Herald notes, twelve new businesses opened there in 2013.  That's pretty darn impressive.  You might scoff at the two pawn shops, but the new Thai place on Allen Road is receiving excellent reviews online.  Plus there is a t-shirt place, a muffler shop, Boomer's reopening, etc.

Keep up the good work, AP.


Thought for the Day

Are you waiting for success or are you going out to find it?

Mariah Carey Wants You...To Buy Her House

All she wants for Christmas is you...really.

Mariah Carey, she still has one of the best singing voices of all time in pop music.  Go ahead, listen to her first album again.  I'll still be here when you come back.


See, wasn't that great?  Well, she and husband Nick Cannon are selling their house in the Bel Air neighborhood of Los Angeles for a shade under $13 million.  Keep in mind, they paid less than $7 million for the place in 2008 and have not really done major renovations.  Is this entirely market driven?  Perhaps.

Monday, March 17, 2014

Lease Renewal Incentives

You've got a good tenant.  They keep the place up.  They pay their rent on time.  And their lease is almost up.  You want to keep them.  What can you do?

Well, you might want to think about cash.  The most effective way to do it is a rent reduction going forward. Oddly enough, that is even more popular than a stack of dollars, according to a survey cited in an article by Chris Clothier.

This picture seems particularly appropriate.
Other incentives include new appliances, new flooring, free cable and internet, and others, but none did the job as good as money.

It's important to remember that you want to minimize turnover as much as possible.  It's also important to remember that, after your good tenant moves out, you might get one like this.

Since I have a lease coming up soon, this information is particularly timely for me.


Thought for the Day

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

Sunday, March 16, 2014

Barron's: Detroit Will Rise Again

expand large image

I can't link to the article because it is subscription content, but the cover image is good news.  Stories like this will be replacing ruin porn as the Detroit storyline in the national media.

I agree with the overall sentiment of the cover, although turning around Detroit is like turning the proverbial battleship. Downtown and Midtown are definitely improved, but there are neighborhoods that need police, fire, and lights. Get those up to par, and improve the bus service, and you have the potential for a lot of growth in the city. People vote with their feet, and Detroit has been losing population for a long time. Get some people moving back in and then a turnaround could be real and lasting. I'm not only rooting for the city, but have put some money where my mouth is.

Thought for the Day

Whenever you do a thing, act as if all the world were watching. -- Thomas Jefferson

Bob Vila Rules!

While researching a future article, we came across a compelling argument for Bob Vila as the best host of DIY TV shows. Their analysis makes a lot of sense. Especially the part about Bob being better at explaining things for those of us in the audience who need a lot of simple steps explained.

Truth is, This Old House was never as good after he left.


Saturday, March 15, 2014

March Home Maintenance Checklist

It's a good idea to keep your home up, and hopefully improve your home by doing routine, needed things each month.  This checklist from seems to be pretty comprehensive.

I'm not going to pretend I am going to completely follow it.  I know I should be doing more.  On the other hand, this gave me some ideas and I will be following up with them.

One thing I particularly liked is to keep your curb appeal, enhancing it with a new addition when you can.  Maybe it's a tree or new plants.


Thought for the Day

Nothing is ever wrong. We learn from every step we take. Whatever you did today was the way it was meant to be. Be proud of you

Will St. Josaphat Steeple Be Saved?


Curbed Detroit, which is an excellent blog about, uh, Detroit, has some great news for us.

Last November, a storm severely damaged St. Josaphat Church in Detroit, right near Mack and clearly visible to anybody driving down I-75 by there.  After the damage was done, the steeple roof was leaning to one side and resembled an elf hat more than anything else.  It was also unsafe and adjacent Canfield street had to be closed.  Early reports on the historic, but sparsely attended church said it was impractical to repair and that the steeple would have to be cut off, which was too bad because it is a beautiful landmark that I always enjoyed seeing.

Well, recent breaking news is good.  It looks like there is a way to save it and the funding to do so.  At least that is what some are saying.  According to the Detroit Historic District Commission (and you would think they know), the 113-year steeple is heading for rehab.  Plans are for structural repairs and a new slate roof.

We will keep you posted of further developments.  Or you could just drive around downtown and see for yourself.

If you would like to contribute to the Save Our Steeples fund for this project, you can do so here.


Friday, March 14, 2014

Rockwood: Save-A-Lot to Replace Food Town

Mayor Dan Guzzi told the News-Herald that Food Town was closing (which was not really a secret), but that a Save-A-Lot would be coming to the Fort Street location.  This would certainly be good news for the locals who need groceries, but the Kroger on Gibraltar Road might not be happy about it.

Unfortunately, Save-A-Lot is apparently not ready to make any announcements, because they were not available for comment on the story.


5 Bedrooms

#3 Holy Closet Farnham Royale

Every time I see those house flipping shows, the people always spend a lot of money on new kitchen appliances and putting in new bathroom pictures...and paint the bedrooms a neutral color.  What a letdown.

While I agree that kitchens sell houses, you CAN do something with a flip to upgrade the bedrooms.  Here are five ideas that, although maybe not worth doing in a flip, can help you think about other ways to upgrade those bedrooms.

#2 underwater bedroom Maldives
Not a good idea to build one of these for a house you are flipping.


Thought for the Day

You must get busy doing something about going the extra mile.

Thursday, March 13, 2014

Truck Sales Point to Increase for Home Construction

Baltimore-based commentator Harrison Stowe observes that sales of pickup trucks were up 12% in 2013. Since there is a historical correlation between those sales and new home construction, this points to an increase in that sector this year. Seems that certain models of those trucks are used by the guys who build houses, which makes sense to me.  He based his comments on an analysis in the Washington Post blog on the subject.

The takeaway from this is that housing starts are predicted to increase fifty per cent in 2014, to 1.5 million, by TD Economics.  New housing is good for the national economy.

The 2015 Ford F-150 Platinum. Does it presage sunnier days for the housing industry?


Thought for the Day

Your goals should be specific, they should be measurable, they should have a deadline for their achievement, and they should be divided into manageable pieces.

Wednesday, March 12, 2014

Thought for the Day

If you have more enemies than friends, the odds are a thousand to one you have earned them.

Tuesday, March 11, 2014

Thought for the Day

Always be kinder than you feel.

Dick Clark's Malibu Home Copied the Flintstones

Photos: Dick Clark's Flintstones-reminiscent Malibu estate

Now we're wondering why Pebbles and Bam Bam (they had a band when they were teenagers, remember?) were never on American Bandstand.  Clearly, Dick Clark was thinking of Bedrock when he built this place.  And the best part is, it is for sale!

Apparently, the outside had to blend with nature in order to be built on the hilltop and still comply with the zoning, but the inside is all Clark's doing.  Perhaps Wilma served as his muse.  

Photos: Dick Clark's Flintstones-reminiscent Malibu estate
From afar, it must look like part of the hills.

Monday, March 10, 2014

Thought for the Day

Gratitude: recognize the good in your life.

Get Your First Rental Property in 90 Days (w/video)

Post image for How to Buy a Rental Property in the Next 90 Days (With Bonus PDF!)

There is a reason we keep going to Bigger Pockets for our Landlording articles--they are constantly putting up some pretty great stuff.  Here is a great post from them detailing the steps to get that first rental property.  They even have a video to explain it for you!

I won't paste the video in because I want you to pull it from their site, but I will tell you that I endorse this method.  Step One, getting pre-approved for your financing, is a big one.  No point in looking at $100,000 rentals if you won't get a mortgage on them.


Sunday, March 9, 2014

Thought for the Day

At first, they’ll ask you why you'’re doing it. Later, they'’ll ask you how you did it!

It's a Parade of Best of March

We are going to re-post the five most popular blog articles from February, just in case you missed some of them.

Thursday, March 6, 2014

Thought for the Day

You can't let other people tell you who you are. You have to decide that for yourself.

Detroit Projects That Never Were Completely Realized

Original plan for Civic Center.  Cobo Arena is to the left. Grassy area with trees bottom center turned into Hart Plaza.

Grand plans never fully realized.  What might have been.

In some cases, these scaled-down or never-built Detroit projects would have been awesome.  In other cases, they probably never happened because they were a bad idea whose time will never come.  Still, we can gaze upon the unrealized dreams.

Never built.

Wednesday, March 5, 2014

Thought for the Day

You have never really lived until you have done something for someone who can never repay you.

Update: Artists Lofts Evictee Gives POV

Remember this?

Awhile back, we posted about the Capitol Park Artists Lofts at 1217 Griswold in downtown Detroit. New owner Dan Gilbert (who has bought just about everything downtown) was evicting the residents and planning to renovate the building. The building is in serious need of repairs and is currently violating housing codes. However, the residents being evicted are artistic types who used a lot of imagination decorating their seedy lofts.

Evictees? Just visiting?  This might be Gustav and Andrew.

Tuesday, March 4, 2014

Celebrity Home: Shakira

Now that The Voice is back for a new season, we have an excuse to feature judge Shakira's Miami home, which was put on the market last year.  She bought it for under $4 million, put on additions, and had it for sale for $15 million.  Does it matter to your life if it sold or not?

Follow the link to more pictures (of the house, silly!) and even a video (of the house!).


Thought for the Day

Never let your fear decide your future.

Monday, March 3, 2014

What to do When Your Tenant Disappears

Just like that, he's gone.  Your tenant was sort of keeping up on the rent, but not really.  Falling further and further behind, suddenly you go by the place and nobody is there.  It looks empty inside.  Now what?

I had this happen to me, and it took awhile to fully deal with it.  I filed for an eviction almost immediately, which is easier for me than many landlords.  Then I had to wait.

Kevin Perk has some thoughts on the subject.


Thought for the Day

Do what you feel in your heart to be right - for you'll be criticized anyway. -Eleanor Roosevelt

Sunday, March 2, 2014

Fatal Brownstown Fire Provides Smoke Detector Lesson (with video)

A fire claimed the life of a 67-year old woman in Brownstown recently.  Although the fire department arrived within minutes of being called, it was too late to save her.

This tragedy could have possibly been avoided if there was smoke detectors in the house.  There were not.  Hopefully this will inspire you to check your own smoke detectors today and make sure they work.

Here is a helpful video on that: