Grand Rapids real estate market still HOT

Wow, it sure did get hot fast this year! Summer has barely unfurled, but the residential real estate market is already delivering the most blistering June in a decade, according to new data on inventory and user activity on realtor.com®. Homes for sale in June are moving off the market 2% more quickly than last year as prices continue to hit new record highs.

However, there were signs of a slight—we’ll repeat, a slight—slowdown in a handful of the nation’s hottest markets.

“In June, for the first time that I can recall, the hottest real estate markets saw inventory movement slow down, while the rest of the country saw inventory speed up,” says Jonathan Smoke, chief economist of realtor.com. “We’ve essentially seen how low the age of inventory can go.”

Still, Smoke points out, those markets remain in a league of their own, above the rest.

“It’s like saying the A students had their grades slip by a point, but everyone else’s grades moved up,” he says.

Smoke’s team projects that the median age of inventory nationwide for the full month of June will be 65 days—2% less than June 2015 but the same as May. One-third of the 300 medium to large markets surveyed saw a month-over-month decline in the days that homes spent on market—some of them with a percentage decline into the double digits.

The hottest markets, identified by the team as those with the most views per listing and the quickest inventory movement, had homes selling 20 to 38 days faster than the rest of the U.S. The median age in the hottest markets increased by an average of 1 day from May.

Continuing this spring’s trend, pent-up demand from buyers who weren’t able to purchase a home last year, combined with low inventory, pushed up prices and got homes to sell quickly. Very quickly.

For-sale housing inventory is increasing on a monthly basis as is typical of the season, but total inventory remains lower than one year ago. An estimated 525,000 new listings are expected to come onto the market by the end of the month—a 3% increase over May—but that number will fall short of quenching existing demand—as evidenced by the higher prices. Compared with June 2015, listing inventory fell 5%.

Meanwhile, the median home list price was $252,000, 8% higher than one year ago and 1% higher than last month. However, much of the effect of higher prices is being offset by mortgage rates that are the lowest we’ve seen in three years, Smoke notes.

This month’s hottest markets list is (again!) dominated by California, but it’s sharing the spotlight with eight other states represented (Texas, Colorado, Indiana, Ohio, Michigan, Washington, Massachusetts, and New Hampshire). Dallas and San Diego joined the top five club, and Grand Rapids, MI, and Los Angeles returned to the top 10. With Grand Rapids, Michigan has three markets in the top 20. These markets comprise the greater metropolitan area, so Dallas also includes Fort Worth and Arlington, and Detroit includes Warren and Dearborn.

Seasonality is definitely a factor in these rankings, Smoke says.

“This is a peak time for people to be buying vacation homes in Michigan, because the weather is perfect. California markets tend to be fairly consistent—we don’t see huge changes.”

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Janet continues to top the charts!

In 2014, Janet sold the most expensive home EVER SOLD in Kent County.  In 2015, Janet continues to lead the real estate pack, selling the 3rd most expensive home sold that year

To the tune of $3.5 million, sales of 10 West Michigan homes in 2015 prove that the area's real estate market is still hot and buyers are willing to spend.

Check out the slideshow: 10 most expensive Kent County houses sold in 2015

Grand Rapids is one of the nation's hottest rental markets

For landlords and real estate investors, Grand Rapids is the second best rental market in the Midwest and one of the hottest markets in the U.S., according a study of 75 real estate markets by All Property Management (APM).

"Grand Rapids is hardly the most glamorous Midwestern metropolitan area, but it deserves plenty of recognition for being the second most attractive market in the Midwestern U.S. for rental real estate investment and 18th most attractive in the U.S. as a whole," the study said.

APM gave Grand Rapids its high ranking "primarily due to its exceptional 6.65 percent year-over-year property value increase, which was about 31 percent greater than the national average during that period."

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"Grand Rapids also experienced a shockingly-low vacancy rate of 2.50 percent in Q2 2015, which was the fourth-lowest vacancy rate in the country during that period," said APM, which bills itself as the nation's largest online network of property management companies.

Rental rates dipped slightly in the past year, making it the 71st worst market for rental increases.

"Grand Rapids is hardly the most glamorous Midwestern metropolitan area, but it deserves plenty of recognition..." "However, other relevant real estate statistics show that investing in Grand Rapids rental properties is anything but a bad idea," the study concluded.

The study also gave the Grand Rapids market high marks for its turnover rate and the region's strong annual job growth rate of 1.97 percent.

Eighteen months ago, APM ranked Grand Rapids as the best rental market in the nation. Since then, several developers have been building or announced plans to build apartments in West Michigan, especially near the downtown area.

More Big Waves on the Great Lakes - Up to 26' on Lake Superior!

Forecasters are again calling for big waves on the Great Lakes, with a maximum wave height of 26 feet possible Thursday on Lake Superior.

The National Weather Service has issued gale warnings for Lake Michigan, Lake Superior and Lake Huron that remain in effect through late Thursday or Friday afternoon, depending on the location.

Sustained winds of 37 knots and gusts of 52 knots from the southwest are expected to whip up 13-foot waves on Lake Superior near Ontonagon. A maximum wave height of 20 feet is possible in the area Thursday evening. Waves will grow larger -- up to 26 feet -- to the east in Eagle River and north at the Canadian border, forecasters say. Isle Royale National Park is included in the warning in effect until 4 p.m. Friday.

There won't be as much wave action on Lake Michigan, where a gale warning is in effect from St. Joseph to Manistee until 4 a.m. Friday. Winds as strong as 40 knots are expected to build waves up to 10 feet Thursday.

The largest waves on Lake Huron will form over the central part of the lake. The warning covers the Saginaw Bay, where waves between 8 and 11 feet are possible. Thursday's warning also includes offshore waters from the Mackinac Bridge south to Port Sanilac. Forecasters say 14-foot waves are expected, and waves building to 20 feet are possible.

Written by: Angie Jackson of Mlive.com

Shaken not Stirred...It's Cocktail Week!

Only four days left to enjoy Grand Rapids' First Annual COCKTAIL WEEK! There is still time; however, as it runs through Sunday, November 22nd, so get out and enjoy!

Cocktail Week Grand Rapids

November 11-22, 2015

Sip local! Join the fun as Michigan’s creative beverage capital celebrates the art of the craft cocktail. Get into the spirits with:

Pair and Share. Get 2 Michigan cocktails + a shared-plate appetizer for $25 or less at participating bars and restaurants.

Daring Duos Dinners. Dine at local eateries pairing handcrafted distilled spirits with scrumptious local dishes.

Enticing Extras. Developed in collaboration with the Grand Rapids Cocktail Guild, stay tuned for a full schedule of cocktail events.

It’s all coming your way November 11-22! Explore the Map of Participating Restaurants

For more information on this cool event, click here! :)

"The Polar Express" - 30th Anniversary Book Tour

"The Polar Express" has given author Chris Van Allsburg at least 12 million and one reasons to smile.

One Caldecott Medal and 12 million in book sales since its publication 30 years ago in 1985.

Of course, there's also the motion picture starring Tom Hanks as Santa Claus, Tom Hanks as a Railroad Conductor, and Tom Hanks as the 8-year-old Van Allsburg, who grew up in Grand Rapids

"The Polar Express" is inspired by Van Allsburg's childhood when Herpolsheimer's and Wurzburg's department stores were Macy's and Gimbels in Grand Rapids.

"When you went downtown to do your Christmas shopping, you always had to make a choice to go to Wurzburg's or Herpolsheimer's," Van Allsburg recalled. "If you went to both, that would have been greedy, because you'd be asking Santa Claus twice."

Though Herpolsheimer's isn't mentioned in the book, it's named in the 2004 film. Today, the Grand Rapids Art Museum sits on the site once occupied by Wurzburg's.

"They actually visited Grand Rapids and looked at the streets I lived on and looked at downtown Grand Rapids," Van Allsburg said of the filmmakers. Van Allsburg will be in town on Sunday for a book signing at Schuler Books & Music in Grand Rapids.

The illustrator who studied art at the University of Michigan is on tour promoting the 30th anniversary edition of the story that's been through some 54 printings and now is considered a modern classic.

Van Allsburg, 66, who taught at the Rhode Island School of Art, had no idea it would become the success it did.

"I never had expectations like that. I never thought about, would it be well liked?" he said. "If it ends up getting published, and a lot of people like it, then I'm lucky."

"Maybe 'very fortunate' is a better way of describing it," he added.

The book that won the 1986 Caldecott Medal caught the eye of Van Allsburg's fellow Baby Boomers, who remember their own childhood in departments stores decorated for the holidays with toys such as model trains.

"One of the licensees is Lionel Trains, and they make a 'Polar Express' train now that is quite popular," Van Allsburg said. "The nostalgia of the book is a big example of life imitating art."

It's yet another example of the serendipity of the story. Van Allsburg drew a quintessential steam train, inspired by a 482 Baldwin.

During the making of "The Polar Express," designers looked for a specific train to imitate.
"The train they happened on was the Pere Marquette," Van Allsburg said, which is the rail line between Grand Rapids and Chicago.

The specific engine the designers studied was No. 1225.

"That's the date of Christmas," Van Allsburg said. "That's an unusual coincidence. I guess it was meant to be."

The 30th anniversary edition includes a new jacket design and expanded interior layout, a letter from Van Allsburg, downloadable audio read by Liam Neeson, and a keepsake ornament.

"The little letter pretty clearly sums up the conflicted emotions that I had when I was that age and how fortunate I was that in my moment of doubt, the train pulls up to my house and relieves me of my anxiety."

The edition also includes a small Christmas tree ornament – a bell, of course.

"The Polar Express" 30th anniversary book tour:

When: 3 p.m. Sunday, Nov. 22
Where: Schuler Books & Music, 2660 28th St.SE
Admission: Tickets are available with purchase of any Chris Van Allsburg book at Schuler Books' Grand Rapids location.
More info: Call 616-942-2561

Written by Jeffrey Kaczmarczyk. Jeffrey covers arts and entertainment for MLive and The Grand Rapids Press.

Everything ArtPrize!

ArtPrize is open for its seventh exhibition and competition, turning downtown Grand Rapids into a strolling art gallery for 19 days as it awards $500,000 in prizes decided by the public and expert jurors. Here's your complete guide to the event, including what's new, how to vote, where to park, interactive maps, a neighborhood guide and more.

 

A Complete Guide to ArtPrize's 7 neighborhoods

Where to find live music during ArtPrize

What's new for ArtPrize 7

Where are they now?  The past winners of ArtPrize

 

 

 

Check out my latest listing, located on gorgeous wooded lot in EGR!

Situated on almost an acre of land, this home gives you the feeling of living in the country but is right in the heart of East Grand Rapids! Located on a gorgeous wooded lot, along a ravine, this 5 bedroom, 3.5 bath home is loaded with character and charm throughout and also offers a great floor plan for entertaining. Some highlights include an open kitchen equipped with stainless appliances, a snack bar, eating area with sliders to the upstairs deck and a built in desk. Main level also includes living room, and large family room, with fireplace, that both lead out to the large screened in porch. Lower level walkout has a large family room, bathroom and a den, or 5th bedroom, and plenty of storage.  Multiple decks outside the home all lead to the large in-ground swimming pool.  The home is the perfect setting for the Nature Lover that wants his cake and to eat it too!

Lakeside rental - Just in time for summer!

A super sharp Lakeshore Club Condo now available to rent in heart of downtown Gaslight Village!

This is a top floor end unit. This condo has been nicely remodeled with updated kitchen, updated bathrooms, and comes with furnishings. Comes with covered carport. new HVAC (heating and AC) Watch EGR football games from front balcony. Walking distance to Gaslight Village shops, restaurants, Collins Park and Rose's. Rent includes all utilities except electricity. It's a must see!!

Contact us for more information!

Open House this Sunday, 2-4 pm!

Stop by and say hello this weekend.  You won't want to miss this condo!

Don't rent when you can buy this charming 2 bedroom, 2 bath Northview condo! Close to shopping, expressways, and many entertainment options including golf courses and Fifth Third ball park. The condo features a master suite with a walk-in closet & a private bath. Other features include an open updated kitchen with newer appliances and family room, a carport and a security entrance. A heated outdoor pool & hot tub plus a clubhouse offer a great place for entertaining guests.Covered parking and plenty of extra parking for your convenience. Condo fee covers water, sewer, trash, lawn service, snowplowing, cable tv and storage locker.

My latest listing - A condo with both charm and convenience!

Don't rent when you can buy this charming 2 bedroom, 2 bath Northview condo! Close to shopping, expressways, and many entertainment options including golf courses and Fifth Third ball park. The condo features a master suite with a walk-in closet & a private bath. Other features include an open updated kitchen with newer appliances and family room, a carport and a security entrance. A heated outdoor pool & hot tub plus a clubhouse offer a great place for entertaining guests.Covered parking and plenty of extra parking for your convenience. Condo fee covers water, sewer, trash, lawn service, snowplowing, cable tv and storage locker.

Click here for more images!

10 reasons why you should be using a Buyer's Agent

Do you really need a Buyer's Agent?  Absolutely.

Buyer's Agents Help You Buy The Right Home. Finding the perfect home can be more difficult than you may have thought. With online searches and "for sale" signs throughout your neighborhood, there's so many possibilities, how do you know which one is the best for you?

A buyer's agent can help you shuffle through the noise and find you the perfect home. Here's how:

1. Buyer's agents work exclusively for the buyer, not for a seller, and will be 100% loyal to you and your needs.  The best part?  There is no fee for using their services!
2. Since they never work for a seller or specific property, you'll be sure you're getting unbiased real estate advice when making your home purchase decision.
3. Buyer's agents represent a niche service area, making them experts in the buying process.
4. Due to this, they know real estate better than most because they are continually reviewing properties from all different sellers, companies, etc.
5. Buyer's agents will show you any listing from ANY seller, as long as it's ideal for you!
6. They'll be able to assist you with a home appraisal.
7. Due to their expertise, buyer's agents will be able to provide information on comparable sales to help determine a reasonable price offer once you find that perfect home.
8. Buyer's agents will be able to advocate for you for all stages of buying a home; from negotiation to closing. They are especially skilled on the buyer's side of the agreement.
9. They can recommend and help you select other professionals in related fields that will work on your behalf.
10. Lastly, buyer's agents will give you the high quality service you deserve!

If you haven't found a buyer's agent yet, feel free to contact us!  We are experts in the field and would love to help you find your perfect home. :)

Getting ready to sell - Spring is here!

If you’re thinking of listing your home this spring or summer, then now is the perfect time to do some things around the house to prepare.  These simple do-it-yourself tips will make your house sell faster, sell for more money, and make the process much less stressful for your family.

De-Clutter
This is the first recommendation of every realtor out there.  Get rid of some stuff!  Some recommend removing half the furniture in your rooms.  It makes the rooms seem bigger, cleaner, and more welcoming.

Clean
This means DEEP clean, folks! We’re not just talking scrubbing the tubs and dusting the ceiling fans here - deep down clean, top to bottom. You want to show potential buyers the best side of your home.  Pull everything out of all your closets, get rid of what you can, and organize whatever must stay.  Storage is a huge issue for home buyers, and a clean and organized closet will make them see how well they can use the space too.
 

Paint
You may still be in love with the bright orange office walls and the pink bathroom, but other people probably don’t share your tastes.  Even if it’s boring, it’s time to paint your walls a neutral color, appealing to the masses.  Don’t forget the molding and baseboards too.  Painting those will give the house an instant facelift!

Remove Personal Touches
Family photos are so important to many people, but it’s hard for buyers to imagine themselves in a house that has a lot of personalization.  Replace some of the photos with generic art, and take down things like children’s growth charts or awards.

Find Paperwork
While cleaning out those closets, set aside paperwork that is pertinent to the sale of the house. You will need the deed, as well as things like receipts and manuals for major upgrades including furnaces, hot water heaters, appliances, and other items that stay with the house.

Getting ready to show a house doesn’t happen overnight, and things will go much smoother if you have the luxury of preparing ahead of time. You may even want to consider renting a small storage unit for a short amount of time to make your house ready.

These simple tips should get you off to a great start. You will definitely be ready when the weather turns around and the buyers start looking!

Contact us to find out more about prepping and selling your home!

Happy Pi Day!

Today is Pi Day, a national celebration of the mathematical constant!

Pi is the ratio of a circle's circumference to its diameter. The number goes on and on, but is shortened to 3.14159. So today is super special, being 3/14/15. And if you celebrated at 9:26:53 a.m., it will be the first first 10 digits of pi.

To celebrate the day, some local businesses are giving some great Pi deals:
    •    Grand Traverse Pie Company is offering a free slice of ABC pie with any purchase. The pie is made from Michigan apples, blueberries and cherries. GT Pie is also hosting a competition. People who submit a 15 second video reciting the numbers of Pi will be entered int a contest to win a $150 gift card and other items. Awards will be given out for the most creative video, the most numbers and best video from a child under the age of 12.
    •    Sweetie-licious Bakery Cafe', picked as Michigan's Best Pie, is lowering prices on pie slice prices to $3.14. The sale will be available at all Sweetie-licious locations, including DeWitt, Grand Rapids Downtown Market and Gaslight Village in East Grand Rapids.

If you hear of any other local deals, please tell us about them! 

GR Diners - Yum!

GRAND RAPIDS, MI - Looking for breakfast or a burger at a black-and-white checkered dining counter? Stop by one of these old-fashioned diners:

The Cheshire Grill -- Old-fashioned diner. Open daily. 2162 Plainfield Ave. NE, 635-2713, cheshiregrill.com. $
Choo Choo Grill -- American. Closed Saturday and Sunday. 1209 Plainfield Ave. NE, 774-8652. $
Fleetwood Diner -- American/Greek. Open daily. 2222 44th St. SE, Kentwood. 281-2300. $, $$
The Grand Coney --Coney dogs/sandwiches. Open daily. 809 Michigan St. NE, 776-5580, www.grandconeygr.com. $
Monroe's -- American diner. Closed Wednesdays, also closed 3-4 p.m. daily; 302 Culver St., Saugatuck, 269-857-1242. $-$$
Pal's Diner -- American fare with breakfast served all day. Closed Sunday. 6503 28th St. SE, 942-7257. $, $$ 
Pop's Family Restaurant -- Breakfast. Open daily. 1339 Walker Village Drive NW, 453-9339. $
Urbane's Fat Boy Burgers -- Specialize in burgers and breakfast. Open daily. 2450 Plainfield Ave. NE, 447-2200. $ 

Written by John Serba. John is film critic and entertainment reporter for MLive and The Grand Rapids Press.

Holland manor on the market for $1.149M

DuPree Manor, located at 720 Goldenrod Avenue in Holland, was built in 1920 and sits on almost 2 acres of land. The home features six bedrooms, five bathrooms and two half baths, along with a fully furnished basement.

DuPree Manor, located at 720 Goldenrod Avenue in Holland, was built in 1920 and sits on almost 2 acres of land. The home features six bedrooms, five bathrooms and two half baths, along with a fully furnished basement.

Holland filmmaker puts 95-year-old manor on the market for $1.149M

HOLLAND, MI - Hopwood DePree's home at 720 Goldenrod Ave. is a blend of old and new, recalling the glamor of the Roaring 20s while meeting today's standards for high-end luxury homes.
DePree, CEO of TicTock Studios, has listed the 95-year-old French Normandy manor house for $1.149 million with Century 21.
"I did many updates and changes to restore the home to its original 1920's grandeur," said DePree, who also updated the kitchen and finished the lower level into a speakeasy-style recreation room.

The kitchen at DuPree Manor, located at 720 Goldenrod Avenue in Holland.

The kitchen at DuPree Manor, located at 720 Goldenrod Avenue in Holland.


The home also had several updates when it was used as a designer showcase as part of a 2009 fundraiser, said DePree, who also has made the house available for weddings and parties.
Originally built on South Shore Drive on Lake Macatawa's south shore, the 6-bedroom manor was originally built for one of DePree's family members, using materials from his great-grandfather's company, DePree Hardware and Lumber.
After a series of ownership changes, the property was eventually purchased by Amway co-founder Richard DeVos, who sold the house in 1981 to Richard and Judy DeWitt. They moved it about a quarter of a mile south to its current location.
When Hopwood DePree bought the ivy-covered mansion in 2008, he set about restoring it to its original 1920s character while taking advantage of its up-to-date foundation and its 2-acre site.
"The great thing about relocating the home at that time is that it allowed for a modern foundation, plumbing and utilities to be installed while keeping the historical elegance of the home," he said.
Those updates are hidden when you walk through the arched front door into the foyer, where the original oak flooring has been retained and continues into the living room and the small tea room off to the side.
The living room, which DePree has converted into a large dining hall, is brightly lit by the original transom windows and a French door leading to the broad flagstone patio. A gas fireplace with a green marble hearth is flanked by mirrored niches on the north wall.
Although DePree used the original dining room as an intimate living room, the next owner could easily revert the two rooms back to their original configuration.
The updated kitchen retains its original character with black and white ceramic tile flooring and an old telephone niche along the wall.
Marble counter tops, back splashes and mahogany cabinets keep the setting traditional along with the farmhouse sink and the large stainless steel Viking gas range.
Next to the kitchen, there's a butler's pantry, mudroom and laundry room with two sets of washers and dryers to keep the house operating for entertainment functions or on a day-to-day basis.
At the other end of the house, there's a home office that includes French doors at either end, a throwback to the days when cool air entered a room through screen doors instead of air conditioning.
Beyond the office, there's a master suite that was added with the move to Goldenrod Avenue. It includes a skylight and two bathrooms and walk-in closets. One of the bathrooms features a walk-in shower, the other a Jacuzzi bath tub.
Climb the winding staircase past the leaded glass windows and you will find the home's original bedrooms with maple flooring. The master suite, currently used as two bedrooms, includes the bathrooms with the original tub and green ceramic tiles.

Of the remaining three bedrooms, the most interesting is in the original maid's quarters, whose bathroom includes a small tub with a well for soaking sore feet. A pipe stub protruding above the bed connects to the "wireless" intercom system from which the maid could be beckoned.
The upstairs bedroom serving the children's bedrooms includes the original pink and gray tile in pristine condition.
Downstairs, DePree put his imprint on the home with a "speakeasy" room that is dominated by a mahogany bar that hides an icemaker, dishwasher and refrigerator.
In deference to the speakeasy theme, a wide-screen television in the speakeasy is hidden by mirrored glass doors above the fireplace.

The furnished basement at DePree Manor includes a wine room and a bar.

The furnished basement at DePree Manor includes a wine room and a bar.


In one corner, DePree installed a wine cellar behind by antique doors that were imported from Europe and are at least 300 years old. "The stained glass window in the wine cellar is thought to be Murano glass from Italy and about 400 years old," he said.
On the wall of the wine cellar, there's a mural of the home with the DePree family crest dating back the family's French Huguenot roots.

Written by Jim Harger. Jim covers business for MLive/Grand Rapids Press.

The Starbucks Effect - is it real?

Living near a Starbucks has its benefits for homeowners, whether you're a coffee drinker or not.

The value of homes within a quarter-mile of a Starbucks rise faster than those that aren't, according to real estate research group Zillow.
With tens of thousands of Starbucks locations in the U.S., that's good news for a lot of homeowners.
Between 1997 and 2013, home closer to the coffee shop increased in value by 96%, compared to 65% for all U.S. homes.
The biggest "Starbucks effect" was in Boston, where nearby home values went up 171% in the same time period. That's 45 percentage points more than all homes in the city.
Starbucks is usually a harbinger of good times for a locality. A new Starbucks gives a sense to developers that the neighborhood is on the rise, wrote Zillow CEO Spencer Rascoff and chief economist Stan Humphries in their new book "Zillow Talk."
But dig a little deeper and it's kind of a chicken and egg situation -- it's not like Starbucks can take credit for changing a community. The coffee chain is very good at finding locations that are up-and-coming, the authors said.
Homes near Dunkin' Donuts also appreciate faster than the nation's housing as a whole, but not as fast as those next to a Starbucks, according to Zillow's analysis.
CNNMoney (New York) March 4, 2015

Spring Forward!

LANSING, MI — Daylight Saving Time begins Sunday at 2 a.m., meaning clocks move forward an hour -- losing many an hour of sleep.
But look at it on the bright side: we will also have an extra hour of sunlight in the evening.
While it is time to change the clocks, you can also use it as a time for some home and digital maintenance. Fire officials have suggested to change batteries in smoke detectors with the changing of the clocks. Michigan State Police suggest people restock their emergency preparedness kits. I also use the time to change several of my passwords for online accounts with the clocks to make sure they are secure.
Hawaii, most of Arizona and some U.S. territories don't observe daylight saving time and do not adjust their clocks.
With many people using their cell phones to keep time, how many clocks do you really have that you need to change?
Written by Fritz Klug. Fritz is a news buzz reporter for MLive.

 

Open House - Sunday 2 to 4 pm

Come out, say hello and see this beautiful home. You don't want to miss this one!

1445 Silver Springs Court - Caledonia, MI

Amazing home in Crystal Springs with an open and spacious floor plan! This home will impress your fussiest of buyers with the crisp clean lines and updated colors and decor throughout! Much Much larger than it appears....with over 4000 square feet, a lower level entertainment room with kitchen, snack bar, fireplace and family room. All this and only a 1/2 mile to Stonewater Country Club and pool!

Grand Rapids' "Organ House" to remain in good hands

GRAND RAPIDS, MI - When David Luttinen of suburban Seattle saw an online video of the "organ house" on Grand Rapids' West Side, he was hooked on the idea of living with a 2,300-pipe church organ.
Luttinen, a retired bus driver, is selling his house in Mountlake Terrace, Wash., and plans to move to Grand Rapids as the new owner of the house that drew international attention for the 32-rank Kimball church organ that takes up half of the bungalow at 1117 Third St. NW.
"A motivating factor for purchase of the home in Grand Rapids is the beauty of the installation and quality of work," Luttinen said in an email explaining why he and his wife are leaving their friends and family behind for West Michigan.

"The pipes have not been marred by amateur hands, the organ is maintained to excellent standards, and the home itself is a simple work of art."
Luttinen said they plan to close on their pending offer for the house after they sell their current home.
"It is obvious that people do not understand how difficult it is to get time scheduled on a pipe organ these days," wrote Luttinen, who has played the organ since high school.
It's a happy ending for the homeowners and organ's installers, Don Haan, owner of Haan Pipe Organ, and his partner, Guy Vander Wagen.
Haan and Vander Wagen inherited the house from Bill Tufts, who had the organ in his house after buying the instrument in 2002 from Central Reformed Church in Muskegon, which could no longer afford to maintain it.
Luttinen is the ideal owner for the house and the organ, said Haan, who spent countless hours over 2½ years installing and tuning the giant instrument. He and Vander Wagen spent several hours with Luttinen going through the house and the organ when he visited in December.
"We would really like to see this guy get it," said Haan.
Luttinen, like Tufts, also intends to invite area musicians to recitals in the house, he said.
"The pipes have not been marred by amateur hands, the organ is maintained to excellent standards."

"It's going to be just like it was before except with a different owner," he said.
For Luttinen, the purchase is a mission to preserve the house and its unique legacy.
"My intention is to keep the instrument exactly as it is today, keep Guy and Don involved in its maintenance, and continue to have concerts by the AGO (American Guild of Organists.)"
Luttinen said he was alarmed by some online comments that suggested the organ should be sold or melted down for recycling.
"That made my blood boil," he said.
"I have played pipe organs for 47 years as a hobby, though not worthy enough to put on YouTube," he said. "I have saved two theater pipe organs from being taken to the dump but was unsuccessful finding a way to put them together, so they are now under the care of another aficionado."
For Realtor Mark Douglas, the pending sale marks the end of a busy time of taking calls from organ lovers all over the globe. Douglas, who listed the house for $129,000, said he was unable to disclose the selling price until closing.
"We did have a couple of serious inquiries, but there were logistical problems with bringing those deals together," said Douglas, who has had the house on the market for four months.
While some buyers wanted to turn the house into an entertainment venue or corporate meeting space, they would have encountered zoning restrictions in the quiet neighborhood, he said.
Douglas said he enjoyed showing the house to accomplished organists who wanted to put the big instrument through its paces as part of the showing.
"I got to sit there and listen to a private concert on more than one occasion," he said.

Written by Jim Harger. Jim covers business for MLive/Grand Rapids Press. Email him at jharger@mlive.com or follow him on Twitter or Facebook or Google+.