Ways to Boost Your Curb Appeal

May 25th, 2012 by Katie K Team

Better Homes & Gardens has some great articles this month with tips on how to make your home look great on the market! From flower beds to walkways, there’s sure to be something to give your home a boost. Here in Grand Rapids, we’re fortunate to have great greenhouses like our friends at Romence Gardens, who offer great advice and perennials that perform! Read B&H’s advice on Colorful Front Yard Garden Plans, Landscaping Ideas, Front Yard Secrets, and Clever Display Ideas for a home that will draw in visitors and offers! Or, read on for a sampling of their wonderful tips.

Consider Color

If your home is neutral in color, choose a limited color scheme for your landscape to add visual appeal. Rich purple plants are great choices for beige, gray, or white homes; soft yellow is a beautiful accent. For a bolder presentation, select red flowers and accent them with splashes of white blooms or silver foliage.

Stay with the Style

House color is an easy place to start for landscaping inspiration. But the architectural style may also provide ideas for plantings. For example, if you have a Victorian home as shown here, a formal garden with low clipped boxwood hedges would be a natural fit.

Go Traditional

For a traditional-style home, the classic look — a white picket fence, tidy evergreen foundation plantings, and a few planters on the front porch — is a simple way to add landscape impact. If you want to take it up a notch, try growing clematis or climbing roses up a fence or plant flowering evergreen shrubs, such as dwarf rhododendrons, along the foundation.

Enjoy Informality

Play up casual elements if you have a cottage-style home. Meandering paths, lush plantings, and bit of whimsy all contribute to a relaxed, cottage theme.

Pay Attention to Materials

After considering color and style, examine materials. Cedar siding looks great as a backdrop to a naturalistic landscape that utilizes native plants. Grasses tend to be particularly effective with wood tones because they echo the color in fall and winter.

RealtorMag: Home Prices to Rise 4% Per Year?

May 25th, 2012 by Katie K Team

We know from reports earlier this year that Michigan is one of the real estate “rebound” states in terms of pricing, with averages up 3% overall from last year. Now RealtorMag, the publishing arm of the National Association of Realtors, cites numbers that suggest home prices may rise an average of four percent per year for the next five years!

Have home prices finally hit bottom? Many analysts think so. According to the latest forecast by Fiserv, the market watcher sees a big boost to home prices on the horizon, projecting that home prices will rise nearly 4 percent per year for the next five years.

The real estate markets expected to see the biggest increases in home prices will likely be those hardest hit the last few years by foreclosures, such as in Phoenix and Las Vegas, and areas where prices have fallen the most, according to Fiserv’s forecast.

Housings rising affordability mixed with falling inventories of for-sale homes are the main factors driving the expected price increases, according to Fiserv.

Initially, investors are expected to help drive most of this price increase, and then followed by first-time and trade-up buyers as they re-emerge in bigger numbers to the market.

-RealtorMag.com To read more, please follow this link.

April Existing-Home Sales, Prices Up Nationally

May 25th, 2012 by Katie K Team

Grand Rapids continues to enjoy it’s long awaited “spring thaw” on the local real estate market, where inventory is barely matching current demand, which helps shore up pricing after a few soft years. This phenomenon appears to reflect the national trend, according to the National Association of Realtors, who report increases in existing home sales and prices across all regions.

– from NAR’s Realtor Magazine:
Total existing-home sales, which are completed transactions that include single-family homes, townhomes, condominiums and co-ops, increased 3.4 percent to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 4.62 million in April from a downwardly revised 4.47 million in March, and are 10.0 percent higher than the 4.20 million-unit level in April 2011.

Lawrence Yun, NAR chief economist, said the housing recovery is underway. “It is no longer just the investors who are taking advantage of high affordability conditions. A return of normal home buying for occupancy is helping home sales across all price points, and now the recovery appears to be extending to home prices,” he said. “The general downtrend in both listed and shadow inventory has shifted from a buyers’ market to one that is much more balanced, but in some areas it has become a seller’s market.” Read the rest of this entry »

Lower Inventory, Higher Prices Signal National Housing Recovery

April 20th, 2012 by Katie K Team

This article from the National Association of Realtors analyzes the national housing trend in first quarter 2012. Here at Katie-K, we’ve seen the Grand Rapids Real Estate market heat up, with a real demand for inventory. If you’ve been thinking about putting your home on the market, contact Katie today!

Existing-home sales last month were down slightly but they remain at about a 4.6 million level, as they have since January, so if that level holds for the remainder of the year we could see a strong 2012, NAR Chief Economist Lawrence Yun said at a press conference in Washington yesterday.

The relatively strong performance this first quarter stems from the improving economy, Yun said. But it also has to do with the pent-up demand that’s been building for the last several years. At some point, people doubling up or living with parents will start forming households, as they always do when the population increases, and many of these households will buy. Yun thinks we’re seeing signs of this now.

Along with the relatively high level of sales, inventories are down, which helps on prices, and that’s reflected in the numbers. The national median home price is up more than 2 percent from last year.

It’s possible larger homes are being sold (normal for this time of year), so that could account for some of the price increase. But also distressed sales as a percentage of the market are starting to decline. So, that could be having an impact on prices, too.

All in all, despite the slight dip in volume, the picture looks relatively good going into the spring buying season.

NAR’S Houselogic Site Gives Great “Anti-Martha” Spring Cleaning Advice

April 20th, 2012 by Katie K Team

We’ve had a ninja spring sneak up on us here in West Michigan, and if you’re scrambling to fit in a spring cleaning before listing or showing your home, you’ll love the latest addition to NAR’s Houselogic website. These clever folks have compiled a fun and fabulous “Anti-Martha Stewart Spring Cleaning Guide” complete with tips for kitchen, bath, family room, outdoors and green cleaning.  While Martha might eagerly tackle dirt and dust mites each spring, the guide points out, we mere mortals just don’t have that kind of time. So this guide is designed with tips on how to get your home into showing condition with as little effort as possible!

Here’s a sneak preview of the preface:

Our guide is all about time-savers and corner-cutters. Our advice:

  • Don’t scrub when a good soak will do.
  • Take small bites out of large tasks: If you live long enough, you’ll get it clean.
  • Invest in white vinegar companies, because vinegar is the one cleaner you can’t do without.
  • If a machine can clean it better and faster, buy it or rent it.

But seriously, folks:

  • Shower heads: A warm white vinegar bath will get rid of mineral deposits.
  • Windows: Use coffee filters or microfiber cloths instead of paper towels to wash windows and avoid streaks.
  • Patio furniture: Vacuum wicker furniture with an upholstery attachment.
  • Primo declutter tip: Get rid of “fat clothes” first, which make you feel bad about your body.

Hey, we’ve got a million of these. Martha, we’re sure, is shaking her head in dismay. But we’re sure our guide will help you get clean in spring and still have time to enjoy the season.

To explore the tips, visit:


The Katie-K Difference

March 30th, 2012 by Katie K Team

One of the things to look for when selecting a real estate agent in the Grand Rapids, MI area is transparency. You want to select someone who is working full-time, and full on. Each year, we publish our results, so you can see for yourself what sets Katie-K apart from the rest:

The average agent sells 6 homes per year. Katie sold 51 in 2011. Katie is among the top agents in the Grand Rapids area . . .See what her record can do for you!

2011 Statistics & Year to Year Comparisons

• Number of homes sold by Katie as of 12/31/11 = 51
• Number of homes sold by Katie in 2010 = 71
• Number of homes sold by Katie in 2009 = 54
• Katie’s total sales volume through 12/31/11 = $18,396,400
• Katie’s total sales volume for 2010 = $22,337,900
• Katie’s total sales volume for 2009 = $18,145,600
• Average selling price of home Katie sold in 2010 = $314,618
• Average selling price of home Katie sold in 2011 = $360,713
• Average selling price of home listed by the GRAR in 2010 = $109,363
• Average selling price of home listed by the GRAR in 2011 = $115,184

Average Sales Price –vs- Average List Price
GR MLS – 89%
Katie K – 93%
Average Number Days on Market
GR MLS- 94  days
Katie K – 73 days

Contact us if you or someone you know needs an agent who can produce results!

Laughfest 2012 Sets Guiness World Book of Records Opening Day!

March 9th, 2012 by Katie K Team




As many of you are aware, Katie-K.com is heavily involved in Laughfest, which benefits the local Gilda’s Club and its support of people with cancer. We’re delighted that our kick-off this year netted a Guiness World Book of Records for having 607 people turn up to Rosa Parks wearing beaks and doing the chicken dance! Please come out and support this fun-filled week-and-a-half of events. For the full event schedule and ticket information, visit the laughfestgr.org website by clicking on the link. To read the full MLive coverage of the opening event, follow this link.

Many events still have availability. If you’d like to contribute to the cause, you may also contact us at Katie-K.com.

So get out, have a laugh, and support this great cause. Thank you for your support!


When Will The Housing Supply Normalize?

March 9th, 2012 by Katie K Team

In this Realtor.com article, Barclays is projecting a slow rebound to the housing market, with normalization by 2014 provided the housing supply continues to shrink on a national level. Locally, the market continues to warm with the weather!

The housing supply is expected to normalize in two to four years, Barclays Capital projects, assuming that household formation rates increase to 1.1 million and construction remains slightly above 2011 levels. Household formation–which is a reflection of population growth and housing affordability–has drastically dropped since 2007, reaching about 300,000 to 500,000 per year. Historically, the rate is about 1.25 million. Home prices will likely see a 1 percent appreciation this year (that’s after falling 3 to 4 percent through March), Barclays Capital estimates. It is also projecting a 1 percent price appreciation in 2013, followed by 2 percent to 3 percent appreciation levels. But to reach those goals, the housing supply needs to continue to shrink first.

“We think this will be achievable only if household formation exceeds net construction for a sustained period,” Barclays says.

Housing Inventories Drop, List Prices Rise

February 21st, 2012 by Katie K Team

Inventory in the Grand Rapids market remains low, and  nationwide inventory is down 22% this month. As this Realtor.com article explains, lower inventory means higher prices for sellers. If you’ve been waiting to list your home, contact us at Katie-K to perform a CMA!

from the Daily Real Estate News

In a growing number of housing markets, sellers are facing less competition now compared to a year ago.

Inventory of for-sale homes has dropped by about 23 percent compared to this time last year, and fell by 6 percent alone from December 2011 to January 2012, according to Realtor.com data.

The age of the inventory is also declining, and is nearly 5 percent below levels last January.

The median age of for-sale housing inventory is lowest — 69 days or less — in Oakland, Calif.; Bakersfield, Calif.; Denver; Fresno, Calif.; Stockton-Lodi, Calif. and Phoexnis-Mesa, Ariz., according to January data from Realtor.com.

Meanwhile, as inventory is falling, the median list price has been on the rise: up nationally more than 3 percent year-over-year.

“Over the past year, an increasing number of markets have registered year-over-year increases in median list prices while fewer markets have experienced year-over-year list price declines,” a statement by Realtor.com notes.


Detroit Named 11th Improving Market This Month

February 10th, 2012 by Katie K Team
Realtor Magazine reported recently that Detroit is among top housing markets  amidst the growing rebound. We think this is promising news for Michigan!

The list of housing markets showing signs of improvement in home prices and overall market conditions in February has grown to nearly 100 cities, according to the National Association of Home Builders/First American Improving Markets Index. The index reveals metro areas that have shown improvement in home prices, housing permits, and employment for at least six straight months. In the latest index, some markets that were particularly hard-hit during the housing market crash — such as Miami and Detroit — were added to this month’s list. Such cities are seeing a turnaround in their sluggish housing markets, possibly already hitting bottom. “Despite the many challenges that continue to drag on the housing recovery — including the tight lending environment for builders and buyers — improving conditions are slowly but surely spreading from one housing market to the next,” Bob Nielsen, NAHB chairman, said in a statement. Here are 11 of the 39 metro areas added to the list this month:

(For a complete list, please visit: www.nahb.org/imi. )

  • Napa, Calif.
  • Deltona, Fla.
  • Miami, Fla.
  • North Port, Fla.
  • Tampa, Fla.
  • Augusta, Ga.
  • Shreveport, La.
  • Springfield, Mass.
  • Cumberland, Md.
  • Lewiston, Maine
  • Boston, Mass.
  • Detroit, Mich.

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