You are currently browsing the monthly archive for May 2008.

Fact: Grand Rapids citizens like their beer.

There are six flourishing micro-breweries/or brew pubs here.

Award winning brewers have come up with stouts and ales that discriminating

beer drinkers will make a pilgrimage to Grand Rapids to taste. No kidding, we

had friends in from Cambridge MA last winter and they had to go to Founders

to get the Breakfast Stout. In fact, we had a Beer tasting Christmas Brunch

that was fantastic……… Then I took a nap.

Founders Kentucky Breakfast Bourbon Aged Stout

is touted as one of the pint of beer freefoto.combest beers in Michigan

by Supporting our local economy and small

business is just one of the reasons I can think of to make

local beer the only beer we drink. You can havea great

tasting, exquisitely brewed beer from a local brewery,

make a greencontribution, and support the Michigan


How about that for the top 3 reasons to have a

beer with dinner tonight?

Some say the secret to great beer is the small batch

and a master blender. Several of the breweries here in

Grand Rapids are well known to craft beer enthusiasts and

small batches mean that this beer is only available locally

and isn’t produced in sufficient quantities to bottle and


The names alone are intriguing:

  • Old Curmudgeon Ale
  • Devil Dancer Triple IPA
  • Bone Crusher Stout
  • Hoppy Holidays
  • Snowblind Warmer Ales

So if you want to taste the Grand Rapids Beers,

you will have to come to our “River City” and

have a pint to see what you have been missing.

founders bar

Local Micro-Breweries & Brew Pubs:

Arena Brewing Co.
25 Ottawa SW Next to VanAndel Arena
Grand Rapids, MI 49503

Big Buck Brewery/ and Steakhouse
2500 28th Street SE Grand Rapids, MI 49512

Bob’s House Of Brews
20 Monroe Ave NW (The B.O.B.) Grand Rapids, MI 49341

Founders Brewing Company
235 Grandville SW Grand Rapids, MI 49503

Grand Rapids Brewing Company

3689 28th St Grand Rapids, MI 49512

Schmohz Brewing Co
2600 Patterson SE
Grand Rapids, MI 49546

Beer and ale volume

4 gills = 1 pint

2 pints = 1 quart
4 quarts = 1 gallon
9 gallons = 1 firkin
2 firkins = 1 kilderkin
3 kilderkins = 1 hogshead
2 hogsheads = 1 butt

More websites for beer aficionados are:

Copyright by Terry Westbrook 2008

Search Grand Rapids Homes for Sale

Featured Grand Rapids Homes

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Westbrook Realty ~ Grand Rapids Real Estate

Founders photo from their website,

pint of beer from

The enactment of the Michigan legislation to offer rebates and aggressive

tax incentives to movie production companies in Michigan has prompted Tictock

Studios,based in Holland, Michigan, to announce plans to operate a financing and

production company with the ability to invest up to $20 million per project with

most films comingin under $10 million. Their first film will be “Tug,” which

qualifies for the incentive programs and is set for production in early


Tictock, which bills itself as the first Michigan-based studio, has acquired the

ReddiWhipfactory in Holland and plans to renovate the 76,000-square-foot

facility with private money and some state credits.

hollywood sign

Holland based TicTock Studios, has hired Jeffrey Stott, a well known Hollywood

producer to help implement the job training that will turn the unemployed in

Michigan into behind the scenes technical jobs in the movie and film industry.

The Michigan legislators have passed and Governor Granholm has signed into

law a bill with the most aggressive incentives to date to bring film crews to

Michigan to make their movies in the future. This strategy has worked for other

states, like Louisiana and New Mexico. TicTock Studios will take online

resumes if you would like to be in the movies behind the scenes.

They are looking for people with trades backgrounds, such as electricians,

painters, & set technicians. There is also a job training program is in conjunction

with Grand Rapids Community College in Grand Rapids, MI that started its initial


on April 7th.

You might be seeing a lot of Michigan sunsets in the movies soon!

lake mich beach scene

Copyright by Terry Westbrook 2008

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Sources: Variety & LA Times Articles

Spring brings the urge to buy a new home or a larger home.

Lots of internet searches for the perfect home are being done at midnight

in the robe & slippers, here in Grand Rapids Michigan, as elsewhere around

the country. The mortgage rates are low, the apartment idea was great

but now some may have decided they want a piece of the American

Dream. They want their own garage, their own deck for barbecues and

decorate the yard with flamingos, if they choose to do so.

Let’s take a peek at that midnight computer search & see what the

average consumer is searching for……….

julie& calebs mansion

I like to call this the “Dream Home Wish List.” It seems buyers are

ever optimistic and consistently put these parameters in for top

home search requirements, year after year, here in Grand Rapids.

Price 90,000 – 99,999
Architectural Type Ranch
Basement Type Walkout
Number of Bedrooms At Least 3
Number of Baths At Least 2
Garage Size At Least 2 Stalls
Square Feet 4,000 or more
Zip Code 49506
County Kent
School District Forest Hills
Age 5 to 25 Years
Riparian Rights Lake Front/Private
Acreage 1 to 5
Lake Name Lake Michigan
Air Conditioning Yes
Fireplace Yes

Anyone would buy this house in a nano-second, if it existed,

………. but it doesn’t.

A 4000 sq ft ranch house in Forest Hills Schools with acreage alone would

have you in the higher price brackets [300K-500K] immediately. A 4000 sq

ft ranch house on Lake Michigan is in the multi-million dollar category.

So much for the Dream home for most of us…..let’s go back to reality.

So just what did the average home buyer purchase last year

and this year in the Grand Rapids area?

Last Year in 2007:

  • 3159 households bought a house for $99,999 or under
  • 3278 households bought a house for $100,000 – 149,999
  • 1846 households bought a house for $150,000 – 199,999

First Quarter 2008:

  • 1409 households bought a house for $99,999 or under
  • 754 households bought a house for $ $100,000 – 149,999
  • 420 households bought a house for $ 150,000 – 199,999

It looks like prices have dropped dramatically and more people are buying

in the lowest price bracket of under $99,999. But these statistics are not

comparable. About half of the homes selling for under $100,000 in 2008 are

bank foreclosures. The homes’ value and price sold are not the same.

Please refer to my other posts on bank foreclosures for the reasons:

Foreclosures are NOT fun – Be prepared to earn your bargain

Are Foreclosures are Selling Faster than Traditional Homes?

Stripped and Violated: This House could be Next Door to You

The average foreclosure price is $78,400 compared to the overall

average home sale price of $119,600.

When the short sales are taken out of the total, the average home

sale price is now $160,900.

Bank foreclosure houses are typically not priced to compare to the

homes in the neighborhood in good condition. The foreclosure homes are

usually abused and need lots of work to be similar in value to other houses

in the neighborhood. Some need literally everything to be habitable!!

Most households ended up spending more than they thought they would.

To get the home of their dreams, they spent between $100,00

and $200,00, on average.

If a first home or larger home is in the plans for you, we would

be honored to assist you in the process of purchasing the

“home of your dreams”.

Copyright by Terry Westbrook 2008

Search Grand Rapids Homes for Sale

Featured Grand Rapids Homes

Greater Grand Rapids Area Information

Contact me: 1-888-240-1968 x 0 toll free

Website url: Terry


If you are wondering what to do on a Saturday night in Grand Rapids,

I’d suggest attending the Roller Derby ! I just got this update from the Roller

Derby Gals and thought I would pass it on. I have mentioned the

Grand Raggidy Roller Girls before ( see links at bottom of article) for an evening

of unparalleled fun and flat track skating prowess, it doesn’t get any better!

Hope to see you there!

grand raggidy roller derby team photo

Copy of the email I received from Grand Raggidy Roller Girl,

Bette Mangler:

Roller derby girls are known for being tough as nails and fearless

to a fault. The Grand Raggidy Roller Girls are a prime example of that

tenaciousness. The hometown league’s Travel Team has never backed down

from a challenge, and that’s just what they’ll face when they kick off their

season April 26th against the phenomenal derby powerhouse known as

the Windy City Rollers. The Windy City Rollers of Chicago have jumped the

ranks in the Women’s Flat Track Derby Association(WFTDA)in the past year.

In August ’07, they took second place at WFTDA’s Eastern Regionals,

earning a coveted spot at Nationals that fall in Austin, Texas, where they made

a strong showing. They currentlyare WFTDA ranked 7th in the nation, sharing

the top ten with such big names as Carolina, Texas and New York. Simply put,

these ladies kick all kinds of derby butt.
They’re also a close sister league and longtime friends to the GRRG, and the

two leagues are excited to finally meet on the flat track for the first time.

The Grand Raggidy Roller Girls Travel Team is ready for the challenge and

the elevated level of competition that the April 26th game promises to bring.

The GRRG were able to place 11th at WFTDA’s Eastern Regionals this

past August. The recent restructure of the league leaves the newly formed

Travel Team with most of the league’s strongest, fastest and seasoned players.

And since the GRRG skaters no longer compete against one another, they’re

sharing all their secrets, teaching one another new tricks, training harder

and getting way better, way faster. Not to mention, they’ll be unveiling

some great, new Travel Team skaters this season.
The GRRG’s new venue has a smaller capacity, and tickets are sure to be in

high demand for the season’s events. Buy early to ensure a seat. Stay tuned

for more updates, or check out

Event details:
Saturday, May 17
Doors at 5 p.m.; action at 6 p.m.
Rivertown Sports, 2605 Sanford Ave SW
Tickets are $10 presale, $15 at the door

Limited pre-sale tickets available through

More Derby Articles:

Championship Bout – Final FaceOff

Warning: Roller Derby is Addictive

Biff! Bam! Oomph! Roller Derby & Real Estate

Copyright by Terry Westbrook 2008

Search Grand Rapids Homes for Sale

Featured Grand Rapids Homes

Greater Grand Rapids Area Information

Contact me: 1-888-240-1968 x 0 toll free

Website: Terry


Five Star Real Estate, LLC

photo of the Grand Raggidy Roller Teams courtesy of their website

You know the saying about good guys finishing last, well, I’m not so sure.

This recent scenario is pretty typical of a dilemma the real estate

agent faces every day.

I recently went on a listing appointment. It was a referral from a very happy

past client, the home was about 6 years old, professionally decorated and

had many extras. A very nice house to have listed.

EXCEPT…the seller didn’t want to move right away, they wanted to

list this spring and move in November.

I did my CMA and told them their price would be around $300K as the BEST

possible outcome.  The house next door just sold for $270K and

they included a $10K item of furniture to seal the deal!

I was firm about my price, but I conceded we could start at 310K or 315K,

if they wanted to test the market for a few months.

They interviewed two other agents who had also been recommended.

They went with the agent who told them it would sell for $330K. That is what it

is listed for on our MLS now.

Real estate agents have to make a decision at the presentation.

Do we want to buy the listing at the higher price and deal with a disappointed

seller for 6-15 months?

The other option is to be firm and if the business comes your way it will be

salable and you will get paid for your efforts.

I recently listed a home for the correct price and it sold in three

weeks for full price.

If I had been the Good Guy wearing the White Hat and agreed to

their $330K price, I know I could have gotten the listing. Then during

the 5-6 months when they weregetting really serious about selling, we

could have lowered the price and it would eventually sell, maybe by

spring 2009.

What is the right thing to do?

Telling the seller the truth cost me a listing??           Yes.

My Deduction:

Listening to the client —+— Motivation —+ — Price

All of these go hand in hand to come to an understanding

with the seller. I wasn’t patient enough to offer the option of setting

a higher price and waiting with them to realize their price was unrealistic.

This has been the case with so many listings over the last year and a half.

So I suppose I’m wearing the Black Hat in this Situation.

Or will I be wearing the Black Hat when I list at their price and

it still hasn’t sold in 11 to 12 months?  You betcha.

I will be the one who has failed to sell the house even though

the sellers set the price.

Copyright by Terry Westbrook 2008

Contact me: 1-888-240-1968 x 0 toll free

Grand Rapids Real Estate ~ Westbrook Realty


In my Homebuyers Series: Part One: Know what you are looking for before you start

& Shop for a Mortgage

In my Homebuyers Series: Part Two: Make sure your Realtor knows what you are looking for

and   Location, Location, Location are covered in depth.

Tip No. 6Use your agent to narrow the prospect list.A good agent brings to the table an

in-depth kowledge of the current houseing inventory in their area, and continually updates that

knowledge by touring homes as they are placed on the market. This to your advantage. Trying to personally

see every available home that might fit your needs would be an overwhelming process. If you are thorough

in communicating your needs and what you can realistically afford, then your agent can help you narrow

down the list of prospective homes to those that best suit your needs.

This will save you much time and energy.

When the time comes to settle on one home, you can do it with the confidence that you’ve

made a well-informed choice.

Tip No. 7 – Show interest in everything you see – As you tour the homes on your “short list,” find

something to  admire in each one. If you don’t show any interest until you’ve finally fallen in love with a

home, then you’ve just put yourself at a competitive disadvantage. Never let anyone know how badly

you want a home – it will cost you money!

Tip No 8 – Shop with your head, not your heart – Don’t forget the purpose of your

Needs” and “Desires” lists.

Shopping for a home is an emotional process.

Your heart will cost you money; using your head will save it.

Copyright by Terry Westbrook 2008

Search Grand Rapids Homes for Sale

Featured Grand Rapids Homes

Greater Grand Rapids Area Information

Contact me: 1-888-240-1968 x 0 toll free

Website url: Terry


The Forsythia is the unofficial sign of spring for me here in Ada Michigan.

Whether we have a cold, wet spring season or a dry, warm sunny one, this burst of chromium

yellow joy from Mother Nature can lift the heart. While we were out cruising today on our

Monday errands, such as putting up Open House rider signs on our listings for this coming

weekend, we got to see a whole lot of forsythia bushes in bloom. They are hardy here in the

north and can survive our sometimes brutally cold winters. Themost charming aspect of this

shrub for me is the fact that the flowers come before the leaves. This plant likes to party

before it gets down to the business of photosynthesis! You have to admire the show.

The bushes are covered with thousands of brilliant yellow star flowers, well

just see for yourself. We did a few drive-by shootings today on our outing:

forsythia in spring ada mmi

forsythia in spring ada mi

forsythia in spring ada mi

forsythia in spring ada mi

Copyright by Bonnie Westbrook 2008

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Website: Terry

Five Star Real Estate, LLC

photos by Bonnie Westbrook

Clotheslines are considered old fashioned and unsightly in some American neighborhoods.

Why is this?

When did hanging out your clothes for the sun and wind to dry them become obsolete and unsightly?

In some areas of the USA, outdoor clotheslines are banned by town ordinances, such as: Poughkeepsie,

NY, Schaumberg, IL, Vallejo, CA and all the historic districts in Columbus OH.

According to Alexander Lee over at LaundryList, 5-10% of US residential electricity is used by home

clothes dryers, the second most costly appliance we have in our homes. Oh, and they

also attribute 15,600 household fires, 15 deaths, and 400 injuries a year to automatic

clothes dryers in our homes, with a national cost of $99 million dollars.

laundry on the line

I can recall helping my Mother & my Grandmother hanging out the clothes. It was a magical sight to

see the sheets and towels catch the wind, snap and try to sail away. There was also something

verytidy and domestic about seeing everyones pants, socks,and underwear lined up

on the line. It was a visual sign that you belonged to this tribe, your possessions were right there

on the line with theirs.

I have many fond memories of a day camp made on the clothesline with a big blanket and some

rocks to hold down the edges. It was our fort, or hide away, our secluded retreat from

the adult world for the day. We got to take our lunch of jelly bread sandwiches inside the

tent which made them taste much, much better. If you were really brave, you could sleep overnight

out in the clothesline tent – but this was only for intrepid souls who didn’t mind the night sounds,

animals and bugs, like me, my little brothers were not up for it. In their defense, they were

only 2 and 5 years old at the time.

Let’s reconsider the lowly clothesline on Earth Day and here after, as a means to

dry our clothes responsibly and not add to the energy grid and polluting the earth.

We get clean, fresh smelling clothes (sunshine is a natural germ killer and bleaching agent] and

our children can have visual memories of the family rainment literally flapping in the breeze.

Copyright by Bonnie Westbrook 2008

Search Grand Rapids Homes for Sale

Featured Grand Rapids Homes

Greater Grand Rapids Area Information

Contact: 1-888-240-1968 x 0 toll free

Website: Terry

Five Star Real Estate, LLC

A Few Buying Tips on Foreclosed Properties:

Be Aware ~ Be Prepared ~ Use a Seasoned Buyer’s Real Estate Agent

The recent downturn in the housing market means that there are more and more foreclosed properties going up for sale, especially in areas which are economically depressed. Although these properties may at first glance seem like a bargain, there are many potential problems that you should carefully investigate. Apart from the usual considerations-did the previous owner intentionally damage the property before abandoning it, etc.-there are a number of under-reported potential issues you should be aware of.

Many of these issues stem from the fact that institutional sellers such as banks are simply not as interested in negotiating as an individual owner would be.

Here are several important issues to understand if you are going to pursue a foreclosed property:


1. It can sometimes take weeks for a bank or relocation company to respond in writing to your offer. Build time into your scheduling in preparation for longer delays in the negotiation phase.

2. Banks and relocation companies often have cumbersome contract addenda. Have a real estate attorney ready to review their addenda and give you some insight into the risks involved with their contract. Often banks and relocation companies will back down from their position, but it may not be worth your effort as a buyer.

3. Banks and relocation company addenda often put them in the position of being able to break the contract at will, without penalty, at any point right up to closing. Plan ahead for this risk.

4. In many markets, banks often contract to provide a warranty deed on a foreclosed property, and then when the closing documents arrive they will instead provide a special warranty deed (a lower quality form of conveyance). Speak to a real estate attorney ahead of time to evaluate your additional risks and determine if it is worth moving forward.

5. Often, at closing, the seller will claim that they haven’t gotten all their signatures so the actual closing may need to be delayed another 24 hours. This ends up preventing you from moving into your home on the date you had planned. The seller may unilaterally change your closing date and as a result the seller may not deliver ownership exactly as scheduled. Building extra time into your schedule will help in this situation.

Examples from a recent survey of buyer’s agents include:

“On a recent foreclosure my Buyers and the Bank (the seller) verbally agreed to their offer. We waited 3 weeks for them to put it into writing.”

“Lender taking 2+weeks to respond to an offer. Lender not informing us they are already considering another offer. Lender going to closing without having valid deed. Lender refusing to turn on utilities for proper house inspection.”

Forms of conveyance will vary by state.

What You Can Do


Most of these challenges can be overcome through due diligence. Always “read the fine print.” Have a real estate attorney ready to review contracts and give you insight into the risks involved. Occasionally, banks will back down when confronted with legal counsel.

Be sure to build extra time into your schedule:

  • Banks and relocation companies are notorious for dragging their feet.
  • Prepare yourself for long waits during negotiation.
  • Don’t plan to move into the home or start renovations the day of or the day after a scheduled closing.
  • The seller may unilaterally change it and delay an extra day.
  • Don’t assume the transaction will close on time and don’t assume that the seller will deliver ownership exactly as scheduled.

You can read more about buying foreclosures and the problems you probably will encounter here.

Foreclosures Selling Faster? Article

Stripped & Violated – This House Could be Next Door Article

Greater Grand Rapids Area Information

Copyright by Terry Westbrook 2008

Contact me: 1-888-240-1968 x 0 toll free

Grand Rapids Photos


May 2008