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According to NAR’s [National Association of Realtors] latest figures,

 Did You Know: November 6, 2009, the increase in single

owner households in on the rise.  They attribute it to baby-boomers that

are widowed but staying in their home.  There has been an increase in

single women purchasing homes, per NAR’s stats, almost one-quarter of

first time home buyers were single females who purchased their first

home on a median income of $47,400.


Click on this home to see flyer 

The national average for single occupant households is 28%.  This figure

is likely to rise after the results of the 2010 census is revealed in January.

This trend is good news for the small bungalows and ranch homes built

after World War II that are on the market today.  We have found that

condos and townhouses have great appeal to the single buyer, too.

It used to be unusual for people to live alone but is much more

accepted as the norm today.


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If you are looking for a home in the Grand Rapids Area, we service the following areas: Metro Grand Rapids, Ada-Cascade, East Grand Rapids, Caledonia, Kentwood, Lowell, and Rockford. We have assisted Grand Rapids buy & sell homes for the last 35+ years. Call 1-616-292-7263 to talk with Terry or email him at:

For MLS access to the homes for sale in the West Michigan Area,visit: Westbrook Realty ~ Grand Rapids Real Estate for a free search.  Your search can be saved and modified as you view homes, with no obligation.

Thinking of selling your home?  We offer one of the most extensive marketing campaigns in Grand Rapids with a major online presence for your home.  With over 85% of buyers looking for homes online, this is where we concentrate our efforts.  Click here to view Terry’s Realtor profile.

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Westbrook RealtyGiving You Our Personal Best

Bring your checklist to this great home in a NE neighborhood. It has all the

amenities you are looking for at a great price and in great condition.

At 1440 square feet of finished living space, it is a lot of home for the money.

Listed at $ 99,900

sm Front Elevation best

Three Bedrooms…………………check

Two Baths…………………………..check

Hardwood Floors……………..…check

Remodeled Kitchen………….…check

All Appliances included………check

Ceramic Tile Floors……………..check

Finished Rec Room Down……check

Two Stall Garage…………………..check

Fenced Backyard…………………..check

Central Air Conditioning………check

Roof looks good……………………check

Newer furnace……………………..check

New Hot Water Heater………..check

Master Suite………………………..check

Easy Access to Expressway..check

You can see lots of pictures of this home at our website:

 Westbrook Realty

Copyright 2009

All rights reserved

If you are renting and sharing an apartment with room-mates, this video will give you a few laughs. It might inspire you to buy a home and take advantage of the First Time Home Buyer Tax Credit up to $8000.  There are still bargains to be had and home inventories are still fairly high.  Overall home prices are down to 1998 levels but we have seen keen competition on well priced homes in great condition.



Westbrook Realty Grand Rapids Real Estate

Contact me for details about this program.

1-888-240-1968 ext 0

Video from Michigan Association of Realtors

In February we received a call on a property that had been foreclosed on

by HUD (Housing & Urban Development).  The buyer was looking to

purchase the house and rehab the property.  When we met the buyer,

his thoughts were to purchase it and put  his daughter in as a tenant.

This sounded like a great idea and after looking as his 401k, he decided

a smart use of what money he still had in his account.

In Michigan the process to buy a HUD-owned home is similar to a

number of states.    The offer is presented on line -  if you are successful

in your bid you have 24 hours to supply the paperwork to the attorney

firm that is handling the process.

All went quite well and HUD accepted our offer on the property.

HUD-owned house

Now we wanted to do inspections. As is typical in vacant HUD properties, we

need to turn the utilities on to do the inspections. The local power company

would not turn the power on  until an electrical upgrade was completed.

We called the attorney firm and they indicated another department in Arizona

took care of that. It would take a few days to get the quotes in to authorize

the upgrade. As it turns out, they need  3 quotes and the guy in Arizona

only had 2 approved contractors. After a few weeks of waiting we did our

own quote and called the attorney and asked if we could do the upgrade

at no cost to HUD and then do our inspections.

electrical wires cut

The answer: No, they would not allow anyone in the house that was not


I went through the layers of management to get to a supervisor that

indicated he "was all over this" and he would make it happen. Another

month of phone calls and frustration finally got the bids in and received

a call from another department.

This department indicated the bids were in but now they had to check

with HUD to see if they would do the work since all properties were

purchased "as is". I asked why they did not mention that we would not

have the opportunity to do our inspections before we had gone through

nearly 3 months of waiting.


HUD foreclosure notice

He did not have an answer but would get back to us.

Finally approved but the approved contractor could not get to the job

for a while.

The buyer, totally frustrated by now, decided he still wanted the property.

With nearly  3 months of phone calls and lack of action by HUD, he

offered to buy the home without inspections, if  they would give a

credit at close for the electrical repairs.

The calls were made and the approval granted. FINALLY!!!

Now we have 3 days to get the home closed before the offer expires.

If not closed in 3 days, we would have to file for an extension of the

agreement which might cost the buyer because he had not closed in

a timely manner.

We did close on the last possible day without too much issue.

Why do we do this?

Because the buyer is so happy!  The Buyer’s daughter actually bought

the  home and has a mortgage from the parents so she can get the

"First Time Buyer Home Credit".

They are happily cleaning and preparing to move in to the home. 

The electric is upgraded and the repairs are being completed.

The moral of the story:

In this housing market, buyers that never would have been able

to buy can own a home ——- if they have patience to go through

the process.

**Having a parent or relative fund the mortgage is another option

to a bank  mortgage.


The $ Benefits of the First Time Home Buyers Tax Credit

Buying Foreclosed Homes is NOT FUN


If you have the patience to buy a HUD-owned home or a foreclosure

Home, please contact us at 1-888-240-1968 ext 0 or email us at:

Grand Rapids Ada Real Estate ~ Westbrook Realty

Copyright 2009 All rights reserved

The first attempt to give a credit to buyers last year seemed very limited in

benefits. I looked at it as an interest-free loan that had to be repaid.

The accounting alone would discourage buyers about taking it.

With the new American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009 comes a

new first time home buyer program. The following chart provided by

NAR gives an overview of the changes and benefits.First time home buyer tax credit

Let’s do an analysis on buying 3 different homes:

Starting with a home with an $80,000 loan, then $150,000 loan and finally,

a $300,000 loan.

Remember you must be a First Time Buyer [or not owned a home for 3 years]

and make less than $75,000/yr for a single owner and $150,000/yr for a couple.

The examples are estimates based on an estimated 10% down payment with

PMI(Private Mortgage Insurance).

Other loan terms and down payments are available and will cause these

calculations to vary. Call me & we can see how it will impact you specifically.

Hypothetically, you just bought a home for $88,000, with $8000 down.

Loan               $80,000

Int Rate              5.5%                  Payment    454.23

Taxes                 1200                  Tax / mo   100.00

Insurance             500                   Ins / Mo     41.67

PMI                     420                    PMI/ MO    35.00

Total payment per month                             $630.90


Now, what is the best way to use your $8,000.00 credit?

Option 1: Increase your Federal Income tax deductions with your employer

paying in $8000.00 less in taxes and use the extra money to make

the payments for a year and live in your new home for free for the first year.



Option 2: Increase your deductions so you pay in $8000.00 less in taxes.

Send the extra money into the principal on your mortgage every month.

With the additional payment to principal you will reduce the term of the loan

by 6 years, saving $26,000 in interest over the term of the loan. Potentially

paying the loan down far enough that you can ask for the PMI insurance

to be removed, since you now have an additional 10% payment to principal.

Option 3: Save the money and get less than 1% interest.

The same comparison of Option 2 for a buyer with a $150,000 loan: it reduces

the loan term by 3.5 years and saves $28,800 in interest over the life of

the loan. 

The same comparison of Option 2 for a buyer with a $300,000 loan: you

reduce the loan term by 1.8 years and save $29,700 over the life of the loan.

However you decide to use your $ 8000 tax credit, as long as you stay in the

home for 3 years there is no penalty or payback. At the very least, you are

ahead by $8,000 and you could have an additional $26,000 to $29,700 in

interest savings on the life of your home loan. 

If you were hesitating about buying a home, this should encourage you buy

a home soon.  I would be delighted to discuss the 2009 Tax Benefits to you.

***This analysis is based on estimates I have made based on real estate taxes,

Interest rates, Insurance premiums  will vary based on the home you select.

Grand Rapids Ada Real Estate ~ Westbrook Realty

Copyright 2009 All rights reserved

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


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