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When deciding on a strategy for selling their home, one will often consider the option of selling it on their own. Selling For Sale By Owner, or FSBO, is not a bad idea as a home seller could potentially save thousands of dollars in agency commissions. But then again, they might not. There’s a risk-to-reward threshold that a home owner must completely understand, and be ok with, before going onto a non-multi-list website hoping to market your property. If a seller knows what you’re doing and does it right, they could save money and potential legal issues.
Firstly, if saving money is a seller’s primary motivation, keep in mind that most home buyers are represented by an agent. In rare cases, the buyer might be willing to pay that agent for their work, but again, it’s rare, and it’s not even allowed for VA loans. In most cases, you should presume that a buyer will make you an offer with their agent’s one-party commission agreement to have you pay the broker a commission even though they’re representing the purchaser. There are exceptions but with the standard listing agent commission at 6%, let’s say an $18,000 charge for a $300,000 home, even a $9,000 savings isn’t anything to scoff at.
But for that potential $9000 savings, what seller services does the listing agent provide that the seller will have to do by themselves instead, and what are the risks? At minimum, a FSBO will need to:
I won’t spend too much time on this next point because this blog post is getting too long as it is. But every prospective home seller should keep in mind that many websites who promote the idea of selling FSBO do so because they have a triple-dip business model. Their goal is to either charge sellers to post their home on the website or charge them for “legal forms” for sale on their website, wait for the sellers to get frustrated with the lack of momentum on the FSBO listing because their website isn’t connected to the MLS, and when the seller gives up, the website encourages them to use one of their agents who not only pays them for “leads” but also likely pays the website a 25-40% referral fee on a commission they charge the homeowner after all. This triple-dip business model makes a sucker out of naïve homeowners and the poor agents who can’t operate their business by referral, and have to resort to paying for internet leads.
But this is about selling your home by yourself the right way. If time is not an issue, going FSBO is a great idea. A home seller doesn’t have to worry about pushing out the listing to a maximum number of potential buyers as quickly as possible as an agent has an obligation to. Follow my 27-point list, do your homework and with a little luck, you’ll probably be just fine. Or call a good, reputable, solid, honest, caring agent who has the experience to do this for you. Yes, you’d end up paying them, but no one works for free nor should they. In all likelihood, you’ll end up paying more as a FSBO anyway.
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The three principles of Macomb Township’s Bricks & Minifigs is Rebuild, Reuse, Reimagine. For a Lego® resale shop, they seem like fantastic pillars so let’s talk about them to determine how this national franchise founded by David Ortiz and John Masek in 2010 has done since opening the first Michigan location in 2018.
Rebuild: the Macomb Township location has six large table stands filled with Lego® pieces, not just bricks but wheels, windows, wings, and a host of other parts. They allow visitors to come in and rebuild projects from the past (if you can remember the instructions and find the pieces) or create new ones. It’s a great way to burn an hour of time with your little one after school or over a weekend. They don’t require a purchase but good luck getting out without buying something! For a father, I have to say this is is an A+ service.
Reuse: their stated business model is to buy, sell and trade Lego® parts and “pay top dollar” for it. Ok, let’s be real, any survivable business model will not be able to “pay top dollar” for anything and stay in business for long. You are guaranteed to get maybe 20-30% of value on the dollar if you attempt to sell your Lego® pieces to this store. It’s no different than any other resale shop. They cannot pay top dollar when they have overhead. There must be a margin. With that said, reselling on Amazon or Ebay costs time, listing fees and shipping costs – so weight your options if you want to sell your pieces.
Another part of the Reuse pillar, is selling. To sell, one must have good selection and this shop does. From fantasy minifigs, to Star Wars® to super-hero, their inventory is impressive. They also sell new kits, old instructions and accessories. Now, if there were any complaints about this store, it would be their pricing. Minifigs are about $5 on the low-end, and can go up dramatically from there depending on its rarity. You can probably find better deals at online resale shops. But again, there are other considerations. Though in almost every case, you’ll pay more in this store than going online, you will have to go through the work of finding that item you’re looking for online, have to bid on it, pay shipping costs and of course, shopping online is not as environmentally friendly.
Reimagine: This pillar is similar to their rebuild – and seems to emphasize only that they also sell new sets. It’s up to the individual to reimagine so this pillar is just marketing fluff. It’s great they sell new sets but if I were their CEO, I’d use this “R” from their promos and change it to “Relax” or “Relate”, either to emphasize that one can just walk in, relax and play – or, that this store relates, by offering birthday party celebrations and even posts shopper’s creations on their website. How proud would your little one be seeing their hard work posted online? This is a really cool service they should promote more.
By and large, Bricks & Minifigs is a great local business to visit if you or your children like Lego® products. They don’t charge to come in and play, have a great selection and offer other services for kids. Don’t look to make money by selling your old Lego® and find a deal of a lifetime when buying, but their prices aren’t outrageous considering their overhead. If one were to spend an hour there playing and buy a $5 minifig, I’d say it’s a fair deal. Your kids will love it too.
Verdict: Check it out!
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Local eatery Cedar Garden has been a St. Clair Shores fixture since around 1996 and if you haven’t eaten here, you’re missing the best Lebanese food in the area. It does come with a couple mild drawbacks, so let’s get that out of the way right off the bat.
First, the interior is drab and either the tables are heavily waxed or they are rarely cleaned with soap. Whatever the case, they’re sticky. Though I’ve been eating here since 2006 I can honestly say I’ve never had a case of food poisoning (unlike every visit I’ve had to Wendy’s), so that’s something.
And if you’re expecting service that will cheer your day and make you skip out the door when you’re finished, forget about it. The most you’ll get is a straight-to-the-point service approach and even through the years, my visits have only been elevated to a mild-enthusiasm and most of that is for my five year old daughter who simply brings joy out of people.
So, if you’re not expecting to be wowed by the interior or thrilled with the service, you should expect to be impressed by the food. I’d say they do well much more often than they don’t. The homemade pita are usually soft, made fresh and the toum (garlic sauce), oh my, if I could live on the stuff, I would. Let me say this again, their garlic sauce is incredible! If you order take-out, you won’t get the fresh pita so weight that decision carefully.
The shish combo that comes with shish kabob, shish tawook and shish kafta, rice and a salad is by itself, delicious and enough for two people. It’s usually sparse on the veggies, but I don’t mind. If you do, make sure to tell them and they’ll take care of you.
Sometimes I get the chicken fattoush shawarma salad when I’m feeling like something different and it’s never failed to satisfy me. Definitely get any salad with the dressing on the side. Their dressing tastes great but is heavy on the oil, so control your own destiny with it.
Finally, they have a children’s menu but my five year old won’t even look at it she loves their food so much. Oh, their fresh lemonade is fantastic, just like a slushy and their raw-juices are healthy, fantastic and reasonably priced all things considered.
Verdict: Worth the visit.
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St Clair Shores has a not-so-hidden gem called Baffin Brewery. It’s a locally owned partnership right along the Nautical Mile whose tasty craft beer offerings are designed to entice and quench your thirst. And they do, offering a fine sampling of wonderful flavors from a mango-inspired American-Pale Ale to White beers, IPAs and a delicious stout that’s perfect for a chilly day. You can check out their current offerings by clicking the picture to the right.
The popular mango-inspired American-Pale Ale “Mango Unchained” is now available to buy in cans at the brewery or in stores. At 6.5% ABV and 160 calories, it’s a fantastic accompaniment to a Sunday brunch of eggs, bacon and toast. One has to get their fruit somehow! If you are an IPA fan, hoo boy, watch out for the Mosaic HOP IPA “Mo Problems” because it’s so good it’s bound to cause you, well, you get it.
Now, seating is limited so plan to start your drinking during the day. If you are lucky enough to get off of work a half hour early, do it! The place fills up quickly. Even though their staffers work hard to keep your mugs filled, if you want to sit and sample their offerings, plan to get in earlier than the traditional happy hour.
With that said, say you want to take some of their pleasantries home with you. A couple beers on the menu can be purchased to take home in growlers.
A couple tips, there are a lot of restaurants within walking distance and though Baffin will get food for you prepared from the adjacent eatery, that food isn’t anything to write home about. You can check in with Baffin about their Food Truck days, often on Thursday or Friday. And don’t forget to set dates in your calendar to remind you to hop in for a couple beers. You can get free swag the more beer you drink and when you hit the 150 beers in a year mark, well, you join their Mug Club and become a Baffin hero.
Verdict: Check it out, but during the day!
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Though everyone deserves a place to live, in our society one must pay for it. Because housing is not at all inexpensive, as such, it is a good idea for everyone to look at their housing expenses in terms of costs per day. When one is able to break costs down to such a miniscule level of detail, it’s easy to see where the best bang for the buck may be.
A good real estate professional will have tools that will help you compare the cost of living between leasing and purchasing in whatever market you’re in. This is particularly helpful for deciding future moves or simple day to day budgeting.
Once you factor in variables such as purchase/lease prices, closing/rental fees, insurance, taxes, amortized interest/rental increases, there are simple rules that emerge.
Rule Number One: Daily housing costs will generally only go down when you purchase a home. In the first few years of owning, your costs are the highest. Your down payment, mortgage origination fees, pre-paid taxes and other mortgage costs are not the only expenses. You’ll also pay the most interest on any mortgage you take out in the first few years. But as you pay down the loan principal, the interest will also decrease.
Rule Number Two: In the first two years, total housing costs to buy a home is roughly half as expensive as renting. This is assuming a 5% down payment. But even with a larger down payment, though the expenses will be higher, you’re trading that for instant equity in the home and a decrease in mortgage interest expenses.
Rule Number Three: Equity in a home is a way to build personal wealth, renting a home builds the landlord’s wealth.
Even as there are advantages in leasing, such as the ease of transitioning to the next home (useful for those in the military or contract workers), even though the maintenance and insurance costs are lower, the difference isn’t even close to the economic benefits of home ownership.