Sold: Grosse Pointe Houses

Grosse Pointe News

Lawrence Scaff and Patricia Riker have the distinction of being Grosse Pointe's newest residents. And they are not the only newbies in town.
Scaff, 66, a political science professor at Wayne State University, and Riker, 66, a retired project manager with Honda, just days ago moved into their new house on Westchester in Grosse Pointe Park, and they couldn't be happier.
"I was attracted to the total environment that the Pointes have to offer," said Scaff. "I've been in and out of the Pointes since I moved to this area in 1998. I was familiar with the Village and several Wayne State people live in the area."
And then there's the lake, which Riker, an avid sailor, referred to as "the third coast.""I lived in Santa Monica, just two blocks from the beach," said Riker, "so we're very much looking forward to getting out on the water."
Scaff had previously lived in Lafayette Park and sold his townhouse after about six weeks on the market. He and Riker began their search in Grosse Pointe early last fall, accompanied by real estate agent Beline Obeid.
"We actually looked at about 25 to 30 houses and ironically, the house we ended up buying was the very first house we looked at. We looked at several other houses, then did a full circle and came right back to the very first one we looked at."
"We have beautiful homes on the market right now," Obeid said.
"Grosse Pointe is the most desirable of communities. We have the lake, parks, an outstanding school system, but we have other things as well, such as churches and outstanding hospitals and medical facilities. And now is definitely the time to buy, especially with these low interest rates."
Realtor George Smale, president of the Grosse Pointe Board of Realtors, echoed her sentiments.
Smale said statistics indicate while the inventory of houses for sale is down, sales have been slow but steady.
"There are currently 554 homes on the market," Smale said, "which is down from a high of nearly 800 at one time. According to the MiRealSource multiple listing service we use, there were 471 homes sold in the Pointes in 2008."
Smale declined to predict what 2009 would bring."I really don't know what to expect or to even predict," he said. "There are too many external forces operating against us, but I will say that now is definitely the time to buy if you can, and Grosse Pointe is definitely the place to buy. It has stability, tremendous services, an outstanding school system and the parks. This is not subdivision living, but rather small town living. Interest rates are low, prices are down. While credit has been tight, it's starting to loosen up."
Kim Schmidt, regional president of Community Central Bank, said money is becoming available, but advises customers to work closely with their real estate agents and have their financial affairs in order before applying.

Families move to Grosse Pointe for many reasons and sometimes they move from one Pointe to another, as the Williams family did recently. They moved from the Park to the Farms so Liam, 12, could walk to St. Paul Catholic School.

"Mortgage money was difficult to come by for awhile," she said. "Government regulations went from being too lax to being too strict. But those regulations have become far more sensible, making more money available. And right now the rates are historically low."
Schmidt wrote 160 mortgages in 2008 and predicts 2009 will be busy as well, not only with new mortgages, but some refinancing.
"Of course the problem we're seeing with refinancing is the appraisal issue, with values being lower than they were a few years ago. But if we can work out a refinancing, we will," Schmidt said.
Realtors are focused on new sales and at least one agent is encouraged by young families moving into the area.
"What I'm seeing is a lot of young people who grew up in Grosse Pointe coming back and buying homes here when they want to settle down. They obviously know what a great community it is, and right now, you can't beat the values," said Realtor Beverly Tannian.
She recently sold a house on Buckingham in Grosse Pointe Park to Lisa McQueen, who grew up in Grosse Pointe. Her husband, Steve, said his father taught in the Grosse Pointe schools. They moved with their five sons after outgrowing their home in Macomb Township.
"I like the small town atmosphere," Lisa McQueen said. "I especially wanted to get away from all the shopping centers and strip malls. And I love being by the water."
"There was no hesitation when we started looking. We knew we wanted to move to Grosse Pointe," Steve said. "We always appreciated the older style homes and the schools are something that appealed to us."
The private schools also have appeal to Lynne and Brian Williams.They moved to the area so their children could walk to St. Paul on the Lake school.
"My husband lived in Grosse Pointe before we were married," said Lynne Williams. "It's like a small town, and pretty soon the lines blur as to how you even know people. We have friends from school, friends from the neighborhood and people we have been friends with for years. There's a real sense of community."
Amid the boxes and controlled chaos of moving, Scaff also talked about that sense of community, explaining his colleague's praises of Pointes, sold him on the area.That colleague was State Representative Tim Bledsoe, D-Grosse Pointe.
"Tim's enthusiasm wore off on me," Scaff said with a laugh. "I finally had to move here."


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