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Above House: 1110 Cherokee Ave, Royal Oak Michigan. $187,500 MLS#29071466

Christa Buchanan
C & G Staff Writer

There’s finally a bit of good news in real estate: Sales are up.

A combination of the up to $8,000 first-time homebuyer — technically someone who hasn’t owned a home in three or more years — federal tax credit, a plethora of homebuyer programs and the lowest home prices seen in years has helped spur home sales.

The question is what can you really get for your money?

The answer, say local Realtors, is a really great deal — from east side to west, no matter what the price range, homebuyers across the board are getting more home for their money.

“There are just some incredible deals right now, and I mean incredible,” said Realtor Kathy Wilson, one of five co-owners of Prudential HWWB Realtors, formerly Hannett, Wilson and Whitehouse Realtors, in Birmingham.

To that end, local Realtors Joanna Darmanin of Century 21 Town & Country in Birmingham, Gary Patrosso of Keller Williams in St. Clair Shores, David Reese of Real Estate One in Troy and Wilson share concrete examples of what homebuyers can get — that are move-in ready — for their money.

First things first, what does move-in ready mean? Well, the Realtors agree, that depends on the buyer, the location and the price range: For some people it means everything — the roof, flooring, furnace, bathrooms, kitchen, etc. — is updated and the house is freshly painted; for others, it means the home is structurally sound, but may need to be painted, the carpet cleaned or replaced, or the fixtures updated.

No matter where the home is located, the Realtors agree, great deals are everywhere.

"Buyers just have to identify an area where they want to live, and they can get a real good home,” said Reese.

Less than $100-grand homes
Typically, homes in this price range are being sold as foreclosures or short sales and may need a bit — or in the case of foreclosures, sometimes a lot — of work.

For those looking for move-in ready homes, Patrosso suggests looking at short sales.

“Most short sales are in much better shape than bank-owned homes because people are typically still living there and caring for the home. Short sales are a huge avenue for homebuyers to get great homes at bank-owned prices,” he said, noting that short sales often take longer to complete.

“If you’re patient and willing to wait, you can basically get a great home at half price,” said Patrosso.

He recently sold a 1,300-square-foot brick home in Harper Woods, in the Grosse Pointe schools district, for $42,000, and a similar brick ranch in Roseville for $49,000 — both, he said, were “pretty much move-in ready.”

What you can get in this price range in Oakland County, said Darmanin, really varies by location.

“It’s hard to put a number on it, but you can maybe get something a bit smaller,” she said of homes in the Royal Oak and Birmingham area. “There’s a listing in Birmingham, a tiny little condo that’s completely refinished, you can get for $100,000.”

Reese said he’s starting to see a few homes right around the $100,000 mark in the Troy area: “Some of them are in good condition, but many, especially the foreclosures aren’t — you need to go through a few to find the right one.

“Some communities have seen a 65 percent decrease in median price. South Macomb and has taken a big hit, and so has South Oakland.”

In areas like Hazel Park, Reese said, there are “lots of homes priced between $30,000 and $50,000.”

Great buys in the $150,000 range
Move-in ready homes of various styles — ranches, bungalows, colonials, and depending on the area, even newly built homes — abound in this price range.

“Most of the homes that are selling are selling for under $150,000 right now,” Reese said. “Right now, for around $150,000, you can buy a 1,700-square-foot, three bedroom, 1.5 bath ranch in Rochester.”

Similar homes are going at the same price in Troy, and in northern Macomb County, Reese said, a newer home of that size is “probably 5 to 10 percent off that price, about $135,000.”

These are homes that were selling for closer to $200,000-$250,000 just a few years ago, Reese said.

If you’re looking at short sales, said Patrosso, you can get an even better deal.

“Right now, I have a short sale in Clinton Township by Fern Hill golf course that’s listed at $170,000. It’s a 2,753-square-foot brick ranch that needs some work … but this is an area where a few years ago houses were going for around $400,000,” said Patrosso, noting that with short sales, “after a month, the price starts dropping drastically, from $5,000 to $10,000 a week.”

Meanwhile, in the Royal Oak area, homes in this price range tend to be a bit smaller, said Darmanin, but are typically in excellent condition.

“At the $150,000 mark, you can get a really nice 3-bedroom bungalow with one bath, maybe a bath and a half. … A home going for around $160,000 would be more of brick bungalow with an attached garage,” she said, adding that these homes, at around 1,200 square feet, are typically completely updated. “You maybe could get a two bed instead of three for around $120,000 in Royal Oak.

Fantastic homes for $200,000-$300,000
More than move-in ready, homes in this price range tend to be pristine.

“You can get something today in the Birmingham-Bloomfield-Beverly Hills area for $200,000 to $300,000 that you could have gotten a few years back for $500,000,” said Wilson. “In Birmingham, I have a couple of little houses in the low twos ($200,000) — completely redone — that should be $350,000 or $400,000 all day long,” Wilson said.

“There’s one in Beverly Hills that Doug (Whitehouse, co-owner of Prudential HWWB) in my office just listed for $275,000 that’s a ranch. It was totally redone from top to bottom and has a granite kitchen … and a beautiful master suite,” said Wilson. “Three years ago, I would have put it at $400,000-$450,000. So, there really are some wonderful deals right now.”

No matter which real estate company across metro Detroit, the word is the same: The deals that can be found in every price range and every community are astounding, and never before have so many prime properties been priced this far below value as now.

“This time in real estate is going to be written in the history books. We haven’t seen prices drop like this since the Great Depression, the last time prices dropped 50 percent. … The difference today is financing is available,” Patrosso said.

Gov. Jennifer Granholm remains upbeat in her efforts to lead Michigan.

This past Wednesday, following a meeting at the White House, she got the ears of Vice President Joe Biden and U.S. Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood. "If the U.S. is going to make a long-term commitment to high-speed rail, they're going to need someone to build cars," she remarked to the Associated Press. "I really wanted to put in a plug...for us to make the cars."

Good thinking, Governor. For more then a century, Michigan has proved to the world that it knows how to manufacture automobiles. It's not building and selling as many these days, but there's no reason why the industry couldn't gear up and re-tool to make another transportation-related product.

Granholm based her pitch to Biden and LaHood on the presumption that the first phase of the proposal connecting Detroit and Chicago via high-speed rail is likely to receive approval from the federal DOT when it begins awarding competitive grant money in September. "Because the engineering work has all been done, it puts us in a good position to be able to get some of that first funding," she said.

In this space earlier this spring, we commented favorably on the Obama administration's plan to upgrade a 43-mile rail stretch between Kalamazoo and Niles. The improvements would enable the speed of passenger trains along that section to increase to 110 mph from 95 mph.

Funding for the Kalamazoo-Niles project, which could be completed by the end of this year, would come from $8 billion in federal stimulus money that Obama said will be aimed at improving high-speed rail corridors nationwide.

The area project, of course, is a tiny part of a bigger picture. Granholm pointed out that a high-speed rail corridor linking Detroit and Pontiac to Chicago, Milwaukee, Madison and St. Louis will spur job creation and reduce America's dependence on foreign oil.

Kirk T. Steudle, director of the Michigan Department of Transportation, is a strong supporter of enhanced passenger rail travel. In a recent article that he wrote, Steudle pointed out that the Midwest Regional Rail Initiative (MWRRI) was created by nine states in the mid-1990s. The effort has evolved into a 3,000-mile system blueprint that the states are slowly implementing and has since grown to become a well-established, 3,000-mile system plan.

The system, Steudle said, is predicated on three needs: 110-mile-per-hour service, significantly increased frequencies and what are being called "next generation" trains that will bring reduced travel times, more reliable service, and more service-focused mobility options to travelers.

We're looking at a tall order, but one that can be filled. Given the uncertainties of gasoline prices, which are now approaching $3 a gallon, expanded and improved passenger rail travel for motorists continues to make sense.

What else makes sense is that Michigan becomes the state that helps fill the order.
On Thursday, June 11, 2009, metro Detroit Panera Bread bakery-cafes are inviting customers to stop in to enjoy samples of the new Chopped Cobb Salad, the Strawberry Poppyseed Salad and a variety of frozen beverages.

Panera’s newest menu addition, the Chopped Cobb Salad, is a hybrid of a traditional Cobb and a chopped salad. This salad features all-natural, antibiotic-free pepper-mustard chicken, Applewood-smoked bacon, crumbled Gorgonzola cheese, fresh tomatoes, hard-boiled eggs and crisp chopped romaine lettuce tossed with an herb vinaigrette dressing.

The Strawberry Poppyseed Salad, a summer favorite at Panera, also returns to bakery-cafes. Made with freshly-picked romaine lettuce, crunchy pecans, fat-free reduced sugar Poppyseed dressing and an assortment of fresh fruit (including freshly cut strawberries, blueberries, pineapple tidbits and Mandarin oranges), the Strawberry Poppyseed Salad is a lighter choice for warmer weather.

Panera Bread also offers several frozen beverages for those looking to beat the summer heat. The Low-fat Strawberry Smoothie, blended with Stonyfield Farm low-fat, organic vanilla yogurt and a full serving of fruit, is a healthy addition to any meal and makes a nutritious snack. Additionally, the Frozen Lemonade nicely complements any summer salad or sandwich. For those seeking a more decadent treat, Panera’s Frozen Mocha is made with Belgian cocoa, pure vanilla extract made from Madagascan Bourbon vanilla beans and a topping of whipped cream and chocolate syrup.

“Whether you’re planning a picnic, meeting a colleague for lunch or simply escaping the heat of a summer day, Panera’s salads, sandwiches and frozen beverages say summer at its best,” said Lee Carmona, area director of Panera Bread of the Great Lakes Region. “As always, customers can take comfort in knowing that many of their Panera favorites can be customized to fit many dietary needs or taste preferences.”

To find the Panera Bread bakery-cafe nearest you, visit www.panerabread.com.
By Jeremy Selweski

For one evening, the city’s downtown district became a center for debate about of the recent struggles of Detroit’s Big Three automakers and the thousands of local workers impacted by them.

On May 27, the crew of the Public Broadcasting Service’s “The NewsHour with Jim Lehrer” visited AJ’s Café, 240 W. Nine Mile Road, for a roundtable discussion about the current state of the American auto industry. PBS News correspondent Paul Solman led the interview with five
United Auto Workers members and various PBS News pundits, focusing on, among other topics, the future of the union’s pension fund if General Motors files for bankruptcy. Lehrer himself wasn’t there.

At press time, the segment was scheduled to air on PBS at 6 p.m. on either May 29 or June 1.

“It was great to be a part of that,” said café owner A.J. O’Neil. “I really appreciate them coming out here to our little café. It was a lot of fun.”

O’Neil believes that PBS selected AJ’s Café as the location for the newscast after learning about its recent Assembly Line Concert, the continuous 288-hour musical tribute to the Big Three and Detroit auto workers held at the café from March 20 to April 1.

“It doesn’t surprise me because of all the activism we’ve been a part of,” he said. “We’re one of the Main Street faces for this challenge. We try to be as proactive as we can: We put on events that create international interest and hopefully make a difference in the world. I think that’s why we resonate with people.”

For O’Neil, the biggest hope is that the efforts of his business will shine a positive spotlight on Ferndale and bring more awareness to the plight of autoworkers throughout the region.

“I really believe people should take time to pay attention to the AJ’s (Cafés) of the world,” he said. “It’s not just about supporting your local coffee shop — it’s about coming out and helping to make an impact. This is something that’s way bigger than me.”

Come out Friday June 12th at 7PM to D’Amatos in Royal Oak for the official Launch Party of the Ferndale-Based Livio Radio featuring Pandora.

Complimentary drinks and hors d'oeuvres from 7-9 courtesy of Livio and Pandora Internet Radio. Music provided by DJs Urban Kris, Ben Scott, The Golden One, the John Arnold Trio, Pathe Jassi, and Jared Sykes. Party to follow.

The Livio Radio has been recently covered by Fox News National, CNBC, Kanye West’s personal blog, Crave cnet, The Chicago Tribune, Gizmodo, Engadget, and other national press.

More information can be found at http://www.livioradio.com/ and http://www.pandora.com/

For this one night only Livio will be selling the Pandora radio for $99.99 usually $149.99 and you get a free Livio T-Shirt with purchase.

To get on the invited guest list please email mailto:party@livioradio.com?subject=I with your first name, last name, and email address.

Party is open to the public but making reservations is recommended due to limited space.

The top 10 Stanley Cup comebacks include some that are amazing and historical Stanley Cup comebacks only include two three to zero comebacks in NHL history.

The top Stanley Cup comebacks all were considered astonishing upsets:

1. 1942 Final Toronto Versus Detroit

What is still considered the biggest comeback in the history of hockey, or any sport for that matter, is the 1942 Stanley Cup Finals. In an amazing comeback, Toronto won the championship after being behind, with the score three to zero at the start of the fourth game. This is the only time in the history of all sports that a team has come from behind this far and won a championship series.

2. 1962 Semifinal Detroit Versus Chicago

In the 1962 semifinals, Detroit was behind by two games, and made an amazing comeback to win the series, with a score of four to two. Many fans and commentators alike believed that after the loss of the first two games the Detroit did not stand a chance, but they pulled off an astounding comeback to move on to the finals.

3. 1975 Quarterfinal New York Versus Pittsburgh

This is only the second time in the history of hockey that a team has made a three to zero comeback in a seven game series. At the start of the fourth game, New York was behind with a score of three games to zero. The Islanders came back to win all four of the last games, and the championship.

4. 1987 Division Final Detroit Versus Toronto

In 1987, at the division finals, Detroit made an amazing comeback to win the series after starting out behind. In the beginning Toronto held the lead, but by the fourth game Detroit was making it clear that they would not go quietly. This comeback was unexpected, which made it even more astonishing.

5. 1999 Colorado Versus Detroit

With Detroit ahead by two at the start of this series, it looked like Colorado did not stand a shot. Starting with the third game in the series, there was a whole new perspective when Colorado came from behind with a sweeping comeback and won, with a final score of Colorado four and Detroit two.

6. 2001 Los Angeles Versus Detroit

In this game, Los Angeles was behind with the score two to zero. Los Angeles came back to win, with a final score of four to two, in part thanks to Chris Osgood losing four goals in a row for Detroit. This comeback ended Osgood’s first stint as a member of the Red Wings.

7. 2002 Detroit Versus Vancouver

In this series, it looked like Detroit was going to lose going into the third game because Vancouver was ahead two to zero. Instead, Detroit made a stunning comeback and won the series four to two. The Canucks lost all four of the last games, handing the win to the Red Wings.

8. 1998 Western Conference Quarterfinal Edmonton Versus Colorado

In this seven game series leading up to the Stanley Cup, Edmonton made a terrific comeback and went on to win. At the start of the fifth game the score was three to one against Edmonton, but the team proceeded to win the remaining three games to come out the victor. This comeback was one of the ten most amazing in the history of the NHL.

9. 1994 Western Conference Quarterfinal Vancouver Versus Calgary

During this series, Vancouver made a great three to one comeback. The team was behind by two at the start of the fifth game, but Vancouver overtook the lead that Calgary had and went on to win the series in a comeback that rocked the fans and players both.

10. 2003 Western Conference Quarterfinal Minnesota Versus Colorado

In this stunning three to one comeback, Minnesota was behind significantly. That did not stop this team from moving forward and winning the last three games of the series to move on. The final score was Minnesota four and Colorado three.


Here's another reason to go out on a fine spring day: The Birmingham Farmers Market kicks off today, Sunday, June 7, at parking Lot No. 6 on North Old Woodward.

The annual event will feature more than 30 booths filled with locally grown produce, plants, fresh prepared foods and hand-crafted items. Musical performances will add to the atmosphere, and this year there will be a Kid Zone at the market where the little ones can try their hands at arts and crafts.

The market, staged by the Birmingham Principal Shopping District, is a grand event that offers a perfect activity for a nice day. And it's good for the community. Along with providing a venue for Michigan made and grown products, it brings people into the city as well as offering fine products to city residents.

These days, every town, including Birmingham, can use the business. Bringing more life to downtown is a great side benefit of the market.

Farmers Markets will be held from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. every Sunday through Oct. 25 at Lot No. 6, which is north of Maple, across from Booth Park.

Grab the kids or just go yourself and have a good time. There will be plenty to see and do — and buy. It will not only be an opportunity for an enjoyable outing for the family, but also helps boost the city.

And that's always a good thing.

Associated Press

A judge has halted the demolition of Tiger Stadium just hours after crews began tearing down what's left of the Detroit ballpark. A temporary restraining order was issued by Wayne County Circuit Judge Isidore Torres.

Crews are barred from "engaging in any demolition activity" at the Detroit stadium until a Monday morning hearing before Judge Prentis Edwards. The judge then will decide whether to extend the ballpark's reprieve from the wrecking ball.

The injunction was sought by the Old Tiger Stadium Conservancy.