Helpful Checklist for Homebuyers

Posted by on Feb 5, 2015 in Uncategorized | 0 comments

Whether you are a first time homebuyer anxious to purchase your first home or someone moving for the 10th time, it is always helpful to follow a Homebuyers Checklist. We have put together an easy to follow list of things that all homebuyers should refer to throughout the home buying process.

So, before you go fallin’ in love with your dream home there are a few things you will need to consider

Figure out how much you can afford

This is a crucial first step in the process of looking for homes because it will give you a realistic idea of what types of homes you can afford to buy. A few things that you will need to do are:

  • Calculate your monthly income & debt
  • Check your credit report
  • Utilize the help of a mortgage calculator
  • Figure out how much you can afford for a down payment

Get pre-approved for a mortgage

For this step, you will likely want to do some research. It is best to consider both mortgage brokers and financial institutions when shopping for the best mortgage rates, terms etc. These are the experts that will be able to convert your dream of homeownership into a reality.

Determine what you want & what you need in a home

A few things to think about when going through this step are:

  •  How much square footage do I think I want or would need in a home
  • How many bedrooms would I want or need
  • Do I want an open floor plan
  • Do I need a two or three stall garage
  • Do I want or need a two story or ranch style home

After you have compiled your list of wants and needs you will be able to narrow down your home search criteria.

Enlist the help of the ZVD group to start the home search process

At this point, you have more than likely narrowed down which areas you would like to concentrate your home search on. After discussing your wants and needs with one of the ZVD groups qualified professionals, we can start searching for your dream home utilizing tools such as the multiple listing service (MLS).

Presenting an Offer & Negotiating

Your ZVD group agent will be able to take a look at the fair market value of the home you would like to purchase in order to determine a suitable offer. Special requests, contingencies, and inspection repairs will be negotiated with the seller. A likely move in date will be defined as well before both parties sign the purchase agreement.

Finalizing the Deal & Closing

Before you can show up to the closing table, a few more things have to take place. The ZVD Group will get busy taking care of these behind the scenes tasks in order for your transaction to run smoothly, and get those keys in your hands as soon as possible!

  • Order a professional home inspection
  • Have the lender send out an appraiser
  • Advise you on purchasing homeowners insurance
  • Facilitate communications with the title company and lender
  • Schedule a closing date & time
  • Advise you on how much cash you will need for closing and down payment

With all of these things to consider, it is easy to see how you could benefit from hiring the ZVD Group. Give us a call! We would love to help you buy your new home.


Home Staging Tips & Suggestions

Posted by on Dec 9, 2014 in Uncategorized | 0 comments

Staging pic

As cold weather sets in and the Holiday’s approach the Real Estate market generally experiences a brief lull. Home buyers and sellers, don’t dismay, the market will wake back come February. So, if you are thinking about putting your home on the market in the spring, this quiet time is a great time to think about getting your home ready to put on a show. I consulted with home stager and designer Natalie Kaman owner of At Home Design & Staging to get you the best advice on preparing your home for sale.   To get started, Natalie explained that Home Staging techniques focus on improving a property’s appeal by transforming it into a welcoming, attractive product that anyone might want. In fact, research states that properly staging your home can reduce a listing’s time on the market by one third to one half, and could get you 6-20% more than a home that is either empty or not properly staged. Those are pretty respectable statistics, so read on to find out how to get your home sold faster, and get you more money to invest in your next home….

Natalie broke down the home staging process into 4 basic categories that should be simple enough for anyone to follow.


  1. De-clutter- Clutter is a distraction to buyers and can keep them from seeing the good qualities of your home. Papers, books, toys and toiletries should be packed, pitched, or given a new home so that they are out of site. Storage baskets are a great way to sort and store things without being an eyesore. Pre-packing and getting rid of un-used items will also save you time in the long run.


  1. De-personalize-Unlike decorating, which reflects a person’s individual style, staging allows a buyer to visualize themselves living in the environment. So begin by removing family photos, wall art with names or inspirational sayings, trophies, posters, collections etc. You can bring your Precious Moments figurines back out for display in your new home.


  1. Detail-Most people “clean” their homes, but a house that is going to outshine the competition needs to be “detailed”, like you would if you were selling a car. Hint: Mr. Clean magic erasers deserve to use the word magic in their name. These little wonders will clean anything, remove any thing, and leave your house as shiny as Mr. Cleans bald head. Also, don’t forget that buyers don’t want to walk into a house and smell our pets, smoke or last night’s dinner. So make sure to address lingering odors. Other forgotten places that could use a deep cleaning when selling a home are windows, window coverings, kitchen appliances, tile grout and exhaust fans.


  1. Design-This is where Natalie can be very helpful in providing her design advice. She has been trained in knowing which pieces of furniture and accessories to keep, store, re-arrange or swap. The average homeowner has too much furniture to make each room seem spacious and welcoming. By focusing on furniture layout, traffic flow, and focal points, buyers are re-directed to the best features in the space. Natalie can also give you expert advice on choosing paint colors, flooring, and fixtures for those homeowners who want to update for more move in ready appeal.


For a detailed consultation on how to stage your home to sell fast, and for more money, contact Natalie Kaman at 616-901-3250.

Turkey Day Tips

Posted by on Oct 30, 2014 in Uncategorized | 0 comments

Turkey Blog

Oh how I love the time of year when the days grow cooler, and the leaves begin to turn all the warm glowing colors of a cozy indoor fire. I can almost smell the enticing aroma of parsley, sage & thyme, and I know that Thanksgiving must be near. For those of us who have never prepared a Thanksgiving meal, the thought of it can be down right overwhelming. Just the fact that there are hotlines set up for turkey cooking emergencies is enough for anyone to say “Um, maybe I’ll host next year”. So, I thought I would share a few helpful tips in pulling off the big meal of the year without a hitch.

Start Planning Early: How early you might ask? I say as early as three weeks prior to the big day. This is the time that you may want to start getting a head count of just how many people you will be serving. This will give you an idea of how you can arrange seating, how much food will need to be bought and prepared, and even things like who you can delegate tasks to. Example: “Aunt Marsha would you be so kind as to bring your world famous pumpkin pie?” A head count can also aid in knowing how big of a bird you will need to either order or purchase from the store.

Get Organized & Make Lists: I love to organize things, and I love details. I also realize not everyone likes these things, but in this case these traits can be very helpful in preparing your gathering. Make a list of your guests, and what they may be willing to bring so that you can see how much of the cooking will be your responsibility. Go through any recipes that you plan on making, and make a detailed grocery list. It may be helpful to visualize your shopping center layout, and organize your list in such a fashion that you can easily navigate your way through the store. **If you haven’t noticed, grocery stores get crazy busy around holiday’s.

Early Preparation: Think about what types of things you may be able to prepare early. Cutting and washing up vegetables, tidying up your house etc. One important tid bit is making sure to properly thaw your turkey if it is frozen. Depending on the size of your bird you will want to plan ahead at least a few days. Turkeys must be thawed in your refrigerator. Oh, that brings me to another good point. This is a great time to clean your refrigerator out in order to make room for prepped food, and also for my favorite…leftovers.

The big day: Because this day is all about the turkey, this is probably going to be your main focus. There are so many different ways to cook turkey these days, from the traditional roasting method, to smoking or even frying, they will all require you give your bird some attention. After you have your turkey on its way, this will give you time to start on the other dishes you may be preparing as well. Always keep your planned mealtime in mind when starting your side dishes. If all goes well, everything should be done around the same time so that you will not only have a delicious meal, but a hot one.

I hope these tips will help you in your Turkey day preparation or perhaps even inspire you to host next year!


Dare I say Winter….Protecting your Landscaping from the upcoming chill

Posted by on Oct 6, 2014 in Uncategorized | 0 comments

Winter Sumac

That dirty little word that no one living in Grand Rapids, MI wants to hear quite yet.   Yes neighbors, and plants it is inevitable but we know that WINTER will be upon us soon enough. The winter of 2013/2014 brought some record breaking, and near record breaking weather stats that we just don’t care to think about. With almost 116 inches of snow, and temperatures that seemed to never get above freezing, it is no wonder our landscaping may still be shivering. When we finally did un-freeze, it was easy to see the destruction that this past winter had on our green space. I personally lost several established perennials, and took note of damage I saw throughout the area. With the possibility of snow in just a few months, one may want to know what they can do to protect their landscaping investment.

I enjoy gardening, but I am certainly not an expert in the field. So I consulted with Michael Cruse Creative Director for the Office of Landscape Imagination at Harder & Warner garden center here in Grand Rapids.   Michael summed up “winterization” for me into three main categories:

  • Fertilize
  • Prune
  • Protect

For us living in Michigan the best time to fertilize for winterization is in September. These nutrients will stick with our plants & lawn throughout the winter, and also provide food in the early spring when temperatures start to warm up. Michael suggested using a product called Milorganite, which can be purchased at your local garden center.

Pruning is an important step in preparation because it promotes new growth. Pruning can get complicated for those of us who are not landscape professionals. Some perennials, and trees need pruning in the fall while others in the spring. If you are not sure you can always look up specific information for the plant variety online or ask an expert!

Last, but not least it is important to protect certain plants from the harsh conditions that winter can bring. Two main issues we deal with here in West Michigan are heavy snow fall, and salt. These two problems can be dealt with by “burlapping” your plants in need of protection. By wrapping our plants, shrubs, and or trees in burlap we can protect them from bitter winter winds, strong sun exposure, and heavy snow buildup.

Seems simple right! I know that I am going to put these principles into practice, and it sounds like it is just the right time to do so. Hopefully after we shovel out of another polar vortex, our plants will have survived! Happy Gardening.

Grand Rapids-Beer City USA

Posted by on Oct 6, 2014 in Uncategorized | 0 comments


Raise your glass, and propose a toast to the city of Grand Rapids, MI a.k.a. Beer City USA. If you are not from Grand Rapids, you might ask is this a legit title, and if so, how does a city receive such an honor? It all began in 2009, when a nuclear engineer / home brewer, named Charlie Papazian started the un-official poll. Papazian found that out of all of the statistical data swirling around beer production, that the one thing missing was a way to measure community support surrounding the craft beer industry.


Now those of us living in the wonderful city of Grand Rapids can attest to the appreciation we have for our local brews.   So much so, that in 2012 we shared the title of Beer City with yet another great beer city, Asheville, NC. The following year brought us nationwide domination gaining over half the votes for this tasty title.


As I mentioned, here in Grand Rapids, we love our craft beer. To back that statement up, I will throw out a few stats… Grand Rapids is currently home to 17 operating breweries. There are several breweries worth mentioning, but by far the largest is Founders Brewing Company. Founders is not only popular here in Grand Rapids, but was also named the 3rd best brewery in the WORLD. They produce such dynamic, bold, craft beer that when they release their KBS (Kentucky Breakfast Stout) each year in the spring, there are waiting lists to get your hands on this bourbon barrel-aged wonder.


HopCat brewpub in downtown GR was awarded the title of #3 Best Beer Bar on the PLANET by Beer Advocate. If you’re in the mood to grab a bite and sample some beer, they have approximately 50 brews on tap and around 150 bottles on their menu to choose from.  With that kind of selection, your bound to find something you like.


What do freezing cold temps, live music, turkey legs, and craft beer have in common? The Grand Rapids Winter Beer Festival of coarse! February 2015 will bring the 10th annual event back to Fifth Third Ball Park here in Grand Rapids. Every year the event sells out quicker than the year before. This past winter brought in 88 Michigan breweries with about 800 different craft beers to sample.


With all this talk about beer, perhaps you are ready to start brewing some on your own? If you are, then Siciliano’s market here in Grand Rapids can definitely help you out. This beer store / brewing supplier was given the title of 2013’s Top Beer Grocery Retailer in the US. Their friendly, knowledgeable staff can direct you to what supplies you will need in order to get started brewing from home. For around $100 in equipment, and anywhere from $30-$60 in ingredients you could be making beer for all your new neighbors here in Beer City USA.  Cheers!


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