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Ann Arbor Approves Phase of Zingerman's Deli Expansion

deliAre you a fan of Ann Arbor's Zingerman's Delicatessen? If so, you'll be happy to know that the deli recently received a unanimous thumbs-up from the Ann Arbor Planning Commission for expansion. Soon, Ann Arbor will be able to enjoy Zingerman's "world famous" brownies, mouth-watering sandwiches and widely-varied coffees in a much less crowded and more comfortable environment.

The deli and catering business opened in the Kerrytown neighborhood in the Old Fourth Ward Historic District, in 1982 with a staff of three. It has become one of Ann Arbor's most successful small businesses EVER. Last year they sold over 300,000 sandwiches, and their staff has grown to 180. Their recognition in the national media and on the internet - as well as throughout the city - has made Zingerman's an Ann Arbor landmark. The current campus, located at 422 Detroit Street in Ann Arbor, includes a next door cafe and an outdoor plaza.

Riding an ever increasing wave of popularity, Zingerman's now wants to enlarge. Although the expansion still needs approval from the city's Historic District Commission, Zingerman's estimated $3.5 million expansion project will increase seating capacity, improve accessibility for the handicapped, and expand the kitchen and storage space.  

The plan to enlarge the deli has been several years in the making, as the Historic District Commission opposed plans to delirevamp the building and tear down two homes and an old two story building to make room for the expansion. The Commission ruled that the buildings were "contributing structures" to the character of the area. Current plans will keep all but one fire-damaged home intact and will incorporate the old building into the design. The project is expected to win final approval from the Historic District Commission and the City Council as Zingerman's has proved that it will benefit the neighborhood. 

An expanded Zingermans's will further stimulate the economy of the area, while incorporating green building technology into the renovations; the deli will be energy efficient and will likely receive silver or gold LEED certification for the design. Since there will be more storage space, deliveries will be less frequent and less disruptive to the neighborhood.

Zingerman's Deli offers an incredible variety of food, beverages and services to Ann Arbor residents. Likewise, Martin Bouma - your Ann Arbor neighborhood expert - can meet virtually all of your Ann Arbor real estate needs. Whether you're buying or selling a home, the Bouma Group can answer any questions you have about real estate in Ann Arbor. Interested in Washtenaw County, or a specific Ann Arbor neighborhood?  Call the Bouma Group today!  And don't forget to check out our Condo Hotline - we've got a handle on the Ann Arbor condominium market.


Posted Friday, May 28, 2010 by Martin Bouma
Tags: Ann Arbor Neighborhoods

Ann Arbor and Ford - a Winning Combination

While many American auto manufacturers have been struggling to regain a foothold in the sector's recently troubled economic environment, Ford Motor Co. has been actively restructuring. Their amazing recovery is making Ann Arbor real estate even more appealing. Here are the top five reasons why Ford's efforts just might make the Ann Arbor region your new hometown:

First, Ford's success has driven renewed business at the Automotive Components Holdings (ACH) plants in Saline. ACH (controlled by Ford) employs more than 2,000 workers at the Saline plant and plans to invest another $45 million in improvements this year. The plant was facing possible closure or sale, but now it's thriving.

Ford is committed to modernizing its Rawsonville plant and to begin
producing electric vehicle battery packs there. With a $9 million investment and a firm plan to retain 40 jobs, Ford is clearly adapting to new automotive technology.

the former ACH plant in Ypsilanti has been sold to Angstrom USA, a global manufacturer of tubular parts for the auto industry. Many observers had believed the facility would stand vacant for years, so it's great news that Angstrom plans to completely revitalize the facility.

Fourth, Ford is working with students at the University of Michigan to develop social media applications which are being showcased in the Ford Fiesta model. Imagine being able to use Twitter or find the cheapest gas prices from your car! 

Finally, Ford has sold its abandoned Wixom plant to an alternative energy partnership. The plant is commutable from Ann Arbor, and the energy companies plan to add 4,000 workers to their operation. A focus on green technologies, such as solar panels, will make use of renewable energy an easier-to-afford reality. 

To find out more about why Ford likes the Ann Arbor region so much – and why you will too -
Martin Bouma, your Ann Arbor real estate expert, today. The Bouma Group can find the perfect real estate for you in Ann Arbor and Washtenaw County. Let the top Ann Arbor real estate team bring you up to speed today; call them now at 734-761-3060. Check out our Condo Hotline to get a handle on the Ann Arbor condo market.

Posted Tuesday, May 25, 2010 by Martin Bouma

"Double-Checking” Your Credit for Your Ann Arbor Loan Application

dteveWhen you get the good news that your loan application for your Ann Arbor home has been approved, your thoughts turn to what you want to do to your new home before you move in. The appliances were a little old, so you decide you want to buy new stainless steel appliances. Home Depot is having a big sale, so you buy all of the appliances under their 90-days-same-as-cash program and schedule the delivery for the day after your closing. When your tax return arrives, you can pay off the bill. It seems like everything is falling into place. 
Hold the presses... thanks to a new rule from Fannie Mae that is effective June 1st, lenders must now pull an additional credit check just prior to closing to verify that the consumer has not added any additional debt. They must also verify the borrower's Social Security Number and their plans to personally occupy the home. This "loan-quality initiative plan" requires the lender to make sure nothing has changed in the potential buyer's ability to repay the loan.

When the lender "double-checks" the credit report, they are on the lookout for ‘hard inquiries" on the report, which indicates that the borrower has requested credit. If they find an application for Home Depot or any other vendor, they must contact the potential creditor, determine whether the credit was granted, and then redo the numbers to see if the home buyer still qualifies for the loan with the added debt.

According to Fannie Mae spokesperson Janis Smith, lenders "will have to look for things like new credit accounts, increased credit lines, increased balances on existing accounts, undisclosed or newly recorded liens, second mortgages - anything that may have changed since initial application that might impact a borrower's debt-to-income ratio."
Some analysts, such as Don Unger, CEO of Advantage Credit Inc. of Evergreen, CO, question whether lenders will really have time to act on information obtained at the last minute before a closing.  If they do, in the worst-case scenario, your loan approval could be reversed - or you may have to come up with a larger down payment.

In any case, potentially losing the loan is a big price to pay for a refrigerator on sale. 

So - what should you do to preserve your loan?
Keep those credit cards in your pocket until after your closing. Don't apply for any new credit or use existing credit. What you do after the loan has closed will not affect your loan, but do not go crazy - you still need to be able to comfortably make your mortgage payments!
Pre-plan for your purchases and pay cash. This may mean you need to have more money saved prior to committing to buy a house. 
If you know you need to make some big cash outlays to prepare the home, discuss your plans with your lender during the loan application process to make sure your expenditures will not disrupt the proposed loan terms.
The best option, however, is to hold off.  Refrigerators will still be sold in stores after you close. With the quick delivery that many stores offer, you will still be able to chill the champagne in your new refrigerator in your new house a few days after closing!
Do you have questions about the new Fannie Mae "double-check" program? Martin Bouma, your Ann Arbor neighborhood expert, can answer your questions. Whether you are buying or selling your home, the Bouma Group can help you with your real estate needs in Ann Arbor, as well as keep you up to date about Washtenaw County and Ann Arbor neighborhoods.  Check out our Condo Hotline to get a handle on the Ann Arbor condo market.


Posted Friday, May 21, 2010 by Martin Bouma

Eating Healthy and Well in Ann Arbor

Ann Arbor is a great city for fitness and health.  There are many opportunities for walkers and cyclists to work exercise into their daily lives, but nothing completes the picture of healthy living better than fresh foods, grown locally, on your table.  Even though modern food processing methods assure us that food will taste almost-fresh picked, there's nothing like fruits and vegetables right from the vine.  That's why lots of Ann Arbor residents grow a few tomatoes or zucchini for their families, but unless you have lots of land or lots of time, you cannot supply all the fresh produce your family needs, much less your requirements for dairy and meat. 

Fortunately, for Ann Arbor residents, the Ann Arbor Farmer's Market is nearby at 315 Detroit St. in Kerrytown.  In business for over 90 years, the market is open Saturdays year-round.  From May through December, it also serves customers on Wednesdays from 7 a.m. to 3 p.m.  Needless to say, the offerings change with the seasons.  Currently, you can find flowers, hosta, herbs, horseradish, spinach, green onions, rhubarb, asparagus, eggs, duck eggs, jam, bread, pastries, and meat at the market.  As the summer progresses, the selection of fruits and vegetables will increase.  There is also a selection of coffee, honey, crafts, jewelry, art, and apparel. 

Managed by the City of Ann Arbor, the Farmer's Market is adjacent to Kerrytown just north of downtown and west of the Old Fourth Ward, near other shopping in commercial districts on North Fourth Avenue, North Main Street, and Braun Court.  Though parking is available, the City actually encourages shoppers to come visit the market on foot or on a bicycle, preferably equipped with a shopping cart or recyclable bags.  There is other shopping in the area, so you can fill up your cart with everything you need.

By patronizing the market, you will provide excellent, healthy food to your family while you promote the local sources of sustainably grown food.  Unlike a chain grocery store, you can talk with the farmer who grew the products.  If you are concerned about whether the food was grown organically or without pesticides, you can ask about his or her growing practices.  Your support for the 150 vendors at the Ann Arbor Farmer's Market will keep the market alive and prospering, both as your personal grocery store and as a social center.

Wherever you settle in Ann Arbor, there is a market nearby.  Aside from the Kerrytown market, the Ann Arbor area is served by farmer's markets in Saline, Chelsea, Manchester, Ypsilanti, and Howell.  Do you want to buy a home in a neighborhood near the Kerrytown market or one of the others?  Martin Bouma is your Ann Arbor neighborhood expert.  Whether you are buying or selling your home, the Bouma Group can help you with your real estate needs in Ann Arbor, as well as keep you up to date about Washtenaw County and Ann Arbor neighborhoods.  Check out our Condo Hotline to get a handle on the Ann Arbor condo market.

Posted Tuesday, May 18, 2010 by Martin Bouma

Is Condo Ownership in Your Future as an Ann Arbor University Student?

You could own a condo in beautiful Brentwood SquareAt the moment, you (and your parents) may still be celebrating your admission to the University of Michigan at Ann Arbor Medical School or a graduate or undergraduate program.  You are confident that you will be getting a great education while living in a pleasant, smaller town less than 30 minutes from the Detroit airport.  You know that soon, very soon, you will be pulling out your checkbook to reserve your place in the university and secure your housing arrangements. 

As you briefly scan the university website, you learn that the minimum room price for the 2010-2011 academic year is $5,032 for nine months or $5,885 for 12 months for a room with three occupants.  As a graduate student, your minimal housing cost will run $800 per month.  Given the number of reasonably priced condos in Ann Arbor, buying a condominium might be a viable option, especially if you are enrolled in a program that will run several years.

At this time, there are over 240 listings priced under $150,000 in the 90 complexes around the city.  Whether you want high rise styling, a townhome, a stacked ranch, or something in between, there are many exciting choices in Ann Arbor and the surrounding area.  Even if your plan is to sell the place in three or four years, you can realize tax advantages while gaining privacy and space.  If you are married and/or have children, you might also be concerned about having a place for the kids to play.  Some student housing apartments offer play areas, but there's nothing like having your own space.

A quick tour of The Bouma Group website offers a glimpse of the available properties in your price range.  Many have video as well as pictures, so you will be able to compare both the interior and exterior, as well as see how close the location is to the University.  Here are a few selections well under $150,000: 

Arbor Heights:  Located on the southeast side of Ann Arbor near Packard and Carpenter streets, this 48 unit complex is built in the "stacked ranch" design around a central courtyard.  The complex is close to both bus routes and the highway.  Right now there is a condo available for $65,000.

Brentwood Square:  This group of 80 townhomes located on the east side is set in usually beautiful surroundings, yet has stores like Whole Foods and Barnes and Noble within walking distance.  The University is a short bus commute away.

Crossings of Ann Arbor:  Crossings complex offers 62 units, all remodeled in the past 10 years, set on beautiful grounds that you don't have to maintain.  All units are within walking distance of the University of Michigan Medical Center, Campus and downtown.

Woodland Meadows:  Located just off S. Main Street, selected by the American Planning Association as one of the Top Best Streets in America, Woodland Meadows condos are near shopping.  Many are retrofitted with cherry cabinets and all appliances; there is a fitness center with a pool, plus a beautiful view with a pond.  Some units are even available as rentals.

Weatherstone Condominiums:  Located in Pittsfield Township, near Lohr and Oak Valley Roads, this 302-unit complex offers stacked ranches up to $200,000, but there are many nice units in the lower price ranges.

If you (or your parents) see the wisdom of ownership as an alternative to campus housing, Martin Bouma will run the numbers for you.  Whether you are buying or selling your home, the Bouma Group can help you with your real estate needs in Ann Arbor, as well as keep you up to date about Washtenaw County and Ann Arbor neighborhoods.  Visit our website at and check out our Condo Hotline to get a handle on the Ann Arbor condo market.

Posted Thursday, May 13, 2010 by Martin Bouma

New Listings in Ann Arbor – Not Quite What You Think

The new Ann Arbor Board of Realtors statistics have just come out and it shows that the number of new listings to the market in Washtenaw County is essentially unchanged from last year.  Through the end of April, there were 2,540 new listings, versus 2,499 in 2009.  At a quick glance, this would signal that inventory is holding steady in the greater Ann Arbor Real Estate market.

Upon further examination, however, you’ll notice that those numbers are not accurate.  I’ve noticed that on a daily basis, that many of the “new” listings are actually relists.  Just for fun, I checked yesterday’s listings (May 10, 2010), and noticed the following statistics.

As of 6PM, there were 34 new listings in the Ann Arbor Area MLS.  Of those 34 listings, there were 16 relists, and an additional 7 were developer units at Ashley Terrace.  These have essentially been on the market all along, being available if you came to the building – they just weren’t in the MLS, so they’re not really new listings.

This means that there were really only 11 new listings today – out of a total of 34.  This tells me that only 32% of the “new” listings today, were actually new listings.
  Granted, yesterday may have been an anomaly, however, it does point out that the numbers that are being published are not really correct.  I also checked May 4th.  There were 22 new residential listings.  5 of them were rentals, leaving 17 homes for sale.  Of those 17, 6 were relists, leaving only 11 being new listings.   This represents 50% of the “new” listing inventory.    If only 50% of the” new” inventory is actually new inventory, this would mean that there were only 1,270 new listings in 2010 through the end of April.  This is a very different number from 2,540.

With this kind of information, it becomes obvious that the new listing inventory has actually declined significantly from last year.
  With demand up in many price niches, we should begin to see a decrease in the month’s supply of housing.    This will be an interesting trend to watch.

If you have any questions or comments, about the Real Estate market in Ann Arbor, feel free to call the Ann Arbor Real Estate Experts, The Bouma Group at 734-761-3060.

Posted Tuesday, May 11, 2010 by Martin Bouma