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Making "Smooth Moves" in Ann Arbor is All About Planning

Planning a move is never easy; whether it's across the country, or across town to a new home here in Ann Arbor, nobody enjoys the process of relocating. You're in good company – it's estimated that about 40 million people move annually in the United States. Excellent planning can make your next jump far easier – and less painful – than you might think. Whether it's your first move into a home, or a final move to the condominium here you've always dreamed of retiring, there are abundant resources available to help you plan and execute your next move without undue stress.

Write it down! Regardless of the method you choose, you need documentation for each step of the moving process. If you know you're moving, then you probably know when you're moving – make that date your starting point. Plot your activities on a monthly, weekly and daily basis; there are free, downloadable, printable forms available online (click here for an example), or you can create your own.

Stay organized! Designate a specific area in your home as “Packing Central.” Keep all of your moving supplies – including your checklists – in this space. Although the rest of your home may feel utterly chaotic, Packing Central will be your haven of clarity. Items to have on hand in your “Packing Central” space should include:

  • printed, organized checklists;
  • plenty of pens and markers;
  • labels;
  • packing tape;
  • bubble wrap and/or packing paper for breakable items and, last but not least,


You cannot – repeat, CANNOT – have too many moving boxes. Over-”guesstimate” how many boxes you'll need, then add at least 10 more (remember, you'll have last-minute items to be packed on moving day). Get boxes of every size you think you might need; don't forget that tall wardrobe boxes can be used to pack lightweight items like linens. There are a variety of resources for finding boxes; you can get them free from local grocery stores (call ahead – store managers are happy to tell you the best time of day to pick up empties), your moving company, if you're using one, or from a variety of online suppliers.

You can arrange well in advance to have utilities at your old residence disconnected, as well as having service established at your new home. The City of Ann Arbor website is a great starting point for local services, with many links that you may find to be of interest.

Preferred clients with The Bouma Group have access to a FREE MOVING TRUCK. Brand-new and fully-equipped, this moving truck is just one of the many benefits you'll enjoy when you relocate with The Bouma Group – whether you're buying, building, or selling a home.

Undecided about where you'd like to move in Washtenaw County? Take a virtual tour of communities and condos throughout the area! Martin Bouma – your Ann Arbor neighborhood expert – is prepared to meet all of your Ann Arbor real estate needs. Be sure to check out our Condo Hotline for locations both right downtown, and throughout the Ann Arbor condominium market. The Bouma Group can answer any questions you have about real estate in Ann Arbor, whether you’re buying or selling a home or condo. If you’re interested in Washtenaw County, Chelsea, or a specific Ann Arbor neighborhood, call the Bouma Group today!

Posted Friday, July 30, 2010 by Martin Bouma

Ann Arbor Real Estate Market Update, July, 2010


As we head into the middle of the summer, the Ann Arbor real estate market has seen a 10% decrease in inventory from June to July. In the lower price points the drop is even more significant. There is a 16% drop in the 200K - 300K price range, and a 17% decrease in the 300-400K price range. Both of these price ranges are highly active. The main reason that we are seeing a decrease in inventory is the fact that home owners are locked into their current homes due to owing more than their house is worth.

The interesting thing to notice is that in spite of this decreasing inventory in the Ann Arbor Real Estate market, we are not really seeing much of an increase in pricing. There was a little bit of an increase in April as buyers were trying to take advantage of the Tax credit, however, now that has died down. I still like to let buyers know that this is probably one of the best times to buy a home. Prices are back to where they were 10 years ago, and the interest rates are at historical lows - in the 4.75% for a 30 year fixed. Keep in mind that a 1% increase in interest rates decreases your buying power by 10%. Expect a rash of activity in the next 2-3 weeks as buyers purchase a home to close before school starts. This will continue to lower the inventory as we head towards the end of the summer.

In the real estate market, if there is less than a 5 months supply of homes on the market, you are in a seller's market. A 5-7 month supply of homes is a balanced market. Anything over 7 months is a buyer's market. As you'll notice from the stats below, prices appear to have stabilized under 400K, however, there is still downward pressure on prices once you get above 400K.



<$100 k













Under Contract







Sales Past 12 Months







Absorption Rate:







Months Supply






















Under Contract







Sales Past 12 Months







Absorption Rate:







Months Supply







   ZIP Codes: 48103, 48104, 48105, 48108

Approximate Location Boundaries:
Ann Arbor School District

Location Characteristics: Ann Arbor has many distinct neighborhoods that offer a variety of home buying opportunities. The area is a cultural Mecca with many performance centers and theaters, live music, dance groups, libraries, museums, parks, & farmer's markets. It is considered the education capital of the Midwest because it is home to the University of Michigan, one of the country's top universities. The Ann Arbor area offers one of the most varied menus of restaurants in the state with Main Street as one of Michigan's best places to eat, people watch and shop. In July, Ann Arbor is host to the Ann Arbor Art Fairs, which is among the nation's top street festivals and takes up nearly all of the downtown area. Artists and shoppers travel from all over the country to attend this yearly event. Ann Arbor is a great place to live!

Thinking of relocating to one of America's top 50 cities?  If you live in Washtenaw County and are considering moving, let The Bouma Group help you find the perfect new home right here in Ann Arbor. Our real estate professionals are here to answer your questions, making your transition easy and painless.  An Ann Arbor condo may be the perfect choice; we've got everything you need to make an informed decision. Read what others have to say, then contact us. The Bouma Group can make your dream of living in one of America's top cities a reality!


Posted Tuesday, July 27, 2010 by Martin Bouma

Ann Arbor Ranked Among America's Top 50 Small Cities

AnnArbor ranked among top US small citiesAnn Arbor has made the news again! According to this year's CNN Money magazine list of 100 best small cities in America, Ann Arbor - the only Michigan city to make the list - is number 46. With the main campus of the University of Michigan, as well as Borders Books' headquarters located here, Ann Arbor is a small town with all of the amenities of cities far larger.

The compilers of the list reviewed over 700 US cities with populations ranging from 50,000 to 300,000. The analysis included a look at an array of variables including affordability of housing, local economies, quality of health care, and education. And the news gets even better for Ann Arbor.

Rated #4 on Parenting Magazine's list of Best Cities for Families, Ann Arbor continues to excel in education at all levels. named Ann Arbor as one of America's "most livable cities," based on ranking of crime rate, cost of living, arts and leisure, and a number of other qualities.

Those are but a few of the opinions coming from the national scene. What do local Ann Arbor residents think of the town? Local opinions bear out Money's notes that Ann Arbor is "a mecca of arts and culture, with museums, theatres, and galleries. Golf courses and biking and hiking trails are never far away".'s annual Community Choice Awards were posted in June. Among their eclectic list of findings were:

Best Breakfast Spot: Angelo's
Best Place for Vegetarian Food: Seva
Best Place for Pizza: Cottage Inn
Best Coffehouse: Sweetwaters
Best Place to Buy a Funky Gift: Acme Mercantile
Best Bike Shop: Two Wheel Tango
Best Place to Buy Men's Clothes: Van Boven Clothing
Best Place to Buy Women's Clothes: Von Maur
Best Place to Buy Produce: The Ann Arbor Farmer's Market
Best Place for a Therapeutic Massage: Bodywise Therapeutic Massage of Ann Arbor
Best Ann Arbor Festival: Ann Arbor Summer Festival
Best Business Catering to Kids Younger than 12: Ann Arbor Hands-On Museum
Best Movie Theater: The Michigan Theater
Best Place for Live Music: The Ark

Thinking of relocating to one of America's top 50 cities?  If you live in Washtenaw County and are considering moving, let The Bouma Group help you find the perfect new home right here in Ann Arbor. Our real estate professionals are here to answer your questions, making your transition easy and painless.  An Ann Arbor condo may be the perfect choice; we've got everything you need to make an informed decision. Read what others have to say, then contact us. The Bouma Group can make your dream of living in one of America's top cities a reality!

Posted Friday, July 23, 2010 by Martin Bouma

Ann Arbor Street Art Fair – The Original - Coming July 21-24

With a theme of "51 Years of Originality in 2010,"  the 51st Annual Ann Arbor Street Art Fair will take our city by storm from Wednesday, July 21 through Saturday, July 24. Established in 1960, “The Original Fair” was created "to increase public knowledge and appreciation for contemporary fine arts and crafts by creating opportunities that connect artists and the Ann Arbor community to their mutual benefit."
The Festival is set on North University Avenue and on the University of Michigan’s Central Campus, amidst elegant Ann Arbor architecture and beautifully landscaped pedestrian walkways. If you're lucky enough to live near the university campus, you'll be within walking distance of the fun, which promotes art and puts the spotlight on the city!

In line with tradition, the fair really begins with The Townie Street Party, a celebration of all things local. Give an old T-shirt new life, create a tile, or use recycled materials to make your own journal. When you're ready to relax, grab a bite of Townie Grub, have a brew at Townie Pub, and enjoy free onstage performances by Danny Kline, Chris Mills, and The Relics. And if you've got little ones, be sure to stop by the Kids Art Zone so that they, too, can have some hands-on fun on Monday, July 19 from 5-9:30pm.

The fair itself  is a juried street art fair which attacts talented artists who work in all media.  The artist directory for this year's fair includes representatives from every corner of the country, including 18 established local artists.  The New Art New Artists program features  eight “emerging artists” from the University of Michigan, Washtenaw Community College, and the Center for Creative Studies. Media presented include clay, digital, fiber, glass, jewelry, metals, painting and drawing, photography, printmaking, sculpture, and wood. There's virtually something for everyone!

The poster for the fair this year was designed by Featured Artist, Mark Traughber.  His unique design will embellish all Street Art Fair souvenirs including t-shirts, bags and ball caps, as well as the official 2010 poster. As you walk along the avenue to view the art on display, you can pick up a tee shirt or cap, sample the offerings from local food vendors, and enjoy roaming street performers. You can make your way to Ingalls Mall Lawn to take in some of the 30+ live performances over the course of the fair  or make your own art at The Art Zones. On Wednesday, Thursday, and Friday, you can enjoy the festivities from 10am to 9pm; the party wraps up on Saturday from 10am to 6pm.

There will be two information booths located inside the Fair – one at Main & Liberty and one at State Street & South University. Look for the Official Art Fair Guide produced by the Detroit Free Press, which can be picked up at both information booths.If you are coming to the fair from outside the city, you can learn more about local attractions at the information booth as well.  Wheelchairs will be provided on site by Wright & Filippis; you can call (734) 975-6800 to reserve one or get additional information.


The Original Ann Arbor Street Art Fair is just one of four nationally known fairs held annually in the area. If you love art or just the friendly feel of art fairs, why not considering moving closer to the action? Located just a couple blocks from the fari, 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, Saline, 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 Tuesday, July 20, 2010 by Martin Bouma

Ann Arbor's South Side Business Collaboration Means Variety for Residents

businesses, ann arborThe south side of Ann Arbor, which has always been a great place to live, is turning out to be full of some of our city's "best kept shopping secrets." They're rapidly becoming secrets no more, thanks to a recent initiative by several local business owners. Encompassing an area between I-94, State Street, Ellsworth Road, and Oak Valley Drive, the Southside Business District (SSBD) was recently formed in an effort to promote networking among, and visibility for, the businesses in the area.

The idea began to take shape when James Snider, owner of Arbor Motion car repair, was approached by neighbor Huron Valley Ambulance (HVA) for a donation for their flu shot clinic. Snider began talking with the businesses around him, and the SSBD was the outgrowth of those conversations. Beginning with six businesses offering support and cooperation to one another, the SSBD has grown to nearly 20 establishments directly collaborating by promoting each other and even offering discounts to their neighbors' clientele.

The group's first formal monthly meeting was held in January. In June, they conducted their first business expo, which helped raise funds for HVA's annual free children's summer camp. Businesses involved in the expo included:


  • Airgas
  • Japanese Martial Arts Center
  • Andrews Office Warehouse
  • Network Services Group
  • Ann Arbor Flooring America
  • Real Estate One
  • Arbor Motion
  • Riverbend Timber Framing
  • Body Specs
  • Schooltech/Wolverine Sports
  • Enterprise
  • Scrap Box
  • Huron Valley Ambulance
  • Zingerman's Bakehouse

  • Now that you're in on one of Ann Arbor's "best kept secrets," let the Bouma Group help you find your perfect neighbors! Whether you're relocating to the area, or buying a home in the south side's Lake Forest or Stonebridge Estates, call the Bouma Group today. Thinking about a condominium on the south side? Take a look at Valley Ranch, or call our Condo Hotline. The Bouma Group is here to help with the entire home buying process.

    Posted Friday, July 16, 2010 by Martin Bouma

    Ann Arbor Credit Unions “Feeling the Love” as Consumers Spurn Big Banks

    Fifteen years after Dearborn native musician Bob Seger graduated from high school right here in Ann Arbor, he released "Feel Like a Number." The song seems, in retrospect, to presage the way many Americans, including Washtenaw County residents, really are feeling these days - especially with regard to big banks. People are angry at big banks for their involvement in sub-prime mortgages and complex financial products like derivatives, which contributed to the financial crisis.

    In the wake of big banks' risky investment practices, which led to our nation's current financial downturn, consumers are looking at alternatives for the investment and safe-keeping of their precious funds. As Americans begin the slow rebound frommoney, house the financial crisis, the New Rules Project's Community Banking Initiative reports that the percentage of US consumer deposits held by credit unions increased from 9 percent to 10 percent. According to the National Credit Union Administration, federally-insured credit unions now hold nearly $724.8 billion of all consumer deposits. The Ann Arbor region's credit unions are reaping the benefits of local dissatisfaction with big banks, and, as consumers seek to divert their funds to local institutions, they are positioning themselves to gain more customers.  

    The growth trend for credit unions is providing a major boost for local institutions like the Washtenaw Federal Credit Union (WFCU), which changed its name on July 1 from Ypsilanti Area Federal Credit Union. "We're seeing [people] leave other financial institutions to come here to keep their money more local," WFCU CEO Gregory Gurka said. "I think they feel more secure knowing that we're based within Michigan (and) we're based within their community." At the end of 2009, credit unions based in Washtenaw County had $996 million in assets, 124,000 members and 18 branches, according to the Lansing-based trade group Michigan Credit Union League.

    Michigan Credit Union League CEO Dave Adams believes credit unions are benefiting as dissatisfied consumers look to divert their savings to local institutions. "The credit unions have been the ones that proved that it's not about profit, it's about service," he said. "Whether it was a bad experience causing someone to change or whether it was the negative publicity that big banks have gotten, that is fueling a desire for people to give a second look at their neighborhood credit union."

    Like our local credit unions, Martin Bouma - your Ann Arbor neighborhood expert - will find Ann Arbor real estate that's a safe and healthy investment in your future. Whether you're buying or selling a home, the Bouma Group can answer all of your questions about real estate in Ann Arbor. Interested in Washtenaw County, Saline, or a specific Ann Arbor neighborhood? Call the Bouma Group today! And remember to check out our Condo Hotline - we've know the Ann Arbor condominium market.

    Posted Tuesday, July 13, 2010 by Martin Bouma

    Ann Arbor's Pink Pump Opens Downtown on Saturday

    If you've been searching Ann Arbor for the perfect pair of shoes or the coolest new clothes, the hunt ends on Saturday. Although Pink Pump (formerly known as Shoe Envy) will celebrate its grand opening on August 14, lucky shoppers and Ann Arbor Art Fair attendees will get a sneak peek during the store's soft opening on July 10. From Saturday until the grand opening, Pink Pump will be running specials and promotions, including 15% off merchandise. The Ann Arbor store will be located in the former John Leidy shop next to the Michigan Theater on East Liberty, which has been vacant since February.

    Tawny Thieu founded Shoe Envy in June 2006 in Keego Harbor, Michigan. She quickly expanded to a 1,700 square foot store in the heart of Bloomfield Hills (also known as "the Beverly Hills of Michigan"), and the store became the best-kept secret in town. In June 2009 the secret was out; Shoe Envy opened another location in downtown Birmingham, Michigan. Shoe Envy officially changed its name to Pink Pump at the same time, to allow for brand-building and franchising opportunities.

    Community giving and involvement are essential to Pink Pump's business philosophy. This summer, the company will hold a "Rep Your City" campaign at each store. According to Tawny, "Each city, including Ann Arbor, will have Pink Pump T-shirts with the area's ZIP code...$10 from [the purchase of] each shirt will be going back to a local charity. We're going to donate to the public schools in each community because we have a lot of teachers who shop with us and, with all the budget cuts, we hear they are spending more and more out of pocket."

    Pink Pump's August grand opening will feature a DJ, light food and drinks, and in-store promotions. The store is store , ann arbor girlalso planning to work with local artists in Ann Arbor to showcase their work. They'll also be carrying their own private brand, the Pink Pump label, with all items made in Michigan and priced $100 or less.

    Shopping for that "just right" pair of shoes or T-shirt can be great fun, and so can looking for the perfect condominium or home in Ann Arbor. Shop from the comfort of home by taking a tour of communities and condos throughout Washtenaw County. Martin Bouma - your Ann Arbor neighborhood expert - can meet virtually all of your Ann Arbor real estate needs. Be sure to check out our Condo Hotline for locations both right downtown, and throughout the Ann Arbor condominium market. The Bouma Group can answer any questions you have about real estate in Ann Arbor, whether you're buying or selling a home or condo. If you're interested in Washtenaw County, Saline, or a specific Ann Arbor neighborhood, call the Bouma Group today!  

    Posted Friday, July 09, 2010 by Martin Bouma

    Ann Arbor Recycling Made Easy with Single Stream Program

    We've mentioned many aspects of green living in Ann Arbor, and it's important to note that an environmentally conscious lifestyle always begins at home. When you think about recycling, what comes to mind? For many people recycling seems like a daunting prospect; maintaining different bins for glass, plastic, metal, and paper, lugging bins to the end of the driveway, and spending time separating recyclable waste can feel like an overwhelming task!

    Beginning yesterday, Ann Arbor residents now have an easy solution. Thanks to a commitment by the city to single stream recycling, and a partnership with RecycleBank, homeowners can put all their recyclable materials in one convenientgreen, recycle wheeled recycling cart. As an additional incentive, RecycleBank provides vouchers and coupons to residents based on the amount each household recycles. The new carts will have radio-frequency identification (RFID) cards to electronically track how much households are recycling and award points accordingly. The vouchers and coupons can be used at certain businesses, or donated to charities. The RecycleBank program will begin on September 1.  

    The combination of the single-stream program with the RecycleBank incentive program will substantially increase the city's recycling rate, while lowering solid waste costs. The city is spending $3.25 million to upgrade their Materials Recovery Facility and $1.4 million for the new recycling carts. It is anticipated that the program savings will pay back this investment in less than six years.  

    Ready to get started right now? You can use begin single-stream recycling today by using your old stackable bins. Glass, paper, metal, plastic bottles and plastic tubs can all be placed together in your bins, then later in the carts provided by the city. Carts are scheduled to be delivered over the next six to eight week, beginning July 9.  What could be more convenient? Just remember items that will not be accepted: polystyrene (Styrofoam®), PVC plastics, plastic bags, ceramics, porcelain, batteries, used motor oil,  and oil filters can't be placed in the new carts.

    Some Ann Arbor complexes make the process even easier.  The Georgetown Commons Condominiums, for example, includes recycling pick up as part of their resident association fee. If this sounds like your kind of place, Martin Bouma - your Ann Arbor neighborhood expert - can show you units that are currently for sale and meet virtually all of your Ann Arbor real estate needs. Our Condo Hotline includes Georgetown Commons and many others in the Ann Arbor condominium market. If you're buying or selling a home or condo, The Bouma Group can answer any questions you have about real estate in Ann Arbor. Interested in Washtenaw County, Saline, or a specific Ann Arbor neighborhood?  Call the Bouma Group today!

    Posted Tuesday, July 06, 2010 by Martin Bouma

    Ann Arbor Lights Up to Celebrate July 4th

    While it's always easy to find fun weekend activities in Ann Arbor, the long holiday celebration of America's independence promises to be cram-packed with excitement. There are loads of events planned throughout the weekend and, even if you're not a “fireworks person,” you can make plans now to get out of the house and enjoy the beautiful summer weather. Our community is offering up as much excitement or relaxation as you can handle!

    Things kick off on Saturday morning at 10:30am. Take the kids to downtown Ypsilanti, where they can actually participate in the annual Independence Day Parade. Bring along a decorated bike, wagon, or tricycle and lead the library's bookmobile (the Navigator) in the parade.

    Don't forget the Farmer's Market in the Kerrytown District, which has been going strong for 91 years. From 7am to 3pm, you can enjoy locally grown food, plants, handcrafts and prepared food items.  If you want some fresh corn for dinner or  some strawberries to make your famous Fourth of July-themed cake, come on down!

    Saturday evening, you'll want to enjoy the sounds of Big Pinky and the Joint Effort Band from 7-11pm at Hudson Mills Metropark near Dexter. Plan to arrive early; the band will break for the fireworks display at 10pm.  

    On Sunday morning, lace up your running shoes and head downtown for the Firecracker 5K to get your internal engines revved up for celebration. This family-friendly event begins at 8am, followed by the 100-meter Kids Dash at 9:30am. Whether you participate, or just cheer from the sidelines,  stay for the 20th Annual Ann Arbor Jaycees Fourth of July Parade from 11am-1pm.

    At 5pm or 8pm, head over to the Power Center to enjoy a tasteful blend of musical and political comedy with Capitol Steps.  Billing themselves as “the only group in America that attempts to be funnier than the politicians,” the Capitol Steps is a troupe of current and former Congressional staffers who satirize the very people and places that once employed them. Come on out for an Ann Arbor Summer Festival Fourth of July tradition.

    However you choose to enjoy the long holiday weekend, you can plan to enjoy freedom from renting by checking out some great homes or condo currently on the Ann Arbor real estate market. If you're thinking of relocating to Washtenaw County, Martin Bouma – your Ann Arbor real estate expert - can help you just the right place to declare your own residential independence.

    Posted Friday, July 02, 2010 by Martin Bouma