The Real Estate Corner with Rick Seese

The following, including photos, was submitted by Rick Seese.

After 30 years of real estate management and teaching the business to hundreds of agents, I plan to share my experiences and knowledge with you, the readers of Lowell’s First Look, on a monthly basis.  I invite your ongoing questions, whether you are planning on purchasing your very first home, or you are an experienced real estate investor.  Please email me your questions at [email protected].

Is there a difference between buying land and buying a home?

Absolutely.  Purchasing vacant land may have less steps involved, but they are very important steps.  There are many different uses for land, so understanding your desire for its use, is the first question.  Let’s assume that the most common use – to build a home.  Let’s also assume you are purchasing land in a rural setting, outside of municipal water and sewer services.  Therefore, you will need to provide your own well and septic systems.  The most importantly, is the need for acceptable soil to install a septic system.  The County Health Department will check the soil and issue the necessary permit to allow for the installation by a septic system contractor.  The next question is are there any recorded restrictions for the use you are planning on?  Is there a size of home restriction, farm animal restriction, certain requirements for exterior materials or outbuilding restrictions?  A title insurance search (insures clear title to the buyer) will dictate exactly what has been recorded and a list of what you can and cannot do with the property.  Additionally, is there a valid survey showing the property corners and are those corners clearly marked?  Other questions to be evaluated will be a driveway permit, making sure there is clear and safe vision.  This is determined by the County Road Commission.  Making sure the property can be issued a building permit is another.  Check with the local municipality for those answers.  Make sure you do your homework and never assume anything.  As always, you need to make your concerns by including suitable contingency language in a purchase agreement.

Is the cost of a survey worth the expense?

I always suggest that a buyer either obtain a new survey, or an existing survey that the seller already has previously obtained.  Sometimes the seller will pay for a new survey. Sometimes the buyer and seller can agree to share the cost.  Usually smaller city lots can be as little as $200-$300, whereas larger acreage lots can be $600 to $2000, depending on size and how rural the location is.  The bottom line on the reasoning for a property survey is knowing what you are purchasing and if there are any encroachments.  An encroachment is when any adjoining neighbor has any improvements that are on the land you are purchasing or if any of the improvements on your land happen to be located on any of your neighbor’s property.  Believe me, it is best to try and handle a problem BEFORE you own your home or land, rather than discover the problem AFTER you close your transaction.

What inspections should I get when buying a home?

As a Realtor, I always suggest obtaining any and all inspections when purchasing a home, whether the home is older, newer or brand new.  The most common inspections include Plumbing, Heating, Electrical, Structural, Termite/Wood Destroying Insects and Radon.  There can be multiple other concerns that may need to be addressed.  I recently had transactions that questioned environmental concerns.  The awareness of potential contaminants in a location, such as farms using fertilizer, or the ongoing discovery of PFAS in the water supply, should be addressed. I had another transaction that questioned the flight paths to and from the Gerald R. Ford Airport.  I have also had concerns about the ongoing schedule of a train track use.  Yes, older homes will usually have some considerations, especially if the maintenance has not been kept current.  Newer homes have different life spans of their components, such as a roof, furnace, hot water heater.  Surprisingly and importantly, a newly constructed home may have “final inspections” from the Building Inspector, but those inspections are NOT a thorough Home Inspector inspection.  As an example, a final Heating Inspection does not look for carbon monoxide leaks.  A final electrical inspection does not inspect outlets for miswiring or other potential safety problems.  A Home Inspector will check all health and safety concerns, which will allow you to address those discoveries with the builder, before closing the transaction and moving in.


I’m trying to determine my affordability for different locations.  What is the average sale price of homes in the surrounding area?

Good question.  Here are the 2019 average sale prices as reported to GRAR for residential single-family homes, by school district.  As a comparison measure of the current year, I will plan on including 2020 year to date averages, beginning in June.

$285,104 – Lowell
$431,828 – Forest Hills
$334,512 – Caledonia
$318,081 – Rockford
$192,389 – Saranac
$168,495 – Lakewood
$166,471 – Belding
$138,401 – Ionia

Rick Seese works with buyers and sellers of residential, commercial and industrial real estate.  He is an Associate Broker with Greenridge Realty, Inc. and has been licensed full-time for 43 years.  If you’re interested in reaching out to Rick for more information, or have a question for the monthly article, you can contact him via email ([email protected]), visit his website at or Facebook page at ( Seese), or call/text him at 616-437-2576.

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