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Holland, MI | 7 Posts
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November
21

Holland Breweries And Brewpubs For Great Food And Drinks

Local breweries are often where you find the best food and drinks. Here are the Holland spots you should visit.

Nothing beats hanging with friends and family while enjoying craft beer, which is probably one of the many reasons why local breweries have become so popular. Our real estate agents love seeing new breweries pop up all over time, as they're great for the local economy. They offer a great place to hang out while also attracting people from out of town. Plus, they give you the chance to try a new beer! It's a win-win situation.

We've been scoping out all the breweries and brewpubs around Holland this year, and here are some of our favorites:

  • Our Brewing Company - 76 E 8th St, Holland, MI 49423
    Sip a refreshing glass of Careless Whisper IPA or a German-style Brent's Dunkel at Our Brewing Company. Don't be fooled by this nano-breweries small size, it has everything you want in a fun brewpub, including rotating taps, trivia nights, live music, and an easy-going atmosphere. It's quickly becoming one of the best breweries in Holland. While they don't have a kitchen, outside food is welcome. If you have a good time at this brewery, we recommend scheduling a tour of one of these beautiful Holland homes for sale just down the road.

  • Brewery 4 Two 4 - 321 Douglas Ave #120, Holland, MI 49424
    When it comes to the beer selection, Brewery 4 Two 4 has something for everyone. With a name stemming from the north side Holland zip code, this place strives to be a community asset and gathering space. The bar area features 20 taps of high-quality beers and ciders, and plenty of tables, as well as darts and board games.

  • New Holland Brewing - 66 E 8th St, Holland, MI 49423
    Brewers of the famous Dragon Milk Stout, New Holland Brewing is a leader in the craft beer revolution, and they call Holland, Michigan home. Enjoy your favorite beer or spirit at their comfortable brewpub and distillery. If you're hungry, bar snacks, pizzas, salads, and soups are available on the menu. Make sure to check out their daily specials!

  • Big Lake Brewing - 13 W 7th St, Holland, MI 49423
    Big Lake Brewing offers quite a unique beer selection with nearly two dozen drafts, including options like Cotton Candy Haze, Mango Habanero Haze, and Lemonade Beer. With so many variations, you'll definitely want to order a flight. The large bar area has an industrial vibe, and the large food menu is loaded with starters, snacks, pizzas, sandwiches, and salads.

  • Copper Craft Distillery - 184 120th Ave, Holland, MI 49424
    While it's technically not a brewery, Copper Craft Distillery had to make our list due to their delicious spirits, great food, and fun atmosphere. The Straight Bourbon Whiskey and the Citrus Flavored Vodka are two of our favorites. Sip your favorite spirit in the rustic-themed tasting room or browse the shop and purchase some to take home. A tour or tasting session is a fun activity for a group of friends.

Breweries and brewpubs are a lot of fun, and we have some great options here in Holland. Contact us today to learn more about local listings.

October
24

Stop By These Fun Halloween Events In Holland

Halloween is almost here! Visit these Holland events that are fun for the whole family.

Halloween is one of our favorite times of the year. Our real estate agents love decorating for Halloween and preparing for trick-or-treating, and we also try to attend one local Halloween event every year. We truly can't get enough of this spooky time of year!

From Halloween concerts to kid's parties, there are Halloween events around town suitable for all age groups. If you're looking for a great way to celebrate the holiday with the family, here are some Halloween events to put on your calendar this year:

  • Totally Rad 80's Halloween Bash - 248 S River Ave, Holland, MI 49423
    This Holland Halloween party at Park Theater is sure to be a hit. The Totally Rad 80's Halloween Bash features musical guests Boys Hone Mild and Momz Attic. Costumes are encouraged and there will be prizes for the best. There will also be a guitar giveaway. The event is Friday, October 28, at 8 pm, and tickets are $15 in advance and $20 at the door. Tickets can be purchased online.

  • Cool & Classic Trunk Or Treat - 12330 James St, Holland, MI 49424
    Half classic car show, half Halloween party -- Cool & Classic Trunk Or Treat combines the best of both worlds! Check out some local classic cars and enjoy Halloween activities like trick or treating and a costume contest. This event takes place on October 29 from 4 to 6 pm at the Holland Town Center. The event benefits a non-profit called Hope Packages. Admission is free, but a donation of tear-free kid's body wash or kid's toothpaste is suggested.

  • Ridge Point Community Church Trunk Or Treat - 340 104th Ave, Holland, MI 49423
    This annual Halloween event is one of the most family-friendly Halloween events in Holland. There are lots of activities and trunks full of treats, so it's great for kids.  The Ridge Point Community Church Trunk or Treat takes place on October 29 from 10 am to 12 pm, and admission is free. Plus, this great event is just a few miles from these Holland homes for sale.

  • Bam! Trick-or-Treat - 478 E 16th St, Holland, MI 49423
    The Bam Entertainment Center is hosting a Halloween Celebration for kids and adults. Enjoy Halloween-themed bowling, a Halloween cupcake decorating contest, and other games and activities at Bam! Trick-or-Treat. Plus, there are eight trick-or-treat stations. Guests who arrive in costume get one free laser tag session. The event is Sunday, October 30, from 12 to 4 pm.

  • Halloween Movie Night - 14 S Church St, Zeeland, MI, 49464
    Looking for an easy-going Halloween day activity for the kids? The Howard Miller Public library is hosting a Halloween Movie Night on October 31 from 10 am to 12 pm. Kids can watch a G-rated movie called "Spooky Buddies," and free popcorn will be available. Admission is free!

With costume parties, trick-or-treating, and concerts, Halloween is sure to be a blast around Holland, Michigan.  Our community events are just one of the many great things about living in this town. Contact us today to schedule your tour of one of our local listings.

September
12

The Best Holland Restaurants For National Cheeseburger Day

Holland is full of spots to find a tasty burger. Here are the restaurants you have to visit.

If you've been craving a juicy cheeseburger lately, then you might want to make plans to stop by your favorite Holland restaurant on September 18th. It just happens to be Cheeseburger Day

While burgers are a staple of American cuisine, many people believe this delicious creation actually originated in Germany in the early 1900s. Since then, burgers have become a mainstay of many menus around the world. From diners to bars and grills, almost every traditional American restaurant does its own spin on a good burger.

In honor of Cheeseburger Day, our real estate agents pulled together a list of top burger destinations around Holland:

  • Hops at 84 East - 84 E 8th St, Holland, MI 49423
    One of Holland's premier burger destinations, Hops 84 East has everything you want in a traditional downtown craft beer bar and grill, but their award-winning Trumpet Burger is a must-try. This 70:30 grind of brisket and Pebble Creek mushrooms is topped with bacon, Roelli Red Rock cheddar bleu, pickled shallots, arugula, and duck mayo. If you enjoy your meal and want to come back, you might be interested in one of these nearby Holland homes for sale.

  • Windmill Restaurant - 28 W 8th St #220, Holland, MI 49423
    This homey traditional American diner offers counter-style seating and grills up some delicious burgers for lunch. Choose from a 1/4 lb. or a 1/2 lb. burger, and add your favorite toppings at Windmill Restaurant. Or, try the 3 Star Burger — a 1/4 lb. burger with grilled onions, mushrooms, and green peppers. Veggie burgers and black bean burgers are available as well.

  • Big E's Sports Grill - 121 E 8th St, Holland, MI 49423
    A classic Michigan sports bar, Big E's Sports Grill is the go-to place to catch the game, have a beer, and enjoy a great burger. The menu features 6 "Gridiron Classics," such as the Screamin' Demon (volcanic sauce, jalapenos, and pepper jack cheese) or the Hawaiian (grilled pineapple, provolone cheese, teriyaki sauce, and fried onion). You'll also find an extensive draft list making it easy to pair your beer with your favorite brew.

  • Brann's Steakhouse And Grille - 12234 James St, Holland, MI 49424
    The Pretzel Burger at Brann's Steakhouse And Grille is always one of our favorites. This burger is served on a gourmet pretzel bun and is topped with smoked bacon, aged cheddar, fried egg, mayo, lettuce, and tomato. Just make sure to save room for a Brownie Sundae or Cookie Monster for dessert!

  • HopCat - 80 W 8th St, Holland, MI 49423
    With two burgers named after University of Michigan players, HopCat had to make the list. First up is the Erick All burger, which is two smash patties, American cheese, haystacks, bacon, lettuce, and tomato. The second is the Payton Thorne burger, which adds a sunny-side-up egg and a pretzel bun. Both are delicious!

  • Beechwood Grill - 380 Douglas Ave, Holland, MI 49424
    This cabin-style restaurant grills some of the best burgers in town. Choose from The All American, Boursin Bacon Burger, Olive Burger, or the Rise N Shine Burger at Beechwood Grill. Draft beer, wine, and cocktails are available, and be sure to check out the Happy Hour drink specials Monday through Saturday from 3 pm to 5 pm.

Great dining options are just one of our favorite things about living in Holland. Contact us today to schedule a tour of one of our spectacular local listings.

August
23

Practice Your Photo Skills With These West Michigan Scenic Spots

West Michigan is a photographer's paradise. Here's where you can snap stunning pictures.

Photography is one of our favorite art forms, and it's especially fun when you live in a beautiful place like West Michigan. When you're surrounded by tulips, shorelines, lighthouses, and windmills, you won't have trouble finding beautiful subjects for your photo shoots.

Great photography takes a good eye and a lot of practice. Our real estate agents have been dabbling in photography lately and are always on the lookout for new beautiful landscapes to hone their skills. Here are some of our favorite places to snap amazing pictures in West Michigan:

  • Windmill Island Gardens - 1 Lincoln Ave, Holland, MI 49423
    Windmills are not only a sign of Dutch heritage, but they also make for beautiful photo opportunities. You can snap some great windmill pics at Windmill Island Gardens. The main attraction here is the historic 'de Zwann' windmill, but there are also dozens of acres of parks and exhibits where you can also take pictures. Among the other attractions are an annual themed garden during the summer and 150,000 blooming tulips in the spring. While you're in town, be sure to check out these Holland homes for sale, which are just down the road from the park.

  • Riverview Park - Central Ave, Holland, MI 49423
    You'll find ample photo opportunities at Riverview Park in Holland. Also known as "Window on the Waterfront," this park has boardwalks, open space, and viewing decks that offer amazing views of the Macatawa River. Not to mention the park is home to more than 100,000 blooming tulips every spring. With so much natural beauty, it's easy to snap a few shareable pictures.

  • Saugatuck Dunes State Park - 38th Ave, Holland, MI 49423
    Capture gorgeous photos of the sandy dunes along the Lake Michigan shoreline at Saugatuck Dunes State Park. The park consists of over 100 acres with 13 miles of trails that weave in and out of beach, dune, and forest landscapes while providing amazing coastal views. The park is even home to three endangered plant species.

  • Lighthouse Connector Park - Grand Haven, MI 49417
    Also known as "The Boardwalk," Lighthouse Connector Park is a 1.5-mile recreational area extending from the Chinook Pier to the South Pier. It features a trail, beach access, and an upfront look at the amazing Grand Haven South Pierhead Inner Light. It's nice to have a beach in your own backyard, and these Grand Haven homes for sale offer just that.

  • Grand Haven State Park - 1001 S Harbor Dr, Grand Haven, MI 49417
    Snap some awesome beach photos at Grand Haven State Park — a 48-acre park consisting of sandy beaches, dunes, and two lighthouses. It's also one of the best local places to take beautiful pictures of the sunset. If you want to make a weekend out of it, the park has fantastic campgrounds and lodging.

  • The Grand Haven Musical Fountain - 1 N Harbor Dr, Grand Haven, MI 49417
    See an amazing orchestration of lights, water, and music at the Grand Haven Musical Fountain. This theatrical fountain puts on a free 25-30 minute show every evening all summer long. Enjoy some great musical hits while practicing your photography skills. With a variety of shows, it's always worth stopping back and seeing something new.

Living in a beautiful place can do wonders for your mental health and energy, which is why we love calling West Michigan home. Contact us today to explore local listings.

June
7

The Best Places In Holland For Exceptional Wine And Dining

Looking for an unforgettable dining experience? Here are the Holland restaurants you should visit.

Planning a weekend with friends or date night? In Holland, we take local dining very seriously. Our real estate agents are always talking up our local food and beverage scene — and for good reason! From upscale restaurants to classic brew pubs, Holland has it all.

Dining out on the weekends is one of our favorite things to do. If you're looking for a new place to wine and dine around Holland, you can trust our recommendations. Here are some of our top choices this year:

  • Hops at 48 East - 84 E 8th St, Holland, MI 49423
    This restaurant has everything you'd want to see in a classic neighborhood pub. Enjoy brick-oven pizzas, tons of local craft beers, a great wine list, and friendly people at Hops at 48 East. You'll find local live music on Fridays and Saturdays, as well as an excellent brunch menu on Sundays. The best part: you can easily walk to this restaurant from these Holland homes for sale.

  • Seventy-Six - 52 W 8th St, Holland, MI 49423
    High-end American fare, great wine, and a contemporary atmosphere can be discovered at Seventy-Six. The restaurant, which is named for its co-owners' anniversary year, is one of the most stylish and comfortable restaurants in Holland. With a menu section titled "High-End Junk Food" and a unique cocktail menu, you know you're in for an unforgettable dining experience.

  • Butch's Dry Dock - 44 E 8th St, Holland, MI 49423
    Butch's Dry Dock offers one of the best wine selections in Holland. Owner Butch TerHaar sources world-class wines from many countries around the world. Enjoy them with your dinner or purchase some to-go in the retail shop attached to the restaurant. This fine-dining restaurant is an excellent place to celebrate a special event with friends or family. Happy Hour is daily from 4 to 6 pm.

  • Boatwerks - 216 Van Raalte Ave, Holland, MI 49423
    Enjoy classic American cuisine and spectacular waterfront views at Boatwerks.  Located on Lake Macatawa, this restaurant offers a unique dining experience perfect for special family celebrations. The menu has something for everyone, and you're sure to love the homemade desserts! Dinner on the patio makes for an unforgettable summer evening.

  • Salt And Pepper Pub - 11539 E Lakewood Blvd #50, Holland, MI 49424
    Another local neighborhood pub and restaurant, Salt and Pepper is a great place to catch the game, enjoy a business lunch, or catch up with friends. Choose from a wide range of traditional pub dishes, steaks, burgers, pasta, and more, as well as a huge selection of beer and wine. The laid-back outdoor patio is a popular hangout spot on the weekends.

  • HopCat - 80 W 8th St, Holland, MI 49423
    One of the largest beer lists in Holland can be found at HopCat, an excellent local pub and neighborhood hangout. Enjoy tasty bar snacks and appetizers and several unique takes on classic American entrees in a fun, artsy atmosphere. Happy Hour is Monday through Thursday from 3 to 5:30 pm burger and drinks specials on beer, wine, and cocktails.

Fantastic local pubs and restaurants are just one of the many great things about living in Holland. Considering a move to our area? Contact us today to explore local listings.

May
2

Celebrate The Tulip Time Festival In Holland

The Tulip Time Festival is one of West Michigan's biggest attractions. Here's why you should visit the festival this year.

People travel to The Netherlands from all over the world every spring to see beautiful Holland tulips, but thanks to our Dutch heritage, you can see the same beautiful tulip displays right here in Holland, Michigan. In fact, our city is home to more than 500,000 tulips every spring.

Tulips are a big part of our history and culture, and we'll be celebrating this wonderful flower at the 2022 Tulip Time Festival, which takes places from May 7 to May 15. This is a great opportunity to see colorful tulip displays, enjoy fun events, and interact with the local community. The event is free and takes place at various locations across downtown Holland.

Our real estate agents are very much looking forward to this year's celebration. If you're planning to head on out to the festival this year, here are some fun activities you won't want to miss:

  • Explore The Tulip Immersion Garden
    A walk through the Tulip Immersion Garden provides an amazing visual experience at the Ottawa County Fairgrounds. Lose yourself among 50,000 vibrant tulips of multiple colors while reading all about the history of this beautiful spring flower.  It's a great chance to snap some Instagram-worthy pictures. Tickets for this event range from $15 to $20 for adults, $5 for children between 5 and 12, and the event is free for kids under 5.

  • Shop At The Artisan Market
    You never know what creative local gifts you'll find at the Artisan Market. With loads of handcrafted, original paintings, pottery, glass, and other unique art, it's a great place to find some new home decor. This shopping event takes place May 8 from 10 am to 5 pm and May 8th from 12 pm to 5 pm.

  • Take A Walking Tour Of Holland
    Join a 1.5-hour walking tour of beautiful Holland. You'll not only see some awesome tulip displays, but you'll also have the chance to learn all about the rich cultural history of our city. It's also a great way to get some exercise and fresh air. Tours are just $35 per person. While you're out walking, you might even be lucky enough to catch a glimpse of one of these Holland homes for sale.

  • Sip Some Of Holland's Best Craft Beverages
    One of the best ways to get to know Holland's local bars and wineries is with the Klomp On Passport. During the Tulip Time Festival, you can use this free passport to sample drinks from various downtown Holland locations. Each location will even give you a stamp for your passport.

  • Buy Your Own Tulips
    It's natural to want to bring Holland's beautiful tulips to your own backyard, and you can do just that with the Pre-festival Tulip Sale. The Tulip Pot Sale is a fundraiser for local events — you can buy a 10-inch pot (10 bulbs) for $15. The sale starts on May 15.

  • Tour The Tall Ship Friends Good Will
    Jump onboard this 1810 replica Great Lakes sloop and take a step back into Dutch Maritime history. The boat docks on the North wall near Boatwerks Restaurant on May 7 and tours run daily from 10 am to 4 pm.

The Holland Tulip Time Festival attracts visitors from all over the country, brings neighbors together, and also helps to support local businesses. For more information on living in Holland, contact us today. 

February
7

Find Delicious Sweet Gifts In Grand Haven This Valentine's Day

Grand Haven shops have the perfect gifts for this Valentine's Day. Here's where you can find the best chocolate and candy.

Regardless of your relationship status, Valentine's Day is the perfect opportunity to show love for those you care about the most. There's no better way to do so than with a sweet gift.

If you're looking to get out and do some last-minute Valentine's Day shopping, finding the right gift is easy in Grand Haven. We have so many wonderful local businesses serving up delicious chocolate, candy, baked goods, and more. Here are seven recommendations from our real estate agents:

  • Sweet Haven - 411 Phoenix Street, South Haven Michigan 49090
    The ultimate candy shop — Sweet Haven offers both old school candy, new candy, and a great selection of chocolates, fudge, and caramels. For Valentine's Day, you can customize your own gift box, so you can give your special someone exactly what they like. If you love this candy store, you might consider checking out some nearby Grand Haven homes for sale.

  • Grand Finale - 225 Franklin Ave, Grand Haven, MI 49417
    Delicious desserts, amazing pastries, and gourmet baked goods can all be found at Grand Finale, a spectacular local treat shop with tons of sweet options that make for great Valentine's Day gifts. Grab a delicious cake or some amazing cupcakes, so you can top off your romantic Valentine's Day dinner with a tasty dessert.

  • Betty Jane's Sweets - 518 Pine St, Spring Lake, MI 49456
    This family-owned and operated business has become a Grand Haven staple. At Betty Jane's Sweets, you'll find all the chocolate, candy, and popcorn you need. The Chocolate Covered Oreos and the Coconut Clusters are both highly recommended. Specialty gift boxes and baskets are available for Valentine's Day.

  • Ryke's - 623 A Way, Grand Haven, MI 49417
    One of the best dessert destinations in all of West Michigan, Ryke's offers a wide selection of sweet baked goods including cupcakes, cakes, and cookies. Your mouth will start watering as soon as you walk in the door. They're accepting custom orders for Valentine's Day, so make sure to get yours in!

  • Blueberry Haven - 213 Washington Ave, Grand Haven, MI 49417
    If your special person loves blueberries, a gift box from Blueberry Haven could make for a great gift. Start off Valentine's Day morning with the ultimate Blueberry Breakfast Box — pancake mix, fresh blueberries, blueberry syrup, blueberry butter, blueberry topping, and blueberry coffee. Or try one of the famous blueberry jams.

  • Patricia's Chocolate - 126 Washington Ave, Grand Haven, MI 49417
    Premier ganache and caramel chocolates and extraordinary specialty confections can be found at Patricia's Chocolate, located in downtown Grand Haven. A custom chocolate package makes for a great gift. Choose from 4 to 18 pieces of handcrafted chocolate. Stop by the store or submit your order online.

  • Kilwins - 101 Washington Ave, Grand Haven, MI 49417
    For a great selection of chocolate, fudge, and ice cream, make a visit to Kilwins as part of your Valentine's Day. If you're in need of a great gift, Kilwins has traditional heart-shaped boxes of assorted truffles in all different sizes. Their caramel apples are also a must-try! Stop in or order pick-up or delivery online.

Finding the perfect Valentine's Day gift isn't always easy, but you can never go wrong with something sweet. Shopping local is the best way to find a great gift while supporting local businesses. Contact us today for more information on Grand Haven.

January
3

Warm Up To American Comfort Food From Holland Restaurants

Some local American-style comfort food may be just what you need to warm up this winter. Here are the Holland restaurants to visit.

Burgers, steak, chicken, sandwiches, and pizza, what's not to love about classic American cuisine? Not only does American food combine flavors from a variety of cultures, but there is also something very comforting about it. Whether it's a diner breakfast or a classic American entree for dinner, our real estate agents love warming up each winter at these Holland restaurants:

  • Hopcat - 80 W 8th St, Holland, MI 49423
    Tasty burgers, delicious sandwiches, and fresh salads — Hopcat is an awesome destination for traditional American cuisine. Warm up this winter with the spicy Nashville Hot Chicken sandwich, served with a side of Cosmik Fries and pickle slices. They also have a huge rotating selection of craft beer on draft. If you like dining out downtown, then be sure to check out these awesome Holland homes for sale just around the corner.

  • Windmill Restaurant - 28 W 8th St #220, Holland, MI 49423
    For a classic American dining experience and some of the best local breakfast food, you must try the Windmill Restaurant. For the ultimate comfort foods, try a hashbrown omelet or some home-baked bread and gravy. You can also order some of the best cinnamon rolls in Western Michigan. The restaurant is open daily for breakfast and daily.

  • Waverly Stone Gastropub - 20 W 8th St, Holland, MI 49423
    A true foodie destination, Waverly Stone Gastropub's extensive menu of classic American entrees features combined with a wide selection of draft beer and cocktails makes it a great date night location or a great option for a family celebration. Pork Belly Pasta, Norweigian Salmon with Duck Fat Potatoes, and Roasted Chicken with Wild Mushroom Risotto are just a few of the many highlights of this menu. Online ordering is available if you'd prefer to eat at home.

  • Seventy-Six Restaurant - 52 W 8th St, Holland, MI 49423
    Named after its co-founders' wedding anniversary year, Seventy-Six Restaurant's mission is to provide high-end modern American cuisine and great service in a stunning atmosphere, and it succeeds on all three fronts. You'll have no trouble finding delicious comfort food — the menu sections include "High-End Junk Food," "Cast Iron Skillets," "Things We Put on Plates," and "Knife & Fork Sandwiches." Beer, wine, and cocktails are also available.

  • Beechwood Grill - 380 Douglas Ave, Holland, MI 49424
    This classic American steakhouse is known for its delicious food, great service, and generous portions. Enjoy your favorite steak, burger, fish, or sandwich, it's easy to find something for everyone at Beechwood Grill. The atmosphere is comfortable and the walls are actually lined with old metal panels that have been used for grilling their famous chicken over the years. Stop in or order takeout online.

  • Wooden Shoe Restaurant - 441 US-31, Holland, MI 49423
    Another classic American diner, the Wooden Shoe Restaurant has been a Holland staple for more than 50 years. If you're looking for the best breakfast in town, this is your place. Try eggs, sausage, pancakes, or one of the many famous omelets. The atmosphere is fun, light, and homey. Dine in, take out, or order curbside pickup.

It's not hard to find classic American cuisine in our nation's heartland. Contact us today for more information on the Holland area.

December
29

Tips for First-Time Home Buyers

Tips for First-Time Home Buyers

Preparing to buy tips

1. Start saving early

Here are the main costs to consider when saving for a home:

  • Down payment: Your down payment requirement will depend on the type of mortgage you choose and the lender. Some conventional loans aimed at first-time home buyers with excellent credit allow as little as 3% down. But even a small down payment can be challenging to save. For example, a 3% down payment on a $300,000 home is $9,000. Use a down payment calculator to decide a goal, and then set up automatic transfers from checking to savings to get started.

  • Closing costs: These are the fees and expenses you pay to finalize your mortgage, and they typically range from 2% to 5% of the loan amount. You can ask the seller to pay a portion of your closing costs, and you can save on some expenses, such as home inspections, by shopping around.

  • Move-in expenses: You'll need some cash after the home purchase. Set some money aside for immediate home repairs, upgrades and furnishings.

2. Decide how much home you can afford

Figure out how much you can safely spend on a house before starting to shop. NerdWallet's home affordability calculator can help with setting a price range based on your income, debt, down payment, credit score and where you plan to live.

3. Check and strengthen your credit

Your credit score will determine whether you qualify for a mortgage and affect the interest rate lenders will offer. Take these steps to strengthen your credit score to buy a house:

  • Get free copies of your credit reports from each of the three credit bureaus — Experian, Equifax and TransUnion — and dispute any errors that could hurt your score.

  • Pay all your bills on time, and keep credit card balances as low as possible.

  • Keep current credit cards open. Closing a card will increase the portion of available credit you use, which can lower your score.

Mortgage selection tips

4. Explore mortgage options

A variety of mortgages are available with varying down payment and eligibility requirements. Here are the main categories:

  • Conventional mortgages are not guaranteed by the government. Some conventional loans targeted at first-time buyers require as little as 3% down.

  • FHA loans are insured by the Federal Housing Administration and allow down payments as low as 3.5%.

  • USDA loans are guaranteed by the U.S. Department of Agriculture. They are for rural home buyers and usually require no down payment.

  • VA loans are guaranteed by the Department of Veterans Affairs. They are for current and veteran military service members and usually require no down payment.

You also have options when it comes to the mortgage term. Most home buyers opt for a 30-year fixed-rate mortgage, which is paid off in 30 years and has an interest rate that stays the same. A 15-year loan typically has a lower interest rate than a 30-year mortgage, but the monthly payments are larger.

5. Research first-time home buyer assistance programs

Many states and some cities and counties offer first-time home buyer programs, which often combine low-interest-rate mortgages with down payment assistance and closing cost assistance. Tax credits are also available through some first-time home buyer programs.

6. Compare mortgage rates and fees

The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau recommends requesting loan estimates for the same type of mortgage from multiple lenders to compare the costs, including interest rates and possible origination fees.

Lenders may offer the opportunity to buy discount points, which are fees the borrower pays upfront to lower the interest rate. Buying points can make sense if you have the money on hand and plan to stay in the home for a long time. Use a discount points calculator to decide.

7. Get a preapproval letter

A mortgage preapproval is a lender's offer to loan you a certain amount under specific terms. Having a preapproval letter shows home sellers and real estate agents that you're a serious buyer, and can give you an edge over home shoppers who haven't taken this step yet.

Apply for preapproval when you're ready to start home shopping. A lender will pull your credit and review documents to verify your income, assets and debt. Applying for preapproval from more than one lender to shop rates shouldn't hurt your credit score as long as you apply for them within a limited time frame, such as 30 days.

Home shopping tips

8. Choose a real estate agent carefully

A good real estate agent will scour the market for homes that meet your needs and guide you through the negotiation and closing process. Get agent referrals from other recent home buyers. Interview at least a few agents, and request references. When speaking with potential agents, ask about their experience helping first-time home buyers in your market and how they plan to help you find a home.

9. Pick the right type of house and neighborhood

Weigh the pros and cons of different types of homes, given your lifestyle and budget. A condominium or townhome may be more affordable than a single-family home, but shared walls with neighbors will mean less privacy. Don't forget to budget for homeowners association fees when shopping for condos and townhomes, or houses in planned or gated communities.

Another option to consider is buying a fixer-upper — a single-family home in need of updates or repairs. Fixer-uppers usually sell for less per square foot than move-in ready homes. However, you may need to budget extra for repairs and remodeling. Renovation mortgages finance both the home price and the cost of improvements in one loan.

Think about your long-term needs and whether a starter home or forever home will meet them best. If you plan to start or expand your family, it may make sense to buy a home with extra room to grow.

Check out potential neighborhoods thoroughly. Choose one with amenities that are important to you, and test out the commute to work during rush hour.

10. Stick to your budget

A lender may offer to loan you more than what is comfortably affordable, or you may feel pressure to spend outside your comfort zone to beat another buyer's offer. To avoid financial stress down the road, set a price range based on your budget, and then stick to it.

Look at properties below your price limit to give some wiggle room for bidding in a competitive market.

11. Make the most of open houses

Online 3D home tours have become more popular amid the COVID-19 pandemic. These tours let shoppers virtually walk through a home at any hour and observe details that regular photos don't catch. They don't supply all the information in-person visits do — like how the carpets smell — but they can help you narrow the list of properties to visit.

Open your senses when touring homes in person. Listen for noise, pay attention to any odors and look at the overall condition of the home inside and out. Ask about the type and age of the electrical and plumbing systems and the roof.

" MORE: How 3D home tours work

Home purchasing tips

12. Pay for a home inspection

A home inspection is a thorough assessment of the structure and mechanical systems. Professional inspectors look for potential problems, so you can make an informed decision about buying the property. Here are some things to keep in mind:

  • Standard inspections don't test for things like radon, mold or pests. Understand what's included in the inspection and what other inspections you might need.

  • Make sure the inspector can get to every part of the house, such as the roof and any crawl spaces.

  • Traditionally the buyer attends the inspection. By following the inspector around you can get a better understanding of the home and ask questions on the spot. If you can't attend the inspection, review the inspector's report carefully and ask about anything that's unclear.

13. Negotiate with the seller

You may be able to save money by asking the seller to pay for repairs in advance or lower the price to cover the cost of repairs you'll have to make later. You may also ask the seller to pay some of the closing costs. But keep in mind that lenders may limit the portion of closing costs the seller can pay.

Your negotiating power will depend on the local market. It's tougher to drive a hard bargain when there are more buyers than homes for sale. Work with your real estate agent to understand the local market and strategize accordingly.

14. Buy adequate home insurance

Your lender will require you to buy homeowners insurance before closing the deal. Home insurance covers the cost to repair or replace your home and belongings if they're damaged by an incident covered in the policy. It also provides liability insurance if you're held responsible for an injury or accident. Buy enough home insurance to cover the cost of rebuilding the home if it's destroyed.

December
20

DIY Holiday Crafts You Can Make With Your Family

Looking for a fun way to build some holiday cheer with your family? Try making one or all of these holiday crafts at home.

Nothing gets our real estate agents in the holiday spirit quite like DIY holiday crafts. Holiday crafting is not only a great opportunity to spend time with friends and family, but it also is a chance to create some beautiful holiday decor that you can use to liven up your home for the holiday season. If you're looking for some creative ideas before heading out to the craft store, here are our four most popular DIY holiday craft ideas:

  • Make A Holiday Wreath
    Creating a holiday wreath from scratch is easier than you think. For the base, you can simply use floral wire, twigs, or Styrofoam. For the greenery, you can use juniper sprigs, eucalyptus pods, evergreen boughs, or anything you can find. Them, simply collect your greenery into groups and attach it to your base with floral pins, tape, or craft glue. Lastly, top it off with some holiday bows or other decor. Crating a holiday wreath is not only a ton of fun, but it can make a great addition to your home's facade. Some of our favorite Holland homes for sale have some beautiful holiday wreaths on display this year.

  • Craft Some Simple Ornaments
    Christmas tree ornaments are super easy, and there are so many different types of ornaments to make.

    To make a simple ornament, cut your ornament base from cardstock using any holiday pattern you'd like, and then add some paint and glitter to one side. String a nice ribbon through a hole at the top and bead it on the other end.

    Want to take your homemade ornament game to the next level? Replace the cardstock with a jingle bell, snow globe, or engraved wood, and swap out your ribbon for decorative pipe cleaners. Creating holiday ornaments is also a great crafting idea for the kids.

  • Build A Lighted Pinecone Basket
    Lighted pinecone baskets are one of our favorite crafts. Gather a half dozen sturdy pinecones and apply a coat of clear spray paint. Then, add some gold glitter to the wet paint. While the paint is drying, line a small weave basket with some gold string lights, and then place the pinecones inside. Once you plug in the lights, it should look as if the lights are coming through both the pinecones and the weaved basket.

    A beautiful lighted pinecone basket makes for a great mantle piece or can even fit nicely on the kitchen counter.

  • Design Creative Christmas Cookies
    Decorating Christmas cookies is a DIY craft project that's fun for all ages. Bake some delicious gingerbread cookies, butter spritz cookies, chocolate bark cookies — the opportunities are truly endless. Buy some holiday cookie cutters, icing, and candy, so you're ready to decorate as soon as your cookies come out of the oven. 

Before you start crafting, don't forget to set the holiday scene. Turn on some nice Christmas music, turn on all the lights, and light a fire in the fireplace. It's the perfect way to spend a chilly December afternoon.

For more tips on holiday decor, contact us today.

October
25

Warm Up In Holland With These Coffee Spots

With chilly fall weather in the air, these Holland coffee shops and cafes will keep you warm this season.

As a place to sit, relax, work, or socialize, coffee shops make for the ultimate community gathering place. Every fall and winter, our real estate agents love spending weekend mornings at cozy, local coffee shops with their favorite warm caffeinated beverage. Luckily, you're never far from a great coffee shop in Holland.

If you're looking for the best way to start your day or simply need a comfortable place to catch up with friends, these great Holland coffee shops are the perfect destinations:

  • Lemonjello's Coffee - 61 9th St, Holland, MI 49423
    Grab your favorite brewed beverage at this low-key shop that serves a wide range of coffees, juices, salads, sandwiches, and baked goods. Lemonjello's Coffee is a popular yet quiet shop and a great place to get work done while enjoying your favorite drink. Looking to try something new? Check out the Honey Lavender Latte. The shop is open until 6 pm on weeknights and 4 pm on Saturdays and Sundays.

  • Simpatico Coffee Joint - 714 Michigan Ave, Holland, MI 49423 
    Looking for a coffee shop conveniently located near some of these great Holland homes for sale? Then Simpatico Coffee Joint is your place. All roasting is done in small batches locally in Holland, which means the coffee is exceptionally fresh. Enjoy your drink in their comfortable atmosphere or grab a coffee through the drive-thru. Simpatico is open seven days a week.

  • The 205 Coffee Bar - 205 Columbia Ave, Holland, MI 49423
    Delicious coffee, wonderful pastries, and tons of local art — what more could you want in a coffee shop? It's no wonder The 205 Coffee Bar is one of the most popular shops in Holland. This shop is open and breezy in the summer and warm and cozy in the winter. With an extensive menu of coffees, waffles, and baked goods, it's the perfect weekend hangout spot. Stop by Tuesday through Sunday before 1 pm.

  • Ferris Coffee & Nut Co. - 57 E 8th St, Holland, MI 49423
    Friendly service, great beans, and plenty of table space are just a few of the reasons why Ferris Coffee & Nut Co. has become such a Holland staple for coffee lovers. This isn't just a coffee shop; it's also a cafe and store featuring a wide selection of coffees, nuts, and brewing equipment. Stop by for a drink and also do some holiday shopping for the coffee lover in your life. Ferris Coffee is open Monday through Saturday.

  • Joe2Go - 166 E Lakewood Blvd, Holland, MI 49424
    This family-owned and operated shop serves up delicious coffee, espresso, and smoothies. They also have a large menu of flatbreads, wraps, and breakfast sandwiches, and all ingredients are made fresh daily. Joe2Go is great for grabbing coffee or food on the fly, but it's also a good option for breakfast or lunch with a friend. The shop is open Monday through Saturday.

Coffee shops are an important part of any community, and Holland has no shortage of great options. For more information on local businesses, contact us today.

October
12

All The Different Ways To Use Your Fall Pumpkins

Pumpkins only come around for a short time each year, so you want to make the most of them. Try out these creative projects for using your fall pumpkins.

October means pumpkin season. Everywhere you go, there are pumpkins: food, decor, and crafts, and they seem to be everywhere, from shops to front porches. You're sure to spot some while touring beautiful Holland homes for sale. If you want to go above and beyond with your pumpkins this year, our real estate agents have put together a list of some novel ways you can use pumpkins this fall. Sourced from bloggers, designers, decorators, and artisans, these ideas bring out the best in those lovely pumpkins, gigantic or mini, you're bringing home this year.

  1. Spectacular jack-o'-lanterns
    Tired of the same old jack-o'-lantern design? Interesting and fresh designs for carving and decorating unique jack-o'-lanterns abound in magazines, craft books, and the internet. You can go as simple or as wild as your imagination takes you, adding glitter or paint (you can always forgo the carving and paint the pumpkin or draw on it with a felt tip pen), or hot gluing textural pieces. You can help preserve the pumpkin by cutting the bottom off instead of the top, hollowing out the pumpkin thoroughly, and covering the inner walls with petroleum jelly.

  2. Pumpkin candles
    Not a fan of pumpkin-flavored foods? No worries. Enjoy pumpkins by turning them into fun projects, like a  mid-size pie pumpkin or smaller half-pumpkin, transformed into a candle. Just like the jack-o'-lanterns you carve from fresh pumpkins, the candle holder won't last all that long and instead will dry out and shrivel up. So if you want a candle holder that lasts longer, use an artificial pumpkin. You'll also need soy wax flakes, wicks, cinnamon sticks, a pencil to hold the wicks, and if you choose, wax coloring and cinnamon flavor for the scent.

  3. Harvest pumpkin seeds.
    Sure, you can buy these at the store, but it's more fun to show the kids how to harvest and prepare their own tasty and nutritious pumpkin seeds. Harvesting seeds is easy because you can take them out of the pumpkin before carving the face of your jack-o'-lanterns. Place seeds and pulp in a bowl of water or a strainer, and separate the seeds from the pulp. Once you're done, rinse the seeds under cool water. You can rub seeds together to remove any leftover pulp. Lastly, drain the seeds and spread them on a dishtowel to dry.

    Once dry, spread them on a baking sheet, and drizzle with melted butter or cooking oil. Season with salt (or garlic salt to be extra fancy), and roast at 275 degrees till done.

  4. Make pumpkin cookies.
    Canned pumpkin is usually available on grocery store shelves, but when fresh pumpkin is available, it makes cookies that much better. Pumpkinpatchesandmore.org has a recipe for a light pumpkin cookie that you can dress with decorations or simply adding a splash of orange food coloring to the icing. It calls for freshly cooked pumpkin and has illustrated directions for how you can make this ingredient. And don't worry if you have some leftover, since you can freeze your pumpkin puree and use it later for more cookies or something else, like pumpkin pie or muffins.

  5. Pumpkin as a planter.
    The best pumpkin to use for a planter is one that's round and has a flat bottom. Get some flowering bedding plants and soil and you're ready to make your planter! Slice off the top of the pumpkin, then scoop out the innards with a garden trowel (or do it by hand and harvest the seeds). Fill the hollowed pumpkin half to two-thirds full of potting soil, then place the plants in the soil. Fill in any gaps and keep the plants watered. When the pumpkin starts to deteriorate, you can place it in your garden. The pumpkin will provide great nutrients to your garden and can help feed the squirrels.

Looking for your dream home where you can watch the leaves change every fall? Contact us today to start your home search.

August
30

Visit West Michigan With These Sights

Feeling like planning a trip? Look no further than these scenic West Michigan Destinations

The stunning beauty and culture of West Michigan makes it a popular destination for travelers all over the world. From its beautiful forests to its miles of beaches along Lake Michigan, it's truly one of the best places for outdoor activities. Our area is also filled with rich history, fine dining, and diverse culture. 

With so much to do, our real estate agents enjoy providing visitors with great recommendations for things to check-out while they're in the area. If you're planning a visit to West Michigan, make sure these five things are on your list:

  • Holland State Park - 2215 Ottawa Beach Rd, Holland, MI 49424
    This 142 acre West Michigan state park is actually one of Michigan's most popular. Holland State Park sits between Lake Michigan and Lake Macatawa, making it an ideal spot for swimming, sailing, kayaking, hiking, or simply relaxing on the park's sandy beaches. While you're there, make sure to get a picture of the famous "Big Red" lighthouse. If you enjoy your time at the park, there are some spectacular Holland homes for sale just down the road.

  • The Felt Mansion - 6597 138th Ave, Holland, MI 49423
    One of the most beautiful, historic homes in all of Michigan is found in Laketown Township. This 12,000+ square foot mansion has over 25 rooms across three floors. Built in 1925 by the Dorr Felt, The Felt Mansion has been a staple of West Michigan history for decades. Today, the mansion offers tours, hosts fun events, and is even a popular wedding venue.

  • Tanglewood Winery - 15811 Riley St, Holland, MI 49424
    Some of the finest, tastiest West Michigan wines can be enjoyed at the Tanglewood Winery in Holland. Stop by to enjoy a variety of farm-to-table fruit wines in a relaxing tasting room. If you love their products, you can even join Tanglewood's Wine Club which provides access to exclusively produced small batch wines. Tanglewood is a great local spot for a romantic date or to hang out with friends.

  • Nelis' Dutch Village - 12350 James St, Holland, MI 49424
    Take a step into Dutch History at Nelis' Dutch Village. This one-of-a-kind amusement park resembles an old Dutch village and celebrates the Netherlands' history. You'll find unique shops such a wooden shoe factory and a cheese making shop. There are also outdoor rides and tons of events for the kids. A trip to the Nelis' Dutch Village makes for a fun and educational weekend event.

  • Veldheer Tulip Gardens - 12755 Quincy St, Holland, MI 49424
    After you're done exploring Dutch history, top off the day with a visit to the beautiful Veldheer Tulip Gardens. With over 5 million tulips, it's one of the most beautiful attractions around. It's the perfect place to shop for beautiful perennials, or to simply take a walk around and enjoy the beautiful scenery. The most popular time to visit is late April through Mid-May; however, they also have a ten-acre perennial garden on display from June 1 through Mid-October. The garden features thousands of flowers set amongst traditional Dutch scenery such as windmills and canals.

West Michigan's beautiful scenery, Dutch influence, and rich history make it one of the most livable places in the mid-west. For more information on local activities, contact us today.

July
19

The Coast Guard Festival And Other Grand Haven Summer Events

Grand Haven is one of the best destinations to get out of the home and do something fun. Here are some events you can look forward to.

Our real estate agents love how much there is to do in Grand Haven. No matter what time of year it is, there's always a fun activity going on in the community. That's why we wanted to share some of the exciting things you can do this year. If you're planning on touring Grand Haven homes for sale, consider spending a day in the city for one of these summer events!

Grand Haven Coast Guard Festival
This is a tradition that dates all the way back to 1924. Then just a Coast Guard personnel picnic featuring rowing competitions, the festival has grown into the most exciting event in Grand Haven! Today's festival sees some top shows and performances on the waterfront stage: 2021's event boasts tribute performances of Michael Buble' and Bob Seger, the Grand City Skiers Ski Show, cardboard boat races, and more! There are also plenty of other events, many of which are free, like the Coast Guard Craft Show and Art Fair, Kids Day, Cruise In Car Show, and the Parade of Ships. If this is your first time visiting Grand Haven, get a sense of how great the community is by planning your trip around the Coast Guard Festival. You'll have a wonderful time, and you'll be supporting the heroic men and women who have made such an impact on Grand Haven. The festival starts July 30th and continues through August 8th.

Want to see more of Grand Haven? Here are some other ways you can experience the city:

  • Movies In The Park
    With showings planned throughout the rest of July and August, this is a fun event for the family that is completely free! Catch classics like Ferris Bueller's Day Off, Honey, I Shrunk The Kids, and other great films. Concession sales go towards Team Mabel's fight against cystic fibrosis, and you can learn more about their cause at the event.

  • Walk the Beat
    If you like music, Walk the Beat may be the event for you. This street music festival is one of the best ways to hear local musicians live. With a lineup of nearly 50 bands, there will be something for every generation of music fan. You can even vote for your favorite band — the winner receives free studio time. Show your local singers, guitarists, and keyboardists support by walking the beat this year on August 14th.

  • Art on the Riverfront
    This event held at the city marina showcases regional artists, where you can learn about their techniques firsthand and purchase some one-of-a-kind pieces you'd like to bring home. The August 21st event is a special way to see unique art and enjoy the Grand River.

Looking for more to do in Grand Haven and other West Michigan communities? Contact us today to start your home search.

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Disclaimer: All information deemed reliable but not guaranteed. All properties are subject to prior sale, change or withdrawal. Neither listing broker(s) or information provider(s) shall be responsible for any typographical errors, misinformation, misprints and shall be held totally harmless. Listing(s) information is provided for consumers personal, non-commercial use and may not be used for any purpose other than to identify prospective properties consumers may be interested in purchasing. Information on this site was last updated 11/26/2022. The listing information on this page last changed on 11/26/2022. The data relating to real estate for sale on this website comes in part from the Internet Data Exchange program of MichRic (Michigan Regional Information Center) (last updated Sat 11/26/2022 6:18:41 AM EST). Real estate listings held by brokerage firms other than Five Star Real Estate Lakeshore may be marked with the Internet Data Exchange logo and detailed information about those properties will include the name of the listing broker(s) when required by the MLS. All rights reserved. --

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