Judy Levin
March 2019
Leelanau County Specialist

Why You Should Just Say No to FSBO
There was a lively conversation on our neighborhood Nextdoor last week from someone who was listing his home for sale by owner (FSBO) and wanted to get the word out to neighbors but definitely did NOT want to attract the attention of real estate agents. He had a few choice words for agents around what he considered to be their unreasonable commission for "the easy job of sticking a sign outside.”
      Well there’s an oversimplification. While we await a follow-up sometime NEVER saying the home has been sold, without a Realtor and for asking price, we thought it was a good time to examine again why it’s not a good idea to try to sell your own home. It just so
Mortgage Rates
U.S. averages as of March 2019:

30 yr. fixed: 4.35%
15 yr. fixed: 4%
5/1 yr. adj: 4%

View current rates

so happens that the National Association of Realtors’ (NAR) 2018 Profile of Home Buyers and Sellers was just released, and their data further supports this claim.
Data from the report


Important Things To Know About Home Inspections
     If you're hiring someone to inspect the home you want to buy, or you're a seller trying to find out if there are any hidden problems that need fixing before you put your home on the market, here are five things you need to know:
      1. You can choose your home inspector. Your real estate professional can recommend an inspector, or you can find one on your own. Members of the National Association of Home Inspectors, Inc. (NAHI), must complete an approved home inspector training program, demonstrate experience and competence as a home inspector, complete a written exam, and adhere to the NAHI Standards of Practice and Code of Ethics.
      2. Home inspections are intended to point out adverse conditions, not cosmetic

An Alternative to Cash? Using Sweat Equity for Down Payments
     Down payment standing in your way of becoming a homeowner? Coming up with the cash is so yesterday. You may be able to use your sweat equity to get in the door, instead.
      The Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) just announced it will be awarding $10 million in sweat equity grants to nonprofit housing organizations through its Self-Help Homeownership Opportunity Program (SHOP). "The funds, combined with labor contributed by the homebuyers and volunteers, will lower the cost of homeownership for certain buyers,” said HousingWire. "According to HUD, through the program, homebuyers contribute ‘significant sweat equity’ toward the development of their housing units or the units of others participating in the local self-help housing programs.”
      Low-income homebuyers can work toward their down payment through activities including "landscaping, foundation work,


March 2019

Elmwood Township's Big Year: Marina, Hotel, Discovery Pier Projects Moving Forward
By Beth Milligan – The Ticker

Several multi-million dollar projects are set to move forward in Elmwood Township this year, including a long-planned redevelopment of Elmwood Township Marina, a new private marina and hotel on M-22, and the first major phase of improvements at the Rotary-owned Discovery Pier.

Township trustees Monday will vote to approve a site plan and building drawings for phases one and two of the Elmwood Township Marina renovation project, allowing the project to go out to bid this spring and construction to start in May. Phase one of the project calls for the construction of a new harbormaster building with public restrooms and storage, a new public fish-cleaning station, and improvements to the parking lot entrance and exit at the M-22 facility. Phase two will include completely repaving the parking lot and changing the traffic flow configuration at the marina. Construction on both phases is intended to occur simultaneously and will likely take until the end of the year to complete, according to Township Planner and Zoning Administrator Sara Kopriva.

“It should only cause very minor disruptions (for marina users),” Kopriva says. “It’ll still be open for (boat) launching, and people will still be able to use the slips. We are also not going to have any work being done over the Cherry Festival or Fourth of July.” Estimates in 2016 put the project total at roughly $2 million: $1.4 million for phase one and just over $600,000 for phase two. Elmwood Township has received nearly $950,000 in grant funding from the state Waterways Program for the project, and another $100,000 from the Great Lakes Fishery Trust for the fish-cleaning station. Elmwood Township will provide matching funds – which are already budgeted – for those grants to reach the project total, with numbers finalized once bids come in this spring. The third and final phase of the marina project – the construction of a new boater’s building with shower/restroom facilities and lounge, a potential concessions stand, and numerous landscaping and park upgrades – is estimated to cost $2.3 million and could break ground in 2021 if grant funding is secured, Kopriva says.

Just down the road, developers are expected to break ground on a new private marina and hotel this year. Developer and investor Pat Johnson – one of the partners on the project, planned for the former Scuba North property and a 300-foot waterfront parcel across the road – tells The Ticker the group is targeting a June opening for the marina. Plans call for constructing 28 new boat slips on the waterfront property, adding to 12 existing slips for a total 40-slip private facility called West Shore Marina.

Johnson will seek approval from township planning commissioners Tuesday to temporarily locate parking for the marina in a lot behind Dockside Party Store, with permanent parking eventually planned as part of the hotel project next door. “Everything is really progressing now,” he says. “We have Corps (U.S. Army Corps of Engineers) and DEQ (Michigan Department of Environmental Quality) approval, so the parking is the last thing.” Johnson says the group has a green light from the Michigan Department of Transportation (MDOT) to install a concrete pedestrian island in the middle of M-22 that will help marina users cross the busy road. A temporary version of such a crossing has already been deployed at nearby Discovery Pier. “Everything went perfectly with testing that…(MDOT) told us we are approved to use the same crossing at our site, but to build it in a permanent manner,” Johnson says.

While the development group’s permits for a planned neighboring 115-room hotel have expired, halting work on the project, Johnson says the delay is only temporary. Previous plans for the “condotel” called for the construction of all two-bedroom, two-bathroom suites with kitchen and laundry facilities. “Almost all of the units were exactly the same…we wanted to modify the plans to give it better variety,” Johnson says. “We’re thinking about some one-bedroom units, and also some larger four-bedroom suites. I think (the new plans) will be a vast improvement from what we had previously.”

Johnson says he hopes to finalize the new hotel configuration in the next 60 days, go back for township approval on the updated plans this spring, and break ground mid-summer. “We’d like to be open in the spring of 2020,” he says.

In the same vicinity, Rotary Camps & Services aims to begin work this fall on the first $2.5 million phase of a planned total $9 million project to overhaul Discovery Pier, the former Traverse City Light & Power coal dock property. Rotary recently received $2 million in state funding for the project and will work to raise another $500,000 for phase one, which calls for dredging the harbor, building a floating dock system, and installing a wave attenuator to protect against sedimentation build-up. The group is also seeking township approval to install an ADA-compliant boat lift/kayak launch at the pier. “We really want people to use that site and enjoy the docks and ships, making it wheelchair-friendly and open for folks that have reduced mobility,” says Rotary Executive Director Becky Ewing.

Future pier plans call for building a permanent tent event structure with an iconic design – what could become a “mini Sydney Opera house” in Traverse City, Ewing says – with seating, restrooms, and a kitchen facility. Rotary is also interested in using the pier, which has the region’s only deep-water port, as an offload point for cruise ships that visit Grand Traverse Bay. The group is in talks now with potential partners about creating shore excursion packages for cruise lines. The pier could also offer public water taxi service to Power Island, pier fishing access, and charter fishing excursions, in addition to docking the many tall ship and sailing organizations that are part of the overall Discovery Center Great Lakes complex.

Ewing also hints that big plans could be in store for the land-based section of the complex across the road on M-22. Rotary recently formed a new Discovery Center Great Lakes board tasked with creating a plan for the entire property; community members ranging from attorneys to event planners sit next to Rotarians on the board, the only time Rotary board seats have been open to the public since the organization ran the Park Place Hotel in the early 1990s. Rotary recently purchased the nearby Family Video property and is creating a shared workspace in that building for up to 24 individuals as an “environmental collaborative,” Ewing says. That building and a former coal storage lot could eventually allow private businesses to mix with nonprofits at the Discovery Center site. “We’re taking a fresh look at the whole property…which could include bringing in research or university institutions, government entities, and public and private groups to create this amazing freshwater hub,” Ewing says.

Pictured: Conceptual drawing of planned Discovery Pier improvements. Photo credit: Discovery Center Great Lakes.


Views from our winter get away.... The Sierra Madre Mountains Near Puerto Vallarta Mexico. Needed a break from Cold, Ice, and Snow....So Happy for My Husband Shel!!!

FEATURED PROPERTY OF THE MONTH Click Here to View the Full Listing and More Photos



11253 E Woodland Lane
Suttons Bay MLS 1852531 $239,000

A Click Here to View the Full Listing and More Photos



8699 S. Good Harbor Trail Cedar, Michigan 49621

231-228-2282 Mon.-Sat. 9AM to9:00PM Sunday 8:00AM to 8:00PM

This is a Breakfast, Lunch and Dinner Restaurant. There is a big breakfast selection. Egg Combos, pancakes, French toast, build your own omelets, plus lots of sides to choose from. Every Sunday from 8:00 to 12:30 they present a family style breakfast. Lunch is choice of 6 sandwiches, 3 burgers, 3 salads, homemade soups plus 3 lunch entrees if you are really hungry. Dinner is 6 entrees different than lunch. Don’t forget the kids’ menu. Check out their big selection of beer, regional wines and alcohol. Click Here to View their website


Slow-Cooker Spicy Chipotle Chicken Tortilla Soup


1 (28-oz.) can fire-roasted crushed tomatoes
1 (14-oz.) can black beans, drained/rinsed
1 red pepper, chopped
1 sweet onion, finely diced
4 cloves garlic, minced or grated
1-1/2 lbs. boneless/skinless chicken breast
4 cups chicken broth
1 tsp. ground cumin
1-1/2 tsp. chipotle chili powder
2 limes
1 tsp. salt, plus more to taste
1/2 tsp. pepper, plus more to taste
1/4 cup fresh cilantro, chopped, plus more for garnish
Cooking spray

Tortilla strips & toppings
6 corn tortillas, cut into strips
1 Tbsp. olive oil
1 avocado, chopped
1 lime, cut into wedges
1/2 cup Monterrey jack or sharp cheddar cheese, shredded
A few good pinches of salt and pepper

Directions Step One: Spray a 5- to 6-quart slow cooker with cooking spray. Add tomatoes, red pepper, onions, garlic, chicken broth, chicken, spices, salt and pepper. Juice limes into slow cooker, then toss in the rinds. Step Two: Cook soup, covered, on low-heat setting 4 to 6 hours or until chicken is tender and shreds easily. Step Three: Remove chicken and shred. (Tip: Use two forks.) Remove limes from slow cooker. Step Four: Place chicken back in slow cooker. Stir in black beans and cilantro. Cook another 15 minutes, covered. Step Five: When soup is almost finished, preheat oven to 375 degrees F. Cut tortillas into strips. Lightly grease baking sheet and arrange strips on sheet. Drizzle with olive oil and salt and pepper. Toss to coat strips and bake for 15-20 minutes, stirring every 10 minutes. Step Six: Ladle soup into bowls. Top with baked tortilla strips, cheese, diced avocado, fresh lime wedge and chopped cilantro.

Recipe from

Judy’s Movie Reviews


NY City architect Natalie works hard to get noticed but she is not getting the job assignments she dreamed of. She doesn’t think love will ever happen to her. A mugger knocks her out. She wakes up to discover that her life has become her worst nightmare…a romantic comedy and she is the leading lady. 3 out of 5 stars.


Click Here to View What is Coming Soon

The State Theater

Is back again as it is nominated for 7 Oscars.
Brad Cooper and Lady Gaga star. In my opinion this is the best of all of the 4 movies of A Star is Born. Cinematography, lighting, music and acting brilliant! Enjoy it 4.5 out of 5 stars

This celebration of Queen, their music and lead singer Freddie Mercury. It shows how they continue to inspire dreamers and music lovers. Subtitles for all the songs if you don’t have them memorized. 4 out of 5 stars

Bijou By the Bay

In Arabic with English subtitles
Best Documentary Oscar Nominee

This is a story about raising children into Jihadi fighters even though one of these two sons want to go to school. They love their father and obey his words and already have learned they must not cry. Very hard for me to appreciate the attitudes from this family and the father’s teaching. Interesting film so think this out carefully. 4 out of 5 stars




A man and his teenage daughter have lived off the grid for many years. When things fall apart social services gets involved, but they find their way back to their wild homeland. 4.5 out of 5 stars

Click Here to View What is Coming Soon


The Wings of Wonder story about the rescue of the bald eagle that was featured on the front page of the Record Eagle 2/19/19. It was so inspirational that I immediately accessed YouTube to view Ken Scott rescuing and the release videos releasing it back into the wild. I appreciated their hard work and dedication of Ken Scott and Wings of Wonder. The release ceremony was in the Suttons Bay School parking lot and was very meaningful with the GTB drumming in a tribute to the eagle and his passage back to his natural home. Please enjoy these videos.

Iced Eagle Rescue on Lake Michigan

Iced Eagle Rescue on Lake Michigan Released

Eagle Rescued from ice on Lake Michigan flies off after ordeal.

Click Here to access the METROPOLITIAN OPERA LIVE Website

Click Here to access the Traverse City Official Website

Click Here to access City Opera House Website

Click Here to access Interlochen Center For the Art Official Website

Click Here for the Leelanau Farmer Market Schedule

There are so many wonderful properties for you to buy in Leelanau County. You are never more than 5 miles from a body of water to look at and take a swim or a trip on your boat. Please call me or text me at

231-218-7653 from 8 am to 9pm. Of course, email me at

I look forward to assisting you with your goals and dreams.


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Financing a Home in a Rural Area? Here’s How

Judy Levin,CRS e-PRO
231- 218-7653
Coldwell Banker Schmidt
71 Fourth Street
Suttons Bay Michigan 49682

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