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10 Best-Kept Secrets for Buying a Home

Home Buying Tips | NM Ranches Real Estate Blog

Buying Secret #10: Keep Your Money Where It Is

It's not wise to make any huge purchases or move your money around three to six months before buying a new home. You don't want to take any big chances with your credit profile. Lenders need to see that you're reliable and they want a complete paper trail so that they can get you the best loan possible. If you open new credit cards, amass too much debt or buy a lot of big-ticket items, you're going to have a hard time getting a loan.

Buying Secret #9: Get Pre-Approved for Your Home Loan

There's a big difference between a buyer being pre-qualified and a buyer who has a pre-approved mortgage. Anybody can get pre-qualified for a loan. Getting pre-approved means a lender has looked at all of your financial information and they've let you know how much you can afford and how much they will lend you. Being pre-approved will save you a lot of time and energy so you are not running around looking at houses you can't afford. It also gives you the opportunity to shop around for the best deal and the best interest rates. Do your research: Learn about junk fees, processing fees, or points, and make sure there aren't any hidden costs in the loan.

Buying Secret #8: Avoid a Border Dispute

It's absolutely essential to get a survey done on your property so you know exactly what you're buying. Knowing precisely where your property lines are may save you from a potential dispute with your neighbors. Also, your property tax is likely based on how much property you have, so it is best to have an accurate map drawn up.

Buying Secret # 7: Don't Try to Time the Market

Don't obsess with trying to time the market and figure out when is the best time to buy. Trying to anticipate the housing market is impossible. The best time to buy is when you find your perfect house and you can afford it. Real estate is cyclical, it goes up and it goes down and it goes back up again. So, if you try to wait for the perfect time, you're probably going to miss out.

Buying Secret # 6: Bigger Isn't Always Better

Everyone's drawn to the biggest, most beautiful house on the block. But bigger is usually not better when it comes to houses. There's an old adage in real estate that says don't buy the biggest, best house on the block. The largest house only appeals to a very small audience and you never want to limit potential buyers when you go to re-sell. Your home is only going to go up in value as much as the other houses around you. If you pay $500,000 for a home and your neighbors pay $250,000 to $300,000, your appreciation is going to be limited. Sometimes it is best to is buy the worst house on the block, because the worst house per square foot always trades for more than the biggest house.

Buying Secret #5: Avoid Sleeper Costs

The difference between renting and homeownership is the sleeper costs. Most people just focus on their mortgage payment, but they also need to be aware of the other expenses such as property taxes, utilities, and homeowner-association dues. New homeowners also need to be prepared to pay for repairs, maintenance, and potential property-tax increases. Make sure you budget for sleeper costs so you'll be covered and won't risk losing your house.

Buying Secret #4: You're Buying a House – Not Dating It

Buying a house based on emotions is just going to break your heart. If you fall in love with something, you might end up making some pretty bad financial decisions. There's a big difference between your emotions and your instincts. Going with your instincts means that you recognize that you're getting a great house for a good value. Going with your emotions is being obsessed with the paint color or the backyard. It's an investment, so stay calm and be wise.

Buying Secret #3: Give Your House a Physical

Would you buy a car without checking under the hood? Of course, you wouldn't. Hire a home inspector. It'll cost about $200 but could end up saving you thousands. A home inspector's sole responsibility is to provide you with information so that you can make a decision as to whether or not to buy. It's really the only way to get an unbiased third-party opinion. If the inspector does find any issues with the home, you can use it as a bargaining tool for lowering the price of the home. It's better to spend the money upfront on an inspector than to find out later you have to spend a fortune.

Buying Secret #2: The Secret Science of Bidding

Your opening bid should be based on two things: what you can afford (because you don't want to outbid yourself), and what you really believe the property is worth. Make your opening bid something that's fair and reasonable and isn't going to totally offend the seller. A lot of people think they should go lower the first time they make a bid. It all depends on what the market is doing at the time. You need to look at what other homes have gone for in that neighborhood and you want to get an average price per square foot. Sizing up a house on a price-per-square-foot basis is a great equalizer. Also, see if the neighbors have plans to put up a new addition or a basketball court or tennis court, something that might detract from the property's value down the road.

Today, so many sellers are behind in their property taxes and if you have that valuable information it gives you a great card to negotiate a good deal. To find out, go to the county clerk's office.

Sellers respect a bid that is an oddball number and is more likely to take it more seriously. A nice round number sounds like every other bid out there. When you get more specific the sellers will think you've given the offer careful thought.

Buying Secret #1: Stalk the Neighborhood

Before you buy, get the lay of the land – drop by morning noon, and night. Many homebuyers have become completely distraught because they thought they found the perfect home, only to find out the neighborhood wasn't for them. Drive by the house at all hours of the day to see what's happening in the neighborhood. Do your regular commute from the house to make sure it is something you can deal with on a daily basis. Find out how far it is to the nearest grocery store and other services. Even if you don't have kids, research the schools because it affects the value of your home in a very big way. If you buy a house in a good school district versus a bad school district even in the same town, the value can be affected as much as 20 percent.


Holland Junior Welfare League (HJWL) is a local non-profit, charitable organization managed by a group of dedicated women who volunteer their time and talents to raise money and perform service projects for children in the greater area of Holland, Michigan. The organization's mission is "to enrich the lives of children" in the greater Holland area and extended surrounding communities: Zeeland, West Olive, Grand Haven, and Hudsonville.

The Need to Impact Children of Local Communities

West Michigan has been considered thriving as one of the best places in Michigan and the U.S. to raise a family, yet there is still a portion of our community that struggle. Over the past 10 years, The State and Federal government has cut funding for social programs aimed towards developing kids by 10%, even though social programs have proved to be successful and beneficial for communities over time.

With limited access to programs for help, it is more so up to communities to recognize the needs of their community and help fill the gaps. This is where HJWL helps.

For 88 years, HJWL has maintained a proud history of partnering with dozens of local agencies and community groups with similar philanthropic goals: to support the needs of children in the community, to supply tools and resources for children that will foster growth, and ultimately,  provide in a way that will directly impact the life of a child and help them succeed in all areas of life. 

See Impact for a list of organizations HJWL supports.


What Credit Score Do You Need to Buy a House in 2021?

Credit scores can be a confusing topic for even the most financially savvy consumers. Most people understand that a good credit score boosts your chances of qualifying for a mortgage because it shows the lender you're likely to repay your loan on time.

But do you know the minimum credit score you need to qualify for a mortgage and buy a house? And did you know that this minimum will vary depending on what type of mortgage you are seeking?

The Importance Of FICO®: One of the most common scores used by mortgage lenders to determine credit worthiness is the FICO® Score (created by the Fair Isaac Corporation). FICO® Scores help lenders calculate the interest rates and fees you'll pay to get your mortgage.

While your FICO® Score plays a big role in the mortgage process, lenders do look at several factors, including your income, property type, assets and debt levels, to determine whether to approve you for a loan. Because of this, there isn't an exact credit score you need to qualify.

However, the following guidelines can help determine if you're on the right track.

Minimum Credit Score By Mortgage Loan Type

The minimum credit score you need to qualify for a mortgage in 2021 depends on the type of mortgage you're trying to obtain. Scores differ whether you're applying for a loan insured by the Federal Housing Administration, better known as an FHA loan; one insured by the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs, known as a VA loan; or a conventional mortgage loan from a private lender:

Type of loan

Minimum FICO® Score



FHA loan requiring 3.5% down payment


FHA loan requiring 10% down payment

500 - Quicken Loans® requires a minimum score of 580 for an FHA loan.

VA loan



Conventional Mortgages

Conventional mortgages are home loans that follow the standards set by Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac. They're uninsured by any government agency.

If your credit score is solid – most lenders consider FICO® Scores of 740 or higher to be excellent ones – you'll usually be able to qualify for a conventional loan with a low down payment requirement and low-interest rate.

Conventional loans are typically best for those with good or excellent credit, as these loans require a higher credit score than an FHA loan.

These loans tend to offer the most competitive interest rates and flexible repayment periods, such as 15- and 30-year mortgage terms.

Minimum Credit Score Needed: At Quicken Loans, your credit score for a conventional loan must be 620 or higher. Various lenders have different requirements and may require a different score.

FHA Loans

FHA loans are insured by the Federal Housing Administration, making them less risky for lenders and, because of this, easier to qualify for than conventional loans.

They offer down payments as low as 3.5% and low-equity refinances, which allow you to refinance up to 97.75% of your home's value.

FHA loans can benefit borrowers with lower credit scores or those who spend a significant portion of their income on housing. Current homeowners who are underwater on their mortgage – and could lower their monthly payment by refinancing – may also benefit from an FHA loan.

Minimum Credit Score Needed: You'll need a minimum credit score of 580 to qualify for an FHA loan that requires a down payment of just 3.5%. There is no minimum FICO® Score, though, to qualify for an FHA loan that requires a down payment of 10% or more.

However, FHA loans are originated by private lenders, and these lenders will usually have their own minimum credit score requirements. For instance, the minimum FICO® Score for an FHA loan through Quicken Loans is 580.

For a standard FHA loan, a minimum of one credit score is required to qualify. If your lender obtains all three of your credit scores, it will use the middle score for consideration. If you apply for a mortgage with your spouse, lenders will use the lower of the two middle credit scores.

VA Loans

If you meet the requirements, a VA loan, insured by the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs, can be a smart financial move. That's because these loans don't require any down payment at all. They're also available to borrowers with lower credit scores.

The difficult part is meeting those eligibility requirements:

  • You must be an eligible member or veteran of the U.S. Military or a member or veteran of the U.S. Military Reserves or National Guard.
  • Spouses of military members who died while on activity duty or because of a service-related disability can also apply for one of these loans.

You won't be charged for private mortgage insurance when taking out a VA loan, another benefit of these products.

VA loans, though, do charge a one-time funding fee. This fee varies depending on your down payment and the type of military service you logged. For instance, if you are a member or veteran of the U.S. military and don't put up any down payment, your upfront fee will be 2.3% of your loan amount in 2020.

Minimum credit score needed: Quicken Loans requires that borrowers applying for VA loans have a minimum FICO® Score of 580.

What Factors Go Into A Credit Score?

It's important to know your credit score and understand what affects it before you begin the mortgage process. Once you understand this information, you can begin to positively impact your credit score or maintain it so you can give yourself the best chance of qualifying for a mortgage.

While exact scoring models may vary by lender, some variation of the standard FICO® Score is often used as a base. FICO® takes different variables on your credit reports, such as those listed below, from the three major credit bureaus (Equifax®, Experian™and TransUnion®) to compile your score. FICO® Scores range from 300 –850.

From this information, they compile a score based on the following factors:

  • Payment history (35%)
  • Amount owed (30%)
  • Length of credit history (15%)
  • Types of credit (10%)
  • New credit (10%)


What Else Do Mortgage Lenders Consider?

Your credit score is a key factor in determining whether you qualify for a mortgage. But it's not the only one lenders consider.

Income: Lenders will also look at your income. They want to make sure you make enough money each month to afford your payments.

Debt-To-Income Ratio: Lenders also look at your monthly debts. Lenders vary, but they generally want your total monthly debts, including your estimated new mortgage payment, to consume no more than 43% of your gross monthly income. If your debt-to-income ratio is higher, you might struggle to qualify for a mortgage.

Down Payment: The bigger your down payment, the more likely it is that you'll qualify for a mortgage with a lower interest rate. That's because lenders think you are less likely to stop making your payments if you've already invested a significant amount of your money into your loan. A higher down payment, then, makes your loan less risky for lenders.

Savings: Lenders want to make sure that you have funds available to make your mortgage payment if your income should unexpectedly dry up. Because of this, most will want to see that you have enough money saved to cover at least two months of mortgage payments.

Employment History: Lenders vary, but they usually like to see that you've worked at the same job, or at least in the same industry, for at least 2 years. They believe you're less likely to lose that job, and that stream of income, if you've built up a longer work history.

Can You Get A Home Loan With Bad Credit?

It's possible to qualify for a mortgage even if your credit score is low. It's more difficult, though. A low credit score shows lenders that you may have a history of running up debt or missing your monthly payments. This makes you a riskier borrower.

To help offset this risk, lenders will typically charge borrowers with bad credit higher interest rates. They might also require that such borrowers come up with larger down payments.

If your credit is bad, be prepared for these financial hits. You can qualify for a mortgage, you'll just have to pay more for it.

What's The Best Way To Improve Your Credit?

Fortunately, it's possible to boost your credit score. Be aware, though, that there are no quick fixes. It takes time to improve an ailing credit score.

Quicker Fixes

Check Your Credit Report For Errors: You can order one copy of each of your three credit reports – maintained by Experian, Equifax and TransUnion – each year from

Once you get these reports, check them for errors. Maybe one of the bureaus says you forgot to make a car payment last year. If that's a mistake, contact the bureau and correct it. Erasing such an error could immediately boost your credit score.

A great way to stay on top of your credit score is through Rocket HQSM. Create an account for free and review your free TransUnion credit report and track your VantageScore® 3.0 credit score and how you can improve it if necessary.

Become An Authorized User: A family member could help you boost your credit score by adding you as an authorized user on an existing credit card account.

When you're an authorized user, you'll get your own credit card – linked to your family member's account – that you can then use. Whenever you or the account's primary user makes a payment, your score will gradually improve.

Don't run up debt on this card, though. If you do, you could hurt the primary user's credit score.

Longer-Term Fixes

Pay Your Bills On Time: Paying your bills on time each month is the surest way to improve your credit score.

Making certain payments late – credit card, mortgage loan, auto loan, student loan, personal loan – could cause your credit score to fall by 100 points or more. (A payment is officially considered late and reported to the credit bureaus if you pay more than 30 days past the due date.)

Making payments on time each month will cause your FICO®Score to gradually rise.

Pay Down Your Credit Card Debt: Paying down your credit card debt is another way to steadily improve your score. Don't, though, cancel a credit card account once you pay it off. Doing this could automatically increase your credit utilization ratio and cause your score to fall.

Being aware of your credit score can help your dream of homeownership become a reality.


6 Tips to Sell Your Home Fast

Should You Sell Your Home During the Coronavirus Pandemic? | Time

How to generate interest in your house

If you're ready to sell your home, you may have reason to want to sell it fast—such as a new job that starts soon in a different city. How do you generate interest in your house? After all, the more potential buyers you can attract, the better your chances of selling at a good price.


  • To sell your home quickly, price it competitively. And be ready to lower the price if you don't have any offers by a certain date.
  • Clean the whole house, remove clutter, and hide personal items so buyers can picture themselves in the space.
  • Boost the curb appeal to make the right first impression. Clear away the cobwebs, paint the front door, and plant flowers.
  • Offer terms that might sweeten the deal for buyers—such as paying part of the closing costs.

1. Find the Right Real Estate Agent

If you want to sell your home fast, then the first step is to hire a real estate agent. The ideal person will know the local market and have a sales record that proves they know how to sell.

2. Price It to Sell

One of the most effective ways to sell your home fast is to price it competitively. If you price it too high, then your home will spend more time on the market. Also, if your home is overpriced, then you may end up selling it for less eventually—it will just take a lot longer.

Your real estate agent (or Realtor) will research comparable homes (aka "comps") in your area to set a realistic price. If you really need to sell fast, then consider pricing your home a little lower to attract interest (and maybe even spark a bidding war). If you haven't received any offers by a certain date, knock the price down.

It's also helpful to think about the price points that buyers search for in your area. If you list your home for $302,000, for example, then you'll miss all the potential buyers who are looking for homes under $300,000. It's probably not worth asking for the extra $2,000 if it means fewer buyers will see the home.

3. Clean, Declutter, and Depersonalize

Buyers need to be able to picture themselves in the space, but they won't be able to if your house is a mess. Give your home a thorough cleaning from top to bottom, get rid of clutter, and hide the family photos and other personal items.

While you're at it, rearrange the furniture so your home looks inviting and so buyers can move through your home without bumping into anything. If necessary, put bulky items in storage. A crowded room looks like a small room.

Consider hiring a stager to help you showcase your home's best assets, impress potential buyers, and sell it quickly for the best possible price. Staging isn't cheap, but the National Association of Realtors (NAR) estimates that, on average, staged homes sell 88% faster and for 20% more than non-staged homes.1

4. Boost Your Curb Appeal

If you want to sell quickly, then it's essential to make a good first impression. And the first thing a buyer sees is a home's exterior and how it fits into the surrounding neighborhood. To boost your home's curb appeal:

  • Paint the front door
  • Plant flowers
  • Sweep away any spiderwebs and debris from windows, eaves, and porches
  • Wash the windows
  • Fix broken light fixtures and mailboxes
  • Make sure the trees, shrubs, and lawn are nicely manicured

Keep in mind that a tidy exterior not only looks nice but also signals to potential buyers that you've taken good care of the place.

5. Take Care of Quick Repairs

You won't have time for any major renovations, so focus on quick repairs to address things that could deter potential buyers. Survey the house and take care of the easy fixes:

  • Fix loose tiles
  • Tighten leaky faucets
  • Touch up paint
  • Tighten door knobs and handles
  • Remove carpet stains

Depending on how much time and money you want to spend getting the home ready, you might also want to update fixtures, buy new appliances, install new hardware on the cabinets, and give the interior a fresh coat of (neutral) paint.

6. Sweeten the Deal

Another way to make the home and deal more attractive is to offer something to sweeten the pot. You could offer, for example, to pay some or all of the closing costs. Buyers are looking for a deal, particularly in a down market, so do your best to make them feel that they get one.

Another tip is to offer a transferable home warranty, which provides discounted repair and replacement services for household appliances and systems. A potential buyer may feel more at ease knowing that the home is protected, which could make your home more attractive than a competing home.

The Bottom Line

Selling a home can be stressful—even more so if you're on a tight deadline. Fortunately, whether you need to sell fast because of a new job, a life event (e.g., a divorce), or financial reasons, there are ways to speed up the process.

If you don't have a big budget to get your home sell-ready, then focus on that first impression. Buyers can make a decision within seconds—a few from the curb, and a few when they step inside the front door. Make those seconds count with a tidy yard, a sparkling home, and if you can swing it, a fresh coat of paint.


National Ice Cream Day – July 18, 2021

Thanks to President Reagan, we celebrate National Ice Cream Day every third Sunday in July, meaning July 18 this year. Reagan wanted to commemorate a treat enjoyed by over 90 percent of the US population. In 1984, he decreed a day for ice cream, and his proclamation actually glorified the dairy industry in America. In fact, Americans still lead the world when it comes to eating this frozen delight: 23 gallons a year to be precise. Reagan also proclaimed July as National Ice Cream month, describing ice cream as ''a nutritious and wholesome food enjoyed by over ninety percent of the people in the United States.'' Since then, the holiday has sparked worldwide cravings and is traditionally celebrated year after year. Standing in the frozen food aisle trying desperately to make a choice? Or brainstorming how to celebrate this fabulous day? Well, look no further. Inspiration has arrived.


I scream, you scream, we all scream for ice cream on National Ice Cream Day on July 18.


There's no known inventor that can be credited with creating ice cream, unfortunately. But the history of ice cream is as rich as gelato. It's been said that ice cream-like food was first consumed in China sometime between 618-97 AD. The first dish was made from flour, buffalo milk, and camphor, an organic compound commonly used in lotion. It's also been noted that Alexander the Great adored ice and snow flavored with nectar and honey.

We've also identified that the Bible indicates that King Solomon enjoyed iced drinks during the harvest season. Speaking of homemade, during the Roman Empire, Caesar would send people to gather snow from the mountains, just to cover it in fruit and juices.

Close to a thousand years later in Italy, Marco Polo had returned from the Far East and bought back a recipe for what we now know as sherbet. It is assumed that this recipe developed into what we now know as ice cream which was once called ''Cream Ice.' It was in 1660 that the general public was presented with ice cream. An Italian man named Francesco Procopio Dei Coltelli decided to perfect a machine made by his fisherman grandfather which produced top-quality gelato in his cafe. The recipe blended milk, butter, eggs, and cream and was sold in Paris.

The first mention of ice cream in the United States derives from a letter written in Maryland in 1744 by Governor William Bladen's guest. Then, the New York Gazette on May 12, 1777, printed the first advert for ice cream in the United States. Following the American Revolution, ice cream became super popular in the US.

Since then ice cream has exploded onto the desert scene with the creation of home machines, as well as the emergence of ice cream vans, ice cream floats, sundaes, and well-known brands like ''Ben and Jerry's'' and ''Haagen-Dazs'' that we still consume to this day. The effect of ice cream on society is so great, that the brain of an ice cream lover has been likened to that of an addict. When the brain wants ice cream, it reacts like a passionate fanatic.


Royal Ice - 400BC

Persians invent an ice cream recipe for their royal families made from saffron, iced rose water, vermicelli, and fruit.

Getting Served - 1744

Colonists from Scotland bring an ice cream recipe to North America.

Soft for Ice Cream - 1939

American mass production of ice cream is accomplished to boost the morale of allied troops in Europe, popularizing the lovable dish all over the world.

Anything is Popsicle - 1970

The production of pre-packaged ice cream is flourishing in supermarkets and ice cream parlors.


1851 – the year when commercial ice cream production started in Boston, U.S.A.

48 pints – the amount of ice cream consumed by the average person in the U.S. every year.

90% – the percentage of households in America that consume ice cream.

24 tons – the weight of the biggest ice-cream sundae made in Alberta, Canada.

250 years – the time it took for the recipe for ice cream to come to North America.

1904 – the year when ice cream cones were invented.

9000 – the gallons of ice cream that can be made by the milk produced by a cow in its lifetime.

$500 million  Food Marketing experts predict that we'll be spending half a billion on organic ice cream by 2024.

12,096 pounds – the weight of the world's largest ice cream cake. 

50 – the average number of licks it takes to finish one ice cream.

3 – the number of levers on a standard ice cream machine.


  1. Get it on sale

    If you want to partake in this awesome day, many stores and ice cream parlors are having great sales and special deals online and in-store to commemorate this day. Buy extra just because you have the sweetest excuse!

  2. Make your own

    Ever tried to make ice cream at home before? Well, this is your chance. Homemade ice cream is simple yet rewarding. You can jazz it up by adding bits of your favorite fruit, chocolate, or even classic cookie dough. If you're tired of the usual vanilla and strawberry flavors, get creative and taste test to your heart's desire.

  3. Create an ice cream bowl

    Just like that favorite mug, you have in the kitchen, why not immortalize your love for ice cream on this day and make an ice cream bowl. Simply head on over to your local ceramics store and create your own bowl so you can gobble some ice cream on this day and always.



  1. It was used as a greeting

    Because of its lush taste, ice cream was used as a greeting when immigrants arrived on Ellis Island.

  2. Thomas Jefferson loved it

    Thomas Jefferson was an ice cream fanatic and the Library of Congress collected his original handwritten recipe for vanilla ice cream.

  3. How dairy?

    It is said that nine percent of all the milk produced in the US is actually used for making ice cream.

  4. Vanilla takes it all

    In the United States Vanilla is the most popular ice cream flavor, with 29% of total sales.

  5. Long Beach eats it the most

    Compared to all other cities, most ice cream is consumed in Long Beach, California.


  1. Choice

    Cookie Dough. Vanilla bean. Mint chocolate chip. There are multiple flavors to choose from to satisfy your national ice cream day cravings.

  2. I have an ice cream

    Ice cream is the textbook dessert for all seasons. You can cool down in the summer with a scoop of your favorite flavor, or enjoy it in the winter accompanied by a warm cake or pie. You can also whiz it in a blender and make a milkshake. No matter the season, does ice cream ever disappoint?

  3. A lick of a pint

    Though some ice cream comes in half-gallon cartons, for some reason we still crave the pint. Why? It's just the perfect size when you want to eat out of the container and watch a movie.


Year Date Day
2021 July 18 Sunday
2022 July 17 Sunday
2023 July 16 Sunday
2024 July 21 Sunday
2025 July 20 Sunday


Get it on sale.

If you want to partake in this awesome day, many stores and ice cream parlors are having great sales and special deals online and in-store to commemorate this day. Buy extra just because you have the sweetest excuse!

Make your own. 

Ever tried to make ice cream at home before? Well, this is your chance. Homemade ice cream is simple yet rewarding. You can jazz it up by adding bits of your favorite fruit, chocolate, or even classic cookie dough. If you're tired of the usual vanilla and strawberry flavors, get creative and taste test to your heart's desire.

Create an ice cream bowl.

Just like that favorite mug, you have in the kitchen, why not immortalize your love for ice cream on this day and make an ice cream bowl. Simply head on over to your local ceramics store and create your own bowl so you can gobble some ice cream on this day and always. 


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!

Click Here to


Boatwerks Waterfront Restaurant

216 Van Raalte Avenue
Holland, MI 49423
Phone: 616-396-0600

  • Beer/Wine Available
  • Catering Available
  • Cocktails Available
  • Kids' Menu
  • Live Music Select Nights
  • Open Sunday
  • Outdoor Seating
  • Private Room
  • Waterfront
  • Waterfront
  • WiFi
  • Group Capacity
  • Group-Friendly

No matter what you're in the mood for, downtown dining in Holland, Michigan will serve up the perfect meal. We have a tempting array of restaurants, from fine dining in a Bavarian restaurant to casual dining in an Irish pub. Enjoy your meal atop a contemporary hotel with great views of the city, or in a booth at a classic American diner. Kick back on a huge deck along Lake Macatawa, or cozy up to the bar in a microbrewery.

And the food! Downtown Holland restaurants serve up an eclectic mix of tempting cuisine. One features an appetizer and entrée special from a different country every month. Another has a soup bar that always features their signature Chicken Corn Chowder. Two restaurants are so dedicated to pairing wine with food that they each received Wine Spectator's Award of Excellence. And another whose chef serves up such superb cuisine, she's been honored by the National Restaurant Association. 

Besides the bistros, pubs, grills, and restaurants, downtown Holland features cafés and shops that cater to smaller and sweeter appetites as well. We have ice cream, fudge, and candy shops; coffee café's and bagel bakeries; hot dog, hamburger, and pizza joints; and salad/sandwich shops. Grab a freshly ground burger and top it off with a hand-dipped ice cream bar. Complete your meal of spaghetti pie with a slice of rhubarb raspberry pie. Be good with a fresh veggie sandwich and then go nuts with a hot fudge cider doughnut sundae.

With all this food, you'll need something to wash it down. Our restaurants feature full bars — one that serves spirits distilled in its own distillery — as well as excellent wine lists and beer selections. Downtown also features several microbreweries and lounges. And you can enjoy such non-alcoholic delicacies as a Rock Shandy, Hot Caramel Apple cider, and a Milky Way Latte Smoothie.

So if you're thinking of dining in Holland, Michigan, head downtown for a great meal, the perfect atmosphere, and the friendliest of service.


8 First-Time Home Buyer Loans and Programs

8 First-Time Home Buyer Loans and Programs

Buying a home is so hard, they should make it an Olympic event. It's not just the paperwork; it's the terminology, the fees, and the number of people involved. It's natural to want to agree to whatever, sign everything and just get through the process as fast as you can.

While that may make you a medalist in downhill skiing, it won't earn you many style points in life's uphill battle to financial well-being.

Summary: First-time home buyer loans and programs

Here are some of the most useful first-time home buyer loans and programs that you might overlook if you rush the process. They may score you some big savings.

  1. FHA loan: The go-to loan program for buyers with weaker credit.

  2. VA loan: No down payment loans for borrowers with a military connection.

  3. USDA loan: 100% financing on rural properties.

  4. Fannie and Freddie: Conventional loans with just 3% down.

  5. State first-time homebuyer program: Assistance specifically for residents.

  6. Home renovation loan: Buy a home and remodel it with one loan.

  7. Good Neighbor Next Door: Home price discounts for first responders and educators.

  8. Dollar Homes: Foreclosed homes for sale by the government.

    FHA loan

    This is the go-to program for many Americans, especially first-time home buyers and those who have a credit history that's ... let's say shaky. The Federal Housing Administration guarantees a portion of FHA home loans, which frees lenders to broaden their acceptance standards. With FHA backing, borrowers can qualify for loans with as little as 3.5% down.

    FHA loans do have an upfront and ongoing additional cost built-in: mortgage insurance premiums. This protects the lender's stake in the loan if you default.

    VA loan

    The U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs helps service members, veterans, and surviving spouses buy homes. VA loans are especially generous, often requiring no down payment or mortgage insurance. But like a lot of military operations, the approval track is built for accuracy, not speed.

    While the VA has only a few requirements for things like debt and sufficient income, VA lenders may add their own "overlays," or additional requirements.

    USDA loan

    This one may surprise you. The U.S. Department of Agriculture has a homebuyers assistance program. And no, you don't have to live on a farm. The program targets rural areas and allows 100% financing by offering lenders mortgage guarantees. There are income limitations, which vary by region.

    Fannie and Freddie

    They sound like classic '70s rock bands, but Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac are the engines behind the home loan machine. These government-sanctioned companies work with local mortgage lenders to offer some appealing options on conventional loans, such as 3% down payments.

    State first-time homebuyer programs

    In addition to these national programs, many state and local governments offer assistance to home buyers. Browse NerdWallet's list of state first-time home buyer programs to learn more.




Holland is a medium-sized city located in the state of Michigan. With a population of 33,216 people and 18 constituent neighborhoods, Holland is the 40th largest community in Michigan.


World Chocolate Day - July 7


Every year on July 7th, World Chocolate Day allows chocolate lovers around the world to indulge in their favorite treat without any guilt. The day also celebrates all kinds of goodies made from chocolate, including chocolate milk, hot chocolate, chocolate candy bar, chocolate cake, brownies, or anything covered in chocolate.

Chocolate comes from the seed of the tropical Theobroma cacao tree. Cacao has been cultivated for at least three millennia and grows in Mexico, Central America, and Northern South America. The earliest known documentation of using cacao seeds is from around 1100 BC.

Since cacao tree seeds have a very intense, bitter taste, they must be fermented to develop the flavor. Once fermented, processors dry, clean and roast the beans. After roasting, the shell is removed to produce cacao nibs.

The cacao nibs are then ground into cocoa mass, which is pure chocolate in rough form. The cocoa mass is usually liquefied, then molded with or without other ingredients. At this point in the process, it is called chocolate liquor. The chocolate liquor gets processed into two components: cocoa solids and cocoa butter.

Most Common Types of Chocolate
  • Unsweetened baking chocolate – cocoa solids and cocoa butter in varying proportions.
  • Sweet chocolate – cocoa solids, cocoa butter or other fat and sugar.
  • Milk chocolate – sweet chocolate with milk powder or condensed milk.
  • White chocolate – cocoa butter, sugar, and milk but no cocoa solids.

Most people love chocolate. In fact, nine out of ten people love chocolate. About 1 billion people eat chocolate every day. Besides the fact it tastes so good, there are some health benefits of chocolate. Chocolate increases serotonin and dopamine levels, which helps to boost the mood. Dark chocolate can also be especially good for you. Dark chocolate is a powerful source of antioxidants, plus it helps to improve blood flow, lower blood pressure, and reduce the risk of heart disease.

HOW TO OBSERVE #WorldChocolateDay

Celebrate by eating chocolate! Other ways to participate include:

  • Visit your favorite restaurant and indulge in a delicious chocolate dessert.
  • Host a chocolate tasting party and invite friends to bring their best chocolate recipes to share.
  • Learn about chocolates from around the world.
  • Read your kids a book about chocolate, like Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, Candy's Chocolate Kingdom, or The Chocolate Touch.

Be sure to post photos of your favorite chocolate treat on social media using #WorldChocolateDay.


It's unclear who came up with this yummy food day. However, the day is celebrated on July 7th because it was on this date in 1550 that chocolate was first brought to Europe. The first World Chocolate Day was celebrated in 2009.


Local Spray parks & Wading Pools

Splash Pad (Downtown Holland)

99 East 8th Street

Holland, MI 49423

Privately owned, the Splash Pad is located on Eighth Street next to the Courtyard by Marriott Hotel that is currently under construction. This urban beach operates during the summer season, daily from 10:00 am to 10:00 pm for your aquatic entertainment and enjoyment.

Zeeland Splash Pad Park

S Elm St, Zeeland, MI 49464

Monday-Saturday 9AM - 9PM

Sunday 12PM - 9PM

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