Safe 4th of July Firework Celebrations to Attend

There is no doubt that this 4th of July is going to look different this year due to the pandemic and social distancing, but that doesn’t mean we still can’t celebrate the fourth of July!!

Most cities have canceled their firework displays but if it’s not the fourth for you without some fireworks than you’re in luck! We’ve compiled a list of cities around Michigan and Northern Indiana that have decided to keep their firework displays but with modifications to make sure people are maintaining social distancing and keeping each other safe.

Saturday, July 4, 2020

Michigan:

Lake Orion Fireworks– Fireworks will be launched from the east side of Lake Orion near M-24 at dusk.

Mackinaw City- will have its fireworks on July 4th at 10 pm.

St. Ignace– is still scheduled to have its fireworks festival. The St. Ignace Chamber of Commerce also has a parade listed to happen to start at 6 pm right before the fireworks.

Sault Ste. Marie- on the tip of the U.P. will be having its fireworks show on July 4th. The annual parade has been cancelled.

Silver Lake Sand Dunes near Mears– on Michigan’s west side will have its “Thunder Over The Dunes” starting at 10 pm on July 4th.

Dorr Township- The Dorr Township Festival will be held July 2- July and their annual parade July 4 at 10:30 a.m.; fireworks at dusk with social distancing rules.

Kalamazoo- Galesburg Speedway will be having racing and fireworks July 4 (tickets required)

Northern Indiana:

Fort Wayne- Fireworks will shoot off the top of the Indiana Michigan Power Center in downtown at 10pm

Wabash- Fireworks will start at Dusk at the Field of Dreams


Fair Housing Makes Us #strongertogether

As real estate agents, we have a calling to help support our communities and families in a number of ways. There is a Code of Ethics that each of our Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices Michigan Real Estate, Northern Indiana Real Estate, Tomie Raines REALTORS® and Executive Realty agents takes very seriously. And in that code of ethics, there is special attention to the importance of “widely allocated ownership” and “wise utilization” of the land.

In other words, it is our duty to be the stewards for fair and equitable housing for anyone in our communities.

Traditionally, April is Fair Housing Month, but, as we know, 2020 has not been a normal year. Fair housing is always important, so we are taking time now to showcase and spotlight this issue, and how real estate professionals are taking steps to insure everyone can achieve that American dream of homeownership without hinderance or difficulty.

What is Fair Housing?

Fair Housing is defined as the “right to equitable access to housing and housing services including renting, selling, buying advertising, financing, insuring or appraising.”  In the U.S., fair housing is enforced through Federal law established in 1968 called the Fair Housing Act. Brought on by significant civil rights efforts and initiatives, like the Civil Rights Act and the assassination of Martin Luther King Jr., the Fair Housing Act provides protection against housing discrimination for certain protected classes:

  • Race
  • Color
  • Religion
  • National Origin
  • Sex/Gender
  • Disability
  • Familial Status

In Michigan, there are also protections for two additional classes:

  • Age
  • Marital Status

And in Indiana, protected classes also include:

  • Gender Identity
  • Ancestry
  • Sexual Orientation
  • Military Service Veteran Status

Why Is Fair Housing Important?

  • Provides Access to Housing for Everyone: historically, housing was not a right held by all people. Fair housing laws and procedures insure everyone has the right to access safe and secure housing.
  • Promotes Diversity in Neighborhoods: communities with a diverse array of people, cultures, ideas, and practices are often the most successful, especially in times of economic difficulties.
  • Increases Community ‘Curb Appeal’: by providing a path for homeownership to everyone, communities become centers for economic development, community investment, and talent retention. What community couldn’t benefit from that?

How Can You Help?

As REALTORS® we are able to access a database of training and education materials to help to continue to learn, grow and be better for our communities. But as a consumer, you can do the same! There are countless resources for consumers to contribute to fair housing and non-discrimination efforts, in the homeownership world, or outside of it.

To learn more about Fair Housing in your community, visit the Michigan State Housing Development Authority (MSHDA) or the Fair Housing Center of Central Indiana (FHCCI)

Read a book from this list of the National Association of REALTORS® book recommendations around Fair Housing.

Watch a movie from this list of the National Association of REALTORS® movie recommendations around Fair Housing.


Ideas For A Fun & Safe Memorial Day Weekend

Many know the start of the summer begins with Memorial Day Weekend, and we wanted to give you some ways to crank up the heat! We know things might look a little bit different this year, but that doesn’t mean the fun has to stop! We will cook up some ideas for you to pencil into your weekend plans!

Get outside! The weather is forecasted to be warm and sunny, which is no time to stay on the couch. Get the grill fired up, dust off the yard games, and fill the cooler with ice! We’ll even let you in on our favorite outdoor recipe: a tarp, dish soap, and water. Mix well, and you’ve got yourself a DIY backyard waterpark! The slip n’ slide is one of the best, and easiest, ways to get everyone outside and into the sun, while being one of the all-time best summer activities!

Now that you’ve got the yard games dusted off, take the family to the Olympics… the yard game Olympics! Section the back yard into different events and go head-to-head with your family to try and take home a Gold medal! Things like bocce ball, ladder ball, horseshoes and cornhole are now your chances at achieving legendary athletic status. Create a point system for winning different events and give points to the winners of each event. At the end, have everyone add up their scores, and whoever comes away with the most points wins Gold!

While we still suggest staying close to home, Michigan and Indiana are home to a seemingly endless number of lakes and rivers that are all open to be enjoyed! Whether it’s the first weekend to drop the boat in, or to get armed and ready with your kayak paddles, exploring local lakes and rivers is sure to create an afternoon of fun. Even if you have to rent, many lakes have marinas where renting kayaks, canoes, and even pontoons are available to the public. If boats aren’t in the cards, there are several slow moving rivers you can sit on a floaty and take a cruise down a natural lazy river. The link will take you to a list of some of the bigger floatable rivers but check near you to see smaller rivers that will accommodate your blow-up unicorns! Please remember to practice social distancing and to be safe, but make sure to have fun!

The smell of an outdoor barbecue is more than welcome this time of the year, and it’s time to settle the feud between your next door neighbor as to who smokes the best brisket. Hopefully it’s not actually that serious but be prepared either way! Now is the time to try something new and grill up your holy grail of meat that you’ve been putting off. Baby back ribs, brisket, New York strips, whatever! And if you prefer the veggies, check out that link for 32 delicious vegetarian barbecue inspired foods! Gather the family around to gorge on a home-cooked barbecue dinner!


Memorial Day History & Traditions

In recent years, Memorial Day Weekend has been celebrated by thousands of us kicking off the summer at our cottage on the lake, gathering with friends and family for a backyard BBQ, or taking advantage of the long weekend and traveling to a new city. Unfortunately, this year looks a little different as we continue to social distance in order to keep ourselves and others safe. It’s the perfect time to reflect on what Memorial Day truly signifies.

We would all probably guess that “Decoration Day” sounds like something to do with the Christmas season, but did you know that Decoration Day was actually the original name for Memorial Day? Save that little tidbit for trivia night! Memorial Day is defined as the U.S. National Holiday to honor the men and women who have made many sacrifices for their country by serving in our Military. We want to give you some great ways to pay homage to the amazing individuals who keep us all safe!

Memorial Day was made a national holiday in 1968 to include each war the U.S. was involved in. An amazing way to brush up on your knowledge of the U.S. Military throughout the decades and pay your respects by remembering those who were lost is by visiting a National or State cemetery.  Both Michigan and Indiana each have State and National Cemeteries, and can be found at each of their links! Traditionally, decorating graves for our national heroes includes laying flowers and placing American flags at each grave.

A few other great traditions to partake in this Memorial Day Weekend are a little less involved, but still show your appreciation! Hanging the American flag off of your porch or in your front yard symbolizes your appreciation and remembrance for those who have lost their lives. Wearing a red poppy in remembrance is a tradition that stemmed from a poem that was written in World War l called, “In Flander’s Fields” and shows admiration for those who gave their lives for their country! In addition, be sure to set a reminder in your phone for 3:00PM local time. Why, you might ask? 3:00PM local time is the national moment of remembrance. Join the rest of the country in a moment of silence to remember our fallen heroes.


What’s Happening With Real Estate?


The entire world has been through a whirlwind the last two months. Our deepest condolences to any and all effected by the COVID-19 pandemic that has swept the nation. Our hearts are with you during this time.

In Michigan, the real estate industry has been given the privilege to return to some ‘new normal’ business operations. Before that, we were operating virtually to support all of our clients, but the ability to now conduct in person meetings has us reflecting on the last two months and looking forward to more exciting days ahead.

March 23, 2020
Real Estate was one industry among many that was not deemed an essential and critical infrastructure in Michigan according to the Stay Home, Stay Safe Executive Order. With these orders in place, real estate agents were not allowed to conduct business in-person, and had to transition to a virtual format. Shortly after, Indiana also introduced a Stay Home order, however allowed real estate to continue some in person business.

Coming Together
With an extremely new normal to settle into, the Michigan Real Estate family of companies – including Northern Indiana Real Estate, Tomie Raines REALTORS® and Executive Realty, set about to create an inclusive, motivating and supportive environment for our clients. During this time, more than ever, the relationships we are so proud of were our biggest focus. Because we knew one thing all along, and that is Together, We Are Stronger.
Armed with daily communication from our leadership, risk management, training and marketing departments, our talented real estate agents in Michigan and Northern Indiana adapted to serve you in a completely new way – mostly fueled by Zoom video conferencing!
Real estate looked a little different during this time. In person consultations once held at the kitchen table were now virtual (although still at the kitchen table – can you say makeshift home office?) Professional marketing campaigns were created and published online rather than on paper. Homebuyers collaborated with their real estate agents to virtually tour prospective new homes. Some of you homeowners even became professional photographers!
But while real estate may have looked different, one thing was consistent. The dedication we have to serving you.

Moving Forward
As of May 7th, 2020, real estate agents were able to resume some in person business. This announcement came with guidelines to ensure the safety of our communities, aligning with the protocols for other essential businesses.

What does this mean for you?

  • You can meet with your real estate agent in person!
  • There are limits on how many people can attend home showings and meetings like closings.
  • Personal Protective Equipment is required.
  • Everything has to be done through a scheduled appointment, including photography, showings, and inspections.

Our agents are ready and prepared to get you home, safely. We are taking every precaution and taking every step to ensure we can still make your real estate dreams come true. Our excitement to be out and working with you again is unmatched, and we are thrilled to join you on this journey!


Cinco de Mayo Specials!

Taco Tuesday holds a special place in all of our hearts, but pair it with Cinco de Mayo and we have ourselves a holiday! Spice up your week with deals and specials from some of your local restaurants and takeaways for Cinco de Mayo, and make tonight a fiesta! In addition to food specials, many restaurants have even added drink specials to round out your meals, including Cinco de Mayo favorites like margaritas and Coronas!

Beltline Bar – Grand Rapids The Beltline Bar in Grand Rapids has a hot deal for the entire family, and if you pick it up curbside, a free sombrero is included! The deal includes 2 of their famous wet burritos, 4 tacos, family size order of beans and rice, and an order of chips and salsa for $50! Wash it all down with 6 packs of Corona or Modelo’s, or some wine-based margaritas!

La Familia Cafe – Kalamazoo Downtown Kalamazoo hosts a new and authentic Mexican restaurant called La Familia, who is hosting a Mariachi band during their pickup hours! Get down to some live music while munching on some authentic Mexican style tacos! On special they have a taco 10 pack box for $20, as well as some other non-traditional menu items like their special queso dip, nopales/cactus tacos, and elote/street corn!

El Nacimiento, Mojave Cantina – Detroit Our friends on the east side near Detroit have no shortage of tacos, and some awesome deals can be found at El Nacimiento and Mojave
Cantina
! El Nacimiento always has $1 tacos on Taco Tuesday, and this Cinco de Mayo, we’re in luck! Mojave Cantina is offering their entire menu for takeout, including their famous fajitas! Margarita lovers also rejoice as their homemade margarita mix is available for takeout, just add your own triple sec and tequila when you get home!

Coco Loco – Saginaw Want a chance at some free dinner if you’re near Saginaw/Bay City? Coco Loco Mexican Grill and Bar has teamed up with Jose Cuervo to support locally-owned Mexican Restaurants! Simply take a picture of your Coco Loco receipt and tweet @JoseCuervo with hastags #CincoToGo #CuervoContest, and Jose Cuervo might pick up the tab! Coco Loco is also doing a $125 gift card giveaway for interacting with their Facebook page!

El Oasis – Lansing El Oasis is celebrating 15 years of serving amazing Mexican food to the Lansing area, and in true Taco Tuesday fashion, all three locations are open for Cinco de Mayo! El Oasis is showing appreciation to their customers by dropping gift cards into random orders, and delivery, takeout, and call-ahead orders are all eligible! With physical locations and a food truck, El Oasis is ready to feed your fiesta!

Rodrigo’s – Harbor Springs Rodrigo’s in Harbor Springs brings authentic Mexican cuisine to Northern Michigan, and has some awesome takeout specials for all in Harbor Springs, Charlevoix and Petoskey areas! Regardless of what you order, you will receive 5% off, and the main special is tamales topped with salsa verde and serviced with pico de gallo, salad, sour cream, and rice and beans for $20!

La Quesadilla – Crown Point Crown Point is home to La Quesadilla Mexican Grill, as well as some spicy deals for Cinco de Mayo! Half off all beers, sangrias, and margaritas if you’re thirsty, and $2 tacos to satisfy your Mexican food cravings! Stop by their Facebook page to Like, Comment, and Share their Cinco de Mayo post for a chance at winning a $50 gift card! If you live within 5 miles of La Quesadilla, you can get free delivery so you can stay on your quarantine siesta!

El Arriero – South Bend El Arriero Mexican Bar & Grill is holding down South Bend with a ton of deals to take care of Cinco de Mayo dinner! The family taco 20 pack is $36.99 with your choice of meat, and also comes with rice, beans, chips, salsa, and cheese dip! The family deals don’t stop with tacos, as they are also offering $31.99 family chicken fajitas, family arroz con pollo for $29.99, and family cheesy chicken fajitas for $34.99. The full menu is also still available, and one liter margarita kits to take home are $10.99!


Supporting Our Local Businesses and Healthcare Workers

We are incredibly proud of our team, and can’t help but to feel inspired, motivated, and impressed! Our family of companies (Michigan Real Estate, Northern Indiana Real Estate, Tomie Raines REALTORS®, & Executive Realty) created a campaign called, “Together, We Are Stronger,” to prove that we truly are stronger when we work together, even if we must remain apart at this time.

An important part of this campaign was that we wanted to “give back” to our community. Our agent’s truly care about everything that healthcare workers and small businesses are going through right now so together, we set a goal to raise $1,500 in order to support local businesses and hospitals. Our team sees how hard these individuals work and what they are sacrificing, especially now more than ever. They wanted to let healthcare workers know we are thinking of them during this trying time. Because we could not raise funds in person, a Go Fund Me page was created for staff and agents to donate to if they wished. The money would be used to buy meals from local restaurants to be delivered to a few hospitals in our neighboring cities.

Even during a state-wide shutdown, our agents and team far exceeded our expectations! Our initial goal of $1,500 was left in the dust, and our company was able to raise over $6,376 to support 18 hospitals, 17 local restaurants and feed over 770 healthcare workers! Berkshire Hathaway Homeservices’ family of companies including Michigan Real Estate, Northern Indiana Real Estate, Tomie Raines REALTORS and Executive Realty have even pledged to match the donation! Within the coming weeks, these extra funds will help us support more local businesses and healthcare workers. Because of the generosity and grace, we were able to more than double our reach to support local businesses and provide meals to more healthcare worker scattered throughout Michigan and Northern Indiana.

We could not be more thrilled to be able to give back to those who are giving so much. We sleep better knowing we have these amazing people to take care of us. Being able to rally our community around them is part what makes us so proud of our company as a whole.

Michigan Hospitals:

  • Spectrum Health Hospitals Blodgett Hospital, Grand Rapids
  • Metro Health, Grand Rapids
  • Bronson Methodist Hospital, Kalamazoo
  • Ascension Borgess Hospital, Kalamazoo
  • Sparrow Hospital, Lansing
  • McLaren Hospital, Lansing
  • Beaumont Health, Royal Oak
  • McLaren Northern Michigan Hospital, Petoskey
  • Ascension Genesys Hospital, Grand Blanc
  • Three Rivers Health, Three Rivers
  • Covenant HealthCare, Saginaw
  • McLaren Bay Region, Bay City
  • Munson Healthcare, Gaylord
  • McLaren Northern Michigan Cheboygan Campus

Indiana Hospitals:

  • Memorial Hospital, South Bend
  • Franciscan Health Crown Point, Crown Point
  • Goshen Health, Goshen

We also need to extend a special thanks to the restaurants that made all of this possible, from the kitchen staff to the delivery drivers. Please remember to continue to support your local businesses during this time!

  • Big O’ Café, Grand Rapids, MI
  • Cottage Inn, Kalamazoo, MI
  • Jaspare’s Pizza, Kalamazoo, MI
  • Barnaby’s South Bend, South Bend, IN
  • Jimmy John’s, Lansing, MI
  • Mancino’s, Petoskey, MI
  • Gelsosomo’s Pizzeria, Crown Point, IN
  • Genesys Guido’s Premium Pizza, Grand Blanc, MI
  • Ample Pantry, Three Rivers, MI
  • G’s Pizzeria, Saginaw, MI
  • Eudici’s, Bay City, MI
  • Vincenzo’s Pizzeria, Wyoming, MI
  • Toarmina’s, Lansing, MI
  • PotBelly, Royal Oak, MI
  • Gerace’s Pizzeria, Goshen, IN
  • Jimmy John’s, Gaylord, MI

*We will be matching any funds that our agents have raised so far. Look out for additional updates on our COVID19 Benefit coming soon.

To stay up to date with our other activities and community involvement, like our Facebook pages: Berkshire Hathaway Home Services Michigan Real Estate, Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices Northern Indiana Real Estate, Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices Tomie Raines Realtors, and Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices Executive Realty.


Ten Backyard Activities to Keep You Moving

Spring is here and the weather is starting to get warmer. Although most of us are stuck at home social distancing, that doesn’t mean we have to avoid fun activities altogether. To keep you and your family from going stir crazy during this time, we’ve compiled a list of ten backyard activities to get you outside and keep you busy.

Have a bonfire with roasted hotdogs and s’mores.

An all-time favorite outdoor activity – a bonfire! Roast some hotdogs for dinner and finish with a delicious dessert of s’mores.

Go on a backyard camping trip.

Campgrounds may be closed, but that doesn’t have to stop you from creating your own camping adventure. Pull out the tent and your sleeping bags and set up camp right in your backyard!

Set up a mini golf course around your yard.

No golf courses open? No problem. Set up a mini golf course around your yard using objects from around the house as obstacles.

Make a time capsule and bury it in your yard.

Now is the perfect time to create a time capsule, capturing this significant moment in time. Include photos, mementos, and a letter from each member of the family describing what life is like in 2020.

Have a relay race.

An activity perfect for all ages. Include classic races such as the pillowcase race, egg-and-spoon race, and crab walk, or come up with your own races!

Have a family barbecue.

Another spring and summer activity that is tried and true. Break out the grill and cook up your favorite al fresco meal! Have each family member make a side dish for a true potluck style barbecue.

Build a fairy garden.

Browse the internet for some fairy garden ideas and put your creativity to the test. Gather any supplies you can find around the house and yard to DIY. You can keep adding to it for ongoing entertainment!

Turn your shed into a livable space or a reading nook.

Now is an ideal time for some spring cleaning! Kill two birds with one stone and clear out that shed in your yard and create cozy space for reading or relaxing.

Plant a vegetable and herb garden.

With limited access to seeds and starter plants from your local home improvement stores and nurseries, you may have to order supplies online. Pick out your favorite veggies and herbs and get planting. Enjoy your fresh produce throughout the summer.

Have a family scavenger hunt.

Create your own scavenger hunt that includes items you can find in your backyard or around your neighborhood. Pair off into teams or complete it individually. First one to gather all the items gets to choose your next backyard activity!


Companies Offering Discounts Due to COVID-19

It has almost been three whole weeks since the “Stay Home, Stay Safe” order was announced in Michigan and Indiana. We’re trying our best to keep you safe and in the know when it comes to Real Estate, but we also want to inform you of some pretty cool things that other companies in your community are offering!

Real Estate Agents

Free TeleHealth Membership for REALTORS®

In response to the current health crisis, the National Association of REALTORS® is funding 2-months of access to Members TeleHealth at no cost to our members, via the Right Tools, Right Now program.

Members TeleHealth provides access to a network of more than 2,300 board-certified physicians, who can address non-emergency medical issues via smartphone, tablet or computer.

Enrollment in the NAR-funded benefit is limited, so we ask that you check first with your insurance provider, even if it’s Medicare, as you may already have access to telemedicine.

Discounted Online Courses for REALTORS ®

NAR is offerings 30% off all online courses as well as free select courses until May 31, 2020.

To see everything that NAR is offering during this time, click here to visit their website.

First Responders & Healthcare Workers

Gas Discounts for First Responders and Healthcare Workers

BP is providing discounts up to $1 million in the form of 50 cents off a gallon for the people fighting coronavirus (COVID-19) on the frontlines.

The gas station is distributing codes for the discount. To receive a discount, visit bp.com/localheroes. You will be prompted to verify you are a first responder using ID.me. Once you do so, you will get a code via text or email that you can use the next time you get gas.

Free Meals & Rides for First Responders and Healthcare Workers

UberEats announced it will provide free meals and rides to first responders and healthcare workers in the U.S. and Canada, in coordination with local and state and provincial governments. Interested officials and organizations can reach Uber to partner at social-impact-support@uber.com.

Free Coffee for First Responders and Healthcare Workers

Starbucks is offering a tall brewed or iced coffee to police officers, firefighters, paramedics, doctors, nurses, hospital staff and researchers until May 3, the company said. Get more details here.

Free Donuts for First Responders and Healthcare Workers

As a thank, Krispy Kreme will provide all healthcare workers free dozens of our iconic Original Glazed® Doughnuts, beginning Monday, March 30 and on every subsequent Monday through National Nurses Week (May 6-12). Get more details here.

Free Counseling for First Responders and Healthcare Workers

Based in Grand Rapids, Michigan, Neurocore Brain Performance is offering free telehealth counseling to all first responders and medical professionals in the U.S. through May 1st, 2020. 


Keep Your Children Busy With These FREE Education Subscriptions

While you are social distancing in order to do your part to stop the spread of COVID19; many states have shut down public education for the remainder of the school year. This means that, for many of you, your kids are at home too and you’re probably running out of ideas on how to keep them busy and learning.

We’ve gathered a few of our favorite Online Education websites that are offering FREE subscriptions due to the Social Distancing orders. You can see the entire list here but we didn’t want to overwhelm you even more that you might already be!

ABC Mouse/Adventure Academy

Khan Academy

BrainPop

CircleTime Fun

Discovery Education

epic!

Minecraft: Education Edition

MusicFirst

Mystery Science

SmartMusic

STEMscopes