When Rolling Over is NOT an Option...How One West Michigan City continues to Defy the Odds!

Real Estate Broker/Owner with Lola Audu~Audu Real Estate~Grand Rapids, MI Real Estate

Joker's HatEarlier this year, Grand Rapids MI earned a spot on the dubious list of Top 10 Dying Cities in a Newsweek magazine publication. Thankfully, our city is not a place where we choose easy over medium/mediocre when it comes to responding to what we instinctively reject as false.

Rob Bliss, Grand Rapids' own Event Planner Extraordinaire determined to fight back with the most powerful weapon...the TRUTH.  As a result, over 5,000 West Michigan residents joined together to film an event that included media personalities, the mayor, a high school marching band and a host of other people.  

In the process, they set a World Record for a Lip Sync event to Don McClains' classic song, ‘Bye, Bye, Ms. American Pie.  The message was very clear…Grand Rapids, Mi is very much alive!

When all was set and done, the Youtube video had garnered over 2 Million hits in just a few days and the event had been carried on news media all over the world.  Newsweek magazine issued a rare public apology citing the fact that they had been victims of poor research and had simply repeated bad data.

In some ways, this example mirrors the challenge that real estate agents face in West Michigan.  As anxiety about the economy mounts, the real estate industry finds itself in a position in which everyone seems to have an opinion about what will happen within the real estate market in the future.

But in spite of these challenges, real estate agents in West Michigan have SOLD more homes in August of this year (2011) than they did in 2008 or 2009.  This is no small feat in a market which has been significantly impacted by Short Sales and Foreclosures!  

Today, the inventory of homes is less than 6,000 homes for Sale.  Down from a high of approximately 12,000 homes just a few years ago. With plunging inventory, there has been an incremental rise in home sale prices.  This trend has remained steady for seven months.  We still have a ways to go as the average price of home fell to 2003 levels over the duration of the current crisis.

However, REALTORS in West Michigan are stepping up to the plate in ways that extend beyond selling homes.  They are also actively giving of their time and talents to the West Michigan community. 

REALTORS in West Michigan have determined to roll up their sleeves and take their service to the community to a new level.  The official iGive campaign was launched at the end of May 2011 with an audacious goal of donating 50,000 FREE hours of services  to community residents.  The challenge has logged almost 5,000 hours to a variety of area organizations since May 2011.

By the way, that lip dub about Grand Rapids Mi has now garnered over 4 Million hits and was dubbed by Robert Ebert, the legendary film critic as one of the greatest videos ever made.  Hardly the Requiem for a dying city is it?

Related ABC News Story on lip sync event


Re-Blogged 1 time:

Re-Blogged By Re-Blogged At
  1. Robert L. Brown 09/20/2011 12:42 PM
Michigan Kent County Grand Rapids
Michigan Realtors
Michigan Real Estate
Fraiche Aire
Posts to Localism
Greater GRAND RAPIDS, MI Real Estate
grand rapids association of realtors
lola audu
grand rapids mi
igive campaign
grand rapids mi real estate trends

Spam prevention
Show All Comments
Denise Hamlin, Broker/Owner
Cardinal Realty ~ 319-400-0268 - Iowa City, IA
Helping Happy Clients Make Smart Choices

That is one awesome video Lola. I didn't have Grand Rapids on my wishlist for places to visit before, I do now.

Sep 20, 2011 11:48 AM #1
Lola Audu
Lola Audu~Audu Real Estate~Grand Rapids, MI Real Estate - Grand Rapids, MI
Audu Real Estate~Grand Rapids, MI ~Welcome Home!

You're welcome to visit Denise.  If you do, make sure you give me a call. :)  We are just about to witness the start of Art Prize, another truly spectacular event in Grand Rapids.  Over 500,000 people are expected to visit the area over a period of 3 weeks to view  art from all across the country.  Prize money for the favorite art pieces voted on by members of the public is $474,000.  I love this event!  Definitely proof of a city which is full of life. :)

Sep 20, 2011 12:35 PM #2
Robert L. Brown
www.mrbrownsellsgr.com - Grand Rapids, MI
Grand Rapids Real Estate Bellabay Realty, West Mic

Very positive and uplifting post worthy of a re-blog. This City is on the way UP!!!

Sep 20, 2011 12:41 PM #4
Lola Audu
Lola Audu~Audu Real Estate~Grand Rapids, MI Real Estate - Grand Rapids, MI
Audu Real Estate~Grand Rapids, MI ~Welcome Home!

Amen Robert!  Thanks for stopping by to read and comment.  Grand Rapids has many wonderful aspects of community to offer to residents and visitors.  Are you planning on ArtPrize this year?

Sep 20, 2011 12:43 PM #5
Harry F. D'Elia
RentVest - Phoenix, AZ
Investor , Mentor, GRI, Radio, CIPS, REOs, ABR

Video is a great way to get your story out to the masses. Very positive blog post today

Sep 20, 2011 01:07 PM #6
Leslie Ebersole
Swanepoel T3 Group - Saint Charles, IL
I help brokers build businesses they love.

There is a very spiffy tourism ad on Illinois TV about Grand Rapids. It looks like a lovely place to live and work. Ignore those nasty media stories -- you know you have a great city.


Sep 20, 2011 01:53 PM #7
Eric Michael
Remerica Integrity, Realtors®, Northville, MI - Livonia, MI
Metro Detroit Real Estate Professional 734.564.1519

Lola, I've never been to Grand Rapids but a newer agent in my office came from there. He always says great things about it. Keep up the great work out there!

Sep 20, 2011 02:19 PM #8
Michelle Francis
Tim Francis Realty LLC - Atlanta, GA
Realtor, Buckhead Atlanta Homes for Sale & Lease


Love the way the community came together and set the record straight.  I bet you had fun in the process.  Nothing builds community more!

All the best, Michelle

Sep 20, 2011 03:13 PM #9
Wayne Johnson
Coldwell Banker D'Ann Harper REALTORS® - San Antonio, TX
San Antonio REALTOR, San Antonio Homes For Sale

That was quite a production. Getting the community involved really got everyone working to overcome the negative stigma. Good for Grand Rapids.

Sep 20, 2011 03:49 PM #10
HGNL Digital Marketing Agency
Detroit, MI
We are a full service real estate marketing agency

Hi Lola,
Nice blog that shows Grand Rapids is alive and thriving.
Keep up the good work!

Sep 20, 2011 04:24 PM #11
Andrea Bedard
Thompson Company, REALTORS® - Silver Spring, MD
M.A.; REALTOR® Silver Spring, MD and beyond

Hi Lola: fantastic blog! Bad news, unfortunately, always gets more attention than good and when it's repeated in major & trusted sources it can have a devastating impact. KUDOS to the residents of Grand Rapids! What an awesome way to show them! The truth is also always in the numbers - it sounds like to me that Grand Rapids is well on the way to recovery and doing A LOT better than many other markets in the country.

Sep 20, 2011 04:47 PM #12
Marge Piwowarski
Phoenix AZ Horse Property - Phoenix, AZ
Phoenix AZ Horse Property, LLC


I live far from Grand Rapids but I have watched that video countless times!  What spirit, what coordination, what civic pride.  Grand Rapids ROCKS>

Sep 20, 2011 05:58 PM #13
Valerie Baker
Exit Real Estate Professionals - Spokane, WA
Spokane Realtor

Doesn't look at all like a dying city to me, not with all that energy! Way to go Grand Rapids! Thanks for sharing, Lola! 

Sep 20, 2011 07:11 PM #14
Gita Bantwal
RE/MAX Centre Realtors - Warwick, PA
REALTOR,ABR,CRS,SRES,GRI - Bucks County & Philadel

Lola, This is a great localism post. Thanks for sharing.

Sep 21, 2011 12:30 AM #15
Connie Harvey
Pilkerton Realtors - Brentwood, TN
Realtor - Nashville TN Real Estate

Lola, I love this story of people working together for the good of the community. I tried to see the video on youtube but I couldn't get it to load. I'll try again later!

Sep 21, 2011 01:51 AM #16
Richard Weisser
Richard Weisser Realty - Newnan, GA
Richard Weisser Retired Real Estate Professional


Very inspirational. I was working with a buyer from Grand Rapids ....he said that it was a great place to live and he hated to leave!

Sep 21, 2011 01:53 AM #17
Bill Gillhespy
16 Sunview Blvd - Fort Myers Beach, FL
Fort Myers Beach Realtor, Fort Myers Beach Agent - Homes & Condos

Hi Lola,  My nephew sent me the clip.  As a transplanted Michigander my gut reaction is that the midwestern work ethic is what sets Michigan apart.  I'm not surprised that your area has done such a remarkable job trying to turn things around !  Keep it up !

Sep 21, 2011 06:03 AM #18
Lola Audu
Lola Audu~Audu Real Estate~Grand Rapids, MI Real Estate - Grand Rapids, MI
Audu Real Estate~Grand Rapids, MI ~Welcome Home!

Thank you for your comments.  If you have a chance to visit Michigan, put Grand Rapids on your list! :)

Sep 22, 2011 10:42 AM #19
Richard Glesser
North Country Appraisal Services - Gaylord, MI

The video is great.  Your point is well taken as much of Michigan continues to fight off the negative image cast on the state by the problems in Southeastern Michigan over the past 10 years.  In Northern Michigan, I have often been reminded of the stigma placed on Michigan as a whole by lenders from other areas of the country and constantly point out that the entire state has not gone through the decline noted in the greater Detroit area.  As that area recovers, the rest of the state has the opportunity to take a leadership role in the rebirth of Michigan.

Sep 24, 2011 02:37 AM #20
Jeff Dowler, CRS
Solutions Real Estate - Carlsbad, CA
The Southern California Relocation Dude


Great video, and a true testimonial to the power of visually demonstrating the facts as opposed to fiction. It's so sad that the media continues to report erroneously, and so often relying on spurious information with bothering to check it out, either out of laziness (and what kind of "reporting" is that?) or because the information supports a prejudged opinion.

It's very frustrating that we continue to see so much of this, and once certainly begins to doubt much of what the media allegedly reports as truth. Glad to see that Newsweek did own up - how could they not?!

And doesn't this speak to the true viral power of social media?


Sep 27, 2011 03:45 PM #21
Show All Comments

What's the reason you're reporting this blog entry?

Are you sure you want to report this blog entry as spam?


Lola Audu

Audu Real Estate~Grand Rapids, MI ~Welcome Home!
Can I assist you with a real estate concern right now?
Spam prevention

Additional Information