Capital News Service

of the Michigan State University School of Journalism

Real estate rebounds in northern Michigan

By CHENQI GUO
Capital News Service

LANSING — Home sales in the Traverse City area are enjoying a significant increase because of low prices and fine weather.

Experts say they’re seeing signals that the market is rebounding.

The number of property sales rose 36 percent from February 2009 to February 2010.

The state’s highest increase in sales, 100 percent, for the same period, came in the Water Wonderland region, according to the Michigan Association of Realtors. The region includes Alpena, Cheboygan, Mackinac and Presque Isle counties.

Statewide, however, sales rose only 6.4 percent during that time.

Kim Pontius, executive vice president of the Traverse Area Association of Realtors said, “We attribute the increase to early springtime weather, the tax credit, low prices and low interest rates, plus a high level of desire to live in the Traverse region.”

According to Pontius, 176 residential units were sold in March, compared to 126 in February. The average sale price increased from $147,652 to $160,497. The figures cover Grand Traverse, Leelanau, Benzie, Antrim and Kalkaska counties.

Rick Stein, a member the Association of Realtors and a broker for RE/MAX Bayshore Properties Ltd., said, “It’s a great time to buy in Traverse City. It’s a nice spring and everybody seems to get moved when the sun is out.”

Meanwhile, home construction activity in the state is recovering as well.

Bob Filka, chief executive officer of the Association of Home Builders said, “We are seeing a number of sales occurring where builders are coming into areas and buying up foreclosures and property that is bankrupt.”

Almost 9,000 homes will be built in Michigan this year, a 30 percent increase over 2009, which was the worst year ever, according to Filka.

Filka said, “We’re going in the right direction. That’s the positive story.

“It took a while for the market to respond to the whole economic situation. There were many factors driving home prices down, and now the economy on the national level is starting to go in the other direction in a positive sense,” he said.

“I wouldn’t say that the economy in Michigan is becoming hugely better but it is on the rebound potentially,” he said.

He also said developers and builders are buying properties “because they have recognized that the economy has reached the bottom and it’s the best time to buy.”

Pontius said, “We see a rebound occurring, but it will only be sustainable if consumer confidence grows and if we get some much-needed employment.”

© 2010, Capital News Service, Michigan State University School of Journalism. Not to be reproduced without permission.

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