2016 Realtor of the Year Lynne Moon: Thirty-eight years later, TC’s first female licensed builder is still on the move
Lynne Moon built her first house as a Traverse City Junior High School science project. It was a dollhouse, fully outfitted with electrical, furnishings and multi-level construction. Five decades later, she is credited with building more than 75 residential homes, selling hundreds of local properties and continuing an active slate of projects as a builder, realtor and community advocate.
Moon was honored for her life’s work in August when she was named 2016 Realtor of Year by the Traverse Area Association of Realtors (TAAR). The award recognizes her 38-year career as a real estate professional, 33 years as a licensed builder and active community volunteer.
According to TAAR, Moon was nominated and selected for her “exemplary realtor spirit, activity in civic affairs, business accomplishments and activity within TAAR and the local community.” Moon received the TAAR Good Neighbor Award in 2013 for contributions to the regional community. She is a member of Real Estate One – Randolph Office in Traverse City.
A Traverse City native, Moon graduated from Traverse City Senior High School and Michigan State University before beginning her first career as a teacher. She became a realtor in 1978 to augment her income. Five years later, in 1983, she became the first female licensed builder in Traverse City and shifted focus from the classroom to building and selling homes full time.
“I was a single mother who was supporting my family,” Moon said, noting growing but unmet opportunities as a general contractor for residential homes at the time. Advantages were her ability to perform both functions as builder and realtor as well as her skills in interior decorating and love for design.
“My passion equaled the market,” she said. “I worked very hard. My slogan was ‘Lynne – On the Move’ because we moved every 15 months (as new homes were built). It wasn’t always easy for my family, but that allowed me to save and put two children through college.”
Moon credits her early interest in building to her late father, Dr. Wallace Willman. His interest in carpentry led to many hours “hammering boards” alongside her dad as a child, learning solid construction skills and nurturing her creativity.
Willman’s influence extended far beyond the workshop, instilling in Moon the importance of community service and individual responsibility in giving back.
“It was an expectation, not a choice,” she said. “He used to say, ‘a community is only as strong as those who contribute to it.’”
Moon applied those early lessons into decades of voluntarism and community leadership. She has been a member of the Traverse City Noon Rotary Club for 27 years, serving among the first female members. In recent years, Moon has been involved with projects benefiting the homeless, victims of domestic violence, environmental issues and health care.
Moon credits her real estate success to relationship building, listening and working closely with clients to understand their needs and then finding the property that matches those goals.
She noted trends have shifted in 30 years, when homes could be purchased for $30,000 and building averaged $50 per square foot. Today, Traverse City homes average $190,000, with building fees at $200 per square foot. Moon credits such forces as lower interest rates, inflation, improved products, code requirements and new lifestyles for the rises, but also noted homes are built much better, are more energy- efficient and with greater accoutrements than those of the 1980s.
Looking forward, Moon predicts buyers will continue seeking new homes over existing houses; current owners over age 50 will downsize; and, new, younger retirees will continue relocating to the region and embracing new lifestyles.