“So Busy,” Downtown Living, Low Inventory – Local realtors talk

Ask just about any real estate agent around town how business is this spring – they’ll barely have time to answer. April came in like a lion for local realtors – new listings are overwhelmed with showings, sellers are getting asking price (or more) and “days on market” has turned into “hours on market.” It’s true, this spring’s residential real estate market is one of the most robust in years.

Data from the Traverse Area Association of Realtors (TAAR) for March shows there were 197 sales of single family homes in TAAR’s five-county area. Those homes carried an average price tag of $212,023 and a total dollar volume of $41.8 million. This compares to 164 sales in March 2014 with an average price of $211,476 and total volume of $34.7 million.

So what are some of the trends and issues behind this real estate growth? The Traverse City Business News contacted some veteran realtors to get their insights into the market. Hint: It can pretty much be summed up in one word: downtown.

Maureen Penfold, RE/Max Bayshore Properties

We are all so busy, it’s hard to take a moment away from work. Last year I did $23 million in sales, a huge increase from my previous top year of $16 million … I don’t says this to toot my own horn, but to indicate that the Grand Traverse real estate market is much busier than most places in Michigan.

The downtown Traverse City market is on fire with 58 sales already closed this year between the prices of $80,000 to $849,000. There are often several bids on new listings. For example, I have cash buyers from downstate who have been anxious to buy a downtown condo. After missing out on more than one, they recently bid $10,000 higher than the offering price in order to secure a condo, and they did this sight unseen.

I can remember 15 years ago when everyone wanted a house in the country on five acres. Now the trend is to be downtown within walking distance of restaurants, theaters and the bay. We are blessed to have a vibrant and beautiful downtown area with its own character. It has a charm that cannot be replicated by “creating” town centers that we see popping up all over the country. That is why people love our area.

Judy  Robinson, Coldwell Banker Schmidt Realtors

The condo market is in high demand, especially in the downtown TC area. Many people want walkability to downtown’s amenities. Homes in the downtown area are also in demand for the same reasons. We are starting to see older homes being torn down and replaced by new construction and also major restorations and additions on older homes. People have discovered TC and want to be part of all that our beautiful area has to offer. I am continually working with buyers wanting to purchase ahead of their retirement. New construction is always in demand.

Doug Meteyer, Keller Williams

Back in the ‘80s and ‘90s, people were looking for a two-acre lot on the edge of town. Now they’re moving back to downtown. Many new buyers are coming from cities and want the more urban atmosphere. They like that. I’m always hearing requests for downtown living.

Lake property is in good demand; waterfront will always be popular. Suttons Bay is hot and I’m totally impressed with what’s happened in Northport. That little village got hurt 20 years ago when Munson pulled out, but it’s really had a nice revival.

When it comes to industrial space, a few years ago there was a lot of it. But a lot has been gobbled up. We’re very close to needing more.

In fact, lack of inventory across the board is an issue. It’s impacting the market in a big way.

Don Fedrigon, Jr., RE/Max – Elk Rapids

My theory is that you can’t generalize about real estate buyers’ and sellers’ motivation, especially on the high end properties. Folks decide to sell or buy when things are right in THEIR world, not THE world. Why were there 119 properties on Torch Lake for sale four years ago and 44 properties on the market today? They each have an individual reason and life plan to achieve. As far as demands, one demand for the Elk Rapids market specifically are single level condo living. The convenience of downtown living is making it very popular right now.