What $250K Gets You in Northern Michigan
Probably not a view of the bay, but you’ll get close.
When it comes to residential real estate, the answer varies depending on where you buy and what you are looking for. If downtown Traverse City is your spot, $250,000 might get you a home that needs a little elbow grease. Out of town, your dollar will stretch into acreage, a newer house, and even water views.
To get a better sense of the current real estate market in the Grand Traverse region, we pulled five active properties. Two came from Grand Traverse County; the remainder are in Benzie, Leelanau, and Kalkaska counties. All five properties are distinct, offering a mix of styles, features, and points of value.
To gain insight on each property, we spoke to three area real estate professionals: Mike Annelin of Century 21 Northland; Shannon Beia of Coldwell Banker Schmidt; and Jack Lane of Real Estate One.
Commons Condo/Grand Traverse County
810-301 Cottage View Drive, Unit #301
The property: This third-floor condo at the Village at Grand Traverse Commons gives buyers a chance to live in one of Traverse City’s most unique and eclectic communities. The restaurants, shops, galleries, and parkland that make up the Commons are all just a step out the door. At the same time, downtown Traverse City is only a mile away. The condo itself is 788 square feet with one bedroom and one bath. It features 13-foot cathedral ceilings, brick walls, maple flooring, cherry cabinets, granite counter tops, a shared porch and more.
Expert perspective: “I’ve sold a number of Commons condos in the past few years,” said Jack Lane. “People go nuts about the architecture, the angles, the spaces, and the vibrant lifestyle. The ability to rent by the day, week, or month makes many of these units cash cows. I can’t say enough about what Ray Minervini and the crew have created at the Commons. It’s near-impossible to find this price level up there, despite the size.”
Fixer-Upper/Grand Traverse County
2739 Bowers Harbor Road
The property: Located across the street from Bowers Harbor Park, this home sits on a 2.5-acre wooded parcel in the heart of the Old Mission Peninsula. The house is a small, cottage-style residence with two bedrooms, one bathroom, and 920 square feet of space. There is also a 24×32-foot detached garage that features a finished mother-in-law apartment. The seller describes the home as a “fixer-upper,” thanks in part to the dirt driveway and some evident wear and tear. The home is a 10-mile drive from Central High School and about 12 miles from downtown.
Expert perspective: “It’s a great location,” said Mike Annelin. “The problem is, the distance from town really is a factor for a lot of people. This property, it’s a bit of a drive. This house has also been on the market for 220 days, which inherently tells you it must be priced too high for what it is. A lot of people would love to buy a fair-priced home on Old Mission for $250,000. But this house is a lot of money for that much square footage.”
Tree Top Chalet/Benzie County
4550 Highland Drive
The Property: Dubbed by the seller as a “Tree Top Chalet,” this home is for a buyer who wants to get away from it all. Newly renovated and sitting on a tranquil 0.75-acre lot, this cottage-style house boasts three bedrooms, two-and-a-half bathrooms, and 1,900 square feet. Features include cathedral ceilings, views of Crystal Lake, and plentiful natural light. The detached two-car garage may be a deal-breaker for those wanting a year-round home, but in the summertime, this property is tough to beat. There’s a tree house on the premises for kids, and the home itself is part of the Crystal Highlands, a homeowner’s association that shares private beach access, tennis courts, hiking trails, etc.
The Expert Perspective: “Unique houses are a huge gamble, but this one looks like a winner,” Lane said. “Views, privacy, shared waterfront, and big storage, at this price? A ‘tree top’ house, a chalet, a log cabin, a dome—they’re all huge gambles. Time on the market eats away at a seller’s asking price, but if you find the right buyer out of the gate, things work out. If this style floats your boat, there’s a lot to like and enjoy here.”
New Construction/Leelanau County
7518 E. Meadows Drive
The property: Buyers looking to put their unique stamp on a property should take note of this new construction home near the base of the Leelanau Peninsula. A ranch-style design, the home is 1,300 square feet with three bedrooms and two bathrooms. Efficiency is a big perk, thanks to Energy Star appliances and energy-efficient windows. As a brand new build, the house comes with a one-year home warranty from Sterling Homes & Land, the builder.
Expert perspective: “These are nice units and someone looking for a new, modern home should scoop this up,” said Shannon Beia. “They are fairly priced and they are all selling in this development within days on the market, as a result of the lack of homes like this for sale. The Meadows is a short drive out of town up M-72 in Leelanau County, and then a turn west by the windmill and solar panels. You feel like you’re hours away from town, but in actuality, you’re minutes from anything you need to get to.”
Golf Lover’s Dream/Kalkaska County
825 N.E. Golf Side Drive
The property: This spacious Kalkaska home could be an attractive buy for a growing family. With four bedrooms, two-and-a-half baths and 3,129 square feet of living space, it offers substantial value for the price. The cost per square foot ($79.87) is by far the lowest of the five properties featured here. Beyond simple square footage, the house also offers numerous marquee features—including a three-car attached garage, hardwood floors, stainless steel appliances, and an irrigation/sprinkler system for the sizable yard. Golfers will appreciate the close proximity to Twin Birch Golf Course.
Expert perspective: “If you dropped this house on a historic downtown street, it’d sell for $750,000,” Lane said. “You really do get a whole lot more bang for the buck the further away from downtown TC you go. You also get traffic, construction delays, long trips to stores, and the ability to ride your bike alongside 60 mile-per-hour traffic. Plus, you get the opportunity to sell ‘a fabulous house for an incredible affordable price’ when you tire of the aforementioned.”