Home sales, prices pick up
A strong comeback in real estate sales in Leelanau County continued into July, statistics from the Traverse Area Association of Realtors show.
From January through July of 2012, some 181 housing units were sold for a total volume of $52.2 million — making the comparable sales totals from 2009-2011 look puny in comparison.
Through the first seven months of 2011, some $36.9 million in homes were sold in the county; the totals were only $30.2 million in 2010 and $30.1 million in 2009. The seven-month period in 2012 represents the biggest volume in real state sales in the county since 2006.
“I can tell you the upswing has been positive, it is steady, it isn’t fast, which is probably a good thing,” said Chuck Yearn, office broker at the Suttons Bay branch of Coldwell Banker Schmidt Real Estate. “When things rise gradually, they usually are more permanent.”
Yearn said a drop in the number of foreclosed properties on the market in Leelanau County has helped stop an erosion in home prices that started in the fall of 2008.
“We had a drop of 27 to 28 percent in value, right across the board. But I think we’re heading forward. I’m kind of thinking we’re seeing a 4 percent (rise in 2012),” he said.
As would be expected, more interest has been shown in waterfront homes while summertime activities dominate the Peninsula. Also, vacant and agricultural land is starting to draw attention, Yearn said.
Part of the improving housing market can be linked to the lowest interest rates in generations. But getting a loan is more difficult because of new banking restrictions, Yearn said.
“Low interest rates are certainly attracting people. But the biggest disadvantage in the marketplace when it comes to financing is the length of time (required) to close the deal,” he said.
TAAR figures show that the median home price in Leelanau County for the first seven months of 2011 was $197,550, the highest level among the five counties closest to Traverse City. Second was Grand Traverse County ($165,000), followed by Antrim ($155,000), Benzie ($129,077) and Kalkaska ($96,069) counties.
An average of 225 days on the market was needed to sell a home in Leelanau. Grand Traverse was the shortest in the category with 134 days; Antrim was the longest with 327 days.
Leelanau home sale statistics follow a story published last week in the Wall Street Journal stating that home prices rose by 2.5 percent in June compared to prices from one year earlier. Also, Freddie Mac said home prices during the second quarter jumped 4.8 percent from the previous quarter, the story stated.
— by Alan Campbell