2018-01-18 / Front Page

Housing record smashed

Some clouds for ‘18
By Alan Campbell
Of The Enterprise staff

While problems within the Leelanau housing industry went largely unaddressed in 2017, that didn’t stop home sales from smashing through all previous records.

The numbers speak for themselves.

The total volume of residential home sales in Leelanau County hit $201.6 million in 2017, a jump of 12.4 percent. Also setting marks were the number of units sold at 498, and the median price at $316,000.

“Talk to (Realtors), and they will tell you they are having a banner year,” said Kim Pontius, who just passed a decade as executive director of the Traverse Area Association of Realtors.

Those within the industry are looking closely at sales numbers in the first quarter of 2018 to determine if the housing market will continue to climb.

Obstacles, he said, are a lack of homes for sale, a construction work force that is running at full capacity, and a sharp uptick in building material costs caused by several natural disasters from a hurricane in Peurto Rica to mudslides in California.

Nationally there is demand for 4.5 million new homes, Pontius added.

“We’re going to feel a lack of supply going into next year. If the pace continues, and we have a whole lot of buildings to rebuild, the demand is going to be incredible,” said Pontius, who resides in Elmwood Township.

Over the five-county region, the volume of home sales hit a record although the number of sales did not. That was not true in Leelanau, where the volume smashed through the $200 million mark and the number of home sales recorded by agents increased 18 percent over a two-year period.

Another issue that comes up often in Leelanau County — a lack of affordable housing — grew worse rather than lessened as the price for smaller units increased while the available stock shrunk.

“This is particularly going to plague Leelanau County. It’s lurking back there, we know it and we’ve seen it. The regional community doesn’t have an answer for what we’re up against,” he said.

The hot housing market in the county is especially impressive given its depths in 2009, when only $66.2 million in home sales was recorded at a median price of $185.000. Just 218 units were sold by real estate agents associated with TAAr that your.

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