Rising home prices, transaction counts seen in Northern Michigan

Realtors around four Northern Michigan counties saw year-to-year growth in the number of homes sold during the first half of 2021, along with double-digit percentage increases in the median sale prices compared with the same period in 2020.

Multiple Listing Service data showed Realtors handling more residential transactions in Charlevoix, Cheboygan, Emmet and Otsego counties for the January-through-June period this year compared with those months in 2020. Median sale prices climbed at rates ranging from 11 percent in Otsego County to 31 percent in Emmet County (see accompanying chart for additional details).

Home sales trends for four Northern Michigan counties

County                  January-June 2020     January-June 2021


Number of sales    189                                259

Median price          $225,000                      $265,000


Number of sales    117                               183

Median price          $142,800                      $172,500


Number of sales     214                               323

Median price          $245,000                      $320,000


Number of sales    181                               193

Median price          $149,000                      $166,000

Source: Multiple Listing Service data reported by Emmet Association of Realtors and Water Wonderland Board of Realtors

Rik Lobenherz, associate broker and owner at Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices Michigan Real Estate in Charlevoix, said his agency was among those seeing the upward trends.

“it’s been a surprisingly brisk market for us year to date, and it doesn’t seem to be letting up,” he said.

Lobenherz said he’s noticed especially strong market activity for second homes, whether for buyers’ own use or to be offered up as short-term rentals.

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A trend in which more jobs offer options for working remotely — a phenomenon which became more noticeable amid the COVID-19 pandemic — may be opening up opportunities for some newcomers to pursue home purchases in the region, Lobenherz said, adding some seem to be viewing Northern Michigan as an appealing alternative to the weather extremes, crowded environs and higher crime rates found in some metro areas elsewhere.

Kurt Jacobs, owner of Alpine Realty Group — which has offices in Petoskey, Gaylord and Indian River — said that agency also has been on a strong transaction pace recently.

“We continue to see very brisk sales in Petoskey, Gaylord, Harbor Springs, Charlevoix, Boyne City, Cheboygan and Indian River,” he said in an email. “Demand for in-town homes and lakefront continue to be very strong. The same can be said for vacant parcels with a stronger than expected…

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