TRAVERSE CITY — The deep freeze that dampened moods across the Grand Traverse region during the first month of the year had little effect on the real estate market.
Numbers released this week by the Traverse Area Association of Realtors show home values and sales held strong when compared to a year ago. A total of 176 single-family homes sold in the five-county region at a value of $38,111,107 — a 29.2 percent increase year-over-year and a 143.6 percent rise from the market’s low in 2009.
“Last year we had what we considered to be an extraordinary January and we topped that,” said Kimberly Pontius, executive vice president for TAAR. “I see no reason why this will back away.”
The numbers should be good news to owners who watched foreclosures and short sales flood the market since the recession. That glut of low-priced properties now seems to be in Traverse City’s rear-view mirror, Pontius said.
The average price of the 176 homes sold this January compared to the same month in 2013 rose by about $31,000 to $216,540 while the median price of homes sold grew by $37,500 to $175,000, according to the TAAR report.
That average price is about level with numbers reported by TAAR in August when Pontius said the market settled after a hefty summertime spike.
Owner of Appraisal North, has watched inventory on the market tighten while buyers continue to try to take advantage of historically low interest rates. The push to buy before rates increase seems to have given lower segments of the market a bump, he said.
”I think the sales market is pretty healthy right now,” he said. “I’m just worried about further increases in interest rates ... that might level things off. There does seem to be a shortage of listings and it’s a supply and demand situation where there is less supply than there is demand now.”
A 1-percent increase in interest rates last summer didn’t dampen the market, he said.
”Even at 4.5 percent, that’s historically low interest rates, still,” he added. “I think a lot of people realize they’re not going to stay great forever.”
Pontius pointed to the average days on market for single-family homes as more encouraging news to both homeowners and people in the real estate business. That number dropped by 34 days from the same time last year.
”That starts to tell you things are starting to move out there,” he said. “That speaks to you.”
Pontius went on to say that the tight inventory — about 40 percent below the peak in 2009 — could also drive a healthy new construction market once northern Michigan breaks out of winter’s crust.
I think we’ll see another surge in home building activity this spring,” he said.