BY KATHY GIBBONS
TRAVERSE CITY — The upswing in sales and housing values that is fueling Coldwell Banker Schmidt Realtors' investment in renovation is reflected in 2012 sales numbers just released by the Traverse Area Association of Realtors.
Data shows in the five-county region of Grand Traverse, Leelanau, Benzie, Antrim and Kalkaska, total housing sales were up 26 percent in 2012. Total sales were at 2,705, increasing from 2,145 in 2011. Dollar volume is way up, too, to $553,316,364 in 2012, as compared to $391,723,858 in 2011.
Each county reported higher sales and dollar values, too, with Grand Traverse and Leelanau leading the pack. There were 1,394 sales valued at $278,567,128 in Grand Traverse County in 2012, compared to 1,100 and $200,379,461 in 2011; Leelanau County saw 380 sales worth $117,242,340 in 2012 versus 263 valued at $74,673,854 in 2011.
Those numbers reflect higher home sales prices, which went from an average of $182,163 in Grand Traverse and $283,931 in Leelanau in 2011 to 2012's $199,832 in Grand Traverse and $308,532 in Leelanau.
They also reflect a trend TAAR Executive Vice President Kim Pontius said was building all year.
"Simply put, we blew up a lot of the records for activity," Pontius said. "Median home prices are at the pre-top of the bubble level — kind of where we were in 2005 before things went off the charts with the fast expansion of the housing market.
"The market is back and it's back in a reasonable and conservative fashion," Pontius said. "The number of units sold exceeded any year we've had since 2007. The dollar volume has done the same. We've...outperformed most other areas of the state."
Christine Stalsonburg, broker/owner of Cherry Wings Realty and a six-year veteran of the region's real estate market, said the upswing in activity has kept her company hopping.
"Typically November and December is our planning period to go into the next year and we've literally had no time at all," she said. "We're probably up about 20 percent of what we did over this time last year. We're seeing prices up 7 to 8 percent over what they were last year."
Stalsonburg said the numbers are even more meaningful because there aren't any incentive programs like the government's first-time home buyer credit fueling extra sales.
"There's nothing ... to make those numbers inflated," she said. "This is true activity out there."