A Coldwell Banker real estate sign stands in front of a house in Traverse City.

TRAVERSE CITY — The Grand Traverse region’s residential real estate market is on pace for its best sales year since officials began to track sales data.

Newly released numbers from the Traverse Area Association of Realtors indicates 2,658 residential units sold through November in the region covering Grand Traverse, Benzie, Leelanau, Antrim and Kalkaska counties. The sales figure constitutes a 7.3 percent rise from 2,477 units sold the year prior and are nearly 41 percent higher than 2010 sales figures.

Kimberly Pontius, executive vice president of TAAR, said this year’s sales volume is record-setting.

“This will be the benchmark year,” Pontius said. “Inventory issues are starting to emerge even with waterfront and luxury properties because we are starting to deplete the inventory.”

The average selling price and median sale price of residential units are rising, too. TAAR statistics show since 2009 the average selling price in the Grand Traverse region jumped 25 percent, from $173,590 to $216,652. The median sale price jumped 23 percent during the same time frame.

The improved market is great news for real estate agents, sellers and others in the industry, but likely will lead to further tightening of an already constricted rental market, said Sarah Lucas, an affordable housing expert at the Northwest Michigan Council of Governments.

“We already have a significant shortage of affordable homes available to our low- and moderate-income families,” Lucas said. “It’s just going to exacerbate the situation. It’s something we are hearing about from all population groups, including seniors, the disabled and people in poverty.”

Residential waterfront properties are selling strong also, especially around Torch, Skegemog and Elk lakes.

“The inventory is approximately half of what it was three years ago,” said Don Fedrigon Jr., a real estate agent with Re/Max of Elk Rapids.

“Affordable waterfront, everything from $300,000 to $600,000, is probably the market that is getting the most demand at this point,” Fedrigon said. “There’s high demand also for condos and historic homes in Traverse City. They are very much in demand due to convenience.”

Sales of waterfront properties on Benzie County’s Crystal Lake are improving, too. In 2012, 44 listings led to 20 sales. This year there were 56 listings and 24 sold. Bob Weisbrodt, an associate broker with Real Estate One in Benzie, said more expensive properties moved in 2013.

“Last year there were no sales over $1 million,” Weisbrodt said. “In 2013 we had two sales for more than $1 million.”

Brad Zucco, owner of Appraisal North, said he knows several real estate agents who “are having their best year ever.” He said low interest rates are boosting the market.

“I’m somewhat concerned about rate increases and that they might throw a wet blanket over the market,” Zucco said. “The rates are still phenomenally good after going up a full percentage point since May and June. With unemployment going down, the fed may cut back on bond buying, which could prompt further increases.”

Residential units sold Grand Traverse region

                                 2013         2012         2011         2010          2009         2008          

Residential units sold  2,658        2,477        1,957        1,886         1,886        1,668       

Avg. selling price        $216,652   $201,962   $184,502   $186,410   $173,590   $201,172   

Median sale price       $160,000   $145,000   $135,000   $137,350   $130,000   $145,000   

                                 2007         2006         2005

Residential units sold  1,881        2,036        2,374

Avg. selling price        $223,262   $225,002   $222,064

Median sale price       $160,000   $165,000   $164,900

— Source: Traverse Area Association of Realtors

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